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BenQ W100: No more acid trips

A £500 DLP projector designed for home use? Is BenQ off its little head? Is this the answer to your home cinema dreams, or our generation's Vietnam?

The cheaper end of the DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector market is plagued by the dreaded 'acid-trip', or 'rainbow' effect, a kind of visual distortion that causes red, green and blue motion-blur artefacting when you flit your eyes across the screen. To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson (he of gonzo journalism fame), there is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a projector in the depths of an ether binge. It's an odd thing to witness, and is principally caused by the projector failing to refresh the picture's component colours fast enough. Last year's Dell MP2300 is a prime offender of this, but the BenQ W100 (pictured) seems to have avoided it, despite the meagre £500 price tag.

Our brief play with the W100 this morning revealed that it's easy to set up, with initial colour balance closely matching what we'd expect from a more extensive calibration on most DLPs. Flesh tones looked realistic and there was plenty of shadow detail -- impressive for a budget model. Despite the W100's underwhelming 480 scan lines, Ronin looked pretty good at a cursory glance.

Something odd is going on though, as the W100 is billed as a native 16:9 projector here, but the chipset inside is described as "SVGA (800x600)" also known as 4:3, here. This means the W100 is not the purist's idea of a native 16:9 projector.

Neither is the W100 a native high-def projector, but it can deal with a high-def input. It supports 480p natively, and will downscale 576p, 720p and 1080i to 480p for projection. The W100 looks like a decent effort so far, but those looking for the multicoloured hallucinogen that were last year's entry-level DLPs should check out eBay. Expect a full review soon. -CS

Update: We now have a full review of the BenQ W100 live in our Reviews channel.