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BenQ W1090 DLP Projector Review

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Budget King?

by Phil Hinton May 2, 2017 at 7:05 AM

  • Home AV review

    12

    Recommended
    BenQ W1090 DLP Projector Review
    SRP: £700.00

    What is the BenQ W1090?

    This is another in a long line of budget single-chip DLP projectors from BenQ that offers a sports viewing mode along with a new six speed RGBRGB colour wheel to cut down the rainbow effect. The W1090 retails for around £700 at the time of the review (April 2017) and offers big screen gaming, sports and 3D movie watching and the flexibility to move the projector around the home. The design is functional with a white finish and well laid out controls for focus and zoom of the lens.

    There are quite a number of budget projectors from BenQ and other manufacturers available for under £1000, so what makes the W1090 stand out? Let’s see.

    Design, Connections and Control

    BenQ W1090 Design, Connections and Control
    The white coloured W1090 follows the usual BenQ DLP projector design layout with the lens positioned to the right of the chassis (looking from the front) with manual controls above for zoom and focus adjustment. The front facia is finished in a shiny plastic with the BenQ logo in grey lettering to the left and the lens recess to the right. There is no lens cover or plug. To the rear of the top plate are some manual controls for entering the menus and power on/off should you lose the remote control down the back of the sofa. The W1090 measures in at 346.2 x 101.7 x 214.8mm (W x H x D) and weighs 2.75Kg so it is easy to move around and set up for big screen events and pack away when not required. To each side of the projector are the air intake and hot exhaust ports and thankfully there is little in the way of light spill from these when in use. To the bottom of the unit are screwable feet with two at the rear and one at the front centre, which can be used to level the W1090 when table or desk mounted. There are also three M4 screw points for a ceiling mount.
    BenQ W1090 Design, Connections and Control
    Around the back we have a slightly recessed connections area with two HDMI 1.4 inputs, with HDMI 2 also being MHL compatible. There is also a VGA/PC input along with a legacy composite slot with stereo audio inputs. Rounding up the connections are 3.5mm audio in/out jacks and two USB ports for service and charging use.

    The remote control supplied with the BenQ is the same model supplied with all their budget projectors and is also white in colour. It has a red back light for use in the dark and all the important controls are within easy thumb reach whilst held in the hand. To the top are the power buttons and image control selections for 3D and PIP. Below these are the main menu direction key and OK button and directly below this are the Menu, Source and Back keys. Finally at the bottom of the remote are direct keys for keystone, colour temp and other picture controls. All-in-all the remote is perfectly suited to the W1090 and price point.

    Features

    BenQ W1090 Features
    The BenQ W1090 is a 1080p single-chip DLP projector that is powered by a 210W UHP lamp and offers two HDMI inputs for HD devices and HDMI 2 also features MHL compatibility. The main selling point of the W1090 according to the website and PR is the sports picture mode. This is set up to highlight sporting action according to BenQ with ultra-realistic skin tones and lush green grass in the picture and WAVES audio enhancement through the built-in speakers. We have never seen a sports mode we have liked yet, so testing this one will be interesting. Most of the ones we have tested so far have had garish over the top colours and are too bright. One thing that DLP does have going for it in terms of sport is good motion control and resolution, which also helps with 3D viewing.

    Whilst most TV manufacturers are doing away with 3D playback in their latest TVs, thankfully almost all projector makers are sticking with the format and why not! Large 100-inch plus screen sizes add to the enveloping nature of 3D viewing and can pull the viewer into the ultimate in immersive experiences in the home. The BenQ W1090 is 3D capable and uses optional active glasses.
    BenQ W1090 Features
    The W1090 is also designed to be portable and used from time to time for big screen sports, gaming and 3D viewing and as such you probably don’t want to run really long HDMI cables across your viewing room. The W1090 is compatible with the optional wirelessHD system, which does away with long cable runs by transmitting your source to the projector wirelessly. We didn’t test it with the W1090 but have fully tested the system in the past and it works as intended with no major issues concerning connection break up and so on.

    The BenQ also has a short throw lens which means you can get a 100-inch screen from just 2.5 meters away from your screen or a white wall. But fan noise is an issue if you are going to place the projector close to your viewing position with 36dB in Normal lamp and 32dB in low lamp modes.

    The W1090 promises to be an excellent all-rounder with Sports, Gaming and 3D movies

    Out-of-the-Box Settings

    As with all display reviews we measured the out-of-the-box presets available, along with colour temperature and gamma selections to find the most accurate out-of-the-box settings to the industry standards. By doing this you are matching as closely as possible the image the content was mastered and graded at on your display. We used our Klein K-10A colour meter, Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and tester and CalMAN 2017 calibration software to measure the results here and in the calibrated section of the review.

    MORE: Should I get my projector professionally calibrated?

    BenQ W1090 Out-of-the-Box Settings
    BenQ W1090 Out-of-the-Box Settings

    As you can see the greyscale tracking (top left) was very good out of the box with only green tracking high from 40 ire and above and blue down over the same points. This meant that DeltaE errors from 50ire and above were over the visible threshold of 3, but when watching normal film and TV content there was no obvious colour tint to the image. Gamma also tracked quite close to our 2.4 target and rounded off an impressive greyscale out of the box.

    Colour accuracy (top right) was also very good and it is great to see that BenQ’s recent models have all managed to at least cover the Rec.709 colour gamut for HD content. Some previous DLP projectors have struggled to get as wide as Rec.709 out of the box, with green usually the issue due to the colour wheels used. However this has changed for the better and despite a few issues with hue and saturation mainly caused by the colour temperature being slightly blue/cyan biased out of the box, at the price point it is very impressive. When you consider that a professional calibration is around 50% of the price of this projector and is not cost effective, having out of the box presets capable of results similar to these does help get the best from the W1090.

