Awards

  • Recommended by TR

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Pros

  • Excellent, noiseless pictures
  • Three HDMIs
  • Superbly priced

Cons

  • Runs a little noisily
  • DynamicBlack option feels a bit crude
  • Doesn?t break new feature or performance ground

Review Price £2,499.60

Key Features: Full HD DLP engine; 30,000:1 max contrast ratio; 1,700 Lumen brightness max; Vertical and horizontal lens shift; Three HDMI inputs

Manufacturer: InFocus

InFocus ScreenPlay SP8604

After a scarily long hiatus, home cinema projection brand InFocus suddenly re-emerged in May 2010 with a single new projector, the £3,000 ScreenPlay SP8602. This was a rather quirky beast in some ways, but certainly delivered the picture quality goods.

So we're very pleased to see the brand back again in 2011, this time with two new models: the budget (£800!) SP8600 we'll hopefully be looking at soon, and the step-up £2,499.50 ScreenPlay SP8604 we've got rigged up today.

With last year's SP8602 it perhaps wasn't entirely obvious exactly where the focus of InFocus's return to the notoriously tough UK projection market might lie. But this year it seems as if the brand's assault is going to be focused on good, old-fashioned value for money.

For it becomes apparent during the course of the review that the SP8602 is very similar indeed to the previously reviewed Vivitek H5080, yet while the H5080 costs the best part of three grand, the SP8604 is less than £2,500. A substantial saving - enough, in fact, to buy you a very healthy collection of Blu-rays, or maybe a spare lamp for when the one you get in the SP8604 wears out after around 3,000 hours.
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Underlining this apparently high value situation, moreover, is the standard warranty InFocus does for the SP8604: namely 5 years parts (excluding the fan, power supply, colour wheel and light tunnel, which get three years), 3 years labour, plus a 1 year lamp replacement warranty.

Our first clue to the SP8604's similarities with the Vivitek H5080 comes as soon as we look at it, for it's more or less identically designed. This means it's a quite large, chunky bit of kit, with a gently arced and glossy top edge, a centrally mounted lens, and ribbed side panels for letting out heat.

The only obvious difference is that while the Vivitek had a silver ring around the lens, the InFocus has a metallic blue one - a wry little nod, we guess, to the peculiar and certainly flawed decision to put a bright blue neon light circle around the lens of the SP8602.

Directly above the lens on the SP8604's top side is a slide-forward panel hiding two of our favourite projector things: simple knobs for optically shifting the image horizontally or vertically.

There really is no overstating the importance of such tools on a mid-level projector, since they let you get an image perfectly positioned on your screen - even in potentially quite awkwardly shaped rooms - without having to digitally distort the image via keystone correction.

The SP8604 isn't quite as generous with its optical zoom as we would ideally have liked, only offering 1.25x. But to be fair, you can buy the projector with short (fixed at 0.77), standard (1.54-1.93:1) and long-throw (1.93-2.89:1) lens options, so you should be able to get a configuration that works for you.

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