InFocus Play Big SP777 Home Theater Projector Review
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
One thing is pretty certain, if you are getting a 777, InFocus has the lens you need. With 2 fixed throw distance wide angle lenses for rear projection, a wide angle zoom, the standard zoom and two long throw zoom lenses, you can position the projector just about anywhere from close, to a galaxy far, far away. Hopefully though, the standard zoom lens will do the trick for you, saving you the cost of an optional lens.
The standard lens is a 1.25:1 zoom ratio. Actual useful numbers are 1.44:1.80 which times screen width, give you the minimum and maximum distance from front of lens to the screen. That means that if you have a 110″ diagonal screen – 96″ wide, you can place front of the projector anywhere from roughly 11 ft. 5 inch, to 14 ft 5 inches from the screen.
For a 100″ screen (roughly 87″ wide), that translates to the longer throw lens being able to fill the screen from 174″ away to 261″ away. With the shorter throw zoom, for the same sized screen: From 131″ to 174″. In all cases that is measured from the front of the lens.
Lens shift: Interestingly InFocus provides two sets of measurements for lens shift – recommended, and maximum. They admit (as others should) that using the maximum amount of lens shift may introduce minor visible (barrel?) distortion. Because I needed to place this projector on a low table when viewing it in my theater, I was forced to use the maximum lens shift. I did not notice any distortion to speak of, however I did notice some light leakage out the front which might be tied to that. More later… The InFocus website provides additional info not found in the Installation guide.
SDE and No Rainbows
The InFocus ScreenPlay 777 is a three chip DLP, so there is no issue with the rainbow effect that is a problem for a very small percentage of people using single chip DLPs.
I watched perhaps 15+ hours of movies from DVD in my theater viewing room, as well as several hours of HDTV, and a little hi-def from my D-VHS deck. In all, I found the 777 to be similar to most DLP projectors in terms of pixel visibility at different seating distances. At 11 feet from my 128″ Firehawk screen, pixels were just visible in white areas like movie credits and bright stationary areas (if you are looking for the pixels). I find that 1.1 times screen width reduces pixel visibility to essentially a non issue.
More to the point, a DVD is soft sitting that close to that sized screen, so the issue of pixel visibility is more for HDTV, where the image is still nice and sharp. To fully eliminate pixel visibility for the most critical, I’d say 1.3x-1.4x screen width, but that’s mighty picky and few are that demanding.
We are talking at these distances the point where pixels might be noticeable. You would have to be closer than that still, to actually note distortion known as the screen door effect, and it would tend to be most visible watching non-hi-def content like SDTV.
You can comfortably sit as close (relative to screen size) as any other DLP 720p projector. Only LCOS technology (D-ILA, SXRD, etc.) has significantly less visible pixel structures. (But unfortunately the LCOS projectors can’t match the black levels of the DLPs.
Being a three chip projector, there is always the possibility of slightly misaligned pixels between the red, green and blue. In the case of this projector the misalignment was truly insignificant (visibly less than I saw on the SIM2), and on the SIM2, it wasn’t detectable at any normal viewing distance. In fact I had to stand less than 4 feet from the large screen to see any misalignment at all. If all the 777 are as good as this one, that’s about as good an alignment as anyone could hope for. A true, non-issue.
There was a small amount of light leakage from the lens area. Most of it seemed to project below the projector, which means it will hit the ceiling if ceiling mounted. It dd not seem to throw any of the leakage onto the screen. It is possible that this is a side affect of having using the maximum on the lens shift, but, unfortunately, I never reduced the amount of lens shift to check it. Sorry. Although seeing the leakage did not please me, the small amount should not create any real issue. Especially if you are ceiling mounting, and the ceiling is dark.
Audible Noise Levels
I didn’t see a rated noise level spec, and I don’t have the gear to measure, but if I had to take a guess, I would say that the 777 comes in around 27-30 db, based on what the claims are for other projectors. Ceiling mounted, the 777 is certainly quiet enough and should be effectively silent if there is any sound at all with the content you are watching. I am truly surprised that it produces as much noise as it does, considering the size of the box – you would think they could get it as quiet as some of the $2000 projectors that are perhaps 4-5db quieter, and are in drastically smaller cases (which should make them harder to baffle the sound).
I should note, unlike most projectors, the 777 doesn’t have a low power mode which normally also means a slower running (quieter) fan setting. (that’s how many of those low cost projectors get to claim 23 – 25 db.)
That said, I would also say that the noise level is about the same as the Sim2 C3X, although if I had to pick one, I’d say the SIM2 is a touch quieter. BTW, upon noticing the noise, I realized that, I wasn’t using the cable cover, so I put it on, on the chance that it would perhaps, muffle some of the noise. I could detect no difference.
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