    Calibrated Settings

    BenQ also have to be congratulated for including full calibration controls in all their projectors and all of them work as intended. As such it is possible to get the W1090 as accurate as possible for a budget consumer projector to the standards.
    BenQ W1090 Calibrated Settings
    BenQ W1090 Calibrated Settings

    While the graph doesn’t look super smooth (never be fooled by perfect graphs) the greyscale (top left) now tracked perfectly under the visible threshold of 3 with most DeltaE errors under 2 and gamma was now perfectly flat at 2.4 for the dark room viewing conditions. The controls for the colour temperature were quite coarse but after some light adjustments the errors were soon removed. Watching film and TV content showed up no issues at all.

    After fixing the greyscale we just needed to lightly touch up the Colour Management System (CMS) to get the colour gamut (top right) looking spot on. Tracking saturation from 25% to 100% showed how accurate the W1090 was capable of being and this didn’t affect the colour luminance (not shown in the graphs). Overall for a £700 projector the controls and image accuracy could show up some more expensive models out in the market.

    Picture Quality

    If you have read a few DLP projector reviews recently on AVForums then the picture quality summary will sound very familiar. So lets start with the weakest link and that is black levels and shadow detail which is a DLP weakness. In most dark scenes where there should be details under around 20ire on the W1090 we are met with just black areas of picture with no depth or details visible. This robs the image of depth and dynamic range and with very dark movies, it can be a challenge to make out what is going on sometimes. However this is not exclusive to this BenQ or budget DLPs in particular. Even more expensive DLP models have the same issues with blacks and shadow details, even in batcave environments, as the technology implementation is unable to show detail just above black. Mixed contrast scenes can also look flat and uninspiring as having brighter areas of the image just enhances the lacking detail to the clumps of grey where there should be deep blacks and details to be seen in the image. However, as with all display technologies you have to manage the compromises to how you will actually use the projector. In the case of the W1090 it is perfectly suited to being used in a living room with light coloured walls and ceiling and some ambient lighting. In such an environment the black levels are no longer an issue due to the lifted black floor of the room and as such you can concentrate on the positives. So, in summary, this is not a projector for a bat cave dedicated cinema room.

    Where the BenQ does excel is with big screen sports and gaming. The input lag is just 33ms as measured by our Leo Bodner device, which makes it an ideal option for big screen gaming with your mates. Given the portability it also opens up the option of taking the projector around to your mate's house or storing it away in a cupboard after use. In this role the bright and colourful images that the W1090 is capable of add to the thrill of the big screen fun. Add in excellent motion handling and no banding within the image at all and you also have the perfect big screen football display. This is also where the accurate colours and excellent greyscale add to the image quality – just keep it out of the overly garish sports/football mode, use cinema or user instead. Sharpness is good and movement is fluid, which means that as long as you dim the lights and draw the curtains, you will be treated to an excellent sporting image with decent contrast.

    If movies are your thing then there are better projectors out there for the cinephile, but if you want a great all-rounder, the BenQ offers decent images if you forgive the blacks and don’t go watching Arrival on it. Where it really excels is with 3D playback and with 100” wide images on offer you truly get that immersive 3D experience with the BenQ. Motion handling is superb which means little to no ghosting and no crosstalk at all. Plus in high lamp mode and wearing the latest (optional) glasses with lighter lenses, you are treated to very good brightness levels, which brings the 3D images to life as expected.

    As an all-rounder for portable gaming, movies and big screen sports, you can forgive the weak blacks and enjoy the other excellent image attributes that the W1090 offers. Plus, if you normally suffer from rainbow effects with DLP machines, the new RGBRGB colour wheel in the BenQ does reduce instances of this effect; so get a demo if you can.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    The Good

    • Good all rounder
    • Good picture presets that are accurate out of the box
    • Excellent 3D performance
    • Good gaming lag at 33ms
    • Very good motion for sports viewing
    • Portable and has optional wireless HD capability
    • Accurate colours and greyscale after calibration

    The Bad

    • Weak black levels and shadow details
    • Not a home cinema projector
    • Loud fan noise
    • Some rainbow effect still noticeable
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    BenQ W1090 DLP Projector Review

    There are many things to like about the current crop of budget DLP models from BenQ and the W1090 is no exception. At £700 it offers a decent performance as an all-rounder for the typical living room for big screen gaming, sports viewing and 3D movies. It has the typical poor black levels of modern DLP models and as such is not recommended for the cinephile who wants a cinematic big screen image with inky rich blacks and shadow detail. Contrast is not a strong point in a full bat cave environment for the W1090, but again that kind of misses the point of this model. Place this projector in the typical living room with light coloured walls and ceiling, along with the curtains drawn and a little ambient light and you get the best out of it. Images are bright and colourful, yet accurate and lifelike, and motion is excellent for most content. It excels at 3D playback and with a lag time of 33ms it is also a seriously big gaming display. Add in that superb motion with football or other sports and you have an excellent little, big screen star.

    As such we are really struggling to think of any all-round rival at the price point, other than other models in the BenQ stable. If DLP rainbows are an issue for you or you want a different option you could look at the Epson EH-TW5350 3LCD model which also offers good 3D, decent gaming lag at 28ms and a dynamic iris.

    Overall BenQ has produced yet another all-star in its budget DLP line-up of projectors and it comes recommended.

    MORE: Projector Reviews


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £700.00

    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

    7

    Colour Accuracy

    9

    Greyscale Accuracy

    9

    Image Uniformity

    8

    Video Processing

    8

    2D Picture Quality

    8

    3D Picture Quality

    9

    Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

    7

    Picture Quality Calibrated

    8

    Features

    7

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Build Quality

    7

    Value For Money

    8

    Verdict

    8

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