Short throw home cinema at a budget price...
What is the BenQ W1110?This is BenQ’s latest in a long line of single-chip DLP projectors available for under £1,000 and is the replacement for the W1070 model that was very popular with members of AVForums. The body design hasn’t changed very much with the lens offset to the right side of the chassis and the exhaust to the left. It uses short-throw range technology offering a 100” screen size from around 2.5 metres, along with limited lens shift and manual zoom and focus controls. There are two HDMI inputs as well as the option to purchase and use the BenQ wireless HDMI kit which allows the use of sources at the opposite end of the room from the projector without any wires.
The W1110 is designed to be easy to set up and use for the novice, but also includes full professional calibration controls and menus certified by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), so it should suit a wide range of users. Is it good enough for critical movie viewing or is it more of an all-rounder? Let’s find out.
Design, Connections and Control
The body of the BenQ W1110 is made from good quality plastic with a silver front facia and gloss white finish to the rest of the body. The chassis is a traditional BenQ design layout with the lens to the right side of the front plate (looking from the front) with the hot air exhaust to the left front and side. There are also air intake vents along the right side and stereo speakers built-in on the left and right sections of the rear panel.
On the top plate we have a set of menu controls to the rear left (from the front) and to the front right above the lens is a plastic cover which closes to hide the manual controls for zoom and focus on the lens body. Also under this cover is the +10% vertical lens shift dial to add a little more flexibility to set up. We would always recommend correct alignment of the projector to the screen so that the use of adjustment controls is minimal to help with image quality. This obviously means never using the +40% keystone correction. Just one click can take away fine detail from the image and cause other artefacts with more extreme inputs. So spending some time ensuring the W1110 is installed optimally can produce the best image quality possible.
Around the back of the BenQ we have a good selection of inputs that should keep most users happy. We have two HDMI inputs along with component, composite and VGA/PC video connections. There are also Type A and B USB slots and an RS232C port. To each side of the connections board are the speaker enclosures with RCA audio inputs and 3.5mm audio in and outs also present on the rear panel. Finally there is the power socket.
Controlling everything is a small white remote control that is completely backlit in red light to help with use in a dark room. In the centre are the directional keys and OK button and below these are the Menu, Back and Source keys which means everything you will ever need is easily reachable in the central area of the remote. There are direct image setting buttons at the bottom of the remote but we found it just as easy to go through the main menus, given the easy layout of the remote. Because it is small it also sits easily in your hand and yet has enough weight to also make it feel sturdy and well put together.
Features and Specs
The W1110 is a single-chip DLP model which uses a six-speed, six-segment (RGBRGB) colour wheel and as the chassis internals have been redesigned for better airflow the projector also boasts a better noise floor level of 27dB in Eco mode, which does make it slightly quieter than previous BenQ models. It is still rather loud when compared to the best (and more expensive) projectors like the Sony and JVC models which typically range around 20-22dB and are considered to be pretty quiet, so if you are placing the BenQ close to the listening position, it would be worth hearing it for yourself before any purchase. Ceiling mounted or more than a few feet away it shouldn’t be an issue. As well as the noise improvements, the colour wheel setup is designed to combat the well-known rainbow effect (flashes of bright colours around fast moving objects) which affects some people. There are still instances of rainbow effects seen during our time with the W1110, but it was never during direct viewing of material, it was more when moving your head to the side to pick up the remote or similar where we noticed it. But we would always recommend testing your susceptibility (and that of your family members) before shelling out for one.
With an impressive 1.3:1 zoom ratio you can get a 100-inch image size from just 2.5m away from your screen, which means that the W1110 will provide excellent big screen images within most rooms. There is further living room appeal with the use of the optional Wireless 1080P HDMI transmitter and receiver so that you can use sources at one end of your room, and place the projector at the opposite end without running any long HDMI cables. BenQ didn’t supply the Wireless kit with the W1110 but we have tested the system fully in the past and it works well.
Sadly the Rec.709 colour performance that was available on the recently reviewed BenQ W2000 is not present here, which means we expect the colours available from the W1110 will be less saturated than that model. This is because at this price point there are very few DLP projectors that can reach the Rec.709 colour points, with green being the least accurate of all the colours, due to the colour wheel. This is inherent with the technology and is no fault of BenQ, much like the mediocre black levels and lack of shadow detail which are also weaknesses of the technology. But then we also have the positives of DLP and that is usually excellent motion, real sharpness and impressive 3D performance, plus the brightness on offer usually means that projectors like this feel right at home in rooms with less than ideal light control. In such environments the issues we have with the lacking shadow detail and black levels are no longer major problems in picture quality terms. As the W1110 is likely to spend the vast amount of its time in such rooms it should perform well.
