BenQ W500 £700

12th Feb 2008 | 10:55

BenQ W500

This PJ is portable and stylish with a price tag that’ll make you happy

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

A great portable solution to your projector needs

Like:

Compact size; Bold and bright presentation; Affordable

Dislike:

Average contrast performance; Blacks often appear grey

The W500 is one of the dinkiest LCD projectors currently available, yet it packs in everything you'll need for HD movies and gaming plus a few extra features on top.

The prism structure of an LCD chipset is several times bigger than a DLP device - usually meaning that LCD projectors look more like the Epson and Pansonic models in this group - but BenQ has managed to downsize the form factor. It still has a native 720p resolution and both HDMI and component video inputs - and it features a short throw ratio to ensure big images in a small room.

Quick setup

Helpfully, the W500 also finds room for an easy-to-use lens shift lever, so you can setup the W500 very quickly, handy for impromptu gaming sessions. Zoom and focus are adjusted manually by twisting the lens collar, while other tweaks can be done via the onscreen menu and dinky remote control.

As the throw ratio is short the projector is probably going to be positioned in front of you, either on a tabletop, or ceiling-mounted. It's a pity then, that the fan isn't a little quieter. At least it pipes down when you switch into 'film' mode, which needs less light from the lamp and therefore less cooling.

Hookup a DVD player and the W500 will auto-detect it and beam the picture straight away. On factory settings the colours seem painfully bright; it's worth taking time to calibrate it using suitable test patterns.

With a great HD transfer, such as Transformers, it's hard not to be impressed by the level of detail delivered to the screen. Every rivet is clearly defined. However, you can make out the fine grid-like structure of the LCD panel over the image. I found it slightly disconcerting. Reds, greens and blues are all bold, noise-free and well contained. They can't compare to the rich palette of the SIM2 projector reviewed elsewhere, but then that is a significant jump up in class.

Fed by a PS3, this BenQ does a fine job. The exquisite detail and lush scenery of Gran Turismo HD looks fabulous with sunlight glinting off the polished cars.

Filmic

Other projectors make a better fist of the filmic side of things, but this little LCD cracker has some advantages. It's highly portable and easy to setup - good news for those not planning a permanent installation. It also delivers great image quality for the money.

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