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BenQ W1210ST Full HD gaming projector review

BenQ W1210ST gaming projector

£890
8.4

Build quality

8.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

9.0/10

Performance

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Low lag for gaming
  • Great picture
  • Amazing image size for short throw
  • Portable-ish
  • Decent audio

Cons

  • Larger than expected
  • Some picture noise - but not much

benq w1210st angleUsing projectors for gaming can be a tricksy thing to get right. However, BenQ happily state that their W1210ST HD unit is up to the task. GadgetyNews wanted to check out that claim.

What we have here in the W1210ST is a Full HD DLP projector with a short-throw lens. It is also packing an ultra-low input lag mode that BenQ believes makes it ideal for gaming.

Does its performance live up to its lofty claims though?

It’s a tough job, but off I went to game on a 100-inch ‘screen’.

BenQ W1210ST design

benq W1210ST other sideWhen I was told that BenQ wanted to send over a gaming projector, I was expecting a small, neat, portable jobby.

However, the W1210ST is fairly large. It does come in a carrying case and is pretty light. But isn’t tiny. It weighs in at 3.6kg and measures 38.05 x 27.7 x 12.17 cm.

Saying that, it looks slick and wears its dimensions well.

benq W1210ST sideVBe this because of the rounded edges or natty gloss white and matte silver colour-scheme, I care not. What is important that it looks better than your standard office projector.

The lens is recessed and comes with a detachable cover. This saves it from fingerprints and damage when moving it around.

benq W1210ST top hatch closedAtop the W1210ST is a little hatch that hides the zoom and focus wheels.

benq W1210ST top hatch openUnderneath the front of the projector is a neat drop-down foot. I only discovered this after realising that this unit had no vertical image shifting option.

benq W1210ST rear ports panelAround the rear you will find two HDMI and a VGA port. There is also a 12V trigger port for automatically firing up a motorised screen, and a 3.5mm audio loop-through system. For me, this is plenty for the projector’s target audience.

All-in-all, it’s not a bad looking thing, to be honest.

BenQ W1210ST performance

The W1210ST claims 2,200 Lumens of light output and a contrast ratio of 15,000:1. Highly impressive specs for a Full HD projector in this price range.

As well as the gaming modes, more on those later, you get Normal, Smart Eco and Eco lamp settings too.

Normal is best avoided unless you’re in a room with a fair bit of ambient light in it. Smart Eco provides the most contrast-rich image and my go to mode for movies. Eco reduces fan noise to whisper-quiet levels, slightly boosts image stability and increases shadow detail. All very lovely things, but you do lose some of the contrast dynamics when compared with Smart Eco.

Set-up

benq W1210ST L4D 2 resThe aforementioned focus and zoom wheels enables quick sorting of the size of picture you want.

I was really impressed just be the amount of zoom on offer from this short-throw projector. Obtaining a large image from a short distance makes this ideal for the average London home. Let’s face it, even elsewhere around the country, getting a regular projector the required distance away can be tricky.

With this, you can get a 100-inch image from a throw distance of as little as 1.5m.

benq W1210ST onDue to the lack of vertical image shifting, chances are that you will need to use the drop-down leg.

[amazon_link asins=’B01M4HAOZP’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’gadgnews-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=”]This will also mean you’ll need to use keystone correction to get the sides of the image straight. Thankfully, the W1210ST’s keystone system works well with very little noticable distortion.

The projector offers a ‘first install’ procedure. This wizard guides you through the basics of setting it up.

You are provided with some presets too. For me, Cinema and Game are the ones we really need here.

Right out of the box, these modes appear to be well calibrated for their duties. I would, however, recommend turning off noise reduction for all sources.

Additionally, although this *should* be obvious, ensure that Fast Mode is on when you’re gaming. This reduces input lag (the time the projector takes to render image data received at its inputs), and it does it well.

Audio

benq W1210ST BruceThis is generally a weak link in many of the projectors we’ve had through here. I am glad to report, not so with the W1210ST.

Here we get 2x10W speakers bolstered by BenQ’s Resonant Chamber technology. That tech cunningly uses spaces in the projector’s bodywork to add more dynamic range to audio playback.

I was actually taken aback at just how loud it was as my expectations were kind of low. I would still be tempted to use external speakers for movies though.

Gaming

benq W1210ST and NVIDIA Sheild L4D 2Flicking through the menu will find that the W1210ST has not one, but two gaming modes.

Cunningly named Game and Game Bright, you can probably ascertain what’s going on here. Yup, the latter boosts the brightness and raises the contrast floor as well as the colour saturation. This is actually a handy setting if you are unable to make the room you’re gaming in dark enough.

The Fast Mode option delivers an input lag of only around 10ms. I will let that sink in for a moment. 10ms.

This is the lowest input-lag I’ve come across as far as I am aware. I have just taken delivery of another gaming projector, so we’ll see how that does.

Picture quality

I will admit now, I had to remind myself that the W1201ST can be used for more than gaming.

The thing is, it was just really good at it.

Thanks to its exceptionally low input lag (in Fast mode) gaming is slick and precise.

Changes in direction are immediate in first person shooters (FPS), driving is smooth and reactive and colours are strong.

benq W1210ST L4D2 gameplayPlaying the likes of Left 4 Dead 2 and CS:GO, were actually as enjoyable as playing on my PC. This was even more impressive as I was streaming my games via my NVIDIA Shield tablet.

Aiming and shooting was so much better than I had experienced with other projectors.

In a darkened room colours really pop thanks to great contrast. None of that wishy-washy nonsense.

If you play close attention to the images, you can detect some judder, especially when the projector is working hard with Project Cars. But, concentrate on your driving, and you hardly notice at all.

Detail levels are amazing. Crysis, Doom and BioShock, for example, really show-off the textures and shading without gaining or haloing.

Movies

As I said earlier, it’s not only about gaming.

Movies are equally impressive. Whether pinging over BluRay titles from the Oppo BDP-203, or simply using HD content from YouTube, you still get the same detailing and crispness expected from a Full HD projector.

Granted, it’s not a flawless performance. There was a little bit of noise evident in darker scenes, but this wasn’t enough to distract from any of the on-screen action.

Also, some dark scenes lose a little shadow detail when you’re using the Smart Eco lamp mode. The easy solution is to flick over to Eco mode, but then you will lose some black-level response.

BenQ W1210ST conclusion

If the idea of gaming on on 100-inch+ screen makes you smile, then the W1210ST can do just that.

It is also more keenly priced than anything else with comparable specs as a movie projector.

But it is with gaming where the W1210ST shines, with special thanks to its is class-leading low imput lag.

Add in punchy, vibrant and sharp images with great contrast then you have an awesome all-rounder.

BenQ W1210ST price and availability

You can go get your own W1210ST right now from Amazon right now for £890.

BenQ W1210ST Full HD gaming projector review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 5 min
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