BenQ W1200 Home Theater Projector Review
BenQ W1200 as a Gaming Projector
The BenQ W1200 throws a very bright, accurate image. However, the 100+ms input lag measurements mean this projector is a no-go for any games other than slower paced RPGs and puzzle games. Newer firmware is out and is supposed to be much faster, but we have not tested it.
For more info, check out Pete’s Gaming Blog: BenQ W1200
BenQ W1200 Picture In Picture
No surprise here, BenQ has always been a big fan of PIP and POP. (PIP implies a large image with a smaller image positioned inside, while POP usually means two side by side, non-overlapping images of the same size). The W1200 offers only PIP. One thing though – typical of most projectors with PIP, is that your choice of inputs is somewhat limited.
The BenQ W1200 may have two HDMI ports, but, as with almost all projectors, there’s only one HDMI circuit, so you can only use HDMI for one source. For the other source – good news, you can feed it component video – the analog alternative for high resolution output. Older BenQs often only allowed the 2nd source to be a low resolution one (composite video or S-video).
There is still one limitation. Both windows cannot be active at the same time. If you want to watch a movie on one window, the other one is static. OK, forget two football games from two satellite or cable receivers at the same time. If watching one, the other will have a frozen frame. Those doubling the W1200 as a business projector though, aren’t likely to mind. When it comes to home use… you’ll think of options where using both is fun, and doable, even if one is static. You can switch back and forth to update the one you normally want as static.
W1200 Lamp Life
For years lamp life stats for most projectors stayed stuck at 2000 hours at full power, and 3000 in eco-mode. This has started improving dramatically in the last 2-3 years. At best we’re now seeing some projectors in eco-mode reaching claims of 5000 and 6000 hours. This W1200, rated 2500 hours at full power and 4000 in eco, is slightly better than average, but not a match for the best. As a result, better than average cost of operation, but there are competitors with longer lamp life and therefore lower costs.
1.5:1 Zoom Lens
The W1200 is another recent projector following a trend – DLP projectors that are finally offering more than the absolute minimal 1.1:1 or 1.2:1 zoom lenses. I’m never sure how many people buy 3LCD projectors over DLP projectors simply because of placement flexibility advantages of the typical 3LCD projector, but it is a lot. That said, the W1200 still lacks adjustable lens shift so it can’t be (high) rear shelf mounted, although with the longer zoom range, in some rooms that aren’t too deep, you could mount the projector under a shelf on the rear wall. As with most home theater projectors though, this BenQ projector either works in your setup or not. The W1200 has more chance of working, then, say the lower cost Optoma HD20, Mitsubishi HC4000 or even the older BenQ W1000+ which are more limited.
W1200 Projector - Audio
While traditional home theater projectors come without speakers, of late, there’s been more of a tendency to add decent sound to the more entry level priced projectors. This is, no doubt due to two reasons. First, it allows the projector to double for business use (should that be a requirement), and secondly, it means simplicity if you are moving the projector from room to room, or hauling into your back yard or driveway for a summer movie nite. (it’s really good at that). A pair of 10 watt speakers does the trick. If you really want to rock the house though, a “real” surround sound system is still the way to go. But, you can hook up a powered sub-woofer, for a quick setup with some decent bass, for those outside parties, or in the bonus room.
W1200 Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion
Creating new frames between existing frames to smooth motion has been around for about 4 years now. Most folks enjoy the capability for sports and many for general non-movie content (such as Discovery HD). On the other hand, we believe most movie watchers prefer it off. The effect of CFI on 24fps movies, is to make them seem more like live digital – think “soap opera” look and feel. Very unnatural for a movie. Take your pick and preference, the W1200 projector offers Off, and Low Medium and High (creative) frame interpolation. While the W1200 offers CFI, note that on the older review unit sent me (firmware 1.02), there was a glitch, but BenQ reports that was corrected on the 1.03 firmware, which is what most folks have. The issue is one of settings accuracy. With the older firmware, every time you power up the W1200, CFI is on, even if the menu setting says off. You’ll have to enter the menus – turn it to one of the on settings and back to off, for it to go away. All considered a minor nuisance. With 1.03 firmware, when you power up, it correctly sets the CFI as the menu indicates – issue gone.
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