BenQ W1200 Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W1200 Lens Throw

Lens throw distances work out like this for the normal 100″ 16:9 aspect ratio, HDTV shaped screen:

Measured from front of the lens to the screen, the W1200 projector can be placed as close as 10 feet, 2 inches (3.09 meters), and as far back as 15 feet 7 inches. These are rounded numbers, taken from the W1200 manual. BenQ suggests a 3% error tolerance, so measure carefully if you are mounting at one extreme end of the range, or the other.

Lens Shift

No lens shift for the BenQ W1200, but that’s so typical of lower cost 1080p DLP projectors. The lens offset is fairly significant, also typical of lower priced single chip DLP projectors. I do believe that the significantly more expensive BenQ W6000 may still be the least expensive DLP projector for the home to offer lens shift. On the other hand, lens shift is found on just about every 3LCD and LCoS projector out there for home use.

When placed on a table, the projected image will be higher up. The BenQ has an adjustable front foot, which might be handy if your screen area is way above the projector, but if your screen bottom and table height are about the same, then you need to raise the rear. Since only one of the two feet are adjustable, that means outside help. I found myself stuffing Blu-ray disc boxes under the rear to raise it up enough to get the image down to the bottom of the screen. I need a lower table. (Or a higher screen).

Firing the BenQ W1200 at a 100 inch, 16:9 diagonal screen, the center of the lens needs to be 16.8 inches above the top of the screen surface, if ceiling mounting, or the same 16.8 inches below the bottom of the surface if placed on a table or floor. That’s great if you want to put it on a low table or the floor. But it can create challenges when mounting.

A great many low cost DLP’s have this same amount of offset, or very close to it. There are a few, with less. Interestingly, it was BenQ for years, that built projectors with 0 offset – lens even with top (or bottom) of the screen. The 0 offset works best for most folks with average or low ceilings though, if mounting. Those with high ceilings like having more offset, as it puts the projector higher up, more out of view.

With that much lens offset, a number of folks will find they can’t use this projector with larger screens (110″ diagonal and larger) in rooms with 8 foot or lower ceilings, or at the least, it will be a close thing.

Here’s a short section I’ve used in other reviews of projectors with the same offset:

Consider, this common mounting situation:

8 foot ceiling, 120 inch diagonal screen:
Assume the home theater projector is mounted about as close as possible to the ceiling, with a drop of about 10 inches from ceiling to center of lens.

Then, for the 120″ screen, the lens offset is just a fraction less than 20 inches. The screen height is about 59 inches. Bottom line: 96 inches (ceiling) -10, -20, -59 = 7 inches – the bottom of the screen would be just over 7 inches off the floor.

That much offset, though, is handy for placing a projector on a table below screen height, but is a challenge in those lower height ceilings if mounting.

Then consider a super popular sized screen – the classic 100″ diagonal (most folks seem to have from 100″ to 110″ best I can tell). Compared to above, the drop is 16.8 inches(call it 17), and the screen height only 50 inches. That now has the bottom of the screen at 19 inches off the floor. That’s reasonable if you have tiered seating, but really tough in the more typical non-theater environments where the W1200 will be watched. If you want a bunch of folks over, the ones in the back are going to have some real viewing problems with the picture starting only about a foot and a half from the floor!

From a table top standpoint, which is going to be a very popular way many people will use their W1200s, the extra offset is generally a very good thing. This allows you to have the projector completely below the bottom of the projected image. That means the table and projector won’t be blocking anyone’s view (unless they’re REALLY close to the floor). That 17 inches of offset is a real bonus. If you put the projector flush on the floor, for example, the bottom of the image (for that 100 inch size) would already be about 21 inches off the floor. (Note: remember you are measuring from the center of the lens height, not the top or bottom of the projector.)

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