BenQ W1000 projector
We've all brought home a projector from the office and been thoroughly disappointed with the results. And while dedicated home cinema projectors offer widescreen high-definition and the contrast and smoothness movies demand, on first impression the W1000 does look as if it's been kidnapped from a boardroom.
Far smaller than other home cinema projectors that cost under a grand, BenQ's mid-range product (the W600 and W6000 flank it in the brand's new cinema range) keeps a low profile with a white and grey design that doesn't exactly scream decadence.
What's more, it has some features that mark it out as a close relative to office-bound beamers; a small speaker on its rear can surely only be good enough for the odd video in a presentation, while mini jack audio ins and outs for a PC - as well as a dedicated PC input - are another sign of its heritage.
But BenQ - a brand that's swerved the home cinema market in recent years in favour of the business and education market - has been working hard, because the office banter stops there. Inside the W1000 is some advanced processing that helps produce some truly involving high-def pictures.
The W1000 uses DLP, a projection technology that's tried-and-tested for cinemas. What's more, it features a Full HD resolution, and has a set of Component video and two HDMI inputs to back that up. It's not the simplest projector to set-up; without any manual lens shift (as found on some other projectors of this price), you have to position it as close to the centre of the screen as you can and rely on digital keystone correction. The lens is also rather short throw, so don't expect images over 80 inches unless you can place the W1000 at least 2.5 metres from the screen.
Set forth on some Blu-ray discs, the W1000 gets to work quickly by showing some seriously deep blacks during murky footage. That's very rare on a budget projector, though we have to say that the W1000 doesn't produce the most detailed picture we've seen, and a touch of blur on vertical pans was especially noticeable.
That said, realism is boosted by the W1000's treatment of colours. If you use the projector's easy to use calibration menus, it's possible to create some truly fabulous colours; you can then give your personal settings a name, and assign them to button on the orange backlit remote control.
A special BrilliantColor mode is available that's worth a try. Switch it on and the picture suddenly brightens, or rather, the colours take on a giddy vividness that really works for some colours, though if you're watching a Blu-ray disc that has muted colours - perhaps Batman Returns - BrilliantColour is only going to lessen the cinematic impact.
And even the speaker is listenable; clear dialogue at high volumes, we found it useful, if hardly of stunning quality.
Most likely to disrupt some people's enjoyment of the W1000's good value pictures is the rainbow effect. Only detectable by some eyes, the spinning of the W1000's six-segment wheel is not quite fast enough and produces flickers of colour across the screen. It can be particularly distracting during black and white films, though it's worth finding out if your eyes are susceptible before ruling out DLP tech altogether - move your eyes rapidly across the screen and you'll soon notice a rainbow in the centre of your field of vision if you're eyes are sensitive enough.
A very good value home cinema projector with enough brightness and business clout to make it in the boardroom, BenQ's perfectly portable W1000 could just be the perfect bridge product. Although slightly let down by a less-than-flexible set-up, a modicum of blur and a lack of exceptional detail from Blu-ray, the W1000 is an excellent all-rounder high on contrast and colour that justifies its comparatively small price tag.