BenQ W1070 review

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Works directly with HDMI 1.4a devices
  • Built-in speaker

Cons

  • Shows rainbow artifacts unusually often
  • Only works with 144Hz 3D glasses

The DLP-based BenQ W1070 is a full 1080p 3D home entertainment projector – as opposed to a home cinema projector – which is priced at the £700 mark. What’s the difference between a home entertainment and home cinema projector?

Well, the home cinema projector is meant for cinema-dark lighting, where too bright an image can be uncomfortable to look at. Home entertainment projectors are meant for living rooms or family rooms, as a replacement for an HDTV or as a supplement to one for watching movies and sports. Given their intended location, they have to be much brighter than home cinema projectors, so they can stand up to ambient light.

The rule of thumb for cinema-dark lighting, based on recommendations of The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), it to shoot for 16 foot-lamberts (fL) as the brightness for the screen. For the W1070's rated 2,000 lumens, using a 1.0 gain screen at 1080p's 16:9 aspect ratio, that would work out to a screen size of more than 200in diagonally.

If you need to, you can lower the brightness level to make the projector more appropriate for a smaller screen size by switching to the lamp's eco mode, using one of the projector's lower brightness presets, or doing both. However, the argument for getting this bright a projector in the first place is that you can use it with the lights on. With moderate ambient light, the more appropriate screen brightness for 2,000 lumens would be in the range of 40 fL, for a screen size of about 130in.

Design

Surprisingly small and light for a 1080p 3D projector, the W1070 measures 312 x 244 x 104mm (WxDxH), and it weighs just 2.75kg. If you don't want to install it permanently, it's easy to store the device away when you're not using it, move it from room to room, or even bring it with you to a friend's house.

The back panel offers two HDMI ports, making it easy to connect two 1080p sources, plus S-video, a set of three RCA connectors for component video, and the usual VGA and composite video ports. Both HDMI ports are 1.4a, which means they support 3D as well as 2D for connections to Blu-ray players, cable boxes and the like.

Setup is standard, with the 1.3x manual zoom giving you reasonably good flexibility in how far you can put the projector from the screen for a given size image. An even more welcome touch is the vertical lens shift adjustment that lets you move the image up or down by about 5 per cent of the screen height from its centre position.

That's not a lot compared with some other projectors, but it's unusual to have this feature at all at this price point, and any lens shift helps make setup a little easier, giving you some flexibility in the vertical placement of the projector relative to the screen without having to worry about keystone distortion.

Image quality

With its 2000 lumen rating, the W1070 is easily bright enough to throw a reasonably large image which can stand up to a moderate level of ambient light. And note that I measured its colour brightness at roughly 80 per cent of its white brightness in both its brightest and best colour modes. That high a percentage means there's very little difference between the perceived brightness with a colour image versus a solid white screen. It also tends to go hand-in-hand with good colour quality.

Along with a bright image, the W1070 delivers image quality that's just short of excellent. In my tests, the projector did swimmingly with most of the clips that we use to highlight problems. I saw a mild loss of shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas) in one scene, but it was little enough that I wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't know what the scene should look like.

I also saw some annoyingly obvious noise in solid dark areas in night scenes, with the noise not improving at all when I set noise reduction at its maximum. In brighter scenes, however, which would include most video you're likely to look at, the noise was generally minimal, as is typical for home entertainment projectors in this price class.

Very much on the plus side, colour quality was excellent, the projector handled skin tones well, and I didn't see any motion artifacts or posterisation (colours changing suddenly when they should change gradually), even in clips that tend to bring out these problems.

One potential issue, as with any single-chip DLP projector, is rainbow artifacts, with light areas breaking up into little red-green-blue rainbows. I tend to see these artifacts easily, and with the W1070, I saw them more often than with most projectors I've tested and in scenes that I've rarely, if ever, seen them in with other projectors. Depending on how easily you – or anyone you watch with – notices them, you may or may not consider this a problem.

3D and other issues

As I've already mentioned, the W1070 can plug directly into a Blu-ray player, cable box, or the equivalent to show 3D images. However, it doesn't ship with any glasses, so you'll have to buy them separately. According to BenQ, the projector should work with any DLP-link glasses that support 144Hz. However, it won't work with older DLP-link glasses that support 120Hz only.

In any case, BenQ provided its own glasses for my tests, and I can confirm that the 3D works as promised. Image quality was generally good with suitable colour quality, despite an occasional rainbow artifact. I didn't see any crosstalk, even in scenes that tend to cause the problem.

One other feature that helps define the W1070 as a home entertainment projector is that it includes a speaker. You simply can't cram a sound system suitable for a traditional home cinema into a projector case, so projectors meant for home cinema use generally don't include one.

The W1070's 10 Watt speaker doesn't offer particularly high quality sound, which means you'll probably want to hook up an external sound system if you have one available. However, it does let you move the projector to another room to set it up temporarily, and have sound without needing to move an external audio system also.

Verdict

Anyone who sees rainbow artifacts easily, or worries that someone else may be bothered by them, is well advised to stay away from the BenQ W1070 and focus on LCD projectors. If the rainbow effect isn't an issue for you, however, the BenQ W1070 has a lot to recommend it, from its relatively low price to its high quality image for both 2D and 3D. If you need a bright projector for a room with moderate ambient light, the BenQ W1070 is certainly worth considering.

Specifications

Model and Manufacturer

BenQ W1070

Native Resolution

1920 x 1080

Inputs

VGA, HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video

Wireless Connectivity

No

Weight

2.75kg

Rated Contrast Ratio

10000:1

Engine Type

DLP

Type

Consumer, Home Entertainment Projector

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Rated Brightness

2000 ANSI lumens