InFocus X10 Full HD 1080 DLP Projector Review
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Phil Hinton spends three weeks of movie magic with a budget projector that promises much for little money. Can it really all be good news?
If I was to say to you that you can get a single chip, full HD DLP projector with V1.3a HDMI connections and a claimed contrast ratio of 2500:1 for just £1000, you would expect a few corners had been cut, right?
Well to say I was sceptical of the InFocus X10 and its claims of high performance for very little money would be an understatement. We all want to see quality and value for money, but many will realise that in the world of front projection itís usually always the case that you get what you pay for. That is certainly the case with many of our best buy award winning projectors reviewed recently and to expect above average performance for under £1800, is usually asking for trouble in the picture and performance stakes. It is an expensive world for manufacturers to build a truly exceptional product that meets all the requirements of both the consumer and custom installer markets. What InFocus have in their favour is that they do produce some of the most popular and technically advanced DLP machines on the market. So can their experience in the mid to high end market help them put together a single chip DLP that can perform at this price level?
Well the X10 is not a small unit when unpacked. Like much of their In8x range the chassis has a large footprint (W 476mm x H 148mm x D 432mm) with the lens to the left hand side of the front plate (when looking directly at the projector). When lifting the unit out of the box it does feel a little light at approximately 6.5kg and the case is definitely made from plastic! You can forget remote zoom or focus at this price point as well, instead there are two round dials hidden behind a removable flap on the left side of the body to help you zoom and focus in a matter of minutes. The actual throw distance of the X10 is also longer than any other budget machine on the market, so in our reference room, we could only manage a 6ft image from around 14ft of throw. The lens shift is also fixed (although there is compromised digital shift control, which can help in really awkward mounting positions) its not as central as you would expect, with a table mount position much lower than normal. This is certainly a throw back to the custom installation background of the companies other projectors, where ceiling mounting will be the norm. So to get the best from the X10 you will need a long room to achieve larger images and either a low table or ceiling mount.
Looking at the spec sheet you can see that the X10 employs the Texas instruments dark chip 1 chip set. As many projector enthusiasts will know, the current guise used in most of the higher end DLP models is DC4, so you may begin to wonder if this is the main reason for such a cheap price, and how it may affect the picture performance. However you may want to wait for our picture performance results later in the review before jumping any guns in this regard.
In a world of boasting about contrast ratios it is quite refreshing to see a manufacturer appear to be conservative when it comes to their claimed figures, with the X10 reported to achieve 2500:1 native, and as you will see in the calibration area, thatís not far from the truth. The claimed 1,200 ANSI lumen figure also appears to be quite accurate and you canít call this projector dim.
So far Iím impressed with the features available on the X10 so lets move on and see what the out of the box and calibrated performance is like.
Well what can I say? It may be awkward to position right and have a long throw. It may miss out on some features, and the colour performance could be slightly better Ė BUT Ė in every other department, including black levels, this projector defies its £1000 price tag. I have been truly amazed at the performance levels, picture processing, shadow detail, depth of field and a full HD pixel count.
There are some small issues, such the lack of a full colour gamut, the unit noise is around 33db and can be heard from 3 feet away and it is a big unit with a long throw. However what we have to remember is that no matter what projector you go for, there will be compromises to be made, and that is the nature of the beast when you get into front projection.
What InFocus have done here is put the cat well and truly amongst the pigeons. You just canít buy anything that comes close to the X10 for any less than £1800. The fact that it can be found online for even less than the suggested £1099 retail just reinforces the point more! The X10 changes the rules when it comes to what you can buy for a grand, and in our opinion, at this moment in time; this is a best buy product!
Out of the box viewing. Starting out in factory default on the X10 the results were acceptable but not hugely impressive. The fact there is no yellow notch filter means this unit is bright out of the box and itís easy to see there is too much blue information in the image. Blacks are also not great as the iris is in the full on position. So out of the box it is important to try and set up the projector using the tried and tested patterns found on discs like Digital Video Essentials or the free online discs. Once the contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness controls are set you can then experiment with the iris settings to improve the black levels. In this set up with greyscale un-calibrated the image is improved beyond recognition form the default positions. There is still a blue tinge that is seen, especially in white or bright scenes and green looks a little on the lime side of things, but once engaged in actual DVD or HD viewing these points are less noticeable and the actual picture performance at the price point is very good indeed.Calibrated
Obviously once properly calibrated to get as accurate as possible (greens still suffer slightly Ė but only if you really look for them) the picture does improve again. Indeed with my calibrated settings I had to remind myself a few times that this is a £1000 projector Ė and a full HD one at that. Using our tried and tested SD copy of Gladiator (Chapter 15) the first thing to strike you is the solid black performance with excellent shadow details. Now the blacks are not inky like those found on our reference models, such as the JVC HD1, but they are better than some of the recent LCD machines, such as the HC4900 we have tested lately. The intra scene contrast is very good and allows accurate shadow details to come to the foe and adds a nice cinematic depth of field usual seen on DLP models. Images are crisp and sharp with plenty of fine detail on show and colours for the most part appear vibrant and noise free.
Moving on to Blu-ray and the tried and tested Pirates discs again impressed me with plenty of depth and fine detail. Colours again look ok with flesh tones looking slightly pale against what you might expect, but overall I couldnít fault image quality when taking into consideration the price point we are talking about. With the iris almost fully closed the blacks looked rich again but without clipping or killing our shadow details and never once did they appear grey in any way. This was probably the most impressive point of the X10, but remember it takes quite a lot of calibrating away from the factory defaults to see this machine at its best.
For the rest of the review process I sat back and watched a number of well known DVDs and BDs and never once did I think I couldnít live with this budget machine. As with all projection technology there are high and low points with each flavour ,and indeed, between individual machines. I am quite susceptible to the rainbow effect some times seen in single chip DLP units and in the bright and garish factory defaults I did see quite a bit of this effect. However once calibrated the effect certainly dissipated and I only noticed it every now and again, certainly not enough to put me off watching this machine, or even owning it. However each individual is different so I would recommend that you demo the unit before purchase.
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Budget priced full HD DLP projector
Suggested price: £1,099
Reviewed 19th August, 2008 by Phil Hinton
To get the best out of your TV or projector, consider getting it calibrated.
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