InFocus SP8602 Physical Tour
03/8/2010 - Art Feierman
The SP8602 is a lot lighter looking than its large size would indicate.
InFocus SP8602 Physical Appearance
If you are looking for a styln' projector, with sexy lines or cool curves to impress your date (or wife?), then this InFocus is not for you. Physical looks are not what this InFocus is about. Still let's walk the tour.
OK, it's big, and especially deep. In reality, the input panel is recessed about 6 inches from the rear. Thus, if designed without a cable cover it would look about a half foot shorter. The manual lens is center mounted. There's also a front infra-red sensor for the InFocus remote. You can control two adjustable front drop down feeet from little releases in the white trim at the bottom, located just about an inch or so from the front. In the image above, the black top cover has been removed to reveal the lens controls.
Lens controls are on the top, just behind the lens. There are two rings - focus and zoom. Surprisingly, changing one affects the other. That's something we run into more on lower cost projectors. It's no big deal though. Once you are setup, zoom and focus and lens shift, it's not like you will be adjusting it. Two lens shift nobs are right behind the lens zoom and focus. The unusual way the lens shift operates is discussed (home page and elsewhere). Further back on the top is the backlit control panel, discussed in depth below. The trim ring around the lens lights up LED blue (rotating pattern) while the projector warms up and powers down.
The door for changing the lamp, as well as intakes and exhaust ventilation are located on the side.
The back houses the input panel, power, and a second infra-red sensor.
There are 4 different "skins" available for this InFocus SP8602 - matte black, shiny black, white, and wood grain. They just snap off and on.
The InFocus has a nice touch sensitive control panel backlit with blue LEDs. Easy to see, easy to use. The layout is pretty straight forward, and the functions typical of most projectors' control panels.
Image to come.
The control panel offers the power switch, Source switch, Help, Auto Image and Presets. The rest are the usual navigation controls - Menu, Enter and the four arrow keys. There are also three indicator lamps, for temperature, lamp, and service.
The InFocus offers an enhanced selection. There are a pair of HDMI 1.3 inputs, and a surprising 3 component video inputs (I'd suggest 3 HDMI, and two component, for their next projector), an analog PC input the usual S-video and composite video, and three 12 volt screen triggers (handy for those adding an anamorphic lens and sled). There is also a USB and a Serial service port. By the way, this picture is upside down. InFocus assumes this projector (as InFocus has done with most home theater projectors in the past) will be ceiling mounted, and therefore inverted. As such, they label all the controls upside down so they are easier for the installer to read.
InFocus SP8602 Menus
The InFocus menu and navigation system is organized into four main menus. The right arrow key is the easiest way to drill down into the sub menus, and the left arrow key, or the Menu button to move back towards the main menu.
The InFocus menu system is a new one for me. Tony's reviewing one of their newer business projectors as I write this. I'll be curious to see if it's similar.
There are two things I'm not particularly fond of. The first is the pale gray of the menus and the lack of a lot of contrast between the background and the text. In other words, not the easiest to read from far back, as the type is also moderately small. I think reading would be easy at normal differences if the menus were a bit more contrasty.
The other issue may just be me. Even if it's not, I can't imagine anything about menu and navigation style, that would be enough to factor into a buying decision. At most, the worst menu system (and this certainly isn't), might be a little annoying the once in a while when you actually use it.
I don't like menus that scroll down. I'd rather see a decent number of menu items on a menu, then rely on more sub-menus. It's a lot faster for finding things, especially when you are getting to know a projector, if nothings hidden off the page. I often forget I can scroll down. Perhaps more visible labeling would help a little.
The first two menus above, are the Basic Picture menu with everything you see above, and more (hiding down below until you scroll). Some of the items on the basic menu include contrast, brightness and sharpness, but also items like keystone correction, preset modes, a split screen mode for watching two sources at once (it works!),
The Advanced menu has the color management, and grayscale controls (yes you'll have to scroll down to find them, but also CFI, iris, and so on).
There are two "split screen" modes. One is a demo mode for comparing the CFI on in any of its 4 positions, compared to the rest of the image with CFI (SmoothMotion) off.
The other is a true split screen for watching two sources. Unlike the BenQ split screen mode (few projectors offer one), the InFocus can work with two hi def sources. the BenQ strangely requires than one source be low res, like S-video or composite video.
There is also a Setup menu, and as with all projectors, an information (Status) menu, as well.
InFocus SP8602 Remote Control
Image to come. Cute as a button! It's designed to resemble a minature SP8602. It lights up with the same blue LED light as the projector's control panel (and the cosmetic blue LED lit ring around the lens, that lights when powering up, or down). It certainly works well enough, it feel's actually good, and has a backlight button on the side where it is easy to find. Even better, the range is very good. Unlike most remotes, this one works well in my large theater, in terms of range. I have no trouble getting a good bounce off of my screen. That's about a 26 foot round trip
But, it could use a little more tactile way to find buttons, as then are laid out as square tiles almost touching. That's very minor though.
The Power switch is at the top left. Then there's the usual menu and navigation buttons. Below that a row with resize, overscan and source select. The following row has the custom button (choose from a preselected list of shortcuts), Auto Image, and a button for choosing from the Preset modes. Finally there are three direct source select buttons.
Finally, back at the top is a help button. There are a number of topics, and if you can find what you are looking for, from the offerings, that saves you the trouble of breaking out the manual.
SP8602 Projector's Lens Throw
The zoom lens is a 1.5:1. For a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 screen the front of the projector can be placed as close as 10 feet 11 inches or as far back as 16 feet 9 inches. This distances taken from the manual.
SP8602 Lens Shift
I started our conversation about the lens shift on the first page. There I pointed out that it significantly affected brightness (by 15%). As stated there, if you are ceiling mounting, (the projector must be inverted if up high), the projector can be placed so the lens is not far above the top of the screen surface. When it's even with the top, that's called 0 offset. From there you can move it higher, but not lower. The higher you go, the brighter it gets (very strange).
The low point is defined as 105% of screen height, and in the manner they describe it, for a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen that would be just shy of a 50 inches high, so about 2.5 inches above the screen. Or any where up to 130%, which would be just a tad shy of 15 inches above the screen top. Or, on a table top or low shelf, from that 2.5 inches to 15 inches below the bottom.
This is typical throw range for projectors with 1.5:1 zooms. Mounting the projector toward the shorter end of the distance range, will give you some extra lumens. Consdier all the trade-offs. Because it's only a 1.5:1 zoom, the difference in brightness isn't that great, as covered in the performance page.
The SP8602 supports third party anamorphic lenses. The projector has three screen triggers as well, allowing one can be used to control a motorized sled.