The BenQ HT2150ST Gaming Projector is as perfect a projector for serious gaming as we have yet seen. It combines a rapid 16 ms input lag with low fan noise, ample light output, fully saturated and balanced color, a short throw lens, and some very decent onboard audio in the event you don't have an external audio system handy. It is full native 1080p resolution and can be had for just $999. If you want the optional wireless module it is an extra $299.
In addition to very short lag time, another key to this projector's success is the RGBRGB color wheel which ends up delivering outstanding color brightness measuring up to 100% of white in Game mode, which is in all respects well calibrated for gaming use.
The ST in the name indicates short throw, and for gaming applications this is ideal for a lot of users. The HT2150ST puts up a 100" diagonal image from about 5.5 feet, give or take a half a foot, so it is well suited to coffee table or portable stand use with the gamers located behind it.
Upon start up the projector defaults to Game mode. The picture in this mode is clean, clear and sharp. It is slightly cool in color temperature but not dramatically so. Contrast and black levels are reasonably good -- quite sufficient for ambient light use and typical for gaming applications. In lower ambient light or for viewing in a dark room, if you want to give the Game picture a bit more snap you can bump the default 2.0 gamma setting up to 2.2 and switch the color temp from Cool to Normal. With these simple adjustments you are good to go with an exceptionally well calibrated picture for either gaming or movies that needs no further tweaking.
Cinema mode automatically defaults to 2.2 gamma and Normal color balance, rendering an impressively natural picture right out of the box. Choosing Cinema automatically sets the lamp to Eco mode, so it reduces brightness by 32%. If you want that dimmer picture you're all set, but switching the lamp to Normal brightens it up without any boost in fan noise.
The input lag in Cinema mode is 49.7 ms compared to 16.4 ms in Game mode. You can see the difference in lip synch when watching a movie. By selecting Game mode and switching gamma to 2.2 and color from Cool to Normal, you retain the short lag time of Game mode while getting the more accurate color and better saturation of Cinema mode.
Two of the operating modes have less appeal. Game Bright gives you slightly more brightness than Game but it drops gamma to 1.6, compromising black levels and color saturation. Some people might find a use for this, but we can't. Bright mode maximizes the total potential light output of the projector, but at the expense of a severe color shift toward green. The picture is harsh and unattractive. We'd avoid both of these modes.
The HT2150ST gets an "A" for image sharpness from top to bottom and side to side. One of the benefits of single-chip DLP design is that it eliminates any possibility of misalignment that can sometimes happen on any three-chip design. When three independent imaging devices are not properly converged it can compromise color and sharpness.
The Sharpness control runs on a scale from 0 to 15. We found the ideal setting for the smoothest image to be about 5. The Cinema mode defaults to 7 and the rest of the modes default to 15. Setting this control is a matter of personal taste, and the ideal setting will vary based on whether you are viewing game or movie material.
The only noteworthy flaw in the picture is that brightness uniformity is below average. On our sample the picture shows reduced luminance toward the left third of the screen. However, while this is obvious on a 100 IRE white test image, the viewer is not likely to be aware of it when gaming or watching movies. The high ANSI contrast and solid color saturation on this projector tend to mask this particular flaw.