We mentioned 3D above and while TV manufacturers might be falling out of love with the technology, projectors are still by far the best way to experience it. We have always found that DLP projectors are amongst the best in terms of motion and lack of crosstalk and with triple flash technology now available at this price point, the W1110 should also offer excellent 3D images. You will however have to purchase the glasses to use the feature and as they are active they are a little more costly than passive models. Depending on how big it is, buying glasses could start getting expensive if you want a pair for every member of your family.
Finally we have ISFccc certification with the inclusion of a number of calibration controls and it is interesting that BenQ have brought this type of certification to this price point. However we doubt many owners will be splashing out over a third of the purchase price on a professional visit, so we will look at the best out-of-the-box settings instead.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsWe measured all the different combinations available for the picture settings and decided to go with User 1 for the picture mode, Normal for the colour temperature and 2.4 for the gamma selection. We switched off any functions that would affect picture quality, like brilliant colour and also set the brightness, contrast and lamp power for our room conditions. These proved to be the best settings out-of-the-box for the W1110 for TV and movie viewing.
For the greyscale we selected Normal which might seem strange to regular review readers as we normally go with Warm; however on this sample the Warm setting was just too warm and yellow, with skin tones looking odd. Normal turned out to be the most accurate as every other selection (like Lamp native and Cool), were too blue. As you can see (top left) we have up to 5% too much green in the lighter end of the greyscale along with a similar deficit of red and blue, without any major drift. The tracking is generally good and DeltaE errors are higher in the lighter end of the scale without any major issues seen on screen with actual viewing material. Most users would be happy and not notice any colour tint. Gamma also tracked very well at 2.4 and added the necessary depth to images giving them a nice pop.
As you can see with the colour gamut results (top right) we have a restricted gamut which doesn’t fully extend and cover the Rec.709 standard for HD viewing. Green and Cyan are the main issue and this is a direct result of the DLP technology and the colour wheel, with major hue and saturation errors. We also have under saturated reds as well as hue errors with magenta. Only blue and yellow track anywhere close to where they should be. Even though there is a full ISF certified Colour Management System (CMS) in the menus, we can’t add back what is not there to start with and, as the whole gamut is restricted against the Rec.709 standard, we can only try to massage certain points to improve performance. Out-of-the-box image wise we have to accept that most colours are under saturated and off hue, but with most onscreen viewing material and given the target market for this BenQ, we think that with the majority of users these issues will largely be missed. However, it does dampen the appeal of using the W1110 in a home cinema only application.
CalibrationWe fully tested and calibrated the W1110 with our trusted CalMAN 5 software and used the Murideo Fresco Six-G to generate multiple frame rates and test patterns to help with testing and calibration. Using the included ISFccc calibration controls we made an attempt to try and improve the image quality on the BenQ W1110. We used the two point white balance controls to correct the greyscale (bottom left) and get it tracking properly. The controls are quite coarse in use, so it took a little work to get the DeltaE errors under 2 with the greyscale tracking correctly and gamma at 2.4 is perfect. As the greyscale is the backbone of all image quality it is paramount that we can always correct this or that it tracks as accurately as possible out-of-the-box and both results here are very good.
There is a full CMS system on board and while we could do little to correct Cyan and Green at 100% saturation points due to the restricted gamut we were able to correct errors in the saturation of the Red and Magenta points and also get green tracking better at 75% and below (top right). As we have already stated, we can’t add back what doesn’t already exist, so Green and Cyan are stuck where they are, but because the other points were within the gamut, it was possible to massage them back to more accurate points. This worked without any artefacts being introduced into the image and the results were visible onscreen with every day viewing material. It’s a shame the W1110 is not equipped with the same W2000 colour wheel coatings to get better results, but the picture quality on the W1110 is very watchable, if not 100% accurate.
Picture QualityAs with all budget DLP single-chip projector reviews we will get the black levels out of the way first and on the W1110 they are the usual mediocre dark grey variety with a lack of any low end shadow details. We have come to accept this level of black from the recent DLPs we have reviewed and it is certainly down to the technology and its implementation. Below 20ire everything becomes the same shade of grey/light black tone in a light controlled room and even employing an ND filter can’t bring back lost shadow detail. It is to be expected at this price point and to be honest, when you switch from bat cave to normal light coloured living room with no way to fully block out ambient light, the black levels are not as big an issue. In such use the plus points in the image tend to mask any issues we have with the lack of black and shadow detail. If we also take into consideration the intended market point that this projector is aimed at, we shouldn’t be too hard on the W1110’s lack of black.
