BenQ W1200 Projector - Physical Tour
This BenQ W1200 shares a physical look and layout, that is similar to other lower cost BenQ home entertainment and theater projectors, and even some business and educational ones. Let's take a close look;
5/25/2011 - Art Feierman
BenQ W1200 Projector - Appearance
Over all, the W1200 home projector, is a smallish medium sized projector. While there are smaller ones, this home theater projector is just still smaller than average. Most of the LCD projectors and all of the LCoS models are physcially larger (pico projectors notwithstanding).
The not-quite-recessed lens is mounted off center - too the right of center if you are facing the projector. Nearby (top right corner) is the front infra-red sensor for the W1200's remote control. That pretty much all there is on the front, besides the logo, and the button (bottom center) which releases the drop down front foot. More on that later when discussing lens shift.
That lens is a 1.5:1 manual zoom. That's more placement flexibility than found on most lower cost DLP projectors where a very lmited 1.2:1 is the most common. This gives the W1200 a bit more range in terms of placement flexibility, and having that much range even offers a manual solution to using a Cinemascope shaped screen. 1.5:1 is good. true, some others get out to 2:1, or even 2.1:1, but even among the LCoS and 3LCD designs 1.5 is respectable.
The top houses the focus and zoom rings (also recessed) for the lens. They are located just behind the lens itself. The control panel (discussed below) is located in the center back. The projector does not have any adjustable lens shift, only keystone correction (best avoided if you can).
Venting is handled primarily on the side. This allows the BenQ W1200 projector to be placed on a rear shelf, although projectors without lens shift have to be placed fairly low, or mounted upside down (as is done in a normal ceiling mount). More than likely, owners will either set the W1200 projector on a table for viewing, or have it ceiling mounted.
Vents are on the left and right. The W1200 blows the most warm air out the right side slightly toward the front. Best not to be sitting right in its path less than two feet away.
Moving to the back - you find the input panel. The W1200 is reasonably well endowed for its price range, but that too, is covered below.
Only one of the two rear feet is adjustable. That did not make me happy, and that too, will be discussed below.
W1200 Control Panel
The control panel is located on the top of the projector behind the lens. The power switch is on the bottom black bar (lit up in red). There are four arrows in a diamond formation, and in the center is the enter control. The top and bottom arrows double as keystone adjustment controls, and the left and right arrows also control volume. The top left is a "menu exit" control, "blank" blanks the screen, "auto" is an auto setup primarily used for hooking up to your computer, and "source" is to change between sources such as HDMI, etc.
W1200 Projector - Input/Output
Rather nicely equipped, the W1200 home theater projector has two HDMI inputs (hdmi 1.3). There's a standard Computer VGA connector for analog computer (HD15), three color coded RCA jacks for component video, an RS232 serial port, a USB, and two sets of audio inputs and an audio output.
And if all that wasn't enough, BenQ even packed a 12 volt screen trigger in for good measure.
The BenQ W1200 menus are very familiar. I believe BenQ groups items together well, making it easy to find most things. The menus are very readable at a good seating distance, so no issue there.
My primary complaint is that they don't use enough sub-menus. An example would be selecting the picture mode from the Picture menu above. One presses the down arrow to enter the mode, and highlight the Picture Mode line. Then arrow keys switch between Dynamic, Standard, Cinema, User 1..3. That means you can't jump directly from say User 3 to User 1.
I should note, all of the six modes have buttons on the remote, so that might be a bad example. Still, I prefer sub-menus so that you can go from one setting to any other without having to pass though unwanted ones.
In the menu above, to adjust color temp you need to toggle from Normal, to User that allows you to adjust the individual colors via the line below.
The Display menu above houses PIP, creative frame interpolation, and the Overscan control, and Digital zoom, along with other more standard features
Audio Menu is pretty self explanatory.
The System setup menu above, probably has the most things to adjust, thanks to settings menus for just about everything but the picture itself. The W1200 projector is apparently well endowed with things to adjust.
BenQ W1200 Remote Control
The remote is really nice. It's primarily white so it's easy to find in a dark room. The backlight is very bright - a green-yellow, but not blindingly so. Buttons are mostly small, but well organized, and in different shapes, making it a fairly easy remote to learn.
Any button lights up the remote's back light.
The top right button is power (once for On, twice for Off). The next row - left is Freeze, and the right is Test.
The next two rows are Input buttons, so you can jump directly from any one source to another.
Below that is the usual navigation buttons in a round formation, with a center Enter function. When not using the menus, the left and right arrows control volume, and the up and down arrows, keystone correction.
To the bottom left and right of the nav are the Menu/Exit button and the Aspect ratio button (each are semi-circular). The next row is Mute and SRS (simulated surround sound).
The next two rows are your Image presets (Cinema, Dynamic, User 1...), and below them, nine buttons with direct access to features including: Color, Tint, PIP, Gamma, and Color Temp.
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.
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.)
Anamorphic Lens - Cinemascope
This is too easy. No, the BenQ W1200 does not support an optional anamorphic lens. Why should it, it's hard enough to rationalize spending more on a lens, than the projector?
On the other hand...
I'm having no problem using the W1200 without lettterboxes, on Cinemascope movies with my 124 inch digaonal Stewart Studiotek 130, The screen iis a classic 2.35:1 aspect ratio for Cinemascope shaped movies, the same movies causing richer folks to add anamorphic lenses and motorized sleds to their more expensive projectors. so they have no letterboxing.
This goes back to comments above about a benefit of the 1.5:1 aspect ratio zoom lens.
I have the home theater projector set on a table, that allows it to fill the full width of the 124 inch screen, with a 2.35:1 movie, the actual letterbox above and below is off the screen, invisible on my dark walls. When I want to watch HDTV (or "dare I say it, 4:3), I get out of my chair, and walk to the projector and adjust the zoom, for a smaller image. Basically, I'm doing manually, what projectors like the Panasonic PT-AE4000 do with their Lens Memory feature. It works. Of course that would be a pain if the projector was ceiling mounted. The point is, if movies really are your thing, and you are going tabletop, this gives you the option of considering a Cinemascope shaped screen.
This home theater projector is so nice and bright, it had no problem at all, filling that screen, so I definitely took advantage of it when watching movies. That leaves me a size of about 97" diagonal when I zoom out to watch HDTV, so brighter still.