First, I'm not a professional. This will be a non-technical review. Second, I have a another 710 coming from Amazon. The first one, which I recently had the oppurtunity to play with for a few weeks, had an unacceptable speaker problem - it "buzzed" the projector body starting @ 1/3 volume. This review is based on my time with the first 710, which is now boxed up and ready to go back to Amazon. If there are any changes with the second 710, I'll report back. Otherwise, I'll not be likely to maintain this review unless there is something major to report. I'll try to respond to question/comments, if any, but I cant guarantee it. I'll do my best to keep this review as accurate and concise as possible...
Why did I buy the BenQ W710ST?
It offered what I wanted: short throw, quiet fan, contrast (rated 10000:1), HD (720p) for the purposes of home theater. A fairly good warranty (1 year on all including the lamp) along with competitive pricing caused me to give it a try.
Peeling back the layers started with a sturdy carton, cardboard shock protection, a clear plastic bag and a black nylon projector case. The carry case is well made. Dense 1/2 inch padding is on all 6 sides. A large single side pouch displays an embroidered Benq logo and holds 7 extras (VGA & power cords, warranty card, Instructional DVD - which I havn't touched, remote control, batteries, case shoulder strap). As is usual, no HDMI or component cables.The carry case also has a carry handle on "top" and an odd 3rd handle on the "back" (dont have a clue the purpose of the 3rd strap). 4 rubber grommets are on the "bottom" but not a good idea. The projector could fall over when set on its feet.
Exposing the 710:
Unzipper the top and the projector is inside another foam-type bag. Undo the velcro security strap holding it inside. The projector color is white with a medium gray band surround. The projector feels sturdy (no loose parts sound) and appears well made (lines are precise). It also feels chunky and odd-shaped. It's not compact. A large lense cap @ 4" in diameter is attached by a 3" rubber tether. The lense cap is compression fit (It doesn't click or screw on) - somewhat awkward to remove and replace.
Using the 710:
I am displaying the 710 on a smooth, flat, slightly yellow wall @ 4' and propped up @ 6" off the floor. Viewing distance is about 9' - 10'. All possible connections are at the back. 2 HDMI connections is a plus. Cords fits securely. Audio is mono on all connections and not well marked (It appears as 2 channel but it is not). As I stated above the internal speaker was buzzing so I didn't bother to use this at all.
Hooked up 3 DVD players (standard def using component input, upscaling & bluray using both HDMI inputs). More about this later.
The 710 Pros (based on my limited experience and knowledge):
- Short throw. It works very well. Image was large, @ 7' wide and 3.5' high. Manual zoom offers enough variablity. Zoom (and focus) controls are sure and smooth. Light "leakage" (lighter area around the display image) is slightly visible but not to a point of distraction.
- Fan. Very quiet. Nearly silent in eco mode.
- Heat. Nothing significant detected. Not an issue.
- Color compensation feature. Seemed to work very well on my light yellow wall.
- Display (test pattern) is consistent. No out-of-focus points.
- Very acceptable brightness in eco mode. Had a shaded 60 watt lamp left of center @ 7' from the wall. Only a slight washing out of the display image. Nothing I couldn't adjust to.
- Color, brightness, contrast and detail all were good out of the box. And I was very impressed with the bluray image. Again, I am unable to get technical but I didn't feel any real need to work around factory presets. I was most impressed with the honest color and, of course, the greatness of the size of the image at such a short throw.
- A few nice features built into the remote include backlit buttons with an easy-reach backlight control and an easy-reach test pattern button. Another feature I liked was the ability to change the location of the on-screen menu. It doesn't have to be locked on to the center of the display image. It can be moved to various sections of the display
The 710 Cons:
- Built-in sound (for reasons previously stated).
- No horizontal keystone adjustment.
- Projector appears not to be able to handle certain blues and grays under some situations. I noticed, especially from bluray, noise (a look of swarming bacteria easily seen but not entirely annoying). However, this problem was not consistent and changed from movie to movie or scene to scene. (Now you see it and - presto - now you dont.) I realize I may be seeing the limitations of a projector on a budget.
What should be improved:
The remote/ on-screen menu. An odd thing about the remote is it does not have continuous function; meaning you have to keep pressing the button to do something rather than simply holding the button down, like for adjusting keystone or volume. Speaking of volume, the projector should have multi-channel, pass-through sound controlable from the projectors remote. It would also be a heckofa convenient thing to have a motorized focus and zoom controlable from the remote, as well. As for the on-screen menu, it too had a few strange quirks. For example, when hitting return, you are brought back to the beginning of the section, not to the beginning of the item your were on. So you find youself doing a two-step every time you want to make an adjustment. And it was mentioned by another 710 owner here on AVS that a number of functions on the menu are inaccessable. This is true. And the number of these inaccessable functions seem to increase or decrease entirely on their own without a clear or obvious reason why. Using factory presets (cinema, gaming, etc) will blank out certain adjustments. But there are other non-usable functions. More experienced users may be able to explain. Simply put, the remote/os menu is not very intuitive or use friendly.
About the DVD players:
As I mentioned I had three, each a step up from the other. With the 710 I was able to readily test one against the other, all playing the same movie. Bluray was, hands down, the best. And the 710 showed its HD capabilities beautifully (the blue/gray problem notwithstanding). The image was vibrant, detailed and colorful. It was a joy to behold. Regarding the upscaling player, I was not that impressed. It was only somewhat better than the SD player. In fact, in one way, I actually liked the old DVD player more than the upscaler since it provided a "softer", more "forgiving" image.
All in all, regardless of the speaker problem (since it's not vital), my first use and impression of the W710ST is a positive one. The manufacturer produced a quality product. It does well what it is intended to do. It does however, have its quirks. With a few improvements the 710 could be a first-class "low-end" (under $1k) projector. If it holds up over time, this is not a purchase I would ever regret. I'm looking forward to delivery of the second 710 and will report again if there are any significant findings. Based on what I know so far, would I recommend the BenQ W710ST?
I have to add a word about Amazon: I am really liking this company. They claim they are "customer-centric" and I'm believing it. The original purchase process was no hassle. When I put in a claim for a new replacement projector, it was painless. There were no hoops to jump through. I received an apology and a new 710 was sent out the very next day. No charge. No questions. I like it.
Update 2/6/13. I have the replacement 710. It arrived promptly and in perfect condition. No speaker buzz. Very satisfied with the way Amazon handled this.