InFocus ScreenPlay 8602 Home Theater Projector – A First Look review


OK, getting an early look at the new InFocus ScreenPlay 8602 was much fun.  Before I get started, a quick note.  The Mitsubishi HC3800 home theater projector review will publish early this evening: Monday Sept. 28th, 2009.  In addition, I’ll publish my First Look blog on the Epson Home Cinema 8100 sometime tomorrow afternoon, if not sooner.  OK, back to the new InFocus 8602 projector:

Angle photo of InFocus SP8602 home theater projector

It was, however an early engineering sample.  In this particular case I didn’t feel we had enough control of the unit to do a full review, but it has been an educational, and encouraging experience.

First of all, it looks like it’s going to be a really good projector, worthy of it’s $5000 anticipated price tag, and as a successor to the IN83.

The InFocus 8602 they sent me, did not have the gain and offset controls active when using the HDMI port.  We were not advised that other inputs might have them working.  As such we did not calibrate the projector.  Couldn’t get to the color saturation control either, and everything looked like it could use a slight reduction in saturation as well.

InFocus SP8602 on left, BenQ W6000 on right

Click for a larger version

There was no good way to get them virtually identical in brightness.

Even without calibrating it, the color was reasonably good.  But definitely not great.  Yellows and perhaps green seem strong with a goldish caste to the picture.  I have little doubt that with the finalized color tables, and a calibration with working controls, and the InFocus will produce a really fine picture with at least extremely good skin tones – something InFocus projectors tend to do extremely well.

Black level performance was very good.  Unlike previous InFocus projectors, the ScreenPlay 8602 projector has a dynamic iris, and it does the trick.  InFocus claims 30,000:1 Contrast, certainly a respectable number these days.   I did a couple of quick side by sides with the InFocus, and the BenQ W6000 projector.  The InFocus 8602 bests the W6000 in black level performance.  In some quick viewing, it’s iris was pretty well behaved, (better than most) and in several favorite scenes that I regularly use, the InFocus did provide a generally blacker black. Due to the different ways the projectors’ irises work, the amount of difference varies by the scene.

I’ll concede that there might be even further improvement with the finished projectors.  How good are the blacks?  My best take is that they are not a match for my JVC RS20, and maybe not the RS10, but should prove to be at least close to the rest of the good ones using dynamic irises, such as the Planar PD8150, the Epson 8500UB (new),  6500UB. Another unknown would be the announced Sony VPL-VW85, which though more money than the InFocus, should be a serious competitor.

That means black levels that are “good enough” in that they really are pretty good, and good enough that other factors are going to be more important, than incremental black level performance improvements.  Those other factors might include brightness, sharpness, shadow detail, overall color, and, look and feel.

In that regard, consider sharpness.  The Screenplay 8602 is very sharp, no question that it is sharper than my JVC RS20.  It’s a typically very sharp DLP projector, and the sharpness was obvious to an old hand like me.

The projector itself is big, rectangular and perhaps only attractive in a soft commercial looking sort of way.  Zoom, focus and lens shift controls (all manual) are located on the top, behind the lens, and under a cover that has a release, and slides off. Well, afterall, theoretically, you are setting it up once, and leaving it.  It seals up all nice and neat.  While the styling is pretty plain, InFocus offers different “skins” so you can change the color of the unit.  Choices include:  matte black, matte white, glossy black, walnut, or pre-primed for custom design installations.  There’s a cable cover to keep the cabling all neat, too.  InFocus, as usual labels all the inputs upside down, so that installers see them right side up once the projector is hung and ready for cabling. (That’s what I call a minor, but “nice” touch!)

Interestingly, for trim, there’s a bright blue light  called a Glow Ring) (led? I didn’t look) trim ring around the lens.  Talk about minor details, I couldn’t turn it off from the menu, not activated yet,  so it stayed on, while viewing.  I solved that by cutting out a cardboard mask, and taped it on to the front.  That solved the bright blue light problem.    If that hadn’t worked, plan B was duct tape, of course.  No problem masking the light for viewing purposes, and of course that feature will  work properly in finished production InFocus 8602 projectors.

