InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 DLP projector Page 2

ScreenTime with the ScreenPlay
It took about half an hour to set up the ScreenPlay 7200, and another 15 minutes to fine-tune its color and picture controls. The electronic keystone correction had enough range to deal with all but the most extreme setup positions, and even with such flexibility, it produced no jagged edges or stair-step artifacts. Although the 7200 lacks the convenience of motorized zoom or focus controls, after the initial setup I had no need to readjust its lens.

If your home theater is quiet, you'll be glad to know that the noise of the ScreenPlay's color wheel and fan—a problem with some other DLP projectors—was lower than normal when the 7200's lamp output was set to 200W. Both the Plus Avanti 3200 and the SIM2 HT300 Plus projectors are noisier. The 7200's fan noise increased noticeably when the lamp output was set to 250W, but it was still no worse than the Plus's or the SIM2's. In theory, the higher lamp setting should be used only in large rooms when the ScreenPlay is farther away from the screen. In this situation, the increased noise should be less of a problem. Still, you might want to check out the noise at the higher lamp output to see if you'll find it distracting.

The ScreenPlay 7200 produced images of consistently high quality. Its color palette was remarkably neutral, with good differentiation of reds and fine control of green saturation. Unlike the Plus Avanti 3200, the InFocus rendered grass that looked like grass, not Astroturf. I received the ScreenPlay 7200 after TJN had done some initial testing and gray-scale setup. With his adjustments, the gray-scale neutrality and color temperature seemed spot-on. Projecting One Hour Photo, with its many different colors and saturation levels, the InFocus delivered the many color subtleties and hue variations with superb accuracy.

The ScreenPlay's sharpness was simply outstanding. With the Faroudja NR-series digital image processor set to 720p output and connected to the projector's HD-15 input, images had a remarkable level of crispness and detail—I could easily count eyelashes in close-ups. The ScreenPlay's acuity illuminated the differences between the Faroudja's 720p output and 480p from the McIntosh MVP851 and Toshiba SD-9200 DVD players (using the projector's Native mode). At 720p, the resolution charts and Snell & Wilcox moving zone-plate patterns from the Video Essentials and Avia test discs were sharp up to their upper-frequency limits. With 480p sources, these patterns got a tiny bit soft at the tops of their ranges.

The Screenplay 7200's black levels weren't as dark as what you can get from a CRT projector such as my SIM2 Millennium 800, but the InFocus had enough light output that, with a gray screen and some careful level adjustments, blacks could have good detail and reasonably convincing darkness levels. Only in super-stygian scenes with low internal contrast did images begin to look flat and chalky; for example, Sony's new high-bit version of The Panic Room, an extremely dark transfer, managed to give the ScreenPlay fits. In many scenes from that film, shadows tended to block up and become exceedingly noisy.

Some people are very sensitive to the noxious effects of DLP color wheels. Their rainbow effects can be distracting and, after a couple hours' viewing, highly fatiguing. I couldn't watch a double feature with the Plus Avanti 3200 DLP projector without getting headaches that would last for several hours after the second movie ended, but the ScreenPlay 7200's six-segment, 5x color wheel was the least offensive one I've experienced. The InFocus wasn't entirely devoid of rainbows, but they were much less odious. With the ScreenPlay 7200, I could watch two movies with no discomfort—even the Grammy Awards show, with its hyperactive camera angles and constant barrage of pyrotechnics, was easy to watch. The ScreenPlay 7200 is the first DLP projector that I would seriously consider living with because its color-wheel rainbow effects are below my pain threshold.

DLP projectors such as the Plus Avanti 3200 perform substantial surgeries on the picture area, never quite displaying the entire image. According to the Avia pixel-cropping chart, the ScreenPlay 7200 cropped the left side a bit (12 pixels), but the top, bottom, and right sides showed readings of three pixels or less.

One performance area in which the ScreenPlay 7200 did not equal the SIM2 HT300 Plus or even the Plus Avanti 3200 was in overall video noise. With every picture source, the ScreenPlay produced substantial background noise. Blue skies and large, dark color fields displayed this problem with pernicious clarity. Because of this pervasive background noise—and unlike the SIM2, which can produce grainless, very filmlike textures—images through the ScreenPlay always looked slightly gritty and grainy.

FinalFocus on the InFocus
The InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 is a work in progress that almost succeeds beautifully. It produces a sharp picture with excellent color and gray-scale performance, and its rainbow effects are reasonably well-tamed. The remote control is well-designed and easy to use, and you can fine-tune the projector's setup more than most. Yet for me, the ScreenPlay 7200's level of video noise intruded on everything that went through it. Also, InFocus's ergonomically shortsighted decision to use an M1-DA connector instead of standard DVI means that users must resort to a custom cable if they want to watch DVI sources. If InFocus fixes the projector's noise problem and offers a DVI adapter, I could recommend the ScreenPlay 7200 without reservation. The ScreenPlay 7200 does many things well, but before you open your wallet, I recommend you audition it carefully to make certain that you can live with its few shortcomings.