InFocus Play Big SP777 Home Theater Projector Review
The InFocus 777 produces a stunning image. This is the third 3 chip projector we have reviewed in the last year. Most recently, the SIM2 C3X review was published as I was already testing the 777. Last year we reviewed The JVC HD2K, a 3 chip D-ILA (LCOS technology, not DLP), which at the time sold for $30,000 (about the same price that the eariler (and lower performing) version of the InFocus 777 sold for. The older 777 used 3 Darkchip2 (HD2+) DLP chips.
This never version uses the Darkchip3, and produces superior blacks, higher contrast, and other advantages over the old version. That is a good thing. Today’s 777 is half the price and performs better than the version sold just 8 months ago.
After reviewing the SIM2 home theater projector immediately before the InFocus 777, I have a number of observations regarding the difference between these two excellent projectors… You will find some of those comments throughout this section, and also in the Summary. It is only unfortunate that the two projectors missed each other here by only 48 hours. It would have been excellent to view them both side by side with the same source material. Instead my observations are based more on impressions (in some cases backed by measurements).
Once calibrated, the InFocus which seemed to have a slight greenish caste to flesh tones out of the box, produced really excellent flesh tones, as you can see here in these images from Lord of the Rings, the 5th Element, I,Robot, and Star Wars II. I was particularly impressed with the image above, of Bruce Willis in the 5th Element , but in all cases flesh tones are believable , and about as faithful as one could expect, although I do find both the images of Awen (first one above) and Leeloo (immediately below) not to be quite as perfect as on the SIM2. Note though that my calibrations are not done anywhere near to the depth that a truly competent professional calibrator would do, and that could explain the difference in flesh tone balance.
I was surprised to find that the InFocus Screenplay 777 definitely needs a calibration. Now, the unit sent to me by InFocus was not new, although the lamp was reset to 0. They may do this to get an idea of how long the projector is used by each reviewer, or they may have replaced the lamp. It would be nice to know if the lamp has several hundred hours on it, but I will assume it is new enough to not have dimmed by more than a percent or two.
But, getting back to the subject of calibration. InFocus has oft promoted on various home theater projectors, that their specs are based on normal (video) viewing, not the maximum but not relavent specs one can obtain if looking for simply the highest specs. Typical of this is measuring lumens at the lamps native temperature (around 10,000K) instead of 6500K which is optimum for movies. You will normally get a dramatic drop in lumens by setting a projector for 6500K before measuring. So, I expected the InFocus 777 to be very close to dead on the 6500K. It was not, but it was fairly close – more in the 6800K range. I ran the normal (non-service level) calibration that I do on projectors to fine tune the color temperature. You can see the results of the calibration and measurements in the General Performance section.
For those of you seriously considering the InFocus 777 or the Sim2 C3X (or C3X Lite), you will find that a number of these images are also available on the Sim2 review, and in many cases they are the exact same frame. I should also note that differences between these two high end projectors are not necessarily accurately captured by my digital camera, but you may find some helpful clues to subtle differences, between these projectors, regardless of that.
So, the InFocus does great fleshtones, what about other critical aspects, including black levels, shadow details, overall dynamics, and depth of the image. Here are a variety of DVD images, for your consideration.
Black Levels and Shadow Detail
The InFocus produces very impressive blacks, getting closer to pure black than any other projector I have reviewed, except for the SIM2 C3X. Shadow detail was also excellent. In the pair of images below the first one is a normal camera exposure of the mountain scene from Lord of the Rings. The second image is overexposed, allowing you to see the details in the shadow areas lost in the first image by virtue of the limits of the camera. From Star Wars II, feature space scenes… In each case I have overexposed the image slightly, so “blacks” do appear more gray, but it allows you to see the full complement of stars that you would see viewing the projector.
The second image of the ringed planet is overexposed sufficiently that the bright areas of the right side of the planet, are blown out from the overexposure (but appear detailed with the same but lighter colors as seen on the rest of the planet). Again, you can see a rich star field with as good a star scene as I have seen on any projector.
If you compare to the same frame on the SIM2 review, you will note (that despite the SIM2 image being a slight be more overexposed, that the InFocus does at least as good a job in distinguishing between various levels of near black. In this regard the InFocus has the edge on the SIM2.
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