Projector Lamp Life and Brightness

Let’s start off by saying the most common Lamp life specs out there for both business and home theater projectors are:

At full power: 3000-4000 hours
In low, or “eco” power: 4000-6000 hours

This article about Projector Lamps was originally written in 2009, updated late 2013, and again in 2015

There are exceptions, some projectors trying to pack maximum punch will drive the lamps harder – shorter lives.  There are still a number of 2000 hours at full power projector still on the market at this time.

There are also manufacturers claiming beyond 6000 hours.  I’ve seen 7000, 8000 and even one projector group claiming 10,000 hours, but beware, these days, it’s not always apples to apples.  I will explain below.

We are talking here, about the traditional high pressure mercury lamps used in the vast majority of projectors. There are also very expensive Xenon lamps, used in some high end projectors, and those typically have an even shorter life and far more expensive so used only in special circumstances.   Since they are the rare exception in business or home, we’ll not focus on the Xenon lamps here.

Most manufacturers rate their lamp life, not to failure, but to the point where the lamp is half as bright as it was when new.

With that in mind, remember that your projector will be noticeably, but not drastically dimmer as it approaches the end of its rated life. In our reviews, we try to take that into consideration, when trying to explain what is “bright enough”

How much loss in brightness is 50%? That’s easy, consider any room. Imagine two 100 watt lights each with its own wall switch.

Start with both lights on. Now turn one off. Bingo, there’s your 50% drop. I’ll bet you can imagine that!  What that tells you, also, is that if you have some ambient light, if you can half the ambient light by the time your projector lamp is old, you can maintain the same relative brightness between image and room ambient.

It’s not a bad idea is to buy a projector and screen for your room, that when new, you can enjoy watching (brightness wise), with the projector on the low power setting. On most projectors that is 25-35% less bright than full power.

If you do that, as your lamp gets dimmer, kick the projector into full power and while that won’t offset the full 50% drop near end of life, it will make the loss in brightness rather minimal to the eye.

Full power vs. Eco (or low) power mode

I’m not sure who coined “eco-mode” but it has become popular, or perhaps I should say “trendy” with a many if not most projector manufacturers referring to their low power setting as Eco-mode.

Bottom line, is whether a manufacturer calls it  low lamp, or low power, or eco-mode, pretty much are all the same thing.

For you home theater fans, be aware of this:

There is normally some color shifting between full and eco modes. The same calibration settings won’t deliver really close to identical results.  One might have visibly more red – a lower overall color temperature.  Not drastic differences but real ones if you want highly accurate color.  If you are looking for great color for home theater, you might want calibrations done for both brightness levels.

But who said there are only two.  I’m now seeing some projectors with three, and a rare fourth mode.  What gives?

In some cases there really are 3 different brightness modes, but more often than not, with a projector with three (or four) settings, at least one is simply a smarter mode.  More below…

Be sure your projector will be bright enough

With business projectors this really isn’t an issue, as most can spend a few dollars more for a projector with more than enough brightness.  3500 lumen projectors start for less than $1000, and that’s bright!

In the Home Theater Projector space, however, purchase decsions are more often made primarily around picture quality, and placement flexibility, and many people will choose a less bright projector, if they feel it does a better picture. As a result, projector brightness is something people grudgingly accept. “I bought projector X because of its great picture, but really wanted a projector 25% – 35% brighter, like projector Y, but Y just doesn’t have the picture quality.”

In terms of lamp life ratings, the amount of brightness drop is not necessarily an indicator of how much the lamp life will increase. Some projectors claim a minimal increase of 25% or less in lamp life when switching to eco mode. So it’s more a dollar saving mode than a lamp life extender.

Some Projectors get tremendous Lamp Life in eco-mode with smart management

Despite the general trend of 4000 / 6000 hours in eco modes, there are some even longer. More projectors are adding hours to their lives by being smart.  Turning off projectors automatically under various circumstances, isn’t new, but what is new these days, is that some projectors  will kick into an idle mode while still on, saving electricity, and not hurting the lamp as much.  Typically those are modes claiming over 6000 hours, and most recently I’ve seen a 10,000 hour claims.

Thank these projectors for extending life by “observing” the type of  usage, and powering to low levels when the projector is essentially idle.  It might even kick in if there’s legitimate content up there, but if the content hasn’t changed for a period of time.

