Measuring 8.6 by 6.9 by 2.1 inches (W, D, H) and weighing 3.8 pounds, the BenQ SL705S is one of the smallest and lightest SVGA projectors available. Packed into the included (and cheap-feeling) nylon case with its basic cables, the SL705S travels at just 4.9 pounds.
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The BenQ is one of the smallest and lightest projectors we tested.
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The control panel's big, round menu button manages keystone correction and the projector's feature menu.
The BenQ SL705S's rectangular magnesium case is dominated by the large lens barrel on top. The SL705S's front leg tilts the projector slightly, and both back legs adjust for extra height as well as balance. All of the SL705S's ports and connections are on the back. The built-in speaker is squeaky and not particularly loud.
Three buttons on the top of the projector control power, auto-adjustment of the image, and source selection. The fourth button controls keystone (image-distortion) correction and the projector's feature menu. The menu icons for brightness, contrast, and other functions are strange and unintuitive, but the functions themselves work fine. You can toggle the aspect ratios between 4:3 (computer or TV screen) and 16:9 (DVD movies), but unlike with other projectors, you can't switch ratios using the remote.
The projector includes ports for VGA (which doubles for component video with an adapter), S-Video, composite video, and audio. All are well marked, and they work fine.
The SL705S has cables galore. In addition to audio, VGA, S-Video and component video, the SL705S ships with a handy three-prong AC plug converter, as well as 110V, 220V, and 240V international power cords. Unfortunately, the cables weigh nearly one pound each, and they don't all fit into the carrying case.
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Sure, you'll get plenty of connectors, but each cable weighs nearly a pound.
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The tiny remote control works well, but it lacks a laser pointer.
The BenQ SL705S accepts video signals at resolutions from 640x350 to 1,280x1,024. Many of the emulated resolutions (that is, higher than native) have a hazy, distorted look--a common trade-off.
The SL705S has good projection capabilities. It can produce images as large as 25 feet in diagonal width. It displayed our standard, one-meter-diagonal test image while sitting a reasonable 6.4 feet away from the screen. The 1.2X optical zoom works well. The digital zoom lets you enlarge any of the screen's details, but image quality will suffer.
The SL705S includes a tiny, wafer-thin remote control with front and back infrared windows for communicating with the projector. It mimics the projector's control panel and adds imaging and audio functions, such as digital zoom and mute. It lacks a laser pointer, however. BenQ also provides Atek's tiny RemoteTote control, which usually sells for $80, for advancing pages in PowerPoint or a Web browser. The RemoteTote includes a laser pointer and communicates via an IR module that attaches to your computer's USB port. Both remotes are excellent, but we'd rather have it all in one device.
The projector's lamp has an estimated life of 2,000 hours--a good thing, because changing the bulb, which comes in a module, costs close to $500. Changing the bulb also requires a small Phillips screwdriver.
The BenQ SL705S performed surprisingly well for its size, but it often fell short of its specs. Its tested brightness of 759 lumens is well short of the stated spec; similarly, its measured contrast ratio of 272:1 is less than half its spec. A prominent hot spot at the center of the screen gives the SL705S an image uniformity of just 67 percent--one of the worst among SVGA projectors we've tested. It couldn't display the 30 lightest grayscale levels, either.
The SL705S's image quality is fine for scrolling through PowerPoint slides but not for playing movies. It can project clear and detailed images with excellent focus across the screen, but its color balance is shifted far to the blue range, with a color temperature of about 12,000 kelvin--the second highest of the group behind the Gateway 205. The projector's chromaticity diagram reveals accurate reds, blues that shift slightly toward green, and greens that appear slightly yellowish. Playing DVDs highlighted the hot spot, as well as some flicker and jerkiness during motion sequences.
The SL705S operates tolerably and responsively. It takes just 31 seconds to start up and 61 seconds to shut down, making it one of the fleetest projectors in its class. It was merely average on our tests of noise (38.9 decibels) and exhaust temperature (156 degrees Fahrenheit).
Acer backs the BenQ SL705 with a nice, long three-year warranty on both parts and labor (the high end of the projector standard) and provides international return-to-depot repair and service. Unfortunately, the bulb is covered for only 90 days or 500 hours of use. The policy includes a year's worth of hot-swap replacement service (they ship one to you, and you send back the bad one) for a broken projector.
The BenQ Web site offers downloadable manuals and interactive explanations of the projector's controls, but there's no chat room. Acer also offers e-mail support and 24/7 telephone support--a helpful rep answered our call within seven minutes. The projector comes with a skimpy booklet that passes for a manual but fails to cover the material in any depth.