Another thing we really like about the IN78 before we even get near to testing it is the way it seems to want to be all things to all men. For while, as we’ve seen, it goes out of its way to be as easy to set up as humanly possible for the casual domestic user, it also carries the facility to be professionally calibrated for a serious AV install by a representative of the Imaging Science Foundation. Such premium functionality is pretty much unheard of at this price level.
To understand what sort of performance level we might expect from the IN78, it’s worth dwelling for a moment on why Texas Instruments’ DarkChip 3 chipset is better than the DC2 version employed by most projectors costing under two grand.
Essentially there are two benefits: better black levels/contrast due to more efficient construction of the ‘Digital Mirror Device’ (DMD) at DLP’s heart, and crisper motion handling thanks to the fact that the DMD’s tiny mirrors respond to changes in picture information slightly faster.
Thanks to the black level boost from DC3, the IN78 is able to claim a contrast ratio of 3,500:1 – a very respectable figure indeed by DLP standards. Admittedly it looks a bit low against the 6,000:1 and more quoted by some similarly priced LCD projectors. But it’s important to realise that the IN78’s figure is more ‘real world’ than the contrast numbers given with LCD projectors, since unlike DLP, LCD projectors can generally only achieve decent black levels by reducing their brightness output.
One final feature of the IN78 that should certainly have a part to play in its picture quality is its use of Pixelworks’ DNX 10-bit processing. As well as being one of the more sophisticated processors on the market when it comes to remapping, say, standard definition sources to the IN78’s 1,280 x 720 native resolution, DNX also allows the projector to take in the 1080p HD format now becoming important with the launch of HD disc players.
So far the IN78 hasn’t really put a foot wrong. And this trend happily continues with its picture performance, which is quite ridiculously good for such an affordable projector. The best way to sum up the IN78’s picture appeal is to describe the images it produces as ‘profoundly cinematic’ – but we guess you’re going to want us to put a little more meat into the review than that, right?!