BenQ W1200 1080p Single-Chip DLP Projector


Setup of the BenQ W1200 DLP Projector

With its compact chassis and light weight, the BenQ can be placed just about anywhere providing you can line up the image on the screen. Since there's no lens shift you either have to place the W1200 34 percent above or below the edge of the screen. In my case, that worked out to about 15 inches since my screen is 45 inches high. I placed the projector on a stand just in front of my seating. Focus and zoom are via large rings on top. You won't find motorized controls in this price range so I had to spend a bit more time going back and forth to get the image really sharp. The effort is worth it though because the end result was quite good. The only connection I needed was a single HDMI cable to my Oppo BDP-93. If you want to use the built-in speakers, you'll have to connect either a pair of RCAs or a mini-headphone cable. Audio is not available over the HDMI connection.

After putting 50 hours or so on the bulb, it was time to investigate the menu system. The first two sub-menus, Picture Basic and Picture Advanced have everything you need to adjust the image including a color management system; which is a rarity on a projector this inexpensive. The picture modes run the usual list of Dynamic, Standard and Cinema. There are also three User modes which can use any of the presets as their starting point. Cinema is the most accurate out of the box and yielded the best calibrated result.

The remaining menus yielded no surprises, just a full set of convenience features. Display has the settings for aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3, Auto, Real and Letterbox). These work the same as on other displays. Auto works fine as it will not stretch 4:3 images to the 16:9 format. There is no support for anamorphic lenses but you can use the Letterbox mode to eliminate the black bars on 2.35:1 movies. Moving down the list, there is keystone correction which should never be used as it reduces resolution. Overscan lets you expand the picture slightly to remove garbage from the edges. Again, it's always best to leave this set at zero. A set of options lets you fine-tune analog signals from computer sources and HDMI options are there for colorspace and signal format. These can nearly always be left on Auto. Like almost all projectors today, the W1200 offers frame interpolation to smooth motion from film-based sources. BenQ does a fine job with this as there are no artifacts like tearing or judder. Still, it's an effect I prefer to leave off.

A small audio menu lets you activate the SRS simulated surround effect from the built-in speakers. I did not test this feature. The System Setup covers options like PIP, high altitude mode (greater fan speed), menu position, lamp power, auto power-off, and a reset which returns all settings to their factory defaults.

Calibration went pretty smoothly as the W1200 responded predictably to adjustment. Grayscale only required small changes to achieve flat tracking at 6500K. Gamma is set by choosing an appropriate offset. According to measurements, 2.4 is the proper setting; but I found after watching actual content, bumping it up to 2.6 resulted in better contrast and deeper black levels with no loss of shadow detail. Turning to the CMS, I found all the necessary controls were available. I was able to adjust hue, saturation and lightness (BenQ calls it gain) for all six colors and achieve an excellent result. Only blue appeared to run out of adjustment range before I could get it perfect. The end result was accurate and nicely saturated color. After re-tweaking the white balance, I had a very satisfactory image.

One thing I discovered during the video processing tests; changing the input resolution switches to a separate settings memory. This meant I had to re-enter the adjustments for both 480i and 1080p. Once you do this and save the settings in the Picture Basic menu, you won't have to worry about it again. Typically, one would always send a 1080p signal anyway. If you want even more security, the W1200 offers ISF modes which can be locked with a passcode. Another quirk which I could not work around was the undefeatable edge enhancement I saw when inputting an RGB signal. For some reason, the Sharpness control is locked at 8 and grayed out. If you use YCbCr, you can access the control and set it to zero which removes the ringing. Unfortunately, if you want to see maximum resolution, you need to use RGB since YCbCr failed my chroma resolution tests for the 1-pixel pattern. It's a Catch-22 but ultimately, the picture looked better without the added sharpness so I used YCbCr for all my viewing.