Enjoying a 4K home theatre experience in the comfort of your home is usually an elusive prospect that remains out of reach save for those with big living rooms and deep pockets as a decent 4K telly will usually set you back an arm, a leg and likely a kidney. That’s not even factoring in the space you need to plonk it in your living room either which is where BenQ’s interesting W1700 4K HDR projector literally comes into the picture.
Recently launched in Malaysia, the BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector brings a panoply of BenQ’s best imaging tech into a relatively man-portable casing that weighs about four or so kilos; rather light as far as home projectors go. Crammed within the cream white casing is a projector setup that is capable of throwing up to a 100-inch display at 3.25 metres in true 4K resolution though you can adjust the screen size and throw distance as needed depending on the size of your home.
What elevates the W1700 above its peers is that it is capable of supporting high dynamic range content to the HDR10 standard and also has a few interesting tweaks to improve its colour rendition too. Just to sweeten the pot, it’s also capable of supporting 3D content playback at 1080P though we were unable to test that particular feature as the review unit was not supplied with 3D glasses.
Unboxing the BenQ W1700 4K HDR Projector
The BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector was packaged in a sturdy box that came with its own carrying handle and the projector cradled within it suspended between two foam cutouts. Removing it out of the box revealed the projector proper, a power cable, a user manual, an installation CD, a remote control and, attached to the projector itself, a lens cap.
Externally, the W1700 strikes a somewhat natty art deco look with its neat white finish and curves that will hold it in good stead with almost any home decor setup. It’s about the size of two chunky phonebooks stacked together, which still makes it compact enough, as home projector systems go, to move and relocate around the house as needed. It also has mounting screws for a more permanent setup to a ceiling.
The sides of the W1700 are relegated to ventilated cutouts for cooling the projector itself. The top itself sports a basic selection of controls to manipulate playback on top of the obligatory power button though almost everything here can be handled straight off the provided remote control. Nestled just behind the lens is a slider to adjust lens sharpness and zoom.
Build quality for the W1700 is on the ball with a sturdy finish that didn’t creak or felt flimsy. The provided remote control has a good heft and has well spaced buttonry. It even has backlighting to use it in the dark. Just to get things started they’ve even thrown in a free pair of batteries to power it. Unfortunately the remote control feels rather plasticky though it remains very functional.
The rear of the W1700 comes with a plethora of ports. Arrayed in neat rows along the back are two HDMI ports, each of which is slightly different. One supports HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 while the other is a more conventional HDMI 1.4a/HDCP 1.4. Also available is a 3.5mm audio in and out, a USB Type A port and a 15-pin D-sub port to hook it up to a notebook.
Unfortunately, the USB Type A port is for charging purposes only and it won’t play content off it. Alas. There’s also a 12v trigger port too to fire up an external motorised screen if you have one set up in your home theatre setup. The base of the projector comes with a series of adjustable feet to adjust the projection angle as needed.
Getting it up and running is an elementary task as the walkthroughs are indicated onscreen and are relatively straightforward. Once that’s sorted out you just need to hook up your Blu-ray player, PlayStation 4 or notebook to the D-sub or either of the two HDMI ports. That and having 4K content of course.
BenQ W1700 4K HDR Projector Specifications
Under its shiny white hood, the BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector sports a 0.47-inch single-DMD DLP chip from Texas Instruments to deliver 4K resolution imagery to the tune of 8.3 million distinct pixels onscreen.
This is paired with a 240W lamp with 2,200 lumens brightness and an impressive contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Depending on what mode you set it in and how often you use it, you’re looking at up to 15,000 hours of lamp life, conservatively speaking.
The W1700 also integrates a lens that offers 1.2x optical zoom and a low-dispersion coating to squelch colour errors in imagery onscreen. Specifications aside, the W1700 is one of the elusively few offerings in the market to have gotten the nod of approval from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in the States which is quite a feat indeed.
What makes it a delight for discerning cinephiles is that it offers a host of features and tech to ensure that HDR content is up to snuff. To wit, it’s able to reproduce up to 96% of the Rec.709 HDTV colour accuracy standard. This is achieved via BenQ’s Cinematic Color tech that offers up faithful colour reproduction in keeping with Rec.709 standards as they were intended to by a director. The clincher is that this colour fidelity is enjoyable out of the box instead of requiring significant tinkering or calibration which will endear it to less tech-savvy users.
