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Performance
Best Home Theater Projectors
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
BenQ W1080ST Projector BenQ W1080ST
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Street Price: $1,021
MSRP:$1,299
3D: Full HD 3D
Contrast:10,000:1
Lumens:2000
Weight: 6.2 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:DLP
Lens:1.2x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:3,500 Hrs
6,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:1 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, Component, RGB, HDMI (x2), USB, RS232, 12Volt Out
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p

BenQ W1080ST
1080p 3D Home Video Projector

Bill Livolsi, May 7, 2013

Performance

Light output. It's no secret that the W1080ST is mostly the same as the W1070. They share most of the same parts and their spec sheets list most of the same capabilities. So it should come as no surprise to hear that the W1080ST's light output measured about the same as we saw on the W1070, give or take a handful of lumens.

The specified maximum output for the W1080ST is 2,000 lumens, and our test sample measured 1621 lumens in Dynamic mode using the default settings. It is possible to boost light output to nearly 2,000 lumens by cranking up the brightness and contrast controls, but this is not a usable mode. Dynamic mode at the default settings is a good choice for high ambient light applications, such as a living room with the curtains open during the day. You lose out on color accuracy and dynamic range, but at 60" to 70" diagonal you can approximate the look and feel of a television even when ambient light is a concern.

Standard mode (1232 lumens) is more balanced for ambient light and living room use. Contrast in Standard mode is about as high as it is in Cinema mode, and the principal difference between the modes is Standard's slightly blue cast. The blue can help to counteract the predominantly yellowish tint of typical room lighting without compromising dynamic range or color saturation. For its intended application, Standard mode is a good balance of light output and image integrity.

Cinema mode is not terribly different from Standard mode, and at 1230 lumens it measured about the same light output, as well. What Cinema does have is better default white balance, with less of the blue tint seen in Standard mode. For a lot of folks, Standard and Cinema modes are going to be the "go-to" presets for everyday use.

If you're not trying to fight off ambient light or just want to watch at night, Eco mode will drop light output in any mode by 29%. This reduces the Standard and Cinema modes to about 870 lumens, which while still bright is more reasonable for a smaller screen size.

SmartEco mode can reduce light output even more drastically than Eco mode, but there's a catch. In order to really bring down light output, you can't just select a setting from a menu or slider. Instead, you need to find content that has the desired brightness level, then activate SmartEco mode while that content is on screen. The projector will determine, based on the content on screen, what brightness level is appropriate. It will then lock the projector's output at that level until the lamp mode is changed.

If you really want to take down light output, the easy way to do it is to put up a pure black image and then activate SmartEco. That nets you a reduction of about 70% from the projector's maximum. You can fine-tune the setting by using test patterns of differing brightness, but it would be much easier if the projector just included some kind of manual control.

Contrast and black level. In typical use, the W1080ST's dynamic range is more than sufficient. In a pitch black room, we did notice some slight crushing of very deep shadow detail in some test material, but that performance is still very good for a projector priced below $1500 and intended for living room use. In a living room, the very bottom end of shadow detail will be washed out by ambient light anyway, and the W1080ST's slight deficiency in this regard will never be visible to most people. Like the W1070, the W1080ST has gamma adjustment, but it uses a slider with numbered presets instead of a comprehensive adjustment system. Stock gamma isn't terribly far off from the 2.2 recommendation, but going up to 2.4 results in a punchier, more dramatic image that's great in ambient light.

Color. One of the W1080ST's strong points, color is both accurate and easy to adjust. The projector has a full suite of color adjustments, both for grayscale tracking and color management. There's also an ISF calibration system locked away behind a password wall. More importantly, though, the stock color calibrations are perfectly usable and more accurate than any inexpensive projector has any right to be. This is advantageous for first-time buyers and people looking for a no-hassle solution, since you don't have to spend the time and money to have the projector calibrated unless you really want to.

Also important is the W1080ST's relative balance between color and white. The W1080ST, thanks to its RGBRGB color wheel, has exceptionally high color light output (CLO) for a single-chip DLP projector. As a result, color is well-saturated and appears balanced relative to highlights. This, more than anything, contributes to the feeling that the W1080ST's picture is natural, balanced, and film-like.

Sharpness and clarity. Many projectors now include some kind of smart sharpening or detail enhancement feature, but the W1080ST eschews that in favor of high natural sharpness. While the projector's sharpness control defaults to a level that is slightly too high, you can knock it down a couple of pegs without adversely affecting the appearance of detail in the image.

Input lag. Like the W1070, the W1080ST measured a zippy 24ms (1.5 frames) of input lag using a 1080p signal over HDMI. That's fast enough for most gamers and not far from our best-ever measured time, which stands at 17ms (1 frame).

