When you’re looking at putting together a gaming setup at home, you’ve got some hard decisions to make. One of the hardest is the display you’re going to select.
If you’re looking for the most immersive experience, you’ll want to game with the biggest screen possible. While TVs are certainly creeping up in size and down in price, they still can’t match projectors in terms of size.
The BenQ W1210ST 1080p DLP projector is specifically designed for gamers, with engineers focusing on minimising input lag, which means your console or PC inputs over HDMI are transferred directly to your wall and even with the twich gaming of a first person shooter or a high stakes racing game, your inputs are reflected instantly making for a great overall experience.
The difference between this and many other projectors on the market is that this comes with a dedicated game (and game light) mode. This means the 2200 lumens with a 15000:1 contrast ratio, the 1.07 billion colours are delivered through the 6 speed color wheel (RGBRGB), projected onto your wall and look amazing. Even on my standard painted office wall, with no-dedicated projector screen, the game mode looked great, demonstrating the full capabilities of the projector.
The W1210ST comes in a white and silver finish with a fierce red ring around its eyeball. The edges are curved to give the relatively slim projector (121.7mm) a slick overall appearance. I suspect most will ceiling mount this projector and the white will help it blend in the with roof, a great design choice, rather than try and draw attention to itself with a feature colour.
The projector actually comes in a carry case and suggests its portability, so if you’re someone who regularly packs up the Xbox and ships off to a friends house, you’ll be happy with the light 3.6kg weight.
There’s plenty of venting (at the back, both sides and even at the front) to disperse the heat using large internal fans, which spin slower keeps the noise down to seriously low 29 decibels. This is important during quiet cut scenes as the last thing you want is to hear a noisy projector interrupting the immersion you’ve created.
The projection is designed to be at its best between 60″ and 120″ but with enough room can create up to 300″ screens. I did find that in smaller rooms, the lens configuration meant the projection was too large for the room, even when fully zoomed out. At just 1.5 meters from the wall, the projector generates a mega 100″ projection, so you’ll need to do your maths if you plan or permanently mounting it. Of course you can make things smaller by moving the projector closer to the wall, but in certain configurations, that’d mean its on your coffee table.
The BenQ W1210ST features physical adjustments with rotating stands at the rear and a press button drop down stand at the front. This allows for fairly accurate positioning, however I’d like to see the rear stands be longer and more sturdy when fully extended.
After you’ve positioned the projector in the room, you’ll likely need to do some adjustment on the software side. Thanks to a dedicated button on the remote, adjusting the keystone is dead simple.
When it comes to the general user interface on the projector, there’s 2 modes, beginner or advanced. The beginner option features a large, friendly UI made up of a simply grid of options, while the advanced mode is the more traditional tabbed menu style.
Whenever you consider buying a projector, you need to consider the lamp life because unlike a TV, it will need replacing eventually. To look at it another way, your TV will eventually die like every other piece of consumer electronics in your house, but with a projector you simply buy another lamp and you’re away and racing again. This model has between 3,000 and 7,000 hours per lamp depending on the mode you choose to run it in. Normal will get you 3,500 hours, Eco delivers 5,000 and Smart Eco gets you a mega 7,000 hours.
Lets assume you’re going to watch TV as well as game on this projector. Back in 2013, the ABS found that Australian adults spent and average of 13 hours a week watching TV and 1 hour playing games. Personally I know I play a lot more hours gaming, but these are averages. Undoubtedly these times have increased in the last few years since that data was collected, so lets round up to 15 hours per week. That means even on the Normal mode, you could run the projector for 233 weeks or 4.4 years before requiring a new lamp. In reality, you do loose a little bit of brightness by backing things off to the Eco modes, if you’re in a light controlled environment, you may not care.
When it comes to inputs in the back of the projector, you get 2x HDMI, one of which supports MHL and a USB port. I connected Microsoft’s Wireless HDMI adapter so I could project from my Surface Pro 3 or Galaxy S7, both of which worked great.
There’s also a 12V Trigger connector a USB Mini-B a very old school VGA port and Audio in and out.
When it comes to Audio, the W1210ST features 2x 10W internal speakers which are fine if you have absolutely no other audio options, but if you’re investing in a projector, do yourself a favour and invest in audio, its the other half of the experience you need to deliver the immersive feeling of being in the virtual world you’re playing.
When it comes to the remote, the layout is logical which may sound like an expected list item, but far too often we’ve seen this be messed up. Thankfully BenQ included backlighting so when you’re playing well into the early hours, you can easily find your way around the buttons. Press any button and the semi-transparent buttons will be illuminated by a red backlight for a few seconds and if you don’t interact with it again the light goes out.
To cover off a couple other checkbox items, this projector also supports 3D, but I figure we’ve all moved past that by 2017. Perhaps the better feature is Picture-in-Picture which allows you to multitask, like watching Supercars on Foxtel Play from your laptop while also cutting laps of Bathurst in Forza or Project Cars.
Pricing and availability
The BenQ W1210ST is available now for A$1,299.00 at mwave.com.au. The projector is still new on the market, arriving in mid-November, the RRP is A$1,499.00.
For what you get that’s a great value for money, especially considering Acer’s horrendous red and black gaming projector costs A$1,6,99.00.
BenQ have done a great job at creating a projector for the home that allows you to watch movies, TV, or play video games at 100″ and beyond. For projectors to continue to compete with their growing LCD competitors, they need to keep iterating and evolving and right now the extra size afforded by a projector remains the number one reason to go in that direction.
After recently being spoiled by the 4K image quality of the BenQ W11000, the difference was noticeable as 1080p continues to age. That said the price difference between the two is substantial and highlights how far projectors have to move in a relatively short period of time. Later this year Microsoft are set to ship Project Scorpio, the first console that will deliver 4K gaming, so BenQ and their competitors need to ensure future models do support 4K.
What I can tell you is that the experience of having majority of your field of view taken up with the game, is an incredibly awesome experience. When used as a display for my GT Ultimate V2 racing simulator, this really felt like I’d created timezone in my house, a timezone I could race on any time of the day and that’s a great place to be.
There’s actually an optional wireless kit you can get for the W1210ST which I wish was included. It lets you connect HDMI sources to a breakout box and have them wirelessly transmit (with zero latency) to the projector in another room.