Go to Home Page

Click Here to Go to Index for All Projectors

 

Product Review
 

InFocus ScreenPlay 4805 Single-Chip 16:9 DLP Digital Projector

November, 2004

Steve Smallcombe

 

Specifications:

 

● Resolution: (WVGA) 854x480

● Display Device: Digital Light
    Processing
DLP™ Technology by
    Texas Instruments

● Brightness: 750 Lumens

● Aspect Ratio: 16:9

● Contrast Ratio: 2000:1

● Lamp Life: 2,000 Hours

● Inputs: Composite Video, Component
    Video, S-Video, DVI/HDCP

● Dimensions: 4.2" H x 9.8" W x 12.9"
    D

● Weight: 7.8 Pounds

● MSRP: $1,499 (Available from
    ProjectorPeople at Discount)

 

InFocus

www.infocus.com

Introduction

Video Projectors intended for use in a Home Theater (HT) are getting better and more affordable all the time. The ScreenPlay 4805 is a very good example of this trend. It is a low priced projector based on Texas Instruments' new DarkChip2, Double Data Rate Digital Micromirror Device that squeezes just a bit more contrast ratio out of the popular DLP technology.

The InFocus X1 was a breakthrough projector in many ways, offering DLP performance at the sub $1,000 price point. The X1’s inclusion of Faroudja™ DCDi™ processing was ideal for the HT market and the X1 became extremely popular for HT usage, despite the fact that it was a 4x3 projector. The X2 added a bit more brightness, but dropped the DCDi processing, a minus for the HT crowd.

InFocus now offers HT projectors based on 16x9 DLP technology at a variety of price points. The ScreenPlay 4805 with its 16x9 format, DarkChip2 and Faroudja processing is a perfect fit for the low end of the HT DLP market. One of the factors that, no doubt, make the 4805 affordable is its WVGA resolution, 854x480, or 480p.

Specifications of interest for the 4805 include a contrast ratio of 2000:1 and a light output of 750 lumens. One of the other things that InFocus specifies is a 6500K Color Temperature. Add to that a quiet fan in the Econo mode, and a very complete user menu system, and you have a projector for just about anyone who does not want to spend a lot of money, but who wants a decent picture. This was a projector I really enjoyed watching for the few weeks I had access to it. Although the 4805 has far less resolution than my reference projector, in all other aspects of image quality it is right up with the best.

Inputs and Connectivity

The 4805 has what today is typical for lower cost projectors, just enough of the right kind of inputs to do the job. Beside the composite and S-Video inputs, there is one set of component inputs, and an HDCP compliant DVI input. Note the DVI connector is MI-DA, so you will need an adaptor to the more common DVI cable. Also included is a 12V trigger for use with equipment such as an electric screen. (The 4805 also has audio inputs and a 2.5 watt mono amplifier, but that is for the board room, not the home theater.)

Controls

The lighted remote control is simple, with just enough buttons to do the job, like toggling inputs, switching aspect ratios, picture modes, or navigating the on-screen menu system. The remote is unusual, however, in that it has only up and down menu buttons, with the “menu” and “select” buttons falling where the left and right menu button should be. It’s a very workable system, but one that takes getting used to, if your thumb naturally hits the button on the left to move left in a menu.

Although it is handy to have contrast and brightness on the remote as discrete buttons, I do feel that once set to the proper value during the initial calibration procedure (for a given source), these settings should not need further adjustment. The source can be manually or automatically selected. The controls that cycle between the three user presets or memories are welcome, but here is a case where I would like to see discrete buttons rather than a toggle.

The user menu system on the 4805 is logically arranged with the items needed for initial setup tweaking falling in the Picture Menu, where besides the common contrast and brightness, one can also set the Aspect Ratio and Gamma via sub menus.

The Gamma Menu allows one of several gammas to be selected. I started with Film and since it produced excellent gamma tracking, I didn’t explore further.

The good news for those that enjoy tweaking their projector to get the most accurate picture, is that the 4805 has an Advanced Menu, as a Picture submenu, where one can adjustable Color Temperature as well as Color Control. Color Control allows the user to adjust Gain and Offset controls for Red, Green, and Blue. It is a real treat to find such a complete a menu system in an entry-level projector.

