BenQ W1080ST Home Theater Projector Review

Before we get into discussing the picture quality of BenQ’s W1080ST, our usual comments on the color accuracy of the images:

Lots of devices are affecting the image between the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the BenQ W1080ST images on your computer or tablet screen.  And of course your screen’s colors, contrast, etc., look very different than the next guys!  As a result, these images are reasonable indications, but not accurate enough for comparing precise color, saturation and other aspects with other projectors.  That’s why we have all the comments.  Note: Selected images relating to shadow detail, and especially black level performance can be very effective at demonstrating how the W1080ST positions itself compared to other home projectors. Realize, though that you are looking a t single frame, say the night train scene.

One projector might look a touch better than another in terms of black levels on the frame we use, but pick a slightly different frame two seconds earlier and the differences won’t be exactly the same.  For that reason, my opinions on black level, and shadwo detail performance are based on lots of viewing, not from studying a single frame.  Ultimately, it’s different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software that affect how the W1080ST projector’s image looks on your screen - and mine.

All home theater projectors, including this BenQ W1080ST, should definitely looks much better live at your place, than any of our images would indicate.  More dynamic, with colors unaffected by our lower contrast monitors, etc.

BenQ W1080ST Out of the Box Picture Quality

Color temperature right out of the box is sensationally accurate, however the individual colors need some adjustment to get the color close to right on.  It’s not hard to find projectors selling for twice, or five times the price, though, that can’t do as well without adjustment.

Consider that a real plus for a low cost projector like the BenQ W1080ST, since almost no one will be spending to calibrate it.

Click Image to Enlarge

Try out our sight, in this case, calibration changes found on the W1080ST’s calibration page.  Starting with the launch of our redesigned projectorreviews.com (around July 1, 2013), the additional advanced calibration information (individual colors) will be posted in our new subscriber area.

All considered, the W1080ST does a great job without adjustments, but it can be improved.

BenQ W1080ST Projector - Skin Tones

Tuning (calibrating) a projector like the W1080ST – or any home projector for that matter can really make a difference. When calibrating though, there’s trial and error involved.  Two really good calibrators won’t get exactly the same results from the same projector, and the images will always look at least a touch different in terms of, in this case, skin tones.  I really expected the BenQ W1080ST to do skin tones every bit as well as the W1070, a virtual twin.  In this case, skin tones aren’t quite as good.  I don’t blame Mike (our calibrator), because unless you go back over a couple of times to get the best picture, not the best numbers, even very good calibrations (by the numbers) may not provide ideal image quality.

Click Image to Enlarge

So, how good does the W1080ST projector do skin tones after Mike’s calibration?  Close to excellent but not quite as well as the W1070 does.  Although on movies like Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Skyfall, color looked excellent, when watching HDTV faces such as on CNBC’s Cramer, and NBC’s Tonight Show seem to have just a touch of extra orange.  I didn’t notice that with the W1070 projector when we reviewed it.

I am not saying that you should buy the W1070 over the W1080ST for skin tones  No!   I want to just say, that while I’m not quite as pleased with the W1080ST’s skin tones, it’s definitely fixable..  If I didn’t have to pay Mike each time to recalibrate, I’d tell him to start over.  I believe tackling the calibration a second time would likely provide results closer like the W1070.  Put another way, I found the colors (post calibration) including skin tones, of the W1070 to be better than the Epson Home Cinema 3020 competition.  In this case, though, I would have to say the Epson is better on those HDTV images.

Note that the same calibrator is likely to get just slightly different results if they recalibrate a projector. It’s not all science, there’s definitely some “Art” involved.

With or without Brilliant Color on, THIS W1080ST does a most respectable, job on skin tones, although with Brilliant Color engaged, those skin tones just aren’t as natural as with them off.  Will you care?  Most folks in a family room environment will still go with BC on for the extra pop.

Taken to the next level, remember there’s variation from lamp to lamp in terms of color.  So that plugging all the numbers from the W1070 we reviewed, into a different W1070 might end up with skin tones not as good as plugging our W1080ST numbers into a different W1080ST projector.   Enough, I think I’ve beaten this topic to death.

So, what’s wrong with the skin tones?  Not so much.  As I said, there are times when I feel there  is just a touch of extra orange to them – primarily on HDTV, not Blu-ray disc.    Perhaps with a touch less color saturation overall, I wouldn’t even be noticing.

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