InFocus IN76 Projector Review - General Performance
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Pixel Structure SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
The sections here on Menus, and the Remote, are almost identical, and taken from the IN76 review we did a couple months ago. Both projectors are in the same case, have the same remote, and the same menus.
InFocus doesn't go in for big flashy menus, rather they seem to go out of the way to keep them small, so that most of the image is easily visible when you are trying to adjust something. This is a good thing! Basically there is a Main Menu listing the three primary menus.
The first and most comprehensive is the Picture Menu, which has all the color and image controls, as the name implies. Many of the items on the Picture menu have their own submenus, and some of them still another layer below that.
Starting with the Picture menu, note the PREVIOUS menu item. This is located on all menus except the Main. To move back up to a previous menu, you scroll back to Previous and hit the enter key. This is due to InFocus using a two arrow navigation system, plus the enter key. Lacking a left arrow, or an escape key (either of which on most projectors take you back up a level, this is the system InFocus uses in their current projectors. It takes a little getting used to, for a reviewer who plays with lots of different projectors, but I have no real issue with this method of navigating.
On the Picture Menu you'll first find Keystone Adjust, a feature we hope you will never use, better to properly place the projector to maintain a rectangular image. Then of course you have the Contrast, Brightness, and Color (saturation) controls. Auto Image will allow you to readjust the projector if there is a problem with the signal. Aspect Ratio lets you choose between 4:3, 16:9, letter boxing, etc. That takes us to Presets, which will be addressed below.
Not all features are available in all modes. As is most common, digital sources and component lack some controls found for lower resolution sources, like composite video. If you feed the IN72 an NTSC composite image, for example you would also find a Tint control on the menu.
Gamma let's you choose from five settings - CRT (which is the darkest, attempts to immitate CRT projectors (which can do true blacks) but overall I found it to be too dark, and lost more shadow detail than I liked. I settled for the Film setting, which would be my first choice for most movie watchers. Video has a brighter gamma still. PC - is less accurate, but designed for hooking up your PC, and you might like it with games. Lastly is Bright Room, which is overly light in darker areas, and overall, but designed for use when you are dealing with ambient light.
On the Advanced Menu you control aspects including Sharpness, (I found the default setting to work best), Color Temperature (6500K is optimum for movies), and Color Control, where you would separately adjust Reds Greens and Blues if calibrating or "tweaking".
The image here of the Advanced menu shows the full set.
Below is also a image of the Color Control menu.
The next primary menu is the Settings Menu shown below.
For general setting of the projector, the most important performance issue is the in the System sub menu, which allows you to set the lamp brightness to low or high.
If your room and screen size allow, the lower setting will extend your lamp life to an estimated 3000 hours.
The last primary menu is an information screen showing source settings.
User Memory Settings
The InFocus offers 3 user savable settings, found in the Preset menu. The system works very easily, and I used it to compare a couple of different settings I tried when calibrating.
When you Save a user setting you get a choice of User 1, 2, or 3. The projector will remember things like brightness, contrast, color, as well as individual settings inside the Advanced - Color control menu. It also saves gamma, aspect ratio and other settings.
Overall, its a small, attractive remote backlit (button is underneath), with what appears to be a blue LED light. InFocus has a limited number of buttons, compared to many remotes, but key items like User settings (presets) have their own buttons.
InFocus uses the four buttons (below the power button at the top) to navigate the menus. The left button brings up the menu, the up and down arrows let you navigate through the choices, and the Select button on the right, lets you move to the next level menus, and also to go back a menu (the top item on each menu is Previous, which means the previous, higher level menu, not where you last were in the menus.
This system is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. Personally, I still prefer having a separate Menu button, four arrow keys and and Enter key. It's two more buttons, but makes for much faster navigation. The good news, is that you will rarely be playing in the menus.
The next row has the Resize for aspect ratio, Overscan, which will enlarge the image slightly (this can come in handy of you get some artifacts at the top/bottom of the screen, which isn't uncommon if you have regular "low resolution" TV programming comiing in on a HD channel, and possibly on a less than great DVD player.
Source select is on the far right.
Next Row: Custom for retrieving your custom settings, Auto Image adjust, and Presets which let you switch between the multiple settings.
So you should be getting the idea - you can navigate through the menus, or quickly use the buttons on the remote to jump to your choices.
The last row let's you choose sources directly, without toggling through ones you aren't interested in.
One very interesting feature: By tapping on the Backlite button (on the bottom, the keys illuminate (now, that's nothing new). If, instead, you hold down the Backlight button, a small LED light in the front illuminates, to function as a flashlight. I actually found that rather handy while hooking up the projector to various cables, etc.
