Superb image quality and a reasonable price makes the BenQ W2700 one of the best projectors around
- DCI-P3 and HDR10 support
- Superb picture quality in HDR and SDR
- Short-throw lens
- Not as bright as some
- Nothing else of significance
Projectors are a great way to get a massive screen at home on the cheap, but they also have their weaknesses. To get the best picture quality, you have to draw the curtains and turn off the lights and, if you want to get close to matching a good TV’s picture quality, you usually have to spend megabucks. But the BenQ W2700 is different.
With support for HDR10 and HLG and, rather unusually, the ability to reproduce the DCI-P3 colour gamut (95% according to the manufacturer’s claims), the BenQ W2700 brings technologies traditionally only available in projectors costing many thousands of pounds to a much more affordable level. For reference, most projectors at this sort of price can only do Rec.709, which is roughly equivalent to sRGB.
BenQ W2700 review: What you need to know
The BenQ W2700 is a 4K projector with a brightness rating of 2,000 ANSI lumens that can be used all around the home, not just in dedicated cinema rooms. It has a short-throw lens and so can project very large screens from relatively short distances. It’s relatively compact so you can pop it on the coffee table and watch films, then put it away in a cupboard when you’ve finished using it. And it has built-in 5W stereo speakers so you don’t have to hook it up to the hi-fi if you can’t be bothered. For the full home movie experience, of course, I advise connecting it to a soundbar or surround-sound speaker system.
BenQ W2700 review: Price and competition
4K projectors aren’t as pricey as they once were, but even against this backdrop the BenQ W2700 is reasonably priced. It costs £1,389, which is more expensive than the cheapest 4K projectors like the BenQ TK800 but the W2700’s superior colour reproduction makes it worth paying the extra if you have the cash to spare.
The BenQ W2700’s strongest competition comes from the super-bright Optoma UHD51ALVe. However, while that projector offers higher peak brightness and the same 4K resolution as the W2700, it can’t match the W2700’s ability to produce DCI-P3 colours.
BenQ W2700 review: Design and features
Another area where the BenQ W2700 edges ahead of its rival is the design. While I was distinctly underwhelmed by the plasticky, flimsy-feeling of the Optoma, the build of the W2700 feels much higher quality.
It’s finished in lightly textured matte-white plastic, with the lens at the front partially eyelidded by a brushed-metal-effect plate. The rear is more attractive than it has any right to be, surrounding its bank of blocky inputs and outputs with a curvaceous, perforated speaker grille.
It’s also small enough to be unobtrusive, whether it’s sitting on a coffee table or mounted to the ceiling, and it comes with an excellent remote control. There are some controls on top of the projector itself, but these are fiddly to use in comparison to the remote control, which has shortcut keys to the most important functions and a backlight so you can see what you’re doing in the dark.
The strong build quality and design also extend to the BenQ W2700’s optical housing. While some projectors make it tricky to adjust focus because the lens moves every time you touch it, the BenQ W2700’s optics barely budge when you make tweak the dials. That means it’s child’s play to fine-tune focus and attain sharp focus across the whole screen.
And, while those adjustments are manual, they’re hugely flexible. The 1.3x zoom is pretty standard but the vertical lens shift dial is unusual, allowing you to shift up the image from its starting position by up to 10% without having to tilt the projector. This is useful because you don’t have to physically move the projector up and down or use resolution-sapping keystone corrections to get the image perfectly square and lined up with the borders of your projector screen.
Another handy feature is the BenQ W2700’s short-throw ratio of 1.13-1.47:1, which means you can project large images from relatively short distances. In the case of the BenQ, for a 100in display the projector can be a mere 2.5m away. That’s better than the Optoma, which needs to be 20cm further back to project an image of the same size.
The BenQ W2700 can’t match the Optoma UHD51ALVe for connectivity, though, or the feature-packed LG Cinebeam 4K, but all the basics are present and correct. For video, there are two 4K HDR-capable HDMI 2.0b inputs, while audio connections comprise 3.5mm headphone and optical S/PDIF outputs; note, however, that the latter cannot carry a surround-sound signal – it’s limited to stereo output.
