BenQ TK700STi review | PCMag
The BenQ TK700STi ($1,699) is a home projector that combines 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) and HDR support with low enough latency for 60Hz input to justify billing it as a than 4K HDR gaming projector. Like almost all gaming projectors, however, it can also be useful for watching movies and videos, especially in ambient light. Plus, it does better than the directly competing Optoma UHD35 by adding an Android TV 9.0 dongle for streaming. Even if you’re just a casual gamer, the TK700STi is worth considering if you’re looking for a 4K home entertainment projector.
High resolution, low lag
By 1080p standards, BenQ’s input lag of 16.66 milliseconds (ms) isn’t considered short these days. It’s more in the realm of being the longest lag a serious gamer would consider. But the TK700STi’s response is faster than all but a handful of projectors can manage at 4K resolution and 60Hz. Even the 34ms I measured for the Xgimi Aura, winner of our Editors’ Choice award for an entry-level 4K ultra-short-throw TV replacement, is better than most models at this resolution and at this refresh rate. I measured the TK700STi’s lag with my Bodnar meter at 16.9ms, nearly matching BenQ’s rating and matching the UHD35. At 1080p, both gaming projectors deliver shorter lags at faster refresh rates (more on that in a minute).
The BenQ also shares several other design features with the Optoma. Like most 4K DLP projectors, they’re built around 1,920 x 1,080 pixel chips that take advantage of TI’s fast-switching pixel shift to display 3,840 x 2,160 pixels on screen. Both are also lamp-based and use eight-segment red-green-blue-white-red-green-blue-white (RGBWRGBW) color wheels. White panels, which increase brightness, are standard additions for DLP projectors intended for use in ambient light. Adding them can also hurt color accuracy, but both the VT700STi and UHD35 perform well on that count, so that’s not an issue here. Both projectors also offer color management systems to calibrate even more accurate colors, if you’re willing to pay a technician to do so.
At just 6.8 pounds and measuring 4.3 x 12.2 x 9.6 inches (HWD), the BenQ projector is light enough to fill the traditional gaming projector role of being carried around to a gaming party. setup is standard, with manual focus and 1.2x zoom. The throw ratio for the zoom range ranges from just above to just below the level that most people consider to be the dividing line between short and standard throw. That’s enough to justify BenQ calling the TK700STi a short-throw projector, although you’ll need to position it farther from the screen than most short-throw models for a given image size.
Android TV 9.0 is fully integrated, with the projector and Android TV controlled by a single remote. The only problem is that Android streaming uses a BenQ dongle which you have to install in an HDMI port in a hidden compartment. There are two external HDMI 2.2 ports on the rear panel for other sources. As usual, Wi-Fi is the only connection choice for setting up Android TV.
As mentioned, the TK700STi’s input lag is shorter at 1080p than at 4K. Specifically, it’s the same measurement of 16.9ms at 60Hz, but the projector accepts faster refresh rates at 1080p resolution – I measured it at 8.5ms at 120Hz, close to its rating and meets its rated rating of 4.16 ms at 240 Hz.
For audio, the projector offers a 5-watt room speaker which offers usable quality but somewhat echoes at enough volume to fill a small to medium sized room. If you prefer to use an external audio system, you can connect it to the 3.5mm audio out port or the only HDMI port that offers audio return.
TK700STi review: good out-of-the-box color accuracy
The TK700STi’s control menus offer five preset picture modes, plus a user mode. As with most projectors, the brightest mode (called “Bright”) sacrifices color accuracy so much that you’ll want to avoid it if you can. The default color accuracy for the other modes turned out to be good enough in my tests that most viewers would consider any of them acceptable. However, Cinema mode offered the most accurate color and second-best black level, shadow detail, and contrast, making it my preferred choice for viewing movies or videos.
Game Mode is the obvious choice for gaming, in part because three mode settings in a separate menu let you adjust picture, audio, and latency for different types of games. First-Person Shooter (FPS) mode improves shadow detail to make it easier to spot danger lurking in the dark, and it also improves sounds like approaching footsteps. Role Playing Game (RPG) mode is designed to deliver what BenQ calls cinematic color and enhanced music quality. Sports Player Game (SPG) mode is intended to increase color accuracy for team uniforms, skin tones, etc., and also brings out the voices of commentators so they don’t get lost in the noise a crowd. You’ll want to experiment with all of them.
For viewing 1080p SDR movies and video, the Cinema mode provided well-saturated colors and top-notch color accuracy for a 4K projector in this price range. When viewed in a darkened room, it also offered enough shadow detail and contrast, as well as dark enough blacks, to maintain a sense of three-dimensionality and most of the dramatic visual effects these scenes were meant to produce.
As for HDR, the projector supports both HDR10 and the less common HLG. With the HDR10 sources I used for my 4K viewing tests, this gave me two color mode choices: HDR10 and HDR Game. I used the first. Colors were sufficiently accurate and shadow detail well retained, but when viewing 4K HDR versions of the same movies I used for my 1080p SDR tests, the black level was a bit higher, which translated by less visual impact in darker scenes. Also note that, as with most HDR projectors, the TK700STi offers a setting, HDR brightness, which you’ll need to adjust depending on the brightness in your room, and possibly from video source to video source.
For Full HD 3D, the TK700STi offers only one 3D mode. It works with DLP-Link glasses and, according to BenQ, only supports frame-sequential and frame-packaging formats. I found no crosstalk in my testing and only saw the typical level of 3D-related motion artifacts for current projectors.
The bad news for the BenQ is that I not only saw the rainbow artifacts that all single-chip projectors fall prey to, but I saw them much more frequently than usual. Some viewers don’t mind those red, green, and blue flashes, but if you see them easily and find them as bothersome as I do, be sure to purchase the projector from a retailer that allows free returns. restocking so you can test do it yourself.
BenQ rates the TK700STi at 3,000 ANSI lumens, a level that could brighten a 250-inch-diagonal screen in 16:9 aspect ratio with a gain of 1.0 in a darkened room as recommended by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). Using Cinema mode, the projector lit my 1.0 gain 90-inch screen well in a dark room, as well as an 80-inch screen in a family room at night with low to moderate ambient light. The image was also visible but washed out on the 80-inch screen during the day. (See our guide to choosing the right screen for your projector.)
It depends on how you plan to use it
If you’re more interested in watching movies and videos than gaming, and are specifically looking for a permanently installed 4K HDR TV replacement, one of the three projectors mentioned here can handle the task. But if you’re willing to stretch your budget enough for ultra-short projection, be sure to consider the Xgimi Aura, which will allow you to place the projector just inches from a wall-mounted screen.
For gamers, the BenQ TK700STi and Optoma UHD35 offer essentially the same input lag at 4K and 1080p that the Aura and most other projectors can’t match. Both also offer good color accuracy right out of the box and are light enough to carry from room to room or to a friend’s house. The Optoma costs less and is less prone to red, green and blue flashes, but if you don’t mind rainbow artifacts, BenQ’s three built-in game modes can save you the work of tuning. settings manual for different games.
BenQ’s TK700STi will delight gamers with its low input lag, but its 4K resolution with HDR and built-in Android TV for streaming also make it a solid home entertainment projector, if you can stomach some rainbow artifacts. .
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