If you’re a gamer who wants to move to a bigger screen or a film fan that wants a cinema experience in their home, a projector is a great investment.
BenQ’s W1080ST+ originally arrived last year as a replacement for their 1080ST, but although the technology is a year old now, it’s still one of the best 1080p projectors for the money.
The ST in the title stands for Short Throw. This technology means that you don’t need a big room to get a big projected picture. Requiring only 2.5 meters to create a stunning 100” big picture, the projector is just as at home in a small study as it is in the lounge.
In addition to space saving, this model comes with a 1.3x flexible zoom that supports an easier projector installation in cluttered rooms. With the hardware Lens Shift feature, this home projector can correct the position of the projected image by shifting it vertically by 110% to 130% – without sacrificing the image quality.
The small kick-stand is fully adjustable for angle, no more balancing on books to get a good match with the wall, and the keystone system lets you tilt the image artificially if your walls are at an odd angle or the picture doesn’t look straight. The easy-to-use keystone function is found as part of the series of menu buttons on the top of the machine. The only downside to the keystone method is that the shadow around the image still belays the fact that the picture is out of shape (as you can see on the right) and it can, at times, lead to a slight deterioration in quality.
Pretty much all the features can be accessed by the top menu buttons or the remote, from the colour mode and pre-set video modes (gaming, movie etc) to the sound and input adjustments. BenQ have made good use of single keypress buttons for quick access to pre-sets and more in-depth menus for when you need to adjust more specific features.
Inputs are well catered for on the W1080ST+ with a standard HDMI and an HDMI-MHL, mostly used by mobiles and tablets. USB-A, VGA and Component options round out the inputs and provide legacy connections for older equipment.
There’s also an optional HDMI wireless kit which allows you to keep the projector free of long trailing wires via a unit which plugs in to the HDMI port and another box that transmits a signal to it. This will add to the cost, though.
Projectors can provide an issue with gaming if they have low response times. It’s often difficult finding a decent projector with a good response rate, but the 1080ST+ fortunately coped with PS4, Xbox One and PC gaming thanks to the unusually high response time and low latency rate, 2016’s Doom on PC looked particularly stunning on a big screen.
Colour and Black Levels
Our tests found that the pre-set BrilliantColour mode tended to be a bit too bright and colourful, making the most of the 2200 Lumens, and also set the fan going a bit louder than we’d like. Toning this down or using the Eco mode helps but you do really need to get the room dark before you can use this. Somewhere between the two, manually setting the right colour scheme for your environment, worked best.
If you’ve ever used a cheap projector before and found the colours (and particularly blacks) washed out, prepare to be impressed. For the price point, the W1080ST+ is a revelation. Even newer projectors tend to provide blacks which aren’t that black and although it’s not perfect, this projector tries hard to give you a much deeper black that really helps emphasise the other colours on screen. It’s not perfect but it’s one of the best in the price range.
I tend to prefer using a dedicated soundbar or speakers for movies and gaming, but the speaker in this projector is certainly up to the job of providing some decent, clear sound at fairly high volume. As you’d expect from something this small, it can’t compete against a dedicated system for bass sounds, but if you’re that concerned with sound quality then it’s worth investing in a decent dedicated setup anyway.
The W1080ST+ is 3D ready and can be used with any side-by-side 3D source, including Youtube. Watching 3D video via the lightweight glasses that were included with our test model, it’s quite impressive how clear and free of ghosting this is. Remembering that projectors normally have a lower refresh and response time, it’s good to see that the BenQ can cope with 3D really well. Some may argue that it’s now a dying art, but there are still many sources, from games to blu-ray, providing 3D versions to make it worth including.
For smaller rooms or spaces where there’s too much clutter for a standard projector, the W1080ST+ shines with its ability to create big pictures from close up, as well as the many picture options on offer to get just the right effect for the lighting in the room. The fast response times make this a great setup for gaming rooms, too.