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BenQ W703D review

Katharine Byrne
7 May 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
415
inc VAT

It’s very cheap, but its 3D support and overall image quality are lacklustre

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Specifications

1,280x720 resolution, 2,200 ANSI lumens, 113x330x247mm, 3.3kg

If you don't have a lot of money, but still want the big screen you can get with a projector, a 720p model can still be a good choice. The BenQ W703D 1,280x720 DLP projector is incredibly cheap, making it seem like a good choice on paper.

As you might expect from a projector like this, it's a compact model that's really designed for occasional use, coming out of a cupboard when you need it. It's quite compact, so you should be fine putting it on a shelf or coffee table, but its 1.1x optical zoom is very restrictive when it comes to adjusting the size of the image.

BenQ W703D

There's also no lens shift, so you'll need to place the projector head-on to your screen if you don't want to have to resort to quality-reducing digital keystone controls. It's good to see a wall colour mode, so you can project onto a strongly coloured wall and compensate for its colour inside the projector.

Thankfully, its wide range of connections round the back makes it simple to set up. It has two HDMI inputs and single VGA, component, S-video, composite inputs at its disposal, as well as a mini-USB service port. You’ll probably want to connect it a pair of dedicated speakers to get the best sound quality, as its tiny 2W speakers are very tinny and don’t produce a lot of volume.

BenQ W703D

It comes with several preset picture modes, including Bright, Living Room, Gaming, Cinema, and 3D, but sadly none of them can be customised. We found that Living Room produced the deepest blacks and most vibrant colours, but the rest made colours appear quite drab and washed out. Blacks and darker scenes were similarly mediocre, often appearing quite grey across all areas of the screen, and we noticed a considerable amount of colour bleed on the left side of the screen as well.

Its default contrast levels were also very poor regardless of which mode we picked, but luckily there are also three customisable User modes (the third is 3D only) that can use any of the above settings as a reference. In practice, though, all you can change is the contrast, brightness and colour temperature as the rest of its options, including sharpness and tint are locked down for digital inputs.

This leaves very little scope for getting the best picture, and while we did manage to find a decent level of image quality using these basic settings, we had to sacrifice colour vibrancy in order to improve the contrast. At least the remote is a step in the right direction. It's responsive, backlit for use in the dark and we like that it gives you instant access to your three individual user picture modes.

BenQ W703D

It wasn’t just its basic menu and below average picture quality which was disappointing, as watching films also failed to leave much of an impression. As it’s a DLP-based projector, it will inevitably suffer from a slight rainbow effect due to its spinning colour wheel, but it seemed particularly bad here. It’s possible to get used to this over time, but it’s certainly worse on the W703D than other DLP projector’s we’ve tested. We also noticed the image becoming quite jerky during fast camera pans, and the image almost ground to a halt while adjusting settings in the menu.

The W703D is 3D-ready, too, but it doesn’t come with 3D glasses, so you’ll need to factor in this extra cost (£94 from www.projectorshop24.co.uk) if you’re set on having 3D. We wouldn’t recommend it, though, as watching 3D films with the glasses that came with our review sample was quite painful on the eyes.

BenQ W703D

Aside from images appearing very dim and washed out, there was a constant flicker across the screen. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to correct this, as its 3D menu settings are even more basic than its main menu options. Even worse was the fact that our glasses also had a tendency to flood the entire screen with just one shade of colour, giving a rather unintended psychedelic effect to our viewing. Needless to say, you’ll want to look elsewhere if you’re serious about 3D.

Brightness of 2,200 ANSI lumens is quite useful, as it means that you don't have to turn off all the lights to see the screen. Running costs are also reasonable, with the lamp rated to last 4,500 hours in normal mode and 6,000 hours in ECO mode. That works out at 3p and 2p per hour respectively.

The BenQ W703D is certainly very cheap, but its overall image quality is below average even for a budget projector. We recommend the Budget Buy-winning Epson EH-TW480 instead.

Details

Price£415
Detailswww.benq.co.uk
Rating**

Specifications

Projector technologyDLP
Lamp brightness2,200 ANSI lumens
Lamp life4,500
Lamp life in economy mode6,000
Contrast ratio10,000:1

Picture

Native resolution1,280x720
Max compressed resolution1,600x1,200
Aspect ratio16:9
Other aspect ratios16:10, 4:3, real
Max diagonal at 7ft62in
Throw ratio1.54:1 to 1.73:1
Optical zoom1.1x
Projection distance1.1m to 10.2m
Mirror imageyes
Invert imageyes
Lens shift horizontal0%
Lens shift vertical0%
HD Readyyes
Special view modesbright, living room, gaming, cinema, user, 3D

Inputs/Outputs

VGA inputyes
DVI inputNo
Sound inputs3.5mm
Composite inputyes
S-video inputyes
HDMI inputyes
PAL supportyes
SECAM supportyes
NTSC supportyes
Audio output3.5mm
Video outputnone
Others inputs/outputsUSB service port, RS232, DC 12V trigger

Other

Noise (in normal use)31dB(A)
Size113x330x247mm
Weight3.3kg
Internal speakersyes (2W stereo)
Extrascarry bag, remote, power cable, VGA cable
Remote special featuresaspect ratio, colour mode, 3D mode, input select
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption on250W

Lamp

Lamp cost (inc VAT)£115
Lamp supplierwww.projectors.co.uk
Lamp cost per hour of use£0.03
Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)£0.02

Buying Information

Price£415
Supplierhttp://www.projectorplanet.co.uk
Detailswww.benq.co.uk

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