InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 DLP Video Projector 
Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors
Written by Brian Kahn   
Friday, 01 April 2005

Introduction
I have been looking at getting a new, mid-priced video projector. My trusty old CRT, after years of service in my theater, is requiring too much maintenance from the technician. The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 was first recommended to me by a good friend of mine who designs and installs ultra-high-end home theater systems as a worthy contender in the under $10,000 field of projectors. At the time of the recommendation, the 7205 was retailing for $8,999; the current retail price is now down to $4,999.

The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 is a DLP-based projector. If you are not familiar with DLP technology I highly recommend that you take a look at the www. DLP.com website for an excellent walkthrough of the technology. The 7205 features Texas Instruments’ HD2+ Mustang chip. Like all digital displays, this projector has a fixed resolution. The DLP chip features a resolution of 1280 x 720 and improves upon the prior HD2 chip by removing the dimple in the middle of each mirror and increasing the tilt from 10 to 12 degrees. Removing the dimple decreases light scatter and increases the angle of the tilt between the on and off positions, increasing contrast. I note that at this price range, most DLP projectors utilize the lower-resolution Matterhorn DLP chip.

The dual level bulb (220/250 watts) shines through a seven-segment color wheel and reflects off the mirrors on the DLP chip. The precise timing of the light pulses through the spinning color wheel, in conjunction with the mirrors flipping on and off, which creates the images which are then projected through a Carl Zeiss lens assembly.

The 7205 is said to achieve a contrast ratio of 2200:1 and 1100 ANSI lumens, although these numbers are often far higher than are measured in installed systems after professional calibration. Needless to say, no matter how you measure the light output of the projector, it is bright. The five-speed color wheel has been calibrated to the D65 mastering standard for home theater use. The high speed of the color wheel minimizes the rainbow effect that plagued older DLP projectors with slower color wheels, while the D65 color standard keeps color accurate for home theater usage. The bulb life on the 7205 is between 2000 and 3000 hours, depending on the settings. A new bulb will set you back $495.

The projector also features the Faroudja FLI2310 DCDi deinterlacing with both 3:2 and 2:2 pulldown, as well as a 48HZ film mode. This is the essential ingredient in the long-touted Faroudja NR series scalers of past In short, this projector packs plenty of features in its nine-and-one-half pound, 13.8 inches wide, 12.8 inches long and four-and-a-third-inch tall chassis.

Set-up
One of the issues with projectors is that there is often a set distance from the screen to achieve a specific projection size. The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 features a zoom lens, which allows a good degree of flexibility in the installation. If you are wondering what size picture your unit will be able to provide in your viewing room, just go to the InFocus website, which has an excellent, easy-to-use distance calculator for each of its projectors.

While there is flexibility as to distance between the projector and screen, it is still important to place the projector on the horizontal midpoint of the screen. Depending on whether you want to mount the projector on a table or ceiling, the mounting height should be at the bottom or top of the picture, respectively. If you absolutely cannot do this, the projector features digital keystone correction. The correction works fairly well, but adds another process to the signal and eats up some of your resolution. It is always recommended that you set your projector as close to the recommended nominal position as you can and use the digital correction as little as possible for best results.

As my set-up was temporary, I placed the projector on a high stand that brought the projector to the same height as my screen. The adjustable feet allowed me to easily level the projector. Next, I connected the projector. The back panel features a plethora of connections, including two component RCA, 1 D5 component, two S-Video, one composite, one M1-DA VESA and one HD15, as well as an RS-232, IR repeater, IEC power and 12-volt trigger. I used Monster Cable’s THX video cables to make my component and S-Video connections. InFocus has an optional adapter to convert the M1-DA input to accept DVI cables.

I then adjusted the manual zoom ring until the picture just filled my 67-inch wide DaLite 1.0 gain screen. The InFocus 7205 does not have a motorized focus ring, so I had someone help me slowly adjust the focus ring while I stood close to the screen until the picture was perfectly focused.

On smaller screens, one may want to experiment with using a neutral density filter. The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 accepts standard 72mm camera filters. The neutral density filter reduces the amount of light hitting the screen and increases contrast. As the screen size increases, brightness becomes more important.

The Movies
One of the first things I noticed after setting up the projector was that it automatically selected the proper input and set up the picture. This was a nice change from my CRT system, where I had to select the proper input on my outboard scaler, as well as the proper preset.

I first watched “Spider-Man” on DVD (ColumbiaTriStar Home Entertainment). I picked this movie because I thought that it would give the 7205’s internal scaler a good workout in dealing with the fast-moving action. While watching Spider-Man swing down a canyon of buildings, I noticed very few of the jagged edges associated with motion artifacts. The 7205 also did a notably good job with colors. Spider-Man’s costume was comprised of vibrant red and blue, and the flesh tones of the actors were accurate and had a good sense of depth and realness. In the darker scenes, such as the warehouse sequence where Spider-Man chases a robber, the inherent weaknesses of the DLP system became noticeable. DLP projectors traditionally have difficulty producing true blacks, which limits their ability to portray details in dark or shadowy scenes. In the shadowy scenes in the warehouse, the 7205 did well. The reality is that some of the real-world advantages of the new digital projection technology come paired with some minuses. The biggest minus is the lack of black level detail or, better put, washed-out dark gray when one would want there to be the darkest of blacks. The 7205 did an exceptional job, at this considering its price and even when compared to my CRT reference. It never got as black as an eight-inch CRT, but it got close enough for disco.

