You may not know it, but video projectors don't have to cost an arm and a leg. We're getting used to seeing video-friendly projectors that sell for under £1,500. Yet we’ve been caught on the hop by BenQ's W100 -- a DLP projector that can be yours for just £500. Surely such a ludicrously affordable projector can't be much cop, or can it?
The W100 is far less offensive to the eye than you might expect of such a cheap unit, thanks to a glossy white finish that distracts surprisingly successfully from the projector's slightly messy design lines and plastic build quality.
On the projector's top there's a section cut out above the lens barrel inside which reside simple rotating adjusters for the lens's zoom and focus, while a silver keypad on the opposite corner provides access to all the projector's features, if you happen to lose the remote.
Not that you should lose the remote. It's unusually big by projector standards -- a good thing in our opinion as it makes it easier to lay your hands on it in the sort of darkened room you're likely to watch a film in. What's more, the size allows the buttons to be laid out with plenty of fumble-proof space between them and there's even a backlight.
The W100 initially looks impressive in terms of connectivity as well. For starters there's not one but two sets of HD-capable component video input -- one more than you'll find on many projectors costing much more. Then there's a DVI socket for analogue PC and digital HDTV sources as well, together with the more common, lower-quality S-Video and composite video fall-backs.
Some precursory tests of the DVI jack courtesy of a QED HDMI-to-DVI adaptor and our resident Sky HD box and Marantz DV9600 upscaling DVD player confirm that this DVI jack does, as BenQ claims, work perfectly well with the AV world's HDCP anti-piracy system.
Arguably the most significant feature of the W100 is something it's not -- that is, HD Ready. The native pixel resolution of 854x480 on its DLP chipset simply isn't high enough to satisfy the HD Ready specification wish list.
This does not mean the W100 can't actually play high definition, though. It has no problems producing analogue HD pictures via its component jacks from our Xbox 360 or the component outputs on the Sky HD receiver, and as we mentioned a moment ago, digital sources via the HDMI outputs on our Sky HD receiver and Marantz upscaling DVD player.
Other specifications of interest include a seven-segment colour wheel, an excellent (for this price point) claimed contrast ratio of 2500:1 and an unusually bright 1300ANSI Lumen light output.
Setting the projector up is more or less effortless. Simple drop-down legs help you get the picture angled onto your screen, there's an adequate amount of zoom available in the lens, and the onscreen menus work well with the remote.