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InFocus ScreenPlay 777

Three-chip DLP projector is now half its original price By Charlie White

InFocus ScreenPlay 777Here we go into the stratosphere of projectordom, with the InFocus ScreenPlay 777. Originally $30,000, this three-chip DLP projector, destined for only the most chic of screening rooms, now sells for half that price at $15,000. We put this 45-pound flying saucer-like monster under the microscope here at the Midwest Test Facility Theater, prodding it with light meters and colorimeters, and projecting a variety of source material onto different types of screens. Taking a cue from its futuristic appearance, as we gazed at its pristine images we quickly realized we were looking into the future of projector technology. Someday all projectors will be this good, or even better.

So what makes this Screenplay 777 so special, anyway? Inside lower-priced DLP projectors there is just one DLP chip taking care of the imaging duties, but in the 777 there are three Texas Instruments HD2 1280 x 720 DLP chips, commonly known as DMD, or digital micromirror devices. These .8-inch 720p chips employ technology by Texas Instruments called DarkChip 3, as well as special video processing by Faroudja called DCDi. The projector has a seven different lenses available for it, five of which, including the one we tested, have power lens shift capability.

Taking this behemoth out of its huge box, it weighed about the same as a large tower computer. Its shiny black plastic case was about the size of a tower computer, too, and at 45 pounds, it was not too unwieldy to handle. However, this unit is a lot bigger than many of the projectors weve tested here at the Midwest Test Facility.

The 777 is an exceptionally cool-looking projector. Notice the backlit blue InFocus logo on the top (or bottom if it's hanging from the ceiling), which you can set to be lit up all the time or just when the projector is running.

Hefting the unit up onto our test cart, at first we wondered where the inputs were. Aha?theyre hidden under a black cowling which makes this rounded case look even more streamlined. After unscrewing a couple of screws, we removed the cowling in order to plug in our various sources. We plugged our test computer (on which we ran the DisplayMate suite of test signals at the native 1280x720 resolution) into the DVI port using an adapter, and plugged in an HD set-top box and a progressive-scan DVD player using component cables. I noticed, by the way, there was no HDMI input among the array of inputs in back, however an adapter will solve that problem in short order with no signal loss.  

A cowling (removed here) conceals the inputs for the 777.

Taking out the included remote, I noticed its much the same as other remote controls from InFocus. Its small and has backlit buttons, and I suppose it wouldnt be used very often by those who might employ such a projector in their sophisticated home theaters. Yes, those installations will certainly have their own high-end universal remote controls.

Anyway, at first I wondered how to focus the lens, because the dismal documentation wasnt going to tell me?it had hardly any information available whatsoever in it. Its not surprising that the documentation is sparse, considering that most of these projectors will probably be installed professionally and their owners personally instructed on its use. I certainly hope a pro will be hanging this from a ceiling, because I sure wouldnt want 45 pounds worth of projector falling into my lap in the middle of a movie. Undaunted, a quick trip to the InFocus Web site informed me that many of the lens functions of the 777 are motorized, including zoom, focus, and vertical and horizontal positioning, and are easy to adjust using the directional controls on the remote.

Armed with this knowledge, I went to work, adjusting all those parameters using the remote. I liked that servo-controlled lens adjustment. When the projector is installed in a separate soundproof projection room in the back of a theater (my ideal fantasy theater installation), or on a ceiling thats too high to reach, these motorized lens controls are wonderful. But for focusing, I actually prefer the manual method of turning the lens with my hands, which is quicker and seems to offer a more precise calibration.

Turning on the projector, my first impression was that this was the quietest projector Ive ever encountered. I could barely tell the unit was on; it was so hushed here in our soundproofed theater. We were off to a good start. Suddenly, the ScreenPlay 777s image came into view. After a quick focus and positioning using those motorized lens controls, I was beholding the sharpest, brightest and most color-saturated high-definition television image Ive ever seen out of any projector, anytime. It was magnificent. So this is what high-end home theater looks like. I could get used to this. 

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