Well known for their high performing yet still affordable DLP projectors, BenQ’s most recent addition to their lineup is the W1070 – a 3D, DLP projector that turns many of the conventions of the projector market on their respective heads. While there are some definite limitations to the design of the W1070, it manages to provide a compelling value proposition in a highly competitive market.
Amazingly, the W1070 comes in at a sub $1000 street price, $889 on Amazon at the time of this writing. Despite the low price, the W1070 is capable of outputting a 1080p 3D image at up to 2000 lumens, all in an enclosure weighing a svelte 5.84 lbs and measuring in a just over 12 inches long, 9 inches wide and 4 inches tall. Somehow the engineers at BenQ also managed to cram a speaker into this tiny projector as well. The unit does not include 3D glasses like the Epson 3020, but costs significantly less.
Fit & Finish
The W0170 is about as familiar in terms of appearance as your average office projector. Coming in at a similar size to the machine in your nearest office, the W1070 features a white and silver exterior, a small touch control panel, and basic lens adjustments including zoom and focus. Hidden beneath a slide down cover is a small screw that controls vertical lens shift. The bottom of the unit features a stand leg similar to many office models that allows the units tilt to be adjusted for table or shelf-top installation.
In terms of downsides the prospective buyer should be aware of three major areas:
First, the vertical lens shift screw is annoying to use, requiring a screwdriver to turn, but since this is a one-time setting chances are it won’t be a long term annoyance. The adjustment here is fairly minimal, and does limit placement flexibility somewhat, something I’ll discuss at greater length later in the review.
Second, the included remote is about as cheap, tiny and useless as the one included in your average $19 DVD player, but likely won’t bother you if you use a universal remote. If you are a hoarder or user of stock remotes, you will likely dislike this remote intensely but somehow suffer along.
Finally and certainly most worrisome, is the front ventilation grille. Unlike some other projectors where the slats are angled more acutely to prevent light leakage, the W1070 has a very open grille that allows some light to escape the front of the machine. Depending on your room and how you install the unit, it’s possible some of this light leakage will be visible to the viewer fairly close to the screen.
The W1070 ships with a DarkChip 3 chipset and offers 2,000 lumens of brightness which is more than enough for most 3D installations, but certainly ideal for 2D on fairly large screens. The unit also includes a tiny 10-watt speaker in the chassis and an RCA audio out, which could be useful for any portable gaming use if you’re lugging this around to friends’ houses. In terms of connectivity, the W1070 has all you could want. The W1070 comes standard with two HDMI 1.4 inputs, one component input, as well as a single PC, S-video and composite input for any legacy sources. Additionally, the W1070 includes RS-232 control input and a 12V trigger. Finally, the unit is 3D capable but does not include any pairs of active 3D glasses, which will cost you approximately $99 each.
The W1070 features a 6X color wheel in the optimal RGBRGB configuration, which produces realistic color and minimizes the likelihood of the rainbow effect for potential buyers. BenQ has also made some strides in lamp life - the W1070 offers a specified 3500 hours at full map mode and very impressive 6000 hours in Eco mode.
From a 3D perspective, the W1070 utilizes DLP link technology, which minimizes cross talk at the expense of reliable sync. For couch or seat bound viewers, this is probably the ideal setup. It shoudl also be noted that the viewer is enjoying Full HD 3D - 1080p in each eye, which is a great achievement at this price point.
Optically, the W1070 is a stunner, featuring one of the sharpest images I have seen on any projector, let alone an entry level model. Light output is also great for the unit's size - offering about 1200 lumens in Cinema mode out of the box and just under 900 lumens once put into Smart Eco mode.
Due to the limited lens shift capabilities of the W1070, it should be noted that it’s almost impossible to shelf mount this unit in the back of a room. Instead – the unit will either have to be mounted on the ceiling, or on a shelf closer to the front of the room. Limited placement flexibility aside, setting up this unit is a breeze. Adjustment of the image zoom and focus is accomplished via standard rotary controls and allows razor sharp focus to be achieved relatively easily.
Picture out of the box is quite accurate in Movie mode, and doesn’t require much in the way of tweaking beyond a simple run through of Spears & Munsil to achieve relatively accurate color reproduction.
Watching 2D content on the W1070 is highly enjoyable. Color reproduction is accurate and since the image is bright and razor sharp, it’s easy to forget you’re watching a sub $1000 projector at work. While the black levels of the unit do lag significantly behind my aging W6000, it’s clear that for the money this unit throws a very impressive picture. Gaming on the W1070 is a similarly impressive experience, with almost no visible motion lag and excellent detail. Due to the slightly lower contrast than higher end units, darker scenes in both movies and games suffer from some loss of fidelity, however this is something the viewer quickly habituates to and won’t noticeable reduce your enjoyment.
3D on the W1070 was surprisingly good, largely I believe due to the great light output of this little monster of a projector. While I personally am not a fan of 3D, those who wish to experience 3D at home on the cheap will certainly find the W1070 up to the task. Input lag on the W1070 was imperceptible which was great for gaming.
In 2011 I would have laughed if someone had bet me that a DarkChip 3 DLP projector would come to market with sub $1000 street pricing, 3D capability and excellent light output within a two year period. BenQ has produced just such a product in the W0170. A product that encompasses all the hopes I had for the projector market when HD projectors first became available. It’s small, performs wonderfully, and of course, it’s extremely affordable.
Following my review of the W1070 I found myself convincing a friend that he no longer needed a TV in his living room when he could get a projector and fill the entire wall for the same amount of money. Despite my friend’s relative lack of interest in this hobby, I knew I had him hooked. After all, being able to throw a gorgeous 1080p picture up to 150” for less than $1000, well that’s just a pipe dream...at least it used to be. Highly Recommended.
Stay tuned for future coverage in this segment as we look at competitors such as the Optoma HD25.
Disclaimer: I am not prone to the rainbow effect, and did not notice it at all during my time with the W1070. If you have never used a DLP projector before, it is recommended you demo one first to ensure you don't notice this phenomenon.