BenQ W703D – Wallet-Friendly Wonder

BenQ’s new 720p projector delivers so much bang for us buck that he can scarcely believe his luck. But does he miss the clarity of a Full HD resolution?

Having $750 to spend in the AV world would usually get a fairly well featured 40in TV, or maybe a basic 46in LED or 50in plasma. Yet with BenQ’s W703D, it gets you pictures as big as 300in across. This is possible because the W703D is a projector, not a TV. And BenQ swears it’s a true home cinema model rather than some repurposed business/education job. So what’s the catch? Well, its native resolution is 720p rather than Full HD – but that needn’t be a deal-breaker…

BenQ W703D

Sibling style

The W703D sports the same attractive angular design of its higher-end stalemates (although the body and lens are smaller than those of most home cinema PJs) and plenty of connections, including two HDMIs and some audio ins to support its built-in 10W speaker. It uses a single-chip DLP optical system, and supports 3D playback (of the DLP Link variety). Glasses aren’t bundled, though.

Setting the W702D up is slightly frustrating. The onscreen menus contain more calibration aids than you might expect, but there’s no vertical image shifting (users will have to use the image-distoring digital keystone system) and there’s only a tiny amount of optical zoom.

The W703D sports the same attractive angular design of its higher-end stalemates

In action, though, the W703D sets about confounding and low expectations. Contrast is unexpectedly solid; the W703D has a decent go at producing a respectable black level rather than the greyed-over mess usually found on such cheap. PJs. As a result, as Spider swings through New York after dark in The Amazing Spider-Man, the night sky looks authentic, which also helps the colors of his costume enjoy a surprising amount of punch and naturalism. Brightness is high, too, giving images an appealing level of dynamism and making it a viable option of you have ambient light to contend with.

The BenQ’s 720p resolution didn’t concern me much. Plenty of detail is wrung out from the … Spider-Man Blu-ray, right down to the texture of his swanky suit. Visible pixel structure wasn’t apparent below 120in.

Obviously you can get sharper and more nuanced images if you spend more, and there are weaknesses to tolerate here, such as slight green dot noise in dark scenes. Some judder with 24p Blu-rays, a lack of color subtlety that causes artifacts over fine blends, and very disappointing 3D pictures – dark scenes that impressed in 2D mode look painfully washed out in 3D, robbing them of depth.

Yet does anyone truly expect quality 3D on a $750 projector? The W703D’s watchable 2D pictures are enough to recommend it.

Remote of the W703D

AV info

Product: budget single-chip DLP projector with 3D playback

Position: BenQ’s most affordable home cinema projector

Peers: Epson EH-TW3200; InFocus SP8600; ViewSonic Pro8200

The verdict

Highs: Unbelievably cheap; decent 2D performance for its price; cute looker

Lows: Poor 3D performance; some judder with Blu-rays; setup hindered by lack of vertical image shifting

  • Performance: 4/5
  • Design: 3.5/5
  • Features: 3.5/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

·         3D: Yes, DLP Link

·         Full HD: No, 1,280 x 720

·         Connections: 2 x HDMI; D-Sub PC port; audio input mini jack; Phono audio input; USB (for service); RS-232 port; S-Video input; component video input; composite video input

·         Brightness (claimed): 2,200 ANSI Lumens

·         Contrast (claimed): 10,000:1

·         Dimensions: 330(w) x 247(d) x 113.5(h) mm

·         Weight: 3.6kg

·         Features: Active 3D playback; gamma presets; 1.10:1 zoom ratio; keystone correction; built-in 10W speaker; ships with carry bag; 3D glasses optional; 2D to 3D conversion; Normal and Eco lamp modes; 6000-hour claimed lamp life

·         BenQ W703D price: $750 Approx