Similar in many ways to the BenQ MX522, the BenQ MW523 business projector delivers a higher native resolution, at WXGA (1,280 by 800). That makes it the preferred choice if you need to show data images at WXGA and, in theory at least, a better match for HD video as well. Beyond that, it delivers high-quality for data images, brightness suitable for a small to mid-size conference room or classroom, and a 10,000-hour lamp life. The combination makes it worth a close look.
At 5 pounds 2 ounces, the MW523 is about a pound and a half lighter than the Editors’ Choice NEC NP-M311W. That’s an obvious advantage if you need a projector you can carry with you easily. However, the NEC projector delivers several advantages of its own, including a 1.7x zoom lens. The MW523′s zoom is only 1.2x. The LCD-based NEC projector also offers a slightly higher brightness rating than the DLP-based MW523, at 3,100 lumens rather than 3,000. That’s not much, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Unlike three-chip LCD projectors, DLP projectors like the MW523 often have significantly lower color brightness than white brightness. This can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. So even though the white brightness rating for both projectors is nearly the same, that doesn’t mean the brightness for all images will be a close match. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why it matters.) As a reality check, however, I found the MW523 easily bright enough to stand up to moderate ambient light with a 92-inch diagonal image.
Setup and Image Quality
Setup is absolutely standard, with the 1.2x manual zoom letting you adjust image size, and the manual focus offering just enough resistance to provide sure control. Connectors for image sources include the usual HDMI port for a computer or video source, VGA ports for computers or component video, plus S-Video and composite video ports. The HDMI port offers HDMI 1.4a, which means it will let you connect directly to a Blu-ray player or other video source for 3D as well as 2D.
Data image quality is good to excellent. On our standard suite of DisplayMate tests, the projector scored well on color balance, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from black to white in all modes, and it scored reasonably well for color quality, with fully saturated, eye-catching colors in most predefined modes.
It also did a good job with fine detail, with both black text on white and white text on black crisp and readable at sizes as small as 6.8 points. With an analog (VGA) connection, I saw lots of dynamic moire in test images that tend to cause that problem. However, unless you use patterned fills in your graphics, you may never see this issue. You can also sidestep it by using a digital (HDMI) connection instead.
Despite a native resolution that can show 720p video without having to scale the image, video quality is good enough for clips of a few minutes at most. Among other issues, I saw a green bias in all predefined modes, which was particularly obvious in skin tones. In addition, the combination of low contrast and minimal to moderately obvious noise gives the image a sense of soft focus.
On the plus side, I saw fewer rainbow artifacts than with many DLP projectors, and almost none with data screens. They showed often enough in some scenes that people who are sensitive to them will certainly see them, but not often enough in most scenes for most people to find them bothersome.
With 3D video, I didn’t see any crosstalk in my tests and saw only a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts. As with most 3D data projectors, however, the MW523 doesn’t come with 3D glasses. If you want to use 3D, you’ll have to buy 144Hz DLP-Link glasses separately.
Audio and Other Issues
If you need good-quality audio for your presentations, you’ll want to plug an external sound system into the MW523′s audio output. The built-in two-watt speaker delivers tinny sound and only enough volume to fill a small conference room or classroom.
Very much on the plus side is the 10,000-hour rating for the lamp, based on what BenQ considers typical use. BenQ gets this extraordinarily long life from what it calls SmartEco technology, which adjusts lamp power based on image content. This not only lengthens lamp life, but lowers electricity use, for a double savings in running cost.
I’d like this projector more if it had somewhat better video quality and better audio. That said, both are better than you’ll get with many data projectors, and both are peripheral to the core task of showing data images. The SmartEco technology, with its savings in running cost, combined with a low initial price, a bright image, and good to excellent data image quality are enough to make the BenQ MW523 a more than reasonable choice. If you don’t need to show much video, it can be a highly attractive choice.
|Native Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA, HDMI|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||13000|
|Rated Brightness||3000 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc