BenQ HT2150ST (US) – W1210ST (Europe)
Design - 90%
Video Quality - 93%
Inputs / Ports - 92%
OS, Apps and Features - 90%
Price / Quality - 94%
Cheapest Places to Buy :
Most manufacturers nowadays are onboard the UHD bandwagon as they fight for a piece of the 4K projectors segment. And although prices has gone down considerably and quality has gone up getting a good quality 4K projector usually means you have to set a four digit budget as a minimum. But for many people 4K is not everything and getting a projector doesn’t mean that you have to fork out a sum that for many is still too high. This also include the people that want a projector not so much about movies but mostly for their gaming pleasure. And for those people a Full HD projector is still more than enough to satisfy their needs.
Here comes BenQ with a projector that has been in the market for a few years now and that we have the privilege to review here today. The HT2150ST is a lovely small projector that may bear the HT in it’s name that means Home Theater but in essence is a projector that has been designed with gaming in mind. For a projector to be considered perfect for gaming must meat certain criteria and we will be looking at these in order to determine if such a low priced projector can be the center of your gaming world. So without further delay let’s start our BenQ HT2150ST review.
In true BenQ fashion the projector is found with 2 different names depending on the country you live on. As such the projector comes with the HT2150ST name in the US market while in most European countries goes by the W1210ST naming. So if you can’t find it with one name take a look and you will probably find it with the other. We are still very confused why some manufacturers continue doing this as it makes things more complicated than they should be.
Curvy designs are a characteristic in almost all BenQ projectors and this could not be any different here. With a size of 380.5 x 121.7 x 277 mm and 7.27lbs (3.3 kg) the projector is small enough to be carried around. And this is a key characteristic when we are talking about a pure gaming projector. Having a small size and coming with built-in audio are two of the most important mobility features.
Looking the front of the projector we find the lens being positioned a little off-center towards the right side while to the right we see a big IR sensor. To the left we get big air vents while a fan inside makes sure to keep the temperature at low levels. Exactly above the lens on the top side of the projector we find a small cavity covered by a sliding door where the zoom and focus controls are hidden. The sliding door is necessary as light leaks into the cavity so you can see them and use in a completely dark environment. So the sliding door is covering any bothering light coming out.
On the top we also get navigation buttons, a power button, a source selection button and 3 LEDs for power, temperature and lamp condition. All the connection ports are located in the back and we will talk about them in the dedicated section below.
The unit comes with a 1.2:1 zoom which is not the best we could get but at this price we cannot ask for much. And having no vertical or horizontal lens shifting makes things even worse when it comes to correctly positioning the projector. You can use Keystone correction but this should be as a last resort measure as we have said in the past that using Keystone will have a negative effect on sharpness and image quality overall.
There is a reason for the ST letters at the end of the model number as this projector is a Short Throw one. What this means in simple words is that you can get a large image without having to position the projector very far from the screen. This is another key characteristic that makes this projector perfect for gaming. For example for a 100″ screen you will have to place the unit about 5.5 feet away give or take a little bit. It also features a projection offset of 102.5% which means that the centerline of the lens is just below the bottom edge of the picture.
The unit is very quiet during operation and the fan was never audible enough to become bothersome. Even at Normal lamp operation we could never hear any distracting noise which makes the use of the Eco mode only necessary if you want to save on lamp hours.
The HT2150ST comes with 3 lamp modes with Normal mode being rated at 3,500 hours, Economic mode extends lamp life to about 5,000 hours and we also find a SmartEco mode that can extend the life of the lamp even further to 7,000 hours. Of course any other option than the Normal has an immediate effect on the image quality so it’s better to try these settings and decide if it is worth it to use them.
For such a cheap projector it is very pleasant to see benQ including such a nice remote. It certainly feels good to the hand and the buttons register immediately without delays. Buttons are big enough and are grouped into categories depending on their function. As such on the top we get a few feature buttons, under them the familiar navigation control buttons, below some playback buttons and in the bottom we get image calibration ones. What surprised us was that there is backlight function with the remote emitting a rather unusual red hue. Now that’s a feature that we were not expecting from a sub-$800 projector.
The BenQ HT2150ST comes equipped with a single DLP chip made by Texas Instruments and has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Having a single chip setup has it’s advantages as three-chip designs some times are prone to misalignment which can affect sharpness and color quality. Having a single chip eliminates this problem altogether.
Full HD / SDR / 3D Content
For testing 1080p content we always had a definite choice so we picked up our Oblivion Blu-ray disc and without further delay popped it in our Panasonic player. The BenQ HT2150ST was able to pleasantly surprise us. When you test such an extremely low cost projector you don’t know what to expect in terms of image quality but here we got a very clean and sharp image that approached the performance of much more expensive models.
