BenQ SH910 1080P DLP Projector
Projector Central Editor's Choice Award

Editor's Choice Award

Our Editor's Choice award goes to products that dramatically exceed expectations for performance, value, or cutting-edge design.

  • Performance
  • 5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$3,499 MSRP Discontinued

It is game 7 of the World Series or maybe the final round of the Masters, and you have your buddies over for some grilled goodies and a big game experience. What are you going to do? Put them in front of some 50" flat screen TV? No . . . you are going to dazzle them with a 120" screen that makes them feel like they are on the field or inside the ropes. It's Sunday afternoon, and the sun is lighting up your living room even with the shades drawn, but your new BenQ SH910 is more than up to the task.

With a 4,000-lumen brightness rating, this DLP projector puts up a stunning 1920x1080 image that shrugs off ambient light. It may be too bright for darkened home theater rooms, but when it comes to daytime viewing in sun-splashed rooms, the SH910 performs beautifully. As expected, shadow details can be compromised by high ambient light, but the high brightness from the SH910 makes for effective contrast and good highlight definition. To top things off, this powerhouse has a street price of $1,799 and weighs only 7.9 pounds which makes it easy to transport.

Setup options are a bit limited since there is no lens shift capability, but the SH910's 1.5:1 zoom lens gives you some flexibility in terms of distance from the screen. For a 120" diagonal, the bottom of the image is 20" above the centerline of the lens, so a coffee table placement works just fine. The audio output at 20 watts is designed for large gatherings, and the speakers are rock solid with no buzz or rattle. The SH910 may not be designed for the subtleties of home theater, but it surely delivers home entertainment in the living room at midday.

In its other primary application, the SH910 is an excellent choice for medium-sized venues where high quality, bright images are called for. Examples that come to mind are sports bars, photo clubs, and churches. If you can get past the mounting limitations, the SH910 has the horsepower to put up striking images with plenty of audio impact for audiences of 50-100.

The Viewing Experience

When you first power up the SH910, you will notice that the fan noise is surprisingly low for such a bright projector. With lamps of this wattage, a lot of warm air has to be exhausted from the case. BenQ has allocated large sections of both sides of the projector for air venting, and the result is a lower fan speed and less noise. If you can use Eco mode which only lowers brightness by about 22%, fan noise can be reduced to a whisper.

The optics package for the SH910 is well designed. Both zoom and focus controls have a smooth but firm feel that allows precise adjustment without overshoot. Edge-to-edge focus is excellent, and there are no obvious hot spots in the image. Keystone correction can be set automatically or manually from either the remote control or the on-screen menu. All in all, the SH910 has a solid optical design that is notable for its lack of visual distractions.

It is a shame that the SH910 cannot find a place in the home theater arena, but it is simply too bright for comfortable viewing in darkened rooms. Even in Eco mode with full zoom, the lowest preset (Cinema) puts out over 1,500 lumens which is uncomfortably bright in a small, darkened room. Still, the home theater enthusiast's loss is the home entertainer's gain, and in large rooms, the SH910 will definitely impress your audience with bright HD images even in tough projection conditions.

Key Features

Image Quality - The SH910 has four preset modes (Dynamic, Presentation, Cinema, and sRGB) which vary brightness, contrast, and saturation to fit their particular applications. These presets work well for data projections, but they are less effective for video material with saturation and sharpness too high and brightness too low. Unfortunately, you cannot adjust any picture controls when in a preset mode, and the default image sharpness setting is distracting. Set at nearly the top of its range, the default sharpness setting renders the image slightly grainy with unnatural-looking edges. This is particularly noticeable when watching movies as the "theater effect" is severely compromised, even in the Cinema preset. Fortunately, there are two User modes which give you control over picture controls including brightness, contrast, sharpness, tint, and three color temperature choices. A little time spent on these settings produces a really impressive video image with plenty of impact and excellent flesh tones. The SH910's 3,000:1 contrast ratio renders a good balance of shadow and highlight details, and video noise is undetectable.

Photos and data images have plenty of depth and color balance is especially good. There are no hot spots, and small typefaces are easy to read even at maximum keystone compensation. Edge-to-edge focus is excellent with smooth scaling of images of other than 16:9 aspect ratios.

Audio Quality - As you might expect in a bright conference room projector, the SH910 has a beefy audio output from two 10-watt SRS-certified speakers. The sound is rich and buzz-free all the way to maximum volume. Most projectors in this class either have no speakers at all or their combined output is under 10 watts. BenQ has really hit a sweet spot with their SH910 because for many situations, no external speakers will be needed.

