If you want to make the move from having a home entertainment system to having a home cinema system without spending a fortune, you really need to be thinking about getting hold of a projector like the BenQ W2710i.
Designed for easy set up in a living room setting (rather than demanding a permanent installation in a dedicated home cinema room), the W2710i can deliver 4K, high dynamic range pictures up to 200 inches across for a fraction of the price of the world’s biggest TVs. Getting so many screen inches for so little buck does inevitably come with a couple of strings attached, as we’ll see, but our bet is that if you haven’t delved into the world of home projectors before, you’ll be blown away by what the W2710i can do.
As you would expect of a projector that costs just £1,699, the W2710i doesn’t feature an ultra bright laser or long-lasting LED lighting system. It’s a fairly traditional lamp projector. That doesn’t stop it, though, from delivering picture quality that we’d characterise as best in class.
The star of the show is its sharpness. It delivers native 4K sources with a degree of detail and clarity that I haven’t seen on any other projector in the same price bracket. Something that’s particularly welcome, of course, when you’re witnessing it at the sort of huge screen sizes the W2710i is designed to deliver. If you’ve ever doubted the worth of 4K resolution, seeing 4K pictures that look as good as those delivered by the W2710i at 100-inch and bigger sizes soon puts you straight.
As well as the W2710i’s exceptional sharpness making its pictures feel immediate and ‘real’, it also helps to create a greater sense of depth and three-dimensionality that draws you further into the world of the film you’re watching. Especially as the lens manages to maintain the sharpness with excellent uniformity right across the image, so that even the extreme corners appear with little if any softness.
Some will argue that the W2710i’s DLP-based optical system doesn’t actually carry a 3840x2160 array of DLP’s digital mirror devices, and so isn’t a true 4K projector. However, the way it ‘flashes’ its imaging mirrors multiple times per frame so that your brain perceives a single 4K image delivers extremely convincing results. So convincing are the results, in fact, that the Consumer Technology Association in the US has declared this DLP approach to be ‘true’ 4K. And on the evidence of the W2710i, we’re not inclined to argue.
Once you’ve got accustomed to being able to pick out every hair and pore of your favourite actors, you also start to appreciate how many other things the W2710i’s pictures get right. Its colour management, for instance, is ground-breakingly effective for such an affordable projector. On the one hand it produces exceptionally rich, vibrant tones (it claims to cover 95% of the DCI-P3 colour system used in the commercial digital cinema world) that help pictures pop off the screen with impressive intensity, while on the other hand it manages to combine its rich saturations with exceptionally subtle tones and blends. As well as being a delight in its own right, this colour finesse has a bit role to play in the sharpness and sense of depth I mentioned earlier.
The W2710i is equipped with BenQ’s CinematicColour system, which the brand claims uses a mix of waveform analysis, unique colour wheel coatings and pre-shipping calibration to produce more accurate colours out of the box. Claims that are borne out by the W2710i.
A new HDR Pro system, meanwhile, also contributes positively to the W2710i’s delivery of high dynamic range images. It works by separating images into more than a thousand analysis zones, and then adjusting the gamma characteristics of each zone in a bid to get the maximum impact from the projector’s 2,200 lumens (up from 2,000 Lumens on the BenQ’s W2700 predecessor) of potential light output.
The W2710i’s HDR efforts are further enhanced by its surprising compatibility with the premium HDR10+ format, which provides extra scene by scene information to compatible displays to help them produce better, more dynamic looking results. Aside from Amazon’s home-grown Prime Video series and films there aren’t that many HDR10+ sources out there, but if you can find one it definitely helps the W2710i deliver even better HDR results.
Very few other projectors to date support this ‘active’ HDR format - even though projectors need all the help they can get with HDR given that none of them have enough brightness or localised light control to do full justice to a technology that was developed with TV screens in mind.
More good news shows up while watching scenes packed with action and camera pans as the W2710i handles motion with rare cinematic sensitivity and clarity. Especially if you use its True Cinema processing option, which marginally reduces judder without making 24fps films look like soap operas, or throwing up distracting unwanted processing side effects.
The W2710i’s final key strengths are that it delivers SDR sources immaculately, upscales HD sources cleanly, and delivers dark scenes during HDR playback with more shadow detail and less greyness than most similarly priced rivals.
The W2710i isn’t perfect. While dark HDR scenes look good by sub-£2k projector standards, for instance, they do appear (pretty much inevitably, really) with more ‘grey mist’ hanging over them then the projector’s SDR pictures do. I also spotted the rainbow effect from time to time, where stripes of red, green and blue flit momentarily over small bright highlights in the picture - though I wouldn’t expect most viewers to often be significantly bothered by this.
You should also note that while the W2710i’s pictures are plenty potent enough to grab your attention in a dark room, they aren’t bright enough to punch very successfully through a bright living room environment. But then they’re not supposed to be. BenQ is clear in its marketing that while the W2710i doesn’t require a permanent installation in a dedicated room, it is designed to deliver a rich, contrasty image suited to a darkened setting. If you want a punchier but less subtle projector for a bright room, you could look at BenQ’s new 3,200-lumen TK860i instead.
The main problem I had with the W2710i out of the box was the way its pictures flickered during dark and mid-dark scenes thanks to the over-active workings of the dynamic iris system the projector uses to adjust the amount of light being allowed through the lens. Fortunately, though, this is an issue you can easily fix: Just turn the projector’s Dynamic Iris setting from High to Medium. This does cost the picture a little punch, but that seems a small price to pay for the much increased stability.
The bottom line is that even with just this one little tweak made, the W2710i’s pictures are as good as it gets in the sub-£2k projector world.
