BenQ MX618ST review

Pros

  • Short-throw projector
  • Decent price
  • Good port selection
  • Can run presentations from a USB stick

Cons

  • Mediocre data and video image quality

The BenQ MX618ST is a short-throw data projector in the same family as the BenQ MS616ST, offering a slightly better image quality as befits its higher resolution (and higher price). It is portable, 3D ready, and has a good set of connectivity choices.

The MX618ST is a DLP-based projector with XGA (1,024 x 768) native resolution at a 4:3 aspect ratio, and a rated brightness of 2,800 lumens. The projector measures 310 x 240 x 105mm (WxDxH) and weighs 2.8kg. It includes a soft carrying case, adding to its portability. It is black on the base and top, with white sides and rounded corners. It has a useful 1.2x optical zoom (many short-throw projectors lack a zoom altogether).

The MX618ST has the ports that count, including VGA, monitor-out, HDMI, a full set of RCA jacks for composite video/audio, S-video, one audio-in and one audio-out jack, and an RS232 jack. It also benefits from a mini-USB type B port for connecting to a computer for USB Display (which emulates what's on your computer screen), and a USB type A port for running a presentation from a USB stick (file types supported are JPEG, JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF).

Data image testing

The MX618ST projected an image of about 60in diagonal to fill our test screen from about four feet away. The image stood up to a good amount of ambient light without notable degradation.

In data image testing, using the using the DisplayMate suite, the MX618ST's image quality proved suitable for typical business and classroom presentations. In our text testing, type was blurred at the two smallest white-on-black sizes, with the smallest size difficult to read. There was mild yellow tinting and fringing in white areas in some images. Colours were generally pretty good, though yellows were mustardy and reds on the dull side.

When I first ran the tests over a VGA connection, there was significant pixel jitter as well as some greenish tinting in images with hatched patterns or closely spaced lines. Adjusting the phase greatly reduced the jitter, and switching to an HDMI connection eliminated the jitter and reduced the green tinting.

Rainbow artifacts – little red-green-blue flashes, especially in light areas against dark backgrounds – were evident in certain images that tend to bring them out. This rainbow effect, which is often seen in single-chip DLP projectors, tends not to be an issue in data presentations, though, even for people sensitive to the effect.

Video and audio

Video quality was suitable for showing shorter clips as part of a presentation. The rainbow effect was evident in certain scenes, and would likely be a distraction to people sensitive to it. There was some loss of detail in bright areas. Also, I noticed a fine hatched pattern reminiscent of pixelation; it was absent from another XGA-resolution projector that I tested at the same time.

Audio from the 10 Watt speaker was a bright spot, loud enough to fill a small to mid-sized room, and of reasonably good quality.

The MX618ST's lamp life in Smart-Eco mode is up to 6,500 hours. Its EcoBlank mode lets presenters blank out the screen while taking a break, lowering energy consumption up to 70 per cent while it's paused. Also, the projector will automatically enter EcoBlank mode after 3 minutes without a signal. SmartEco mode automatically adjusts lamp brightness, depending on lighting conditions.

This projector is 3D-capable, with support for 3D Blu-ray via HDMI as well as Nvidia 3DTV Play, enabling it to display 3D content from Nvidia 3D Vision. Active shutter 3D glasses are not included, though.

Verdict

The BenQ MX618ST's data image quality is no match for the ViewSonic PJD6383s, an XGA short-throw projector that boasted considerably sharper text. The ViewSonic's video, however, had more rainbow artifacts than the MX618ST – and also note that it’s slightly more expensive than the BenQ. If your presentations have little or no video, the Viewsonic PJD6383s is clearly a better choice; otherwise, the MX618ST can hold its own.

Overall, the BenQ MX618ST is an appealing data projector for corporate or educational use, with a nice short throw. Its image quality, though unexceptional, is fine for typical business or classroom use. It has a good set of connectivity choices and is portable, and is 3D ready if you supply the active shutter DLP-Link glasses. This versatility will be a good mix for many schools or businesses.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

BenQ MX618ST

Video Inputs

Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video

Computer Interfaces

VGA

Native Resolution

1024 x 768

Weight

2.8kg

Rated Contrast Ratio

13000:1

Engine Type

DLP

Type

Business

Aspect Ratio

4:3

Rated Brightness

2800 ANSI lumens