October 5, 2011
Not Really Short-throw: One of the advantages of a short-throw projector is its ability to get close to the screen and eliminate shadows on the image. The MX613ST stretches the definition of "short-throw," requiring almost seven feet to put up a 100" image. Many competing short throw projectors do not need anywhere near seven feet for this size image.
4:3 Format: If you want to show movies or put up images from a widescreen laptop, the MX613ST's native XGA format may be an issue as both situations will reduce the image brightness since only part of the DLP chip is illuminated with these 16:9 aspect ratios.
Remote Control: The MX613ST's remote control has a simple array of buttons, but that is not always an advantage. This simplicity contributes to the need to access menus for many image adjustments although such adjustments are usually only made on initial set-up. The Menu button is not well located and it is easy to miss in a darkened room. The remote is credit card sized, so be careful that it doesn't inadvertently wander away from the projector in someone's shirt pocket.
Color Wheel Artifacts: If you are familiar with DLP projectors, you know that lower speed color wheels can cause "rainbow" effects. The MX613ST's color wheel is no exception, and that means that some people may see RGB artifact intermittently when viewing fast moving video scenes. If this might a concern for you or your audience, try before you buy.
On-Screen Menus: The MX613ST has six menus which are well laid out and easy to navigate. Best of all, none requires scrolling to see its contents, so getting to the setting you are after is straightforward. One of the menus even contains FAQs pertaining to performance issues, and another puts up teaching templates for letter formation, worksheets, and coordinate charts.
Image Size and Position: For a 100" image, the center of the lens is three inches below the bottom of the image. Since the MX613ST is a short-throw projector and is fairly close to the screen, you may need to raise the image by elevating the front of the projector, using a drop tube on the ceiling mount, or tilting the projector in the mount. The projector can be elevated by extending either/both front feet, and this can also correct any horizontal leveling issues. If the image keystones, there is ±40° of electronic keystone correction available.
Education Discount: While there is no published education price for the MX613ST, dealers do offer education discounts. A review of BenQ's published discounts shows an average of 25% off list price for classroom purchases, but you will have to contact a BenQ dealer to get the current education price.
Placement Flexibility: The 1.2:1 zoom capability gives you a modest projection distance variation for a particular image size. For example, to project a 100" diagonal image, the projector is about 6'9" from the screen and can shift about ±7" and maintain that image diagonal.
Security: To complement the monitoring capability of its RS-232 connection, the MX613ST provides a Kensington lock to help ensure that the projector stays where you put it.
Short-throw projectors are terrific for eliminating shadows on images that interrupt presentations, but in many instances they fall short in terms of uniformity and clarity because of their complex lens design. Happily, the BenQ MX613ST overcomes those limitations and puts up very high quality data and video images although its throw distance is a bit longer than some competitors. It is priced aggressively, and its cost of maintenance is very low which makes it a real value for classroom and conference room use. It is bright, it has every connection you will need, and it is networkable. All in all, it is a potent package at a very reasonable price. It should be on your short list if you are looking for a short-throw projector, and it deserves our highest rating for performance and value.