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From time to time, we look at data projectors for office presentations. Usually we tip you off to the possibilities of using a data projector for watching the World Cup, or showing movies. The Screenplay 110 from InFocus is as flexible, but approaches projection from the opposite angle. It makes sacrifices when projecting data, and focuses on video.
When measuring data quality, one of the most quoted specifications is ANSI Lumens. This is the measure of brightness, and, while notoriously vague, it’s used to sell projectors. Consequently, manufacturers do whatever they can to boost brightness, but this deteriorates the colour quality.
Projectors using DLP (Digital Light Processor) technology bounce light off an array of thousands of tiny mirrors mounted on a chip. To get colour, the light is directed through a fast-spinning wheel with red, green and blue filters. The end result is a colour image. However, because these filters reduce the light output, a fourth segment with no filter is added to the wheel, which boosts the light output – but degrades the colour. This is how the trade off between colour quality and contrast, versus brightness, is balanced. In the Screenplay 110, the colour wheel has no clear sections, which maximizes contrast and colour fidelity.
It isn’t just the colour wheel that makes this a great projector for moving images – it also includes a Faroudja image processor, the first projector to do so. Until recently, the only way you could get a Faroudja processor would be to pay for a digital-video processor unit. These started at a staggering £40,000, which is why only the super-rich would have equipment like this.
When I heard the price of a Faroudja processor, I thought: “What a rip-off.” However, while the stand-alone processors are insanely over-priced, there are real benefits from using the technology.
The problem with displaying video signals is that they are interlaced, meaning that each frame is scanned twice, with every other line being drawn twice. Projected images are not interlaced, so the whole frame is drawn in one go. The process of converting interlaced video to single frames is simple enough, but getting it to look good is another matter. Without a video processor, images can appear jagged, you can get tearing, and straight lines will – at certain angles – look stepped.
The Faroudja processor does many things to improve the image, but the most important thing is a kind of anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing is a process in which jagged lines are softened by subtle shading, calculated by taking into account surrounding pixels. The Faroudja uses this technique, yet because it’s working with video, it goes one step further. Not only is the image anti-aliased byFaroudja looking at surrounding pixels, the following and preceding frames are also taken into account, ensuring perfect images. All the artefacts that you’d find in a standard projector’s image are fixed, and the difference is amazing. It sounds like a subtle difference, but when viewed side by side with another projector, the difference is clear. While I won’t spend £40,000 on a video processor, I will insist on a Faroudja processor for my projector.
When I get to this point in the review of text-focused projectors, I remind people that they can always take them home at the weekend for a bit of home-theatre action. So here, I’ll remind you now that this projector is also capable of projecting boring old work projects. But, it doesn’t have the brightness of some models, and its resolution isn’t the highest.
Whether you’re a home-theatre enthusiast, or someone who wants to mix business presentations with pleasure, the Screenplay 110 is ideal. Even the relatively lowly output of 1,000 ANSI lumens is far-more powerful than models that were current just a few years ago. So if you can sneak it through the budget, go for it.