Review: BenQ W1070 3D DLP Projector Page 2
BenQ certainly didn’t skimp on the lamp, since the light output of the tiny W1070 is fantastic: 44.34 footlamberts (ftL) on my 102-inch 1.0-gain screen. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly 50% brighter than the Sony and JVC projectors featured in our February/March issue, and those were 3.5 to 4 times more expensive. However, the W1070’s contrast ratio wasn’t nearly as good as either of those, and here’s where the BenQ shows its budget roots. At the aforementioned brightness, the black level was 0.0233 ftL. This is definitely in the “dark gray, not black” category, yielding a native contrast ratio of 1,903:1. That’s not great for a projector, and it’s lower than many flat-panel LCDs (and definitely lower than plasmas). There’s a SmartEco mode that dims the lamp depending on the image being displayed for a slightly improved dynamic contrast ratio. Even so, it doesn’t help a ton. In this mode, the BenQ’s black level dropped to a still-high 0.0153 ftL, while its maximum light output stayed the same (2,908:1, dynamic).
However, color was quite accurate, thanks to a CMS that lets a calibrator dial in the color points and levels with a fair degree of precision. Colors with actual video content looked natural. The W1070 doesn’t look quite as perfect as some recent displays I’ve seen, but it looks way better than most projectors in its price range.
The 3D effect was a little on the milder side, but there was no noticeable crosstalk. I noticed some flickering, though. BenQ’s $129 3D glasses are fairly light, and while not the most comfortable I’ve worn, they certainly aren’t the least either. Overall, I’d call the 3D experience here “decent.” It’s not a strength but also not a weakness. One odd thing: When you lookat the screen without glasses in 3D mode, the image is almost entirely red, yet when seen through the glasses, it looks fine. Not an issue, just a side effect of how BenQ is doing 3D.
A movie like the surprisingly-not-bad Dredd showed off the W1070’s pros and cons perfectly. The image was bright — hard to find fault in that. Skin tones seemed accurate, yet the movie’s slo-mo scenes showed all their otherworldly vibrant weirdness. There was lots of detail in faces and other close-ups: Dredd’s stubble, for example, or Anderson’s blond locks. The dark scenes, of which there are many in Dredd, looked rather flat and somewhat washed out. The effect of this was that everything appeared gritty but not especially moody. I wished that the W1070’s black level could be lower while its light output stayed the same. That’s really the only thing that would significantly improve it.
A few other areas revealed the BenQ’s price concessions. There was a fair amount of light leakage, which showed up on the wall around the screen. It wasn’t terrible, but it was somewhat noticeable. The W1070 is a little loud, an effect that’s exacerbated by how close it needs to be to the seating area to create a decent-size image. However, the Epson projector I reviewed in our February/March issue projector test was even louder. The BenQ’s handling of sub-par content like certain cable channels was poor. Even some of the scenes in Dredd that are intentionally grainy looked especially bad. Again, this ultimately isn’t a huge issue, but it’s worth mentioning.
There’s another aspect to consider. For $1,000, the BenQ projects a quality 100-inch-plus image. Throw in a few hundred dollars for a screen, and you’re right in line with the largest cheap flat-panel LCDs. Those are 70-80 inches; this is 100 inches (or even larger, if you want to sacrifice some light, which you can). Which will have better picture quality? Well, the LCDs will be brighter, certainly, and their contrast ratio might be a little better, but not enough to be a huge differentiator. For me the choice is a no-brainer: Get the BenQ.
Turns out that the BenQ W1070 is, in fact, that rare breed: It offers really good performance while being one of the least expensive 1080p-rez 3D projectors you can buy. I wish it had a better contrast ratio and zoom range, but then again, I’m willing to forgive a lot for something that costs barely more than a cheap 50-inch plasma. It’s also a lot better (and makes a bigger image) than the affordable, ultra-large LCDs flooding the market. I hesitate to assign a subjective numeric judgment, but here it is anyway: I’d say the W1070 offers 70% of the performance of projectors in the $3,000-4,000 price range for less than a third of their cost. While it’s not perfect, it’s bright, fairly accurate, and, for the price, quite excellent.