Review: BenQ’s affordable 4K projector, the W1700

4K projectors are still surprisingly rare, even in 2018, but BenQ now has one that’s viable for home budgets. Projectors now have more competition than ever with TVs rapidly...

4K projectors are still surprisingly rare, even in 2018, but BenQ now has one that’s viable for home budgets. Projectors now have more competition than ever with TVs rapidly growing in size and falling in cost. Despite that, if you want a really big image, then a projector is still the most affordable way of achieving that.

When you’re projecting onto a wall at large sizes, you need 4K60 quality to ensure the experience isn’t just big, but is also detailed and silky smooth. BenQ’s 4K Home Cinema Projector, the W1700 offers just that, a 3840×2160 resolution to make sure your content looks amazing.

Design

If you’ve spent a lot of money on a home theatre, the last thing you want is an ugly projector hanging from the roof, drawing the attention of guests as they enter. Sure, once you’re seated, you won’t care, but the design of the projector is important, as we manage the challenge of interior design, blending our pieces of furniture and technology harmoniously.

The white plastic body will do a good job of blending in with the roof and walls, while the dark facade and golden nameplate shows off the “4K HDR” capabilities to those paying attention. This is complemented by a golden ring around the lens opening. The other attributes are the massive vents in the body which are there for a true purpose of delivering both cooling that allows near-silent operation while also allowing the amazing sound to resonate from the body.

Given the consumer size of the projector, it’ll also play well for those who need a portable projector with high quality. It weighs just 4.2kg, which makes the W1700 the lightest true 4K projector on the market. In terms of size, the dimensions are 353 mm (W) x 135 mm (H) x 272 mm (D).

Picture quality

If you’re considering a 4K projector, you also need to consider your input sources. Personally, I had a few options to choose from, the Xbox One X, the Telstra TV 2 or a PC with a GTX1080. The Xbox was the most logical choice, given its included UHD Blu-ray drive which allowed both testing of 4K gaming and 4K movie playback.

In the past I’ve reviewed gaming and Blu-rays movies on BenQ’s 1080 projectors, as well as BenQ’s massive W11000 4K projector, providing a great base

The W1700 utilises a single-DMD 0.47” DLP technology which helps achieve the more compact profile and deliver a 4K optical system delivering colour accuracy without artifacts that can plague LCD projectors.

Sound

The audio that comes from this projector is quite frankly, amazing. Typically the speakers inside projectors are throwaway rubbish because it doesn’t make sense to invest in good speakers when users are just going to connect the projector to a surround sound system.

Here’s the thing, BenQ’s new CinemaMaster Audio+ 2 offers surprisingly great sound. When ceiling mounted, the audio reflects off the roof and walls and legitimately sounds like a surround sound system. This was an absolute surprise feature of the project and actually, a major asset, particularly if you’re moving into a new home and are overwhelmed with other costs, you could easily go months without adding the cost of speakers to your setup.

BenQ says they use EQ algorithms the dynamically adjust the sound and use exotic materials such as magnesium and rubidium alloys to produce pure vocals, delicate details, and sensual sound quality as used by Hollywood studios, without distortion or noise.

The other environment this is particularly useful is those mobile workers traveling with a laptop, you can simply connect the 4K projector to your laptop and present 4K content, with great audio. Nobody wants to lug around speakers and the sound from this will easily exceed anything available from your laptop. Turns out, those massive air vents aren’t just for airflow, they’re also for sound.

Other Features

HDR10 support
This is a must-have feature for some people buying a display solution. BenQ’s HDR technology offer greater brightness and contrast range, paired with image optimization to surface image detail, particularly noticeable in shadows. Is it as dark as my Samsung QLED, no, but then again I’m just projecting onto a painted wall, if you’re serious about your home cinema, you’ll have invested in a projector screen which will further enhance this feature.

Pixel Enhancer 4K
BenQ calls their upscaler Pixel Enhancer 4K. This takes Full HD or 1080p content and applies a sofware algorithm to improve their colours, contrast, and textures. It also offers Detail Enhancement Technology which refines surface details and while my testing of this was limited (there’s plenty of 4K content these days) I did find it worked well, to a point. Anything scaled up to 100″ is going to struggle unless its great source material (read: made in 4K), so while its good if you still have an old Xbox, its a much better experince to run native 4K from an Xbox One X and skip on the upscaler. If you connect this to a set-top box for broadcast TV, then the upscaler is a great option and a welcome inclusion.

