BenQ W1070 DLP Front Projector Reviewed

Published On: April 29, 2013
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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BenQ W1070 DLP Front Projector Reviewed

BenQ has made a name for itself in recent years as a more affordable option for consumers' home theaters. Andrew Robinson puts the BenQ W1070 to the test to see what it can really offer the consumer.

BenQ W1070 DLP Front Projector Reviewed

By Author: Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson began his career as an art director in entertainment advertising in 2003, after graduating from Art Center College of Design. In 2006, he became a creative director at Crew Creative Advertising, and oversaw the agency's Television Division, where he worked for clients such as TNT, TBS, History, FX, and Bravo to name a few. He now has one of the most popular AV-related channels on YouTube.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-angled-left-small.jpgBenQ has long been a staple in the affordable business/educational and home theater projector marketplace. For years, the company has carved out a niche for itself alongside other industry stalwarts like Epson and Optoma as a value-oriented brand, bringing consumers front-projection products based on only what they need, as opposed to what they think they want. This in turn has meant that many of BenQ's products, historically, haven't featured the latest "buzz tech," but they haven't commanded a king's ransom, either. BenQ's latest projector, the W1070, continues that trend; however, as I would soon find out, it has a number of features not typically found on a so-called entry-level projector.

Additional Resources
• Read more video projector reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's writers.
• Explore pairing options in our Projector Screen Review section.

The W1070 retails for just under a grand at $999 and is sold via BenQ's vast network of dealers, including online retailers such as VisualApex. The W1070 is a small projector, measuring nearly 13 inches wide by four inches tall and almost 10 inches deep. It isn't very heavy, weighing but six pounds, no doubt a result of its all-plastic construction. Still, despite its modest price tag and small footprint, the W1070 is a good-looking piece of kit, featuring a duotone color scheme consisting of a predominantly pearl-white color offset with light grey accents. It's a good look, and it suits the W1070 well.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-lens.jpgThe W1070's lens is off-center to the right (when looking at the projector) with the left front side of the projector being largely dominated by vents. Up top and behind the lens are the W1070's manual lens controls, including zoom, focus and vertical shift (the latter is hidden behind a plastic sliding door and adjustable via a flathead screwdriver, not included). Near the back of the W1070's top plate, you'll find a bevy of manual controls, all of which are backlit for easy access in a darkened environment. Around back and recessed slightly into the projector's chassis are the W1070's input options; they include two HDMI inputs, a 12-volt trigger, component video, USB (type Mini B, service only), PC (15-pin), RS-232, S-video, composite video, a pair of analog audio inputs, and a pair of analog audio outputs. Yes, the W1070 has a built-in 10-watt loudspeaker. Throw in the W1070's standard AC power receptacle, and you've got its back panel all sewn up in a nutshell.

Behind the scenes, the W1070 utilizes Texas Instruments' latest DarkChip3 DLP technology, which is good for a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 or 1080p HD. Its native aspect ratio is 16:9, although it can support others like 4:3 and 2.35:1. Brightness is stated to be at 2,000 ANSI lumens, with contrast being reported at 10,000:1. The W1070 is also 3D-enabled, supporting many different types of 3D viewing, be it via a Blu-ray disc or gaming machine, the last courtesy of its Nvidia 3DTV connectivity. It should be noted that, while the W1070 is 3D-capable, the required active 3D glasses are not included with purchase and cost $79 per pair.

Finally, there's the W1070's remote, which is clearly aimed at the business user rather than your typical home theater enthusiast. It's small (pocket-sized, really) and somewhat clunky, obviously designed to be operated in a fair amount of ambient light, since its layout isn't wholly intuitive. Still, it provides the end user with the necessary control needed not only to operate the W1070, but also to dial it in effectively.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-connections.jpgThe Hookup
Rather than tear down my reference SIM2 M.150 LED DLP projector and install the W1070 in its place, I opted for a temporary, table-mounted setup. In the middle of my room, I placed the W1070 atop a simple folding table, covered in black velvet to keep the table's white surface from contaminating any measurements due to its reflectivity. Atop the table, the W1070 sat approximately nine feet back from my screen, with the lens zoomed all the way out, which was good for a screen size of around 100 to 110 inches. Focusing the lens was easy, thanks to the W1070's textured focus ring. Vertical lens shift was a little trickier, as there isn't a lot of it. Moreover, if you're not careful with your flathead screwdriver, it could be possible to over-torque the small screw-like apparatus and break the projector. Out of the box and atop a table, the W1070 has a fair amount of upward skew, meaning the projected image naturally points upward by several degrees without incurring any negative keystoning effects. This is a good thing, as it might eliminate one's need to adjust the vertical shift at all.

