InFocus IN76 Review – High Def Gaming

A while back I speculated on the quality of gaming on a big screen — like REALLY big. But what’s the reality that most of us can afford a home theatre, or giant projection TV? Well, it may be more possible than you know. We spoke with a rep at InFocus and arranged a demo with the IN76 Hi-Def Projector. I was impressed.

The projector’s case looks sleek and modern, and like it would be at home with a plethora of other high end components. Wall to wall glossy black finish is a fingerprint magnet for sure, but if you get a projector set up right you’ll probably never have to touch it (with the included remote). This thing looks and feels top notch. Easy to access buttons are minimalistic and simple enough to figure out pretty quick. Especially if you can work the buttons on your monitor (which are laid out in similar fashion).

in76 top view

But the important question came up, how does it do for gaming? Well, we’re getting to that, but first its important to know that the projector is high definition from the get-go and supports full 720 Progressive display (1280×720) in 16:9 resolution. Along with this are a string of inputs and resolutions that should suit anyone’s needs. Component, Composite/RCA, S-Video, DVI (New spec), and HDMI ports allow you to connect just about anything from a Wii (Composite), to a 360 (Component), to a PS3 (HDMI) and so on. So needless to say, you can get the most from any hardware with this shiny box.

So I fired up the prospective gaming consoles and here’s how it broke down:

Composite [Tested with Nintendo Wii]
On standard def content there seemed to be no problems; it scaled and displayed just as big and bright as anything else out there. Of course it’s not nearly as sharp as several other input options, but if you’re just coming from a standard def source, it still won’t hurt (although you might want to look at a lesser model that will do the same trick).

Component [Tested with Xbox 360]
The higher resolution of the 360 made a big difference. Games looked great and video displayed perfectly. The sharper textures of the 360’s graphics do make a difference when you’re looking at a 10 foot wide image. There was almost no ghosting, blurring, or any problems at all from DVD movies to fast paced games like Burnout Revenge.

HDMI/DVI [Tested with High-End PC / Media Server]
Not having an HDMI equipped PS3 handy, I decided we could do better anyway and linked in on the highest resolutions possible direct from a top of the line PC, which can switch to higher resolutions than any regular console. Along with some cutting edge titles like Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, I put this projector through its paces with Hi-Def video content, High-Res PC games, up-scaled DivX and DVD content as well as just web browsing and computer usage (XP/MCE). The IN76 handled all of this with aplomb. It simply doesn’t get much better than this. With a decent sized room with sufficient darkness, the image quality was absolutely superb in every respect. Aside from the occasional tweaking for different video formats/resolutions, I was blown away.

There is simply no way to describe the feeling of watching a giant screen in your house/apartment with the clarity of true high-definition. Suddenly you want to invite friends over, throw a party, play every game in your collection over again. This makes a difference.

front view

However it’s not without its flaws… I noticed that nighttime viewing was excellent, but in any kind of lit room or with daylight coming through the windows this is almost unusable. To be fair this is a problem with just about any projector on the planet and Infocus can’t be held responsible for the laws of physics and projection technology. But it seems to subsidize having a TV for regular viewing and switching to "projector mode" for night gaming/movies. So unfortunately unless you’re nocturnal, your viewing times are fairly limited. So don’t throw out your TV just yet.

Another downside is having to tweak your pc setup; most consumer devices come with the standard resolutions but you have to play with your PC to get it to play nice with the hi-def resolutions on the projector. There’s also the consideration that replacement lamps for projectors get pretty expensive, so if you run it for hours a day, every day you’re bound to have it die out on you within a few years, although the cost of a new bulb in 2-3 years is offset by the fact that you’ll always have a huge screen and not have to compete with the incremental increases that TV Manufacturers release. However, since you can’t fully replace your TV with a projection unit there’s a cost consideration depending on your TV habits as well. As a final but small gripe, the IN76 uses a new spec of DVI and therefore isn’t instantly compatible with your standard DVI cables, but adapters are available and newer hardware will soon support this more fully.

rear view

Ultimately it’s not cheap and it may not be for everyone. But if you can scratch up the cash for an IN76 (retailing around 2199 currently) you will not be disappointed, and you will finally be able to live out the childhood fantasy of playing your favorite new (and old school) video games in giant near-life size, on your wall / projection screen. And as a word to the wise, a screen helps the quality. InFocus may not be a company normally associated with gaming, but if you want to put their products to the test for that purpose, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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