It's deja vu all over again with BenQ's W1300 DLP projector
What is the BenQ W1300?
BenQ make a surprisingly large number of home entertainment projectors but, if we're being honest, it's sometimes difficult to tell one from another.The manufacturer appears to use two main chassis types, which is understandable because economies of scale and standardisation help keep the costs, and thus the price, down. We're all for cheaper products but it does mean that many of their projectors appear to have exactly the same design and features as a lot of their other projectors. It would seem that BenQ are either trying to fill very specific gaps in the market with their line-up or just rolling out the same basic package with a different model number from time to time.A case in point is the W1300, which is a single-chip DLP projector that looks, in terms of design and features, almost identical to many of their other projectors. Still we've generally found that BenQ's projectors offer solid performance at an attractive price and at least the W1300 appears to follow that trend. It's a 3D 1080p projector that uses DarkChip3 DLP technology, includes a pair of 3D glasses and even has calibration controls certified by the ISF. Not bad for £849, so maybe standardisation has its benefits.
Design and ConnectionsAs far as the design of the W1300 is concerned, it's business as usual with BenQ's standard two-tone gloss white and dark silver chassis. The look is all angles and curves, with the lens offset to the right and a large intake vent on the front left. There's an exhaust port on the right hand side of the chassis and a built-in, and somewhat pointless, speaker on the left hand side. The build quality is decent enough, with the chassis made of hardened plastic and in terms of dimensions and weight, it measures 330 x 257 x 128mm and clocks in at 3.4kgs.
The lens is fairly small and cheap, although at this price point you really couldn't expect anything else. There are manual lens controls directly above the light path assembly and, along with the usual controls for zoom and focus, there's also a lens shift which is a welcome addition. There is a foot at the front that can be used to angle the projector upwards and there are two adjustable feet at the rear that can be used angle it down slightly or level the image. However if you do have to angle the projector, don't be tempted to use keystone adjustment as the scaling will rob the image of detail.
The design is fairly standard for BenQ, with the welcome addition of a manual lens shift.
All the connections are at the rear and it's a fairly standard selection for a modern projector - there are two HDMI inputs, a VGA connector, a component video input and a composite video input. Since there is a built-in speaker you also get 3.5mm analogue audio in and out jacks, along with an analogue L/R stereo input. Finally there is a mini-USB port and an RS232 connector for system control, a 12V trigger and a three-pin power connector.
The provided remote control is a small white affair but it's comfortable to hold and easy to use. All the main controls are present and correct, with buttons for on/off, input selection and menu navigation. There are also buttons for directly accessing certain calibration controls, as well as the User modes. Our only real complaint is that due to the size, you will sometimes hit the wrong button by mistake. For example, we occasionally blanked the screen by accidentally hitting Eco Blank instead of the Left navigation key. The W1300 comes with a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, which is a nice touch at this price point. The glasses use RF to sync and are reasonably light and comfortable to wear, with large lenses that can fit over prescription specs.
MenusThe W1300 has a simple but reasonably informative menu system that is composed of six basic pages - Picture, Audio Setup, Display, System Setup: Basic, System Setup: Advanced and Information. In the Picture menu there are a number of predefined Picture Modes - Dynamic, Standard, Cinema and User 1 & 2. There is also what BenQ call the Reference Mode, which can use any of the Picture Modes as a starting point and can then be fine-tuned in the User Picture Modes. If you enable the ISF feature you also get two more modes - ISF Day and ISF Night, although the available controls remain the same. There are also all the standard picture controls such as Brightness, Contrast, Colour, Tint and Sharpness.
In terms of more advanced calibration controls, you can select the Colour Temperature with a choice of Normal, Cool, Lamp Native and Warm. There is also the option to fine tune the colour temperature using a two-point White Balance control and a Gamma Selection, ranging from 1.6 to 2.8. There are features such as the Clarity Control that adjusts noise reduction, Brilliant Colour that increases the colour luminance and a control for setting the Black Level. Finally there is a Colour Management System (CMS) with control over the Hue (tint), Saturation (colour) and Gain (luminance or brightness) of all three primary colours and all three secondary colours. In terms of aspect ratio, if the majority of your viewing content is high definition then choose Real, which is BenQ's name for their pixel mapping mode.
The W1300 has a surprisingly comprehensive set of calibration controls.
Unsurprisingly the Cinema picture mode proved to be the most accurate and so we used that for our out-of-the-box measurements. We chose a colour temperature of Warm, which came closest to the industry standard of D65 and we selected a gamma of 2.5. We also turned off the Clarity Control and Brilliant Colour features, whilst a Sharpness setting of 8 appeared to neither sharpen nor soften the image. We nudged the Brightness up a few notches, the Contrast down a few and left the other controls at their default settings.
As the graph above left shows, there is too much red energy in the greyscale and not enough blue; the errors aren't huge but they do give images a slight red tinge. However choosing any of the other presets resulted in an image with far too much blue in it, so Warm gets closest to D65. The gamma was actually tracking at 2.4, although there was a slight dip to 2.25 in the part of the image just above black. The graph above right shows the colour performance which was quite good, with luminance measuring accurately and the overall errors at, or below, the threshold of three. The only error really worth noting was in the hue of green, which is skewed towards yellow, although this isn't unusual for a projector that uses a colour wheel.
