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First Look Projector Review: BenQ HT1075

My first impression of BenQ's new HT1075 is that is sure looks and cooks like the BenQ W1070.  Having been watching it for a week, and playing with it (Mike calibrated it first), I've come to the conclusion that it really is just a minor update on BenQ's aging, but very highly regarded W1070.  Update 10/4/2014:  Click for the full HT1075 review, just published.  Continue reading this blog for a quick overview.
BenQ HT1075 Projector

BenQ's HT1075 Home Projector looks - and cooks, very much like its predecessor - the W1070, but with a few improvements!

With that in mind, I suspect that, at some point, W1070's will fade away into history.  On BenQ's site, they still show both projectors.   I did say minor update, but remember that the older 1070 has been a stand out projector for the price. The HT1075 would seem to be the "standard" model projector.  There's also a more expensive HT1085ST, which would be the logical replacement for the W1080ST.  That HT1085ST would be the very short throw version of the HT1075.   We'll try to bring one of those in for review as well, for, when we reviewed the older W1080ST, we found that it leaked a lot of light through the lens, a problem the HT1075 and W1070 did not suffer. The BenQ HT1075's zoom lens is manual, and has a 1.3:1 zoom ratio.  Like its predecessor, it offers a small amount of vertical lens shift, a real plus for placement flexibility.  True, the amount of shift is small compared to most 3LCD projectors, and also on more expensive DLP projectors (typically double the price or more), but sometimes a little shift is all you need. MSRP of the HT1075 turns out to be $100 higher than the older W series, at $1099.  You may find though that the older W1070 sells for more than $100 less, since this one's new, and the other may well be going away.  Like the older model, it supports the usual 3D formats. So, what does your $1099 get you (that's the price on the BenQ US site)?  It can be found for less elsewhere on the web? For one thing you get a slightly brighter projector.  The HT1075 claims 2200 lumens up from the W1070's claim of 2000 lumens.  That folks, is nice, but in fairness, 10% is hardly going to get people excited since basically:  Let's say you are looking at an image with 2200 lumens behind it, and you close your eyes for 5 seconds, and when you open them again, if someone cut the brightness back to 2000 lumens, you are not going to notice a change in the brightness - it's really slight. BTW, the BenQ HT1075 easily measured brighter than its claim.  The point is, like its predessor, it has the horsepower to work well in less than ideal rooms. But there are a few other benefits with the HT1075.  For one there will be a Wireless HD module available, (for wireless HDMI) or so all the lit says.     I'll have answers in time for the full review.  Let's just say that for the moment, it may not yet be available. Update:  As of the time of the publication of the full review, BenQ has stated that the Wireless HD kit will be available in December with an MSRP of $349. Soon I hope, as BenQ has invested a lot of space on their website and brochures for the new projector, touting the cost savings of not having to wire your room.  Since I could not find info on the module on the BenQ site, I called in.  A sales person told me that it would be in the $100 to $120 range. I like having Wireless HDMI as an option.  It may well come in very handy for those who are ceiling mounting the projector.  I expect those who just place it on a table top, are more used to running cabling across the floor.  I would assume from BenQ documentation that the wireless module will have the bandwidth  and support for the usual 3D formats, including frame packing used by Blu-ray 3D. HT1075 Projector Supports MHL, which is a change from the older W series.  MHL is, in a sense to  projectors (that have speakers), what your cell phone line is to a land line.   If you have MHL, you can "cut the cord."  You can get content without that pesky cable or satellite box, blu-ray or DVD player!   The other night, I set up the HT1075 outside with a Vapex portable outdoor screen (120" diagonal), plugged in my Roku stick and was able to call up movies off of netflix.  All I had to do, was get power to the projector.  My wifi reached my front yard with good signal strength so I was able to watch content on Netflix and other channels without problems.
Rear view of BenQ HT1075 Home Theater Projector

Back of the HT1075 showing inputs and connectors. HDMI2 supports MHL.

The internal 10 watts of speaker provided the outdoor sound!  I should point out now, that there is a stereo audio out jack so that you could export sound coming in from, for example, MHL - a movie perhaps, to a larger sound system. One early complaint:  Although color proved very good after Mike's calibration (and even before, it was pretty good), On the menus, Color (saturation) was grayed out with my HDMI source.  Overall, I found that the picture seemed slightly over saturated and there was nothing I could do about it.  Still, not bad, and one could raise the brightness slightly which would help, but sure wouldn't help black level performance - which I will discuss in the full review. Lamp life is at least respectable.  BenQ claims 3000/3500/6000 hours.  But their super-economic, where they get their 6000 claim from seems to be the one that clicks in when there's no source, as it says on the screen briefly that you are saving 70% of power.   For folks that watch their projectors, and don't leave them on when not watching, how close they might get to 6000 hours could be rather distant.    Most projectors these days also offer an auto power down mode if they go a period of time without a source. Warranty is an impressive 3 years parts and labor.  There is no loaner or replacement program.  One thing to note, while the warranty is longer than many competitors at this price, BenQ's warranty page indicated original owner only, so when selling it would seem that the new owner is "on their own."  Since many competitors have but one year warranty, it's hard to complain.  Lamp warranty is 180 days or 500 hours, a bit short, relative to the claim of at least 3000 hours, but that's pretty typical in the industry, so hard to hold BenQ to the fire for that. All considered, the HT1075 looks to be a basic  "refresh" of the W1070 projector with only a handful of small improvements.   Guess what?  Since we considered the W1070 to be about as good a projector as one could have as an entry level projector for a home theater, that's not a bad place to be.  The W1070 has received our (highest award) Best In Class for under $2000 projectors in 2013, and this year, it still managed to be the Best In Class runner-up, so the HT1075 is ready to carry that mantle forward. The MHL, and the wireless options are the most major changes it would seem.  If you don't need MHL, you might want to score a W1070 while they are still available, and save up to $200.   As far as the wireless HD (HDMI), that can also be a plus, but remember, 3rd party wireless HDMI solutions are available - starting at less than $200, so don't hock your W1070 if that's all you need. As of the posting of this blog, I haven't yet measured the HT1075 from a gamer's standpoint.  The full review will publish input lag times.  Serious gamers want gaming projectors that have very little input lag.  The W1070 was pretty darn good, so we are optimistic about the HT1075 projector! My preliminary thoughts about the HT1075 would best be summed up this way:   Once again, BenQ has a low cost home projector good enough for a home theater (even if black level performance leaves much to be desired - as all projectors in this price range do) and bright enough for a family room.  The color out of the box is rather good, and even better with our calibration settings.

Overall, the BenQ HT1075m for a projector in the $1000 price range, did a very respectable job on Sunday football.

No doubt the HT1075 will be one of the best sellers in the price range, but I am a bit disappointed. After two years of praising the W1070, I simply would have hoped that its replacement raise the bar significantly.  The HT1075 will likely be every bit as successful as the W1070, but had hoped for more improvement in pure performance - primarily black levels.  Would it have killed BenQ to add a dynamic iris?  I think not.  If the HT1075 had replaced the W1070 after one year, I'd probably be praising it.  As it turns out, instead all I can say is that BenQ took an excellent, but aging projector and gave it enough minor improvements to make sure it stays very competitive. BenQ's HT1075:  Impressive!  But I had hoped for something that might rattle the competition, or rather that offered a further improvement in picture quality [prsku sku="HT1075"]

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