HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



June
2004

Reviewed by
Wes Marshall
REVIEWERS' CHOICE 2004


InFocus
ScreenPlay 5700

DLP Projector

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: ScreenPlay 5700

Price: $3999 USD
Dimensions: 13.8"W x 4.3"H x 12.8"L
Weight: 9.5 pounds

Warranty: Two years parts and labor, one year on accessories, 90 days or 500 hours on lamp

Features

  • Texas Instruments Matterhorn LVDS DMD
  • 1024x576 resolution (16:9)

Features (cont'd)
  • 1.89:1 to 2.63:1 throw ratio
  • 1000 ANSI lumens brightness
  • 1400:1 contrast ratio
  • 16.7 million colors
  • Faroudja DCDi video processing
  • Six-segment, 5x color wheel
  • Three component-video inputs (two RCA, one D5)
  • Two S-video inputs
  • One composite input
  • One DVI input
  • RS-232 input
  • Three 3.5mm mini-jack outputs

InFocus is one of the world’s largest makers of DLP projectors. When they decided to get into the home-theater business, they began with a winning product, the 7200. For $6999 (the price has just been lowered by $1000), you got a 1280x720 DLP projector with a bright picture, good blacks, and stellar factory setup. At the time, the best projectors available below that price, such as the PLUS Piano and Avanti, used an 848x600 chip. That had only about half the pixels of the 7200, so the difference on the screen was pretty dramatic. When Texas Instruments released their 1024x576 Matterhorn chipset, InFocus was one of the first to offer it to the public, in the form of the ScreenPlay 5700 ($3999).

As you can tell by the numbers, the Matterhorn is designed for 16:9 playback, but there’s more to the story. The Matterhorn chipset has been enhanced for additional contrast, and when you throw in the 5700’s extra-bright bulb, you end up with a reported contrast ratio of 1400:1, with 1000 ANSI lumens of brightness. InFocus hasn’t scrimped on the guts, either. You get Faroudja DCDi, a six-segment, 5x color wheel, and enough connectivity to keep anyone happy. Digiphiles will be happy to see DVI/HDCP for digital video and encrypted digital video. Finally, InFocus puts each projector through a detailed calibration before it hits the shipping dock, including setting the color temperature to an accurate 6500K. The 5700 is a lot of product for the money.

Set it up!

The ScreenPlay 5700 has a longer throw distance than the norm. For instance, a 100"-diagonal screen will need to be 13.5’ to 18.7’ from the projector for a full picture. I couldn’t quite fill the screen in my room, which is unusual. Besides having a long throw, the 5700 must also be placed below the screen (or above, when mounted on the ceiling), at an offset of 133%. That means that, for a 10’-high screen, you’d place the center of the lens 3.3’ below the screen.

Everything else is pretty easy. There’s one small adjustable foot at the front of the projector to set the angle, and another at the back for leveling. The manual zoom and focus are very easy to use. My favorite way to square up a picture is to use the intro screen from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Besides being a perfect 16:9 image, it’s bright and easy to use. The whole process took me about ten minutes.

As with the previously reviewed 7200, the 5700’s calibration out of the box was close to perfect. I used Digital Video Essentials to check InFocus’s settings, and all were very close to ideal. What a luxury to have a video product that’s been set correctly straight out of the box. Another nice touch: The manual was originally written in English, not translated, and it’s easy to read and use. I especially loved the troubleshooting section, which uses drawings to present problems and solutions, bypassing potentially confusing technobabble. Nice job.

The remote control is a lovely piece of ergonomics. It fits easily in the hand and is backlit, though you won’t need to look at it after about a week of use. Given the poor state of cable and satellite broadcasts, I was also happy to find direct access to the Contrast and Brightness settings on the remote.

The 5700’s menu system is simple and quick. Two pushes of the Menu button on the remote and all of the normal picture settings pop up. From there, you can go as deep as you want -- and the 5700 lets you adjust or select more items than any other projector I’ve seen. Once you’ve set it up to your preferences, you can store your settings in one of three memory presets. In short, the 5700’s picture was beautiful as delivered from the factory; from there, the user can make it as simple or as complex as desired.

So how did it look?

Just prior to receiving the ScreenPlay 5700, I’d been using InFocus’s 7200 and the Boxlight Cinema 20HD. Both projectors have at least 30% more pixels than the 5700’s Matterhorn chipset, so I was expecting to see some artifacts -- some stair-stepping on straight lines, or visible pixels. The picture on my screen was 120" diagonal, and I was seated 14’ away.