I then played Chapters 27 and 28 of “Shakespeare in Love” (Miramax). These scenes take place in a theater where Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is being performed. The 7205 again did an excellent job with colors, which were extremely rich and vibrant. The actors’ costumes were comprised of vibrant colors with gold embroidery. The 7205 did a good job with detail, allowing the texture of the materials to come through. I looked closely at the embroidery as the actors moved around the stage and there was only the slightest of artifacts. In the scene at the end of the play, a group of soldiers in dark uniforms march into the playhouse. I was able to make out sufficient detail on the dark uniforms to see fabric texture and folds.

I then played “Toy Story” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) to look at how the 7205 handled the deinterlacing of an animated film. When running the 7205 through the tests on the Silicon Optix test DVD, the projector had some problems with the animated cadence tests. I was pleased not to find any of these problems when watching actual animated material. The colors remained as vivid, if not more, than with the live action material. I noticed some noise however while watching “Toy Story.” Animated features provide a good opportunity to see how a video display does with large fields of uniform colors. I found the 7205 to do a good job portraying a uniform color field with most colors, especially the brighter ones. I did note some noise in the dark green fields of the toy soldiers, but overall, I was extremely impressed by the 7205’s performance, especially in this price range.

I then switched to HDTV via DirecTV. I watched Fox’s hit series “24” and found the picture to be detailed and clean. The 7205’s internal noise reduction circuitry was left set in the “auto” position and removed much of the picture noise. The only time that picture noise was noticeable was in some of the darker scenes, especially those in the dark interior of the Counter Terrorism Unit’s headquarters. The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 did a good job with the shadows in the dark interior scenes, giving up ground only to DLP projectors that cost several times the price of the 7205.

I also watched the Super Bowl in high definition on Fox via DirecTV. As expected, the image was very crisp and detailed. I noted that the greens, while better than on earlier projectors, still had a bit of the “fluorescent greens” symptom. The grass looked a bit brighter and more fluorescent than any other grass I have seen on other HD football broadcasts. The 7205 otherwise did a good job with colors, with only some very brief signs of splotchiness in the field of grass when the camera was panning the field. This, however, can be caused by poor digital transmission and could very well be the fault of the feed.

I spent some time going through the nifty Silicon Optix test DVD. I ran the InFocus through the battery of tests included on the disc and some of my notes are included in the review above. The 7205’s noise reduction works well, reducing much of the noise in the picture. A high-end outboard video processor with noise reduction will probably reduce more noise, but only at a cost that approaches or even surpasses that of the projector itself.

The Downside
With respect to image quality, the InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 is hard to fault when compared to other projectors in its price range. My dealer friend was right in his recommendation. The images produced by the 7205 are clean with believable color reproduction. Like most other DLP projectors, I wish the blacks were even better than they are. Longtime projector owners who were spoiled by the black levels of a properly calibrated CRT projector will notice this the most. Mainstream consumers will likely not notice such an issue and will greatly benefit from the vast advantages of digital projection.

All digital fixed pixel displays are also subject to the “screen door effect,” i.e., allowing the viewer to see the display’s pixel structure. Avoiding this requires proper care in set-up. I found at a 10-foot viewing distance that the pixels on my 67-inch screen were barely visible.

The projector itself is somewhat noisy, which is common among lower-priced digital video projectors because of the need to cool the very hot internal bulb. For my temporary installation, the projector was placed on a stand just a couple of feet from my viewing position. I would strongly recommend mounting it on the ceiling. If a table mount is necessary, I suggest mounting it a few feet ahead or behind the viewing position. If you are considering a hush box or some other crafty installation, be sure to make sure there is plenty of fresh air movement to allow for the projector to cool properly. This is essential in keeping the projector working at its best and lasting as long as possible.

The digital connection utilized on the InFocus projectors is the M1 rather than the more common HMDI or now somewhat defunct DVI connectors, which require the use of another adapter. Some of these adapters can cost upwards of $150.

Conclusion
The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 at $4,999 is a steal. Yes, there are better projectors out there on an absolute basis and InFocus makes a number of them, too, but in the $5000 and under range, you would be hard-pressed to find a better picture in a more user-friendly package. In the past few months, several projectors have entered the under-$5000 market, but most of them utilize lower-resolution chip sets. We are now at the point where, for five grand, you can buy a projector that can produce high definition images on a 10-foot-wide screen. Just a couple years ago, this simply wasn’t possible.

The InFocus ScreenPlay 7205 easily competes with professionally calibrated projectors costing twice as much that I saw at this winter’s CES trade show. As in the computer industry, projectors will continue to get better and the prices will continue to fall. One could perpetually wait for the next generation of projectors that are rumored to be better and possibly even cheaper, but you would miss out on the enjoyment of watching high definition television and movies on a large projector screen while you did so. With the InFocus ScreenPlay 7205, I don’t see any reason to keep waiting. Take the plunge and enjoy what you have been missing. This projector is simply fantastic.
Manufacturer InFocus
Model ScreenPlay 7205 DLP Video Projector
Reviewer Brian Kahn





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