InFocus ScreenPlay 777 Home Theater Projector - General Performance
In this section we will look at the following general performance and capabilities of the 777 projector.
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and No Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
The InFocus 777 offers up some no frills looking menus, however the organization is very good, and with a couple of exceptions I will dwell upon later, the menus seem to be pretty comprehensive.
We'll start with the small Main Menu, and review the multiple layers in the most important menus.
The Picture Menu provides you with most of the menu controls that affect the overall picture quality, while settings primarily deals with more physical attributes.
I should note here, that the Contrast of 53 and Brightness of 44 settings you see here are the result of the calibration. (Defaults are 50 and 50.)
This InFocus supports 3 User settings.
The Gamma submenu gives a choice of 6 preset gamma curves optimized for the type of source and content you are viewing.
If you don't find enough controls to play with, there's always the Advanced Menu, which is where you will find the color controls (among others) that one adjusts while calibrating.
The actual color menu with RGB gain and offsets is the color control submenu, shown above, and selecting it shows the individual color gain and offsets (below).
There is also the color temperature menu that offers four presets. Note, when I first set the projector for 6500K, that's when I was getting measurements with noticeably higher temperatures:
20 IRE produced 6589K
30 IRE produced 6722K
80 IRE produced 6831K
100 IRE produced 6881K
Other menus, include the Settings Menu:
and it's submenu - Service: On the image of the Service menu, you can see the small box on the right where you would put the necessary code to access the service menu.
Enough of menus, there are a number of additional submenus I could have provided images for, but these cover the bulk of the ones you might use, unless you are a professional calibrator, in which case you don't need my screen shots, regardless.
User Memory Settings
There are three User Memory settings. I did not work with them but the manual explains that they are device dependent. So, you effectively have one for at least each different input, and beyond that, for each device being fed though that input, that the projector can tell apart. That is important because many of us only have one cable, coming from an AV receiver, or perhaps an HTPC. You could for example, for each device have one memory setting for your fully darkened room, another for some ambient light, and a thired for whatever you come up with.
The InFocus ScreenPlay 777 remote control is a perfectly reasonable remote control. It is backlit, and has the basic functionality needed. I found the navigating controls (at the top) to be unusual, with menu on the left, an up and down in the center and enter, on the right. This forces InFocus to rely on a menu item (on all menus) called previous - to move back up one menu level.
As I said, it took some getting used to, but, that comment from someone working with several different remote controls every month. For an owner, I'm sure that the remote will become second nature, rather quickly.
The real point, is that I believe that the typical purchaser of a $15,000 projector is not going to settle for having 4-7 remotes in operation to control their system (projector, DVD, cable/satellite, receiver as a minimum), rather you would buy some form of programmable or learning remote system that allows you to control the whole system and probably the room from a single remote. If you are non-technical, your dealer would most likely recommend such a remote system and program it for you as part of your system price, and if you like to play with the gear yourself, almost certainly you'll want a fancy remote.
So, if I'm right, if you get yourself a 777 (a truly great idea), you probably won't be using the provided remote for long.
For those that do use the InFocus remote control: The Power button also works differently than most projectors. Most require you hit the power button twice to shut off, to prevent accidently turning the projector off. The 777, instead is a single press, but if you don't intend to power down you can hit another key to abort. Moving beyond the top buttons, you'll find a resize for adjusting aspect ratio, direct up/down buttons for brightness and contrast, and separate buttons for each source.
There is also a direct access to the overscan feature, an auto image for grabbing the image, a blank screen, and finally direct access to the Preset user settings.
The backlite button is on the right hand side of the remote.
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
One thing is pretty certain, if you are getting a 777, InFocus has the lens you need. With 2 fixed throw distance wide angle lenses for rear projection, a wide angle zoom, the standard zoom and two long throw zoom lenses, you can position the projector just about anywhere from close, to a galaxy far, far away. Hopefully though, the standard zoom lens will do the trick for you, saving you the cost of an optional lens.
The standard lens is a 1.25:1 zoom ratio. Actual useful numbers are 1.44:1.80 which times screen width, give you the minimum and maximum distance from front of lens to the screen. That means that if you have a 110" diagonal screen - 96" wide, you can place front of the projector anywhere from roughly 11 ft. 5 inch, to 14 ft 5 inches from the screen.
For a 100" screen (roughly 87" wide), that translates to the longer throw lens being able to fill the screen from 174" away to 261" away. With the shorter throw zoom, for the same sized screen: From 131" to 174". In all cases that is measured from the front of the lens.
Lens shift: Interestingly InFocus provides two sets of measurements for lens shift - recommended, and maximum. They admit (as others should) that using the maximum amount of lens shift may introduce minor visible (barrel?) distortion. Because I needed to place this projector on a low table when viewing it in my theater, I was forced to use the maximum lens shift. I did not notice any distortion to speak of, however I did notice some light leakage out the front which might be tied to that. More later... The InFocus website provides additional info not found in the Installation guide.
