Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
The newest home video projector from BenQ is called the W1070. Sporting native 1080p resolution and a max light output of 2,000 lumens, the W1070 has the pixels to show HD moves in their native resolution and the power to light up your living room, even if you can't get the space completely dark.
Home video projectors, as the name implies, are designed for multipurpose use in family rooms and living rooms; i.e. places other than a home theater. They are more likely to have higher light output, onboard speakers, and more modest contrast than home theater projectors since black level is less of a concern when ambient light is present. Conversely, home theater projectors are optimized for darkened rooms and typically have very high contrast.
The W1070 defaults to Dynamic mode, which like other projectors' Dynamic modes is very bright and very green. Dynamic mode will be useful any time you need to prioritize light output over the projector's other qualities, such as contrast and color saturation, as these take a beating in order to increase overall power.
The projector's two other modes are Standard and Cinema. Standard and Cinema modes both have better color balance than Dynamic mode, with Standard intentionally maintaining a slightly colder overall color temperature. In terms of light output, the two are about equal.
As a whole, the picture produced by the W1070 is bright, clear, and perfect for the living room. The picture is sharp and detailed thanks to the W1070's full-HD 1920x1080 native resolution. Thanks to the projector's brightness and solid dynamic range, shadow detail is maintained in all but the brightest ambient light.
Perhaps the most unique quality of the W1070 is 3D compatibility, which is something normally not found on home video projectors. While 3D is certainly appealing to many projector buyers, it is hard to square the W1070's 3D compatibility with its intended use as a living room projector. However this just expands the W1070's potential uses beyond daytime entertainment into night-time 3D.
2D image quality. While the W1070 isn't a projector with a lot of bells or whistles on it, the projector's 2D image quality is excellent. The projector comes out of the box with three perfectly usable 2D image modes, a 3D mode, two locked ISF modes that become available after calibration, plus three User image modes for customization. These modes help the projector cope with the myriad different situations in which a home video projector might be used, from a darkened theater-type environment to a bright living room on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
3D Performance. The W1070 uses the DLP Link system to display Full HD 3D, meaning that the image is punctuated by white light pulses which are used to sync with active shutter 3D glasses. This has both positive and negative consequences. A positive consequence is that DLP-Link systems tend to be very low in crosstalk, and indeed the W1070 had no visible crosstalk during our testing. On the other hand, DLP Link glasses tend to lose synchronization more easily than either infrared-sync or radio-sync glasses, which can be a concern in any environment where people get up and move around. Either way, the W1070 is one of the few home video projectors to feature Full HD 3D.
With decent out-of-the-box color and respectable contrast, the W1070 is a great little projector for entertaining in your home. By far the best part of the image is its natural sharpness and clarity. This isn't just due to the projector's 1080p pixel matrix, either; the W1070 has a razor-sharp image even for an HD projector--especially one in this price range.
Long life. The W1070's long-life lamp makes it an attractive projector to serve as a partial TV replacement. Lamp life is estimated at 3,500 hours in full power mode and up to 6,000 hours in Eco or SmartEco mode, which is considerably longer than comparable projectors. This is in part because the W1070 is capable of reducing lamp power by up to 70% using the projector's SmartEco function, which dims the lamp output to a level appropriate for the content on screen at the time of selection. There's no way to make an arbitrary brightness selection, which is unfortunate, but the concept itself is useful when you don't need a lot of light.
Onboard audio. Part of the allure of home video projectors is their use as TV replacements, and TV replacements need some kind of onboard sound capability. The W1070 doesn't have much of a speaker system; it has a single 10W speaker rather than the stereo sound that some competitors offer. But that one speaker doesn't suffer from distortion or the tinny character that plagues many small speakers. Indeed, with the volume cranked, we found the single speaker more than adequate for an audience of eight in a large living room.
Placement flexibility. The W1070's manual zoom lens has a 1.3:1 ratio, and can display a 100" diagonal image from 8' 4" to 10' 11". That's about standard for this class of projector. What is not standard is the projector's vertical lens shift, which gives you the ability to move the projected image up or down by about 10% of the image's height. The range is such that, at the bottom, the bottom edge of the projected image is level with the lens centerline, and at the top it has an upward throw angle equivalent to roughly 20% of the image's height. This makes table mounting and ceiling mounting the most realistic options, while a rear shelf mount is more or less out of the question both due to lens shift and zoom concerns.
6X Speed Color Wheel. The W1070 has a six-segment color wheel in the theater-optimized RGBRGB configuration. This wheel layout maximizes color without artificially boosting white, and is preferred for its ability to render natural color. What's more, the wheel gives an effective refresh rate of six times per frame. This should eliminate color separation artifacts (rainbows) for all but the most hypersensitive of viewers.
