The Big Projector - BenQ W770ST
Bigger is better, but can this budget
beamer deliver the goods?
This is going to sound odd, but we reckon
a projector is very much a value proposition. Think of it this way. Even today,
really big HDTVs – we’re talking 60-inch-plus beasts – still cost thousands,
but you can buy an HD projector like this new BenQ W770ST for $831.40, and it
will happily paint an image 10 feet or more in diagonal across your wall.
Get the amazing 3D effects you get in 3D
movies in the comfort of your home
In that context, it really is no contest.
Projectors have HDTVs absolutely spanked for sheer scale. In our view, they
offer a more natural, more cinematic image quality, too. You’d never know it
from most HDTV reviews, but they tend to be oversaturated and basically pretty
But we digress. The point here is that a
proper HD multimedia projector based on DLP technology for $827 is a
tantalising prospect. Admittedly, we favour full 1080p HD to this 720p model,
especially as the former can be had for only around $250 to $330 more, but if
you simply can’t stretch that far, 720p is your only other option.
Resolution and projection tech aside, the
W770ST’s main claim to fame is its short-throw optics. That means you can
create a very large image in a very small room. It also means you can position
the projector in front of you and still have a good-sized image.
Focus on the job
Of course, short-throw is all very well,
but you need to get the basics right before you can benefit from sophisticated
features, and that’s where the 770ST stumbles. Put simply, it has cheap optics.
That means you can’t adjust the image size
without losing focus, and in turn having to readjust it. That’s not unusual at
this price point and is a mere inconvenience. Much more problematic is the
W770ST’s inability to achieve proper focus across the entire image. We’ve seen
this kind of thing before – as one corner or half of the image comes into
focus, the other falls away.
Development of eco-friendly products,
BenQ doesn't just want to comply
with green regulations passively, but also to actively develop eco-friendly
Usually, there’s a sweet spot in the
middle where everything is perfect. Not here. It’s only slightly off, but we
struggled to achieve full focus across the whole image. In truth, it isn’t
something that detracts from movies, but it’s still a pity because in other
areas it’s a stunning little beamer for the money. Black levels and contrast
are wonderful given the cost. Ditto the gorgeous colours. Okay, you can just
about see the pixel grid at normal viewing distances whereas with a 1080p projector
it’s often invisible, but movies still look superb.
Games bring out the W770ST’s other
weakness: it’s very prone to the dreaded rainbow effect. Again, at this price
point, that’s somewhat inevitable, but it hardly adds to the overall appeal.
With the DLP filter-free design, you get
to save the cost and hassles of filter maintenance
and replacement all together - and get better projection quality, too
It brings us to a conclusion that slightly
contradicts our opening premise. Projectors are amazing value for what they
give you, but that value proposition drops off the cheaper they get. If at all
possible, we’d rather spend a few hundred more to secure a beamer with no major
flaws. It’s true that you’ll probably have to put up with at least a little rainbow
effect unless you spend big HDTV bucks, but for us the W770ST’s focus issues
are ultimately the deal-breaker.
Native Resolution: 720p (1280 x 720)
Contrast Ratio: 13000:1
Display Color: 1.07 Billion Colors
Interface: Computer in (D-sub 15pin), HDMI
Video in (RCA), S-Video in (Mini DIN 4pin), Component Video in,
Audio in (Mini Jack), Audio L/R in (RCA), Audio out (Mini Jack),
Speaker 10W, USB (Type mini B), RS232 (DB-9pin), IR Receiver