Classroom Projector Report: BenQ Projectors Commentary
For BenQ, we considered the LW61ST (click for full review) in this years Classroom Projector Report. We have also decided to look at the BenQ M series, which consists of the MW851UST, MW860USTi, and MX850UST projectors.
6/7/2012 - Art Feierman
BenQ Projectors - A Quick Look
|BenQ MW851UST||BenQ MW860USTi||BenQ MX850UST|
What they all have in common:
DLP technology, maximum resolution of 1600x1200, HDMI, Monitor Out (VGA), 10W stereo speakers, close captioning, network notification, network control, remote mousing, short-throw lens, replacement lamp that costs $219, 3 year P/L warranty, 3D ready
The BenQ MW851UST is identical to the MX850UST we will discuss last, except that it is widescreen. The W in MW851UST stands for WXGA resolution, or widescreen (the MX850UST is XGA resolution). The MW851UST costs $1899 (MSRP), and for that you get 2500 lumens (pretty good brightness) and 13000:1 contrast ratio (very good, meaning blacker blacks than many business/education projectors). This DLP projector comes equipped with HDMI, Monitor Out and a USB input, meaning great source flexibility and connectivity. You can present a variety of ways!
The MW851UST also comes with two 10W speakers, enough to handle a decent amount of sound to small- to medium-sized room during your classroom or office meeting presentation. It has a short throw lens, which means you can place it pretty close to the projector screen and not have to worry about shadows behind you or being blinded during your presentation. The MW851UST also weighs 11.7 lbs., which is not really considered that portable but is portable enough that you can move it from classroom to classroom without breaking a sweat.
In terms of maintenance and upkeep, the MW851UST comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty that will keep you covered. The lamp life is solid--3500 hours in full power and 5000 hours in eco-mode--so it'll last longer and save you money.When it comes time to replace it, the replacement lamp costs $219, which is pretty average. The MW851UST also has a network notification system that will tell you when the projector needs maintenance so you stay on top of things.
All in all, the MW851UST is a strong choice for your school or business environment. If you want widescreen, a good picture and nice connectivity, consider the MW851UST.
Of these three projectors, the BenQ MW860USTi is the odd one out. First, it is more expensive (MSRP $2499 instead of $1799 or $1899). But what do you get for that extra buck?
Like the MW851UST discussed above, the MW860USTi is widescreen with native WXGA resolution. It is more portable, weighing 9.2 lbs. instead of 11.7 lbs. It is brighter (3000 lumens instead of 2500), but has a significantly lower contrast ratio of 2600:1. It comes with the same connectivity of USB, HDMI and Monitor Out as the first projector, meaning versatile presentations.
So why the MW860USTi and not the others? If you can afford the extra $500-600, you get better brightness that can survive a slight larger amount of ambient light and more portability. Perfect for a bright classroom or a hallway of conference rooms.
Last but not least is the MX850UST. It differs from the other two in one key way--it is not widescreen. The MX850UST is of native XGA (1024x768) resolution. Otherwise, it is identical to the first projector above, the MW851UST, and therefore is an equally fine projector for just $100 less (widescreens are typically more expensive than non-widescreens).
The cheapest of the three, if you don't need widescreen, the MX850UST is a great choice.