Infocus Screenplay 5000 LCD projector

For LCD, it's a case of back to the future. The Screenplay 5000 home theatre projector from Infocus is the first one we've looked at from this company that makes use of an LCD projection system instead of the more common (at least when it comes to Infocus) and newer DLP technology.

For many prospective customers, the technology behind the scenes isn't something that's exactly at the forefront of our minds as we shop, so why should anyone care that the 5000 uses LCD instead of DLP? As long as you're happy with the end result then ultimately it doesn't matter one little bit; nevertheless there are "quirks" specific to LCD projectors that it pays to be aware of.

Traditionally, LCD projectors have suffered from a couple of drawbacks inherent with the technology no matter who the manufacturer is. These are poor contrast (and consequently poor blacks) plus the oh-so annoying "screen door effect" where individual pixels are clearly discernable on screen as if looking through a screen door. If you find an LCD projector exhibiting both these nuances you'll see an image that looks washed out and slightly pixelated. But if there's one good thing about living in a world where technology moves so fast it's hard to keep up, it's that digital projectors are improving with each generation, so while you should be aware of these facts don't avoid a projector based on these facts alone - always see it for yourself.

Back to the matter at hand and we find the Screenplay 5000 to be a remarkably compact projector (vital statistics are 3.4kg and 293 x 100 x 260mm (w/h/d) that's also HD (high definition) capable and loaded with goodies.

There are connection options to cover all bases including DVI, component, S-Video and composite plus 12V triggers for activating things such as curtains or rollup screens. The Screenplay's native resolution is a 16:9 aspect 1280 x 720, so things look nice and sharp if you're using component or DVI inputs. We found that S-Video - the best of the standard definition input options - was, quite frankly, lacking in the detail department and our image tended to look pixelated and messy from a normal viewing distance. We'd recommend you do the Screenplay 5000 justice by plugging in using component leads or a DVI cable to get optimal picture quality out of it.

We threw some of the new Windows Media Video HD (WMV HD) content at it (try it for yourself at (www.wmvhd.com) using the supplied DVI cable on a high-spec PC. The high-definition video looked glorious and the Screenplay 5000 was finally showing what it was really capable of.

Detail was excellent and all the messy pixelation of the S-Video cable-powered DVD session was gone, while colours - particularly skin tones - were warm and accurate. Feature-wise there's plenty to like about the 5000, including an easy-to-use menu system that can be operated using either the full quota of buttons atop the projector or the remote control. Sadly, there is no lens shift mechanism to make physical adjustments to the projector's alignment, and we're left with only the standard single adjustable foot at the rear of the projector. This was perfectly acceptable in days gone by but now it's little things like this that can help sway an undecided shopper - besides, lens shift just makes sense.

The Screenplay 5000 is a fine projector in spite of a handful of niggling foibles. Worth a look.

Price: $3,499; Vendor: Infocus ; URL: http://www.infocus.com/au/apac/home.asp?site_lang=9&site_region=2&permanent=false; Distributor: http://www.internationaldynamics.com.au/

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