BenQ W1080ST+ – Picture Quality
The W1080ST+ is another fine projector from BenQ – though we’re not sure we’d say its pictures are overall better than those of the original W1080ST. They’re just different in some good ways and some bad ways.
Focussing on the good stuff first, pictures are impressively dynamic and punchy. Bright scenes enjoy real pop and vibrancy, but there’s also a richer sense of overall contrast during dark scenes.
The extra brightness of the W1080ST+ helps it produce very impressive amounts of shadow detail during dark scenes too. This gives such scenes a sense of depth and clarity rarely seen in the sub-£1000 projector world, which makes them look more convincing and more in balance with the bright scenes they usually sit side by side with in a typical film.
Bright elements of mostly dark scenes look more dynamic on the W1080ST+, too, especially if you use the Smart Eco lamp setting – although bear in mind that this causes fan noise to rise.
Next, the slight brightness boost of the W1080ST+ pushes its sharpness more to the fore, leaving HD images that really do look exceptionally crisp and textured. It’s a relief, too, to find the W1080ST+’s images suffering far less with focus/uniformity issues in the corners of its images than the Optoma GT1080, despite both models using a short-throw lens.
Perhaps the single most persuasive aspect of the new BenQ, though, is the boost its extra brightness gives to colours, leaving tones looking pleasingly natural with excellent blend subtlety even if you haven’t bothered doing much calibration.
The colour boost is especially apparent during dark scenes, and helps the W1080ST+ stand out nicely against the rather pasty and occasionally unnatural colours of the Optoma GT1080.
It’s also important to say that the W1080ST+’s extra brightness makes it a better option than the original model if it’s hard to completely black out your room, especially if you use the Brilliant Colour option as well.
There are as we suggested earlier, though, reasons why some people might prefer to go for the original W1080ST, which is going to continue to be on sale for £100 less than its brighter brother. For instance, the newer model’s extra brightness meant we felt slightly more aware of the rainbow effect – colour striping over very bright objects or if you move your eyes over the image – than we did on the original W1080ST. We also felt slightly more aware of some low-level fizzing noise in very dark areas due to the W1080ST+’s more aggressive nature.
Next, it also felt to us – though we didn’t still have an original W1080ST for direct comparison – that the brighter model didn’t produce quite such deep black levels as its older sibling.
The last thing to consider in this section is the performance of the optional wireless Full HD system. Happily it works brilliantly, presenting flawless images even if you try to introduce blockages between the transmitter and receiver.