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The InFocus IN72 lacks variable lens shift, which, when present, simplifies vertical placement of the projector. This is typical of DLP projectors selling for under $3000, not just entry level projectors. In fact, to get lens shift you have to step up your budget a bit, out of entry level, into a couple of the lower cost, higher resolution LCD home theater projectors. As of this writing, the least expensive DLP projector with lens shift is $2999 selling price.
One area of compromise that InFocus made to the IN72, compared with the IN76, is the zoom lens. Instead of a 1.3:1 zoom ratio, this lens offers only 1.2:1. That gives you 20% distance flexibility to the screen. 20% is probably the most typical of entry level DLP projectors, although LCD projectors typically have more range.
As far as placement distance goes, 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 feet. Many people, who would otherwise place the projector on a table or ceiling mount, may find the throw distance long enough to place the projector on a shelf in the back of the room.
When mounting the projector you will need the projector (actually the center of the lens) to be just slightly above the top of the screen surface. If sitting on a table, or shelf, the center of lens will be a few inches below the bottom of the screen. This is a common amount of fixed lens shift, that works well for most users. If you can place the projector on a shelf at the rear, but want it high up you will need to invert the projector, as you would if ceiling mounting.
Pixel Structure, SDE and Rainbow Effect
Pixel visibility on the IN72, is typical for a DLP projector, meaning that they are far less visible than on competing LCD projectors. Sitting about 1.5 times screen width (that works out to just less than 11 feet back with a 100" diagonal screen, is far enough that pixels will not normally be noticeable. The exceptions are in large stationary bright images, and on things like credits. The distortion of the pixel structure and small details in areas like grass, that can make the grass look wierd, is not likely to become an issue at that distance. If you really want never to be able to detect the pixels (except maybe on those movie credits, think sitting more like 1.9 or 2 times screen width, but most will be content at 1.5 or 1.6 times, some won't mind the pixel structure at all regardless of where they sit, even very close.
The image below showing the text "Schuykill" is from the HD image of the boathouses on the previous page. Here you have a zoomed in closeup so that you can see the pixels, but checking out the full sized image, gives you an idea of how small they really are from normal viewing. The same "Schuykill" image is found in most recent reviews. Since the image of the text itself varies frame by frame, and I cannot pause my D-VHS deck on a specific frame, there will be differences from one image to the next in terms of "jaggies". This would not be projector specific. Bottom line, you are looking for the size, and visibility of the pixel structure, not the actual edges of the lettering.
On to the Rainbow effect: The IN72 home theater projector uses a 4x (four times standard) color wheel (unlike the IN76 with a 5X speed wheel). 4X wheels are now standard on entry level home theater DLP projectors, and are found on some more expensive ones.. With a 4X wheel only a very small percentage of viewers are susceptable, at all, to the "Rainbow Effect". (There are no official numbers, but probably well less than 5%.) If you are one of those very few, you are likely to go with an LCD projector instead. There are one or two LCD projectors in the entry level catagory, such as the Epson Home 20. Otherwise you are looking at more expensive higher resolution LCD projectors as well as more expensive DLP models with 5X wheels. But, again, the rainbow effect is seen by very few, and annoys even less.
I was surprised to find what appears to be some light leakage coming out of the lens, and creating a very dim amount of extraneous light hitting parts of the lower right corner of the screen and overshooting beyond to whatever you have to the right of your screen. The image below has contrast and brightless cranked way up so that you can see the light. Again it is very dim, and I doubt that many would notice it at all, but as a reviewer, I figured I should point it out. It apears from just inside of the scren as almost round, with 80% of it outside to the right. I have a very bright LCD display on this laptop, as I write, and I can hardly see it, but it's there! Still, no big deal!
Other than that,the IN72 is very clean, in regards to light leakage. No issues here at all. You can spot the tiniest amount of light coming out of the sides of the projector, but far less light overall than most other projectors.
Audible Noise Levels
InFocus does not publish a spec for noise levels, however from using the projector, it is very quiet in Whisper mode (low power), although not the quietest I've worked with. In my viewing room with the projector sitting about 4 feet behind me (but I sit in a high backed "captain's chair") I never noticed the fan except when the sound track was extremely quiet, and only when listening for it. In full power mode, as expected, the IN72 is significantly noiser. As related to the competition, I found the noise levels on the IN72 to be similar to the BenQ W100, although the BenQ is slightly lower pitched (better). I don't find noise in low power mode to be an issue for all but the pickiest. In full power, if you demand silence, few projectors will come close to satisfying you.
