Projector Reviews

BenQ CH100 Projector Review – Performance

BenQ CH100 Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise

CH100 Brightness

CH100 Brightness Measurements
Bright Mode 886 Lumens
Graphic (sRGB) Mode 564 Lumens
Motion Video Mode 825 Lumens
Lectures Mode 528 Lumens
Cinema (Film) Mode 560 Lumens
Vivid Color Mode 443 Lumens

The BenQ CH100 measured almost 12% short of its 1,000-lumen claim, but came “close enough” at 886 lumens in its brightest mode – most projectors will measure between 5-20% below claim. What blew me away about this projector is how bright its 886 lumens actually were. I tested the projector handling ambient light and it performed better than the Acer with 2,300+ lumens. That is due to the difference in light engines, the Acer’s being lamp-based and the BenQ having an LED light source. Score another point for the BenQ CH100.

It is less important whether or not the projector meets specs than how it performs for the price. Well, let’s get some perspective here. The BenQ CH100, $999, is full HD, has 1,000 lumens (which was standard back in 2003), and is a larger portable DLP projector. The LG MiniBeam PF1000, a competing (ultra-short throw) LED portable projector, is also full HD and has 1,000 lumens, but is much smaller and can be found for $1,199.

Additional differences between the two projectors are in the speakers – the CH100 produces much better sound than the LG PF1000, and in special features. The PF1000 has a Digital TV input, Bluetooth audio, online apps and a browser, built-in ethernet and Wi-Fi, and a remote control with a pointer. So that extra cost of the LG is made up for by its extra features and better portability – if it’s got what you’re looking for.

The Viewsonic PJD7822HDL is a home entertainment/business crossover projector that claims 3,200 lumens, is also 1080p, has a lot of zoom capability and is highly compact – for $789. From a home entertainment perspective, the PJD7822HDL has 3D and the CH100 does not. The BenQ HC1200, which I saw for as low as $679 (MSRP $999 when we reviewed it two years ago), is a lamp-based model that claims 2,800 lumens and has a good amount of zoom, but lousy a lamp hour rating – 2,000 at full power. Most people won’t put on more than 1,000 hours a year, so this is a minor nuisance.

Which of these projectors is better or worse? There’s no such thing. It is not about which projector is “better,” but rather, which one will fit your needs. Are you looking for more lumens for dealing with a lot of ambient light, a lower cost, more portability, or better features? These are questions to ask yourself as you continue along in your search for your perfect projector.

The CH100 performs very well in terms of brightness, even though it fell short of claim. In this case, the brightest modes – Bright and Motion Video – will produce enough brightness to cut through a good amount of ambient light, provided the presentations or videos you are showing are not heavy on the blacks. With the blinds fully open and all the light of high noon spilling into the house, the CH100 could handle bright colored and high-white images without losing too much pop. By comparison, when I played a TV show with a lot of dark scenes, it was really difficult to differentiate between shapes. Lowering the blinds, but not shutting them helped considerably.

In the previous section, I provided photos of presentations that had been shot with the blinds closed but with ambient light leaking in, and those images looked good. If you know you’re going to present in a conference room where there are large glass windows and no blinds, you’ll want to consider using lighter background and image colors in your presentation – black text will be fine.

If you know you’re going to present in a conference room where there are large glass windows and no blinds, you’ll want to consider using lighter background and image colors in your presentation – black text will be fine. You should be able to show an effective presentation using Motion Video, when high brightness and color are important. Bright Mode will be useful in situations with a lot of ambient light where color is less important. The other modes all performed in the same ballpark as each other, coming in around the 500’s. These modes also have excellent color and are suitable for business and education applications in a semi-darkened or fully-darkened room.

Color Lumens VS White Lumens

We did not measure the color lumens of the CH100, only white lumens, but I feel it is worthy of discussion here. 3LCD and LCoS (and expensive 3 chip DLPs) will typically have as many color lumens as white ones, so they can put out some pretty good color close to max brightness. DLP’s usually suck at this because they game it with their color wheels – to push out more white lumens.
That’s not normally the case with LED based DLPs. The CH100’s Motion Video Mode, which is almost as bright as the brightest mode, has pretty good color, including bright reds and yellows that look right. Normally, even near brightest modes have murky yellows with lots of green, and reds that are dark red like Merlot wine. This projector, however, has extremely good color except in its very brightest mode.
Compared to lamp-based DLPs, the CH100 can do much better color near its maximum brightness, while the other DLPs often are down 30-50% in brightness before color gets really good.

CH100 Contrast

The CH100 has a high contrast ratio of 100,000:1, which is better than many business/education projectors in its class. The Casio I’ve mentioned (of a higher class/price point) only had a contrast ratio of 20,000:1. Contrast is a strength of DLP projectors, and results in these types of projectors having better blacks than competing projectors using LCD technology. The black levels are rather excellent, and BenQ lives up to its marketing of this projector as a crossover home entertainment unit. Even with ambient light present, the blacks still look pretty black -a major plus as the CH100 will not likely be used in a fully darkened room for most applications.

Audible Noise

The BenQ CH100 is a fairly quiet projector. When I was using it for projecting presentations and text without sound, I barely noticed the sound of its operation. At 30db, this projector has lower operating sound levels than many more expensive projectors.

While I was taking photos of the movies included in this review, the projector was so quiet that I didn’t even detect any sound at all. I’m not sensitive to that type of white noise, as I’m around it all the time with computers, projectors and other technology that uses fans, but I am positive that the projector will be quiet enough to hold the attention of those being presented to. That is, the audible noise of the BenQ CH100 will not be distracting.

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