Looking for a decent living room projector?
BenQ‘s 2013 W1080ST projector was considered an unrivalled success for short-throw, full HD projectors. Now the company has released the W1080ST+, an updated version that addresses the flaws of its predecessor. But has the company done enough to keep the good name of the W1080ST up?
There’s plenty to like about the specifications of the W1080ST+. For starters, this DLP projector has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, and a brightness level of 2,200 lumens. The contrast ratio is a good 10,000:1, and it can short-throw a 300″ projected screen from as little as a couple of metres away (65.7″ from a distance of one metre). Connectivity is good too, with a pair of HDMI ports (one of which is MHL supported), VGA, Type-? and mini-USB ports, a RS232 port, composite video and component video, as well as the accompanying audio in and out ports. The design of the W1080ST+ is very Apple-like, with a mixture of glossy white tough plastic, with splashes of brushed silver effect plastic around the sides, front and rear and over the lens housing. There’s a cluster of buttons on the top panel, to one side, which includes the power and source, and other control and adjustments. It’s also surprisingly light and compact, weighing a reasonable 2.8kg and measuring just 312 x 104 x 244mm. It wouldn’t look too out of place in a living room or mounted from the ceiling in a boardroom or classroom. Setting up the projected image is a simple enough affair; there’s an optical zoom present in the W1080ST+, along with a higher than normal degree of control over the vertical and horizontal keystone. Getting the perfect image doesn’t take too long, and in our case it was a few minutes. The picture quality of projectors has generally left us feeling a little disappointed. All too often we’ll come across one that’s a little too washed out, or the colours tend to be out as well. The BenQ W1080ST+ was much better than the vast majority we’ve tested in the past. There wasactually quite a high level of detail, and the image was sharp enough to enjoy in a well-lit living room. The focus was good too, even during fast-moving action scenes.However, when we activated the 3D feature ,there was an odd red tinge that seemed to permeate every scene. We tried to fiddle around with the settings, but there was always a hint of red throughout the entire viewing. Having said that, the 3D images were very sharp and well produced. Another element that has always discouraged us from using a projector as the sole source of visual entertainment in the living room is the noise factor. The BenQ specification sheet for the W1080ST+ states that the projector has a maximum noise level of 31dBA for normal operations, dropping to 28dBA in economy mode. 31 dBA is stated to be as loud as a quiet bedroom at night. Well, we’re fairly sure the W1080ST+ isn’t that quiet. If we could measure it, we’d say it was at least as loud as the average office hum, maybe another 10dBA on top of what’s stated. Overall, though, the BenQ W1080ST+ is one of the better projectors we’ve used in recent years. The image quality is certainly good enough for film viewing, and if you increase the output volume enough, you’ll drown out the noise from the fan in the projector. David Hayward
Plenty of features but a bit noisy..