BenQ W1800i: UHD 4K cinema projector with the best value for money?

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The BenQ W1800i projector is a 4K UHD HDR compatible model designed for home theater. Its maximum brightness of 2000 lumens predisposes it to be used in the dark. It features a 1.3x zoom and automatic vertical keystone correction for easy installation. The short-throw lens of the BenQ W1800i projector allows it to project an image up to 2.5 meters across at a distance of only 2.5 meters. This BenQ 4K projector also has an Android smart TV module that allows it to access several streaming services. Its WiFi connectivity also allows wireless mirroring of images on smartphones and iOS or Android tablets. Marketed at €1,299, will this 4K HDR BenQ projector convince home theater enthusiasts?

BenQ W1800i: packaging & accessories

The BenQ W1800i projector comes with a remote control and batteries, a power cable (1.8m), a quick start guide and a calibration report. Unfortunately, the remote control is not backlit. Also included in the box is the BenQ Android TV module to connect to the dedicated HDMI port (behind a cover to be unscrewed, on the back of the projector). The module is powered by a USB cable also present under the cover.

The BenQ W1800i 4K HDR projector comes with everything you need to enjoy it right out of the box, including an Android TV module to access Disney+, Prime Video and YouTube, for example.

BenQ W1800i: design

The BenQ W1800i projector has the same chassis as the BenQ TK700STi, the latter being more geared towards video games. Its white casing and brown front give it a touch of originality compared to competitors for whom black and white dominate. You may like it or it may not be to your taste, but either way, it leaves no one indifferent. At 31cm wide, 24.6cm deep and 11cm high for a weight of only 3.1kg, this BenQ projector is one of the most compact and lightest 4K HDR projectors on the market.

BenQ W1800i: DLP UHD 4K array

The BenQ W1800i projector incorporates a DLP/DMD chip capable of displaying a true 4K UHD image (3840 x 2160 pixels) by exploiting the extremely high switching speed of the micro-mirrors of its matrix whose native resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels (1 micro-mirror = 1 pixel). This advanced technology, perfectly mastered by Texas Instruments, allows each micro-mirror of the DMD chip to be switched extremely quickly in order to successively display four pixels of the 4K UHD image received via the projector’s HDMI connector. As each micro-mirror is switched several thousand times per second, the brain actually perceives the image as if all 8 million pixels were displayed simultaneously. Thanks to this technology, the BenQ W1800i can display all the details of images from a 4K UHD Blu-ray player or online video services such as Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video, including those in HDR. Note that to counteract the rainbow effect generated by DLP technology that is visible by certain people, BenQ uses a 6-segment color wheel that rotates very quickly. As a result, we hardly noticed any rainbow effects with this projector.

The BenQ W1800i projector’s DLP array is capable of projecting 4K HDR ultra high definition images with beautiful image sharpness and high level of detail.

BenQ W1800i: HDR10, Filmmaker Mode

The BenQ W1800i projector is HDR10 and HLG compatible to display images with an extended dynamic range. In other words, the dark and light areas of the image are more nuanced with more visible details. This BenQ W1800i projector also features the FilmMaker mode, which disables all digital image enhancement processes to ensure that the color, dynamic range and brightness chosen by directors for movie theaters are maintained. This ensures that you can enjoy scenes from your favorite movies without compromising the vision of their creators.

BenQ W1800i: Android TV

The BenQ W1800i projector comes with an Android TV module that takes the form of a small rectangular block that is a few centimeters long and has an HDMI connector. A micro-USB port is located on the side of the projector to power it. This Android TV HDMI dongle connects to the third HDMI port on the back of the projector which is accessible behind a cover held in place by a small screw.

Once this module is connected to the projector, all that’s left to do is to connect to your Google account to take advantage of the online application catalog and to rent movies. You can also enjoy your subscription to Disney+, YouTube or Prime Video, as well as stream content wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android).

Unfortunately, it is not possible to access Netflix from the BenQ W1800i, which is not compatible with this streaming service. Even when enabling wireless screen sharing from an Android smartphone, we couldn’t access it. So those who want to enjoy Netflix with this projector will have to do so from a Netflix-compatible computer or AV network player connected to the W1800i via HDMI, or via a Chromecast Video.

