It may be small and light for a conference room projector, but BenQ’s EH600 is a breakthrough device that has the equivalent of an Android tablet inside. With it, you won’t need to connect a notebook to project a meeting’s spreadsheets, presentations or Web sites. On the other hand, you'll sacrifice brightness compared to other lamp-based competitors at its price, or pay somewhat more than other projectors in the same brightness class to purchase and operate it.
- Built-in Android computer
- Projects documents, spreadsheets, presentations and Web sites on its own
- WiFi and Bluetooth connections
- Compact, lightweight chassis for permanent or portable installations
- Only one HDMI port
- More expensive to purchase and operate than the similarly-bright
BenQ has a well-earned reputation for designing and building projectors that squeeze a lot of technology into small packages. The EH600 is no different. It's a compact business projector that appears thoroughly conventional from the outside, but below the surface it has a built-in Android computer. Whether permanently installed in a conference room or large classroom, or temporarily set up for a presentation or work group, the EH600 has the power to change the dynamic by projecting everything from spreadsheets and presentations to Web sites and videos without a laptop in sight.
The projector's innovative Launcher page is used for picking the source, starting its internal apps, and visiting Web sites. It can also connect to a phone or Bluetooth keyboard. But at its $999 street price, the 3,500 ANSI lumen EH600 is expensive compared to the much brighter, 4,500-lumen Optoma EH412 at $849, as well as the 3,600-lumen Epson Pro EX9220 at $799. Still, the EH600 delivers an unusual all-in-one projecting experience that schools and businesses could find compelling.
At first glance, the EH600 is a thoroughly conventional business projector that uses a traditional 200-watt mercury vapor lamp and a 0.65-inch DLP imaging target to create 1920x1080 (1080p) video at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Its 5,000-hour lamp life (Normal mode), 3,500 lumen brightness (as verified in our tests), and 6,000:1 rated contrast ratio should fit equally well in a conference room, a small house of worship, or a school's small lecture hall or large classroom.
Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll see that the EH600 is a one-of-a-kind, thanks to its integrated Android 6.0 computer. It has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM, making it the equivalent of a built-in tablet, but with a projected image in lieu of an integrated display. The computer allows the EH600 to not only show documents, spreadsheets, presentations, video and images without a connected computer, but to also run some Android apps, like TeamViewer and FireFox's Web browser.
In other words, the EH600 can transform the way meetings are run and students are taught. Instead of lugging a notebook computer from class to class or meeting to meeting, all you need to bring is your phone to control the show and display your material.
The EH600 is specified to project images from 70 to 300 inches diagonal, although at that largest size—12.5 feet—the images can appear washed out. The 1.49-to-1.64 throw ratio lens fills an 80-inch screen from about 8.75 feet away, and ProjectorCentral's BenQ EH600 Projector Throw Calculator can give you a good idea of the required distance for your room's screen. The image's illumination was reasonably consistent across the screen and showed sharp edge-to-edge focus, although its 1.1x zoom lens is a little skimpy compared to the competition and will require somewhat more careful mounting placement for fixed installations, also compounded by the lack of any optical lens shift. (There are Digital Zoom and Digital Shift options in the menu, but these require you to shrink the image before moving it and aren't particularly useful or recommended for a permanent setup.)
Like many other BenQ projectors, the EH600 can project 3D images you can view with the addition of DLP-Link glasses (not included). Not surprisingly for a projector in this price class, it has a non-replaceable lens and manual focus and zoom. There are recessed thumbwheels around the lens barrel for zooming in and out as well as focusing. The lens lacks a protective cover, which is also not unusual in this class of product.
Another place the EH600 skimps a bit is on the rear connection panel, which has the bare minimum for today's use with just one HDMI 1.4a input. There is also one VGA-in and one VGA-out, and two USB-A connectors for input of media or a USB keyboard; one can provide up to 1.5 amps to power an accessory, such as a Chromecast receiver. For diagnostic and control purposes, the projector has a Mini USB port and a RS-232 serial port. A pair of 3.5 mm jacks provide audio input and output.
While it does without wired Ethernet networking, the EH600 comes with a big plus: BenQ's plug-in WDR02U WiFi dongle. There's an additional, dedicated USB port for it under a cover that positions it flat against the rear panel to visually integrate it and keep it from sticking out from the backside. It works on both 802.11ac bands, and usually costs $100 on its own. I used it to connect up wirelessly to my business LAN. The projector also has Bluetooth 4.0 built-in, which allowed me to connect a wireless keyboard, making use of the projector's built-in apps a snap.
The projector has a 2-watt audio amplifier and a single speaker that doesn't get particularly loud, sounds hollow, and is better for spoken word material than for music. In other words, many installers will likely choose to use an external sound system, which can be fed from the projector's audio output or directly from the video source.