Usually the audio systems built into projectors are scarcely worth talking about. They’re typically puny items included only as a last resort for users who can’t find an external sound system to use alongside their projectors’ king-sized pictures. The BenQ W2710i’s sound, though, really is pretty decent.
Despite only having 2 x 5W of power to work with, the W2710i delivers a surprisingly powerful, dynamic, open, detailed and distortion-free sound by projector standards. Even better, the sound actually manages to escape up and slightly forwards from the projector’s bodywork, so that if you’re sat behind the projector, at least, the sound seems to be coming from at least the vicinity of the pictures the projector’s producing across the room. There’s less of the sense of sound being dislocated from the onscreen pictures than you usually get with regular built-in projector sound systems.
Clearly no matter how good a 2x5W speaker system might be, it’s not going to rival a decent soundbar, never mind a full surround system. But a casual projector like the W2710i that may well find itself living in a cupboard when it’s not being used clearly needs some sort of convenient, built-in speaker system - and as such systems go, the W2710i’s is well above average.
Projectors like the W2710i that aren’t designed to be permanently installed in dedicated rooms need to be easy to set up and use if their owners. So it’s great to find you can get the W2710i up and running in just a couple of minutes once you’re used to it.
Getting the picture to the right place on your wall or screen involves a simple combination of screw down feet and optical vertical image shifting via a wheel tucked just above the lens barrel and accessed through a slide-back cover on the projector’s top edge.
Two rotating ‘rings’ on the top of the W2710i’s lens barrel, again accessed through the top edge ‘window’, provide a healthy 1.3x level of optical zoom and a pleasingly precise focus adjustment. BenQ has also thoughtfully included an keystone adjustment feature where the projector can digitally adjust the image’s geometry automatically so that its edges are all perpendicular.
The W2710i’s set up menus are feature-rich, covering everything from casual tinkering to a full professional calibration. BenQ thoughtfully lets you choose between a basic menu or the ‘full monty’ if you’re feeling adventurous. Though crucially for the W2710i’s status as a projector aimed at living rooms rather than home theatre rooms, it actually delivers superbly natural, nuanced and balanced picture quality right out of the box, with minimal user input required.
The W2710i’s connections impress too. There are three HDMIs instead of the usual two, plus a further mini HDMI port tucked into a bay hidden under the projector’s detachable top edge where you can install BenQ’s provided Android TV dongle (which I’ll come back to in a moment). There’s also a 12V trigger port so that you can use the projector to fire up motorised screens or curtains, a USB port for multimedia playback from USB storage devices, and an RS232C port to help you integrate the projector into a home automation set up.
The HDMI ports do not, sadly, support 4K/120Hz feeds or variable refresh rates - but support for these cutting edge gaming features remains rare in the projector world. Also, even without support for the latest features, the W2710i’s gaming images look really rich, sharp and engaging in a darkened room, as well as being rendered pretty quickly, in around 17.9ms, when using the projector’s fast-response settings.
The last big feature of the W2710i to cover is its integrated smart system. The ‘i’ at the end of its name tells you that it ships with the aforementioned Android TV dongle, which once fitted provides access to a wide range of video streaming services delivered within the familiar ‘Android TV’ interface. Crucially, unlike the smart systems built into some other projectors, most of the streaming apps carried by the W2710i’s Android TV dongle are nativised, meaning they can detect the projector’s capabilities and adjust their image quality accordingly. There’s still some variation in the picture quality you get from different apps, but overall the results are much superior to the heavily compressed visuals you get with projectors that just take you to bog-standard open internet versions of streaming apps.
BenQ also sells a £100 cheaper sibling of the W2710i, the W2710, that doesn’t ship with the included BenQ Android TV dongle. We’d say this is actually a great money-saving option for anyone who already has an external streaming device, or who only wants to use their projector with Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray players and games consoles. It’s worth saying, too, that you could add a £64.99 4K Amazon Fire TV stick to the ‘non-interactive’ W2710 to get an even more comprehensive ‘smart’ experience than you get with the W2710i, saving you £35 on the W2710i’s price. Though the Amazon Fire Stick would have to be attached to one of the W2710’s external HDMIs rather than slotting away inside the projector’s dedicated ‘smart’ bay.
The BenQ W2710i is a brilliant option for any home cinema fans or gamers looking for a truly cinematic, big-screen, dark room experience without spending a fortune. It’s only really major picture problem can be fixed in seconds by tweaking a single setting, it’s exceptionally easy to set up and use, and in most ways that matter its out of the box pictures are the best I’ve seen from a sub-£2000 projector.
The Shining 4K Blu-ray
The Shining on 4K Blu-ray carries one of the finest picture quality transfers of a vintage film - and the W2710i does an outstanding job of delivering this transfer’s exceptionally high levels of detail and vibrant but natural colours. Its excellent motion handling delivers those famous shots of Danny trundling around on a trike brilliantly, too.
Diablo IV Xbox Series X
Blizzard’s new hit game features an endless HDR onslaught of gorgeously grim blood reds and menacingly dark shadows punctuated by dazzlingly bright flames and spell effects - all of which are rendered with exceptional impact, black levels, contrast and sharpness by the W2710i. There are similarly affordable rivals that can go brighter for gaming, perhaps for use in a light room situation, but none of those can deliver the sense of contrast, sharpness and colour balance that the W2710i can.
The Greatest Showman 4K Blu-ray
The 4K Blu-ray of The Greatest Showman features particularly aggressive high dynamic range effects and some extreme colour saturations, giving the W2710i chance to show off how much of the DCI-P3 digital cinema colour palette it can produce. The film’s big musical set pieces also highlight how good the W2710i’s built-in speakers are by projector standards.
If you’re looking for a sub-£2k projector that’s easy to set up and delivers the 4K HDR goods impressively well in a dark, movie night living rooms, the BenQ W2710i is hard to beat.