When I tested BenQ’s W1000 projector recently, I stupidly thought that at £998, it was cheap. Turns out, though, that BenQ had a whole other idea of 'cheap’ waiting in the wings: the W600. For despite being HD Ready and boasting some other startlingly high spec numbers we’ll get to in a minute, the W600 is just £499. Good and, indeed, grief.
This price comes despite the W600 boasting the same 3,000:1 contrast ratio as the W1000, and a brightness figure which is actually higher - at 2,600 ANSI Lumens - than the 2,000 ANSI Lumens quoted for the twice-as-expensive W1000. What’s more, BenQ also assures us that the W600 uses the same six-segment colour wheel found on the W1000. All of which has got me wondering, to be honest, if the W600 might actually make the W1000 seem rather redundant...
Fans of aesthetics, however, will definitely not consider the W600 as the model to choose over the W1000. For while the W1000 was no oil painting, the W600’s gloss white finish and a slightly metallic looking top strip can’t hide the fact that it resembles your average imagination-free data or education projector, rather than something designed from the off to grace a coffee table in a swish living room.
The W600 matches its sibling slot for slot when it comes to connections, though. Each has two HDMIs, as well as component video, composite video, S-Video and analogue PC inputs. Plus each has audio inputs, in PC and RCA flavours, for the simple reason that each projector has a built in audio speaker.
This makes sense at the 'casual’ end of the projection market, since there’s a good chance that such projectors will be just brought out of a cupboard when and where they’re wanted - a situation which hardly lends itself to somehow sorting out an audio feed from some sort of separates system. The W600’s speaker is a mere mono 2W affair, mind you, making it a whole third less powerful than the one found in the W1000. Which actually creates a significant performance difference, as we’ll discover later.
As you’d expect with a cheap projector, the W600, like the W1000, sports a fairly short-throw lens, so that it can produce decent-sized images without needing a dedicated home cinema space. For instance, you can typically get a 59.5in picture from a 2m throw distance. Please note, however, that the W600 has practically no optical zoom at all; just 1.15x, which is even less than you got with the also-limited W1000.
It’s quickly apparent during set up, too, that the W600 shares its costlier sibling’s lack of any vertical or horizontal image shifting, leaving you very likely having to use keystone correction - effectively a digital distortion technique - to get pictures appearing on your screen or wall with straight edges.
I know that limitations of this sort are fairly common at the budget end of the market, but I have to say that the W600 seems unusually inflexible, to a degree which might cause a headache for some casual users who just want to plonk the projector on the most convenient coffee table. With the W600 you’ll likely have to shift the coffee table around.