Hmm, what else is of interest?

Creative frame interpolation.  That was a surprise – I hadn’t been expecting it. And, this is one of the first DLP projectors to offer it, and one of the first $5000 and up projectors to sport CFI.    It seems to work very nicely.  Movies took on that live digital video look which is more soap opera like, and which most of us don’t like for movies.  The CFI, though offers real potential with sports.  I haven’t yet played with it much, but it definitely was far superior to the early Epson CFI that I discussed in many blogs (and later updated by Epson).  I’ll take a much closer look when I get the production 8602.    My initial impression is that the InFocus CFI is pretty clean.  For movies however the CFI  definitely will not match the director’s intent.  While CFI can be fun, on some movies, I think we are going to need more advanced CFI, that can smooth out key types of motion, without giving us the “live digital video” look.  I haven’t seen any CFI so good that I can recommend it for most movie watching, not even on the “low” setting when offered.  InFocus is using Pixelworks to provide a lot of its image processing, and TI’s Brilliant Color for much of the rest.  Pixelworks is well known, and does image processing for a number of projectors.  I do believe it is Pixelworks that also provides the CFI for the Epson UB projectors.

Audible Noise levels weren’t bad, neither loud nor exceptionally soft.  That’s not surprising, as DLP’s tend to lead towards the noisy side, but this is a big box, with plenty of chance to muffle the sound.  Since this is an early unit, I would expect a production unit to be slightly quieter, but even with a worst case scenario – no change in noise level, the InFocus does pretty well.

BTW, the cute little LED backlit remote looks like a miniature version of the projector (but without the blue glow ring).

The SP8602 is a pretty bright, projector!  (InFocus rates it at 1300 lumens, officially.)

When you consider this is an early unit, it’s almost certain that production units will be this bright or brighter.  In the best mode we could come up with, the projector managed over 600 lumens and most modes were between there and about 750 lumens. (Remember, we had very little flexibility, so mostly looked at the different modes as they were provided.)  The brightest Mike was able to measure was just below 900 lumens.   That, in general puts the InFocus ScreenPlay 8602 pretty much the same as the JVC projectors, including my RS20, all of which measure between 700 and 900 lumens from best to brightest.  I may hope that full production units will be little brighter, but I wouldn’t expect a major increase.

All considered, the SP8602 should have great color, will have real “ultra-high contrast” black level performance, above average movie mode brightness, and a very sharp image.  Ultimately we’ll see how the InFocus 8602’s black levels perform compared to the competition, but its safe to say that they are far superior to the older IN83 projector.

What’s not to like?  I’ll probably edit this blog or do another one with more thoughts, but mostly, for anything definitive, let’s leave it at this:  Looks to be excellent, and may prove to be a potential Best In Class winner (or at least serious competitor), but I’ll need to see a more finished projector to really position it.

All considered, I expect that when this projector ships, likely late October, it will be one serious projector.  Just the thought of a projector that’s nice and bright, and can hopefully match the excellent skin tone and color handling of the IN83, but with the addition of a dynamic iris to give the projector some very respectable black level performance, has my heart all a pitter-patter!   (Ok, let’s say, I’m mildly excited!).  Seriously though, that’s what were’ all hoping for, in the form of the ScreenPlay 8602.

If InFocus can deliver – and there’s nothing I’ve seen so far to indicate they won’t be able to. And I’m talking about all of the points discussed above, then the IN8602 becomes a formidable projector, with a serious shot at being the best of the under $10,000 DLP 1080p projectors.  If not the best, than almost certainly a serious contender! -art

News and Comments

  • Ryan

    Thanks for posting the Mitsubishi HC3800 review. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t find any mention of color wheel speed or rainbow visibility. What did you think? Thanks!