There’s also a pair of USB Type-A ports, one for supplying 5V/2.5A of power for a streaming dongle, the other for playing back media files via the W2700’s media player. And, rounding things off, there’s a nine-pin RS232 interface, a 3.5mm 12V port for triggering your powered projector screen and a mini-USB socket reserved for firmware upgrades.
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BenQ W2700 review: Image quality
As with most 4K projectors in this price bracket, the BenQ W2700 can’t produce a 4K image natively. Instead, it uses a DLP chip with a native 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and fractionally shifts those pixels four times per frame to produce the appearance of a 4K image.
Despite this, the effect is pretty convincing. The DLP chip combines with the W2700’s ten-element lens to produce an image that’s pin-sharp from edge to edge and corner to corner of your screen. You wouldn’t know it wasn’t a proper 4K image.
The headline here isn’t resolution or optical sharpness, however, but how well the W2700 copes with demanding HDR material. Now, to be clear, a projector will never be able to match a good TV’s peak brightness and contrast levels. There’s a certain amount of light scatter that happens as the light passes from the lamp to the DLP imaging chip, through the projector’s RGBRGB colour wheel and lens, then finally to the screen. Not to mention any ambient light that might come from leakage around windows and door frames in your projector room.
Notwithstanding such restrictions, the W2700 does a better job at reproducing HDR colours than any projector I’ve seen at any price remotely approaching £1,400. Better still, there’s barely any fiddling with the settings required, nor do you have to muck about with confusing picture modes. Plug in an HDR source and the W2700 detects it automatically, switching picture mode accordingly.
And boy does HDR-encoded material look good on this projector. The opening scene of Mad Max: Fury Road is a great test for HDR colour: on a non-HDR enabled projector, the oranges of the desert plains can look flat and insipid; on the BenQ W2700 they’re vivid and angry-looking, and there’s lots of strong contrast with the darker greys and black on Max’s outfit and car.
The opening scene of Solo: A Star Wars Story is another stiff test. Again, with most projectors I’ve tested around this price – and even some TVs – the pits of Corellia sink into a barely visible murk of grey and blue and I find myself squinting at the image to make out what’s going on. It’s still dark on the BenQ W2700, but I found it completely comfortable to watch, much more so than the with the Optoma UHD51ALVe or LG Cinebeam 4K.
And it was the same story with every 4K HDR Blu-ray I fed into my player. Bladerunner 2049’s first few minutes aren’t quite as demanding as Solo’s, but it looks absolutely stunning on the BenQ W2700. What bright colours there are stand out superbly against the desaturated dystopian landscape. When the action moves into the darkness of the Sapper Morton’s home, that fantastic performance continues, with every shadow detail, grain of dust and wisp of steam perfectly recreated.
Switch to standard dynamic range (SDR) content and the BenQ W2700 continues to impress, although it does fall behind the Optoma slightly here in terms of peak brightness and range of colour. My preferred picture mode here is the W2700’s Cinema mode, which provides the best combination of brightness and depth of colour.
For the highest degree of colour fidelity, the W2700’s D Cinema (dark cinema) mode delivers a slightly richer picture and a deeper black level. However, since it adds an extra filter, peak brightness and overall contrast do suffer somewhat. You’re best off using D Cinema mode, then, only if you can completely black out your room.
BenQ W2700 review: Verdict
Overall, picture quality is stunning considering the price and the BenQ W2700 is a projector you have to look pretty hard at to find any kind of fault with.
It’s compact and well made, flexible and image quality is simply magnificent. It even works well with HDR, which is a feat for any projector.
In simple terms, if you’re looking to build a home-cinema room with a screen larger than the TV market can deliver, the BenQ W2700 is the best way of doing that without spending north of £4,000. It’s a nailed-on Expert Reviews Best Buy.