An interesting addition that makes the W1700 a complete package is the fact that it comes with an integrated 5W speaker housed in a resonant audio chamber so you needn’t have to lug around a set of boomboxes. Those with a static home setup can always benefit from external speakers. The W1700’s speaker also has a selection of pretuned sound modes depending on what content you are watching – you get Cinema, Game, Music and Sports mode by default – though you can also customise your own EQ settings.
Getting it set up and running takes a bit of elbow grease but it was made easier on account of auto keystone correction that makes throwing a decently aligned picture up a doddle. Depending on the size of your domicile, you can display up to a 300-inch image onscreen though the sweet spot is somewhere around the 3.25 meter mark to throw up a 100-inch screen.
The quick start manual also has a chart with all the right distances to give you a better idea how much space you need. You can also opt for their website throw distance calculator in the link here. http://projectorcalculator.benq.com/
BenQ W1700 4K HDR Projector Performance
We tested it with a 4K Blu-ray player as well as a gaming notebook while running through a variety of standard dynamic range (SDR), high dynamic range (HDR) as well as 1080P and 4K resolution video. Our test scenario setup consisted of a darkened room with curtains that eliminated natural light completely. The ambient noise from the integrated cooling fans is at about 30 decibels which is something easy to miss in an action movie though it’s mildly audible when enjoying quieter content.
For 4K HDR content, the W1700 delivers stunning results. A HDR-enabled 4K transfer of Life of Pi offered up superb imagery onscreen with exquisitely deep colours without being overly saturated, distinctly discernable textures, lifelike skin tones along with pin-sharp details.
We also tested it with a number of games including King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match and BioShock Infinite with the latter dialled up to 4K. The results were exceptional with crisp imagery onscreen and viscerally satisfying weapon effects though the W1700 is intended for casual, non-competitive gaming.
The BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector is also a dab hand at SDR and 1080P content as well and test footage of the Dark Knight Rises and the Fifth Element in 1080p generally looked slightly better and more vivid, with deeper, richer hues across the board. Sticklers for detail can also tweak settings via the “Cinema Master Video+”mode where you can dial in additional settings like “Pixel Enhancer” for crisper edges and a “Colour Enhancer” mode to offer better colour rendering and subtler colour gradients.
In general, blacks are pretty darned good onscreen notwithstanding its price tag and capabilities though it does its best work in a completely darkened room where you can fully appreciate its capabilities. The clincher where the W1700 tops a telly is the fact that you can play it writ large on a 100-inch screen in your living room which makes for a very immersive experience.
Audio quality was surprisingly good with enough volume to fill a decent-sized living room. At maximum volume it offered good clarity without tearing along with a modest amount of sound staging and while the bass is a bit lacking, it gave a good accounting of itself.
Price and Conclusion
The BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector hits an interesting sweet spot. For just under 8 grand, you’re getting a solid 4K projector that supports HDR content and offers darned good performance on all fronts.
Nitpickers will find things to quibble about but the point remains – it is an exceptionally affordable and well made way to get on the 4K bandwagon. If you’re not keen on investing in a larger, pricier 4K telly and want something more affordable that does a solid job of rendering 4K HDR10 content, the BenQ W1700 4K HDR projector won’t disappoint you. The BenQ W1700 is available for purchase from Creative AV Sdn Bhd at www.creativeav.com.my or give them a ring at +603 9081 0088
What we liked Excellent 4K performance, superb value for what you pay for, great colours on both SDR and HDR footage
What we didn’t Needs more HDMI ports, no 3D glasses out of the box
We say The BenQ W1700 projector blends superb performance and a reasonable price tag into a portable form factor, making it a sound choice for those seeking a 4K home cinema projector
Projection system 0.47-inch DMD DLP
Native resolution 3,840 x 2,160 (True 4K, 8.3 million pixels)
Brightness 2,200 ANSI lumens
Aspect ratio 16:9
Throw ratio 100-inches @ 3.25m
Lamp wattage 240W
Ports 2x HDMI, 1x 15-pin D-sub, 1 x audio in, 1 x audio out
Size/Weight 353 x 135 x 272mm / 4kg