BenQ LX60ST XGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$2,299 MSRP Discontinued

Built around a laser light source and a 1024x768 DLP chip, the BenQ LX60ST offers a number of noteworthy features, including a short throw lens. But its laser-based, BlueCore light engine is unquestionably the most interesting and most unusual. As one of just two BlueCore models, the LX60ST has something to prove, namely that the light engine can match a standard lamp for brightness and image quality while scoring better on environmental issues. The good news is that it does.

The BlueCore design works much like a standard DLP engine. However, instead of sending white light through a color wheel, it shines a blue laser on a phosphor wheel to create the primary colors that bounce off the DLP chip. This avoids the speckle effect you would expect from direct laser light.

Among the advantages of the BlueCore engine compared to traditional lamps are that it's mercury-free and that you should never have to replace it, thanks to a claimed lifetime of 10,000 hours in Normal mode or 20,000 hours in Economic mode. Even with the LX60ST's $1,849 street price, this may give you a lower total cost of ownership than for a less expensive projector with a $200 or $300 lamp replacement every 2000, or even 5000, hours.

The chief disadvantage is that the 2000 lumen rating and 1700 lumen measured brightness for the LX60ST are both low by today's standards. Most of the competition offers ratings of 3000 lumens or a little higher, and few recent models offer anything lower than 2500 lumens. On the other hand, portable business projectors in the 2000 lumen range were common just a few years ago, and the same level of brightness is just as usable now as it was then.

The LX60ST can also go toe to toe with conventional projectors on most other basics, including its high quality data image in particular. With the solid basics plus eco-friendly features, it's a more than attractive pick for a small to medium size conference room or classroom.

Strong Points

Excellent data image quality. The LX60ST's data image quality is among its best points. Colors are fully saturated and suitably eye-catching in all presets, and color balance is excellent in most presets, with neutral grays at various levels from white to black. The Dynamic and Presentation settings show a slight greenish-yellow tint in the brightest shades of gray, but that's not really an issue, since most projectors have color balance problems in their brightest modes.

The projector also handled text well in my tests, with crisp, highly readable characters at sizes as small as 7 points. Most impressively, even screens that tend to cause pixel jitter were as rock solid with an analog connection as with HDMI.

Short throw. The LX60ST's short throw lens makes it easy to get a big image in a small room and also helps avoid shadows, since there's less room for anything to get between the projector and the screen. At the native 1024x768 resolution, I measured a 98" diagonal image at 49" from the screen. This is consistent with BenQ's claim that the LX60ST can throw an image ranging from 80" diagonally at a 33.1" distance to 300" diagonally at 124.3". (Keep in mind that these numbers refer just to the lens's capabilities. The projector brightness is a little low for the larger end of this range.)

Eco-friendly and money saving. Some of the LX60ST's eco-friendly features -- including the arsenic-free and lead-free glass in the lens, the PVC- and BFR-free plastic in the case, and the PVC-free plastic in the packaging -- are simply good for the environment. Others can save money as well. The mercury-free light source, with its 10,000 to 20,000 hour lifetime, is the most obvious of these, eliminating not just mercury but the carbon footprint from shipping replacements as well as the need to pay for them.

The Manual brightness mode is essentially a manual Eco mode with 15 settings. An alternative to the predefined Economic mode, it lets you pick the setting with only as much brightness as you need, so you can use as little electricity as possible. I measured the power use at 200 watts in Normal lamp mode, 104 watts in Economic mode, and 82 to 200 watts in Manual Mode, depending on the setting. Also worth mention is SmartEco mode. According to BenQ, this analyzes each image, including individual frames in video, and saves power by reducing the brightness only for dark areas in the image.

Good (not great) audio. Audio counts as a small plus for the LX60ST. The two 10W mono speakers deliver reasonably good quality sound with enough volume to fill a small to mid size conference room or classroom. If you need better quality, higher volume, or stereo, you can connect an external sound system to the audio output.

Excellent warranty. BenQ's three-year warranty is not only longer than many other vendors offer, it covers everything, including the laser diodes and phosphor wheel.

