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InFocus ScreenPlay 4805 review: InFocus ScreenPlay 4805

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The Good Packs good specifications at a true entry-level price point. Fairly good output in daylight conditions.

The Bad No lens shift makes set-up more challenging than it ought to be. Picture underwhelming with analog input.

The Bottom Line The ScreenPlay 4805 has its limitations, but all up it represents very good value compared to many other so-called entry level projectors on the market.

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The ScreenPlay 4805 replaces it's predesessor, the ScreenPlay 4800, as InFocus's entry level home theatre projector. At the same very attractive price point, this DLP model sports slightly better resolution, a six-segment colour wheel, a higher contrast ratio and more inputs.

Design
Pretty much, a projector is a projector is a projector -- this is the one home theatre device that does not even try to look sexy. The ScreenPlay 4805 is no exception. It's your basic grey box -- 24.9cm (W) x 32.7cm (D) x 10.6cm (H) -- with air grilles on the front, back and right side. AV connections are in the back, and the power plug and on/off switch are on the right side near the back. The basic control buttons of the remote are duplicated on the top of the projector too, but near the back right hand corner, close to the power switch. It may or not be a problem, but if you want to set the projector up in any kind of shelving unit, a side (as opposed to a rear) power cord and switch could either be somewhat awkward or very handy.

The 4805 has your basic AV connections -- S-video, component and composite -- but this upgrade goes a step further and has added a DVI (digital video) connection. It also has an audio out and 12-volt DC output if you want to automatically trigger a motorised projection screen to lower while the unit is on.

The remote is basic but clearly laid out and has a back lit button on the side (which you may overlook at first) that can be used to add an orange glow to the buttons. The remote has a source button to easily switch among sources such as DVD players, Foxtel set top boxes, computers and game consoles; a resize button to change the aspect ratio to match the input; and an overscan which helps to remove noise in a video image.

You can power down the lamp via the remote control, but to turn the projector and fan completely off, you must toggle the power switch on the side of the box itself to the off position.

Features
The ScreenPlay 4805 is an entry level projector, so therefore it does not have any of the lens shift controls or joysticks that we've been spoiled with on the Panasonic PT-AE700E and the Sanyo Z3. What this means is that you must have the projector set up dead square on to the screen to avoid distortion. There is one elevator foot on the front and one small leveling foot on the back left hand corner of the projector, but there is no way to adjust the lens/image to the right or left without moving the whole box.

Further more, its image offset is 127.3 percent when the projector is in its default 16:9 mode. This means that if you have an image 10' high, the bottom ot the image will be 2.73' above the centre of the lens. In practical terms, when we tried to set this up on high shelving next to our DVD player, the elevation of the projector pushed the image onto the ceiling, and only a paperback under the back end tipped the image down on to the wall screen.  The image was fine when we move the 4805 down onto the coffee table, but then we had to contend with the power and connection cabling draping back to the inputs.

Once you get the picture where you want it, you'll need to focus by turning the lens, which has a thick zoom ring and a thinner focus ring. Since the only way to get a properly shaped picture is to set the projector straight on to the screen, the adjusting the vertical Keystone correction is fairly useless and you'll probably set it to zero.

The remote will lead you easily through the rest of the set up. There are dedicated buttons to play with contrast and brightness and through the menu options you can adjust the colour, tint and aspect ratio.

The default aspect ratio is 16:9. The 4805 also has a Native aspect ratio that centres a 4:3 image and scales it up to 16:9 so that any resolution larger than its 854 x 480 maximum is cropped on the edges.

Presets are limited to Film, Video and Presentation, but you can also save up to three of your own customised settings.

Performance
Set up quibbles aside, once you have the ScreenPlay 4805 up and running, its DarkChip2T DLP technology from Texas Instruments produces clear and clean images. While not as sharp as when the room was fully darkened, we were particularly impressed with its output in daylight conditions. Projectors are certainly not a long term option for daylight viewing, but as the system was set up, we did swap the input and happily watch the Sunday afternoon footy without difficulty.

The projector has a respectable contrast ratio of 2000:1 to deliver the bright colours and deep blacks that help make a high quality picture. This was put to the test with our test DVD The Bourne Supremacy.  In the opening scenes in Goa, the vivid colours of the markets and costumes of the locals came up well, and the extended night chase scenes in Berlin were pleasing in black level contrast and shadow detail.

The resolution at 854 x 480 is slightly better than its ScreenPlay 4800 predecessor, but it's on the low-end of HD standards. The resolution does look a bit rough when you hook up via an analog connection to a standard free-to-air TV broadcast.
 
There is a small speaker built-in, but you will get a far superior sound (as befitting the image) by connecting to an external speaker system via the Audio Out connector.

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