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BenQ MP512 ST review: BenQ MP512 ST

MSRP: $699.00

The Good Extremely affordable; relatively deep black levels for an entry-level projector.

The Bad Color accuracy leaves a bit to be desired; short on features; resolution too low for serious home theater use; not ideal for screen sizes larger than 92 inches wide.

The Bottom Line Priced less than a midsize flat-screen LCD TV, BenQ's MP512 ST DLP projector is a solid, affordable option for people who want a big screen for casual use or gaming.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

BenQ's MP512 ST is a one-chip DLP-based front projector with a relatively low resolution of 800x600 (SVGA) that can be found for a ridiculously low price on the Internet. According to the company, this projector was designed specifically for the Nintendo Wii, a standard definition gaming platform. Owing to its surprisingly solid video quality, the little projector should serve perfectly well in that capacity, or, in a pinch, as a big display for HD sources, which look reasonably good as well. For less than $600, about the price of a cheap 32-inch LCD, I could see families using one of these projectors for gaming and casual big-screen movie watching.

Don't expect any serious industrial design flair in a projector this inexpensive. My review sample was finished in a two-tone color scheme that's mostly white, with some silver trim around the lens assembly and on the sides near the vents. The MP512 ST is a small projector (3.5 inches tall by 10 inches wide by 8.4 inches deep), making it easy to tuck away on a ceiling and also easily portable as it weighs a mere 4.9 pounds.

As expected from a budget model, the remote control is nothing to write home about. The remote control is credit-card-size with tiny buttons, which supply the functionality necessary to navigate the menu. Oddly, the audio controls are buried in the menu and not available on the remote. The internal menu graphical user interface is relatively straightforward and easy to navigate.

The BenQ MP512 ST is not loaded with features, but it does have some that are useful in maximizing its picture quality potential. Its first pertinent specification is its 800x600-pixel native resolution, which means this projector doesn't technically qualify as high definition. It will still display HD signals, of course, and simply scale them down to the available pixels, but don't expect the kind of detail you'll get with a high-resolution model.

I found the inclusion of two different categories of picture modes, Picture Mode and Reference Mode, a little confusing. Under Reference Mode there are choices called Dynamic, Standard, and Cinema, which do not let you change any of the picture parameters like contrast, brightness, and so on. If you want to tweak the projector's picture, you must select either User 1 or User 2 in Picture Mode. Then, under Reference Mode, you should choose Cinema, as it produces the smoothest most accurate picture as a starting point for fine tuning the image.

Selectable color temperatures include T1, T2, and T3. T3 measured fairly close to the broadcast standard of D65, and since there are no grayscale calibration controls, all I could do was select that mode and move on. For complete picture settings, check out the bottom of this blog post.

A digital zoom feature for zooming in on a section of the picture is available and is accessible from the remote control. This projector does not have an optical zoom control at the lens, so to size the image, you must physically move the unit or the screen back and forth. Focus is manual and available only at the lens.

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