BenQ W100 Entry Level Home Theater Digital Projector Review
Starting at the front, the all white, BenQ W100 projector has a recessed zoom lens, mounted off center. Next to it is a small IR sensor for the remote. At the bottom of the front is a small bar that drops down the front adjustable foot (actually it too is a bar), so the BenQ relies on a 3 point stance, which is usually better than 4 feet, if your surface is not perfectly level.
Moving to the top of this BenQ, the lens controls are recessed, and located directly behind the lens. You’ll find two ring like controls, the one closest to the front, for focus, and directly behind it, the zoom. The zoom ratio is only 1.15:1, so you only can adjust the image size by a rather small 15% for a given distance. (Think of it this way. If the closest you could position the projector to fill a given sized screen is 10 feet back, then the furthest would be 11.5 feet back. Now, most under $2000 DLP projectors have zoom ratios of 1.15:1 to 1.3:1, while LCD projectors typically have significantly more placement flexibility. Of course, it’s getting pretty hard to find entry level LCD home theater projectors, most are now DLP, so my point may be moot.
I found the adjustment rings for zoom and focus to be sloppy, they did not move smoothly, and if you first focus the projector, then adjust the zoom, it knocks the focus off. Two points: First, this isn’t that unusual in entry level projectors (Optoma’s H27 also exhibits this problem), and second, this is a prototype, so it may “feel” much better with production units. That said, this issue is more of a “feel good” issue than having anything to do with performance. Afterall, once you set the projector on a table (or ceiling mount it, and adjust the focus and zoom so both are right – you are done. It’s not like the zoom or focus are going to shift while you are watching content.
The control panel is located in the back right corner of the top (looking from the rear). The layout is very compact, functional and easy to navigate, just in case you have misplaced the provided remote control. The control panel itself feels very solid, and works flawlessly from a mechanical standpoint.
As you can see from the image, power is on the left side. (Press once for power on, twice for power off.) The center is the Mode select (Movie, Cinema…) and doubles as Enter, when you are in the menus. It is surrounded by the four “arrow” keys. The bottom one brings up the Menu. We will look at menu functions in the General Performance section. As you can see on the lower left, there is the aspect ratio button, which basically toggles between 16:9 and 4:3 (there’s a “Real” 1:1 ratio as well for displaying exactly what the source sends – pixel for pixel. The Auto button is primarily to lock onto an analog source like a computer, and the source button – well, that says it all. In addition to the power indicator you have the obligatory Temp warning light, and the lamp indicator light which will indicate normal operation or a problem.
That takes us to the back of the projector with its input panel. The W100 projector is particularly well equipped, sporting 2 sets of component video inputs, and a DVI-I connector. The DVI-I accepts a digital signal, which is your preferred method of bringing video in from your cable/satellite box, HTPC, or Digital equipped DVD playeras well as analog (for hooking up a PC). Alternately, though, you can bring in an analog signal such as from a PC, for a business presentation. While there is no obvious way to hook up a computer (through the analog) and a digital source simultaneously, third party connectors are available that will allow you to hook both up at the same time. There is also the usual composite video and S-video inputs, and an RS232 for “command and control.” Unlike most home theater projectors, however the W100 has a 2 watt speaker (we’ll assume primarily for “business use”), so there is also a stereo mini-jack. There is an additional IR sensor on the back panel, and also the power input connector.
That pretty much covers the layout of the W100 home theater projector. Time to look at its performance.
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