Unseen, an Ultra HD HDR projector for the price of a middle class television. The BenQ W1700 brings this class of projectors within reach of the average consumer. If it also combines with the performance of previous models, this is a promising model.
BenQ W1700 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD DLP-projector
- Setup: 3.840 x 2.160, light output 2.200 ANSI lumen, dynamic contrast 10,000: 1,
- projection ratio 1.47 – 1.76 (100 inch diagonal between 3.25 and 3.58 m), zoom 1.2x, noise level 33/29 dB (standard, ecomode)
- Connections : 2x HDMI (1x v1.4 and 1x v2.0a), 1x VGA, 2x USB, 1x stereo minijack in, 1x stereo minijack out, 1x 12V trigger, 1x rs-232
- Lifespan lamp: 4.000 / 8.000 / 15.000 hour
- Extras: HDR10, 1x 5W speaker, 3D
- Dimensions: 353 x 135 x 272 mm
- Weight: 4.2 kg
- Consumption: 330/250 / 0.5 watt
- : 1,499 euro
BenQ W1700 – design
Where the previous Ultra HD HDR projectors that we got on the floor required a lot of space, this BenQ reclines with a more compact design. The shape is nicely rounded, it gives it a somewhat organic appearance, and we almost dare to put the word cute in the mouth.
The housing is predominantly white, the front anthracite gray and the aperture was given a golden accent. We like it. The lens is on the right side, on the left side the grilles for ventilation. There is a lot of light leaking along that road, but it does not bother the image.
All connections are on the back. The projector is equipped with two HDMI connections. Use only HDMI1 for Ultra HD HDR content, because only the one that uses HDMI 2.0 and is equipped with HDCP 2.2, the copy protection for Ultra HD content. On HDMI2 you can only connect Full HD sources and lower. Furthermore, there is not really cut down on the connections. Analogue connections are rightly everywhere rarely, there is still a PC (vga) connector provided.
On the audio side there is a stereo minijack entrance and exit. The two USB connections are less useful, one is for firmware updates, the other can serve as a power supply for example a Chromecast. Finally, there is a 12V trigger for automation of an electrical screen, and an RS-232 connection for those who want to use the projector in its smart home environment.
BenQ W1700 – Placement and ease of use
In this price category you usually specify some placement flexibility and that is no different with the BenQ W1700. The projector uses a fairly typical projection ratio (throw ratio) that creates a 100 inch image when the projector is 3.90 meters from the screen. There is a 1.2x zoom lens provided so you can shorten that distance to at least 3.25 meters. So you do not have a lot of leeway. The zoom and focus rings can be operated very easily. The lens offset is 110%, which means that the bottom of the image is 10% of the image height above the lens. There is no lens shift provided, so the projector should be horizontally nicely centered in your screen, and vertically just below the screen (or just above it if you hang it up). If it is slightly too low or too high, you can tilt the projector slightly, and correct the trapezoidal distortion with vertical keystone correction, which even automatically works on this projector. Avoid overly heavy corrections that light up the image quality slightly, you may lose detail.
The BenQ scores pretty good for noise. With the lamp in the lowest position, it is absolutely no jammer and you can even sit reasonably close to it. With the lamp in the highest position the fan noise is clearly audible, but it still falls within the limits of what is acceptable. The EcoSmart lamp mode is somewhere in between.
The projector also has a ‘Silence’ mode that you have to activate separately. The image is then limited to Full HD resolution (presumably because the projector shuts off the pixel hiding, which also removes part of the sound). That mode is very quiet, but you lose a lot of detail in Ultra HD images, and it can cause knurled edges. This was clearly visible in test images, but less noticeable in ordinary content, even in animation. With Full HD content, the effect is less pronounced. Caution is therefore necessary with this mode, but if you really want a silent projector and you watch Full HD content, it may be worthwhile experimenting with it.
At the top of a 4K test image displayed in Silence mode (without pixel shift), and below that the same image in the normal image mode.
You can set where in the image the menus appear, a very handy little trick if you the picture settings key. Furthermore, we find all the usual settings in the menu. In the advanced picture settings you can switch on all sorts of picture enhancements via the Cinema Master menu. More about this in the image quality section.
The white remote is used for different models and thus contains keys that have no effect on this model (dynamic iris for example). The remote is illuminated, and you can call up quite a few functions with a keystroke. For example, the lamp mode, image mode, and HDR are adjustable from the remote, but a button for the aspect ratio is missing. The layout is good, but the keys themselves are a bit too hard.
BenQ W1700 – features
The projector uses a DMD chip from Texas Instruments. In contrast to more expensive models such as the Optoma UHD65 and Acer V7850 that use a chip with four million pixels, however, it uses a chip with approximately two million pixels (one quarter of Ultra HD) . He combines that with pixel hifting, but he has to shift his pixels four times instead of the usual two times. If you want to know how this works, check our article with the basic knowledge about projectors. He links that to an RGB color wheel and BenQ’s CinematicColor technology that promises excellent color reproduction. The projector also supports 3D, now rather exceptional, you have to buy optional 3D glasses.