    • Yes Ryan, you are correct – a major oversight on my part. Color wheel and related circuitry – it’s a 6 segment, 4x color wheel. In terms of visibility of the rainbow effect, I find that there isn’t much difference between the HC3800 and the Optoma HD20. On the other hand, when viewing side by side, against the more expensive BenQ W6000, I found the rainbows to be less noticeable on the BenQ. I would also, at this point, presume that the rainbows are more noticeable on the HC3800, than on the Sharp XV-Z15000 projector, which (like the BenQ) is one where I found the RBE to be rarely detectable. Bottom line, for those RBE sensitive, the Mitsubishi, isn’t up to a number of the newer, and more expensive DLPs. -art

  • Steve

    Based upon your review, the HC3800 seems to be a winner. Have you had a chance to compare it to the HC6800? Very courious to hear your early impressions.


  • I like the image on the right best: BenQ W6000

    Also, is the projector a spinning wheel dlp?

    I like the JVC for under 10k

    • And you should like the BenQ best in that regard. The InFocus did not have the tools active for us to properly calibrate it. (As it turns out, we could have, had we tried component video, instead of HDMI, but we weren’t aware of that option, at the time. We’ll do a full review of the 8602 InFocus when we get a production unit. Again, the 8602 has great potential. It was able to muster up blacker blacks than the BenQ, and has a smoother iris action, but colors are still off, and oversaturated (no working color saturation control on this sample, either.)


  • Ryan

    Thanks Art!

  • Steve Atkinson

    Well Art, it sounds like my HD1000U should be pretty nervous about its new competition from the HC3800.

    However, I am not nearly so excited about the 8602… I was hoping it would be a “light cannon” to replace my IF7210, but from your initial look it appears it will come up short. The BenQ W6K is significantly brighter… lets hope that the folks from BenQ take you seriously and get to work on that iris issue.

    I am wanting to fill a 150″ 16×9 screen, so the only viable replacements seem to be the BenQ W6K or pick up an IN83 and tilt the projector up and bring the top of the screen out a couple of inches… (ceiling is 8’9″).

    I will be waiting for the final review on the 8602 and hopefully more word from BenQ.

  • Bernie Troitsky

    Is Infocus ever going to build the SP8602? The date was originally November, then December, now January. I can’t find anything on the web about the status.

    • Hi Bernie, Actually I’m in regular contact with them. They wanted to get it right, and started pretty much from scratch, including new software (contracted out…). They’ve been telling me some of that software has been the major hangup. The hardware is ready to go. I should no more in another week or so. We were discussing last week. I gave them a late Feb date to get me a unit as the drop dead date if they want to be included in the big 2010 comparision report.
      I sure hope it’s excellent, my first look showed great potential, and at least very competent black levels for a DLP in its price range. It may not be up to, say the JVC’s, but it definitely came a long way from the old IN83, where blacks were it’s one achilles heel. -art

  • Bernie Troitsky

    Thanks Art. It looks like the 8602’s are starting to ship now. Hopefully you get one soon to review. The BenQ W6000 certainly looks appealing based upon your review combined with modest pricing. It will be interesting to see how they compare in production model form.

  • Rosario Ferrara

    Is SP8602 sharp and razor like IN83?

    • Hi Rosario, I would say yes, it is. It appears very sharp. Most pleasing! Of course it’s been a long time since the IN83 was here, but, they are both “classic DLPs” in that regard. I know the lenses are different zooms, but they come from the same lens manufacturer, which is probably a very good thing.

  • Rosario Ferrara

    Meantime i saw SP8602 and i liked it.
    Has nice colors and is sharp an razor.
    Unfortunately the lens shift is limited and “Motion Smoothing” too aggressive.
    I’m very impatient to read your review.

    • Hi Rosario,

      Tomorrow night, late, I hope. Lots of lens shift actually, but not a standard setup in that regard. Motion smoothing, is “typical” there are better ones. This one uses pixelworks, who did the CFI on the Epson 6500UB last year, and is still doing the 8500UB. I’m still not a fan, except for sports and some other digital content. I know some others like the affect on some movies (like my teenaged daughter).

  • Ken McMillan

    Thanks Art:
    I know you have your work cut out for you with all the reviews. Can’t wait to see the annual home theater projector review for this year.
    I hope the infocus 8602 full review makes it in time. I’m getting ready to pull the trigger on one next week for an upgrade from my infocus 7210, but, would like to see the full review before i do. Thanks for all the time and efort you put into your reviews they are very helpfull.

