You don’t need to look very deeply to understand why the BenQ W703D projector has really got our attention today. For despite claiming a high brightness of 2200 ANSI Lumens, a respectable 10,000:1 contrast ratio and even built-in 3D playback, this remarkable little single-chip DLP beast can be yours for under £500. Including VAT. Surely there’s got to be an almighty catch somewhere?
If there is, though, it has nothing to do with the BenQ W703D’s looks, which are actually rather cute. The way the top edge is much wider than the bottom leads to a quirky but appealing angular look to the front and back sides, while the top plate looks slinky in its glossy white finish.
Connections on the BenQ W703D’s rear are also perfectly adequate for a projector with such a low price, including as they do two HDMIs, a component video input, a composite video input, a D-Sub PC port, an RS-232 control port, and even a selection of audio jacks to feed the W703D’s 10W speaker.
Clearly the sound produced by this speaker can’t match the scale of the projector’s pictures or even sound like it’s coming from anywhere near the visual action. But it’s a simple and immediate solution for people who don’t have a separate audio system for their AV sources.
Although as noted at the start of this review the BenQ W703D mostly boasts specifications that exceed the expectations raised by its price, there is one major compromise: a native 720p resolution rather than a 1080p Full HD one. This is clearly a painful loss to video enthusiasts who like their 1080p HD Blu-ray sources to be rendered on a pixel for pixel basis. Though it’s worth pointing out that the 720p format actually fits rather nicely with the resolution of Sky’s 3D channel.
Needless to say we’ll be looking closely at how well the BenQ W703D ‘downscales’ full HD sources later on.
You operate the BenQ W703D via a decent remote control complete with large buttons, a reasonably logical layout, and bold red backlighting. As for the projector’s onscreen menus, meanwhile, although they’re a bit bland they get the job done reasonably efficiently.
Among the more helpful tricks available are the option to tell the projector the colour of the wall you’re projecting it onto (it then adjusts its pictures to compensate); a handy auto keystone correction system; a 2D to 3D conversion system; themed presets including living room and cinema options, plus a couple of user-definable setting memories; the option to turn DLP’s Brilliant Colour processing on or off, and even a pretty flexible colour management system. Impressive stuff for a sub-£500 projector.
Getting the BenQ W703D pictures correctly positioned on our 100-inch screen wasn’t particularly easy. Optical zoom provision is pitifully small, meaning that for the most part you have to physically move the projector towards or away from the screen to get the picture size right. Also disappointing - though utterly predictable for the BenQ W703D’s money - is the lack of any optical image shifting, be it horizontal or vertical.
Hence our appreciation of the auto keystone system mentioned earlier, as it takes the hassle out of straightening the picture’s sides. Though of course, we must stress that really no type of keystone correction is ideal, as it essentially involves distorting the incoming images.