I went ahead and connected the W1070 to my DVDO Duo in order to take some initial measurements, using my C6 light meter and CalMan calibration software. Out of the box, the W1070 ships in its Standard image mode, which I could tell straight away was far too bright and too blue. I went ahead and popped the W1070 into its Cinema preset, as such picture modes tend to be more accurate pre-calibration. In the Cinema mode and in my room, projecting upon Elite Screen's AcousticPro 4K material from a distance of around nine feet, I measured a staggering 21 foot-lamberts. Cinema is dimmer than the W1070's Standard picture mode, which measured a whopping 32 foot-lamberts. That's a staggering amount of light output, although admittedly after calibration, one should expect less, as clearly both were too bright for absolute picture accuracy elsewhere, which I found out when taking a full set of measurements in the Cinema picture profile.

Out of the box and in Cinema mode, the W1070's grayscale favored blue big time, with an average Delta E (error) of 4.052. A Delta Error of three or below for grayscale is considered acceptable, so the W1070 is outside acceptable limits, although not as wildly so as other projectors I've tested in the past. Gamma averaged 1.93 out of the box, which isn't typical or correct (2.2 is the target). Colorimetry was further off target, with an average Delta E of 5.5. Red and green exhibited the greatest errors, with Delta Es of nearly +10. Ouch. All of the colors, regardless of their hue, were under-saturated before calibration. Surprisingly for a sub-$1,000 projector, the W1070 possesses the requisite controls, both grayscale and CMS, to potentially rein things in quite nicely. I know of several far more expensive projectors that cannot claim this, so kudos to BenQ.

With measurements taken, it was time to watch some HD content. I connected the W1070 to my reference rig, which meant running a Monoprice HDMI cable from my Integra DHC 80.2 preamp to the tiny projector. From there, it was fed a steady diet of HD content served via my Dune-HD Max and my custom-built NAS box.

Read about the performance of the BenQ W1070 projector on Page 2.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-angled-right.jpgPerformance
Because I look at the W1070 as an entry-level projector, I opted not to perform a full calibration, but rather to do some simple by-eye picture adjustments. At this asking price, I don't believe many (even if they should) would opt for a full THX-level calibration on such a device. Adjusting the image with test patterns via the DVDO and/or my Digital Video Essentials Blu-ray disc resulted in a more pleasing and accurate image straight away and represented a level of performance that I feel the average consumer can obtain. Of course, you can always go balls out and spring for a full professional calibration and potentially make things more accurate but, for a sub-$1,000 projector, it's nice to know a $30 added investment can pay dividends, too. On a side note, if you purchase the W1070 via VisualApex, it includes, free with purchase, Disney's WoW Calibration disc, so you're already going to be given the tools to perform the same basic adjustments that I did. This is a very good thing and an added value.

Beginning with the disaster flick 2012 (Columbia Pictures) on Blu-ray, the first thing I noticed about the W1070 was that it was prone to showcasing dreaded rainbow effects more so than other single-chip DLP designs that I have encountered. I know many out there cannot see rainbow-like anomalies, but to those who can, these may be more apparent via the W1070 than via other DLP projectors. The rainbow anomalies were an occasional nuisance, but not a complete distraction or destroyer of entertainment. The other thing that jumped out at me was that the W1070's black levels were surprisingly deep and rich; however, I found them also to be just a bit muddied, due to a lack of low-light contrast and/or detail rendering. While night scenes looked appropriately "night," some of the texture and nuance of the surroundings were lost or slightly glossed over via the W1070. Feed it a bright scene, however, like those taking place at Yellowstone National Park, and the W1070's picture bordered on appearing HDTV-esque. While this was impressive, it wasn't without error. These were mainly in its highlight values and contrast, both of which (as with the black-level performance) seemed to suffer from a bit of oversimplification. Occasionally, highlights would bloom and elements like clouds would lose detail and texture. Now, turning down the W1070's brightness and adjusting contrast would remedy some of this; however, it would come at the expense of other elements, meaning that the W1070's overall performance is one predicated upon balance or averages, maybe with a dash of preference regarding what you are prepared to live with and what you are not. I can forgive a slight lack of contrast at the extremes if the rest of the image is pleasing, which for the most part it was. It's also not uncommon among budget projectors to have to make such judgment calls, so please don't take my findings as an iron-fisted knock against the W1070. Motion was relatively smooth, exhibiting the slightest of judder only during fast-moving scenes, but nothing that was too distracting. The inherent single-chip sharpness that I love about such DLP designs was present here, which in turn made for some rather impressive renderings of texture and detail as it pertained to skin and clothing. Speaking of skin, while the highlights clearly skewed a bit blue, there was also a noticeable red shift that resulted in everyone appearing just a bit more "jolly" - again, nothing that was too distracting or that couldn't be (largely) remedied with some finer calibration.

