InFocus Play Big IN72 Projector Review - Overview
05/25/2006 - Art Feierman
Reviewing the IN72 was a pleasant surprise. The new IN72 was released two months ago, and has been the long awaited replacement for the aging Screenplay 4805. The Screenplay 4805 has been around for a very long time for a home theater projector - two full years old, this month. Most home theater projectors tend to have a life of about 12 to 15 months.
The IN72, actually, its formal name is the Play Big IN72, shares the same sleek styling, and most of the features as the other two new InFocus home theater projectors, the higher end IN76, reviewed in April, and the IN74EX which offers resolution between the other two.
With the IN76 review, we found it to be an excellent projector, but priced at a premium relative to the competition.
The Big Play IN72 is also priced above the competition, but this time, it looks like InFocus has packed the projector with enough performance for many to justify the extra dollars. More on this in the summary section.
As an entry level projector the IN72 is a digital projector with WVGA resolution (854x480) the same resolution as traditional DVDs. Here are the basic specs:
Technology: Darkchip2 DLP projector
Native Resolution: WVGA 854x480
Brightness: 900 lumens, 720 in Eco mode
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1
Lens shift: No
Lamp life: 3000 hours (more details in performance section)
Weight: 9.3 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year
IN72 Physical Tour:
I'm going to cheat here, the bulk of the text below, is taken from the recent IN76 review, and edited to reflect the minor differences. I'll start by saying that the two projectors seem to be indentical, except that the IN72 has a zoom lens with a 1.2:1 ratio instead of the 1.3:1 found on the IN76. The other difference is in the choice of inputs on the back panel.
Starting, facing the front of the InFocus IN72, all there is to see, is the recessed zoom lens mounted to the right of center. On the far left is an infra-red sensor that is pretty hard to spot due to the shiney black sculpted case of the projector. If you are running it on a table, you'll also be well aware of the attached pedestal, which allows you to tilt and swivel the projector to the desired position.
The Pedestal works great, I should point out, and it is easily removable if you are going to ceiling mount the projector. I like the idea of the pedestal instead of the traditional 3 or four adjustable feet.
The lens is a zoom with an 1.2:1 zoom ratio, which is the typical amount of placement versatility found on most DLP projectors in its class. The throw ratio, is best described as medium. For example, to fill a 100" diagonal screen, you can place the IN72 as close as 12.8 feet and as far back as about 15.4 ft. (That's measured from the screen to the front of the projector.) This should allow many of those people who want to shelf mount the projector to place it far enough back to shelf mount in the back of their room.
Moving to the top of the projector, in the front, just back from the lens are two concentric rings. The inner ring focuses the projector, while the outer one controls your zooming the image in or out.
Also found on the top, across the back, is the control panel. It is a nice, simple panel with only 6 buttons, and laid out to navigate easily. From the rear, the left most button is power. Once to turn it on, once to turn off. Next are four keys in a diamond shape. The first is the Menu button, then come the up and down arrows, and finally on the right, the select button. InFocus does not use the usually 4 arrow key configuration (plus an Enter and back/escape button), that is most typical, however their system works pretty well after you get used to it a bit. I'm familiar with this layout from other InFocus projectors I have reviewed, and the first time I encountered it, I was perfectly comfortable with their navigation scene, long before the review was finished. I'll discuss this more in the General Performance section where I cover the IN76's remote control.
That takes us to the back of the projector where you will find all the projector's inputs. The IN76 projector is slightly better equipped than most other home theater projectors. This is due to being one of the few so far that has the ability to have two digital inputs.
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On the left side you can see a 12 volt screen trigger to control a motorized screen. Then comes the HDMi digital input, but also next to it, is InFocus'es proprietary M1 connector. InFocus has been pushing this unique connector for several years. In this configuration it can accept both a digital, or an analog signal. For those of you familiar, at first glance the M1 connector looks like a DVI connector, but it is wider, with more pins. Still, it fully supports DVI (which is essentially the same as HDMI, but does not also carry audio, like HDMI. (Since home theater projectors have no speakers, no one should care!).
Alternately, instead of a digital input, with an analog adapter, you can feed the M1 an analog computer signal, or a component video signal. So, effectively the IN76 can have two separate digital sources, or one digital, and one analog (the analog could be data, or video). In addition there are the 3 RCA jacks for a standard component video source, or for parts of the European market, all 4 RCAs make up the SCART input. And, like all projectors there are the two standard "low resolution" inputs - S-video, and composite video. To round things out, there is an RS232 serial port for command and control, and the power cord input.
This is the first entry level projector to sport the ability to have two digital inputs, a very good thing, but having the ability to do both plus a computer input, would be even better. Still, 2 digitals is an improvement over the competition. All together with the component input, that's three high resolution inputs. I can't think of another entry level projector better equipped.
Image quality is still the key to what home theater (or as InFocus calls this one), home entertainment projectors are all about, so let's look at the IN72's image quality next.