BenQ W1200 Home Theater Projector - Review Summary
Time for a short summary of the BenQ W1200 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
6/3/11 - Art Feierman
BenQ W1200 Projector - The Bottom Line
The BenQ W1200 isn't priced as an entry level 1080p projector. Those projectors are under $1000. The W1200 competes price wise more with several very good, step up home theater projectors. At the time of this review, online prices for the W1200 are not far below $1500. The W1200 in some ways seems to be entry level, but in others, definitely not. In overall design - no lens shift, lots of lens offset (a problem with relatively low ceilings if you are mounting, but great for table top use), its decent, but not overly impressive shadow detail and black level performance.
On the other hand, the image is probably the sharpest of any of the under $1500 projectors we've reviewed. The projector has a lot more lens throw than most DLP's with 1.5:1, for improved placement. This W1200 projector has a proper color management system and is capable of more accurate color than many of the lower cost projectors, and that, for me, is a significant plus.
W1200 Brightness: No complaints here. True, some of the less expensive cross-over type projectors like the Vivitek H1080, are even brighter, but it's hard to complain since this projector is well brighter than average. The most similar projector from a competitive standpoint must be the Mitsubishi HC4000. While the Mits may have the black level advantage, the W1200 definitely has the brightness edge. In a family room type environment - lighter walls, more ambient light, much of the difference in black levels can be lost to the viewer (not completely though), which makes the W1200 a serious competitor to a favorite of ours, but for the right room, and viewing habits.
I sort of slandered "cross-over" projectors above. Not intentionally, and the W1200 certainly is one, it's just a more expensive one with a better lens... Definitely consider the W1200 an expensive (relative to brightness), but fully functional business projector. That 1400 lumens or so it about it, and other business projectors for less might do 2500, few of us really need more than 1000 lumens for presentations. And those brighter ones aren't going to be a match when you bring it home.
I do appreciate the speakers in the BenQ W1200. I sometimes forget that a good percentage of home projectors never get mounted. They sit on tables. They get taken out of the closet for movies or a sporting event. Some make it out back or fire a movie onto the garage door.
I really think any loud action movie should have at least good bass, and no home theater projector I know of, has good bass (of those with speakers), not even the combo projectors.
For that reason, I love that the W1200 has an audio output. That can always be fed to a nice (fairly portable) powered subwoofer). You can find small ones for under $100 that will make a world of difference! Note: I use a small one - that I hide - to help out in our great room with the bass - it weighs maybe 8 pounds. What a huge difference that makes when attached to the W1200!
I like the remote. The remote is one of the better ones around (it's white - easy to find, too).
Back on the plus side, the W1200 projector is loaded with inputs. Dual HDMI and dual analog computer inputs, plus a separate component video. Once again, the BenQ boasts its audio abilities with three sets of stereio audio inputs, and an audio output too.
The Very Bottom Line on the W1200 home theater projector:
I really like the BenQ W1200. Its combination of color, brightness, and sharpness give it boost over entry level DLPs. The W1200 however, faces some real competition at its selling price and a couple hundred dollars below, from the Mitsubishi HC4000 (not as bright - better blacks), the Epson Home Cinema 8350 (even better blacks, best placement flexibility...) and the Sanyo PLV-Z700... My biggest issue has to be the variable fan speed and noise.
Note that only the Mitsubishi of those mentioned is a DLP. Up around $1500 you run into some fine LCD projectors that mostly I've felt that only the Mitsubishi HC4000 among the lower cost DLP's has competed well against. I'd be happier if the W1200 sold for a couple hundred less, but then who wouldn't. It's worth considering, it's a really nice machine with a lot of pluses, but I don't see it as a price performance leader. More of a somewhat premium product for a somewhat premium price.
I hope that makes sense. That wraps this review up, except for our lists of Pros and Cons...
Our next review is the Runco LS-5 - a bigger, badder single chip DLP projector for about five times the price (and it's not near as bright). Go figure!
BenQ W1200 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
BenQ W1200 Projector: Pros
- Bright entry level home projector with sufficient lumens to double as a portable business projector
- Definitely has that famous DLP look - with deep rich saturated colors
- Capable of screens up to 130" and maybe even larger depending on room etc.
- Color is very good post calibration, not bad right out of the box its very watchable
- Extremely sharp image
- Has everything you need to double as a competent portable business projector
- Well endowed with inputs, including 2 hdmi, 1 computer, 1 component, composite, s-video, 1 USB, 2 audio...
- Solid feel, more precision, unlike many low cost projectors that just feel cheap
- Big audio - a pair of 10 watt speakers, three audio inputs (five including HDMI), even audio out
- For portable use for home entertainment, you can use that audio out to connect a powered subwoofer
- 1.5:1 zoom lens for more range than most competitors
- Good (low) operational cost with longer than typical lamp life of 2500/4000 hours
- Large lens offset good for mounting in rooms with high ceilings, and when placing projector on low tables or floor
BenQ W1200 Projector: Cons
- Could be a bit quieter at full power, though it is quieter than most other low cost DLP's but noisier than the LCD projectors
- Worse, the projector has a variable fan level - it will speed up or slow down every so often. Many will notice when it speeds up
- Both rear feet should be adjustable
- Significant lens offset can make mounting in average or low ceiling rooms challenging
- Lack of lens shift (although typical of lower cost DLP projectors)
- Warranty could be longer - one year is minimal in the industry
- Inability to access Color saturation control with HDMI source.
- Black level performance is "entry level"
- Lacking a dynamic iris for better black level performance
- Leaks some light though the lens - not an issue though
BenQ W1200 Projector: Typical Capabilities
Other than the BenQ W1200 looking a lot like many other projectors (though it has a touch more style than many), most typical is the documentation: Not a lot of depth, or advice on why to use certain settings.
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