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BenQ W1210ST review: a clever projector for PC and console gamers

The BenQ W1210ST is a £900 projector designed for gamers, boasting features that minimise input lag and boost contrast. This is also a short throw projector, meaning it can produce a sizeable image at a distance of only one or two metres. We’ve got a unit in to review (and a couple of PS4 games) courtesy of BenQ themselves, so let’s get cracking!

 

Features

  • Low Input Lag for Smoother Gaming
  • Unique Game Mode / Game Bright Mode
  • 10Wx2 Speakers Powered by BenQ CinemaMaster Audio Enhancer
  • Superior Short Throw Projection (100” @ 1.5 meter)
  • Native 1080p Full-HD Image Quality
  • Spectacular Color Delivered by Optimized 6x RGBRGB Color Wheel for video Gaming
 

Specifications

Native resolution1080p (1920 x 1080)
Brightness2200 AL
Contrast ratio15,000:1
LensF = 2.6 – 2.78 f = 10.2 – 12.24 mm
Zoom ratio1.2:1
Clear image size60 ~ 120 inches
Keystone adjustment+/- 20 degrees vertically
Lamp Type240W 3500 / 5000 / 7000 hours
Color Wheel6-segment (RGBRGB) 4x speed (60Hz)
Projection offset102.5% +/- 2.5%
PortsHDMI x2, VGA, USB-A, 3.5 x2
Audible noise29 dBA / 27 dBA (eco)
Power consumption353W, 292W (eco)
 

Design

Out of the box, the W1210ST looks pretty similar to other digital projectors. There’s a big lens on the front, slightly off-centre, with a fan grille and BenQ logo beside.

The top of the projector has a sliding cover that protects the zoom and focus wheels, plus the projector’s buttons. There are dedicated buttons for turning on the projector and changing the input; otherwise there is a four-way directional pad and menu, OK and back buttons.

The back of the projector contains its ports, including the VGA and two HDMI inputs. One HDMI port supports MHL, allowing you to connect compatible smartphones and tablets for simultaneous screen mirroring and charging. A pair of 3.5mm ports are also present, allowing you to connect an audio input (PC, console) and output (headphones, speakers).

The W1210ST has two 10W speakers built in, which use the projector’s body to produce a larger sound than more naive designs.

On the bottom of the projector, we’ve got two little screw-feet at the back, and one pinch-and-pull foot front and centre. These allow the angle of the projector to be adjusted, allowing you to compensate for an uneven mount, coffee table or pile of magazines.

Finally, the remote is worth mentioning. It’s all pretty standard stuff, except it also has light-up buttons that make it easy to use in low light. Awesome!

 

Testing

In order to give the projector a true test, we set it up in our AV room and used it for a period of two weeks. We spent time playing console games on the PlayStation 4, including Horizon: Zero Dawn and Nioh, plus some obligatory PC gaming in Counter-Strike, Fallout 4 and Project Cars. Finally, we also took in a few films and TV shows, including the new seasons of Fargo and Better Call Saul, Fresh off the Boat and Arrival. Here are our impressions!

Setup

Setting up the W1210ST was an interesting process. I’m used to projectors that need to be placed high up in order to fill a wall, but out of the box this projector was different. It shines its light up at an angle, so you can keep it on a coffee table and still reach the ceiling without a challenge. Our first placement, about six feet up, resulted in the projector casting to the ceiling!

After we found a correct position, everything became much easier. The projector will automatically adjust itself to minimise distortion, and it’s just a case of adjusting its front and rear legs until your projected image is level. However, it would have been nicer to have some way to shift the image vertically one way or another rather than depending on the projector’s little legs.

Look at this great Photoshop, though

We set the W1210ST up about two metres (6′) away from the wall at a height of 0.75m (2.5′), and this was sufficient to get an image approximately 1.5m by 2.5m (roughly 5′ by 8′), for a diagonal of about 2.9m (115 inches). Short throw lenses are pretty great!

There are myriad input options available, so you’re free to choose whichever is the most convenient. We used HDMI to connect the console, a laptop and a gaming PC to the projector (although we only had two devices connected at any one time). It’s also possible to connect up a speaker system, but we used the projector’s built-in speakers or headphones. Finally, a 12V trigger port allows the projector to automatically unfurl a connected screen (not that we had access to such luxury!)

