BenQ MP780 ST Short Throw WXGA Interactive DLP Projector Review
The BenQ MP780 ST has its lens slightly offset right of center when facing the front of the projector. The convex lens protrudes from the front of the projector because, like certain other BenQ short throw projectors, the MP780 ST does not project straight ahead, but rather upward diagonally from the projector, thus allowing it to be placed close to the screen. A focus tab is on the right side of the lens. As was the case with the similar MP772 ST, the MP780 ST comes with a fairly substantial lens cap, attached by a short cord. There is an IR receiving eye on the bottom right corner of the front panel and a push button for releasing the front height adjustment foot in the center. Unfortunately, only one of the two rear corner feet is height adjustable. I’m not really sure what BenQ was thinking here, but it would be much easier to square the projector to the screen if both rear feet were adjustable.
The left half of the top of the projector serves as a cover for the lamp. There is a single screw on the top edge of the left side of the projector that, when removed, allows for removal of this cover. This facilitates replacing the lamp when the MP780 ST is ceiling mounted, without having to unmount the projector. Toward the rear, on the right side (as you’re facing the projector form the front) is a control panel with the most oft-used functions, plus indicators for power on (part of the Power button), lamp status and temperature (if overheating). There are buttons for Power, Menu, Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right and Enter/Mode), Source, Blank (for temporarily hiding the image on the screen) and Auto (for syncing the source timing to the projector). The Up/Down buttons also serve for Keystone adjustment when not in the menu. The Left menu navigation button also functions to bring up a FAQ page (essentially a Help screen) and the Right menu navigation button also functions to allow the user to lock out all of the panel buttons (so they’re not accidentally pressed) except for the Power button.
There are two 10-watt, built-in speakers, one on each side of the projector. Also on the projector sides are an air intake (right side) vent and hot air exhaust (left side) vent.
Moving to the rear panel, we find a wide array of connections. Starting at the top left, there is an audio output jack (for an external speaker system), followed by audio and microphone input jacks and stereo audio inputs (which are internally combined as the MP780 ST does not output in stereo). These are followed by S-video and composite video inputs, plus a RGB video output and a 12-volt trigger output for electric, motorized screens. Next are two RGB/component video inputs, an HDMI input and an RS-232 control port. There are four USB connections: a USB Type B jack (for use with the PointDraw pen), a USB mini-B jack (for displaying from a computer via USB) and two USB Type A jacks (for PC-free presentations from a USB thumb drive). Finally, we have an RJ45 jack for a network connection, a Kensington lock and the power cord jack.
BenQ MP780ST Setup and Menus
The MP780 ST fires up and displays an image fairly quickly. As it was with the recently reviewed BenQ MP772 ST and is typical with short throw projectors, getting the projector set at both the correct height and distance from the screen is a bit of a chore With no ability to zoom and minimal available height adjustments, table mounting without the use of keystone correction is difficult. That being said, the MP780 ST can be ceiling mounted quite easily and be completely out of the way for any presentation. For our table-mounted setup, a little leveling with the adjustable feet resulted in only having to use one click of keystone adjustment, which had no noticeable effect on the readability of the projected image.
Moving on, the next step is for the presenter to select the desired picture mode from the on-screen menu. The other option is to create a custom mode by using the many adjustment possibilities in one of the User modes, as the MP780 ST does not allow for any adjustments to the main picture modes (Dynamic, Presentation, sRGB and Cinema). If you select one of the two User modes, you can start with any of the standard picture modes and make the usual adjustments (contrast, brightness, color and tint) to the picture.
In addition to the standard adjustments, there is a full CMS (color management system) for individual adjustment of each of the projector’s primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colors. As proper use of a CMS requires professional calibration equipment, it is unusual to see it in multimedia projectors. However, it can be a useful tool for even the casual user to improve color balance, especially in the brighter modes.
In any picture mode, the MP780 ST can also be set to display properly on different colored (i.e.; other than white) projection surfaces. In the Display menu, you can select from Off (for whiteboards or normal white projection screens), Light Yellow, Pink, Light Green, Blue, and Blackboard. This allows for usable presentations in classrooms without a screen or whiteboard.
When the presentation is over, the BenQ’s instant shutdown feature allows the presenter to disconnect and remove the projector without having to wait for any cooling fans to stop running.
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