Tight on budget and short on space? BenQ has the answer.
What is the BenQ W770ST?
No doubt many people would love to have a home cinema but, sadly, reality usually gets in the way.It's difficult for the average person to justify dedicating an entire room of their house for use as a home cinema and even harder to get such an idea past unconvinced partners. The normal compromise is to install a bright projector in the lounge and thus retain the room for multiple purposes. However, what if you had a room in your house that could be used as a dedicated home cinema but it was a little on the small side? Well when space is at a premium the easiest solution is to get a projector with a short throw lens. That way you can position the projector very near the screen but still be able project a decent sized image.The BenQ W770ST - the ST suffix refers to the projector's short throw lens - could be the solution for anyone who finds themselves in a situation where space is limited. At less than £500 it won't break the bank either, making the W770 ideal for anyone on a tight budget or who wants to try big screen projection before committing to a more expensive model. The BenQ is only 720p but that shouldn't be an issue unless you're sat very close to the screen and, in all other respects, it's quite well specified, especially when you consider the price. So lets move our projector stand closer to the screen and see how the W770ST performs.
Design and ConnectionsThe W770ST uses BenQ's standard trapezoidal chassis with a two-tone gloss white and dark grey finish. The lens is offset to the right and a large intake vent is positioned 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 325 x 114 x 253mm and clocks in at 2.7kgs.
The short throw nature of the W770ST was obvious from the degree of curvature on the lens itself and there are manual lens controls directly above the light path assembly. There are the usual controls for zoom and focus but no lens shift, so careful positioning is important. 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.
All the connections are at the rear and there's an impressive number for what is a budget 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, an RS232 connector for system control and a three-pin power connector.
The provided remote control is annoyingly small and fiddly to use, whilst the absence of any backlight makes finding the correct tiny button a real challenge in the dark. Thankfully there aren't that many, so we got used to it quite quickly but if you have large hands get ready for some frustration. However all the key controls are present and correct, so once you're familiar with the layout, you shouldn't have to many problems. Besides once the W770ST is setup, you'll only really use the remote to turn the projector on and off.
The design is simple but effective, whilst the build quality is reasonable for a projector this cheap.
MenusThe W77ST uses 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. 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 and Brilliant Colour that increases the colour luminance. 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.
The out-of-the-box performance was good, with decent greyscale and colour accuracy.
We've reviewed enough BenQ projectors now to know that the User 1 picture mode with the Cinema preset as a reference point will give us the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements. We used a colour temperature of Warm, which came closest to the industry standard of D65 and we selected a gamma of 2.2. We also turned off the Clarity Control and Brilliant Colour features, whilst a Sharpness setting of 7 appeared to neither sharpen nor soften the image. You can find our detailed recommended settings here.
As the graph above left shows, there was too much red and blue energy and not enough green; the errors weren't huge but they did give images a slight magenta tinge. However, the gamma was tracking at 2.3 for most of the curve which is excellent. The graph above right shows the colour performance which was also quite good, with luminance measuring accurately and the overall errors mostly around the threshold of three. The only errors worth noting were in the hue of red and green, both of which were skewed towards yellow, although this is consistent with other BenQ projectors we've reviewed.
The two-point white balance control proved to be very effective and we quickly 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, whilst the gamma was still tracking around our 2.3 target. The colour management system (CMS) wasn't quite as effective and we were unable to fully correct the hue error in green or the saturation error in blue. As the graph below shows there was a better story at lower saturations, with most colours close to their targets apart from some under-saturation in red. Although the saturation of green was reasonably accurate, the skewed hue measurements were apparent, resulting in a slight yellow push to green.Video Processing
Since the W770ST is a 720p projector, the video processing is even more important than normal because no matter what you're watching, the projector is almost always either scaling it up (for standard definition content) or scaling down (for high definition content). Thankfully, the video processing was actually very good and we found it correctly scaled standard definition content without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. It also had no problems detecting both 2:2 (PAL - European) cadence and 2:3 (NTSC - US) cadence. The W770ST also performed well when it came to high definition material, scaling the higher resolution content down to match the projector's 1280 x 720 panel. With the player set to 1080i, it deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests well and displayed a good overall performance with the minimum of processing artefacts. The W770ST also had no difficulties showing video text overlaid on high definition film based material and it handled 24p content without any problems.
