BenQ has concentrated in the LH710 on reducing maintenance needs with a sealed imaging engine and 20,000-hour laser light source. With 4,000 lumens of brightness at its disposal and sharp 1080p resolution, this $1,499 projector is not only inexpensive but perfect for a conference room, lecture hall or small auditorium where the projector needs to be placed out of reach.
- No-maintenance sealed imaging array
- Long-life laser light engine
- Lacks WiFi option
The BenQ LH710 makes an impression even before it comes out of the box by combining laser illumination with hermetically sealed imaging components so that it will never need a replacement lamp or a dust filter. This zero-maintenance approach not only lowers its operating costs but makes the LH710 a good choice for installations where the projector needs to be located in odd or challenging locations with limited or inconvenient access.
At 4,000 lumens, the LH710 delivers a lot of brightness for the money and should be at home in a company's large conference room or in a school's small auditorium. Its 1.3X zoom lens and ability to project an image from any angle are strengths that are balanced somewhat by its lack of an integrated Wi-Fi networking option. Furthermore, at 6.5 x 16.4 x 13.8 inches (HWD) it has a slightly larger footprint and heavier weight compared to some direct competitors in its lumen and resolution class, such as the Optoma ZH403. The LH710 may cost a little more up front, but with the BenQ you won't be cleaning or changing filters at the recommended three-month cycle as you will with those models, which saves a good bit of money and hassle over the life of the projector.
BenQ engineers have advanced the state of the art for value business and education projectors by designing the laser-based LH710 projector so that its imaging engine is completely sealed, earning it an IPX5 dustproof rating. Not only does this mean that it will never need either a new dust filter or a lamp replacement, but also that the device can be set up in out of the way locations and forgotten.
The projector's Blue Core laser illumination technology drives a light path to the projector's DLP imaging chip. The laser's stream of blue light goes through the projector's phosphor wheel to convert a portion of the blue light into yellow. This beam travels through another color wheel that yields streams of red, blue, green and yellow that move on to the projector's 0.48-inch DLP micromirror target and output optics.
The result, according to BenQ, is that the LH710 delivers a solid 92 percent of the Rec.709 color gamut that HDTV makers use as their standard. While there are home theater projectors that routinely render 100 percent of the Rec.709 color space, they are generally more expensive and put out less light overall than this class of projector. In other words, the LH710's color balance is ahead of the typical business DLP-based laser projector, at least in its less bright and more color accurate color modes.
With its 4,000-lumen max output and a still respectable 3,000 or so lumens in those more accurate modes, the LH710 should have more than enough brightness to light up a large conference room, lecture hall or small auditorium. That brightness is accompanied by a rated contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1. You should be able to get punchy images that aren't badly washed out by room lights or unshaded windows on a sunny day. The 1920x1080 Full HD resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) will also deliver good detail for viewers sitting close to the screen. On the other hand, if you need a WUXGA projector with a 1920x1280 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio, BenQ's LU710 mirrors the LH710 design and is available for $1,700.
While the LH710 does passably well at rendering accurate flesh tones and natural colors, its sweet spot is in projecting sharp and bright infographics, spreadsheets and Web sites. Like some competitors, the LH710 can project 3D images, but as usual you'll need to wear those funky glasses that break up the right and left visual fields to simulate depth. Any DLP-Link compatible glasses available online should work, and BenQ sells them as well.
BenQ rates the laser lighting components to last for 20,000 hours of use, eliminating the cost of replacement lamps. That's typical, but shorter than the 30,000 hour life offered by some models. Still, 20,000 hours is good for more than 10 years of typical school or business use.
Capable of projecting images of between 30-inches to 25-feet (measured diagonally), the LH710 put a five-foot image on-screen from 58-inches away. Its manual focus lens has a non-removable 1.3X optical zoom element that can help fit the image to the screen. If you want more precise distances and image sizes, check out the ProjectorCentral BenQ LH710 Throw Distance Calculator.
The lens is recessed but lacks a cover or cap to protect the projector's delicate optics during transportation and installation. Above it is a flush hatch that hides levers for focusing and resizing the image. Regardless of the image's size, its focus was very sharp, even at its edges.