BenQ W1800i: 4000h, 2000 lumen lamp

This BenQ W1800i UHD-4K projector is not equipped with an LED lamp or laser, but with a conventional lamp that provides a brightness of 2000 lumens, allowing it to be used in a semi-dark or dark room. During the day or in a bright room, however, its brightness is a bit too low to achieve a sufficiently vivid and contrasted image. The lamp’s lifespan reaches 4000 hours in normal mode and 10,000 hours in eco mode.

The lifespan of the BenQ W1800i’s lamp ranges from 4000 hours (normal mode) to 10,000 hours (eco mode) depending on the mode of use, which is equivalent to between 5 and 13 years at a rate of 2 hours of daily use.

BenQ W1800i: zoom and keystone correction

Suitable for living room projection, the BenQ W1800i UHD 4K projector has a 1.3 manual zoom that gives the user some freedom when it comes to placement.

The BenQ W1800i’s zoom and focus are adjusted manually using two rings on the top of the projector.

In addition, the automatic vertical keystone correction allows you to compensate for the distortion of the image due to the tilt of the projector if it is placed a little too high or too low in relation to the projection screen. Of course, it is still possible to manually correct the picture geometry via the Installation / 3D Keystone menu.

BenQ W1800i: connectors and audio

The BenQ W1800i has three 4K-compatible HDMI 2.0 inputs for 4K images up to 60Hz, one of which is hidden under a cover on the back and meant for the Android TV module. If you do not want to use the module that comes with the projector, you can very well assign this third HDMI input to another source such as an AV network player or an Internet modem, for example.

The BenQ W1800i projector’s connectors allow you to connect two 4K UHD sources via HDMI in addition to the Android TV module provided. The HDMI 2 socket is ARC compatible to send sound to a receiver or a soundbar (in stereo only).

The HDMI 2 port is ARC (Audio Return Channel) compatible. It can therefore be used to send the sound of the projector to a soundbar or a compatible A/V receiver, with one limitation: the HDMI ARC connection only supports stereo. However, the result will be better than with the projector’s built-in mono speaker (see slideshow below) whose 5-watt output power quickly shows its limits. This projector also has a powered USB port (5V/1.5A), a stereo mini-jack output and an RS232 connector for home automation integration.

BenQ W1800i: key specifications

  • Brightness: 2000 lumens
  • Contrast: 10,000:1 (FOFO)
  • Projection ratio: 1.127 – 1.46 (100” base @ 2.5m)
  • Zoom: 1.3x (manual)
  • Manual focus
  • Auto vertical keystone correction (+/-30°)
  • HDR10 & HLG compatible
  • Android TV (HDMI module)
  • 3 HDMI 2.0b ports, HDCP 2.2 (one used by the Android TV module)

BenQ W1800i: configuration

For our review, we connected the BenQ W1800i projector to a 4K UHD Blu-ray player using a NorStone Jura HDMI Optic cable to enjoy several movies on 4K UHD Blu-ray. We also connected the Android TV module to the dedicated HDMI port situated underneath the cover on the back of the projector, then we powered it with the provided micro-USB cable. We placed the projector 3.15m away from the screen to get a 100″ image on a motorized Lumene projection screen.

Once the projector is turned on, the welcome menu prompts you to choose the interface language, to specify the position of the projector and to choose whether or not to activate the automatic keystone correction. The image can then be adjusted within the limits of the screen by using the test pattern in the Installation menu. Once the ideal projection distance has been found, you simply have to adjust the zoom and the height of the feet to achieve the desired result.

Thanks to the test pattern available in the BenQ W1800i projector’s installation menu, it is easy to adjust the image within the limits of the screen.

Lastly, if you’re using the included Android TV module, you’ll have to log into your Google account to access the Playstore and enjoy the different services available.

BenQ W1800i: our impressions

Like all of BenQ’s projectors, the W1800i benefits from factory color calibration as soon as it comes off the assembly line, before being packed. You can therefore enjoy good image quality with the BenQ W1800i right out of the box, without the need for any complicated adjustments.

In practice, the Living Room and Sport modes are well suited for daytime projection and sporting events. The Bright mode has a very strong green tint, which makes it unusable as is. The Filmmaker mode is suitable for home theater sessions in the dark, despite a contrast that was a little low for our taste and colors that lacked punch. Nothing serious, however, as all the image modes, including the Filmmaker mode, can be modified.

The two ISF modes (Day and Night) offer a more dynamic image, better contrast and more balanced colors (they can be unlocked by entering the following code: up / down / up / down / left / right, in the System/Settings menu). Unfortunately, as soon as HDR content is played the projector automatically switches to Filmmaker mode, with no way to switch to one of the ISF modes.