SDE and No Rainbows
The InFocus ScreenPlay 777 is a three chip DLP, so there is no issue with the rainbow effect that is a problem for a very small percentage of people using single chip DLPs.
I watched perhaps 15+ hours of movies from DVD in my theater viewing room, as well as several hours of HDTV, and a little hi-def from my D-VHS deck. In all, I found the 777 to be similar to most DLP projectors in terms of pixel visibility at different seating distances. At 11 feet from my 128" Firehawk screen, pixels were just visible in white areas like movie credits and bright stationary areas (if you are looking for the pixels). I find that 1.1 times screen width reduces pixel visibility to essentially a non issue. More to the point, a DVD is soft sitting that close to that sized screen, so the issue of pixel visibility is more for HDTV, where the image is still nice and sharp. To fully eliminate pixel visibility for the most critical, I'd say 1.3x-1.4x screen width, but that's mighty picky and few are that demanding.
We are talking at these distances the point where pixels might be noticeable. You would have to be closer than that still, to actually note distortion known as the screen door effect, and it would tend to be most visible watching non-hi-def content like SDTV.
You can comfortably sit as close (relative to screen size) as any other DLP 720p projector. Only LCOS technology (D-ILA, SXRD, etc.) has significantly less visible pixel structures. (But unfortunately the LCOS projectors can't match the black levels of the DLPs.
Being a three chip projector, there is always the possibility of slightly misaligned pixels between the red, green and blue. In the case of this projector the misalignment was truly insignificant (visibly less than I saw on the SIM2), and on the SIM2, it wasn't detectable at any normal viewing distance. In fact I had to stand less than 4 feet from the large screen to see any misalignment at all. If all the 777 are as good as this one, that's about as good an alignment as anyone could hope for. A true, non-issue.
There was a small amount of light leakage from the lens area. Most of it seemed to project below the projector, which means it will hit the ceiling if ceiling mounted. It dd not seem to throw any of the leakage onto the screen. It is possible that this is a side affect of having using the maximum on the lens shift, but, unfortunately, I never reduced the amount of lens shift to check it. Sorry. Although seeing the leakage did not please me, the small amount should not create any real issue. Especially if you are ceiling mounting, and the ceiling is dark.
Audible Noise Levels
I didn't see a rated noise level spec, and I don't have the gear to measure, but if I had to take a guess, I would say that the 777 comes in around 27-30 db, based on what the claims are for other projectors. Ceiling mounted, the 777 is certainly quiet enough and should be effectively silent if there is any sound at all with the content you are watching. I am truly surprised that it produces as much noise as it does, considering the size of the box - you would think they could get it as quiet as some of the $2000 projectors that are perhaps 4-5db quieter, and are in drastically smaller cases (which should make them harder to baffle the sound).
I should note, unlike most projectors, the 777 doesn't have a low power mode which normally also means a slower running (quieter) fan setting. (that's how many of those low cost projectors get to claim 23 - 25 db.)
That said, I would also say that the noise level is about the same as the Sim2 C3X, although if I had to pick one, I'd say the SIM2 is a touch quieter. BTW, upon noticing the noise, I realized that, I wasn't using the cable cover, so I put it on, on the chance that it would perhaps, muffle some of the noise. I could detect no difference.
Now this is one bright projector. I'm used to primarily testing lower cost home theater projectors (because there are a lot more of them), and most tend to put out between high 200 lumens, and 500 lumens, in their best modes (mostly in the 300 - 400 lumen range).
Let's start by saying that the InFocus rates the 777 as a 2000 lumen projector. Consider please: Most of those 200 - 500 lumen tested projectors actually claim 1000 - 1500 lumens. In reading the InFocus datasheet prior to receiving the unit, I noted that they say that:
"2000 video-optimized lumens yields a dramatic SMPTE (cinema standard) brightness up to massive 15 foot (4.57 meter) wide screens." Now that would indicate that they are considering brightness at "video" settings - 6500K, which would indicate that the projector at native color temperature would be significantly higher.
Well the 777 came no wheres near to measuring 2000 lumens at 6500K, but then, I doubt anyone really expects it to. Even in the world of business projectors, it is truly a rare projector that actually hits its claims.
So we won't worry about the "2000 video-optimize lumens" suffice, to say, that the InFocus is the brightest HT DLP projector I have measured to date, except for the SIM2 C3X, and its not far behind (the C3X claims 2500 lumens at full power).
I used my Avia Pro software and the Optic One meter, to calibrate the InFocus 777 to as close to 6500K, as I could get (6547 at full 100 IRE - white, and mostly between 6470-6532 (30 IRE to 80 IRE grays).
