InFocus Play Big IN78 home theater projector - First Look

InFocus Play Big IN78 home theater projector - First Look

Having carved out very strong branding and popularity here in Asia, the America-based projector specialist InFocus has been rather conservative in recent months for its home theater lineup. The company has yet to announce or roll out a full-HD model (rumored in Q3) to fill the void despite a barrage of new offerings from its Japanese and Taiwanese competitors.

It had previously echoed the sparse availability of native HD sources for the 1080p no-show, but recent developments have proved otherwise. To tide over the slow transition, InFocus has since launched the PlayBig IN78, a fine-tuned 720p model based on the award-wining 76-series.


You can't go wrong with the IN76 when it comes to aesthetics Dressed all around in black piano finish, this is one beamer you would most probably like to show off rather than hide away high up on the ceiling. The classy black hue also extends to the clutter-free remote controller, with contrasting grayish backing decked with well-spaced, backlit controls. This also doubles as a makeshift flashlight, just in case there is a need for some illumination--to locate a disc or answer a call in the dimmed environment. Lastly, an integrated pedestal stand simplifies desktop installation and does away the hassle of fiddling with two or more adjustable feet.

This PlayBig is one of the few midrange 720p models in the market to feature Imaging Science Foundation Certified Calibration Configuration (ISF 3C). Targeted more toward videophiles and enthusiasts, this function enables professional-grade video calibration on over 14 individual settings, way beyond what can be achieved using off-the-shelf calibrators and software. An ISF Day and Night configuration will be created at the end of exercise, taking into consideration the varying lighting conditions in your entertainment room throughout the day. These can be easily called up for optimal picture reproduction based on your preferred playback timing.

To boost performance, InFocus has outfitted the light cannon with the latest Texas Instrument DarkChip 3 DLP optical engine. This is paired with a Pixelwork's DNX video processor which handles scaling and deinterlacing and a 1080p-enabled HDMI terminal. If you own more than one A/V box with such a digital interface, a bundled M1-DA adapter will come in handy for converting the proprietary port to HDMI. Factor in a set of component-video sockets and you will have up to three HD inputs at your disposal. This is definitely beyond the norm for its category with the exception of the Sanyo Z5, loaded to the brim with a total of four such jacks.


Now here's the part that gets a little sticky. If you ever bother to compare the tech specs of the IN78 against the 76, it's pretty obvious that there are very few differences between the two. Other than the DarkChip 2 to 3 overhaul, 16 percent contrast improvement and ISF 3C capability, the rest of the ratings are almost comparable. This could hardly justify the high S$4,999 (US$3,288.16) price tag, even if we were to factor in the above-mentioned adapter.

The recent debut of the affordable 1080p Epson EMP-TW1000 further highlights the price parity, at just a paltry S$700 (US$460.97) more. If you care less about full-HD, there are still many other 720p DLP and LCD offerings hovering around the S$3,000 (US$1,973.06) price bracket, or at least below the S$4,000 (US$2,631.93) threshold.


Not only is the PlayBig IN78 a late 720p entry in today's 1080p-crazed market, the pricing of this model is also hard to swallow in our humble opinion. If you don't mind forking out extra for professional calibration and out-of-the-box D65 Hollywood-tuned colors, this InFocus will probably fit your requirements nicely. But for everything else, you can save yourself a couple of hundred bucks to a grand with offerings from other DLP vendors such as BenQ and Optoma.