Particularly startling right away is just how much detail and crispness there is present in the projector’s handling of good HD sources. Even better, although the SP8602 seems to leave no pixel unturned in its quest for maximum HD impact, it also takes care not to overcook the sharpness to the point where the image starts to look unduly gritty or noisy.
It does no harm to the image’s clarity, either, that the SP8602’s handling of motion is impressive for its price point. It carries a Motion Smoothing tool that does a really effective job of reducing judder provided you don’t set it too high, leaving images looking fluid without generating too many processing side effects. But in any case, the projector’s motion looks perfectly decent without the Motion Smoothing feature in play at all.
At first, colours weren’t one of the things that most stood out to us about the SP8602’s pictures, since at first glance they don’t appear quite as aggressive or vivid as we’ve seen them on one or two rivals. However, once we focussed in on them, it quickly became apparent that they actually contribute hugely to the overall picture quality on account of their terrific subtlety. In other words, they combine accurate, stripe-free colour blends with a natural, authentic tonal range that’s among the most expressive we’ve seen on a sub-£5K projector.
We were relieved, too, to note that for the vast majority of the time, the only colours we were seeing were the colours we were supposed to be seeing, since the SP8602 suffers very little with the single-chip DLP’s so-called ‘rainbow effect’. For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a phenomenon whereby the single-chip DLP colour wheel system can cause stripes of pure red, green and blue to flit around your peripheral vision or over particularly bright image elements.
Wrapping up an excellent picture effort is the SP8602’s black level response. For provided you don’t push the brightness too hard (we refer you back to the lamp and iris settings mentioned earlier), the SP8602 can be calibrated relatively simply to deliver a superb balance between rich, deep black colours and the sort of shadow detail information necessary to give dark scenes a sense of depth equivalent to that on show during bright scenes.
There are a couple of operational niggles to report before we wrap up, namely that the projector runs slightly louder than we’d like, and that it takes longer than usual to switch between standard def and high def HDMI signals if, say, you’re flitting around different resolution channels on a Sky HD receiver set to its ‘auto’ output resolution mode.
Despite its occasional set-up and operational niggles, though, the SP8602 remains a very impressive return indeed to the projector fray for what was once one of our favourite projection brands.
Once you’ve worked round some slight set-up limitations, the SP8602 will reward your perseverance with a truly stellar picture performance well worth the £3,000 asking price. Here’s hoping, then, that InFocus doesn’t take another two years to get its next projector out!