  • Ken McMillan

    Hi Art:
    I’m very curious to see how the SP8602 will stack up against the other DLPs, like the Planer PD8150, Optoma HD8600, Infocus IN83 and the Benq W20000 for sharpness, color and black levels. Hopefully it’s up to the challenge. Any chance the review will be up today? Any word on whether the new Vivitek 5080 is a clone of the Optoma HD8600 hardware wise. It will be interesting to see how it does with a firmware update to unlock some of the menu for more tweaking


  • Kendall Luelf

    I recently questioned art about the calibration process/settings found in his review of the SP8602. To minimize confusion and to keep from repetative questions, here is our conversation.

    After reading the settings you guys came up with after calibration on the SP8602, I found myself a bit confused.

    I would like to try the settings you arrived at, but would like to try to figure out exactly what you did.

    1.)  How do you get color temperature to 100 IRE?  Is that warmest, warm, cool, or bright?

    Arts response:  White is 100 IRE, by definition the IRE measurements are essentially brightness.  90 IRE is very light gray, etc. and 0 is black.  If we say white is 6550K that’s to say, that measuring 100 IRE, we recorded 6550K.    if we look at a light gray, there will be some shift in the balance of R,G, and B, thus the measured color temp would be a little different, say 6615K.  Sometimes the numbers swing fairly widely in an uncalibrated projector. When calibrating the idea is to have all levels of brightness have the same color temp, of 6500K (D65).

    2.)  From my understanding, you started with the “video” preset and calibrated everything from there, and once finished saved it to User 1?

    Arts response: Not exactly, you can’t actually make all the modifications to video, it’s not allowed.  So you go to user.  But, the video setup out of the box is the best.

    3.)  Lastly, under the “InFocus SP8602 RGB Settings”, it says your “user” mode was set to: Video gamma setting, Contrast at 49, Brightness at 51, Warmest color temp, Brilliant Color on Bright.  With that said, are these the exact settings that you ended up with after calibration, including leaving the brilliant color on Bright mode?  I’m asking because you have a section with “quick cal of bright mode”. I’m confused about if this is brilliant color in bright mode, or the projector itself set in brightest mode?

    Arts response: Not our fault.  the 8602 has a gamma mode called bright, and it has a preset mode called bright.  Knowing that, you should be able to sort it out

    4.) Sorry for all of the questions, I was just a bit confused.  From what I understand, to set up your calibration settings, i would need to:
    1.)Set to Video default.   
    Arts response: NO Start with User

    2.)Brightness to 51  
    Arts Response: Yes, but actually I prefer using 50.  Mike and I consistently disagree on the call for brightness on projectors.  Invariably one number will be a tad too high, one a tad too low.  To high, and black levels rise, too low and some very near blacks get crushed to black.  I favor the latter and my darker blacks.  Mike favors the first one.  It’s hardly a bid dif, but since you asked!

    3.)Contrast to 49   
    Arts response: Yes

    4.)Temp to Warmest  
    Arts response: Yes

    5.)Gamma to Video     
    Arts response: Yes

    6.)Brilliant color to Bright?
    Arts response: Your call on Brilliant Color.  There will be a slight shift in color from Bright to Normal, but probably no more than the variation of the lamps between this one and yours.

    7.)Then just set the RGB gain/offset settings?  
    Arts response: Yep.

  • Kendall Luelf

    For some reason my projector is clipping white at reference white and not peak white. Was this a similar finding during your calibration?

  • Kendall Luelf

    Art, sorry I will clarify. I tried using spears and munsil cal disc and while setting contrast very few of the gray test bars were visible because of clipping. Not sure if this makes sense or not. But nonetheless, adjusting contrast was not able to make more bars visible.

    • I’ll take a look next time I fire up the 8602 – probably in the next couple of days. Mike does the calibrating, and while I tend to readjust the brightness (when Mike has to choose between two adjacent numbers – say a 51 or a 52, for brightness, where, say, 51 is just crushing the most minimal dark detail, and 52 is no crushing, but blacks lifted a fraction more than ideal, then he sets for 52. Me, I’d change to 51. While I readjusted brightness, I hadn’t noticed any crushing of near whites, and never checked that.