The thing is, to get those maximum hours, they aren’t talking about fully utilizing the projector for that many hours.  It might get you there, because you forgot to turn off the projector for hours at a time.  Most projectors do have some sort of timer or power down option if there is no active source. But powering down doesn’t buy you more hours of life because technically the projector is off.  But dropping down to a really dim image for 6 hours, counts those hours while you are not using the projector.

Let’s just say one needs to appreciate which number mean what…

If operational costs are an issue for you, and you are a heavy users – say 1500 hours a year or more, then lamp life and replacement lamp costs can be a significant issue. Consider – myself, I run my own projector roughly 2000 hours a year, so for my JVC home theater projector, that’s an extra $350+ a year, to keep me in lamps. In reality, though, it’s higher.  For home theater users, some will replace before the half life, because they need all available lumens, and don’t want it ever to drop down a full 50%.

Don’t take that price mention as a fixed price for lamps…

Projector Lamp Costs

Except for some entry level projectors, most lamps retail for $199 to $449 range.  It’s the bigger more powerful business projectors on one hand (think 8000 lumens and up), and some of the mid-high end projectors – $4000 and up, where $400 or $500 is not uncommon.   On some high end names, for the home, such as Runco, SIM2, etc., lamp costs can run double. I am not talking about Very Large Venue projectors with 20,000 lumens and up, I don’t get to play with those, and aren’t on top of their lamp life issues.

Prices seem to be significantly moving down on portable and projectors suitable for classrooms.

What’s the lowest cost for a good long life lamp?  Epson, it should be noted, offers lamps for most of their projectors that fit that description, for $79 to $99 for school purchase.  $99 to $199 is becoming the sweet spot for education pricing.

Overall, for projectors whether business or home usage, that sell for under about $3000 most lamps are $300 or less, but rarely under $130 (unless education pricing).

For you home theater people out there, and expensive lamp is never fun to need.  For those companies like JVC and Sony who’s lamps are typically over $300 (some times a lot more), just think you could get a new Blu-ray player and a dozen movies.  While lamp life and cost should not be a top selection criteria, you should know what your investment is over time, it may well influence your projector purchase.

– See more Projector at: https://projectorpro.in.th

BenQ W1080ST Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W1080ST Projector Highlights

  • 2000 lumens bright – suitable for family/living/bonus rooms
  • 3D Capable including Blu-ray 3D
  • Higher contrast for better blacks, than most low cost projectors
  • 10 watts of Audio, plus an audio output
  • Full color management controls, ISF certified
  • Minimal lag times for great gaming
  • Remote control
  • Smart-Eco for energy efficiency (see more below)
  • Very long lamp life (for low cost of operation)
  • New lighter 3D glasses from BenQ (not included)
  • Typical Warranty

Overview

The BenQ W1080ST is almost identical to the last BenQ home projector we reviewed, which would be their W1070.  The BenQ W1080ST is a home theater projector that differentiates itself by sporting a short throw zoom lens.  That makes the W1080ST a more convenient alternative for those who are placing on a table top, in many homes.  It puts the projector in front of the audience, closer to the screen.  It means people can move around without necessarily blocking the image (walking through the bright light).

Ultimately the BenQ W1080ST is a great little home entertainment projector.  It has built in sound, so you can take it outside in the summer for entertainment without much fuss (a waterproof extension power cord, and a garage door to shine a movie on).

The W1080ST is a single chip DLP projector. It is full 1080p resolution, and it is 3D capable.  It has HDMI 1.4 which allows this BenQ W1080ST projector to support Blu-ray 3D, which gives it a competitive edge over several lower cost projectors and crossover projectors.

Physically the W1080ST is a good looking box, as BenQ has attempted to give it some style.  But, it’s still a box shaped projector.  More important is its smallish size, and far more important is its picture quality!

Also of extreme importance to you all is the BenQ W1080ST price. The official MAP price, the lowest an authorized dealer is allowed to advertise on the internet (or anywhere), is $1099. Keep that in mind, if you see it for less, then the dealer is quite possibly not an authorized dealer, which raises a number of potential issues, including post sale support.  Having owned a large online dealership, I believe consumers are better off when they deal with authorized dealers, if for no other reason than they tend to be more knowledgeable.

The projector recently started shipping.  We received this projector for review before shipping started, but with a backlog and a couple of reports and Infocomm to deal with in April/May/June, we’ve finally finished it.  Note that 3D Glasses are optional – as in, extra.  The official price for the glasses is $79.  Even that is a little less than most others.

