Ready for some big-screen home theater action but your other half would rather you spend $2,000 on the bathroom renovations instead? BenQ has come to your rescue with one of the most affordable, yet feature-rich widescreen projectors on the market. The W100 sets new records for excellent performance at a very spouse-approving price.
For only $1,499 (a couple of hundred cheaper if you shop online), it will quite happily fill the closest plain white wall in a suitably darkened room (at this price you’re probably not going to want to shell out around $700 for a decent projector screen.)
Direct sunlight is its mortal enemy; with a brightness rating of only 1300 ANSI Lumens, you’ll need to ensure that the viewing area is quite dark. Our tests found it wasn’t a great deal brighter than an 800 ANSI Lumens rated Sanyo PLV-Z2, but darkened rooms are a price that most projector users are prepared to pay. The contrast ratio was excellent for such an inexpensive projector, with rich colours and lots of detail in the blacks. This is obviously a result of the projector being based around DLP technology.
Unfortunately many budget DLP projectors in the past have suffered from the dreaded rainbow effect, thanks to their sluggish 2-speed colour wheels. The W100 cleans up this problem with the introduction of a 4-speed, 7 segment colour wheel. In fact, it’s the first in its price bracket to offer this, and even this overly rainbow effect susceptible reviewer just noticed it in rare circumstances.
The design of the projector can only be described as utilitarian, with a very industrial boxy white shape. But we couldn’t fault the fan noise, which remained nearly imperceptible even during the quietest horror movie scene.
Image tweaking controls were relatively basic, but after a quick run of our Digital Video Essentials DVD we found we’d adjusted it enough for our liking. A decent range of inputs, including two sets of component jacks and a DVI-I connector should suit most people, although the lack of HDMI might put off prospective Blu-ray or HD-DVD owners.
The native resolution of 854 x 480 is probably the biggest thorn in the side of this otherwise excellent entry-level projector. You won’t want to blow out the image too much, as pixels will become quite noticeable when compared to 1280 x 720 projectors. It’ll be a while yet before the higher resolutions drop to this price point, and the DLP technology goes some way to hiding the pixels.
BenQ should be commended for making the ultra-big screen experience more affordable than ever before. At this price point you’ll be able to set up a solid entry level theatre, and keep the other half happy with a shiny new bathtub.