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Thread: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

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    Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Disclaimer: this review has been completed in accordance with the requirements for a Hexus forum competition, and is subject to editorial control from Hexus staff. The Benq W1210ST reviewed was supplied by Benq/Hexus. Thanks guys; it's an insanely cool prize!

    Post 1 – Introduction

    The Benq W1210ST

    The W1210ST is a 1080p short throw projector, and Benq are not shy about the fact that they’re targeting it at the gaming market – their product page boldly describes it as “Home Projector Best for Video Gaming” and the proclaimed feature list would suggest they have a point: low input lag, “game” and “game bright” modes, native 1080p, superior short throw projection – an impressive array.

    For a “gaming” product, however, the W1210ST is a rather understated package; no bold angles and brightly coloured highlights here. The projector comes in a box that wouldn’t be out of place arriving at my office, and once unboxed the business-like appearance is reinforced with a nicely finished carry bag that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to get out in a meeting. Out of its bag, the projector has a shiny white finish with nice silver accents. Accompanying accessories are relatively minimal; the remote (batteries are included), a kettle lead, and a quickstart guide + manual on CD (which I admit hasn't even been opened!).

    Now, with all these fantastic gaming-oriented features I felt a little out of my depth; while I can button-mash with the best of them, I actually spend very little time on the household’s console nowadays. So, to get a broader opinion on the Benq W1210ST, I enlisted some volunteers: Susie (40) and her daughter Ellie (9) enjoy bonding over console games, which they currently play on a large 55” television in their living room, making them perfect test subjects for the projector.
    Last edited by scaryjim; 03-04-2017 at 03:51 PM.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Post 2 - Testing

    Home Projection - A Standard Living Room

    To test the projector in its target environment – playing console games at home – I had Ellie and Susie play PS4 games first on their TV, then using the projector. This was a challenging test for the W1210ST, putting its short throw projection, colour modes, and sound system up against a standard home environment. Could a normal gaming family easily switch to a Benq W1210ST, and would it match the experience offered by their existing setup?

    Setting up the Benq W1210ST was incredibly straight-forward thanks to its simple HDMI support carrying both video and audio to the projector. Finding both a suitable wall and a good position to project from, however, were more challenging – Benq advise a 1.5m distance to the wall for a 100” diagonal picture. In a moderate-sized living room 1.5m from a wall is likely to be somewhere near the centre of the room, and so it proved for our setup. With a little shuffling of furniture we achieved the target 1.5m projection distance, and measured the resulting picture at 99” diagonally – however the picture touched right up against fixtures in the room on both sides – had it been any larger it simply wouldn’t have fitted on the wall!

    One unexpected issue with the positioning of the projector was the eruption of sound from the built in 2x 10W speaker system. With the players having to sit right next to the projector the sound output was overpowering at anything other than low volumes. The quality, however, was pleasantly surprising once a comfortable volume has been set, easily matching a TV’s built in speakers or a lower-cost dedicated speaker set.

    Firing up the PS4, the projection quality was generally good, but lacked contrast; an issue exacerbated by the relatively dark shade the walls were painted. Light bleed from the curtained window at one end of the room washed out the colours noticeably, particularly in cinema mode. Here was a case for the Game Bright mode if ever there was one, with Benq claiming that their alternative colour modes “adjust screen brightness and contrast to perfectly match environmental light”. The picture clarity significantly improved with both game dark and game light modes, however the challenging environment continued to cause issues for the projector.

    Susie and Ellie reported that the experience of playing on the projector was good. They did have some reservations compared to their television, however; the picture was not as sharp and easy to see, the colours were less bright, and Ellie in particular found the image too large to easily see what she was doing in the games. Overall, both of them preferred to play games on their existing 55” TV.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Post 3 - Testing continued

    Dedicated Side-by-Side Testing

    Having tested the Benq in its target location and discovering that it faced certain challenges, we moved to a room with lighter walls and lower ambient lighting to get a better impression of the capabilities of the projector in more conducive conditions. For this set of tests the comparison TV was a 24” Samsung model that is used in a study/spare room for PC and console gaming, and both were hooked up via HDMI to a gaming PC which was set to clone its output to both displays.

