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BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector - Review

Short Throw and 3D brings big screen entertainment for smaller spaces.

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector - Front View

Front View of the BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector.

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The BenQ W1080ST is a moderately-priced DLP Video Projector that can be used in a home theater setup, as a gaming projector, or in a business/classroom setting. The two main features of this projector is its included Short Throw lens, which can produce a very large image in a small space, and its 3D capability.

With a native 1920x1080 pixel resolution (1080p), 2,000 lumen output, and 10,000:1 contrast ratio, the W1080ST displays a bright image. For more details and perspective, continue reading this review, and follow up further with my additional Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.

Product Overview

The features and specifications of the BenQ W1080ST include the following:

1. DLP Video Projector with 2,000 Ansi Lumens of white light output and 1080p Image Resolution.

2. 3X Speed/Six Segment (RGB/RGB) Color Wheel.

3. Lens Characteristcs: F=2.6-2.78, f=10.2-12.24mm, Throw Ratio - .69 to .83

4. Image size range: 38 to 300 inches - adds flexibility for both small and large screen sizes and room environments. Can project a 100-inch 16x9 image at from a distance of about 5 to 5 1/2 feet.

5. Native 16x9 Screen Aspect Ratio. The BenQ W1080ST can accommodate 16x9 or 4x3 aspect ratio sources.

6. 10,000:1 Contrast Ratio. 240 Watt Lamp and 3,500 Hour (Normal), 5,000 (Eco), and 6,000 (Smart Eco) Hour Lamp Life.

7. Inputs: Two HDMI, and one each of the following: VGA, HD-Component, S-Video, and Composite Video.

8. The W1080ST is 3D display compatible with both HDMI (Blu-ray, Cable/Satellite, Media Streamer, Game Console, or Camcorder), and PC/VGA sources. Projection of 3D images and video from PC sources requires (60Hz/120Hz Frame Sequential or 60Hz Top/Bottom or Side-by-Side) from PCs equipped with NVIDIA 3D Vision or other compatible hardware/software combination. DLP Link 3D emitter built-in. 3D glasses require additional purchase (compare prices).

9. Compatible with input resolutions up to 1080p (including both 1080p/24 and 1080p/60). NTSC/PAL Compatible. All sources scaled to 1080p for screen display.

10. Manual Zoom and Focus controls located on lens assembly. On-screen menu system for other functions. Compact wireless remote control provided.

11. Fast On and Off.

12. Automatic video input Detection - Manual video input selection also available via remote control or buttons on projector.

13. RS232 and 12-volt trigger included for easier custom control integration.

14. Built-in Speaker (10 watts x 1).

15. Kensington®-style lock provision, padlock and security cable hole provided.

16. Dimensions: 12.2 inches Wide x 9.6 inches Deep x 4.09 inches High - Weight: 6.2 lbs - AC Power: 100-240V, 50/60Hz

17. Accessories included: Soft carry bag, VGA/PC monitor cable, Quick Start Guide, and User Manual (CD-Rom), Detachable Power Cord, Remote Control.

18. Suggested Price: $1,299.99

Setup and Installation

BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector - Lens Close-up

A close-up photo of the short throw lens provided on the BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector.

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Setting up the BenQ W1080ST is very straight forward. First determine the surface you will be projecting onto (either wall or screen), then position the the projector on a table or rack, or mount on the ceiling, at the optimal distance from the screen or wall.

Next, plug in your source (such as a DVD, Blu-ray Disc player, PC, etc...) to the designated input(s) provided on the rear panel of the projector. Then, plug in the power cord of the W1080ST and turn on the power using the button on the top of the projector or the remote. It takes about 10 seconds or so until you see the BenQ logo projected on your screen, at which time you are set to go.

Now that there is an image on the screen raise or lower the front of the projector using the adjustable foot (or adjust the ceiling mount angle). You can also adjust the image angle on the projection screen, or white wall, using the Keystone Correction function via the onscreen menu navigation buttons on the the top of the projector, or on the remote remote or onboard controls (or use the Auto Keystone option). However, be cautious when using Keystone correction as it works by compensating the projector angle with the screen geometry and sometimes the edges of the image will not be straight, causing some image shape distortion. The BenQ W1080ST Keystone correction function only works in the vertical plane.

Once the image frame is a close to an even rectangle as possible, use the manual zoom control to get the image to fill the screen properly, followed by using the manual focus control to sharpen your image.

The W1080ST will search for the input of the source that is active. You can also access the source inputs manually via the controls on the projector, or via the wireless remote control.

To view 3D, turn on the 3D glasses and turn them on - W1080ST can auto detect the presence of a 3D image.

