The MP721c sits in the middle of BenQ's projector line-up, supplementing the range with a lower-cost alternative to the MP721.
At 2.67kg, the MP721c isn't something you'd want to carry around on a daily basis, but it's certainly light enough to move from room to room and comes with a convenient shoulder bag. It's also less bulky than some competing products, such as Acer's P1265.
On the top of the case is a panel of small silver control buttons arranged in a grid. In addition to the power switch and source selector, these include the usual menu navigation keys as well as keystone adjustment, screen blanking and auto setup control. Included in this grid is a button marked 'Q' which gives you access to an on-screen help system designed to assist with the most frequently encountered problems and setup issues.
A credit card-sized remote control is also supplied, which uses a flat watch-style battery and has rather small, fiddly buttons. It's not illuminated and it doesn't come with a built-in laser pointer.
The styling is rather retro: start-up and shut down are greeted with a loud electronic fanfare reminiscent of an 80s arcade shoot 'em up. It doesn't have the sophisticated look of some competing products such as the IN36 from InFocus, but it has a glossy deep-blue finish that belies its plastic construction.
Like the MP721, this is a DLP-based product with a native resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels in a medium-sized transportable casing. What differentiates the two products is that the MP721c offers a reduced brightness level of 2,200 ANSI lumens, compared to the MP721's 2,500 ANSI lumens.
As you'd expect from a modern projector, HDTV resolutions are supported up to 1080i with appropriate down-scaling, making the MP721c compatible with a wide variety of inputs.
To the rear, a full selection of sockets -- including VGA in and out, DVI-I, composite video and S-Video -- provides connectivity with most AV equipment. Component video sources can also be used via the VGA connector.
Wireless networking is also available via an add-on LinkPro module. Although it's an optional extra, all the control and setup functionality is incorporated into the projector, making it easy to use. It connects up via the DVI-I port, however, leaving it unavailable for normal use while the module is attached. Overall, this is an excellent selection of connectivity options for a projector in this price range.
A hole in the top left corner of the projector provides access to the manual focus and zoom controls. The controls aren't linked, so there's no attempt to keep the picture in focus when the zoom is operated. This can be confusing, but only costs you a few seconds during setup.
The MP721c supports an sRGB colour mode, which enables some degree of colour-matching to take place if you want projected colours to appear the same as those you're used to seeing on your monitor. This means that photos can be presented accurately, but the overall brightness of the projector is significantly lower here than in 'dynamic' mode, which offers around three times the brightness, but without the accurate colour.
We also found the MP721c produced colours that weren't quite as vivid as we've seen from some of the competition -- although when projecting photos or video, accuracy is certainly preferable to raw vibrancy and the MP721c produced some very pleasing, life-like images.
BenQ's warranty is also worthy of special mention: the purchase price buys you three years of on-site cover including deinstallation, a loan unit and reinstallation of the repaired projector. The lamp itself is also covered for 3 years or 2,000 hours -- whichever comes first, although according to BenQ you can expect it to last for up to 4,000 hours if you stick to using Eco mode.
Curiously, this warranty applies only to the MP721c and not the more expensive model, so if you can live without the 300 extra ANSI lumens, we would recommend keeping that extra £40 in your pocket.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire