BenQ’s latest 4K marvel delivers a dynamic cinema experience at home.
A lot of home cinema buffs breathed a huge sigh of relief when 4K projectors were released for the first time on a domestic level. That relief soon turned to disappointment for some though due to the high price tags. In the last couple of years however, 4K projectors have become relatively affordable for mere mortals to purchase and enjoy at home. No surprises then that we’re now seeing even more affordable products being released under the £2000 mark, such as the BenQ W1700. You can now have a huge Ultra HD experience for a price comparable to that of some OLED and QLED televisions.
So how has BenQ managed to achieve this? As with its 1080p projectors, the W1700 uses a traditional DLP chip but with pixel-shifting technology, illuminating the mirrors multiple times to achieve a 4K resolution. Combined with low-dispersion coating on its lens and features such as its ‘Auto HDR Natural Color Rendition’ system, the W1700 supports HDR10 for more realistic and accurate colours. Only 1 of its 2 HDMI inputs is 4K HDCP 2.2 enabled but that shouldn’t pose a problem as most people will be using their projector with an AV receiver or soundbar. Standard connections such as VGA for older computers, a 3.5mm aux jack audio output and a 12V connection to trigger automatic projector screens are included too.
Size-wise, the W1700 surprises as soon as it’s out of the box in that it is dwarfed by other 4K projectors that we’ve previously seen. It’s really no bigger than the normal 1080p units we see, which will really please people who have limited space or just prefer the aesthetic of a smaller box, regardless of whether it’s ceiling mounted or sat on a coffee table. The included remote is clearly laid out and more importantly features a backlight when any buttons are pressed making it very practical in a dark room. The menu systems are also easy to navigate and allow for easy set up changes. Unlike other competing models in a similar price bracket, the W1700 features keystone adjustment so it can placed lower or higher than where the image is intended to be shown.
We started off our test by spinning one of our go-to discs for 4K content; Planet Earth 2. As soon as David Attenborough begins talking about the desert Butcher Bird the W1700 shows off its plumage in all its glory. Individual strands on feathers are crisply rendered and although there are no motion settings to toy with, the judder from panning shots of the bird swooping over dried up vegetation isn’t over the top or unnatural. Although the W1700 is set to ‘Vivid TV’ mode when you first use it, you don’t get a much overblown colour saturation and picture noise as you might expect.
Colours are snappy and eye-catching, though we preferred to keep it in ‘Cinema’ mode in the end due to a better balance between colours and slightly better detail in the contrast despite the softer brightness. It’s also easier on the eyes over longer periods which can be in issue when viewing larger images. We also tried out a 1080p version of The Martian and although the Red Planet didn’t jump out in quite the same way, the skin tones and colour balance again were remarkably composed as you watch Matt Damon trudge around the planet.
All projectors tend to struggle with reproducing HDR content as they can’t reproduce the same contrast as TVs can, but the BenQ still performs admirably despite only having a 10:000 ratio and lumens rated at 2200. It’s also remarkably free of the “rainbow effect” (seeing flashes of red, green and blue when there’s movement on screen) that can be common in DLP projectors. As mentioned before, the addition of keystone adjustment and a throw ratio of 1.47 – 1.76 make it fairly flexible in terms of placement and with a very competitive price point, it’s hard not to see the W1700 becoming a go-to product for those that want 4K on the big screen without having to sell a kidney!
This projector really needs to be seen to be believed so if you want to try it out yourself, phone your local Richer Sounds store to book a demonstration.
Author: Steve, Bristol store