Smart Power Saving and Long Lamp Life
One of the downsides of a projector is the lamp replacement. Understanding this paint point, BenQ decided to include a lamp that’s good for up to 15,000 hours (helped by LampSave Mode). BenQ SmartEco tech automatically adjusts lamp brightness based on content to project richer blacks and increase contrast for image details.

If you watched content for 8 hours a day, that’s 1,875 days or 5.13 years. Given your average daily usage is likely to be less than 8hrs most days, this means you could realistically be looking at 5-8 years before having to replace the bulb. This extended bulb life means the total cost of ownership could actually be lower than competitors and is definitely a point of serious consideration.

Easy Setup
When you turn on the projector, you’ll inevitably see the image skewed. To resolve this trapezoid effect you can use the vertical keystone function adjusts the image for a professionally squared image. While this projector lacks any sideways keystone adjustment, the keystone correction on offer does help it be aligned to a variety of locations.

Dual user modes
In terms of the configuration of the picture settings, there’s a range of presents like Bright, Vivid TV, Cinema, Sport and Silence, but the nice bit is two user-definable modes. This means if you and your significant other have different tastes in how the image is represented, then you can easily switch between the two settings. You may also like to have different congiurations for differen times of the day, for instance, User 1 could be for day time (brightness pumped up) and User 2 for night time viewing, for more accurate and cinema like settings.

Remote control
The remote may not seem like a big deal at first, but when you understand this is your interface to the projector, you understand it is important. Unlike modern TV remotes, projector remotes, including this one, still lack the rationalised button layouts to make operation simple and intuitive. There are a ridiculous number of buttons on the remote and they’re basically indistinguishable without looking at the remote. While the remote is backlit, the last thing you need in a dark room is to light it up when you’re searching for the volume key. This just needs to be rethought.

Specs

We know you love the details, so here are the specs for the projector.

Projection System‎ DLP‎
Native Resolution‎ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)‎
Brightness (ANSI Lumens)‎ 2200 ANSI Lumens‎
Contrast Ratio‎ 10000:1‎
Display Color‎ 30 Bits (1,07 billion colors)‎
Aspect Ratio‎ Native 16:9 (6 aspect ratio selectable)‎
Throw Ratio‎ 1.47 – 1.76 (100″ @ 3.25 m)‎
Projection Size‎ 60″ ~ 200″ / 300″‎
Zoom Ratio‎ 1.2X‎
Projection Offset**‎ 110%‎
Resolution Support‎ VGA (640 x 480) to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)‎
Horizontal Frequency‎ 15K-102KHz‎
Vertical Scan Rate‎ 23-120Hz‎
HDTV Compatibility‎ 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 2160p‎
Weight‎ 4.2 kg / 9.2 lbs‎
Dimensions (W x H x D mm)‎ 353mm x 135mm x 272mm‎
Interface‎ HDMI-1 (HDMI 2.0 & HDCP 2.2)x1
HDMI-2 (HDMI 1.4a & HDCP 1.4)x1
Computer In-1 (D-sub 15pin, Female)x1
USB Type A (1.5A power)x1
USB Type mini B (Service)x1
Audio In (mini jack)x1
Audio Out (mini jack)x1
RS232 In (D-sub 9pin, male)x1
DC 12V Trigger (3.5mm Jack)x1
IR Receiver (Front+Top)x1‎
Power Consumption‎ 385W/330W/245W (Max/Normal/Eco)‎
DMD type‎ 0.47″‎
Light Source‎ Lamp‎
Light Source Life*‎ Normal 4000 hours
Economic 10000 hours
SmartEco 8000 hours‎
Noise Level‎ 33dBA / 29dBA‎
Build in Speaker‎ 5W x 1‎
Operating Temperature‎ 0~40 degrees (Celcius)‎
Standby Power Consumption‎ 0.5W‎
Security‎ Security Bar‎
On-Screen Display Languages‎ Arabic/ Bulgarian/ Croatian/ Czech/ Danish/ Dutch/ English/ Finnish/ French/ German/ Greek/ Hindi/ Hungarian/ Italian/ Indonesian/ Japanese/ Korean/ Norwegian/ Polish/ Portuguese/ Romanian/ Russian/ Simplified Chinese/ Spanish/ Swedish/ Turkish/ Thai/ Traditional Chinese (28 Languages) ‎
Accessories (Standard)‎ Remote Control w/ Battery x 1
Power Cord (by region) x 1(3m)
User Manual CD
Quick Start Guide
Warranty Card (by region)
Lens cover x 1‎
Accessories (Optional)‎ Spare Lamp Kit
3D Glasses‎
Environmental Notice‎ *Lamp in this product contains mercury.To dispose of the product or used lamps, consult your local environment authorities for regulations or see www.lamprecycle.org.‎

