BenQ W1800 4K DLP home cinema projector review

hcchighreccomendThe brand's latest affordable 4K HDR beamer is out to show John Archer exactly what the director intended

Projectors, for better or for worse, seem to be getting more and more specialised. There are dedicated education projectors, business projectors, gaming projectors and, of course, home cinema projectors. Happily for us, BenQ very clearly describes its new W1800 model as a home cinema projector – an assertion it backs up in a number of promising ways.

How so? Well, firstly it sports BenQ's CinematicColor technology, where RGBRGB colour wheels are dressed in 'rigorously tested' coatings to deliver more accurate colours, and, most strikingly of all, factory calibration reports (to Delta E errors below three) are supplied with each projector that leaves the factory. There's then 'Zero Light Overflow' technology to prevent light being lost on its journey through the projector's optics, helped by heat resistant matte paint finishes to the internal 'opto-mechanical' structure. Lenses are also 'meticulously polished' in pursuit of picture purity.

This is already sounding like a lot of effort for a £1,099 beamer. But the W1800 additionally claims coverage of a full 100 per cent of the REC.709 colour standard, and includes the Filmmaker Mode preset established by the independent UHD Alliance, here switching in automatically when the projector detects a 24p source.

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
As we can now reasonably expect of a projector costing north of a grand, the W1800 delivers 4K and HDR10/HLG HDR playback via its two HDMI ports. The 4K support isn't true in the sense of there actually being 3,840 x 2,160 pixels – or, since this is a DLP projector, 'Digital Mirror Devices'. However, its approach of double flashing the mirrors on one of Texas Instruments' new 0.47in DMD chips works well enough that some industry bodies – including America's Consumer Technology Association – consider it a genuine 4K technology.

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Focus and zoom wheels, plus menu/mode controls, are located on the chassis top

Setup is aided by a decent 1.3x zoom and flexible 2D keystone adjustment. There's no optical image shifting, but this is never a given with 4K projectors as affordable as this.

The W1800 claims a promising contrast ratio of 10,000:1, and a brightness of 2,000 Lumens. This latter figure might not sound like much compared with the daylight-challenging laser projectors we've auditioned lately, but experience suggests that at the W1800's level of the market, brightness around this level is often conducive to a solid contrast performance.

The W1800 supports 3D if you can get your hands on the necessary active shutter glasses, and there's also a W1800i variant available for £200 more that comes supplied with BenQ's optional Android TV dongle.

Confident Colour
Images live up to BenQ's home cinema promises, achieving a cinematic feel that humbles a good number of more expensive projectors.

The star of the show is the W1800's colour handling. Tones right across the board, with both HDR and SDR sources, look startlingly convincing, surprisingly nuanced, and clearly carefully tuned specifically for video playback.

The 4K Blu-ray of Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile adaptation presents a serious challenge from a colour perspective, with its slightly odd mix of naturalistic shots and highly stylised, CGI-heavy 'romanticised' visuals. The W1800 takes it all in its stride, portraying both the most low-lit skin tones and most vibrant Egyptian sunsets with equal conviction.

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