The BenQ MS517 is a solid, low-resolution budget data projector geared for classroom use. It’s bright enough to stand up to a good deal of ambient light. It has decent data image quality, and its video quality is sufficient for typical classroom presentations. The MS517 is eco-friendly and 3D-capable as well.
It’s a DLP-based projector with native SVGA (800-by-600) resolution, which should be sufficient for presentations without too much small or detailed material. It’s reasonably bright at a rated 2,800 lumens. The MS517 is all black, with rounded corners and a slightly bowed top. Zoom (1.1:1) and focus rings of average responsiveness reside behind the lens. At 8.7 by 11.9 by 4.4 inches (HWD) and 5.1 pounds, the MW517 is quite portable, though it would be more so if it shipped with a soft carrying case. (Most budget SVGA projectors lack one, which is one way that companies keep their prices down.) That said, it’s easy enough to carry from class to class, though it can be permanently mounted as well.
The MS517 has a good selection of ports for a budget projector, including HDMI; composite video/audio; S-video; two VGA inputs to connect with computers and one to connect with a monitor; two audio-in and one audio-out jack, an RS232 jack, and a USB type B connector for connecting with a computer.
I tested the MS517 in our studio, with the projector placed about eight feet from the screen; the projector’s image was about 50 inches (diagonal). The image was able to stand up to a good amount of ambient light, befitting the projector’s 2,800 lumen rated brightness.
Its data image quality is suitable for typical classroom presentations. In our text testing, white-on-black type was somewhat blurred at the second smallest size, and nearly unreadable at the smallest. Colors were reasonably good, though there was some mild yellow tinting and fringing in some white areas, and yellows tended to look dull and mustardy. I had similar results when I switched from VGA to an HDMI connection, with two variations: dynamic range (the ability to distinguish shading differences in very bright, as well as very dark, areas) was improved, but I noticed some greenish tinting in gray areas that hadn’t been in the VGA images.
Video quality was suitable for showing short to mid-length clips as part of a presentation. The rainbow effect—in which red-green-blue flashes appear, usually in bright areas against a dark background—was noticeable enough in video images that it would likely be a distraction to people sensitive to it. I noticed posterization—sudden shifts in color where they should be gradual—in some scenes. I also saw a hint of pixilation that’s not uncommon in low-resolution projectors.
The audio system, which employs a single 2-watt speaker, is rather feeble, though sound is of decent quality. It’s adequate for a small room or if you’re sitting close to the projector; for louder audio, you’d need to use external speakers.
The projector has several eco-friendly features that can increase lamp life to as much as 6,500 hours. EcoBlank mode lets teachers easily take a break from a presentation, blanking the screen out and lowering energy consumption up to 70% while paused. The projector will also automatically enter EcoBlank mode after 3 minutes without a signal. SmartEco mode automatically adjusts lamp brightness depending on lighting conditions.
The MS517 is 3D-capable, with support for 3D Blu-ray via HDMI as well as Nvidia 3DTV Play, enabling it to display 3D content from Nvidia 3D Vision. The active shutter 3D glasses are not included, and can cost up to $70 per pair. You may be hard-pressed in outfitting a classroom with them, as you could easily end up paying several times the cost of the projector itself.
For better video quality in an SVGA projector, consider the Editors’ Choice Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector. As a 3LCD-based projector, it is free of the rainbow effect seen with the MS517 and many other DLP projectors; it has excellent data image quality as well. The Epson EX3212 also has a USB type A port for running presentations from a USB thumb drive. One thing that the Epson EX3212 lacks is the MS517′s 3D capabilities.
The NEC NP-VE281 has louder audio than either the MS517 or the Epson EX3212. It has very good data image quality; like the BenQ, its video quality suffers somewhat from the rainbow effect. The ViewSonic PJD5134
($410 list, 3.5 stars) has typical data image quality, a rainbow effect more apparent than the MS517′s, and feeble audio. Overall, however, the BenQ MS517 is a solid classroom projector, with plenty of connection choices and eco-friendly features. Its image quality is satisfactory for typical classroom presentations, while its video quality is suitable for short to mid-length clips.
|Native Resolution||800 x 600|
|Video Inputs||Composite, HDMI, S-Video|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||13000|
|Rated Brightness||2800 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc