There’s lots more good stuff to report about the SP8600 too. For instance, its fine detail reproduction is superb for a budget projector, reproducing favoured Blu-rays like Casino Royale, Avatar and No Country For Old Men with a pixel-perfect degree of accuracy that would have impressed us on a projector costing three times as much. Honestly, it’s that good.
Also pretty brilliant is the SP8600‘s motion handling. Basically, even with 24p Blu-rays objects and camera pans look absolutely natural as they cross the screen, with none of the overt judder, dot crawl noise or blurring that characterises most really cheap DLP projectors.
Panning very quickly around in a console game can cause some break up over sharp edges, but this would normally be the least of your gaming picture problems with a typical ultra-cheap projector.
Finally, the projector runs pleasingly quietly in its Eco lamp mode, and for most of the time there’s much less noise in the SP8600’s pictures than we would have expected for its money.
The extreme sharpness described earlier isn’t generally joined by grittiness in the picture; colours look smooth rather than fizzy, and perhaps most surprising of all, dark parts of the picture are only marginally affected by the overt green dotting noise witnessed on many cheap DLP projectors.
At which point we’re duty bound to point out a few areas where the SP8600’s budget nature is at least slightly apparent. For a start, its tiny little ‘credit card’ remote control isn’t exactly easy to use in a darkened room.
Next, while noise is generally well controlled, occasionally there can be a slightly fizzy look to certain colour hues, predominantly those based around orange or yellow. In fact, during the casino sequences in Casino Royale this noise turned into some really quite distracting block noise over the actor’s faces.
However, this was the only time we ever saw this issue throughout our time with the SP8600, and in any case InFocus is launching a firmware fix (which adjusts the way the colour wheel works) that you can introduce to the projector yourself in the unlikely event that you experience the same problem. So in the end, our complaints about noise are so minor we’re already wishing we’d never mentioned them!
The only significant shortcomings are a slightly hollow look to very dark scenes as the projector struggles to render shadow detail, and some evidence of single-chip DLP’s so-called ‘rainbow effect’, where stripes of colour appear in your peripheral vision or over very bright parts of the picture.
You can certainly minimise the rainbowing by not running the projector in its high lamp mode, though, and sticking with the relatively low-brightness Movie preset - or a self-calibrated derivative of this mode. Even then It still crop ups from time to time, especially if you sit so close to the screen that you’re forever having to flit your eyes over it. But from a normal viewing distance it's only a minor and occasional distraction.
Don’t be put off by the little list of negatives we finished up with back there. The bottom line with the SP8600 is that even if it cost £1100 it would be a good projector. So for the measly sum of £800 - with a 5-year parts warranty, let’s not forget - it’s little short of incredible.