This budget projector needs only a few minor tweaks to serve up solid hi-def images
The BenQ W1070 wears its chief attraction right out there on its price tag. For despite being a 3D-capable projector claiming decent-looking contrast ratio and brightness figures of 10,000:1 and 2,000 ANSI Lumens respectively, it costs a penny under £700. Admittedly, this doesn’t get you a free pair of 3D glasses, but it’s still a damn tempting price all the same.
The W1070 is strikingly small, making it well suited to the casual projection market. It’s also quite attractive, with a blend of gloss white and matt silver elements - though its build quality is a tad flimsy, and the lens is slightly smaller than I feel entirely comfortable with.
The W1070’s best design attribute is that it includes a vertical shift system. This is hardly user-friendly, requiring a screwdriver to access it, and the extent of vertical shift on offer isn’t very extensive. But finding any vertical shifting at the W1070’s price point - reducing the likelihood that you’ll have to use any image-distorting keystone correction - is a boon.
Less impressive is the puny amount of optical zoom on offer, which could present some users with tricky positioning issues. There is plenty of digital zoom, but this is just a processing effect that invariably makes pictures look worse.
The W1070’s connections are solid, including two HDMIs, a component video port, a D-Sub PC port, composite and S-Video standard-def video options, and, surprisingly, a 12V trigger port. There are audio jacks to feed its 10W speaker array, too - as with all PJ speaker systems, this should only be treated as an audio option of the very last resort.
The W1070’s onscreen menus, meanwhile, contain a surprise: an ISF mode that an Imaging Science Foundation engineer can use to calibrate the projector to your specific room setup. While I'm doubtful how many people buying a £700 projector will spend at least £200 on a professional calibration, I certainly applaud BenQ for providing such calibration-friendly tools as colour and gamma management.
First impressions of the W1070’s pictures are strong - once, at least, I’d turned off the noise-inducing Brilliant Colour feature and figured out that the projector’s ‘Smart Eco’ mode was actually a decent dynamic contrast system.
With these changes made the W1070 produces a startlingly effective contrast performance, delivering even trickily-lit sequences, like the scene where Hudson gets munched in Aliens, with surprising dynamism and conviction. I noted minimal evidence of DLP’s rainbow effect, even over such RGB stripe-inducing fare as the white Alien title against a backdrop of space at the opening of Ridley Scott’s classic.
The W1070’s black levels aren’t as deep as those of some of its grouptest rivals, and nor is there quite as much nuance or range in its colours. There is, though, a more punchy look to its pictures that seems well-suited to relatively casual viewing environments, and aside from the Brilliant Colour feature, I also felt comfortable with the projector’s out-of-box presets.
The W1070 makes good use of a Full HD native resolution to deliver a winningly sharp picture by budget projection standards - sharpness that doesn’t break down when there’s lots of motion to handle, either.
And the BenQ is also a commendable 3D performer, joining other DLP projectors in being almost completely free of crosstalk ghosting, and delivering reasonably bright, colourful images. A slight lack of contrast, though, means dark scenes like those in the alien tunnels in Prometheus lack a little depth, leaving the similarly-priced Optoma HD25 as a marginally better 3D offering.
In a perfect world the W1070’s pictures would be a touch less noisy, and deliver a deeper black. I also noticed a small shift in operating noise due to the workings of the dynamic contrast system. Overall, though, the W1070 is a brilliant, and affordable, ‘instant’ home cinema solution.
Price: £700 Approx
Highs: Exceptional value; strong out of the box picture performance; ISF certified
Lows: Pictures are a touch noisy; dark 3D scenes lack a little depth; no 3D glasses included for free
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