BenQ W1080ST review:

Short-throw adds flexibility, similarly fine picture

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: The BenQ includes two HDMI ports, component video, composite, and even an S-Video port. There's also a PC input with audio-in/out and a 10W onboard speaker.

Comparison models (details)
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2030 Short-throw DLP projector
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB (reference) 3LCD projector

Picture quality
As you've probably gleaned by now, the W1080ST behaves very similarly to the W1070 in that both exhibit very good black levels for the money as well as great color performance. Both produce ample light and are excellent at picture processing. Where the two differ is in setup; the combination of a short throw and a lack of manual lens shift means that serious picture heads should go for the 1070 instead. 3D performance had some minor issues, but largely it was excellent.

Black level: As I found with the BenQ 1070, the W1080ST is a very good performer in a dark-room environment with relatively deep black levels and acceptable shadow detail. The Benq is noticeably blacker than the 2030 on most scenes, but neither of them were able to match the more expensive Epson 5030, which is to be expected.

Compared with its main rival the Epson 2030, the BenQ was able to eke a little more detail out of the clifftop scene (Chapter 12) from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." The amassed dark wizards were better defined via the BenQ -- they actually had volume and space -- and you could see a little further into the murky background. On the Epson 2030, the scene was washed out and gray-looking, and this is something it has in common with the cheapest LCD televisions.

Switching to the scene and the BenQ was able to convey a sense of the chaos of jumbled furniture stacked to the ceiling while the Epson 2030 wasn't. Both projectors were thoroughly outclassed by the Epson 5030 which was able to give solidity to the room full of junk.

Color accuracy: Like the 1070 before it, the 1080 is an adept performer when it comes to reproducing vivid, natural color. Skintones looked full but not ruddy, and the reds of the Starfleet Academy uniforms ("Star Trek," Chapter 4) popped on the BenQ while in comparison the Epson looked a little drab. Even on the "Tree of Life" (37.18) the BenQ's skin tones looked equally as rich as the more expensive Epson 5030 here, and this was the same with the cyan of the mother's dress.

But it's not just bright colors that look natural on BenQ; low-level ones looked decent, too. The faint brown highlights of the alien ship ("Star Trek," 28:18) were better conveyed by the BenQ and completely lost on the Epson 2030. But where the Epson did have the upper hand was in its resolving of black, there was a slight green tinge to the blacks of the BenQ while the 2030 was more neutral.

Video processing: Despite the issue with the keystone, the picture processing of the BenQ is much better than the Epson 2030 with a rock solid test results in our synthetic tests. The BenQ was able to parse 1080i film with a stable image whereas the otherwise excellent Epson saw some fluttering in the vertical bars. Blu-ray content in native 24 frames per second was also replayed without 2:3 pulldown errors or additional judder.

Uniformity: The uniformity of the BenQ's image was a lot more solid than the Epson 2030's, which was almost spotty when showing a bright screen. Chalk the advantage up to DLP over LCD in this department. Only the very slight chance of light leakage when viewing a dark screen gives me some pause.

Bright lighting: With a maximum light output of 56.62 fL I wouldn't advise trying to use the BenQ 1080 in a lit room, specially as the image was overly green. Still, it was a little better (3 fL) than the 1070, and this could be attributed to the shorter throw distance.

3D: When it comes to 3D performance there is a family resemblance there as well. The 3D image on the W1080ST was very good, lacking noticeable traces of ghostly crosstalk on our "Hugo" test scenes. The only minor quibbles were with an overly red cast to the image (which could be calibrated out; we don't calibrate for 3D) and some strange bulging artifacts when images at the sides of the screen were very forward in 3D space. But given that most movies don't pop out as much as "Hugo," this shouldn't be an issue.

Read more about how we test TVs and projectors.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.014 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.46 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 3.127 Average
Dark gray error (20%) 3.853 Average
Bright gray error (70%) 1.91 Good
Avg. color error 1.933 Good
Red error 2.684 Good
Green error 2.413 Good
Blue error 2.291 Good
Cyan error 1.249 Good
Magenta error 1.44 Good
Yellow error 1.52 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 330 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 330 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 33.8 Good

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