Review: In Focus LP500 Video

Category: Home Theater

I'll let you know right off the bat that this is the 5th projector I have owned. I am a devoted fan of projectors, and it is such a rapidly changing technology that it seems like it is time for me to upgrade just as I am getting used to the projector I own at the time. Anyhow, this is easily the best projector I have ever owned which is saying something I guess. The others suffered from problems such as being way too dim (250 lumens is not enough, I promise), having strange video scaling artifacts, doing an excessively odd fading in/out business when watching DVDs (something having to do with the Macrovision I understand), and otherwise just being unweildy pieces of trash. Anyhow, this DLP projector, in case you haven't seen one before is capable of throwing a gargantuan picture on just about any whitish surface from a truly miniscule box. Cool.

But how does it look you ask. Well, after a thorough calibration byt none other than myself and a handy little Avia test disc, it looks pretty darn good. I have had little to no problem with getting the projector to calibrate within a reasonable margin of what the Avia disc purveys as perfection. That, I assure you, is far more than I can say about many of the previous projectors I have owned. As with any DLP projector, the black level is certainly leaving a bit to be desired, but the very high level of white brightness makes it so you don't even notice with normal viewing material. I would never call the picture washed out. The projector is fairly flexible as far as set up options are concerned, though it will not do HD. I don't mind, as here in Wyoming we have no HD feeds available as of yet anyhow. Overall, a very nice machine.

One note I feel it is very important to illuminate you upon: the light bulbls for projectors are extremely expensive. How expensive? Let's just say you could buy 2 27" TVs from Wal-Mart for the same price as a 2000 hour rated bulb for most projectors (this one included). Now, with normal watching, that translates to buying a new bulb about every 2.5 years (assuming around 15 hours of usage a week). That is, of course, assuming you replace the bulb at about 2000 hours (that's about $.20 per hour). The projector I am currently running has a brand new bulb in it because the one that used to be in it blew after about 250 hours (!!!!!!) This is unacceptable. To add insult to injury In Focus was extremely unhelpful and basically just said "oh well, we warrant our bulbs for 500 hours or 90 days, whichever comes first". I was out of warranty by about -250 hours or 10 months. Real nice. That bulb cost me more like $1.50 an hour (which is still much cheaper than most forms of entertainment). In conclusion, if you can deal with the abysmal customer service (In Focus is very much geared toward corporate customers), by all means buy one of these projectors--they're really nice. If you feel you can live with those maintenance costs, this projector comes very highly recommended from me. Fun.

Associated gear
Sony DVP-S530D DVD player
$15 50-ft s-video cord
Yamaha RX-V800 A/V receiver

Similar products
In Focus LP580
In Focus LP430b
In Focus LP720
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Many direct-view televisions