Connectivity - The rear panel of the SH910 has HDMI and USB connectors for digital sources and thumb-drive media as well as composite, component, and S-video inputs. There is also a LAN input that supports multiple LAN formats including centralized projector management, Crestron, SNMP, and PJ-Link. If remote control and monitoring is important to you, you will find that the SH910 accommodates most LAN environments. For wireless operation, you can purchase an optional wireless display adapter from BenQ for $129.

Remote Control and Menus - BenQ has done a nice job of keeping the remote control simple and easy to understand. Keys are clearly labeled, and some are color-coded. You will appreciate the built-in laser pointer for directing your audience's attention to specifics of your material, and source selections each have their own individual keys (Computer, HDMI, Video, S-Video, and Network). The menu navigation keys are large and well separated which is handy in dimly lit rooms, and the large, round Enter key is placed right in the middle of the key cluster. It takes very little time to get used to operating this remote without looking.

The on-screen menus are equally easy to use. Only one menu is layered, and the most common image settings are grouped on a single menu so setup is accomplished quickly.

Brightness - The SH910 has a theoretical maximum brightness specification of 4,000 ANSI lumens, and our test sample put out 3,810 lumens in its Dynamic preset mode. That makes it one of the brightest 1080p projectors currently available for under $1,800. Its other three preset modes had brightness readings as follows: Presentation - 3,040 lumens, Cinema - 2,180 lumens, and sRGB - 2,250 lumens.

Eco mode dropped brightness by about 22% and also dropped fan noise to a very low level. In large rooms, the noise level at full brightness will not be distracting because the projector is usually located a distance from the audience. But in living rooms, you may want to use Eco mode to reduce noise, and you will still have almost 3,000 lumens available. One other factor that affects brightness is the zoom lens setting. At the maximum telephoto end of the zoom the projector's light output is curtailed by about 12% which is not much light loss for a 1.5x zoom lens. But if you need every ounce of lumen power you can get, set the SH910 up using the wide-angle end of the zoom range.

Warranty - BenQ provides a three-year warranty on the SH910, and since this is a DLP-based projector, there are no fan filters to replace. An occasional vacuuming of the air intake grills will help minimize dust accumulation on the lamp which helps maintain lamp brightness.

Shortcomings

Lamp Life - A 2000-hour lamp life for a 4,000-lumen projector in normal mode is not unusual, but there are comparably priced projectors with longer lamp lives (3,000 hours). Running in Eco mode extends lamp life to 3,000 hours, and the cost of a replacement lamp is about $350.

Installation Inflexibility - If you move the SH910 from place to place, its lack of lens shift may be an issue as room layouts differ. Even if you want to permanently install this projector, you may find yourself faced with limited placement options and/or very precise mounting requirements (e.g., drop tubes, mounting shelves) to get the image dimensions you seek. Without lens shift, you will have to align the lens centerline perpendicular to the screen to avoid horizontal keystoning. The good news is that the 1.5:1 zoom lens lets you vary distance from the screen over a moderate distance. For example, a 100" image can be projected from 10'4" to 15'6" away.

Competition

The BenQ SH910 competes directly with the Optoma TH1060P. For notes on how these two models compare, see this mini-shootout.

Conclusion

You can find 4,000-lumen 1080p projectors for less money than the SH910, but external speakers are often an overlooked expenditure and a wiring annoyance. With its 20-watt audio output, the SH910 avoids that expense and inconvenience. Couple that audio performance with excellent data and video images, and you have a value package that is hard to match in a large venue projector. When you consider its usefulness in brightly lit home applications, the SH910 stands out as a workhorse with all the flash and pedigree of a thoroughbred. It deserves our highest performance and value ratings.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ SH910 projector page.

Comments (1) Post a Comment
Andrew Posted Nov 4, 2013 2:50 PM PST
I used your site in the past when I first built my HT room. I have found your advice to be bang on. I have been running a Sanyo with 3500 lumen output and it has been a tank with virtually no issues. It's too bad that Panasonic took them out. I have a 14 foot wide Firehawk screen and full darkening capability in the room. Since everything has now gone HD I would like to look at uprading to HD and I'm having trouble finding something slightly brighter. Is the brightness issue the only reason you don't recommend this as a HT projector. This fits my room perfectly if it is.

Thanks Andrew

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