Usually, the first test I throw at a new projector is chapter 10 of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. The colors are Day-Glo bright, with a lot of straight lines at odd intersections to trip up a projector. The 5700 had impressive brightness and contrast, and handled all the intricacies of the DVD. Citizen Kane is another good test of a DLP projector. The film’s murky gray-to-black transitions play havoc with DLP’s Achilles’ heel: the portrayal of convincing blacks. There were a few times the blacks crushed together, but these were subtle and seldom enough that I don’t consider them a serious issue. Citizen Kane is also a great test for generating the "rainbow effect." I saw a few, but they were never distracting, especially when one considers all the other things the 5700 did so well.

Sports fans should love the 5700. During the NBA playoffs (a ritual in our house), the ScreenPlay held a bright, detailed picture that was immune to movement effects. The picture was so precise that it exposed the abysmal quality of camera the networks use for the long shots, as well as the digital noise on the graphic overlays. But when the director switched to the floor cameras, the picture was crystal-clear and exciting.

Because the 5700 isn’t full-on high-definition, I decided to compare a 480i DVD and 1080i D-VHS signals, both from GalaxyQuest. A close-up of Tim Allen’s face is a great test. Typically, on the DVD, his face looks Hollywood-smooth. The D-VHS shows more of the depredations of time. The 5700 clearly showed the difference, although not to quite the extent that a 720p projector would. Ditto for the fine hairs on the crew’s uniforms. The D-VHS had a good deal more detail than the DVD, yet not quite the microscopic detail seen with a hi-def projector. But overall, the 5700 did a perfectly credible job of displaying HD images, missing only the last bit of resolution. Given InFocus’s design objectives and its price, the 5700 does exactly what it should -- gives you the ability to enjoy everything now and still be able to hang in there when or if everything goes hi-def.

How does it compare?

I’ve tried a number of projectors over the last two years, and I’ve found only one that I liked better than the 5700 -- its big brother, the ScreenPlay 7200. For the $3000 difference in price, the 7200 does give that last bit of detail. I didn’t have both projectors at the same time, but I believe the 5700 actually had more vivid contrast because of its better blacks. Any day now, InFocus will be shipping their 7205, with TI’s HD2+ chip. I had a chance to see it at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show, but in conditions of minimal light control. My guess is it will have similar or better blacks, but the price will be $8999.

The Boxlight Cinema 20HD ($4999) has the most elegant and easy setup of any projector I’ve tried, and it’s even brighter than the 5700. But its blacks aren’t as convincing, and I never was able to get past the screen-door effect with the size of screen I have.

The best projectors that use TI’s Dual Mode DLP are made by PLUS, but they’ve decided to get out of the home-entertainment arena. If you’re on a forced budget and have a dark room, the PLUS Avanti’s new low price of $1999 is good; its older sibling, the PLUS Piano, is now down to a true bargain price of $999. These are closeout refurbs, and they’re not at all competitive with the 5700, but they’re cheap, and still good for folks who watch mostly DVDs.

I wish I could buy it

The InFocus 5700 has a long list of strengths: excellent picture out of the box, easy setup, some of the best blacks you’ll see from a DLP, plenty of brightness, seamless processing, and simple yet remarkably comprehensive adjustability. If its throw distance was a little shorter, I’d end this review by saying I’d bought the sample. It’s that good. Highly recommended. I’ll hate sending it back.

Review System
Speakers - ATC SMC 50A (mains), Sonance Symphony (surrounds), KEF Model 100 (center), Sunfire True Subwoofer Signature
Processors - Lexicon MC-1, Fosgate Audionics FAP T1
Amplifier - B&K Video 5
Sources - Pioneer DV-434, Panasonic DVD CP-72, Sony DVP-NC685V DVD players; Panasonic DMR E60S DVD recorder; JVC HM-DH40000U D-VHS recorder; Philips DSR6000 DirecTV/TiVo
Cables - Canare, Straight Wire
Projector - Runco Cinema 750
 

Manufacturer contact information:

InFocus
27700B SW Parkway Avenue
Wilsonville, OR 97070-9215, USA
Phone: (888) 282-7529
Fax: (503) 685-8887

E-mail: info@infocus.com
Website: www.infocus.com

 


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