The Setting Menu is a conduit to submenus that handle the typical chores of front/rear and ceiling/floor installations, etc., as well as allowing the user to select High and Low power modes. In the Low mode, the projector was remarkably quiet, the same could not be said for the High mode, but as the Low mode had plenty of light output for my HT, that is the mode I selected.

The About Menu tells the user about lamp usage, current source, and software versions.

Installation and Placement in the Room

Focus and zoom are adjustable via rotating rings on the lens itself. There is no lens shift capability provided with the 4805. This should not be an issue as long as you can place the projector at a suitable height relative to the screen. It should be noted however that the 4805 has a considerable vertical offset in the image, such that the projector’s lens need to be placed below the screen, by 27.3% of the screen height (table mount), to achieve a rectangular image without the use of keystone correction. This offset could be a considerable advantage for a table mounted setup, but might be a problem if ceiling mounted in a room with a low ceiling.

The 4805’s throw ratio of 1.77:1 - 2.13:1 (distance/width) means that the 4805 is a moderately long throw projector (long focal length lens), and I mounted the review unit high on my back wall accordingly.

On the Bench

Measurements and viewing were done using a Denon 1600 DVD with progressive and interlaced outputs, a DISH 6000 HDTV receiver, and most recently, a DISH 921 DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

User Level Adjustments

Using the component inputs to the 500U, the Black Bars test on Avia indicated the proper brightness level to be 50, and the moving white bars indicated an optimum contrast setting of 59. Since the 4805 allowed the Color Temperature to be set directly to 6500K, that is where I started. The gamma was set at Film.

Measurements

When I evaluate a projector, I not only look at images, I measure the color balance of the projector at various light intensity levels and determine the quality of what is called Grayscale Tracking. The idea is that black, white, and all shades of gray, should have the correct ratio of the three primary colors used in video projection Red, Green, and Blue. You can read more about the testing method in my past projector reviews on Secrets, or at http://www.smartavtweaks.com.

The Color Balance data from the ScreenPlay with the Color Temp control set to 6500 is show above. InFocus pride themselves on having their HT projectors properly set up for D65, and seeing is believing. This is as well calibrated a projector as I have ever seen, right out of the box after minimal user level adjustments.

By my measurements, the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) ranged between 6500 and 6700K over most of the IRE range, with only a somewhat larger variation at IRE 10.

The measured IRE 100/IRE 0 contrast ratio was 1550:1 and the IRE 100 window produced an image that measured 14.1 ftL at my 102” diagonal unity gain (gain=1) DaMatte screen. This corresponds to 467 lumens light output from the projector in the Low mode. In the High mode, the light output was 18.6 ftL and 614 lumens. To achieve these levels of contrast ratio and brightness, while accurately tracking D65, is a remarkable achievement for any projector, and especially one at this price point.

Gamma Tracking

The other thing we can measure is Gamma Tracking, or how the light output of the projector responds to the input signal. If the projector's Gamma Tracking is off, then details in the image will either be lost, or the image may look flat and have little contrast. The Gamma Tracking graph shows the combined light intensity at the various IRE levels relative to a theoretical level. If the projector is accurately producing the intended light intensity level as a function of input or IRE level, all values should be close to 1 in the gamma tracking graph.

In the Gamma Tracking graph above, we can see that the 4805 has very accurate tracking that is well described with an overall gamma of 2.45. This measurement was made using the Film gamma setting. I was pleased to see such excellent tracking all the way down to the IRE 10 window. Several DLP projectors I have measured, including some costing considerably more than the 4805, tend to have elevated light output at the lowest IRE level, perhaps to avoid obvious dithering artifacts. Not so with the 4805, its Gamma Tracking was excellent right down to the lowest levels.

(Some readers may notice that the data points in the Gamma Tracking graph (and others) do not line up with the nominal IRE values on the X axis. This is because the percentage of stimulus, i.e., the signal level, is not equal to the nominal IRE level when using the Avia disc. For a DVD player with the black level at IRE 7.5, it is easy to understand that the percentage of stimulus for the IRE 10 window will be roughly 2.5 percent above black, etc. The same actually applies to DVD players set up for a black level of IRE 0, the percentage of stimulus is again roughly 2.5% above black. Thus, it is the percent stimulus that needs to be taken into consideration when plotting gamma tracking rather than the nominal IRE levels.)

