This well-specified but inexpensive 1080p DLP projector could have many potential system upgraders considering projection for the first time. After all, for the cost of a 46in LED TV you could be enjoying images three times the size. It’s a tempting proposition, not least because this BenQ PJ is a beautiful-looking piece of hardware.

Finished in à la mode white and sporting distinctive angled side panels, it measures a tidy 330mm edge-to-edge. The top of the unit offers soft-touch menu navigation and connectivity is extensive. There are two HDMI inputs, PC VGA, component, S-video and composite, plus phono audio. There’s even a 10W sound system onboard, which makes impromptu bigscreen gaming sessions difficult to resist – just plug in the Xbox 360 and start fragging. Don’t crank up the volume, though, as the W1060’s wee speaker is easily driven to distortion.

At just 3.63kg, this lightweight PJ should present few problems when it comes to ceiling mounting (BenQ offers an optional mount). Alternatively, it’s small enough to pull from a cupboard and pop onto a coffee table when required. The projector sucks cool air in from the side and vents it hot from the front, which is socially the best solution. While the best results are always going to be had with the projector positioned perpendicular to the screen (or at this price point, more likely a white wall), there is some basic keystone correction available if you have to setup off-axis.

You’ll need a decent-sized room to obtain a large image, though. In my lounge, rival projectors routinely throw a larger image in the same space. A 100in screen can only be filled from some four metres away.

The user interface is business-like. Input sources are scanned with rapidity, so there’s no dawdling while the thing hunts for a live feed.

The W1060 offers a wide variety of picture quality refinements. In addition to a bank of image presets (Cinema, Gaming, Bright and Living Room) there are three user-definable modes, presumably to dedicate to different sources, which store preferred settings atop the aforementioned presets. Avoid Living Room as it tends to emphasise digital artefacts. Cinema offers the best out-of-the-box balance, including the most natural skin tone reproduction.

Tweakers can also delve into an Advanced mode that offers adjustment of Luma, Chroma, Detail Enhancement and Noise Reduction values. 3D colour management is also provided for those wielding colourimeters. To be honest, this is not an area most users will visit, and frankly the projector is no worse off for that anyhow.

More significant to the rest of us is the lack of variable fast refresh/high frame-rate modes. This has obvious implications for the projector’s subjective motion resolution, which is limited to around 800 lines (at 6.5ppf). I also noted minor artefacts around certain moving objects, which could not be dialed out.

Yet overall picture fidelity is fine. Images have a colourful zing which is hard to hate. However, the projector’s black level is limited. The W1060 delivers more of on overcast grey – consequently shadow detail tends to get lost in the murk. When the Nostromo glides into view at the opening of Alien (Blu-ray), it looks as if it’s sailing through intergalactic smog. Not what Ridley intended.

The W1060 is a single-chip DLP projector, and while the technology’s trademark rainbows have been significantly curtailed thanks to advances in colour wheel design, they’re still visible in areas of high contrast on certain types of content. Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Blu-ray) suffers rather badly in this regard. When the film crew make their first exploration of the Chauvet caverns, I found the starkly-lit sequence punctuated with distracting RGB flashes.

By way of contrast, the remastered Beatles animation The Yellow Submarine appears bold and colour rich. The only rainbows are there by artistic intention.

The W1060 is bright, with a 2,000 ANSI Lumens rating. You’ll certainly get away with running it in a room with a low level of ambient light, perhaps when you get your mates around for a game tournie. In a controlled-light environment it makes sense to run the lamp on Eco mode. Not only does this reduce overall power consumption by 20 per cent, but it extends the lamp life.

Operationally, the W1060 behaves itself. The noise level drops to 28dB when running green, although that spinning colour wheel imparts a distinctive whine which you’ll soon want to mask with a separate sound system.

Conclusion

BenQ’s W1060 is a great value Full HD projector, albeit one best suited to games rather than movies. While it can be used quite happily for blockbusters, its presentation isn’t entirely cinematic, thanks to that lack of profound black. The brand’s W1100, which sells for around £900, or Epson’s rival £1,000 EH-TW5900, offer a more convincing home theatre experience. That said, given the choice of a budget-priced light cannon like this or cookie-cutter flatscreen, I know which way I’d jump.


HCC VERDICT

BenQ W1060
Price:
£700 Approx

Highs: Funky design; Full HD resolution; easy to use; colour-rich imagery; plenty of inputs
Lows: Limited motion resolution; weak onboard loudspeaker; doesn’t deliver true black

Performance: 3/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Analysis

GUI: The onscreen menus lack visual flair but are comprehensive, and work well in conjunction with BenQ’s supplied backlit remote control
Killer feature: This really is a plug ‘n’ play product – small enough to be plopped on a coffee table (it comes with a carry case, too), and with an appetising price tag


Specifications

3D: no
Full HD: yes 1080p24
Connections: 2 x HDMI; component video; S-video; composite; PC D-Sub; stereo phono
Brightness (claimed): 2,000 ANSI Lumens
Contrast ratio (claimed): 5,000:1
Dimensions: 330(w) x 150(h) x 247(d)mm
Weight: 3.6kg
Features: One-chip DLP imaging system; 6,000-hour claimed lamp-life in eco mode; carry bag included; 10W sound system; manual zoom and focus; throw ratio 1.59-1.9 (56.8in at 2m); Cinema, Gaming, Bright and Living Room image presets; three user-definable viewing modes; 28dB operating noise