The BenQ W1050 is a budget belter of a home entertainment projector, that delivers bright, vibrant images without complication. But with the TV market shifting conclusively to 4K UHD, does it still make sense to invest in a 1080p beamer? Based on this projector, we rather think it does.
For starters, this Full HD model is cheap. And big, bold HD images still entertain in a way a comparatively priced UHD small screen can’t.
Finished in clean white, with an offset silver-grey lens, the W1050 looks cool too. At 2.56 kg it’s light enough to live on standard shelving. The days when projectors looked like utilitarian fan heaters are long gone.
This short throw single-DLP model is designed for average-sized living rooms. With a throw ratio of 1.37 - 1.64 and 1.2x zoom, it’s able to cast a 100-inch image from between 2.8m - 3.36m.
Up top are manual zoom and focus controls. If you can get square to a large white wall, there’s not too much more to set up. Vertical keystone correction is available to combat trapezoid errors, if adjusting the feet doesn’t sort it. There’s no 12v trigger, so simple automatic screen control isn’t encouraged either.
The chassis top, which has a subtle cosmetic stipple, offers a full set of menu controls. Some may find these more convenient to use than the small, supplied remote control, which has tiny, awkward buttons. We could forgive the lack of a backlight at this price point, but this wand’s usability is poor.
The onscreen user interface is a mix of traditional menu and simplified, large button source and mode selection.
Rear-placed connections include two HDMIs, PC VGA (which supports up to WUXGA 1920 x 1200) and 3.5mm minijack audio in/outs. There’s also an RS232 control jack and USB Mini-B jack for service use. The projector is 3D compatible, but no Active Shuttering glasses are supplied.
One consequence of its compact build is that there’s limited noise management, and this is a relatively noisy model. Lamp output is adjustable between Normal, Economic and Smart Eco. The latter is a halfway house that automatically adjusts lamp brightness based on content, ostensibly to deliver more consistent blacks and boost contrast for text and fine detail.
There’s an obvious difference in brightness and color vibrancy between Normal and Eco modes, but the latter has the benefit of a slightly lower operating noise – 32dB compared to 33dB. Run the lamp on full beam and you’ll quickly become aware of a deep thrum.
In the Eco mode, whites drop back a bit and primary colors lose their pop. However, it’s quite a naturalistic look that’s easy to acclimate to.
Image modes comprise Bright, Vivid TV, Cinema, Sport and two User presets. The selection is entirely usable, with the exception of Bright, which is like watching everything through an acid filter. There’s no dedicated Game mode, but we didn’t find input lag a problem with our favorite FPS shooters.
Helpfully, the Lamp mode can be assigned differently to individual presets. So Sport can be enjoyed on the high brightness setting, while Cinema is more subdued.
In addition to all the top level picture adjustments (Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint and Sharpness), there’s a good fistful of deep tweaks too.
Among all the gamma options is an optimized BenQ setting, which is an easy recommendation. Color fidelity benefits from TI’s Brilliant Color processing mode; there’s also effective noise reduction. The DMD used here is a standard DC3 chip.
The W1050 doesn’t harbor any sophisticated image interpolation, but motion handling is subjectively good. Horizontal pans may judder, but there are no motion artifacts around moving objects, and sports footage is acceptably clean.
While the dedicated Sport mode doesn’t alter motion handling, it does give a boost to the average picture level and lifts chroma; greens become a little more verdant. Of course, this requires higher brightness, so the operating noise is raised.
For most content I found myself mostly watching the User 1 setting, plus Vivid TV and Cinema.
Picture quality is on par for this caliber of projector. Detail is crisp and black levels respectable. BenQ claims a contrast ratio of 15,000:1. Letterboxed movies still exhibit slightly grey bars, but this is to be expected with a UHP lamp source. I never really felt that shadows were thin or hollow; just don’t expect to see much in the way of near black detail.
Band of Brothers (Blu-ray), with its dramatic, high contrast cinematography, looks beautifully monochromatic.
Rainbow fringing, a much documented characteristic of single chip DLP projectors, is noticeable only by its absence. This fringe free performance can be put down to a six segment RGBRGB color wheel.
Color fidelity is relatively high. The 6x color wheel covers 96 per cent of Rec.709. Brightness is rated at 2200 ANSI lumens; while the W1050 is at its best in a fully dark room, you’ll get away with using it in moderate ambient light.
There’s an on-board speaker system, but rated at just 2w, it isn’t loud enough for anything other than the most rudimentary of noises. Given this basic sonic provision, it makes sense to either hook the W1050 up to a full blown home cinema system, or at least take advantage of that minijack audio output.
If you’re looking for multi-purpose home entertainment projector that won’t break the bank, this bijou BenQ won’t disappoint. It’s not a high-performance home cinema projector, but it’ll throw sharp, bright images onto a white wall without fuss or complication.
There are caveats. It’s a little noisier than we’d like, and the remote is fiddly, but these don’t diminish the W1050’s overall value. This projector is super for sport, looks fine with films and even makes for a solid gaming display. Whether you want a projector you can bring out occasionally, or make a permanent fixture in a media room, the W1050 fits the bill.