The BenQ W1080ST, like its longer throw twin has very good contrast and blacks for the price range, but don’t confuse that with dramatically better black levels found on many projectors starting at less than twice the price. Contrast is very good for a family room projector.  Not so much if you have a dedicated home theater with excellent lighting control.

ESPN 3D is toast!

Recently announced, ESPN is dropping most if not all 3D programming.  Maybe they would have had success if they would have given us some “big time content”, rather than a few boxing matches, and a few NCAA football games from a second tier conference… Tsk!

We showed these images from a little league championship on ESPN 3D, when we reviewed the W1070.  For those not paying attention, however, in June 2013, ESPN announced they were getting out of the 3D biz – at least for now.  With that in mind it didn’t seem to make sense to shoot another pair of images with the W1080ST projector.

Color I found to be reasonably good in 3D. 3D could be calibrated for improved color but we just don’t do that.  Also the world seems to be waiting on a good calibration disc that supports 3D calibration.  I’ve watched plenty of 3D movies off of Blu-ray with the BenQ W1080ST, and found, overall, that color is definitely acceptable.

Overall, very good 3D, lots of brightness, and an almost total lack of rainbow effect  (for me) make these two BenQ projectors the W1080ST (and the W1070) about as good as lower cost DLP projectors get with 3D in terms of overall experience.

In other words:  A good choice for 3D on a budget.

See more Projector at https://projectorpro.in.th

Acer K138ST

  • PROS

    Compact. Lightweight. Can project content from a smartphone. Long lamp life. Short throw distance. Comes in soft carrying case.

  • CONS

    Limited connection choices. Rainbow effect in video. Scaling artifacts visible at projector’s native resolution.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The LED-based Acer K138ST has a relatively short throw distance and can project content from a smartphone via its MHL-enabled HDMI connection.

The Acer K138ST is a highly portable projector for business or casual use, with a relatively short throw for an LED-based model. The addition of an MHL-enabled HDMI port lets it project content from a smartphone. Video quality isn’t great, however, both due to posterization and a considerable rainbow effect. The InFocus LightPro IN1146, our Editors’ Choice LED projector, shows better video and has more connection choices.

Design and Features

The K138ST is a handsome projector, white with a flat top, curved sides, and rounded corners. It measures 2.3 by 9.4 by 5.8 inches (HWD), making it a little larger than palmtop size and smaller than the InFocus LightPro IN1146. It’s lightweight at 1.7 pounds, and it comes with a soft carrying case.

This DLP-based projector has native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution, a rated brightness of 800 ANSI lumens, and a 100,000:1 rated contrast ratio. Its LED light source is rated at 20,000 hours in Normal mode and 30,000 hours in Economy mode, so the bulb should easily last the lifetime of the projector. Its throw ratio of 0.8:1 is at the upper limit of what we would consider a short-throw projector. This lets you place the projector a bit closer to the screen for a given image side than a standard-throw model.

On top of the K138ST is a four-way controller with center button that you can use to access the menu system, as you can also do with the projector’s small remote. Behind the lens is a focus ring. As is the case with most short-throw—and most mini—projectors, it lacks an optical zoom.

One interesting feature is LumiSense, an ambient-light sensor that can adjust the projector’s brightness and color saturation based on local lighting conditions. It can be turned on or off from the projector’s menu.

You can project 3D content with the K138ST, but you’ll need DLP-link active-shutter 3D glasses for each member of your audience. It’s not a great choice for 3D projection, however, as rainbow artifacts are visible in some 3D, as well as 2D, images.

Connectivity

The K138ST has a basic set of inputs, including a VGA port, and an HDMI port, which also supports MHL and lets you project content from your smartphone or tablet. There are also audio-in and audio-out jacks, and a port for a Kensington lock, a good protective measure for such a portable projector. Its USB Type A port is strictly for charging an external device like a phone, as was the case with the Acer C205. In comparison, the InFocus IN1146 adds an SD card slot, and its USB Type A port supports either a USB thumb drive or an optional Wi-Fi dongle.

Data Testing

The projector filled our test screen with an 65-inch image (measured diagonally) when placed a little more than 5 feet away from the projector. In data-image testing using the DisplayMate suite, data-image quality was average for an LED-based DLP projector. Colors were well saturated, but I did notice some purple fringing in a few images.