      Well, like I said, I’ll take another look, next time I fire it up. -a

  • Ken McMillan

    Hi Art:
    Thank you for the very detailed review on the SP8602. On your readings with high lamp on in best mode 1059 and brightest mode 1110 i took as being with brilliant color off? Meaning that with it on we would see an additional 35% on top of that for around, say 1429 in best mode and 1498 in brightest mode with maximum offset and the lamp on high.
    Also, and please correct me if i’m wrong here but when i clicked on the screenshots of the 8602 to view them and then checked properties the file names indicated that a few of the 8602 pics weren’t actually of the 8602, could you look into that please, and replace them for us if that is the case?
    Again, thank you Art for the very detialed review, i ordered my SP8602 today, it should be a very good upgrade from my sp7210. Ken

    • Hi Ken, yes, I’m catching up on blog responses in reverse order. So:

      Lori usually takes a week or two so to completely proof each review (there’s a lot to do, and she does have another job too). She checks for old images. (I always start with a review of a competitive projector, as a template, as that means many of the comparison images are already in place.) I tend to miss replacing a few… I have a list of a few, and will be replacing. Remember,

      Both the 1059 and the 1110 numbers are with Brilliant Color on, about 864 in “best” with BC off (normal). When you consider the purpose of a “brightest mode” it wouldn’t make sense to turn off a feature that adds a lot of brightness.

  • Ken McMillan

    Hi Art:
    After reading the full review again a little closer, i see that your readings were taken with brilliant color on, at max offset, with high lamp and i assume no lens shift.
    Thanks, Ken

  • Ken McMillan

    Well looks like alot of us are having a lockup issue with the sp8602 even after the first firmware release, which did fix the tearing problem some were having. When the unit locks up it will not respond to the remote or buttons on the pj. Art did you have any of these issues with your review unit?
    Thnaks Ken

    • Hi Ken,

      Hmm, no, I’ve had two units here. The first, an early engineering sample (last fall), (so early HDMI wasn’t fully operational on the projector – couldn’t access color controls to calibrate). Didn’t spend much time with that unit, but don’t recall a problem then.

      However, I’ve go the 8602 still queued up in my main theater (alternating with one other projector (another LG model). I’ve probably got 75+ hours on this one, and NO, I do not recall it hanging up once. (And I’m supposed to notice things like that.)

      But, like many such problems, even if 10 – 20% have an issue, when you consider the limited number of reviewers, it’s quite likely none of us will encounter it. Tell the truth, this is the first I’ve heard of this one. (I avoid reading other reviews, until mine are done.) Then, usually a few days later, then I’m up visiting the forums to find out what I might have missed. More typically, I’ve heard of problems even before the review is up, because I do get 20-40 emails or blog comments a day (though I can’t answer most). Yours is the first, this time.

      Darn! Looks like a call tomorrow to my favorite InFocus product manager to find out what the story is. I’ll be posting a blog about the 8602, though more on other things, but related, this evening or tomorrow. -art

  • G. Baeten

    Hi Art!

    Great reviews as usual!

    Are you going to “re-review” the updated InFocus 8602 that InFocus has promised to send you with the “fixes” you told them to make in your review – namely the iris?

    Let us know!


    • Greeting’s “G.”
      Actually I did discuss in depth, about the new iris firmware, in a blog done on June 1 I believe. I recently (last two days) finally updated, the review itself (and it now also links to the blog about the iris).
      Also of note, as mentioned in a previous blog, with the improved iris action, I updated the 1080p Home Theater Comparison Report. As part of that, I tossed out the original Special Interest award it received when the report first published. With the improved iris (though not perfect) but thanks to sharpness, and brightness, and natural skin tones… I decided that the SP8602 earned a tie for Best of Class – Runner-up ($3500 – $10,000), with the JVC RS25… (I know, blasphemy from a JVC RS20 owner, but still, the InFocus’es color handling is at least as good as the JVC, and all those extra lumens… Even I have to start wondering if those lumens are worth more, than the JVC’s black level advantage compared to an InFocus projector with very respectable blacks… -art