The EH600's external control panel is located on top. There are six buttons surrounding the four-way navigation keypad and actuation button, including dedicated keys for blanking the screen, going to Settings, or opening the Launcher page. The remote-control unit adds useful extras, like volume (and muting), a laser pointer, and the ability to quickly change the brightness, contrast and picture mode.
The EH600's Launcher home screen is a breakthrough that puts all the projectors controls in your face. It's the first thing you see when the system starts up and you can jump to it at any time. While most start-up screens might give the choice of sources, the EH600's Launcher adds icons for the projector's apps, including the TeamViewer collaboration tool, WPS Office suite, and the FireFox Web browser. Below, there are also links for Settings, Network, Bluetooth and a slew of others.
You can't use a light switch to power-up the projector and the EH600 won't automatically start when it senses a live source, both being features found on some other small business and classroom projectors. On the other hand, its three-year warranty is among the best in its class.
Considering the EH600's abilities and performance, it's nice that the projector is small and light enough for one technician to install it. It measures 4.8x11.7x9.1-inches and weighs in at just 5.5-pounds,which also makes it reasonably easy to move around if needed. By contrast, the ViewSonic PX700HD, for example, puts out the same brightness but weighs three pounds more and is 50 percent bigger. The EH600's black-and-white grid test pattern can speed set up by helping to zero in the image size and focus.
In addition to three feet underneath for tabletop installs, two of which are adjustable, the EH600 has three threaded attachments points for wall- or ceiling-mounting. It easily mated with generic hardware, but keep in mind that, unlike today's laser projectors, the traditional lamp-based operation restricts it to something close to horizontal positioning to avoid risk of overheating.
Like most other projectors in its class, the EH600 can correct for vertical keystone distortion for up to a 40-degree tilt; at a 15-degree angle, the projector lost 15 percent of its brightness. (Loss of brightness is common when keystone correction is engaged on most projectors). There is no horizontal keystone correction.
The EH600 has a multitude of ways to initiate projection. In addition to the traditional approach of using a VGA or HDMI cable to connect my computer to the projector, I was able to cast the screens from a nearby computer's Chrome browser to the EH600; the projector can do this with either Windows or Android based computers and devices as well as MacOS and iOS. I was also able to use BenQ's Smart Control app, which comes in iOS and Android versions. It took just a few minutes to get and install the app on my Samsung Galaxy S9+ phone. After I connected the phone to the same WiFi network as the projector, I was able to turn the projector on and off, adjust the volume, jump to the projector's Settings page, and navigate its Menu. The on-screen keyboard and touchpad are a big bonus for teachers and presenters who like to work the room.
However, there is another—and easier—way: you can connect a USB or Bluetooth keyboard to browse through and make Launcher selections, enter Web addresses, and even type directly to the screen for collaborative meetings. It worked well when I logged in to my online OneDrive account, grabbed Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, and displayed them with the EH600. The EH600 also allows access to material on a USB flash drive or stored on the Android computer's internal storage; it had nearly 6GB free to use. On the downside, the projector's integrated software lacks the ability to grab items directly from a local network drive, so if you have a spreadsheet or text document to access from a local server, you'll need to either load it onto a flash drive and plug that into the projector, or connect or wirelessly mirror a laptop or other device that has that server access—as you might with any conventional wireless or wired projector.
The EH600's ace up its sleeve is the ability to act as its own WiFi hotspot. Should it be moved to an area that does not have its own wireless network, it can create its own closed network that participants can use to connect their computers or mobile devices directly to the projector and show their content. It works on either the 2.4 or 5 GHz WiFi bands and had a range of about 40 feet in my tests. Activating the hotspot deactivates the computer's Internet connection, but the assumption is that you're out of network range anyway.
As groundbreaking as the EH600 is, the experience wasn't quite perfect, and after two weeks of using it, I found it impressive for its innovation but also frustrating at times. On the upside, the projector's built in WPS Office software accurately converted my documents, presentations and spreadsheets, displaying the material in a few seconds. Once it was on-screen, I was able to type in notes and highlight items with the BenQ Smart Control app's pointer or my connected keyboard. Later, I gave a presentation direct from the EH600. The projector faithfully displayed a bunch of Web sites using the FireFox browser, including YouTube, Projector Central and CNN. On the other hand, the EH600 refused to load the CNN video player to show its live TV feed that plays readily on most computers.
