When it comes to home theatre setups, the standard choice is either a high-definition LCD or Plasma TV. With them, come budget constraints. For example, LCD TVs above the 42 and 46-inch size are extremely expensive in comparison to their smaller counterparts. Plasma TVs do offer slightly ffordable models but they are in no way comparable to the size, a projector may offer you. Projectors have had some issues too, one of which is the cost and resolution supported. Most projectors for the longest period supported upto 1024x768 resolutions. It’s only now that 720 projectors have become affordable. The BenQ W1200 is one of the few full HD (1080p) projectors available in the market today.
The BenQ W1200 is a DLP projector that supports a resolution of 1920x1080, higher than most projectors we’ve seen recently. Lamp life is one of the major concerns with any projectors and replacing the bulb can be expensive and it’s one of the reasons most users prefer to avoid projectors. BenQ states that the lamp on the W1200 has a life of 2500 hours, which roughly means that it should last you two years, if you use it for say, 3 hours a day. This, like most other projectors isn’t meant to be used day in and day out for watching TV and using as a monitor for your PC. BenQ also states a lamp life of 4000 hours if you use the economy mode.
One of the sub-1 lac rupee full HD projectors in the market
In terms of connectivity, there’s a lot, keeping aside network connectivity in the form of the Ethernet port. For video, there are the two HDMI ports, which is good to see on a projector such as this. This means you can easily hook up a media player or HTPC and a gaming console and switch between them as needed. For older systems, there’s the D-Sub port input as well as output. It’s the same case with the audio connects - there are two 3.5mm ports - one for input and the other for output. Component, S-Video and composite are also present with two RCA connects for the left and right audio channels.
Design and Build Quality
The design of the W1200 is pretty modern and should fit into your living room just fine, without looking awkward or dated. A white glossy finish is on the top and there’s a large lens at the front that’s protected by a detachable lens cover. The zoom and focus controls are easily accessible and the top and the remainder of the device controls are placed right behind it. The placement of the controls is tasteful and gives the entire product a very classy look and feel. The zoom and focus dials are smooth and offer the right resistance and fluidity - this makes zooming easy.
There are large vents on either side of the projector. They are used to cool the projector using the two fans hidden inside the projector. There are also two, fairly large sized speakers on either side of the projector. The front of the projector, like many other models has a button that you push that releases the stand, which in turn lets you change the inclination of the projector. The height of the feet at the front cannot be changed, but only one on the rear can be.
Physical controls positioned all neatly placed on the top of the projector
Even the remote is chunkier, larger and more attractive than most of the projectors seen in the market. It’s easier to hold and buttons are all spaced out well and categorized well. And it’s not like, they’ve skimped on controls for the features on the remote either. There are controls for pretty much everything in the form of buttons, so you don’t have to hunt through the menus for the right setting. This is one of the few very user-friendly, homely looking and feeling routers out there. The W1200 by no means looks like a business projector and sure, it’s not the most compact of projectors out there either, but it’s a good change from what we’ve seen. There are ceiling mounting provisions made at the base of the projector.
In DisplayMate, its performance in the contrast level tests were average. Not all of the blocks were clearly visible in the screen with grey blocks increasing in intensity. Colours seemed a very tiny bit off. In the basic colour test, colours appeared a tad bright for our liking. There was a clear seam visible where two colours met, such as between Red and Blue and between Pink and Green. Darkness levels in this screen weren’t very clear either. The controls are extremely responsive in the sense that even a unit increase in brightness or contrast affects the screen a lot.
Two HDMI ports, a component - sufficient HD capable inputs
In text contrasting backgrounds do mess up a bit. The edges don’t appear very clear. Turning on noise reduction and clarity enhancements adds a thicker band around the characters. Colours although saturated aren’t too off - this is the case with the colour enhancements turned off. Turn it on, and the saturation increases. Colour gradient blocks appear evenly except for on the brighter end of the spectrum with colours such as Blue and Green, where the last two brightest blocks blend - this is a minor issue though. Complex test patterns of closely lined up lines also appear fine.
The image quality in movies is good. There’s no framing or delay in the video stream. The average contrast ratio means the image looks a tad pale, but tweaking the contrast and brightness does make you achieve that balanced sweet spot eventually. Some colours stand out more than the others such as blue. We recommend turning off the colour enhancements to keep this as low as possible.
The speakers as suspected are loud and sound alright. They happen to be louder than most of the projectors we’ve reviewed in the past. Clarity is average and the projector has options that let you tweak the treble and bass. The projector like any other does heat up a bit after a while. The fans don’t make a racket though - there’s the same amount of noise that you’d find at the back of a small PC. In short, it doesn’t take you away from the movie watching experience one bit.
The BenQ W1200 isn’t the ultimate of projectors out there. The full 1080p resolution does add a bit more to the detail, but you absolutely must use 1080p video on it to take advantage of it.
The BenQ W1200 - a 'homely' looking projector
The BenQ W1200 sells for a price of Rs. 95,000 in India. A decent HD 720p capable offering such as BenQ’s own W700 offers similar performance for much cheaper at Rs. 52,000. If you’re going to be viewing 720p media most of the time, you’re better off with that.