Moving on to Pixar's Brave (Disney), I was treated to more of the same, only this time the W1070's brightness is what captivated me, as I was able to enjoy the 100-inch image even with a fair amount of ambient light present in the room. Those of you with multi-purpose rooms should definitely take note. Because Brave features several scenes upon the rolling hills of Scotland, I noticed the W1070's green color errors more than I did when viewing 2012. In Brave, green hues, specifically the vast expanses of grass covering the rolling hills of the film's many vistas, skewed ever-so-slightly yellow. It wasn't as bad or as apparent as, say, the blue shift on highlights, but it again served as a reminder of why calibration is so important for a truly accurate image. The Cinema mode was by far the most accurate of all the projector's presets, with both the Standard and Dynamic modes making all errors worse rather than better. Still, the image was bright, punchy and able to be enjoyed despite its minor color errors, which again is not uncommon among budget projectors like the W1070.

I ended my evaluation of the W1070 with the science-fiction drama Contact on Blu-ray (Warner Bros.). I'm not sure if it was the film's 35mm origins or just the transfer itself, but the W1070 did a great job presenting this flick. While all of the errors previously mentioned were present, they weren't as noticeable for some reason when viewing Contact. The image looked more or less right, or at least enjoyable enough that I didn't need to keep looking down at my notes to write about a glaring fault. In a budget projector, that's a lot of what you can hope for. While I've seen better presentations of the film, the W1070 got to the heart of the image (and film's) intent and presented it with gusto. Skin tones were still a bit rosy at times, but their texture, color and contrast appeared more natural in this test than in previous demos. Black levels were still deep and rich, but didn't seem to call attention to any low-level contrast deficiencies. Again, maybe it had to do with the film's 35mm film stock or the transfer itself, but all in all, the black levels were good - even great. Highlights, too. I even liked how the W1070 didn't futz with the film's natural grain structure; it simply presented it as is. About the only thing that stood out as bothersome in this test was the W1070's tendency to showcase rainbow-like artifacts, while other digital video artifacts (motion or otherwise) were a non-issue.

Overall, the W1070 proved to be a pretty darn good, slightly better than average single-chip DLP projector, one that budding home theater enthusiasts could potentially cut their teeth on and get started with, which might lead to an upgrade down the line. For less than $1,000, you can definitely do worse, but then again, spending just a little more would also yield some pretty positive results. It all depends on your budget.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-top.jpgThe Downside
The W1070's internal fan is quite loud, despite the unit having what BenQ refers to as SmartEco modes, which help prolong lamp life by optimizing consumption. Regardless of which lamp mode you choose or let BenQ choose for you, the internal fan is loud, which I found troubling, given that the W1070 also has a built-in speaker.

Speaking of the W1070's built-in speaker, it's not very good and definitely not something you want to rely on come movie night. It's okay for quick impromptu viewing maybe (emphasis on maybe), but for any type of enjoyment, I say skip it.

The W1070's manual lens is very functional, although its vertical lens shift is limiting and its mechanism for adjustment a bit clunky. I worry that it wouldn't take much for an end user to break the projector by placing too much torque upon the small screw-like apparatus.

Lastly, the remote isn't great. It's tiny and not very well laid-out, not to mention difficult to use in a darkened environment.

Comparison and Competition
The affordable projector marketplace is hotter than ever, so the W1070 from BenQ is not without its fair share of competition, beginning with Epson's PowerLite 8350, which retails for $1,299. For around $300 more, the 8350 is a worthy upgrade to the W1070, albeit featuring LCD technology versus DLP. The 8350 is larger and possesses its own set of quirks, but for my money, I believe it to be the slightly better product. However, an added 300 bones is still 300 bones, so it may simply be outside of one's budget. Other notable entries that are also worth considering are Optoma's HD33 or HD20, as well as maybe even JVC's entry-level D-ILA. The Optoma models are more closely related in price to the W1070, with the HD20 possessing performance at a level similar to, if not the same as, the W1070. Costing just under $3,500, the JVC takes things to a whole other level, even over the Epson 8350. For more on these projectors and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Front Projector page.

BenQ-W1080-projector-review-front-small.jpgConclusion
While not perfect, BenQ's W1070 single-chip 3D HD DLP projector is a great starting point for those considering getting into the front-projection game. Its sub-$1,000 retail price makes it obtainable for many, and its supreme brightness and above-average performance make it a candidate for rooms where there may be some ambient light concerns (think media rooms). The fact that it's so small, eco-friendly and sold just about everywhere only sweetens the deal. While it's far from the last word in absolute picture quality, it's good enough that it should provide casual viewers or newcomers to the space with hours of worry-free enjoyment.

Additional Resources
Read more video projector reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's writers.
Explore pairing options in our Projector Screen Review section.

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