The LH710 has a good assortment of ports that starts with a pair of HDMI version 1.4b, VGA, component, and composite video inputs. There's also a VGA-out port for connecting to a second display or projector as well as audio links that range from RCA and 3.5mm inputs to a 3.5mm output jack for driving a set of external speakers if the projector's pair of built-in 10 watt speakers are not enough.
In addition to a 12-volt trigger circuit for opening a powered screen when the projector is turned on, the LH710 has a Type A USB 2.0 port that can provide up to 1.5-amps at 5 volts for an accessory. It can be turned on and off in the LH710's Menu. There's an RS232 serial control port as well. An RJ-45 Ethernet port is also available for a wired network connection, though not surprisingly at this price point, it can't double as an HDBaseT link for long distance signal and control runs.
To get the projector online, you connect it to the facility's network and type its IP address into the Web browser of a connected computer; the LH710's interface pops right up. It let me adjust the color balance and brightness as well as change the input source and adjust the volume. The same connection also taps into control systems by Crestron, Extron and PJ-Link as well as BenQ's MDA software that allows control of an entire building's worth of display equipment either individually, as groups, or all at once.
On the downside, the LH710's major sacrifice to economy is that it does without either wireless networking built in or as a plug-in option with a dongle. You'll need a dedicated HDMI or USB wireless presentation system if wireless sharing is a requirement in a corporate or educational setting. BenQ offers its line of InstaShow models, including the Full HD-capable WDC10 (for devices with either HDMI or USB output) or the recently updated WDC20 Instashow S, which adds 4K resolution plus capability for split-screen presentations and screen mirroring from mobile devices without the need for a button transmitter.
Unlike many projectors that have controls on top, the LH710's control panel is on the side, which could make for fewer stiff necks by installers mounting them on ceilings. In addition to the expected buttons for turning the projector on and off and selecting the source, there are keys for opening the Menu and a four-way, five-button directional keypad.
The projector's mid-sized remote control squeezes a lot of choices into the palm of the hand. The device uses two AAA batteries and had a range of about 25 feet. On top of large on and off buttons, the remote allows the selection of the LH710's picture and light mode settings as well as the ability to access the digital zoom and freeze the projected image.
The LH710 is covered by a three-year warranty that puts it on a par with other business projector makers but perhaps falls a bit short for a device that could be used every day for 10 years and has the potential to outlast just about every other audio-visual or computing device in a facility.
While it can be moved from room to room as needed, the LH710's 13 pounds is more likely going to be permanently installed in a conference room, lecture hall or small auditorium. There are several mounting alternatives facilitated by four attachment points underneath. It worked fine with a generic ceiling mount but BenQ's CM00G3 mount is a bargain at $60. The projector's two adjustable feet make it easy to level it on a table or shelf, but be sure to leave at least 20-inches of clearance to bring cooling air in.
With a throw ratio of between 1.13 and 1.46, depending on the lens's zoom level, the LH710 can be set up in a variety of locations. It can even be aimed straight up or down for a welcome message at an event.
If the projector can't be centered on the screen, its horizontal and vertical keystone correction can fix the distortion from angles of up to 30-degrees right or left and up or down. Like all projectors it loses brightness when keystone is engaged. At 15 degrees, it lost 19% of its brightness.
The LH710's Corner Fit feature lets you turn a trapezoidal image into a rectangular one by moving its corners until the image is square. While it lacks any optical horizontal image shifting, BenQ's Shrink and Shift feature can resize the image by 25 percent and move an image up or down slightly. In other words, it can be used for final small adjustments to the image's placement.
Finally, the LH710's built-in test pattern generator can aid in final tweaking. It can project a grid pattern as well as useful color ramp images to help set the projector up.
With the LH710 set up on the lab bench, it took 18.6 seconds to turn on and show an image. That's much better, for example, than 42.5-seconds it took the InFocus INL3148 to get started in our tests and means it can be used for quick start meetings and lessons. After being turned off, it took only 3 seconds for the projector to shut its fan off. Happily, it can be powered by an electrical circuit wired to a standard light switch and automatically switches its source to a live HDMI feed.
The LH710 offers five Picture modes. In addition to Bright, Presentation and Infographics, there are pre-set configurations for Video and sRBG. It has two user-controlled presets as well. These are sufficient for most situations, but notably absent is a Dicom Sim setting for projecting medical scans that could rule this projector out for a doctor's office or for medical school and nursing programs.
