1080p 3D Home Video Projector
May 7, 2013
This year, BenQ has released a pair of full 3D 1080p projectors that are just perfect for home video or home theater. The W1070, reviewed earlier this year, has a conventional 1.3:1 lens and some vertical lens shift. The BenQ W1080ST, on the other hand, has a 1.2:1 short throw lens and no shift. Both projectors offer excellent 1080p video performance, high light output, great color, and an affordable price.
The W1080ST is a great projector for home theater or home video on a budget, but its low input lag and short throw lens also make it a good option for video games. If you're a gamer looking for an affordable way into the big screen experience, the W1080ST might just be for you.
The Viewing Experience
As a short-throw projector, the W1080ST has a slightly different setup procedure than most conventionally-lensed projectors. As such, they require a different kind of setup and fit in a different sort of room.
Here's an example. The BenQ W1070 would throw a 120" diagonal image, which is a perfectly reasonable size of image for that projector, from 10' to 13' 1" depending on zoom. The W1080ST will throw the same sized image from 6' to 7' 3". In other words, the W1080ST requires about half the throw distance of its conventionally-lensed sibling, making it ideal for tight spaces and small rooms.
We set up our W1080ST on a coffee table, but quickly discovered that the projector has almost no upward throw angle offset. The bottom edge of the image is more or less level with the centerline of the lens. As a result, a coffee table placement may be too low for some people, largely depending on the height of the table in question. If you own a particularly low table, consider a ceiling mount, which will place the image higher up on your wall and make your audience more comfortable. Ceiling mounts require more work than coffee table placement, but modern ceiling mounts are not especially difficult to install. Just be sure to measure all distances several times before you start drilling holes.
A word about screens. Our testing environment uses a 1.0 gain Stewart Studiotek 100, but with a projector like the W1080ST a 1.3 to 1.5 gain screen would be closer to ideal. A slight amount of positive gain will reflect more light back towards the audience and result in less scatter. When a projector throws its image at such an extreme angle, like the W1080ST, a little bit of screen gain helps to keep the image looking bright and even. That said, don't go too heavy on the gain or you'll end up with hot-spotting.
As for the picture, it is very clear clear that the W1080ST isn't just a repurposed business projector. The picture is bright, high in contrast, and full of well-saturated, accurate color. The projector is razor sharp across the entire image, though this depends heavily on proper setup -- if you're seeing blurriness in the corners, try fiddling with the projector's position until it goes away. 3D is likewise clean and clear, with no noticeable crosstalk or flicker when watching our test clips.