The two-point white balance control proved to be very effective and after only a few minutes we had the greyscale tracking at our target of 100 with equal amounts of red, green and blue. As a result the errors were now all below one, which means that they are imperceptible to the human eye. The gamma still had a slight dip just above black but otherwise this is an excellent greyscale performance. The colour management system (CMS) wasn't quite as effective and we were unable to correct the hue error in green but otherwise all the other colours had overall errors that were well below the threshold of three. As the graph below shows this was a similar story at lower saturations, with most colours close to their targets apart from some under-saturation in red. However although the saturation of green was reasonably accurate, the skewed hue measurements are very apparent, resulting in a yellow push to green in particular.
The video processing in the W1300 was reasonably good and it accurately scaled the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. It also correctly detected both 3:2 (NTSC - US and Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) cadence and it had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, which was always clearly readable without any shredding. The W1300 was also good in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i it correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed good scaling and filtering performance, as well as good resolution enhancement. With 1080i material the W1300 had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems.
The bright, detailed images are great for gaming.
Picture Quality 2DThe W1300 was capable of delivering a bright and highly detailed image thanks to its single-chip technology and, in general, the greyscale and colour performance was very accurate, especially after calibration. The inherent brightness makes the BenQ ideal for rooms with light coloured walls and the setup was simple thanks to the lens controls. Whilst not having some of the handy features found on more expensive projectors, the W1300 would be ideal for anyone looking for a projector to quickly setup and use for big events (movie nights, football matches, gaming sessions).
As is the case with any single-chip DLP projector, it inherits the strengths and weaknesses of this particular technology. The images are always bright and contain loads of detail, whilst the motion handling is excellent. Conversely, the blacks and shadow detail are mediocre meaning that the W1300 isn't a good choice for a bat cave. The other major issue is that the use of a colour wheel can result in rainbow artefacts for some people, although the W1300 didn't suffer from this as much as other DLP projectors at the lower end of the price range. The combination of the fans and colour wheel could also get quite noisy, whilst the W1300 puts out a lot of heat and there is some light spill from the chassis.
During the course of testing we tried a range of material and found that the W1300 performed well with both standard and high definition content, although, as always, it was Blu-rays that looked the best. In Fast and Furious 6 the daylight race scenes looked great, with accurate colours, great motion handling and clean and detailed images. The night time scenes weren't quite as impressive but the W1300 still managed to deliver an enjoyable big screen experience. The area where the BenQ really excelled was gaming, with the bright and detailed images helping to immersive you in the environment and the lag appearing to be quite low, making for a more responsive experience. Certainly playing Grand Theft Auto V on a large screen makes for hugely entertaining session of murder and mayhem.
Picture Quality 3DIf there's one area where DLP is streets ahead of the competition its 3D, with the technology able to take full advantage of its inherent strengths to deliver a really impressive experience. The W1300 was no exception, producing large 3D images that were detailed and bright, with great motion handling and completely free of crosstalk. As a result there were no distracting artefacts or problems to detract from the performance and watching 3D on a big screen makes it a vastly more immersive experience. We also noticed that rainbow artefacts appear to be almost entirely eliminated when wearing the glasses for 3D.
We started by watching the IMAX Space Station 3D Blu-ray, which has some quite extreme depth in certain shots but the W1300 handled them perfectly. Then we moved on to some animated 3D movies such as Epic and Planes, which were also rendered by the BenQ with an impressive level of depth and dimensionality. Finally we moved on to some live(ish) action 3D movies, like Avatar and The Hobbit both of which retained a natural looking image, despite the impact of the glasses. Certainly if you're looking for a relatively cheap projector for watching 3D, then the W1300 would fit the bill nicely.
The 3D was great, with plenty of depth and not a hint of crosstalk.
- Impressive greyscale after calibration
- Excellent motion handling
- Decent video processing
- Great 3D performance
- Sharp and detailed picture
- Bright images
- Lens shift for easier installation
- Mediocre Blacks
- Limited shadow detail
- Rainbow artefacts
- Fans and colour wheel are noisy
BenQ W1300 3D DLP Projector ReviewWhilst BenQ may offer a bewildering array of choice when it comes to their home entertainment projectors, they do at least appear to be refining the performance. The manufacturer has certainly addressed some of the issues we found on previous models and the W1300 delivers a lot of performance for a very attractive price. It's a single-chip DLP projector, so as always there are certain strengths and weaknesses. The images are bright and detailed, accuracy and processing were good, whilst the motion handling was excellent. Conversely the black levels and shadow detail were mediocre, the colour wheel and fans could be noisy and some people will suffer from rainbow artefacts.
However, the overall performance and the simplicity in setting it up, make the BenQ ideal for people who don't want a permanently installed projector. The brightness is great for rooms with light coloured walls and the W1300 especially lends itself to big screen gaming and immersive 3D thanks to its relative strengths. We wouldn't recommend putting the BenQ into a dedicated home cinema but if you're looking for a good all round projector that is flexible and effective in normal living rooms, then the W1300 might be just the ticket.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality10
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
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