Although it has brightness, contrast, color intensity, tint and sharpness settings, the LH710 lacks the exacting color calibration settings that the BenQ LX730, LU930 and LH930 have. However, it does have three color temperature settings as well as the ability to fine tune white balance with dedicated adjustments for red, blue and green. The Menu has an on/off switch for engaging the Texas Instruments Brilliant Color feature. You can also compensate for projections on a painted wall with settings for light yellow, pink, light green and blue or a blackboard.
To nobody's surprise, the projector's Bright mode was, well, the brightest. It pumped out 4,040 lumens, just above its 4,000-lumen rating. While appropriate for bar graphs, spreadsheets or flow charts, this setting pumps too much yellow into the image for rendering realistic natural scenes and flesh tones.
Although its focus of was sharp from corner to corner, the LH710 had a hot spot in this mode in the lower center region that was prominent with test patterns, though less so with live content. The projector scored 75% in our brightness uniformity test. Though not great, this wouldn't be a terrible number among budget projectors, but many show a more gradual shift of brightness that is less noticeable.
Using the Presentation mode adds some pink hues into the mix but reduces the brightness level to 2,780 lumens. The Infographics mode served up 2,550 lumens and had a similar color balance while the Video setting warms it up quite a bit with a light level of 2,790 lumens. Its sRGB setting provided the best balance between brightness and color balance with 3,117 lumens of light, an overall warm feel and the ability to passably render skin tones.
The projector has three modes for lowering its electricity use. The Economical setting lowered output by about one-third and power demand by 28 percent. In addition, the Dimming setting adjusts the projector's output based on the material being projected and can cut power use by 46 percent. There's also a Custom setting that lets you choose the percent of brightness to reduce.
In Bright mode, the system used 301 watts of power. The LH710 used no power when it was turned off. If it's used for eight hours every workday and you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, it should cost about $81 a year to operate. Remember that any calculations for cost of operations compared with competitive models should factor in not just the lack of lamp replacements but also the lack of need to clean or replace any dust filters.
During testing and daily use with a variety of material, the LH710 kept its cool. It never got above 110-degrees Fahrenheit. It was moderately quiet as well, with BenQ rating the projector at 34.0 dB in a soundproof room. My casual measurements while it was being used registered 44.0dBA of noise 36-inches from its exhaust vent in a room where the background sound level was 34.1dBA. In Economic mode, that drops to 40.1dBA.
The BenQ LH710's zero-maintenance laser lighting and sealed imaging components are a leading attraction among business and education projectors aimed at a large conference room or classroom. The projector's more than 4,000 lumens of light should be more than enough to keep the lights on and the shades up, and it has a good assortment of ports old and new to allow the LH710 to connect to a variety of audio-visual gear and to wired networks. It cuts some corners in its lack of a WiFi option that would help it better fit into the current networking landscape, and its brightness uniformity left a little to be desired, though it shouldn't be a deal breaker for the business and school functions this projector is primarily designed for.
Perhaps most critical for those concerned about the all-important bottom line is that the $1,499 LH710 should require neither lamps, nor dust filters, nor much of any human intervention over its life. That makes it a money-saver as well as a projector tailor-made for placement in odd or difficult-to-access locations.
Brightness. While the LH710 can blast a screen with over 4,000 lumens in its Normal laser power mode, the Economic mode can lower the projector's brightness by about 33-percent and its power draw by about 28 percent. This can cut an institution's expenses. Here are the ANSI lumen measurements for the different Picture modes.
BenQ LH710 ANSI Lumens
|Picture Mode||Normal Light Mode||Economic Light Mode|
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 22.6%
Brightness Uniformity: 75.4%
Fan Noise. The LH710 runs moderately quiet at the 39dB that BenQ measured in its sound-proof room. We measured a higher 44.0dBA in Bright mode three feet from the projector's exhaust vent, but it shouldn't overwhelm business discussions or a school lesson. This drops to 40.1dBA in Economic mode.
- HDMI Version 1.4b (x2)
- Computer RGB in (15-pin D-Sub)
- Computer RGB out (15-pin D-Sub)
- Composite video (RCA)
- Component video (RCA)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- USB (Type A, 5-volt at 1.5 amps)
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- Audio in (3.5 mm)
- Audio in (RCA)
- Audio out (3.5mm)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ LH710 projector page.