The on-screen-display settings are comprehensive, allowing you to compensate for coloured walls (with presets for blue, cream, etc.), adjust the colour cast, switch between different modes (gaming, TV, etc.) and so on. There is an entry for adjusting the keystone setting, but this was grayed out in all of the modes I tried, which was odd.

Apart from the OSD, there are two dials on the projector itself. The first allows you to move the bulb forward or back to adjust the size of the projected image to match the space you are in, while the second adjusts the focus. All pretty standard stuff, but still nicely implemented with a tactile feel that allows eye-free operation.

Overall, the W1210ST was easy to set up and provided enough options to suit all of our intended uses. Now let’s move onto the results of our testing, starting with console gaming, moving onto PC gaming and ending with TV and film viewing!

Console gaming

BenQ made the W1210ST specifically for console gaming, so it’s only fair that we start there first. We used the projector’s Game mode for the bulk of our testing, which boosts contrast a bit to ensure full visibility. There’s a further ‘Game Bright Mode’ which allows visibility even in brighter rooms — sometimes, you just can’t block out the sun.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a gorgeous game on almost any display, but its expansive landscapes certainly pop on this projector at 115 inches. The game looked good, without being too saturated or unnatural, and the SmartEco mode did a good job of boosting contrast depending on the content on-screen. Disabling noise reduction helped here as well.

We also had the Fast Mode option enabled, which reduces input lag. That doesn’t really matter for games like Horizon, but it could make the difference in competitive play on fast-paced fighting games and the like. BenQ quote input lag of 10ms, which is less than a single frame when rendering at 60Hz, and on par with the best gaming monitors.

There is also the option to boost contrast in dark areas (similar to the Black eQualizer function on BenQ monitors) which came in handy during the darker areas of Nioh — like Dark Souls, this game doesn’t want to make things too easy for you, but the W1210ST can help!

PC gaming

PC gaming using a projector isn’t the easiest task, but this is XSReviews — we can’t not try it! We played some Forza Horizon 3 and a bit of Counter-Strike. The lush countryside of Australia was a perfect fit for the projector’s bright colours and strong contrast, even when playing in the glorious British sunshine* (actual conditions: mostly cloudy).

Counter-Strike was a more challenging affair; as nice as this projector is, moving from 240 or 144Hz to 60Hz is a challenge. Still, the extra low-light visibility and relatively low input lag allowed by the W1210ST made this much more viable proposition than it would be otherwise!

Film and TV

The W1210ST is a gaming projector first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t handle film or TV. We watched the first three episodes of Better Call Saul and Fargo on the projector’s Cinema mode to put it to the test.

We came out impressed by the projector’s colour, contrast and overall performance in bright scenes on New Mexican or Minnesotan landscapes. There was a little bit of noise evident in darker scenes, but this wasn’t enough to distract from the tense action on-screen.

Speaking of noise, we tried using the projector’s built-in speakers for most of our TV viewing. In general, we found the 10W speakers better than most other projectors, although still not as good as almost any dedicated pair of desktop or hi-fi speakers.

One downside to using a projector like the W1210ST rather than a monitor or TV is its production of heat and noise. In smaller rooms, particularly over the warmer months, you may find you need to crack a window or keep the door open in order to ensure a comfortable viewing environment. Unfortunately, that often means that you’re then annoying your neighbours or housemates with your noise, and vice versa.

The W1210ST also produces a fair bit of fan noise by itself — up to 29 dBA, according to BenQ. This wasn’t a problem for us in 99% of our testing, but you might notice it in quiet scenes. Of course, you can always turn on the projector’s quieter Eco mode, crank up the volume or wear headphones to avoid this annoyance.

 

Wrapping up

The W1210ST is a top tier gaming projector. Low input lag could be a reason for some competitive gamers to pick this projector up right away, but more casual gamers will still appreciate the game modes, the decent speakers and just the quality of the picture produced by the W1210ST. The importance of the short throw capabilities also bear repeating; this is a projector that you can use even in smaller flats. For these reasons and a quite a few more, we’re happy to give the BenQ W1210ST our firm recommendation.

Pros

✰ Low input lag is killer for fast games
✰ Good contrast and colour accuracy
✰ Short throw makes placement easy

Cons

✰ No vertical image shifting
✰ Louder and warmer than a TV
✰ 1080p isn't future-proof

Our Rating
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Design
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Features
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Performance
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Value
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The bottom line

A sweet short throw gaming projector with minimal input lag, the W1210ST doesn't disappoint.

8.5
Our Rating
9.5
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About The Author
William Judd
Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.