If you’ve had a look at the recent price of full HD projectors and thought that you couldn’t justify using one, BenQ have the answer.
The TH530 is a fully featured entertainment projector for around £500 which cuts little in the way of corners and as you’d expect from BenQ, produces clear, bright video. This means that it puts the projector in a budget bracket for those looking to take their first steps into the world of projectors but who don’t want to compromise with the cheaper sub-HD models that often have a much lower light level.
Featuring a 3200 ANSI lumens and 10000:1 high contrast ratio, the TH530 has an impressive picture when connected to any source but is ideal for plugging in to a PC or games console. The cheaper price means that build quality isn’t quite as good close up but without close scrutiny the plastic shell looks great and means the device weighs under 2kg, while the form factor is 283 x 95 x 222 mm, small enough to carry to a friend’s house.
Setup is easy; plug into the mains, use and HDMI or other input and press the on button. As with any projector, it isn’t instant and needs time to warm up, but it’s no slouch, either. A small plastic screw underneath, situated in the middle at the front, allows you to position the projector screen in the right place while the throw distance is pretty good, you’ll get a fairly good sized picture on the wall from about 6 feet away. Obviously, pointing this at an angle will give you funny shaped lines rather than a rectangle, but the adjustment options in the on screen menu are easy enough to allow you to adjust this to a certain extent.
While a remote is included, all the menus can be controlled from the top of the device itself, using a set of simple rubber keys. The menu itself is fairly comprehensive for a budget projector. though there are some limitations to picture shape and the optical zoom is virtually non-existent.
Hooking up to a PC, console or other source, there are a wealth of connections to choose from, though the low cost means we only see one HDMI input on the back, although this compromise should be fine for most people on a budget. two D-Sub ports and the legacy S-Video and composite video connections, just in case you need to use older tech with it.
The small 2w speakers are ok for smaller rooms and they’re clear enough without being amazing, but you’ll want separate speakers or a decent surround system for watching movies or playing games anyway.
In use, the TH530 is a little noisy, though how much this bothers you will be dependant on how near to the projector you want to sit. It’s not surprising, given its small size and fairly open body letting air move around. Input lag is minimal when gaming, though certainly not up there with the more expensive gaming focused projectors out there. Unless you’re aiming to play pretty competitive eSports (in which case, what are you doing gaming on a monitor?!), it’s certainly good enough at an average of 30ms.
It’s not going to have the wow factor of some more expensive projectors out there, but the TH530 has a great spec for the price and is bright enough to work surprisingly well even in natural daylight. As a first gaming or entertainment projector, you can’t go wrong here.