BenQ MS616ST review

The BenQ MS616ST provides an ample selection of connectivity choices for a low-priced short-throw projector.
Photo of BenQ MS616ST

We’ve seen our share of short-throw projectors that can project a large image even when placed relatively near the screen, but most are higher-resolution (either XGA or WXGA) models. The BenQ MS616ST, geared to business and education settings, is one of the few we’ve looked at with SVGA (800 by 600) resolution. Its price is modest for a short-throw projector, and it has a good selection of connectivity ports, but its image quality for both data and video could be better.

The MS616ST is a DLP-based projector with a modest rated brightness of 2,500 lumens. The projector is white with silver trim and rounded corners. It has large and responsive focus and zoom rings; the zoom ratio is a modest 1.2:1. The projector measures 4.1 by 12.3 by 9.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 6 pounds, making it quite portable, though it lacks a carrying case (as is true with many SVGA projectors).

The MS616ST has a respectable set of ports, including VGA (which doubles as component video); monitor-out; HDMI; 3 RCA jacks for composite video/audio; S-video; one audio-in and one audio-out jack, an RS232 jack, a mini-USB type B port for connecting with a computer for USB Display (which emulates what’s on your computer screen), and a USB type A port for running a presentation from a USB thumb drive (file types supported are JPEG, JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF). An optional WiFi adapter, which also plugs into the USB A port, is available for $50.

Data Testing
Under full zoom, the MS616ST projected an image about 48 inches on a diagonal from just under 4 feet away. When I switched to video with its widescreen aspect ratio, it threw an image roughly 60 inches on a diagonal from about 5 feet away. The image was able to stand up to a good amount of ambient light without notable degradation.

In data image testing, using the using the DisplayMate suite, the BenQ MS616ST’s data image quality was unimpressive, though still suitable for business or classroom presentations, provided that there isn’t a lot of fine detail. In text testing, the two smallest white-on-black sizes were blurred, with the smallest barely readable, and the smallest black-on-white text was blurred as well. When viewing our tests over a VGA connection, there was considerable pixel jitter in certain images, which was greatly reduced by adjusting the phase setting; it disappeared when I switched to an HDMI connection, though image quality and issues otherwise pretty much remained the same.

Colors were on the dull side, particularly reds and yellows. There was some green tinting in images with gray backgrounds. We expect to see some pixilation with SVGA projectors, but it was a little more pronounced than usual, even considering the low resolution.

Video
Video quality was suitable for showing shorter 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 not particularly severe, but would likely be distracting to people who are sensitive to it. Pixilation was also frequently visible. There was a loss of detail in some bright areas, and skin tones tended to look redder than normal.

Audio from a single 10-watt speaker is loud enough for a small to mid-sized room and is of reasonable quality.

The MS616ST has some eco-friendly features that can save in power consumption and increase lamp life to as much as 6,500 hours. EcoBlank mode lets presenters easily take a break, blanking the screen out and lowering energy consumption up to 70% while it’s 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.

This projector 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. Active-shutter 3D glasses are not included, and can cost more than $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 image quality for both data and video in an SVGA projector (albeit a long-throw model), at a bargain price, consider the Editors’ Choice Epson EX3212 SVGA 3LCD Projector. As a 3LCD-based projector, it is immune from the rainbow effect seen with the MS616ST and many other DLP projectors, though it lacks 3D capability.

For a great short-throw projector, consider the Editors’ Choice Optoma TW610ST, a DLP-based model with WXGA resolution and a rated brightness of 3,100 lumens. It provides excellent data image quality, passable video quality, 3D capability, and an even shorter throw distance than the MS616ST (a 68-inch image from just 3 feet from the screen).

The BenQ MS616ST offers multiple connectivity choices as a value-priced business or classroom data projector. It stumbles on image quality for both data and video, but if you need a data projector for a tight space and don’t have much fine detail in your presentations, it might fit the bill at a bargain price.

Specifications
Native Resolution 800 x 600
Wireless Connectivity Yes
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA
Weight 6 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 13000
Engine Type DLP
Type Business
Aspect Ratio 4
Rated Brightness 2500 ANSI lumens

Verdict
The BenQ MS616ST provides an ample selection of ports for a low-priced short-throw projector, but stumbles a bit on both data and video image quality.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc