Review Price £492.00
One last adjustment worth mentioning is the option to run the projector’s lamp in an Eco mode that ups the lamp’s life to an impressive 6,000 hours, while also reducing the projector’s running noise. The catch is that brightness levels take a hit - though not by as much as you might think.
After being underwhelmed recently by the company's more expensive BenQ W1060 home entertainment projector, we didn’t have high expectations for the W703D. But we’re happy to say it confounds these negative expectations in almost every way that seriously matters.
Kicking off our tests with 2D, we were struck right away by the image’s potent combination of brightness and contrast. It’s by no means uncommon for a budget projector to go strong on brightness, as this is crucial to the data/presentations projection world that most budget projectors are, in truth, designed for. But for a projector to partner high levels of brightness with any sort of black level response like the BenQ W703D does is extremely rare. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that we’ve never seen a projector as cheap as the W703D deliver such acceptable black levels.
Dark parts of predominantly bright images don’t exhibit the usual budget blue or grey tone nearly as severely as normal for this price point, while predominantly dark scenes exhibit less aggressive ‘grey mist’ than usual with budget projectors. Indeed, the BenQ W703D’s contrast performance is to our mind better than that of the previously reviewed and more expensive W1060.
Watching material with a mixture of bright and dark content also reveals another startling strength of the BenQ W703D: minimal trouble with the rainbow effect. This RGB striping problem is rife on cheap - and even some not-so-cheap - single-chip DLP projectors, yet while the W703D certainly isn’t immune to it, it’s less of a distraction than we would have dreamed possible for under £500.
Similarly, while dark scenes on cheap single-chip DLP projectors tend to suffer with pronounced levels of greenish dot crawl, the BenQ W703D keeps this at a much more subdued level than expected, to the point where it isn’t really a problem at all from a sensible viewing distance.
Thanks to its striking combination of brightness and at least passable black levels, the BenQ W703D’s pictures hold up well whether you’re watching them in ambient light or total darkness. This makes it just the sort of ‘flexible friend’ a relatively casual projector user will likely be after.
Respectable black levels like those delivered by the BenQ W703D are usually a good starting point for a believable colour palette. And so it proves with the W703D. In fact, over time the W703D’s colour handling became our single favourite part of its performance. Not because it’s perfect, of course; you’re not going to get perfect for under £500. But simply because it’s in a completely different league to the washed out, over-cooked or PC-biased tones you almost always get with sub-£800 projectors.
Skin tones, for instance, avoid remarkably well the orangey, yellowy, reddish or greenish undertones we’d have expected, instead looking startlingly believable across all sources - even standard definition ones.
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