**Lamp life results will vary depending on environmental conditions and usage. Actual product’s features and specifications are subject to change without notice.

***Offset is calculated by full-screen height.

****Resolution is 1920×1080 in 3D Mode.‎

Power Supply‎ VAC 100 ~ 240 (50/60Hz)‎

Issues

Depending on your room configuration, you may wish to zoom the projector, especially if you’re already installed the projector mount. The issue with the W1700 is that the zoom and focus features work to cancel each other out, as you wind the zoom to either extreme Wideangle or Telephoto, then adjust the focus to allow you to see it clearly, the resulting image is almost the same sized projection. You’ll definitely want to consider this when, as you’ll essentially be locked into an image size, based on the distance between your projector and the wall.

On the back of the projector, you’ll only find 2 HDMI ports. While this may be fine for some owners, if I owned this, it’d certainly be an issue. I have many devices and with TVs offering 4x HDMIs now as standard, you’ll likely need to resort to a HDMI switcher, which makes connectivity more complex than it needs to be.

The projector also lacks the ability to wireless project to it through technologies like Wi-Di. This can added with an optional accessory, the Qcast/Qcast mirror dongle/WDP02/ Chromecast/Logitech Alexa IR hub or roll your own with the Microsoft Wireless HDMI dongle, or Chromecast, however, those options consume a HDMI and USB port.

Given the potential use cases available with PCs, I also would have liked to see a Display Port option, which would afford a quick plug and play experience, rather than have owners seek out converters or adapters.

Price and Availability

The BenQ W1700 is available now for $2,499. For that price, you could get a mid-to-high-end 65″ 4K TV, but if you value your investment by the size it projects, then the projector represents great value.

If you’re near the following retailers, you’ll be able to experience the BenQ’s W1700 Home Cinema Projector in selected retail stores below:

  • DIGITAL CINEMA (AUBURN, NSW)
  • VAF RESEARCH (KENT TOWN, SA)
  • BIG PICTURE PEOPLE (FOUNTAIN GATE, VIC)
  • BRISBANE HIFI (MANSFIELD, QLD)
  • FINE FIDELITY (TOOWOOMBA CITY, QLD)

You can pre-order now at a discounted price of A$2,499 but from Feb, it’ll cost A$2,999. While that’s certainly a significant increase in price over a 1080 projector, its comparable to a 4K TV. What you need to decide here is if you want absolutely picture quality or an immersive large projected display.

Overall

This projector offers consumers 4K in their home theatre, or on the road at a reasonable price for the first time. BenQ seem to be leading the industry in this respect, with many other projector manufacturers stuck in the dark ages of charging ridiculous premiums for the quality we all expect in 2018.

Devices like this certainly kill the high-end 1080p projector market as 4K is the new hotness and that’s shown by the number of set-top boxes that now support it.

If you have a light-controlled home theatre, with an Xbox One X, then please, seriously consider this projector, its one hell of a nice experience. Both gaming and watching movies, the text and images are crisp and clear thanks to the 4K resolution, and colours are great thanks to the contrast ratio and HDR10 support.

Thanks to Ryan Storey for contributing to this review.

8.9
BenQ W1700 projector
The Good
  • Image quality
  • Sound
The Bad
  • Zoom
  • Lack of HDMI ports
  • Design
    8.5
  • Features
    9.0
  • Value
    9.2
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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.