The film material of course helps a lot as Oblivion has a very clean look and every small detail was visible on the screen. From the high tech electronics of the outpost to the lush greens where commander Harper was spending some relaxing time every single image was filled with an amazing amount of detail. Amazing results and it’s even more impressive when you consider that we are mostly looking into 4K material nowadays.
Another plus of this projector is that it supports 3D 1080p content but unfortunately there are no glasses supplied with the unit which means if you don’t have any it will add a bit to the overall cost. For this projector you will need 3D DLP-Link type of glasses which you can find relatively cheap with a little search. 3D may slowly become an extinct format but thankfully projector manufacturers still support it as watching 3D content in a huge screen makes much more sense than a small TV screen. And for such a low priced projector to offer support for this is definitely a plus.
The HT2150ST is able to cover around 96% of the REC.709 color space which means better color reproduction with more lifelike and vibrant colors. In this price we are very pleased with the results we get and you cannot get much better than this for a Full HD projector. Color saturation is great with great balance over each color element.
Brightness / Contrast
BenQ HT2150ST is rated as a 2,200 lumens projector with the use of a 240W lamp which is considered very good. But what matters the most is how close to this theoretical number can the projector go as we know that these marketing numbers can never be achieved in real life situations. The projector comes with five different picture modes with the Game mode being the default one. Other than that we also find Bright, Vivid, Cinema, Game Bright and a user defined mode.
Most brightness is provided with Bright mode with 1600 lumens but unfortunately the image has a green-tint to it which lowers overall quality. In Game mode we measured 1080 lumens and while this provided the best response times it has an image that is a bit on the cool side. Game Bright measured a little bit higher at 1100 lumens but color saturation and black levels were average. Vivid was the second most bright mode at 1280 lumens while Cinema mode measured at 1160 lumens.
Overall Cinema mode provided the best quality and most natural picture but input lag in this mode is very high while lamp by defaults turns to Eco which lower the brightness dramatically. From our testings you can fix this by using the Game mode, up the gamma setting to 2.2 and change color temperature from Cool to Normal. This way you will get an image that is extremely close to Cinema mode while retaining the low input lag that Game mode has. 1080 lumens that Game mode outputs may not seem much but keep in mind that we are not talking about a 4K/HDR projector that brightness is a much needed feature. With Full HD/SDR content requirements are much lower and anything above 1000 lumens should be considered more than adequate.
Black levels on the HT2150ST proved to be average something to be expected from such a cheap projector. If you are in a low lit environment you are not going to see this as much as when being in a completely dark room. On the other hand shadow details were rather good without much information being lost. We are not surprised by it’s performance in this area as deep blacks is a characteristic that only more expensive projectors can offer. If you aim for such a low priced projector then make sure to keep your expectations low in this area.
The projector is claiming ultra low input lag making it ideal for serious gaming and according to our measurements this holds true as the HT2150ST managed to have input lag that hovered around 14ms which is amazing for a projector. Of course to manage this you will have to use the Game mode because the other modes measured much higher like the Cinema mode that managed to do 48ms.
But as we said above a great solution is to use Game mode and change the image settings a bit in order to get similar image quality as in the Cinema mode which is the most preferable. If gaming is your thing and you are worried about input lag this projector will make sure that you will get very responsive and pleasant gaming sessions.
The projector performed very good in our motion performance tests with it’s micro-second DMD response time. Even during fast panning of the camera the picture remained clear and solid. The HT2150ST doesn’t have any kind of CFI frame Interpolation that could smooth out the motion even more but in all honesty it performed so well that you are not going to miss such a feature.
Looking at the back we find dual HDMI ports with HDMI 1 being 1.4a and HDMI 2 being 1.4b while also supporting MHL for mobile devices. Next to them we get a 12V trigger for use with motorized screens for automatic opening and closing. Next we see a USB type-A and another USB type-mini B. A VGA port is also present for analog video support while we also get the usual RS-232C port for control. Lastly in the far right we get a couple of 3.5mm ports, 1 audio input and 1 audio output with the input feeding the built-in speakers while the output channels the audio to an external audio system.
We cannot say we could ask for anything more as we get everything we would need and more. In this price it will be hard to find a projector that offers more as far as connectivity is concerned and as such we consider that BenQ managed to make a great job.
OS, Apps and Features
A noteworthy element that we should mention is the projector’s fast color wheel. HT2150ST’s color wheel spin at 4x speed at 60Hz and at 6x at 50Hz. It also features six segments in a RGBRGB configuration. All this means that the familiar rainbow effect that some people are sensitive to will most probably will never show which is great for the few people that face this problem.
The menu UI is very simple with various tabs separating the various projector settings. We would like a more visually pleasing UI but we cannot have much expectations at this price. At least navigating through the various options proved an easy task as everything is easy to find and handle.
The HT2150ST provide the user with many image control settings like brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma control, color temperature and noise reduction among others. It may not be as extensive as some other projectors we had seen recently but are enough in order to calibrate the image for the best possible outcome.