In some data images, I saw scaling artifacts, which generally appear when there’s a mismatch between the image source’s resolution and a projector’s native resolution. They take the form of extra or thicker lines in patterned fills. This is an issue that the K138ST shares with the InFocus IN1144, the Vivitek Qumi Q6-BU, and all of the other LED-based WXGA projectors we’ve reviewed over the past few years that use a TI DLP chip. In these cases, the artifacts are not due to resolution differences, but to the particular design of these chips and the shape of the pixels. Such artifacts shouldn’t have any effect on images other than those containing patterned fills.

The K138ST’s text quality is typical of an LED projector. In testing, both black text on white and white text on black were easily readable at sizes down to 9 points. I noticed more purple fringing than usual around the text, and within the white letters.

All single-chip DLP projectors are potentially subject to the rainbow effect, which takes the form of little red/green/blue flashes, especially in light areas against dark backgrounds. I noticed rainbow artifacts in several of the K138ST’s images, but they are seldom a significant problem in data images and shouldn’t be an issue here.

Video and Audio Quality

In our video testing, rainbow artifacts were more obvious than is usual for a DLP projector, and would likely be distracting even to people mildly sensitive to the effect. I also noticed some posterization, a tendency for abrupt shifts in color or tone when they should be gradual. Because of these issues, I would limit video use with this projector to short clips, whether YouTube videos or as part of a presentation.

Sound from the K138ST’s twin 3-watt speakers is good for use in a small room. If you turn the volume up more than halfway, you receive an onscreen warning telling you that over-boosting the volume can cause bad sound quality. If you want more volume or better audio, you can connect a set of powered external speakers to the audio-out jack.

Conclusion

The Acer K138ST is compact and easily portable, and it has a relatively short throw for an LED projector, so you can position it close to the screen, and you can also display content from a smartphone attached to its MHL-enabled HDMI port. Its brightness and sound system make it best for use in small rooms, and data-image quality is average, while video is best kept to short clips, mostly because of the rainbow effect. The Editors’Choice InFocus LightPro IN1146 has more connection choices, and more watchable video, with fewer rainbow artifacts, but it lacks the K138ST’s short throw.

See more Projector information at https://projectorpro.in.th

Epson PowerLite Pro G6900WU LCD WUXGA Large Venue Projector

The Epson PowerLite Pro G6900WU is a 6000-lumen WUXGA projector built with large venues in mind. WUXGA resolution is 1920×1200, the new gold standard for conference room and auditorium projectors. It used to be a high-end format, but at this writing there are two hundred WUXGA projectors in production across a wide range of price points. It has broad market appeal due to its versatility — WUXGA projectors will display both 1920×1200 computer signals and HD 1080p video in native format, so it has become the go-to resolution for sharp, detailed projection display.

As installation projectors go, the Epson Pro G6900WU is compact and easy to handle, weighing in at just over 20 lbs. It is a single-lamp projector that is not only rich in features, but also more affordable than dual-lamp models. The Pro G6900WU is powerful enough to light some seriously big screens, versatile enough to handle just about any connection or media type, and aggressively priced within its performance class. It also has some features not found in other Pro G-series projectors that make it ideal for digital signage. And at $6,499, you can’t beat its combination of features and performance.

The Viewing Experience

At 6,000 lumens, the Pro G6900WU is built to be used on large screens, typically in the presence of ambient light. As such, our light-controlled theater is not exactly the ideal environment. It was not a surprise when the projector started up and bathed the entire room in reflected screen light. We toned down the image brightness by switching into ECO lamp mode and increasing the screen size, but the Pro G6900WU is clearly intended for larger, brighter spaces.The most striking thing about the Pro G6900WU’s image is its excellent color. The Pro G6900WU produces bright, saturated color in every image mode, and this goes a long way towards creating a natural-looking image. This is especially helpful when displaying data graphics or photography, because brightness does not drop off when a full-color image is put on screen. While this is not unique in data projectors, it is also not a given.
The projector’s color performance made us curious how it would perform with 1080p video. As it turns out, the answer is “quite well.” The Pro G6900WU uses Faroudja DCDi technology to process video signals, and the result is a smooth video image with great detail. The only weak point is black level, and even then the Pro G6900WU performs admirably for a projector in its class. It is not built to be a dedicated video projector, but it does very well in a pinch or for part-time use. And on the bright side, the projector’s dynamic range is sufficient to prevent crushing of shadow detail.