Test Results and Connectivity

Somewhat low, but still acceptable, brightness. The LX60ST's 2000 lumen rating is low by today's standards, but no less usable than it was just two or three years ago, when 2000 lumens was a common rating for business and classroom projectors. More important is that the measured brightness is reasonably close to the rating.

I measured the Dynamic preset with the brightest lamp setting at 1704 lumens, or about 85% of the rating. Even with moderate ambient light, this was easily bright enough for the 98" diagonal image I used for my tests.

The other presets came in at 612 to 1229 lumens. In addition, Economic mode lowers brightness by a touch over 50%, to 817 lumens with the Dynamic preset. The Manual mode's 15 settings range from 514 lumens to 1704 lumens with the Dynamic preset.

Good brightness uniformity. Short throw projectors often have problems maintaining uniform brightness across the screen, so the LX60ST's 72% uniformity is better than most. Break up the image with text and graphics, and it's impossible to see any variations in brightness.

Good connectivity.The LX60ST's back panel offers an HDMI port for a computer or video source, two VGA ports for computers or component video, a pass-through VGA port, and both S-video and composite video inputs.

Audio inputs include a set of stereo phono plug jacks paired with both the composite and S-Video inputs; two stereo miniplug jacks, with each one paired with one of the VGA ports; and one stereo miniplug jack for a microphone. A stereo miniplug output lets you connect to an external sound system.

In addition, there's a LAN port for sending images and for controlling the projector over a network, an RS-232 control port for a computer or third party controller, a 12V trigger, and three USB ports that each serve multiple purposes.

The two USB A ports let you plug in a USB memory key to read files directly; connect to a computer for mouse control from the projector remote; or plug in the $49 Wi-Fi adapter. I tested the USB reader with JPG and GIF format. According to BenQ, it also works with PNG, TIFF, BMP, and some, but not all, PDF files. The Wi-Fi dongle lets you connect directly by Wi-Fi to send data images from PCs, Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

The USB mini B port lets you connect to a computer for direct USB display, firmware uploads, and giving Page Up and Page Down commands from the remote. However, BenQ says that in some cases, you have to turn off your computer's firewall before you can use the USB display, which is generally a bad idea.

Limitations

Rainbow artifacts. Rainbow artifacts are a potential issue for any single-chip DLP projector. With the LX60ST I saw almost no rainbows with data images, but as is typical, they appear more often with video. Anyone who is sensitive to seeing them may find them annoying in at least an occasional scene.

Limited 3D. The LX60ST offers only limited 3D, the key shortcoming being the need to buy enough pairs of DLP-Link glasses for your audience, at $70 or more each. However, it will work with either a VGA or HDMI connection to a PC. It won't work directly with a 3D Blu-ray player, but BenQ says that it should work with a Blu-ray player connected through a video converter.

Usable, but unimpressive, video quality. Video quality for the LX60ST is usable, but not quite good enough to count as a plus. Moderately obvious noise made the image look almost grainy in my tests, and colors were a little off, although perhaps not enough to notice unless you're familiar with what the scene should look like. In some scenes, for example, red was a little brownish. I also saw mild to moderate loss of shadow detail and some posterization in scenes that tend to bring out those problems. Consider the video suitable for short clips, but not much more.

Conclusion

The BenQ LX60ST's low brightness compared with most of its competition, means that to get any given image brightness, you'll need to stay with a slightly smaller image. The tradeoff is that it offers some significant eco-friendly advantages, most notably the mercury-free light source, with its 10,000 to 20,000 hour lifetime and the Manual mode, which lets you use only as much power as you need. And thanks to the three-year warranty applying to the BlueCore engine you're not taking much of a risk on the new technology of the laser-based light source.

Just as important is that the projector scores well on the key points you need to consider with any data projector. It delivers excellent data image quality, lots of connection options, reasonably good audio quality, and suitable brightness for a small to medium size conference room or classroom. And whatever its shortcomings for video, it can handle video better than many data projectors. Whether you're particularly attracted by the eco-friendly features or consider them incidental, there's a lot here to like, and more than enough to make the LX60ST a serious contender.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ LX60ST projector page.

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