Design and Connections
The lens is offset to the right and is quite small and cheap but then at this price point you really couldn't expect anything else. There are manual zoom and focus rotary controls which can be accessed at the top of the projector but we found them to be a real pain to actually use. Unusually for a budget DLP projector there is also a lens shift control which is also at the top, under a sliding cover. The control is adjusted using a screwdriver and whilst the amount of shift is only small (about 10% up or down), it certainly makes installation easier. The W1070 has a limited amount of optical zoom and has clearly been designed to be used in smaller rooms, which makes sense. There is a foot at the front that can be used to angle the projector upwards and tone at the right rear that can be used to angle it down slightly or level the chassis. However if you do angle the projector, don't be tempted to use keystone adjustment as the scaling will rob the image of detail. At the top rear of the chassis there is a basic control panel, just in case you lose the remote control.
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, a composite video input and unusually these days a S-Video input. Since there is a built-in speaker you also get 3.5mm audio in and out jacks, along with a L/R stereo input. Finally there is a mini-USB port, a 12V trigger and an RS232 connector for system control, along with a three-pin power connector. We found that the W1070 could be a little slow at HDMI handshaking but it didn't have any problems locating all the attached devices.
For some strange reason, despite aiming the W1070 at the home cinema market, BenQ has included a tiny and frankly hopeless remote control. Not only is it too small to easily use, unless you're a child or a little person, but the button layout is unintuitive. For example the menu button is at the top left hand corner above the navigation buttons, whilst the button for blanking the screen is at the bottom left hand corner. So not only was the menu button hard to locate when setting the W1070 up but we often found ourselves blanking the screen by accident. There is also no backlight, making the remote even harder to use in the dark. BenQ provided a perfectly adequate remote control with the W1060, so we don't understand why the W1070 has been saddled with this lame duck.
It would seem that whilst most other manufacturers are making their glasses smaller, lighter and with minimal tint to the lenses, BenQ has gone slightly retro and not in a good way. We haven't seen a pair of 3D glasses this big or heavy in some time but since the lenses are quite dark, if you ever get bored of 3D they could double as welding goggles. We found the glasses to be quite heavy to wear for long periods of time and they can't be folded up, making them difficult to store; in addition, they use two batteries for some reason. On the plus side their large size means they can fit comfortably over prescription glasses, whilst the frames and sides are effective at blocking out ambient light. Just like with the remote control, we feel a redesign might be in order when it comes to the 3D glasses. We should point out that the W1070 doesn't come with glasses included, so they will need to be bought separately.
As you can see from the RGB Balance chart above left, the Normal colour temperature setting has too much green in it and not enough red or blue. As a result there were some sizeable DeltaE errors, with images in general and whites in particular showing a slight green tinge to them. If you look at the CIE Chart on the top right, you can see that white is skewed towards green and away from its target of D65. Aside from a dip at 10 IRE, the gamma curve was tracking quite closely to our 2.2 target. The inclusion of a two-point white balance control should allow us to correct the greyscale. In terms of the colour gamut, most of the colours are overly bright in terms of luminance and red, blue and yellow are also over-saturated in terms of colour. The biggest problem appears to be a sizeable error in the hue of green, along with some under-saturation, which might be difficult to correct even with a colour management system.
As it turned out calibrating the greyscale was quite easy, all we needed to do was drop the green gain control down a few notches and the results were basically perfect. As you can see in the RGB Balance chart above, all three primary colours are measuring in equal amounts at our target of 100. As a result the errors are all below one, there was no discolouration in the greyscale and white was hitting the industry standard of D65. The gamma curve was also measuring at our target of 2.2, apart from a slight dip at 10 IRE and a slight bump at 90 IRE. Overall this is an excellent greyscale and gamma performance from a projector at this price point.
The inclusion of a colour management system is great news as it allowed us to improve the colour accuracy considerably. We were able to get the luminance measurements spot on for all the colours, which is a good start as that is the element of colour to which our eyes are most sensitive. We also managed to get all the hue errors below the tolerance level of three and the same for the colour measurements of red, magenta and yellow. There was still an under-saturation in green and an over-saturation in blue that we were unable to fully correct, which in turn affected cyan. Unfortunately, this under-saturation in green appeared to be a limitation of the W1070's native colour gamut but most of the colours were hitting their targets for Rec.709. However the overall errors were all at or below the threshold at which our eyes can distinguish errors. When watching normal content, greens were perhaps slightly muted but overall this is an excellent colour performance from a budget projector.
We use the saturation sweeps to look for issues that might not present themselves at 100% but could be apparent at less saturated levels such as 25, 50 or 70%. Overall the W1070 performed very well, with blue, cyan, magenta and yellow all tracking close to their targets. Unsurprisingly given that it was under-saturated at 100%, green was also under-saturated at 75 and 50%. Perhaps more interestingly, despite being spot on at 100%, red was under-saturated at all the lower measurement points. However, there were no hideous errors lurking at the lower saturation points and overall this is a good performance from a budget projector.