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Reader Comments(17 comments)

Posted Aug 20, 2014 10:23:25 PM

By iaw

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is it silent? or noisy?

Posted Jul 26, 2014 9:19:37 PM

By Neel

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If you only could choose between a 1.1 gain or 1.8 gain for this projector, which one would you choose? I am looking at Elite Screens.

Posted Mar 27, 2014 9:44:57 AM

By Tim

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How are the black levels on the 1080st?

Posted Mar 23, 2014 4:02:27 AM

By joseph

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nobody has commented on what the 1080st looks like @ 200 inches. can it do that well? or 150 inches even. anyone got any links to go to to see on youtube maybe? i am asking only from a gamers point of view. like imagine the scope of a game at that size image. awesome comes to mind.

Posted Mar 7, 2014 5:18:12 PM

By Spectre

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Yes, it will work. However--results will vary depending upon your screen size and projector mounting. Use the throw calculator to get a good idea of what to expect.

Posted Jan 25, 2014 6:58:49 AM

By JOHN

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can you use a short throw projector from up to 20' from the screen and still have it work properly?

Posted Jan 24, 2014 2:32:30 PM

By richard dickson

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I've got one of these projectors ceiling mounted. Good lag response time, good picture, the only thing I've noticed is the darker areas can get washed out in games with lens flare or bloom effects such as battlefield 4 so you can miss people or vehicles hiding in shadows that you would have seen on an LCD screen.

Posted Dec 7, 2013 12:19:52 AM

By Deter

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Is there any leg at all when playing games with the Benq w1080st? Or do players move precise when moved with controller?

Posted Nov 17, 2013 3:18:59 AM

By Richard oliver

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@ Bill, thank you for the great reviews what is the largest 3-D screen you can do with the W 1080 EST and still have plenty of light for the 3-D effect

Posted Nov 16, 2013 9:00:15 AM

By Jimmy

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I'm a complete novice and this is probably a stupid question but instead of using a ceiling mount if you just tilt the project upwards from a low coffee table will that raise the picture without ruining the quality?

Posted Aug 1, 2013 12:20:58 PM

By John C

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Just a comment here from a projector novice... I installed this projector on the ceiling 6'7" from my 120" (diagonal) screen. WOW it blows me away. Colors are vivid and the image is bright and crystal clear, corner to corner. Total darkness is not required - plenty of light.

Thanks to this site for the projection calculator - it worked perfectly for me.

The 3D effects are awesome too.

Posted Jun 29, 2013 6:17:28 AM

By Sergio

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Hi Bill,

Is it normal to expect blurred edges with the w1080st when the lens is zoomed-out? When zoomed-in, everything is perfectly sharp on mine.

Thanks.

Posted Jun 13, 2013 8:49:40 AM

By Brett Jones

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The article says about input lag. "That's fast enough for most gamers and not far from our best-ever measured time, which stands at 17ms (1 frame)." Which projector is the "best-ever"? Was the latency measured or is this a reported value?

Thanks!

Posted May 23, 2013 7:10:31 PM

By Jonathan

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What are the controls available for brightness control and color options in 3d modes? great review thanks :D

Posted May 13, 2013 9:38:20 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Hi Chris,

1. The viewer's eyes do not have to be at the center of the screen. While you might prefer to have the viewer's eyes fall at the center of the screen, there is no canonically "correct" position. In my own theater, the viewer's eyes fall level with the bottom third of the screen, more or less, and everyone who has watched a movie there has found it perfectly comfortable.

2. No. Brightness is measured at the screen, so the W1070 and W1080ST's brightness readings indicate that the two projectors will appear to be about the same brightness.

3. 1080p DLP projectors used wobulation in the past, but only because native 1080p DLP chips were so expensive at the time. They no longer use wobulation. Today's 1080p DLP projectors, including the W1070 and W1080ST, have a real 1:1 1920x1080 pixel resolution.

4. Yes, that is correct -- a 6X speed in 2D would be a 3X speed in 3D. However, we've found rainbows to be much less prevalent in 3D than they are in 2D, so wheel speed in this situation is less of a concern.

Posted May 12, 2013 9:27:29 PM

By chris

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I have three more questions about the 1080st: I was told I was incorrect when I stated that DLP devices use wobulation instead of a physical 1:1 mapping for HD. Does the 1080st / 1070 use wobulation? 2. You state the color wheel speed as 6x. But isn't that speed for 2D? Does not that mean that the effective speed is 3x in 3D (for each eye)?

Posted May 9, 2013 5:05:19 PM

By chris

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I have two questions: 1. Aren't the viewer's eyes supposed to be at the center of the screen (which means that the bottom of the screen is much lower for larger images)? 2. Since the 1080st has about the same output as the 1070 then doesn't that imply that the 1080st is much brighter (lamberts) for an image the same size of the 1070 because it will be closer?

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