The lamp goes in standard mode up to 4,000 hours, and up to an impressive 15,000 hours in Lamp Save mode. The EcoSmart mode adjusts the brightness of the lamp based on the image shown and still promises 8,000 hours.
The built-in 5 Watt speaker is absolutely no solution if you really want cinema sound, but it performs better than expected. The BenQ is small enough to take it with you when traveling, and in that case the built-in speaker delivers sound without further fuss.
BenQ W1700 – Image quality
The image processing on this BenQ is decent, he scores a bit better then test competitors on our deinterlacing and test film and videoframerate. Still, the use of a good source with progressive output (720p, 1080p) remains advisable over 1080i input. The noise reduction is good for random noise, and acceptable for compression noise. Do not set noise reduction too high to avoid loss of detail.
The BenQ W1700 fails to display perfect Ultra HD detail. This is undoubtedly due to the smaller DMD chip that requires four pixel shift steps. The resulting image is very soft and completely free of pixel lattice, but it hides the smallest Ultra HD detail. For example, a chessboard of 1 × 1 pixels in Ultra HD is no longer visible, but it becomes a gray area. For the sake of clarity, the chip still delivers more detail than a Full HD image.
The Cinema Master settings give you the possibility to tinker with the detail (especially Pixel Enhancer 4K, DCTI and DLTI settings). The latter two can be activated without problems, but the Pixel Enhancer 4K is best kept in the lowest positions (not higher than 5) to avoid obviously false detail.
The projector has no motion compensation, but provides a good, typical film look. In fast moving images the contours are somewhat blurred or in some cases you have a clear double contour. This is one of the compromises that you have to accept with this projector.
You only get the maximum light output in the ‘Bright’ mode, and then you’re at 2116 lumens not far from the specification (2,200 lumens). However, the image is then far too green. You get the better color performance in the Cinema and Sport mode. They get (with the lamp in the highest position) or 970 and 1485 lumens respectively. When you put the lamp in the lowest position, another 33% goes off. The Cinema mode gets enough light to fill a 130 inch image, but in ambient light you have to limit yourself to 100 inches. In eco-mode, 100 to 80 inches is indicated.
Unfortunately, the BenQ does not manage to combine these values with a solid contrast. In the Cinema mode, we get almost 480: 1 and in Sport mode 740: 1. For a Home Cinema projector this is rather on the low side, and for total eclipse it is actually too low. If you switch the lamp to EcoSmart, the contrast will improve, but that is only a dynamic contrast improvement.
Moreover, a band of 60 pixels remains unused around the image, but they remain softly lit. (see image above) In dark scenes and darkening, this creates a dark gray band around the screen that still has a negative effect on the contrast. You can of course solve this by using a screen with a black border.
The Cinema picture mode is slightly less well calibrated than we had hoped. The color temperature is a bit too cool (slight cyan overtone), and the gamma value of 2.1 is a bit too low, which is a little disadvantageous to the perceived contrast. The color reproduction is excellent. After calibration, a fairly simple task, the results are particularly good. If you are looking for a reliable solution without calibration, start from Sport mode, lower your focus to 5, Pixel Enhancer 4K to 3, and switch the gamma to 2.2. You will get a clearer picture, with slightly better contrast and better color temperature. The colors are slightly more intense, but that does not bother.
The BenQ W1700 supports HDR10, but given the weak contrast, we were not hoping for good results. Yet the projector still managed to surprise us reasonably. The HDR display is good, within the limitations of the projector. As soon as you provide HDR content, you will also be given the option to set the HDR brightness. This makes the image brighter or darker depending on your taste and the ambient light. The BenQ does this without sacrificing white detail. Also the reproduction of black detail is good, although it is clear that the very moderate black level makes the image a bit dull. The color reproduction is good, but with a rather limited color range (75% DCI-P3) you can not expect miracles.
In some cases (typical for media files, not with Ultra HD HDR disks) the projector does not recognize the HDR images. This is easy to recognize if the image looks very gray. You can then force it in HDR mode via the menu. Do not forget to turn this off afterwards, or the projector will also try to display your normal content as HDR.
The BenQ W1700 has a lag of 46.6 ms and that flirts with the limit of what for some gamers just too much. For hardcore gaming we prefer to see results under 30 ms.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator an HDFury Integral and HDFury Vertex HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.
BenQ W1700 – Conclusion
We really want to keep this projector, but it does not make things easy for us. For a competitive price you get Ultra HD and HDR support. The new DMD chip saddles the projector with a limited contrast, which in some cases is emphasized by a dark gray frame around the image. The Ultra HD display is a clear step up from Full HD, but it does hide the finest Ultra HD detail. For HDR10 playback, it performs surprisingly well, even though the limitations (contrast and color range) are clearly visible. On the other hand, the BenQ offers a very good color rendering in SDR, combined with an excellent light output. It may not be the projector for a home theater home theater, but for a living room that obscures you as much as possible, or that leaves you with a little light. That you can adjust the HDR display to your own taste is also a good asset. The price was the great attraction of this projector, and it remains, especially if you are looking for an affordable but modern equipped projector. But, if you can omit Ultra HD and HDR, the older BenQ W2000 for 500 euros less in the store. It offers comparable light output with better contrast and outstanding color performance.