The EH600 has five Picture modes that include Bright, Presentation, Infographic, Video, and sRBG, as well as two User settings. Unusual for a business projector, it omits a DICOM SIM mode for projecting medical scans. Picture adjustments are restricted when using the onboard computer or USB input as a source, limited to brightness, contrast, and sharpness. However, if you directly connect a source via HDMI or the VGA input, you'll find a nice mix of advanced controls available including color saturation, Brilliant Color, color temperature, RBG gain and offset controls for tuning grayscale, and a full RGBMY color management system for adjusting the color points.
Using the EH600's Bright mode, the projector put 3,516 ANSI lumens on-screen—a smidge above its 3,500-lumen spec—but the tone of the image was overwhelmingly green as is found in many projector's brightest mode. Using the Presentation or Infographic mode, images took on a blue cast and output fell to 2,248 lumens. The Video and sRGB modes were a lot warmer in their color tone and delivered 2,239 and 2,069lumens, respectively.
Regardless of which Picture mode is chosen, the projector's power use remained steady at 260 watts. When the system's Smart Eco mode was turned on, however, that dropped to 247 watts, while the Economic mode reduced the power footprint to 220 watts. BenQ says that using the Lamp Save mode triples the lamp's rated lifetime to 15,000 hours and lowers its power consumption to 220 watts. Economic mode doubles the rated lamp lifetime to 10,000 hours.
If it's used for 40 hours a week and the office pays the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, its annual operating expenses add up to roughly $132 a year. That's on the high side, particularly compared to solid state projectors that use less power and don't require periodic lamp replacements. The comparable figure for the recently tested, 4,500-lumen Vivitek DH3660Z, for example, is $58 a year.
The EH600 runs on the warm side due to its conventional illumination engine. The exhaust hit a peak of 133 degrees Fahrenheit, though the rest of the case never got beyond warm to the touch. Its fan was quiet, which should help with installations near participants, such as in a low-ceilinged conference room. It registered 33dBA in BenQ's sound-proof test facility and 42dBA in casual measurements in my mock conference room that had a quiet background noise level of 35.5dBA.
The EH600 takes 36 seconds to start up and 1 minute, 27 seconds to shut itself down, which is on the slow side. A Quick Cooling option in the menu reduces the shutdown time to just 15 seconds; in testing it took 27 seconds to fully turn off the fan. (Bear in mind that any forced shortening of the cool-down cycle could have potential long-term effects on the lamp life.) There is no option to automatically shut the projector down after a period of inactivity as found on some other projectors.
On the surface, BenQ's EH600 might appear to be a conventional conference room projector capable of pumping out 3,500 lumens of light, but dig a little deeper and you'll find that the projector is unique, with the equivalent of a built-in Android tablet that can independently project a variety of material. On its own, the EH600 excels at projecting documents, spreadsheets, presentations and Web sites.
The price for this versatility is that the EH600 has somewhat elevated operating expenses than other options, and a price tag that's higher than some as-bright or brighter competitors. Still, the EH600 does something the others can't: its built-in Android computer not only lets you leave the laptop behind, but has the power to change how meetings are run and students are taught. Depending on your environment and use case, that may well be an easy trade-off.
[Editor's note: The BenQ EH600 was among the products honored with ProjectorCentral's 2019 Best of the Year Awards in recognition of its breakthrough inclusion of an onboard computer and innovative approach to business and classroom projection.—Rob Sabin]
Brightness. The projector's brightness and contrast can be adjusted from the remote control or via the projector's Settings. Using the Normal lamp mode and Bright Picture setting, the EH600 projected its maximum brightness of 3,516 ANSI lumens. This dropped to 2,248 lumens for both the Presentation and Infographic modes, 2,239 for Video mode and 2,069 for sRGB mode.
The EH 600's picture modes had the following ANSI brightness levels in normal and Economic modes.
BenQ EH600 ANSI Lumens
Power. The EH600 generally uses about 260-watts of power but its three power saving modes reduce brightness as well. The Smart Eco mode might work best with a brightness reduction of 3 percent. By contrast, the Economic and Lamp Save settings reduced brightness by 21 percent.
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 26 percent
Brightness Uniformity: 87 percent
Fan Noise. The EH600 was moderately quiet. Its specification is for 33dBA in Normal mode and 29dBA in Eco mode. I measured 42.0dBA in casual measurements taken 36 inches away from the exhaust fan. My test room mimics a real-world conference room and had an ambient noise level of 35.2dBA.
- HDMI Version 1.4b
- Computer RGB in (15-pin D-Sub)
- Computer RGB out (15-pin D-Sub)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- USB (3 x Type A powered, one for Wifi dongle; 1 x 1A, 1 x 1.5A)
- USB (Mini-B, firmware upgrade)
- Analog audio in (3.5 mm)
- Audio audio out (3.5mm)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ EH600 projector page.