Hardware Used

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel mode)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Darbeevision Darblet Model DVP 5000 Video Processor.

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs (3D): Adventures of Tintin, Brave, Drive Angry, Hugo, Immortals, Puss in Boots, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Underworld: Awakening.

Blu-ray Discs (2D): Art of Flight,Ben Hur,Cowboys and Aliens, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

2D Video Performance

The BenQ W1080ST does a very good job displaying 2D high-def images in a traditional darkened home theater room setup, providing consistent color and detail.

With its strong light output, the W1080ST can also project a viewable image in a room that may have some ambient light present, however, there is some sacrifice in black level and contrast performance. On the other hand, for rooms that have may not provide good light control, such as classroom or business conference room, the increased light output is more important and projected images are definitely viewable.

The 2D images provided very good detail, especially when viewing Blu-ray disc and other HD content source material. I also conducted a series of tests that determine how the W1080ST processes and scales standard definition inputs signals. Although factors, such as deinterlacing were very good, some of the other test results were mixed. For more details, check out my BenQ W1080ST Video Performance Test Results.

3D Performance

To check out the 3D performance of the BenQ W1080ST, I enlisted the OPPO BDP-103 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player, in conjunction with BenQ's DLP Link Active Shutter 3D glasses provided for this review. It is important to note that the 3D glasses do not come as part of the projector's package - they must be purchased separately.

Using both numerous 3D Blu-ray disc movies and running the depth and crosstalk tests available on the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Disc 2nd Edition I found that the 3D viewing experience was very good, with no visible crosstalk, and only minor glare and motion blurring.

However, the 3D images are noticeably darker than their 2D counterparts, and the 3D images also look softer. If you are planning to devote some time watching 3D content, definitely consider a room that can be light controlled, as a darker room will provide better results. Also, run the lamp in its standard mode, and not the two ECO modes, which, although saving energy and extending lamp life, does reduce the light output that is desirable for good 3D viewing.

Audio

BenQ W1080ST DLP Video Projector - Connections Close-up - HDMI

The HDMI connections provided on the BenQ W1080ST video projector.

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The BenQ W1080ST incorporates a 10 watt mono amplifier and built-in loudspeaker, which provides adequate loudness for voices and dialog, but is deficient in both high and low frequency response. This may suffice when no other audio system is available, or for a business meeting or a small classroom. If your goal is to incorporate this product as part of a home theater setup, I would definitely suggest that you send your audio sources to a home theater receiver or amplifier for an audio listening experience that can really complement the large projected images.

What I Liked About The BenQ W1080ST

1. Good image quality from HD source material for the price.

2. Accepts input resolutions up to 1080p (including 1080p/24). However all input signals are scaled to 1080p for display.

3. Compatible with HDMI and PC connected 3D sources.

3. High lumen output produces bright images for large rooms and screen sizes. This makes this projector usable for both living room and business/educational room environments. The W1080ST would also work outdoors at night.

4. Short throw lens provides a large projected image with minimal projector-to-screen distant. Great for smaller spaces.

5. Very fast turn-on and shut-off time.

6. Built-in Speaker for presentations or more private listening.

7. A soft carrying bag is provided that can hold the projector and provided accessories.

What I Didn't Like About the BenQ W1080ST

1. Good deinterlacing/scaling performance from standard resolution (480i) analog video sources but mixed results on other factors, such as noise reduction and frame cadence detection (see test result examples for more details).

2. Black level performance is just average.

3. 3D is noticeably dimmer and softer than 2D.

4. No Motorized Zoom or Focus - adjustments must be done manually at the lens. This is not a problem if the projector is table mounted, but awkward if the projector is ceiling mounted.

5. No Lens Shift - only Vertical Keystone Correction provided .

6. DLP Rainbow Effect sometimes visible.

7. Remote control not backlit - However, with its great buttons on white background it is easier to see in the dark than other non-backlit remotes that use black buttons on black background.

Final Take

With its relatively compact size, short throw lens, clearly labeled and spaced inputs, on-unit control buttons, remote control, and comprehensive operating menu the W1080ST is an easy projector to place and set up.

Also, combining the short throw lens and 2,000 maximum lumens output capability, the W1080ST projects both a bright and large image suitable for small, medium, and large size rooms in most homes. The 3D performance was very good with regards to not exhibiting any crosstalk (halo) artifacts, but was noticeably dimmer than 2D projected images.

With its compact form factor, short throw lens, strong light output, 2D and 3D viewing capability, ease-of-use, and affordable price, the BenQ W1080ST is worth consideration.

For a closer look at the features and video performance of BenQ W1080ST, check out both my Photo Profile and supplementary Video Performance Tests.

Official Product Page

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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