BenQ W770ST Video Review
BenQ W770ST Picture QualityAs we mentioned earlier, the video processing on the W770ST is important because practically all the content you watch will require some form of scaling to match the 1280 x 720 panel. Thankfully the BenQ was up to the task and when set up correctly, the images it produces are certainly detailed enough to please anyone who plans to use it on a 6 to 7 foot screen. The use of a short throw lens also didn't appear to cause any aberrations to the image, as long as you positioned the W770ST carefully. What's more the image accuracy out-of-the-box is very good, so even after a basic setup the W770ST can deliver pictures that will quickly make you forget its a budget model. It might be difficult to justify a professional calibration at this price point but it's good to see that BenQ has included a two point white balance and a colour management system, allowing those who are able, to get an excellent level of accuracy from the projector.
Of course since the W770ST is a single chip DLP projector which means it uses a colour wheel so, if you suffer from 'rainbows', you should definitely demo before buying. The colour and greyscale accuracy go a long way towards delivering a great image and the inherent brightness of the W770 means it can deliver a punchy picture, making it ideal for use in brighter environments. As is always the case with DLP projectors, the motion handling was excellent, with smooth pans and no smearing or loss of detail; whilst the use of a single chip means no convergence issues and sharper pictures. Thanks to the excellent video processing both standard and high definition images appeared clean and free from any obvious scaling artefacts and whilst not pin-sharp they certainly looked impressive for a sub-£500 projector. There was minimal light spill through the air vents and the fan noise wasn't distracting, although depending on how close you sit to the W770ST, you might hear the colour wheel.
When watching actual material the W770ST delivered a solid all-round performance, producing images that were big, bright and detailed. Unsurprisingly for a DLP projector the blacks were mediocre and shadow detail limited but this will be less of an issue in rooms with light coloured walls. What impressed us most were the natural-looking colours, the lack of convergence issues and the excellent motion handling that was free of smearing. With standard definition content, including both DVDs and TV broadcasts, the upscaling was handled well and the results had a clean and well defined appearance. When we moved on to high definition broadcasts and Blu-rays the results were even better, with plenty of detail despite the lower resolution panel. With the beautifully shot exteriors in Ridley Scott's The Counsellor and the W770ST did a great job of bringing them to life, whilst the colourful animation in Frozen was equally well served.
The W770ST can also support 3D, although you will have to buy the glasses separately of course. Unfortunately BenQ's PR company neglected to provide any glasses with the review sample but, based upon our experiences with BenQ projectors and DLP projectors in general, we would expect the 3D performance to be very good. In general we have found BenQ projectors able to deliver impressive 3D with bright images, great motion handling and absolutely no crosstalk.
The W770ST delivered a very enjoyable big screen image, with natural-looking colours and great motion.
- Excellent greyscale performance
- Impressive motion handling
- Decent video processing
- Useful if space is limited
- Bright images
- Not Full HD
- Mediocre Blacks
- Limited shadow detail
- Rainbow artefacts
- Some fan and colour wheel noise
- No lens shift
BenQ W770ST 720p DLP Projector ReviewThe W770ST is aimed at a very specific segment of the market and thus it won't be for everyone. However if you find yourself in a position where space is tight, then the short throw lens could come in handy. It's also very reasonably priced so, if your budget is limited, the BenQ could be a good choice for those wanting to try big screen projection before committing to a more expensive model. Despite the sub-£500 price point, the build quality is decent and the lens itself worked well at projecting big images without introducing any unwanted aberrations. The remote control is small and fiddly but the menu system is clear and easy to navigate, making setup quick and simple. There's a reasonable set of connections at the rear, including two HDMI inputs along with a host of legacy connectors.
The out-of-the-box performance was quite good, with minor errors in the greyscale and a surprising amount of colour accuracy. This could be improved further with the available calibration controls, resulting in an excellent performance in terms of overall image accuracy. The video processing was excellent, which is just as well because the W770ST uses a 1280 x 720 panel, meaning almost all the content you watch will be scaled in some way. When it came to watching actual content the BenQ performed very well, delivering big and bright images that had natural-looking colours and great motion handling. Despite the lower resolution panel, the single-chip design means no convergence issues and, as long as you were sat at a sensible distance, the images appeared sharp and detailed.
Of course this being a DLP projector, the blacks were mediocre and shadow detail was limited but this will be less of an issue if the W770ST is being used in a room with light coloured walls. The single-chip design means that the BenQ uses a colour wheel, so those that are susceptible to rainbows are advised to demo or consider other projector technologies. It also means that the combination of the fans and the colour wheel can be noisy at times but at least the light spill through the air vents is minimal. However overall the BenQ W770ST is a solid budget projector and if space or price is an issue, then this particular model is certainly worth considering.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels6
2D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money9
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