The projector may have an Eco mode to save on lamp life but also comes equipped with a Smart Eco function that changes the lamp brightness depending on the content on screen. Doing so it extends the lamp life even more, to around 7,000 hours according to BenQ, but in no way it can improve the image quality like a dynamic iris would unfortunately.
BenQ has equipped the projector with two 10-watt speakers which provide clear and loud sound, all things considered, especially for a projector of this class. The speakers unfortunately cannot provide the necessary bass for movies so a dedicated audio system or at least a soundbar is necessary if you want to elevate your audio immersion. But if you tend to move the projector around for a gaming session in your friend’s house the on-board speakers are enough to provide the necessary volume.
HDMI CEC functionality is also supported and with the remote having the necessary controls you can use it to control other HDMI-Link compatible devices and thus minimize the number of remotes you need to have in your home theater.
With a price less than $800 the BenQ HT2150ST is a gaming projector that really has everything you will need. With clear and sharp image, good color balance, enough brightness, low input lag, low noise, a very nice remote and 3D support there is not much more you can ask at this price range.
Of course it’s not perfect as there are a few things missing that we would like to have like lens shift. Also buying a few 3D glasses adds a bit to the cost especially if you need more than 2 pairs. The built-in 1.2x zoom doesn’t provide much range and you will have to place the projector relatively close to the screen. Finally there is no 4K or HDR support and as we have been in the 4K era for a few years now this may be a deciding factor for some.
In the end the BenQ HT2150ST is a pure 1080p, gaming projector and it should be judged as that. If you don’t care about 4K much and you are serious about your gaming entertainment but at the same time you are worried about your budget then there is no better projector to consider than this one. And for this, it is highly recommended.
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[tr][th]US Model[/th] [th]EU Model[/th][/tr]
Cheapest Places to Buy :
- Projection System : DLP
- Resolution : Full HD (1920 x 1080) Resolution
- Resolution Support : VGA(640 x 480) to WUXGA_RB(1920 x 1200) *RB=Reduced Blanking
- Brightness (ANSI lumens) : 2200 ANSI Lumens
- Contrast Ratio (FOFO) : 15,000:1
- Display Color : 1.07 Billion Colors
- Native Aspect Ratio : 16:9
- Light Source Wattage : 240W
- Light Source Life : Normal 3500 / Economic 5000 / SmartEco 7000 hours
- Throw Ratio : 0.69 – 0.83 (100″ @ 1.5m)
- Zoom Ratio : 1.2:1
- Lens : F/# = 2.6 – 2.78, f = 10.2 – 12.24 mm
- Keystone Adjustment : 1D, Vertical ± 20 degrees
- Projection Offset : 102.5%±2.5%
- Clear Image Size (Diagonal) : 60″~120″ / 300″
- Horizontal Frequency : 15K – 102KHz
- Vertical Scan Rate : 23 – 120Hz
- Picture Mode : Bright / Vivid / Cinema / Game / Game (Bright) / User / ISF Night / ISF Day / (3D)
- Color Wheel Segment : 6-Segment (RGBRGB)
- Color Wheel Speed : 6x (50Hz), 4x (60Hz)
- Rec.709 Coverage : 96%
- Speaker : Chamber Speaker 10W x 2
- Interface : PC (D-Sub) x 1, HDMI x 2 (HDMI-1 (1.4a/HDCP1.4) ; HDMI-2 (1.4b/HDCP1.4/MHL)), USB Type A x 1(2.0/Power Supply 1.5A), USB (Type mini B) x 1, Audio in (3.5mm Mini Jack) x 1, Audio out (3.5mm Mini Jack) x 1, RS232 (DB-9pin) x 1, DC 12V Trigger (3.5mm Jack) x 1, IR Receiver x 2(Front/Top), Security Bar x 1
- Special Features : ISF Night/ Day, CinemaMaster Audio+
- HDTV Compatibility : 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
- Video Compatibility : NTSC, PAL, SECAM, SDTV(480i/576i), EDTV (480p/576p, HDTV (720p, 1080i/p 60Hz)
- 3D Compatibility :
- Frame Sequential: Up to 60Hz 720p
- Frame Packing: Up to 24 Hz 1080p
- Side by Side: Up to 24Hz 1080p
- Top Bottom: Up to 60Hz 1080p
- Power Supply : AC100 to 240V, 50 to 60 Hz
- Typical Power Consumption : 353W/110V
- Standby Power Consumption : < 0.5W
- Acoustic Noise (Typ./Eco.) : 29 / 27 dBA
- Operating Temperature : 0~40℃
- Dimensions (W x H x D)(mm) : 380.5 x 121.7 x 277 mm
- Net Weight (Kg/ lbs ) : 3.3 kg (7.27lbs)