    Qualitatively Susie and Ellie both said they hadn’t noticed any lag or delay in their control of the games while playing on the projector in the living room, and this was borne out by a side by side comparison with a standard TV. Both Susie and I struggled to identify any obvious difference between the two screens with either the naked or by photographing the displays. Ellie, with younger sharper eyes, suggested she could occasionally see a small lag between the two; interestingly it was not always one display that was slower; sometimes the TV lagged behind and sometimes the projector.

    With a lighter background to project on to and a more even ambient lighting the projector fared far better in terms of contrast and visibility. The three main picture modes (Cinema, Game and Game Bright) showed clear differences in contrast and brightness, with the Cinema mode dark and immersive, the Game mode having higher contrast between colours, and the Game Bright mode being brighter overall while maintaining the higher contrast of game mode. However, none of the colour modes managed to match the clarity and contrast of the TV, which provided better distinction between visual features at a lower overall brightness.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Post 4 -

    Conclusions

    So what to make of the Benq W1210ST? Judged against its feature list it ticks almost all the boxes – its native 1080p resolution provide a crisp image, its short throw projection achieves the claimed 100” at 1.5m, its colour modes definitely work to improve contrast and brightness for different uses and ambient conditions, its lag matches that of the standard TVs it would replace, and the built in speakers provide reasonable quality audio reproduction. The only point I’d question is the claimed “spectacular” colour: colour is certainly vibrant, but (as with most projectors) it can struggle for contrast, particularly on off-white backgrounds.

    If features and specifications were all there were to buying decisions, I’d recommend the W1210ST wholeheartedly, but sometimes the real world intrudes. It’s certainly not a drop-in replacement for your existing TV – for most people it will require a completely blank wall to project on to, you’ll want to make sure that surface is bright white (either a screen or painted), and unless you’re happy with the projector sitting on your coffee table you’ll probably want to invest in a ceiling mount for it. And don’t forget the dark curtains to keep out that pesky sunlight! Add all of that to a price tag starting at around £900, and it’s hard to recommend the W1210ST.

    There are people for whom it would be the right choice: if you’re serious about your gaming and are willing to dedicate a room to it, or you’re planning a projection-based home cinema and want to make it suitable for big-screen gaming in as well, then the Benq W1210ST should definitely be on your short list. If you’re a mainstream console gamer, like Susie and Ellie, I’d probably save some money and stick to a decent-sized television.

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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Acknowledgements:

    I’d like to thank Hexus for putting together this competition and Benq for generously donating the prizes. There’s no way I’d’ve got to play with something like this otherwise, and it’s been huge fun putting this review together.

    This review would not have been possible without Susie and Ellie, who put up with me rearranging their living room and half of the rest of the house! Thanks to you both, and I owe you a drink/ice cream some time!

    Honourable mention to Peter, who loaned me his Xbox and TV then double booked himself on testing day and wasn’t able to join in the fun! Next time, hun xxx

  6. Received thanks from:

    GoNz0 (30-03-2017),kalniel (31-03-2017),peterb (30-03-2017)

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    DILLIGAF GoNz0's Avatar
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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Good review Jim, mine was put on hold due to us all getting Norovirus 1 after the other, cracking bit of kit. My review is a little more critical and not fully following the scripted guide (fancy a former projector engineer getting his hands on one eh) we have been given along with being based on laptop gaming as an alternative to my games rig as I don't own a console, well I have a wii but it would look like minecraft on 100+ inches of wall

    Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack
    off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.

  8. Received thanks from:

    scaryjim (31-03-2017)

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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Nice review. Hexus should definitely use more nine year-olds in their testing methodology

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    scaryjim (31-03-2017)

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Reader Review - BENQ W1210ST (competition prize)

    Quote Originally Posted by GoNz0 View Post
    ... mine was put on hold due to us all getting Norovirus 1 after the other ...
    Ugh, hope you're all OK now! That's no laughing matter

    Look forward to reading a review with more technical background - projectors are probably the piece of tech kit I'm least familiar with so it'll be nice to get that other perspective

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