With DLP-based home-theater projectors these days, it's all about the Texas Instruments DMD (Digital Micromirror Device)--the chip, in other words--inside. InFocus's ScreenPlay 7210 ($6,999 list) is one of the first projectors on the market to employ the DC3 (Dark Chip 3) DMD from the company. The main benefit of this chip is increased black-level performance, which makes the darkest areas of the picture appear closer to true black and, in turn, increases contrast ratio and other important aspects of image quality. The 7210 is definitely a step above the less expensive because of this new chip, but we think it's well worth the price.
The InFocus 7210 looks virtually identical to its predecessor, the 7205, which remains on the market. It has a basic, no-frills design, and the case is surprisingly small (13.8 by 12.8 by 4.3 inches), with the lens assembly mounted all the way on the left side of the chassis. We liked the videocentric light-gray finish, which should prove unobtrusive when the projector is tucked up on the ceiling.
InFocus's remote control is quite small and can be fully backlit with the push of a button on the side of the unit. It has direct-access keys for aspect-ratio control as well as input switching, which makes changing sources convenient. The internal menu system, while straightforward enough, was a bit of a pain to navigate. You need to know that the Select button acts as a Return button, bringing you back one page in the menu at a time. Otherwise you'll find yourself hitting the Menu button and backing all the way out of the menu when you wanted only to go back to the previous page.
The InFocus 7210 lacks typical TV conveniences such as picture-in-picture, but it offers a good package as front projectors go. Its primary feature is the DC3 DLP chip we mentioned at the outset, which delivers a native resolution of 1,280x720. That's an exact match for 720p HDTV, and all other resolutions (including 1080i HDTV and computer sources) are scaled to fit that pixel count.
A number of cool picture-enhancing features are also onboard. Picture sizing (zoom) and focus controls are manual at the lens assembly. There's 2:3 pull-down processing, which works its magic as long as Film Mode is selected in the Advanced menu--happily, it comes from the factory set that way. A number of gamma settings are available; again, the most accurate, Film, is the factory preset. The three selectable color-temperature settings include 6,500K, 7,500K, and 9,300K, with 6,500K coming closest to the broadcast standard.
The 7210 has a keystone-correction feature that we recommend you do not use since it reduces resolution and introduces artifacts in the picture. You're much better off making sure that you or your installer gets the projector in the right place relative to the screen so that you don't have to use this. Unlike some higher-end projectors, the 7210 lacks lens shift, a feature that can adjust the relative position of the image without affecting picture quality.
This projector's connectivity is reasonably good, though not spectacular. The digital video connection is labeled M1-DA and looks like a standard DVI connector, except it's larger. Standard DVI cables won't fit; you'll need to get an M1-to-DVI or M1-to-HDMI cable or adapter ($45 and up at InFocus's online store) to use this connection with your digital video gear. That's pretty irritating.
Two broadband component-video inputs are onboard, as well as a 15-pin VGA connection for computers, two S-Video connections, one composite-video input, an RS-232 control port for use with Crestron and other touch-panel control systems, and two 12-volt triggers for electric drop-down-screen control. Another unusual connection, labeled D5, requires an adapter to connect to SCART, an RGB video connector used mainly in Europe.
Overall, the InFocus 7210 delivers an excellent picture. Prior to calibration, its performance was quite impressive compared to that of most of the competition. Grayscale tracking in the 6,500K setting with gamma set to Film came fairly close to ideal, although grayscale calibration definitely improved the 7210's overall color accuracy (see the geek box for more).