InFocus Screenplay 777 Home Theater Projector - Image Quality
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).
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.
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.
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.
The next two images - 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.
The image below (slightly overexposed) shows great shadow detail in the cliff walls on the right and left. 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.
Gamma and Dynamics
Without running tests to check the gamma, I found the overall gamma to be right about where it should be. If anything the gamma is likely a small touch lower on the InFocus 777 home theater projector, than on the SIM2 C3X, perhaps something like 2.3 vs 2.4 or even closer. The slightly higher gamma on the SIM2 may be responsible for the slight edge the InFocus has in the dark shadow detail area mentioned above.
On the other hand, when it came to watching the overall projectors, I found that the SIM2 C3X projector had the edge (remember these are impressions - no side by side, although I did get to view both the SIM2 C3X projector against my own BenQ PE8720, and also the InFocus 777 against the PE8720. I definitely came away with the impression that the SIM2 had more depth more of a "3D"ish realism than the 777. This was especially noticeable on the space scenes from Starship Troopers.
In this scene you will notice that the explosions seem to be about equal in brightness, however if you look at the "lit up" outside of the ship toward the top right just below the pause controls and also the dark underside of the ship in the lower left corner, you can see significant difference between this image, and the same frame on the C3X. Bottom line, on this type of extremely dynamic image, the SIM2 shines. And it is rich, dynamic images, more than flesh tones, or shadow details (InFocus slight edge), where my preference for the SIM2 is strongest, and it makes me believe that the SIM2 is the slightly better projector of the two overall.
The image above also makes a good comparsion image. You will find the same frame on the SIM2 C3X projector review... Note the difference in brightness in the large lit up building on the far right. While that area seems brighter on the 777, look now to the top just right of center there is red light hitting an overhang. These reds are far more muted on the 777 than the SIM2. This simply illustrates that the color dynamics are different.
A few more images for your consideration:
Review continues below this advertisement.
Although I did not do a separate calibration for viewing HDTV off of cable (Cox) or my D-VHS deck, I did view a wide variety of content, including sports (a little March Madness), Leno, Discovery HD and INHD1 and 2. In all cases, the InFocus 777 looked spectacular, to say the least. Again, my own best guess gives a very slight edge to the SIM2, but then I also noticed something else that its time to mention here.
Here are some images from Hi-Def sources:
Getting the idea? Pretty impressive!
Image Quality wrap-up:
For whatever reason, the InFocus Screenplay 777 home theater projector is more forgiving to watch than the SIM2 C3X. I found that the SIM2 is perhaps more critical of source material. When the source material is excellent the C3X really shines, but when viewing rather typical DVD's etc., I often was able to notice slight flaws in the source material that I just didn't detect in the InFocus 777.
One such example was viewing the sci-fi movie Zathura (sorry, no images). I reported in the SIM2 review that I was able to easily spot what appears to be MPEG distortion in large black and near black areas in several very dark scenes. In watching (and this time looking for the same flaws) on the InFocus 777, the distortion was barely detectable.
The image above is from the DVD I,Robot.
Another area where the 777 shines, is in handling poor quality sources in terms of colors. On conventional TV (even over HD channels) as well as some older DVD's, where often fleshtones might be a bit over saturated, I found that the InFocus handled them better than the SIM2.
So, image quality sort of plays out this way: The InFocus takes almost any source material, and reproduces it about as good as you could possibly hope for, even though the SIM2, will produce the more spectacular image when source quality is first class.