Brightness, Black Levels and Dynamic Range
Rather surprisingly for a budget projector with a data grade history, it wasn't that bright as we were expecting and in the Economic lamp mode we were only getting around 900 lumens. If you switched to the Normal lamp mode, the brightness increased to 1,100 lumens but it was still a long way from the claimed 2,000 lumens. In our blacked out test environment, the Economic lamp mode was bright enough, giving us better looking blacks and allowing us to use the Normal lamp mode for 3D content. If you're using the W1070 in a room with white walls or ceiling, you might want to use the Normal lamp mode, as the added brightness will be useful and the fan noise doesn't increase by much. There is also a SmartEco lamp mode which tries to improve the blacks and perceived dynamic range by adjusting the brightness depending on what's on screen. We found this feature resulted in crude jumps in brightness and increased noise, so it's best avoided.
The W1070 performed well in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i, the projector 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 projector had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. The one area where the W1070 fell down was the Dynamic Range High test showing video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). This test revealed that the W1070 was clipping all three primary colours and white, thus losing detail above video level 235. Whilst it would be nice to be able to see all the way up to peak white, because otherwise you might lose some detail in bright whites, it isn't a problem and certainly wouldn't adversely affect the projector's overall performance.
2D - Picture Performance
Of course it isn't perfect and the mediocre black levels mentioned in the test section meant that dark scenes sometimes suffered. However, whilst the W1070 might struggle with absolute blacks, it performed very well when showing dark and light within the same scene, delivering a great intra-frame contrast ratio. This is another strength of DLP and is often overlooked when people talk on/off contrast ratios or absolute black levels. The surprising lack of brightness did limit the dynamic range somewhat, so the W1070 will struggle to light up a big screen. The major problem with single-chip DLP projectors are flashes of colour or rainbows, artefacts caused by the use of a colour wheel, to which some people are susceptible. If you're one of those people then the W1070 might not be for you. Overall though, the W1070 was able to produce some lovely images and when watching recent Blu-ray purchases like Les Miserables, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, we were pleased to see clean and detailed images that were free of unwanted noise, banding or other artefacts. Instead the projector did a great job of reproducing the high definition images and at times we needed to remind ourselves just how cheap the W1070 actually was!
3D - Picture Performance
We've said this before but you can't beat a projector when it comes to 3D, the experience is just far more immersive when watched on a screen large enough to fill your field of view. A TV just can't cut it, unless you go for huge screen sizes and then you're into silly money. No, when it comes to bang for buck nothing beats a projector and the W1070 offers more bang for its buck than just about projector out there. We watched a number of 3D Blu-rays on the W1070, including Life of Pi, Dredd and Silent Hill: Revelation which was directed by AVForums supporter Michael J. Bassett and they all looked great, with plenty of depth and effective dimensionality. Our only complaint was that the W1070 didn't seem to deliver the kind of brightness we were expecting from a BenQ and the rather dark lenses on the glasses didn't help. In fact, as with the similarly priced Optoma HD25, we found that although the 3D performance was very good technically, it didn't quite wow us as much as we thought it would.
- Reference greyscale accuracy
- Excellent calibrated colour gamut
- Motion handling is good in both 2D and 3D
- 3D performance has no crosstalk
- Excellent video processing
- Lens shift control
- Very competitive price
- Black levels are mediocre in 2D
- Dynamic range is limited by black levels
- Default colour and greyscale could be better
- Clipping white and the primary colours
- Glasses are too big and heavy
- HDMI handshaking can be slow
- Remote control needs a redesign
BenQ W1070 1080p Full HD 3D DLP Projector Review
Those are most of the negatives out of the way and once you actually turn the W1070 you are presented with a simple and easy to navigate menu system that includes a two-point white balance control and a colour management system. This is impressive for a budget projector, especially as it's also ISF certified, allowing a professional calibrator to set and lock ISF modes. The out-of-the-box greyscale and colour gamut could be better but after calibration the greyscale was reference and the colour accuracy was also excellent. There was a slight under-saturation in green but otherwise the W1070 could produce natural looking images that were free of discolouration or other artefacts. The video processing was also very good, so whether you were watching standard or high definition content, the W1070 can do it justice.
Despite the rather cheap lens, the use of a single-chip resulted in some very sharp and detailed pictures. Motion was also handled very well with smooth, judder-free movement and no smearing or blurring. The black levels could have been better but this is to be expected on a budget DLP projector, whilst the intra-frame contrast ratio and shadow detail was actually very good. As is always the case with a single-chip DLP projector, those that are susceptible will see rainbow artefacts, so bear that in mind. We were surprised that the W1070 wasn't brighter and coupled with the black levels, this did rob it of some of its dynamic range. This was fine with 2D content, which looked excellent but it did rob 3D pictures of some of their impact. Otherwise the 3D was superb, with plenty of depth and detail, great motion handling and absolutely no crosstalk.
The BenQ W1070 represents a new benchmark in terms of price and it's hard to imagine that a 1080p 3D projector could get much cheaper. Thankfully it backs up its budget price with a far from budget performance, delivering great images in both 2D and 3D. If you're on a budget but are looking for that big screen buzz, the W1070 should definitely be on your list.
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