BenQ LW61ST - Image Quality
5-28-2012 - Art Feierman
BenQ LW61ST Picture Quality
Perhaps most interesting is that this BenQ LW61ST (click for specs) projector really doesn't have an especially "Ugly Mode" Now Ugly Modes are pretty standard on projectors. Maybe its the laser light source, or something else, but with most business and education projectors the brightest possible mode is also typically an Ugly one. How ugly varies. Many LCD projectors in their Dynamic (brightest) modes tend to have way too much green. With DLP projectors brightest modes usually mean bright fire engine reds tend to come out looking like dark red wine, and bright, pure yellows - well, typically they show as a mustardy yellow-green.
Consider this first image; taken with the projector in Dynamic - pouring out its maximum measured 1485 lumens, just a few minutes after power up:
Click image to see larger version:
BenQ LW61ST Projector: Color
Color reproduction, in general, was excellent on the LW61ST for a business projector in its class. There is definitely some shifting from one of the modes to the next (of course), but with this BenQ - there seems to be one anomaly. When I was providing signal from my Mac, color was fine, as long as I didn't have the Mac and LW61both at 1280x800. In that case, it's actually the yellow that's strong in the brightest mode - Dynamic. But wait! When I tried other combinations of resolution between the laptop and the projector, Dynamic looked great. One of the very best "Dynamic modes" around Bright reds aren't as dark as some DLP's more of a a lighter ruby color. Other, less bright modes improve color even more. Presentation is a bit cool, but looks great on most content. Cinema and sRGB, of course are no where near as bright. Cinema seems very warm, so that adjusting the color temp from Warm improves. I should note that in that one combination, the BenQ despite the slight pale yellow shift, still looks a bit better than most LCD projectors like the Epson Powerlite 435W, which is a direct competitor.
One other note, there is a slight tendency in various modes for blue to have a slight purplish caste. This likely could be corrected in the color management system, if it was highly critical.
This BenQ projector is also designed to work with various colored "white" and black boards. We did not try shining this projector on a colored wall to see how it would perform. A colored wall or "green" board, or other colored surface immediately creates challenges. The LW61ST, like a number of other projectors offers matching to different color surfaces, but it is always a compromise. A white screen is still ideal, or a white marker board. Anything else is inherently a compromise, so don't expect a picture on a colored surface to look as good, or be as bright as projecting onto a white screen.
Bottom Line on color: Overall, very good color. Especially the brighter modes, compared to the competition. The LW61ST is of the best DLP business / education projectors we've reviewed in the last year in terms of color. That said, in all but "best" modes, most 3LCD projectors still have the color advantage. For all but color accuracy critical applications, though, this BenQ LW61ST projector should do fine. For that matter, it has a full color management system to further refine the color.
BenQ LW61ST Projector: Video Performance
A most pleasant surprise! First, I really was expecting the laser light source to make its mark (be noticeable). By that I mean that using a laser light source would "color" or add a shimmer to the image in such a way that it's laser design is easily detectable (and usually that's a bad thing). In this case, whether still content or video, this projector seemed like just like any projector with a conventional lamp. If anything, it seems to do better color than most of the DLP competition, expecially when their brightest modes are needed.
Not bad! The shorter the throw, the tougher it is to put a crisp sharp image across the entire screen. We've seen some ultra-short projectors that just can't seem to maintain reasonable sharpness across the screen. Very short throws like this projector are often a touch soft compared to standard throw projectors. When looking at spreadsheets at normal viewing differences, though, it really is not a problem, even though it could be a touch better. A nice LCD projector that's standard throw (about twice as far away), will look crisper, but no problem, really, with this BenQ in terms of readability, even on small type. Note, that like most other (ok, all) very short throw and ultra-short throw projectors, there is a certain amount of bowing at the top. The center top is curves downward from the corner. This is an optical issue, that is inherently minimal with longer throw designs.
Still there is always some optical bowing with every projector, and the amount this BenQ has, is normal for a very short throw design.