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Hands On: BenQ W1100 DLP Projector

The W1100 delivered striking images when tested on three screens.


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I was eager to get my hands — and eyes — on one of the latest affordable 1080p projectors from BenQ. I had been impressed a while back by the company’s Joybee GP1 mini projector, which wasn’t really meant for dedicated home theater viewing -- it was more for portable purposes and on-wall throws -- like the W1100 I was about to install.

Features
Brightness and color fidelity were two highlights of the Joybee, and BenQ faithfully ramped them up for all the Blu-ray discs, Netflix streams and television content you can throw at this more fully featured W1100 unit. Like the Joybee, the W1100 DLP projector is a winner for bargain videophiles.

Setup
I connected the 7.9-pound W1100 to an Integra Blu-ray player and cable box for source content, both via HDMI.

There are two HDMI 1.3 inputs (the Joybee lacked HDMI compatibility and downscaled component video cable-fed HD material), so the entry-level price doesn’t earn you 3D functionality. But along with the HDMI ports you get a PC input, which provides a more vaunted platform for computer-based viewing — I watch a lot of games on ESPN3.com, and I put together a Flickr vacation slideshow for my family, which both looked crisp and colorful on a 92-inch screen.

Performance
I tested the projector on three screens — an Elite Screens white ezFrame, an Elite motorized Kestrel white screen and an SI Black Diamond black screen. It looked great on all three, and I even had to dial the lamp setting down (it outputs up to 2,000 ANSI lumens) a tad on the 1.4-gain Black Diamond.

Brightness, even when all of the lights were turned on in my theater, is definitely not a performance issue; in fact, to do work while I watch TV, I usually keep one recessed light on and it never impedes the viewing experience. Also, you can tone down brightness and preserve lamp life by switching to eco mode.

Zoom and focus are manual setup operations, and they’re straightforward. A test pattern on the menu, and easy-to-use aids such as auto keystone and overscan can help you better mate the image to screen. When I would switch from the ezFrame 16:9 aspect ratio screen to the 2.35:1 Kestrel for CinemaScope movies, a mini adjustable stand in front came in handy for vertical re-alignment.

All of the usual picture settings suspects are at your fingers from the menu, as well as the remote control, which is intuitively laid out and easy to navigate in darkness thanks to the greenish-yellow backlight. I found a couple of settings in the “advanced” picture menu — noise reduction (kept low) and detail enhancement (kept moderate) — particularly helpful in revealing finer details and textures to facial features, clothes and woodwork/stonework.

Conclusion
The W1100 delivered striking images with Blu-ray viewings of The King’s Speech and How to Train Your Dragon, nicely handling the many close-ups of skin tones and tweed suits in the former and CGI dragon scales and sky vistas in the latter.

Baseball games televised on my cable system’s NESN channel presented realistic “being there” types of images through the W1100’s rendering of the infield grass, uniform stitching and helmet pine-tar smearing, for instance. Unlike last September’s fate of my hometown Red Sox, though, watching sports on BenQ’s W1100 will undoubtedly leave clients smiling.




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About the Author

Arlen Schweiger
Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro and Commercial Integrator magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews.

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