InFocus Play Big SP777 Home Theater Projector Review

Projector Brightness

Now this is one bright projector. I’m used to primarily testing lower cost home theater projectors (because there are a lot more of them), and most tend to put out between high 200 lumens, and 500 lumens, in their best modes (mostly in the 300 – 400 lumen range).

Let’s start by saying that the InFocus rates the 777 as a 2000 lumen projector. Consider please: Most of those 200 – 500 lumen tested projectors actually claim 1000 – 1500 lumens. In reading the InFocus datasheet prior to receiving the unit, I noted that they say that:
“2000 video-optimized lumens yields a dramatic SMPTE (cinema standard) brightness up to massive 15 foot (4.57 meter) wide screens.” Now that would indicate that they are considering brightness at “video” settings – 6500K, which would indicate that the projector at native color temperature would be significantly higher.

Well the 777 came no wheres near to measuring 2000 lumens at 6500K, but then, I doubt anyone really expects it to. Even in the world of business projectors, it is truly a rare projector that actually hits its claims.

So we won’t worry about the “2000 video-optimize lumens” suffice, to say, that the InFocus is the brightest HT DLP projector I have measured to date, except for the SIM2 C3X, and its not far behind (the C3X claims 2500 lumens at full power).

I used my Avia Pro software and the Optic One meter, to calibrate the InFocus 777 to as close to 6500K, as I could get (6547 at full 100 IRE – white, and mostly between 6470-6532 (30 IRE to 80 IRE grays).

I measured a rather impressive 804 lumens. By comparison, the SIM2, at its low power setting – claiming the same 2000 lumens – measured 903 lumens, in reality, a very small difference. At high power, the C3X should hit 1106 lumens, but then it claims 25% more lumens (2500) in that mode, so all’s fair.

As I noted elsewhere, I don’t know how many hours were on this lamp. The projector is definitely not brand new, but the lamp counter had been reset to 0. It’s quite possible that the lamp may have a couple hundred hours on it, in which case it would measure a bit lower brightness than if the lamp was truly brand new.

I can certainly state that the InFocus Screenplay 777 had plenty of “horsepower” to produce a nice bright image on my 128″ diagonal Stewart Firehawk (light gray surface) screen. I’m not sure that I’ll buy into a 15 ft wide screen, as InFocus says, but with something like the classic StudioTek 130, with its 1.3 gain, in a fully darkened room, the InFocus certainly should be able to handle a good 12 feet wide.

Bottom line, you shouldn’t need to worry about the brightness of this projector, at least for dark room viewing.

Lamp Life and Replacement

Apparently, the more expensive the home theater projector, the more expensive the lamp. I’m used to $399 to $499 list prices for replacement lamps on HT projectors that sell for under $5000. In the case of the 777, the lamp retail is $899! Hardly a bargain, but in fairness, it’s the same price as the lamp of the SIM2 we just reviewed.

The lamp assembly is accessable from the back of the unit. You need to remove the cable cover (if you are using it, and you will find it just to the left of all the inputs (assuming the projector is right side up). Since you probably are ceiling mounting the projector, it will appear to be on the right as you look from the back.

Projection Screen Recommendations

The InFocus 777 looked great on my 128″ Firehawk, and if I were to install the 777 tomorrow, I would certainly stick with that surface. My room, however, in the daytime, is not completely dark, so the Firehawk helps out by making side ambient light less of a problem. As black levels are very, very good, having the light gray surface doesn’t really help out much in terms of lowering black levels.

For those with fully darkened theaters, and dark walls, I would lean more toward a classic screen surface like Stewart’s StudioTek 130. Or for those who are scraping together every last penny for this rather excellent projector, a lower cost fixed wall screen solution that would save some serious money, would be the similar Brilliant White screen from Carada, which was recently reviewed, and which I use in my testing room.

If you are going for a fairly small screen – let’s say under 106″, however, I think the gain of the StudioTek and Carada may be too much for a projector this bright, you may find that on a 92″ or 100″ that the blacks are just too light a gray, due to the sheer horsepower of this home theater projector. (If only it had a low power mode.) In that case, you would need to be looking at gray surfaced screens – or alternately, you could dim the 777 by using a Neutral Density filter in front of the lens (the InFocus lenses have a filter screw thread.

Quicktip: Screens are trickier to recommend than the projectors themselves as they are so sensitive to the issues in your room (excepting fully darkened rooms with black walls. Location of small amounts of ambient light, the seating position across, and relative distance to the screen, are all factors that can make one screen perfect for your room and another better for an almost identical layout but with a difference in one of these and other issues.

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