The Pro G6900WU includes quite a few little touches that make video more pleasant to watch, such as an automatic iris and frame interpolation. The iris brings down black level and can be very helpful when viewing video or film, but only if room lighting can be reduced as well.

Frame interpolation smooths out judder in film and video. The Pro G6900WU’s FI circuit is more or less identical to those found on Epson home theater projectors. There are three different modes, labeled Low, Normal, and High. Low mode was most appropriate for film, as it displayed the fewest artifacts and the least amount of digital video or “soap opera” effect. High mode is overkill for film and 24p content, but has no negative effect on 60p video signals. Keep in mind that Frame Interpolation is not for everyone; some folks do not enjoy the effect when viewing film, but there are no real downsides to using it with video.

In short, the Pro G6900WU’s image is bright, color is excellent, and video quality is superb for its class. The projector’s black level is typical for a data projector, but in an auditorium this actually matters very little — and with the auto-iris engaged and the lights dimmed, black level becomes quite good.

Setup and Configuration

Gone are the days when a 6000-lumen projector was a heavy behemoth that required a lot of muscle to install. The Pro G6900WU is small enough to be easily deployed pretty much any way you want to use it. It can be ceiling mounted, installed in a projection closet, or even placed on a rolling cart if mobility is desired. There is an assortment of six optional lenses to choose from which will allow you to fill a 180″ diagonal screen from a throw distance of anywhere from 8’2″ to 84’7″ (with the exception of a break in the range from 10 to 16 feet).

The Pro G6900WU comes with the Standard Zoom lens, a 1.82:1 manual zoom/focus lens that will put a 180″ image on screen from 16′ to just over 29′. The projector is available either as a bundle with the Standard Zoom, or as a bare body (Pro G6900WUNL, with the “NL” standing for “No Lens”). The latter is priced at $5,199 to the former’s $6,499. The lenses vary in price, with the Standard Zoom selling for $1,399, the Short Throw Zoom selling for $2,999, and the other lenses all priced at $1,899.

As for lens shift, the projector allows for both vertical and horizontal adjustment using manually-operated thumb knobs on the top of the projector. Once lens shift is dialed in, the projector has a sliding lock bar that prevents further adjustment or drift.

The exact range of the lens shift changes with each lens, but the standard lens allows for approximately 70% vertical adjustment in either direction and about 33% adjustment to the left or right. On a hypothetical 180″ diagonal image (95″ high by 153″ wide), that’s 66.5″ range up or down and 46″ of adjustment to the left or right.

The Pro G6900WU can be installed in an auditorium, but it can also be used on curved surfaces, hard corners, ceilings, floors, and portrait orientations. Digital signage-oriented features like arc correction, edge blending, corner wall projection, and 360-degree display make it possible to install the Pro G6900WU in positions that are either difficult or impossible for many other projectors.

The Pro G6900WU is easy to install and maintain, and even a surface-level examination of the projector reveals some thoughtful touches. The projector’s lens mount uses a quick-release system, so you can swap out lenses without a screwdriver. The air filter door uses a sliding lock system and filters can be changed without tools — though the air filter is built to last 10,000 hours, so it’s only an occasional maintenance item. The lamp door on the projector’s side is attached with two Phillips screws, so unfortunately lamp changes still require a screwdriver.

One final note: The Pro G6900WU includes a third lamp power selection called “Temp Interlock.” This mode keeps the lamp at full power unless the surrounding temperature rises outside the range for normal operation, at which point lamp power switches to ECO. If you were going to keep the lamp at full power, there is no reason not to use this setting, as it can help preserve your projector and improve lamp life.

Key Features

Image quality. The Pro G6900WU’s stand-out feature is the balanced, natural quality of the image even in the projector’s brightest modes. The Pro G6900WU has well-saturated, bright color, a sharp and detailed image, and great dynamic range. The projector is as strong in video display as it is in data thanks in part to a Faroudja DCDi image processor, an automatic iris, and frame interpolation.

Connectivity. Nearly the entire rear surface of the Pro G6900WU is taken up by its connection panel. As the flagship model of Epson’s new G series, the Pro G6900WU features connectors for HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, VGA monitor out, S-Video, composite, 5BNC component, wired LAN, WiFi (with a $99 adapter), both 1/8″ and RCA audio inputs, HDBaseT, and HD-SDI. That last one in particular is not found on any other projectors in the G Series line-up and is unique to the Pro G6900WU.

