BenQ W1080ST Home Theater Projector Review

No surprises here at all.  Nor should there be.  BenQ’s been going with the same general look and feel to the menus, that they used back when I owned one of their PE-8700 projectors (6 years ago?)  The main menus are selected by using the navigation to move right or left.  The first menu on the left is the Picture menu.  It has all the usual things you will find there, starting with selecting from the modes.

Unfortunately, you can’t press Enter and see all the modes and pick one using the navigation.  Instead, you have to scroll through them one at a time.  The good news is most people won’t need to change the mode once setup, except if you need Dynamic mode from time to time.

There is a submenu labeled Advanced, with additional related controls.

Below, the Advanced sub-menu.  Note the Clarity control.  Click enter and you will find only an Image noise adjustment.  I was trying to figure out why an extra layer of submenu for a single control.  I have concluded its because some other BenQ models have more than one control in their Clarity sub.

Below, the User Mode management let’s you determine which of the other modes you want to use as the starting point for setting up User 1,2, 3.

The Display sub-menu, has digital zoom – you might find it useful. It’s not something you expect on a home projector, but it is a fairly common business projector feature.  The W1080ST has Overscan, but not Masking.  It’s nice to have a choice, if you have to get rid of some image noise around the edges as sometimes shows up with cable or satellite HDTV.   There is also 3D which brings up a submenu.

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W1080ST Menus slideshow

W1080ST Menus

The Picture menu

W1080ST Menus

The Advanced sub menu

W1080ST Menus

User mode management

W1080ST Menus

The display sub menu

3D Sub Menu

Didn’t spend much time playing within this menu, but I did notice after just watching 3D off of my PS3 with the Blu-ray stacked frames, switching to HDTV, I had to manually go in and select Side-by-Side.  And, at that point Auto was grayed out, as was the case with the W1070.  Not sure if there’s a trick to keep Auto working, or if my issue occured due to some combination of circumstances and settings. Regardless, it’s a minor hassle once every so often, at the very most. Again, the projector seems to need to be manually put into side-by-side 3D, when you watch 3D off of HDTV.

Here’s how you control the audio:

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3D Sub Menu slideshow

3D Sub Menu

Audio setup menu

3D Sub Menu

Color Management menu

3D Sub Menu

System setup - Basic

3D Sub Menu

System setup - Advanced

Color Management:  Here’s the full CMS screen for individual color calibration. The System Setup menu offers you everything from menu language selection to a Sleep timer.  From here you can also change sources, and set the orientation (Front or Rear projection, Ceiling to Table). Interestingly, usually “Advanced” menus are sub-menus, as is the case with the Picture – Advanced menu.  The System Setup Advanced, though is a separate menu.  Some of the highlights – Lamp settings (Normal Economic and Smart-Eco), there’s a test pattern, High Altitude and Quick cool modes.  Plus, this projector offers password protection (more of a business projector feature), and also the ISF menu for calibrators.

Click to enlarge, so close

Below, the password area for entering the ISF saveable modes. (That image is from the W1070 menus not the W1080ST.  The idea here, is that most calibrators are ISF certified.  You’ve got two modes here for them to calibrate usually referred to as ISF Day and Night (with and without ambient light).  Of course, few people will hire a professional calibrator for their W1080ST projector.   Which reminds me.  We publish most of our calibration settings here.

Click Image to Enlarge

BenQ W1080ST Remote Control

I really don’t care if a projector is supposedly designed for a family room or a dedicated home theater.  Any remote that isn’t backlit starts out with one big strike against it.  This BenQ has that one strike.

The remote control for the W1080ST is a smaller white affair, but still far bigger than “credit card” type remotes.  Buttons are mostly small, as the whole remote is only about four inches long.

I won’t bother to tell you what all the buttons are, as they are readable in the photo on the right.

Click Image to Enlarge

BenQ W1080ST Lens Throw

For a standard 100″ diagonal 16:9 screen, the BenQ W1080ST can be placed as close as 5 feet, or as far back as 6 feet. The lens is a 1.2:1 manual zoom.

BenQ W1080ST Lens Shift

This is one of the defining differences between this W1080ST and it’s sibling the W1070.  The W1070 offers a modest amount of vertical lens shift.  Not so the W1080ST.  One could argue that it should be less needed with a short throw projector, and that it is probably more challenging to add variable lens shift to the shorter throw model.  Still whatever the reason, it is missed.  The W1070 is one only a very few of the under $1500 projectors to offer lens shift.  Without lens shift you do need to pay more attention to the proper height above the screen where you should mount the projector.  If on a table, you can probably change the table, or raise up the projector.  In a pinch, there’s always keystone correction and the small degradation it causes to the image.

BenQ W1080ST Anamorphic Lens - Widescreen

The W1080ST doesn’t support an anamorphic lens.  Why?  Because it’s sort of silly to pair a $1500 - $4000 anamorphic lens with a $1000 projector.

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