After leaving the affordable Full HD projection market in the hands of LCD for far too long, a new breed of affordable DLP projector is finally starting to appear.

These kicked off recently with Optoma's HD80, a solid effort that was a snip at £2,000. And now we're really hoping to see affordable full HD DLP come of age with the arrival of InFocus' first 1920 x 1080 DLP model, the £2,500 IN81.

Looking classy with its glossy black, almost circular bodywork, the main body is mounted on a ball joint, so you can rotate and tilt the projector to suit the requirements of your living room.

In terms of connections around the back, highlights include not one, but two HD-friendly digital video inputs: one straight HDMI and one 'M1-DA' multiformat option able to take HDMI and DVI feeds, or even RGB and component analogue feeds given the correct adaptor.

HDMI 1.3

What's more, both the digital jacks are compatible with HDMI's 1.3 standard, meaning they can take the Deep Colour enhanced picture format - should any source discs appear that actually use it.

As you'd hope of a modern full HD device, the IN81 is fully compatible with all HD formats, including the 1080p/24fps system used to master most films to Blu-ray and HD DVD.

Picture processing duties are undertaken by the Pixelworks 10-bit DNX video processing system that delivered such excellent results with InFocus's previous IN models, while the projector's onscreen menus contain a huge amount of flexibility to optimise great looking pictures.

Richer, more natural colours can be gained using the software element of Texas Instrument's BrilliantColor system. There's a choice of gamma presets to suit different sources or viewing conditions, while the option to turn off all overscanning results in purer HD transposition.

Worth noting, too, is the IN81's adjustable iris that allows you to trade off better black levels with greater brightness.

We find a claimed contrast ratio of between 3000:1 and 10000:1 depending on your iris settings, and an excellent 1400 ANSI Lumens of brightness is optimised for video.

Professional calibration

If you're feeling a bit scared by all the fine-tuning elements, fear not: the IN81 can be professionally calibrated by an Imaging Science Foundation engineer.

The IN81's backlit remote control is simple, but effective. Its onscreen menus are clear and sensibly organised and, best of all, the projector is a doddle to set up. This is due to that ball-jointed mount combined with the unusually sensitive zoom/focus wheels and the unit's digital keystone flexibility.

The only minor quibble we might raise here is that the zoom is a little limited at 1.2x.

The projector's black level response is phenomenal. We'd expect any sub-£3k projector, even a DLP one, to have some greyness over parts of a picture that should look black. But night skies in a selection of films and TV shows invariably look emphatically dark.

What's more, the projector has sufficient processing subtlety and innate brightness to also pack dark picture segments with oodles of the fine detail and tiny colour shifts that create three-dimensionality.

The way the projector manages to combine deep black levels with a really punchy level of brightness gives images a dynamism you just shouldn't get for this money.

The IN81's colours don't disappoint either, serving up terrifically rich tones, especially with BrilliantColor activated.

Fine detail response is nothing short of sensational, with none of the slight softness we sometimes see with full HD DLP models. Also, the reduction in scaling processing, when showing HD sources with Overscanning deactivated, helps them look totally free of video noise. Skintone is more realistic, too, thanks to the extra blend subtlety afforded by full HD's density of pixels.

The IN81's pictures are pretty much flawless in the context of its price. There's very occasional appearance of DLP's so-called Rainbow Effect, but this is a minor price to pay for all the strengths of the DLP engine.

Our only other wish would be that the projector's cooling fans were quieter.

InFocus could have easily charged another £500 to a grand for the IN81 and we'd still have loved it.