HDBaseT is getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. It combines HDMI, ethernet, and RS232 control over one inexpensive, non-proprietary, easily sourced Cat5e or Cat6 cable. Epson sells an HDBaseT transmitter box for $499 that bundles HDMI, Ethernet, and RS232 and sends them out over a single wire, but aftermarket products are also an option.

Arc correction. If your screen isn’t flat, the Pro G6900WU can correct for that. Arc Correction allows you to digitally fine-tune the projection geometry to compensate for a screen surface that is not perfectly flat. In other words, the Pro G6900WU can be used on curved screens without pincushion or barrel distortion. Moreover, the projector is capable of correcting focus in non-flat images, keeping your entire image crisp and clear. Arc correction does apply scaling to the image, so if you are using WUXGA or 1080p content you will lose the benefit of 1:1 native display.

Edge blending. For large-scale screens that require more than one projector, the Pro G6900WU has Advanced Edge Blending. All projectors in Epson’s G Series offer edge blending — the ability to seamlessly stitch the edges of two or more projectors’ images in order to make one fully integrated image. But the Pro G6900WU has the “advanced” version, which also includes support for curved surfaces and corner walls.

360-degree installation. Many projectors can only be installed horizontally due to heat concerns, but the Pro G6900WU can be installed in any position. One of several features aimed at digital signage, this allows the projector to be mounted in any orientation without fear of overheating or malfunction.

When you combine these three features — arc correction, edge blending, and 360-degree installation — you gain the ability to install the Pro G6900WU in some radically non-traditional setups, making it perfect for digital signage. You can aim the projector at a floor or ceiling, or project onto a vertically oriented screen. Getting more creative, you can use the Corner Wall feature to project a portrait-oriented image onto a curved pillar or sharp 90-degree corner. Getting more creative still, you can use a series of Pro G6900WU projectors to edge-blend a huge display all the way down one wall, around a corner, and onto the next. You could extend that display up onto the ceiling or down onto the floor. The flexibility afforded by these features make the Pro G6900WU a perfect projector for use in digital signage applications.

Scheduling and control. Like most large-venue projectors, the Pro G6900WU can be monitored and controlled over a wired network. Unlike most other comparable projectors, though, the Pro G6900WU has a scheduling feature that allows the projector to be programmed based on a timer and internal clock, which is especially useful in places where network connectivity is unavailable. Using the Scheduler, you can program the projector to turn itself on and off, change sources, change lamp power, mute sound and video, and adjust the volume. These actions can be programmed for a specific date or a repeating day of the week. While the scheduler is not as comprehensive as network monitoring, it is a great way to ensure that a projector does not accidentally stay on all night. It’s also ideal for digital signage — all of your displays can be set to turn off at the close of business, automatically.

Low fan noise. The Pro G6900WU is a bright projector, but it doesn’t sound like one. Fan noise, while not whisper-quiet, is comparable to what you’d get out of home theater projectors from a few years back – a low rush of air, noticeable but not annoying. That is a nice bonus, particularly if you’ve got the projector on a rolling cart close to the audience in the center aisle of a conference room.

3 year warranty with overnight replacement. When it comes to projector warranties, three years is about as good as it gets. But the Pro G6900WU’s warranty also includes Epson’s Road Service program, so if your projector fails while it is under warranty, Epson will overnight ship a replacement projector to you, free of charge. The warranty also includes 90 days of coverage on the lamp.

You Can Buy Epson Projector at https://projectorpro.in.th

Review Projector BenQ MW705

  • PROS

    WXGA (1,280-by-800) native resolution. Bright 4,000-lumen rating. Light enough to carry with you. Near-excellent image quality for data images. Hidden compartment for wireless streaming module.

  • CONS

    With data images, some colors are a little dark. Shows rainbow artifacts with full-motion video. Weak audio.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    Bright enough for a midsize room and light enough to carry easily, the BenQ MW705 projector will be of particular interest to anyone who wants to take advantage of its hidden compartment for a wireless streaming module.

    Rated at 4,000 lumens and weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces, the BenQ MW705 is bright enough for a midsize room and light enough to tote easily. Like a growing number of projectors, it also features a hidden compartment for a wireless streaming module, if you want to add one. The combination of light weight and the hidden compartment, which gives you a convenient place to connect the module permanently, helps make the projector particularly attractive for anyone who wants the convenience of quick, cable-free setup with mobile devices, including laptops.

