I recently had the opportunity to check out and play with an Infocus X1 DLP projector for a few hours. This is a mini-review of what I witnessed.
Physically, the Infocus X1 is good sized, at 9.8" x 12.5" x 4.2", in the photo below, you are looking at the 9.8" wide dimension. At only 6.8 lbs, it is very light for that large of a case. The keypad is intuitive to use, the onscreen menus are easy to follow with just a brief read through of the manual. The remote nearly duplicates the keypad, it is backlit which is a nice touch. The remote was sensitive enough to use from the other end of the room, but was directional. I could not get the projector to respond by bouncing the IR signal off the screen, it had to be pointed at the projector.
Infocus X1 SVGA DLP Projector
The X1's color primaries plotted on the 1931 CIE Chromaticity diagram. The color points are close to the NTSC primaries, could use a bit more red saturation.
Grey scale tracking from 0 - 100 IRE. Through the menus the X1 only allows you to adjust individual color gain, not bias (or cutoff) so I did not calibrate it at 20 IRE, just 100 IRE. Measured with the Video Mode/Warmest color setting. Right out of the box. The upward trend on the left is towards "cool" or more blue in tone.
Individual color component tracking from 0 - 100 IRE. You can see red drops off much faster than blue and green in the lower IRE's.
I set the projector up on a table, projecting a 49" high 4:3 image onto my 87" x 49" screen. The projector has a long throw lens, with a zoom factor of 1.2. The throw ratio is ~1.85:1, so for a 8' x 6' screen you will need to mount this projector at least 15' back.
At 1000 lumens using the presentation settings, and about 700 lumens in video mode (video mode turns off the white segment of the color wheel which reduces light output), 8' wide is the limit on screen width. At 8' wide in video mode with a unity gain screen you get 15 ft-lamberts, right on target for a theatrical presentation.
After setting up the projector, and setting zoom and focus, I walked through the menus. The menus display like drop down windows and are very easy to read and navigate. I set the projector to the preset film mode, and the warmest (closest to 6500 K, but labeled cool) color setting. I connected a Sony DVP-S360 non-progressive scan DVD player to the projector using the S-video cable to try some DVD's and check out the scaler.
I first popped in Ice Age, and was rewarded with a bright sharp picture that really looked pretty spot on color wise and artifact free. Next I put in Gladiator, again great colors, but the low IRE (shadow) areas of the picture seemed to be lacking in detail. Gladiator is a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation which made the "grey" letterbox bars very noticeable. A nice masking system would go a long way to helping this. The absolute black level seemed quite good, with just a bit of blue hue (you can see this in the grey scale plot below), likely due to the SHP lamp's spectral output. I set the brightness and contrast settings using the Video Essentials DVD then to measure the contrast level, I hooked up my HTPC to the X1 and used ColorFacts to measure contrast, primaries and grey scale. The X1's contast measured at 1200:1, shy of it's 2000:1 presentation mode rating, but very respectable. I expected a drop off in contrast in video mode because the white segement on the color wheel switches off which reduces the brightness and resulting contrast ratio.
Grey scale tracking was very good right out of the box. I added a bit more red gain and cut the blue a bit to straighten things out even more.
X1's 100 IRE color temperature after calibration. Very nice. The projector should be re-calibrated after 100 hours or so on the lamp. If you plan on having a projector like this calibrated, wait for a while until the lamp "settles" in.
Next I replayed some scenes from Gladiator and got up close to the screen to check the scaler's performance. The projector uses the Faroudja FLI2200 chip to do deinterlacing and scaling. I saw virtually no "jaggies" or combing artifacts, that would be associated with the scaler, the picture was considerably more defined than the scaler found in my Sony VPL-CS1 LCD projector, which I hooked up for comparison. There was some "dithering" noise in the areas of the picture where there is a shaded bright to dark transition, and the shadow detail that is evident with my reference CRT projector was not there. Where I felt the scaler really shows its benefits is with broadcast or satellite television and console video games, it really makes these lower quality video sources watchable without having to invest in an outboard scaler or HTPC. In a direct comparison between the internal scaler and my HTPC feeding DVD material through the RGB port at 800 x 600; the HTPC was sharper, with apparently brighter colors.
The projector uses a 2x speed color wheel to reduce the "rainbow" effect, which I have observed on many projectors with 1x speed color wheels and some higher end projectors. I did not find rainbows to be bothersome at all with this unit, I did see some, but the effect is highly dependent on the video material and environment. Screen door, or pixel visibility, was not an issue at smaller screen sizes (<80") at larger screen sizes I could see the pixels at anything less than 1.5 screen widths back from the screen.
Conclusions: I was very impressed with this little machine. I am very keen on the 3D effect that images can take on when there is a proper contrast level and minimum artifacts. I observed this phenomenon with the X1. At 800 x 600 resolution, this projector will display HDTV but this resolution is not adequate to do HDTV justice, look towards an XGA or 1280 x 720 projector if you plan on watching HDTV. For an entry level front projection home theater, this little machine is great.