Benq W1700

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Sharp and crisp; bal­anced colour range


Last year, our favourite pro­jec­tor for less than £2000 had a 1080p res­o­lu­tion and could man­age only stan­dard dy­namic range. This year, in a sim­i­lar price range, there are a smat­ter­ing of pro­jec­tors claim­ing both 4K res­o­lu­tions and sup­port for high dy­namic range. How quickly things change.

The first to come through our test­ing room is Benq’s W1700. While it’s not as spell­bind­ing as we might hope, it still gives a strong per­for­mance.

Weighty chap

At just over 4kg, this feels as though it has a good so­lid­ity to it. The lamp has a claimed 2200 lu­mens out­put and 4000 hours of life, while Benq says that the W1700 has a 10,000:1 con­trast ra­tio.

It also has two HDMI ports and a PC in­put, as well as its USB Type A port for pow­er­ing stream­ing de­vices.

On the whole, the pro­jec­tor is rel­a­tively easy to use and quick to set up. Nav­i­gat­ing through its menus is sim­ple and the re­mote re­sponds well. The W1700 isn’t quick off the mark to start up and, like many pro­jec­tors, there’s a de­gree of noise from the fan, but these cer­tainly aren’t deal break­ers in our eyes.

The pro­jec­tor’s 4K res­o­lu­tion comes from a sin­gle 12mm DLP (Dig­i­tal Light Pro­cess­ing) chip that, while not na­tive 4K, can be used in con­junc­tion with fast-switch­ing mir­rors that de­liver mul­ti­ple pix­els per frame to the screen. It’s sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy to other 4K pro­jec­tors from last year, in­clud­ing the Award-win­ning Op­toma UHD65, and is enough to get cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Con­sumer Tech­nol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion (CTA) in the USA.

Sim­i­larly, the pro­jec­tor’s HDR ca­pa­bil­i­ties also come with some caveats: the com­pany says the W1700 is ‘su­per­charged by HDR10 sup­port’ – HDR10 be­ing most com­mon form of HDR. In or­der for a prod­uct to meet that stan­dard it must have a BT.2020 colour space; how­ever, the W1700 isn’t able Not as punchy as we would like


fully to re­pro­duce that colour spec­trum. While this pro­jec­tor will take an HDR10 sig­nal from your Ul­tra HD Blu-rays or stream­ing ser­vices, you won’t get the full range of colours.

On the sonic side, there’s a built-in 5W speaker, but we’d al­ways rec­om­mend pair­ing any pro­jec­tor with some suitable speak­ers and a good am­pli­fier.

Once we have op­ti­mised the image to our test room set­tings, and punched up the sharp­ness a lit­tle, we play Baby Driver on Ul­tra HD Blu-ray. The W1700 brings up an in­sight­ful image with lots of de­tail. The wisps of Baby’s brown fringe stand out against his pale face, and gems on his sparkly pink ipod glint nicely.

Bom­bas­tic ap­proach

How­ever, we would like a more bom­bas­tic ap­proach. There are oc­ca­sions when we are left yearn­ing for blue skies to pop a lit­tle more, or for the red of Bats’ jacket to shim­mer. The pic­ture doesn’t quite live up to Benq’s claims of ‘su­per­charged HDR’. But it is still an en­joy­able watch.

Switch­ing down to a Blu-ray of Thor: Rag­narok, much of the char­ac­ter we like in the Ul­tra HD pic­ture is brought to lower-def­i­ni­tion con­tent. Colours still come across well in the light – you can see the shades of white in the light­ning as it crashes down from the sky – but like most ri­vals, the W1700 fal­ters a lit­tle in the dark­ness. The browns, blacks and blues of the oc­cult house of Doc­tor Strange all merge a lit­tle in the murk.

The W1700’s up­scaler does a com­mend­able job re­cre­at­ing the ab­sent pix­els, though. It’s not quite as crisp and clear as na­tive 4K con­tent, but it’s good by class stan­dards.

Go­ing through the mo­tion

“One area that lets this pro­jec­tor down is the way it han­dles mo­tion. There is a slight lack of image sta­bil­ity dur­ing busy scenes”

Most af­ford­able pro­jec­tors strug­gle with mo­tion, and the Benq is no dif­fer­ent. There is a slight lack of image sta­bil­ity dur­ing busy scenes. Watch­ing waves break­ing on a beach or the move­ment of a tusk fish in Blue Planet II makes your brain work just a bit harder. For most mo­tion you won’t no­tice it, but dur­ing scenes where many of the pix­els are mov­ing, it can be a bit of a dis­trac­tion.

This is still a good pro­jec­tor for the money. There are a few as­pects we’d like to see im­proved, but for any­one look­ing for a pro­jec­tor at a rea­son­able price that’s still packed with fea­tures, the W1700 should be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered.

The re­mote has a handy back­light but­ton for use in a dark­ened room

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