InFocus X9 Projector Review

I’m a fan of the HD65, as well as the HD71. I think that the HD65 is one of Optoma’s best works, overall, and one reason is, it is, perhaps the best Optoma has done in terms of out of the box performance. I point this out, because, in this regard, the HD65 and the X9 are very similar, in that both can be enjoyed without any setting changes, and minor changes such as the type we recommend in our calibration section (dealing with things like brightness, contrast…) will further improve a very good picture

The Optoma is even smaller, and more portable.

But!

The X9 simply is a much brighter projector. It measured out to 50% more lumens than the HD65 in best mode, and almost twice as bright, in brightest modes. Still remember the HD65 is about average in brightness, overall. Between these two, it’s really going to be a choice of brightness compared to a bit better image quality for the HD65.

The HD65 does have more extensive image controls, and likely would be the choice of enthusiasts who don’t plan on a really large screen, or have way too much ambient light.

One more thing – the HD65 should be less expensive.

Summary:

Optoma HD65: A low cost projector great out of the box, with good brightness, and a bit better picture.

InFocus X9: Slightly more expensive, also great out of the box, with lots of brightness, and minimal effort.

InFocus X9 vs. Epson Home Cinema 720

This Epson projector is being phased out, although I expect them to be around for several more months. Like the Panasonic it doesn’t have as sharp an image as the X9, but is much closer to the X9. The Epson can’t come close to matching the brightness of the InFocus X9 in best mode, but comes short, but pretty close in brightest mode.

Another classic LCD home theater projector, the Epson Home Cinema 720 has the maximum amount of placement flexibility, a definite advantage to those who need that. I’ve always liked the Epson for its pop and wow factor, but, I favored the Panasonic for its slightly more natural image quality (a real trade-off). Considering the Epson against the InFocus X9, if you properly set up the Epson, with its more advanced image controls, it will provide the more accurate color image. It also has a distinct advantage in terms of black level performance.

The X9 can definitely support a bigger screen in your room, thanks to over twice the brightness in best mode.

When it comes to choosing, I see it this way. You will either pick the X9, or you will go the other way, deciding on an Epson Home Cinema 720 / Panasonic PT-AX200U type projector, and once having made that decision, if you chose the 3LCD type projectors, then you figure out which between the Panasonic and Epson will work best for you.

InFocus X9 vs. Epson Home Cinema 700

Conjecture time. I haven’t even seen an Epson Home Cinema 700 turned on. The new Epson is due to ship this month (11/08), and it’s totally different than the Home Cinema 720 model.

This new Epson, might best be described as the 3LCD answer to the InFocus X9 and Optoma HD65. Epson is targeting the typical consumer, not the enthusiast.

First, it is expected to be bright. Epson is claiming 2000 lumens, and from experience, Epson tends to beat their claims consistantly, while others often come up short. Based on that, in brightest mode, I expect the Epson to have a slight advantage. The InFocus, though, should easily have more lumens in best mode.

Another area where they are similar, is Epson has kept the 700 rather simple, it isn’t optimized for best black levels. Hard to say whether the Epson or the Optoma will actually be better in this regard. I’m afraid to even guess, although, we’ll know the answer in a few weeks when it’s reviewed.

Here’s a twist. 3LCD projectors have consistently won the placement flexibility wars, with the 2:1 zoom lenses and adjustable lens shift found on most of them. The reason DLP projectors have limited zoom and typically, no adjustable lens shift, has to do with the design of a DLP light engine.

In this case, though, to keep costs down, and to establish the Home Cinema 700 as the lowest priced 3LCD projector, and one of the least expensive home projectors of any type, they have built this projector with only a 1.2:1 zoom and no lens shift. Simply stated, that means the Epson has about the same placement flexibility as the X9, and most other low cost DLP’s. In exchange you get a $799 price!

The Epson is squarely aimed at the same market as the X9, a more general consumer rather than the enthusiast. It’s contrast specs are nothing to write home about, so, I expect it to, like the X9, have less than impressive black levels.

Other than the price, it’s going to be hard to pick a winner here, or, at least not until I have had a chance to review the Epson.

X9 vs. BenQ W500

It seems like a really long since I saw a W500, although it was just over a year ago. I can’t draw many conclusions other that when the BenQ W500 was reviewed, it had pretty good black levels (I’d say better than the X9), but was weak in terms of shadow details, crushing the darkest details into the “blacks”. The W500 was very bright in best mode (870 lumens) though not as bright as the X9. The BenQ W500, however can only produce about 1000 lumens in its brightest mode, just half of the X9. The BenQ has a one year warranty, compared to the InFocus’es two years.

It’s been a while since I knew what the BenQ’s pricing is, as none of our advertisers are featuring it. I would expect, though, that this projector is at least a couple hundred less, and a quick search on line confirms that. No surprise, as it was only $999 a year ago! That assumption makes the W500 a low cost alternative to the X9. Like most 720p 3LCD projectors, the W500 does have more visible pixels than DLP projectors like the X9, so some folks will favor DLP to avoid any screendoor, or more to the point, to reduce pixel visibility slightly.

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