BenQ LW61ST DLP Projector Review: For Business and Education

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May 2012 – Art Feierman

BenQ LW61ST Projector Highlights

  • 2000 lumens claimed
  • Short Throw fixed lens
  • HDMI input (1.3)
  • 3D capable, but (as is typical) not Blu-ray 3D
  • Good audio: 20 watts – two 10 watt speakers – about as good as it gets
  • Adjustable audio output
  • Wireless Networking IPhone and IPad compatible with opt. dongle
  • Networking – can monitor the projector from browser
  • 3 year warranty standard, covers light engine
  • Screen trigger
  • Eco-Blank reduces power consumption 90% when screen is blanked

BenQ LW61ST Projector Overview

Click to enlarge. So close.

What are the most significant capabilities of the LW61ST?

First, the BenQ LW61ST (click for specs) uses a laser light engine, for extremely long life operation and lower operating costs.  The light source is rated 20,000 hours (common for non-lamp light sources, but there are relatively few non-lamp projectors out so far).

Click Image to Enlarge

This BenQ projector sports a very Short Throw lens (that would be the ST in the product name) allowing it to be mounted with a telescoping wall mount above the “screen” or whiteboard, to reduce installation cost, and also do a better job of keeping the projector’s light from shining in the face of a teacher or student, or executive or manager up in the front, presenting, than do traditional projectors.  Sure, ultra short throw projectors do this last thing even better, but typically cost a good deal more.

Chart from the BenQ LW61ST brochure:

As to resolution, the W in the LW61ST’s name stands for WXGA – 1280×800 resolution, which is the most typical resolution of the projectors considered in this year’s education report, as well as being the best match for most laptops. Business users already are mostly using widescreen laptops (and desktops), and while the transition is slower with K12 schools, schools in particular find that widescreen works better for classroom.  The aspect ratio helps especially for interactive functions, but is overall advantageous.

Back to this BenQ LW61ST.  Or rather…I want to point out that it has a sibling, the LX60ST – a very similar projector but one that is standard XGA resolution, rather than WXGA.  Choose the one best to match your computer and other considerations.

Like all previous laser and hybrid projectors we’ve seen and measured, this one comes up short on the lumen count.  Oh, few projectors measure what they claim, but most are close.  With hybrid (laser/led) though, the shortfall has been as much as 50%.  Not so this BenQ LW61ST, which measured 1485 lumens (about 75% of claim – a not uncommon result).

Now consider: 1500 lumens is just fine for most classrooms, and conference rooms with even modest control of lighting.  We used to consider 2000 lumens the standard for auditorium work (in the dark).    Remember, projectors with traditional lamps lose about 1/3 of their brightness in the first 2000 hours (or less) of usage (in some cases by 1000 hours).  Not so with the laser, which will last years and years, before it drops off that much. At the end of its life, the total projected drop is only about 40%.

With traditional projectors there’s a full power mode, and an eco mode.  Not so here, considering the laser light sources life, consider this projector to have but one such mode, and it would be the Eco.

One other nice feature of this BenQ projector is its compatibility with working easily with iPads and iPhones (an optional dongle required) , an ability found on only a few projectors so far. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.   I’ve been waiting patiently for the necessary dongle, and just was advised I’ll have it next week.  I will update this report after I’ve interfaced my iPad and see if they “play well together”.

 

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