Talking about the market level and intended use also highlights why the colour performance is nowhere near accurate to the HD Rec.709 standards. This is not a unit for use in a dedicated cinema room for critical movie watching, there are far better examples to hunt out, like the Sony HW40 and even BenQ’s own W2000 if the budget is tight. The W1110 is more of an all-rounder and as such the colours are bright and vibrant if not necessarily very accurate and points to use as a home entertainment projector for gaming, big screen sports and the occasional blockbuster movie. In this role we think that the brightness of the image, the motion and the 3D performance on offer at the price point is very good indeed. This makes sense for a machine that you hide away in a cupboard and take out for big screen use on a special occasion, with wireless HDMI HD signals via the optional kit, and aim at a white wall for a screen.
With the testing we carried out, the W1110 gave a passable performance with movie playback, making sure to switch off sharpness to avoid plastic looking faces and details. Once set up correctly the 20th Anniversary of Bad Boys on Blu-ray looked very good with the yellow tones of sunny Miami and the loud 90’s fashions popping from the screen. Sharpness of the lens was also very good with no obvious drawbacks or lack of focus across the entire image, everything looked uniformly sharp. With image uniformity we also saw no evidence of colour shifts across the screen or to the edges. Even the out-of-the-box greyscale results didn’t show up any colour tint in viewing tests. Fast moving motion was also excellent with Blu-ray playback and 24p material being handled correctly and the video processing was excellent with everything we tested.
Another major plus point for single chip DLP projectors is 3D playback. While most of the major TV manufacturers are quietly dropping the format due to a lack of interest from the public, projectors can still offer the best out of the technology. We watched most of Man of Steel in 3D and the brightness and motion on offer with the W1110 really helped to provide some excellent 3D image quality. In 3D mode the image on screen can look very bright and has a slight red cast, but when the tint of the glasses are added it really helps bring the colour performance and blacks to life with 3D content. Crosstalk is still present in some scenes, but it is very occasional and doesn’t stand out or detract from the experience on offer. Overall the performance of the W1110 with 3D material is a real highlight for this projector and it is certainly worth negotiating to get some glasses included if you decide this is the projector for you.
Finally we have the gaming performance and this is another area where the lack of image accuracy is forgotten about when you have bright punchy colours and excellent motion performance on offer. Gaming input lag is also impressive with a Leo Bodnar measurement of just 33ms which should keep even the most competitive gamer happy and for the majority of gamers will likely be unnoticeable. This again highlights the intended use of this projector and its strong points with 3D and Gaming use. We also watched some fast moving football on the W1110 and again it highlighted the home entertainment plus points of the BenQ and in such circumstances it is a strong performer.
- Bright images
- Very Good Motion
- Good Video Processing
- Very Good 3D playback
- Good input lag for gaming
- Inaccurate colour performance compared to Rec.709
- Mediocre Blacks
- Missing shadow detail
- Some rainbow effect
BenQ W1110 DLP Projector ReviewMuch like the majority of the BenQ DLP single-chip projector line-up the W1110 is not a dedicated home cinema model and is more of a home entertainment product that is suited to a wide range of uses. In terms of critical movie viewing the projector has too many issues with weak black levels, poor shadow detail and inaccurate colour performance to recommend it for such use. However, given the right material the W1110 offers an excellent cost effective way to introduce occasional big screen viewing in to your home.
Gamers will benefit from the excellent input lag time, good motion and short throw offering a big image to lose yourself in. Colours are also vivid enough to further enhance the gaming performance where accuracy is not necessary. The 3D performance is also excellent with good motion, limited instances of crosstalk and natural looking colour with the dark lensed active glasses. There is no doubt this is the high point of the W1110's performance. The intended use is for occasional big screen gaming, sports and 3D viewing and will suit those who are happy to keep the projector in a cupboard and bring it out for big screen use, probably on a white wall with no need for an actual screen. For such use we can recommend the W1110 as a strong performer in those areas with very bright images with good motion. With the Euros and Olympics on the way this summer the W1110 would be a perfect example of a cost effective big screen option for those special events.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated8
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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