Despite the relatively low brightness claims (720 in whisper, 900 in High Bright mode), the IN72 is fairly typical. In best mode, with gamma set for Film, I measured 359 lumens. With the same Film Gamma that should be just over 400 lumens in High Bright mode, and much brighter still if you set the projector for Bright Room mode. Of the DLP's in this class, the InFocus looks fairly average. In fact in the couple of side by side images with the BenQ W100, in this review, you can see that there is little difference in brightness is nearly impossible to detect (the differences you see are more related to gamma than brightness.
Here's one of those images, from The 5th Element. In an attempt to get both images as close to each other in brightness, for comparison purposes, the BenQ projector (right) is iin low power mode, while The IN72, on the left is in bright mode.
You may click to enlarge the image above.
One tell-tale that the IN72 (thanks to bright mode) is slightly brighter on this side by side photo, is by looking at the pause/frame advance icon in white on both images near the top right. You can see in the larger version that the graphic is sharp on the BenQ but blurry, due to slight overexposure in the InFocus.
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Lamp Life and Replacement
Now this is interesting. With most projectors the low power mode (Whisper in the case of the IN72), feeds less wattage to the lamp, and therefore extends the life of the lamp). Not so with the IN76 projector according to the published specs. In fact the IN76 claims a 3000 hour lamp life regardless of which mode you are in. In speaking with InFocus they advised that users should get a (slightly) longer life using whisper mode, but declined to offer an official number, or even a guess.
The BenQ W100 is also rated 3000 lumens in full power, and 4000 in their economy mode, so, the two should have similar lamp lives. In the upcoming four projector shootout, well look at the claims for each model.
To actually replace the lamp, you must remove the supplied pedestal, or, if you have ceiling mounted the projector, you must remove the projector from the mount.
The need to unmount the projector, is definitely a negative. In this modern day and age, most home theater projectors no longer require unmounting. If you are just placing it on a table, taking off the pedestal is easy enough.
Projector Screen Recomendations
Always the toughest call. Since you can use full power (assuming the extra noise doesn't bother you), all the time with no extra expense, the IN72 can handle a 110" possiblydiagonal screen, however
I watched the projector on y 128" Firehawk screen (high contrast, light gray), and on the Carada Brilliant White screen in my testing room (1.4 gain - brighter, but lower in contrast, and wider viewing angle. As with the similar, but higher resolution IN76 projector, I favored the light gray surface, although the image isn't as bright. If you want to stick to Whisper mode, I wouldn't suggest a light gray HC screen over 92 " diagonal, but definitely for a screen of that size. For the typical viewer (who is going to be less critical), the extra brightness of the higher gain white screens will be appreciated. I mention the Carada as it is very affordable. Remember, the IN72 does exceptionally well on black levels for an entry level (or even a $2000 range home theater projector). Despite my preference for the HC light gray screens, I believe most users may prefer a screen like the Carada, with a 1.3 or 1.4 gain.
The IN72 should also work very well with a basic matte screen with gains of 1.0 or 1.1, they just won't be quite as bright.
The image immediately below as been tossed in just as one more example of the IN72's capabilities and ability to show detail in the textures, and to keep you from getting too bored reading my non-stop text.
I realize that this is an entry level projector and buyers won't be wanting to spend big bucks on a screen. Still, a screen will serve you better than a wall. You should be able to buy pull down screens for under $200, in various sizes with gains in the .9 - 1.3 range from brands like Da-lite, Elite, Draper, etc. Fixed wall screens are generally better (perfectly flat), but do cost more, and start under $500 for an Elite, with aCarada, like the one I use,being not that much more.
Projector manufacturers are getting better at shipping units that look great out of the box. I did not run a calibration on the IN72, but did measure the color temperature. At 80 IRE, my Avia Pro software and Optic One meter came up with 6338K and 6391 at 100 IRE.
That's very close to the ideal 6500 Kelvin, that projectors use to optimze for DVD movies.
The very close initial measurements, combined with the inherently enjoyable color on flesh tones made me decide to leave well enough alone. Especially in light of the fact that I doubt more than a couple of percent of buyers will buy a calibration disk.
I normally "lecture" readers on doing easy "end user" calibrations on their projectors, but, n the case of the IN72, I'll spare you. This is one projector you can fully enjoy without breaking out a calibration disk.
DLP projectors are known to show some image noise in dark areas. Few notice, or care, but it is an area where LCD projectors have an advantage. The image noise on the InFocus, is very low. If you stand within a couple of feet of the screen you can see it in the dark areas. Under normal viewing distances, however, I do not consider this a problem at all, I watch more than 8 hours of movies, on the InFocus IN72 projector, and it never was an issue.
OK, that's a wrap for this section, time for Warranty, and then the Summary.