Light output. The BenQ W1070 spec sheet states a 2,000 lumen maximum output. Our test sample did indeed measure 2019 lumens, but only in Dynamic mode, and then only after we increased Brightness and Contrast to their maximum limits. In the factory default settings for Dynamic mode, our test unit measured 1554 lumens with the lamp at full power. That's the maximum output we obtained in any usable mode, so it is the practical ceiling for this projector. Dynamic mode is a good choice when you need every lumen the projector can muster and don't much care about what happens to color accuracy and contrast in order to get there. With a projector designed for use in ambient light, that's a situation that will arise from time to time.
As stated earlier, the two modes that we used most often were Standard and Cinema. Standard mode, at 1271 lumens, is balanced for living room use. It emphasizes brightness, but maintains dynamic range and adds a touch of blue to overall grayscale, resulting in a color temperature around 7000K across the board. It's a well-balanced image mode for general film and video use.
Cinema mode, at its defaults, isn't much different; our test unit measures 1220 lumens in this mode at an average 6800K color temperature. If this is too much light (and it may well be once you dim the room lighting), Eco mode reduces light output by nearly 30%, resulting in 880 lumens in Cinema mode.
SmartEco mode is a bit of a puzzle. The mode claims to reduce brightness based on the content on screen, but it is not a dynamic lamp mode. Lamp power does not cycle up and down once SmartEco has been selected. Instead, the projector decides based on the content being shown how bright the lamp should be, and then locks output at that level.
Contrast and black level. As a home video projector, black level is not the W1070's main focus. Indeed, compared to home theater projectors, even HT projectors in the same price range, black level is only so-so. However, that doesn't mean that the projector's overall contrast is weak. Dynamic range is sufficient to maintain excellent separation in shadows, even with ambient light in the room. Gamma, while not as adjustable as we'd like (it uses a list of presets rather than a true adjustment tool), is accurate. If you find the image a touch anemic in ambient light, using a higher gamma setting will give the image some more punch. The 2.4 setting is great in low ambient light.
Color. The W1070 has a lot going for it when it comes to color. First of all, the projector's color calibration controls are extensive and easy to use. It features not only full RGB gain/bias adjustments for grayscale calibration, but also a full three-axis color management system for gamut adjustments -- AND there's a further ISF mode hidden behind a password. Second, and more importantly, the projector has well-saturated, accurate, usable color right out of the box, which in an inexpensive projector is arguably more important than the presence of good calibration controls. After all, relatively few of the W1070's purchasers will spend the time and effort to have it calibrated.
The default calibrations are all appropriate for different situations. Dynamic mode, which is bright and clearly biased towards green, is for combating heavy ambient light. Standard mode, at roughly 7000K, is for television and video in mild to moderate ambient light. Cinema mode, at 6800K, is the closest to a calibrated movie mode, and with a little bit of adjustment is great for night-time movie watching.
As mentioned above, the W1070 has extensive color controls and calibrates very well. Our settings for Cinema mode look like this:
Those adjustments give the W1070 a near-perfect 6500K grayscale across the board.
Sharpness and clarity. The W1070 has excellent native sharpness, even after the projector's sharpness control has been turned down (it defaults to a setting that is slightly too high). Detail in HD material is displayed with razor-sharp, pixel-perfect precision. And the W1070 does this without a smart sharpening system or other detail enhancement features.
Input lag. Normally, 3D projectors are fairly sluggish when it comes to input lag, even when they are being used in regular 2D mode. The W1070 breaks this pattern and puts up some respectable input lag numbers: around 24ms, or 1.5 frames, in the modes we tested.
2D-3D Conversion. While the W1070 is full HD 3D compatible, it cannot do 2D to 3D conversion. If you are looking for a 3D projector and 2D to 3D conversion is important to you, take note.
SmartEco. The SmartEco feature itself works well enough; punch the SmartEco button and the projector reduces lamp output. However, the implementation is hard to understand and can be hard to use. If you want to put the projector into its most economical setting, you can't just select this from a list; you need to put up some kind of content that will cause the projector to select this setting. Being able to choose your own level of lamp power would be far simpler and easier to understand.
Lens shift. The fact that the W1070 has lens shift at all puts it ahead of most of its competitors, which lack the feature. On the other hand, the lens shift range is heavily limited, amounting to a few inches of adjustment. The control itself is difficult to use -- the tiny knob is best turned by a coin or screwdriver rather than by hand. As such, while the presence of lens shift is a welcome feature, the actual ease of use of the control could be improved.
The BenQ W1070 is a great little home video projector that produces a 2D image that looks more expensive than it is. High light output and great shadow detail help the W1070 stand up to ambient light, while extensive color controls and solid factory calibrations make it easy to just plug and play.
Though black levels are competitive with other home video projectors, they are not at a level where we'd be comfortable recommending the W1070 for dedicated dark room movie viewing or photography presentation. But what the W1070 does, it does very well -- namely, it provides a great living room experience for high-definition 2D content, and with the lights off it can give you a solid 3D picture with almost zero crosstalk. Most importantly, it does all this at a price that's highly competitive in today's market.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ W1070 projector page.