BenQ W1080ST Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W1080ST Projector Highlights

  • 2000 lumens bright – suitable for family/living/bonus rooms
  • 3D Capable including Blu-ray 3D
  • Higher contrast for better blacks, than most low cost projectors
  • 10 watts of Audio, plus an audio output
  • Full color management controls, ISF certified
  • Minimal lag times for great gaming
  • Remote control
  • Smart-Eco for energy efficiency (see more below)
  • Very long lamp life (for low cost of operation)
  • New lighter 3D glasses from BenQ (not included)
  • Typical Warranty

BenQ W1080ST Projector Overview

The BenQ W1080ST is almost identical to the last BenQ home projector we reviewed, which would be their W1070.  The BenQ W1080ST is a home theater projector that differentiates itself by sporting a short throw zoom lens.  That makes the W1080ST a more convenient alternative for those who are placing on a table top, in many homes.  It puts the projector in front of the audience, closer to the screen.  It means people can move around without necessarily blocking the image (walking through the bright light).

Ultimately the BenQ W1080ST is a great little home entertainment projector.  It has built in sound, so you can take it outside in the summer for entertainment without much fuss (a waterproof extension power cord, and a garage door to shine a movie on).

The W1080ST is a single chip DLP projector. It is full 1080p resolution, and it is 3D capable.  It has HDMI 1.4 which allows this BenQ W1080ST projector to support Blu-ray 3D, which gives it a competitive edge over several lower cost projectors and crossover projectors.

Physically the W1080ST is a good looking box, as BenQ has attempted to give it some style.  But, it’s still a box shaped projector.  More important is its smallish size, and far more important is its picture quality!

Also of extreme importance to you all is the BenQ W1080ST price. The official MAP price, the lowest an authorized dealer is allowed to advertise on the internet (or anywhere), is $1099. Keep that in mind, if you see it for less, then the dealer is quite possibly not an authorized dealer, which raises a number of potential issues, including post sale support.  Having owned a large online dealership, I believe consumers are better off when they deal with authorized dealers, if for no other reason than they tend to be more knowledgeable.

The projector recently started shipping.  We received this projector for review before shipping started, but with a backlog and a couple of reports and Infocomm to deal with in April/May/June, we’ve finally finished it.  Note that 3D Glasses are optional – as in, extra.  The official price for the glasses is $79.  Even that is a little less than most others.

The BenQ W1080ST, like its longer throw twin has very good contrast and blacks for the price range, but don’t confuse that with dramatically better black levels found on many projectors starting at less than twice the price. Contrast is very good for a family room projector.  Not so much if you have a dedicated home theater with excellent lighting control.

What else does the BenQ W1080ST projector have going for it?  Let’s consider:

ESPN 3D is toast!

Recently announced, ESPN is dropping most if not all 3D programming.  Maybe they would have had success if they would have given us some “big time content”, rather than a few boxing matches, and a few NCAA football games from a second tier conference… Tsk!

We showed these images from a little league championship on ESPN 3D, when we reviewed the W1070.  For those not paying attention, however, in June 2013, ESPN announced they were getting out of the 3D biz – at least for now.  With that in mind it didn’t seem to make sense to shoot another pair of images with the W1080ST projector.

Color I found to be reasonably good in 3D. 3D could be calibrated for improved color but we just don’t do that.  Also the world seems to be waiting on a good calibration disc that supports 3D calibration.  I’ve watched plenty of 3D movies off of Blu-ray with the BenQ W1080ST, and found, overall, that color is definitely acceptable.

Overall, very good 3D, lots of brightness, and an almost total lack of rainbow effect  (for me) make these two BenQ projectors the W1080ST (and the W1070) about as good as lower cost DLP projectors get with 3D in terms of overall experience.

In other words:  A good choice for 3D on a budget.

Gaming with the BenQ W1080ST

Most small DLP projectors are pretty good for gaming.  The speed of the color wheel can come into play for those who are rainbow sensitive as I am, but this BenQ W1080ST projector has a pretty fast color wheel.  The other key factor is the lag time.  One of our gaming projector bloggers – Pete -got to play with the W1070 back at the end of 2012.  To our knowledge, there are no differences between the W1080ST and the W1070 as far as gaming performance is concerned. At that time Pete indicated that depending on the features you have on, lag times vary from 0 to 40ms.  Even 40ms, is considered acceptable for serious gaming that requires maximum speed.  We assume 30 ms is very good, over 50 to be a bit too slow (that’s 1/20 of a second).  In other words, the W1080ST like the W1070 should be a high quality gaming projector.

Pete shows lag time results, gaming, and also, his own general take (review) of this projector.  He’s certainly less wordy than I.

Let it be noted that this pair of BenQs are among the few projectors that are nvidia 3DTV Play certified (for gaming, including 2D to 3D game conversion). There aren’t many, and most are 720p projectors not 1080p like this BenQ!

The first of the two images from Casino Royale was taken using the calibrated W1080ST projector, while the one below it was done with the W1070.  Mike calibrated both.  You can see a touch more pop on the upper one (W1080ST) and perhaps a touch of orange in her skin tones.  These are variations that are not projector specific.  If Mike recalibrated both, just as likely that the W1070 would be the one with more pop and the W1080ST projector the slightly more natural.

W1080ST Lamp Life

Darn impressive!!!  3500 hours at full power isn’t by any means the longest out there, there are now a number of 4000 hours and even a few 5000 hours.  But BenQ also claims 6000 hours in Smart-Eco!  That really is as long as I have seen, short of a solid state (LED/laser) light source, at least in home projectors.

You can buy BenQ W1080ST and other BenQ Projector at