Results Following User Mode Tweaking

It was tempting not to tweak the 4805 at all – leave well enough alone. But I could see a slight red tinge with an IRE 10 window. After tweaking the color offsets in the advanced menu I was able to achieve somewhat improved Grayscale Tracking, as can be seen in the graph above.

Scaler and Deinterlacer – the Video Essentials Montage

I checked the performance of the deinterlacer with the montage on the Video Essentials (VE) disc using the interlaced component output from my Denon 1600 DVD player. The pan back from the building was fine, the leaves showed a bit of twitter (typical), and the waving US flag looked great with no sign of jaggies. The pan by the bridges looked very solid as well. In general, the progressive and interlaced inputs from the Denon looked very similar. The DCDi processing on both the DVD player and the projector was doing a similar job, and I would not be concerned about using the 4805 with an interlaced signal.

Viewing and Comments

First, let me make my bias in these matters clear. I like high-resolution images. I feel my reference CC filter tweaked Sony 11HT at 1364x768 needs more resolution to get the most out of High Definition television and to avoid the dreaded Screen Door Effect (SDE). I don’t like SDE.

In general, I feel that the more expensive 1280x720 DLP-based projectors are an improvement with regards to SDE, but I am still aware of it is some scenes, even with these projectors. I want 1080p (and at an affordable price)!

Back in the real world, I was concerned that the 4805, with its 480p and 768x480 resolution, roughly a factor of three fewer pixels than my 11HT, might be pretty hard to watch on my 102” diagonal screen.

I was wrong, the 4805 actually produced a very pleasing image. Sure, I could see SDE in brighter scenes, or white lettering, pretty easily actually, but that really didn’t keep me from getting involved in the image the way I thought it might. Things would have been even better on a somewhat smaller screen, which is what I would recommend.

The 4805 is capable of displaying all the resolution present on a DVD, but higher resolution projectors do produce a smoother looking image. HD looked good as well, much better than standard definition TV, but again the image was not as smooth or detailed as with projectors of higher resolution. While the resolution of the 4805 is limited, it does just about everything else right.

I watched the 4805 for several weeks and never once felt the need to revert to my reference projector, or one of the other projectors to which I have access. Perhaps it was the combination of excellent contrast ratio, image brightness, gamma tracking, and good D65 grayscale that made the image look so good.

Color and color saturation on the 4805 were good, but as with many DLP-based projectors, some of the colors, especially green, seemed less saturated than with my reference projector.

I am fortunate in that I am not particularly susceptible to the rainbow effect, an artifact that some see with DLP-based projectors. I was bothered by rainbows when watching DLP-based projectors that were available a few years ago, but the 4805 uses of a six-segment color wheel, and rainbows were really not an issue for me with this projector. If you feel you may be sensitive to seeing rainbows (with DLP-based projectors), check it out before you buy.

Conclusions

The InFocus ScreenPlay 4805 is a very “honest” projector – the specification tell you everything you need to know about this projector. With minimal setup or adjustments, the 4805 produced a very accurate image with excellent grayscale and gamma tracking. An IRE 100/IRE 0 contrast ratio of 1550 while producing 467 lumens (in Low mode or 614 lumens, High mode) while accurately tracking D65 is rare with projectors costing many time more than the 4805. The gamma tracking was also among the most accurate I have measured.

My very first business projector was an InFocus, many years ago when they were about the only ones in the business. InFocus has obviously used their experience to produce a line of excellent 16x9 DLP-based projectors that directly target the HT market. While for my own use, I’d spend the extra dollars and get a projector with higher resolution (InFocus offers those as well), the 4805 is a remarkable achievement and an excellent value.


- Steve Smallcombe -

 

© Copyright 2004 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

Go to Table of Contents for this Issue

Go to Home Page

 

About Secrets

Register

Terms and Conditions of Use