Posted on March 14, 2008 By Art Feierman
We’ve got one attractive projector here – the glossy black finished (with a touch of gold trim) in the JVC RS15. The InFocus SP8602, on the other hand, looks a lot better when the room’s lights are off. The SP8602 has a very industrial look to it, done in medium and dark grays. It almost looks like a giant ice cream sandwich, but for the colors. The SP8602 is only pretty when the lights are off, and the projector is working!
Getting past the look, let’s start at the front of these very different projectors. The InFocus’es lens is manual, and centered. Controls for the lens, including lens shift are hidden behind the quick release top cover.
The JVC DLA-RS15, by comparison is all power – focus, zoom and lens shift. In addition the JVC’s zoom lens has an awesome 2:1 zoom ratio which is about as good as it gets in terms of placement flexibility. The InFocus, typical of DLP projectors has a lot less range, only 1.5, although that is pretty good among the DLP projectors out there.
Personally I am a fan of power focus, especially if mounting the projector pretty far back. I know I’m going to get just that much more perfect a focus, if I’m standing 8 inches from the screen while focusing, rather than standing on a ladder 10 – 15 feet back.
That takes us to the connection panels. Here you’ll find a couple of notable differences. The greatest difference is that the JVC lacks an analog computer input. Although there are work arounds with external devices, or you can feed the RS15 an HDMI signal if your computer has one, for many, this is just a pain in the butt. I use computers with my projectors in both rooms, fortunately, I’m a Mac guy, so when I had the RS15 (and RS10 before it) for review, I would hook up my MacBook using HDMI. The InFocus SP8602 like just about every other home projector we’ve reviewed in the last year, does have an analog computer input (often called a VGA input, or just a “computer input”).
The computer input is the biggest difference between these two home theater projectors, but the InFocus consistantly has more connections. The two projectors both have two HDMI inputs. (InFocus has finally dropped their proprietary M1 connector that they’ve been using for DVI / HDMI.) The InFocus is dripping in component video inputs with 3 sets of three RCA component video jacks. By comparison the poor JVC has but one set of component video inputs. It’s the same thing when it comes to screen triggers – InFocus 3, JVC 1. If you have a motorized screen and an anamorphic lens and sled, or a screen with multiple masks you can use those extra screen triggers to control them. This is a minor concern though, as there are always other ways to control motorized screens, and for that matter lens sleds. Of course they both have the basics – composite video, S-video, and an RS-232 for service support (or controlling a sled, etc.)
The InFocus’s cable connection area (the inputs/outputs) is deeply recessed on the back, and the projector comes with a cable cover to keep things neat. The JVC RS15 has all of its inputs/outputs on the right side (looking from the front) running from the front, to about halfway back.
Should the lack of an analog computer input be a deal breaker for those wanting to interface their computer? No, as I said, there are some workarounds available, but still, if you normally would need an analog computer input, it is a hassle. I’m not sure if the lack of that input affected my award decisions, but let’s say, it sure didn’t help.
In summary: There’s no question about the greater placement flexibility advantage of the JVC. And power everything is really nice. On the other hand, the InFocus is better endowed in inputs, most noticeably by having a VGA input that this JVC projector lacks.
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