Can you avoid the penalties of a Football Mode?
What is the BenQ TH670s?The BenQ TH670s is a single-chip budget DLP projector aimed at the home entertainment market and retails for under £500. It claims 3,000 lumens of brightness from its UHP lamp including a SmartEco mode that will extend that bulb's life to 10,000 hours, but obviously the brightness in this mode is dimmed.
The other big feature that BenQ are pushing with the TH670s is their Football Mode. This is claimed to be optimised for the fast-moving and colourful nature of football broadcasts, but will it be too much like some of the TV football picture modes we have seen lately? There’s also 3D which has become a feature on all BenQ projectors these days but you will have to buy the active glasses separately.
So will a sub-£500 DLP projector impress us enough with its football mode and picture quality in the run up to the Euros and the Olympics? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections and Control
We have to say that the BenQ is definitely the best looking of the recent budget projectors we have had in for review and the build quality is also excellent and sturdy. The sweeping white top plate and grey surround really standout to make the BenQ look sleek and purposeful. The plastics used are of good quality and strength and there is a nice weight to the unit which gives you the confidence that it will stand up to repeated setup and take downs and being moved on a regular basis. The lens is offset to the right of the front plate with the exhaust vents to the left side of the body when looking from the front. On the underside of the front plate is a button which releases a stand which raises the front of the projector up and down to suit your installation.
Installation is easy enough with manual zoom and focus rings just above the lens on the top plate, however there is no lens shift at this price point, so correct alignment with the screen is needed. Do not be tempted to use the keystone correction features if you want the best picture quality available. Also on the top plate are direct menu access keys should you lose the remote control which are white to match the top plate colour.
Around the back we have just one HDMI input which is a factor of the price point we are at here. If you use an AV Receiver this shouldn't be an issue, with all your video switching being done within the AVR and piped via the one HDMI input to the projector. There are also two VGA inputs, composite and RCA audio inputs, along with a 3.5mm audio in/out and a mic. There are no triggers available but there is an RS232C port for control features and two USB ports, one for charging and one for updates. Below the inputs is the power socket.
The remote control supplied with the TH670s is the usual BenQ projector model with a red coloured backlight and finished in white. It has a good quality feel and sits well in the hand with simple access keys within easy thumb reach. The main menu button and directional keys dominate and are the most used of all the buttons. Other keys include sources and direct picture control access. Overall it might be a plastic affair, but it does the job well and being backlit it is easy to use in the dark.
Features and SpecsThe TH670s is a single-chip DLP projector with a six segment RGBRGB colour wheel. It is a Full HD 1920 x 1080 model that boasts a maximum output of 3000 lumens brightness and a 10,000:1 claimed contrast ratio. It measures in at 327 x 233 x 137mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 3.0Kg. As well as HD video signals it also plays back 3D although the glasses are optional extras and not provided.
The main feature that BenQ are pushing with the TH670s is the football mode. This is basically an overly bright, over-saturated looking image mode with over-the-top sharpness settings and on this projector there are two similar modes for night and day. We found neither mode to be really appealing to watch sport or anything else for that matter and if image accuracy is important to you, then you will feel the same. We really can’t recommend this feature at all but we go through the best settings below.
The other main feature of the TH670s is the SmartEco mode which can be selected in the lamp settings. It extends the life of the UHP bulb up to 10,000 hours by adjusting the lamp output in relation to the content brightness level.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsAs with all display reviews we measured the available combinations of presets and white balance to find the closest out-of-the-box settings to the industry standards. With the TH670s we decided on the User picture mode and Warm colour temperature, gamma was selected at 2.4 and brilliant colour was switched off and we also set the main controls to suit our room.
The greyscale tracking (top left) was reasonable for an out-of-the-box preset with a deficiency of green in the middle section of the scale and slightly too much blue around the same points. This didn’t introduce any noticeable colour tint to the image, other than whites looking a little too blue if examined closely. Gamma also tracked reasonably well to our desired 2.4 dark room setting.
The colour gamut performance (top right) was as expected for a single chip DLP projector with a colour wheel and is restricted in size and doesn’t get close to covering the Rec.709 standard for HD. Red, blue and yellow are over-saturated with slight hue errors along with cyan and magenta also being restricted and off hue slightly. Green as expected is the worst offender here with extremely off-hue and over-saturated tones. In fact 75% green is lying on top of the 100% point. This all means that colour performance, especially with sports using green pitches or courses, will look odd and decidedly off hue with on-screen material. There is a Colour Management System (CMS) on board the BenQ, however we can’t expand the gamut to fit Rec.709 as the native size is too small and you can’t add in what doesn’t exist. All we can try and do is tame down the over saturation and try and correct some of the hue errors to balance the colour performance a bit more. We just hope that it can manage it without adding in artefacts.
Calibrated SettingsBenQ are amongst the best of the budget breed of projectors in that they always provide the correct calibration controls, which work, to get the best image quality possible. Here we have gamma, white balance and a CMS to use to massage the picture to get it more accurate to the HD standards. Well done to BenQ for providing the right tools and they also work without adding any errors to the image as well.