We were able to appreciate the image quality offered by this projector with 4K content, whether we were watching Avengers: Infinity War on Disney+ or Alien and The Shining on 4K Blu-ray. The sharpness and precision typical of DLP projectors was present, with crisp and incredibly accurate images. Image smoothness was impeccable, with no jitter during action scenes.

With the 4K HDR remastered version of Ridley Scott’s first Alien movie, the BenQ W1800i offered an image that preserved the grain of the film, but still had nice definition. The HDR management was good, although it suffered from the projector’s dynamic range, which is somewhat limited compared to that of the BenQ W2700, for example. We particularly enjoyed the excellent rendering of the grimy and oppressive atmosphere that gradually creeps into the corridors of the Nostromo. Suspense guaranteed!

The 4K HDR Blu-ray of The Shining allowed us to appreciate the unique photography of this feature film, especially the pastel colors and characteristic upholstery of the vast hotel that welcomes Jack Nicholson and his family. Once again, the W1800i effectively set the scene and gradually immersed us in the unwholesome atmosphere of the movie.

The BenQ W1800i also proved to be very enjoyable with 1080p HD movies, as we observed with the Blu-ray of the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy. Despite a lower native definition, the images remained accurate. The colors in the ISF Night mode were vibrant. A treat for the eyes!

BenQ W1800i: compared to…

BenQ W2700i

The BenQ W2700i is €400 more expensive than the W1800i and stands out with a better contrast ratio and a more nuanced HDR rendering, with darker areas that are a little more legible and highlights that we found more intense. The factory Cinema picture mode also offers more accurate colors. Finally, the BenQ features a lens shift, which is limited but still convenient, as well as a backlit remote control.

BenQ X1300i

Designed for video games with its 1080p/120Hz compatible HDMI inputs and very low input lag, the BenQ X1300i still performs well with movies, offering rich colors and good HDR management. Although it is better than the W1800i for daytime projection, the latter has the advantage in nighttime home theater sessions, with an image that isn’t as bright but has deeper blacks. It also comes with the BenQ Android TV module (without Netflix).

Optoma UHD38

No Android TV or Filmmaker mode on this Optoma projector, but a well-calibrated cinema mode right out of the box and, above all, excellent HDR management, with notably more intense highlights thanks to its higher brightness (4000 lumens) and more vibrant colors. However, this is at the expense of the blacks, which aren’t as deep or nuanced, but it allows you to enjoy movies comfortably without having to make the room completely dark. The Optoma’s smoothness isn’t as good as that of the BenQ projector with some jitter during tracking shots and fast scenes. But because it is €200 cheaper than the BenQ W1800i, we can’t really complain.

BenQ W1800i: who is it for?

The BenQ W1800i projector is for those who want to enjoy a very large 4K ultra-high definition image in a living room after dark or in a small home theater room, without breaking the bank. Just as comfortable with Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray movies as it is with HDR streaming via Prime Video and Disney+, it only lacks access to Netflix to appeal to a wider range of home theater enthusiasts. Those bothered by rainbow effects will also be reassured to know that they are greatly reduced with this projector.

BenQ W1800i: conclusion

The BenQ W1800i projector effectively harnesses Texas Instruments’ DLP technology to project well-defined and highly detailed 4K images. The HDR rendering is quite convincing, even though we would have preferred even more detailed dark areas and brighter light areas. The Filmmaker mode offers a fairly accurate colorimetry but does not seem to be able to be disabled on HDR sources. The projector isn’t particularly difficult to install, but its short focal length means it has to be placed rather close to the viewers (in front or just behind), with the consequence of being able to hear the ventilation quite clearly. The eco lamp mode is therefore preferable for a pleasant home theater experience (33 dB measured at 1m compared to 36-37 dB in normal mode).

Among the negative points is the absence of Netflix on the Android TV interface, the remote control without backlighting and the stereo limitation of the HDMI ARC connection. Despite these shortcomings, the BenQ W1800i does not lack assets, starting with its price, which allows the Taiwanese manufacturer to further democratize access to 4K UHD projection.

We liked

The easy setup (zoom, auto keystone correction)
The sharpness of the image
The Filmmaker mode

We would have liked

  • For it to have been compatible with Netflix
  • A backlit remote control
  • 5.1 sound for the 5.1 HDMI ARC connection

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