I measured a rather impressive 804 lumens. By comparison, the SIM2, at its low power setting - claiming the same 2000 lumens - measured 903 lumens, in reality, a very small difference. At high power, the C3X should hit 1106 lumens, but then it claims 25% more lumens (2500) in that mode, so all's fair.
As I noted elsewhere, I don't know how many hours were on this lamp. The projector is definitely not brand new, but the lamp counter had been reset to 0. It's quite possible that the lamp may have a couple hundred hours on it, in which case it would measure a bit lower brightness than if the lamp was truly brand new.
I can certainly state that the InFocus Screenplay 777 had plenty of "horsepower" to produce a nice bright image on my 128" diagonal Stewart Firehawk (light gray surface) screen. I'm not sure that I'll buy into a 15 ft wide screen, as InFocus says, but with something like the classic StudioTek 130, with its 1.3 gain, in a fully darkened room, the InFocus certainly should be able to handle a good 12 feet wide.
Bottom line, you shouldn't need to worry about the brightness of this projector, at least for dark room viewing.
Lamp Life and Replacement
Apparently, the more expensive the home theater projector, the more expensive the lamp. I'm used to $399 to $499 list prices for replacement lamps on HT projectors that sell for under $5000. In the case of the 777, the lamp retail is $899! Hardly a bargain, but in fairness, it's the same price as the lamp of the SIM2 we just reviewed.
The lamp assembly is accessable from the back of the unit. You need to remove the cable cover (if you are using it, and you will find it just to the left of all the inputs (assuming the projector is right side up). Since you probably are ceiling mounting the projector, it will appear to be on the right as you look from the back.
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Projection Screen Recommendations
The InFocus 777 looked great on my 128" Firehawk, and if I were to install the 777 tomorrow, I would certainly stick with that surface. My room, however, in the daytime, is not completely dark, so the Firehawk helps out by making side ambient light less of a problem. As black levels are very, very good, having the light gray surface doesn't really help out much in terms of lowering black levels.
For those with fully darkened theaters, and dark walls, I would lean more toward a classic screen surface like Stewart's StudioTek 130. Or for those who are scraping together every last penny for this rather excellent projector, a lower cost fixed wall screen solution that would save some serious money, would be the similar Brilliant White screen from Carada, which was recently reviewed, and which I use in my testing room.
If you are going for a fairly small screen - let's say under 106", however, I think the gain of the StudioTek and Carada may be too much for a projector this bright, you may find that on a 92" or 100" that the blacks are just too light a gray, due to the sheer horsepower of this home theater projector. (If only it had a low power mode.) In that case, you would need to be looking at gray surfaced screens - or alternately, you could dim the 777 by using a Neutral Density filter in front of the lens (the InFocus lenses have a filter screw thread.
Quicktip: Screens are trickier to recommend than the projectors themselves as they are so sensitive to the issues in your room (excepting fully darkened rooms with black walls. Location of small amounts of ambient light, the seating position across, and relative distance to the screen, are all factors that can make one screen perfect for your room and another better for an almost identical layout but with a difference in one of these and other issues.
Calibrating the InFocus 777 was very straightforward. I first set brightness and contrast based on the image off of my Firehawk screen (high contast - light gray). As a result, those settings would vary depending on the screen surface you choose.
I ended up with:
Brightness: 44 (default is 50) at 50 on this unit, blacks were way toO gray
Contrast: 53 (default is 50)
After the usual adjusting, these are the RGB gain and offset settings I ended up with. Please note, again, I do not know how many hours were on this lamp. (Even color will shift slightly as a lamp ages, which is why some calibrators recommend not doing a full calibration until there are 200 - 500 hours on the lamp.
Below are a sequence of images shot off the screen of my laptop, showing color balance. (I've only shown 4 different IRE's from 30 to 100 although I started measuring at 10 IRE...
and, finally, 100 IRE:
You will notice a "cooling trend" at the brighter measurements... At the lower IRE ranges I was getting termperature measurements from the mid 6400's (10 IRE) to right around 6500K (at 50 IRE) but by the time I got up to 80 and 100 IRE, the temperature increased to 6532 and 6547 respectively. Translation, dark grays shift every slightly to red, while very bright grays and also white, shift very slightly toward blue and green.
Overall the neutrality of the grays was very good. I've seen better, but then, with a lot more playing, I may have been able to come up with slightly better settings. Also, I did not go into the service menus, where it may be easier to fine tune the settings.
Note, all calibrations were done with a signal from DVD passed to the projector via DVI/HDMI (digital). I did not do separate measurements for component input. Nor did I do a separate calibration for HDTV.
Looking for noise in the dark areas on this DLP projector was more challenging than usual, which is to say that I found the 777 to be very low in noise levels for a DLP projector. In this regard, it was cleaner than the SIM2.
The Advanced (Picture) Menu has a Noise control option, but I did not experiment with it, finding image noise levels to be perfectly acceptable for normal viewing.