As we have a two point control we were able to correct the greyscale (top left) and get all the errors well under a DeltaE of 2, which is below the visible threshold so you won’t see any colour cast or errors with the greyscale. Gamma also tracks perfectly at 2.4 for a dark room setting adding a good degree of depth and pop to images on screen. We were very happy with the performance of the BenQ here.
Moving to the colour gamut (top right) there were a few items we could manipulate with the provided CMS to try and improve the tracking within the restricted gamut size. We mainly fixed the saturation of red and blue and tried to get 25% and 50% green as correct as we could and also fix the tracking as much as we could of magenta and cyan within the restrictions. Overall with the perfect greyscale and the corrections we made to the gamut within the size available, the image looks far more balanced and as accurate as it can ever be towards the standards, but far from absolutely perfect. It did however improve the viewing experience and fixed some of the green issues with had with pitches for example. Far from perfect, but far better than it was.
Picture QualityIf you are a regular reader of our single-chip budget DLP projector reviews you will most likely know exactly what we are going to talk about in this section of the review. First of all the mediocre black levels and lack of shadow detail is the first point of order here. With good gamma control however, we find that the black levels are a touch stronger here with a tad more detail in the blacks than when compared to the ViewSonic Pro7827HD which had gamma set too dark at the lower reaches. The blacks are still a far way off ever competing with the likes of JVC, but on this sub £500 model, we were impressed with the overall image quality for watching the occasional movie, sports event or even gaming in a normal living room. This is not a dedicated home cinema machine for critical movie watching and as such we will cut it some slack when used in a setting that suits its attributes. A room with white walls, ceilings and some ambient light is where the TH670s will work at its best.
Motion handling like most DLP machines was very good but we did notice some rainbow effect with fast moving objects in some material, so best check this yourself before purchase to make sure you and your family can handle the effect. We also found that focus was very good across the whole screen providing a nice sharp image and was another step up from the ViewSonic. Image uniformity in terms of colour was also good with a white raster field pattern appearing the same shade of white across the entire screen.
We also found the menu system to be more comprehensive than the Dell 4350 and ViewSonic Pro7827HD with better image controls allowing us to fine tune the BenQ’s image to give the most accurate performance of all three DLPs we tested recently. That’s not to say that it is accurate when it comes to colour, it is just better than the other two DLPs. The colour wheel technology is single-chip DLP's Achilles heel when it comes to image accuracy to the standards and the BenQ is just like most other budget models with a restricted gamut size compared to the Rec.709 standards, which also means off-hue and over- or under-saturated colour points. The TH670s can be tweaked a certain amount during calibration to improve this part of the image over the Dell and ViewSonic, but greens especially, can look odd and watching sports is when you are most likely to notice the issue.
With all that said, we found the price point and performance really suited the idea of occasional big screen sports, gaming and movies. Hide the projector away when not in use and fire it at a white wall for that ultimate cheap big screen thrill. The image on offer certainly holds up well that that kind of use and you can splash out on some 3D specs to expand the capabilities further. Gamers will also enjoy a minimal input lag with the BenQ measuring just 39ms via our Leo Bodnar device.
And finally the football mode. Well, don't use it is our advice. The picture quality on offer is over-processed and garish to look at, changing the tone and hue of the strips and making the already dodgy greens look even worse with increased brightness and fan noise getting in the way. Leave it switched off and use the more realistic User mode and settings mentioned above.
- Excellent value for money
- Bright images with decent motion
- Good image sharpness from the lens
- Very good 3D
- Good video processing
- Input lag is good for gaming
- Superb design and good build quality
- Restricted Colour Gamut can't reach Rec.709
- Mediocre Black levels and shadow detail
- Noisy in use
- No 3D glasses provided
- Some rainbow effect
BenQ TH670s DLP Projector ReviewWhen it comes to reviewing so many single-chip DLP projectors that are so similar in design, performance and price point, you do risk repeating yourself. The common issues are still present in the BenQ TH670s with a restricted gamut size compared to Rec.709 and wayward colour hues and saturation points. The black levels in a cinema room are also lacking and medicore, but when used in an all white living room environment they improve slightly and here the BenQ with its correct gamma curve tracking managed to provide a bit more detail in the lower reaches of the image. This was certainly a step up on the Dell and ViewSonic models we recently tested at the same time as this BenQ.
Used as intended and in the right environment the TH670s starts to look like a real bargain for the occasional big screen experience, be that sports events like the Euros or gaming and movies. It can be packed away easily and brought out and even pointed at a white wall if money is really tight. It has built-in sound, but do try to stretch to an outboard sound system if you can as the quality is tinny and poor. This is not a serious home cinema model, but as an all-rounder and priced at under £500 we can see it being a popular choice for those big screen family/gaming/sporting/3D movie events. Recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box6
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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