Brightness

As always with DLP projectors, brightness comparisons are a little complicated. Both Epson models are built around three-chip LCD engines, which ensures matching levels of color and white brightness. In contrast, both the MW705 and the Ricoh WX5460—like most single-chip DLP data projectors—have a lower color than white brightness. The difference in the two levels means the MW705 won’t be as bright for full-color images as you would expect from the white brightness. (For more on the topic, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why It Matters.)

Keeping that qualification in mind, and strictly as a point of reference, according to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations, the 4,000-lumen rating for the MW705 should make it bright enough in theater-dark lighting for a 241- to 326-inch image (measured diagonally) at its native 16:10 aspect ratio and assuming a 1.0-gain screen. With moderate ambient light, the appropriate size drops to 160 inches. For smaller screen sizes, you can lower the brightness level by using one of the projector’s lower-brightness predefined modes, its Eco mode, or both.

Rainbow Artifacts and 3D

One of the key disadvantages of single-chip DLP projectors is that, unlike three-chip LCD projectors, they can show rainbow artifacts (red-green-blue flashes). That’s at least somewhat balanced by the advantage that most offer 3D support, which is rare for LCD data projectors.

In my tests, the MW705 showed rainbow artifacts infrequently enough with static data images that it’s unlikely anyone will find them bothersome. The only time I saw any was with one image that’s designed to bring them out. With full-motion video, however, they showed often enough that anyone who sees them easily may find them annoying. That makes the projector suitable for showing video clips limited to a minute or two at most.

If you need 3D, the MW705 supports all HDMI 1.4a 3D formats, using DLP-Link glasses only. However, this won’t matter in most cases, since few people need 3D for data projector applications.

Hidden Compartment and Setup

The hidden compartment for the wireless module is on the MW705’s upper side on the back left. The cover, which is held on by a screw, lifts off to reveal an HDMI port. Unlike similar compartments on some other projectors, there’s no USB Type A port in the compartment for providing power. However, the HDMI port is MHL enabled, which means it will work with any device that can get power over MHL, including the BenQ QCast Wireless Streaming module.

Hidden compartments for wireless streaming modules are showing up on more and more models. However, the MW705 adds a notable convenience that we haven’t seen on other projectors: One of the image source buttons on the remote is labeled QCast, which means you can switch to your wireless module by pressing a single button on the remote. According to BenQ,the QCast button will switch to any streaming module you choose to connect to the hidden HDMI port, QCast or not.

The compartment can be particularly helpful for portable use. If you set up your projector and mobile device to connect directly using the module, setting up on the road will be quick and easy, with the module already plugged in and no need to connect a cable. Alternatively, if you set the projector up in one room permanently, it provides a convenient place to store the module. Needing a screwdriver to remove the cover also offers some modest protection against someone walking off with it.

Setup is otherwise standard, with a manual focus and manual 1.1x zoom. Image inputs on the back include a second HDMI port, one VGA port for a computer or component video, and both composite and S-video ports. There’s also a USB Type A port, but it’s strictly for providing power. The HDMI port on the back does not support MHL.

Image and Audio Quality

The MW705’s quality for data images is near excellent overall. On our DisplayMate tests, some colors were dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness model with every preset mode, that that’s expected for projectors with a lower color than white brightness. Color balance was excellent, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from white to black in every preset mode.

More important for most data images is that the MW705 does a good job holding detail. With text, for example, white text on black were highly readable at 9 points in my tests and black text on white were crisp and readable at 6.8 points.

With full-motion video, the MW705 delivered near-excellent color quality in my tests with good to excellent shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas). However, long video sessions are still best avoided, since there may be people in your audience who see rainbow artifacts easily and find them annoying.
The audio system, built around a 2-watt mono speaker, is severely underpowered for this bright a projector. The sound quality is more than acceptable, but it doesn’t fill even a small room. If you need sound, plan on connecting an external sound system to the stereo audio output.

Conclusion

For applications that need video, consider the Epson 955WH, the Epson 1940W, or the Ricoh WX5460. As three-chip LCD projectors, both Epson models are guaranteed rainbow free, with the Epson 1940W offering the brighter image of the two. The Ricoh projector adds 3D support, and it shows rainbow artifacts infrequently enough with video so that few, if any, people will find them bothersome. For applications that don’t need to show more than a minute or two of video at a time, however, and particularly those that can benefit from adding a wireless streaming module, the BenQ MW705 is worth a close look.
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