BenQ MX600 review

The BenQ MX600 projector offers a 3,200-lumen rating, XGA (1024 by 768) resolution, and a claimed 10,000 hour lamp life.
Photo of BenQ MX600

Only a little more expensive than the BenQ MX522, the BenQ MX600 ($499 direct) projector delivers everything the MX522 offers—including high-quality data images along with highly watchable video—and more. The two most obvious differences are its far more usable audio system, with a 10-watt, rather than 2-watt, speaker, and the MHL support, which makes it easy to show images from MHL-enabled mobile devices. Either of these by itself would be a tempting sweetener. Together, they help make the MX600 well worth the step up in price.

Beyond these two features, the two models have a lot more in common than they have differences, starting with both being bright enough for a small to mid-size conference room or classroom. The MX600 offers a smidge higher brightness rating, at 3,200 lumens, but that’s a small enough jump so it’s hard to see any difference. Both offer 3D support for video sources like Blu-Ray players, and both claim a 10,000-hour lamp life to help keep running costs down.

Both models are also built around a DLP engine with a native XGA (1,024-by-768) resolution, and both share essentially the same advantages and disadvantages compared with the Editors’ Choice Epson PowerLite 93+. The BenQ models each weigh more than two pounds less than the Epson model, and they offer a higher brightness rating. As I discussed in my review of the MX522, however, the brightness comparison isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Color brightness matches white brightness for three-chip LCD projectors like the 93+, but the two are often significantly different for DLP projectors, an issue that can affect both the brightness of color images and color quality. What this translates to is that a higher white brightness rating for the BenQ models compared to the 93+ doesn’t mean they’ll be brighter for all images. (For more on color brightness, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why it matters.) That said, the MX600 was bright enough in my tests to stand up to moderate ambient light with a 98-inch diagonal image at its 4:3 native aspect ratio.

The Basics
The MX600 is a little bigger than the BenQ MX522, at 4.5 by 11.3 by 9.2 inches (HWD), but essentially the same weight, at five pounds 1 ounce. That puts it in a size and weight class that often winds up permanently installed or on a cart, but it is also small and light enough to carry with you. As with the MX522, however, it comes without a carrying case. (BenQ’s optional case is $39 list.)

Setup is standard, with manual focus and 1.1x manual zoom, which gives you a little flexibility in how far you can put the projector from the screen for a given size image. Connectors for image sources include the usual HDMI port for a computer or video source, two VGA ports for computers or component video, plus S-Video and composite video ports.

The HDMI port is MHL-enabled. That means you can connect an MHL-enabled smartphone or tablet to show whatever is on the mobile device’s screen, and charge the device at the same time. You can also control your phone or tablet from the projector’s remote, although figuring out how to do this may take a call to BenQ. The instructions that show onscreen when you connect to an MHL device are misleading.

Also note that the port is HDMI 1.4a, which means that you can connect to a Blu-ray player or other video source for 3D. However, you’ll need to buy 144Hz DLP-Link glasses separately. Older 120Hz glasses will also work for games, but not Blu-ray video.

Image Quality and Audio
The MX600 delivered near excellent data image quality on my tests, handing our standard suite of DisplayMate images with ease. Color balance was a little off in the two brightest preset modes, with some shades of gray a touch yellow compared with others, but not enough for most people to notice, much less consider it a problem.

Colors in most modes were fully saturated, although yellow was a little dark in most in terms of a hue saturation brightness color model, and all colors were a little dark in the brightest mode. More important for most data image, the projector handled fine detail well, with both black text on white and white text on black crisp and highly readable at sizes as small as 6.8 points.

Video quality is easily watchable for long sessions. It’s necessarily limited by the native 1,024-by-768 resolution, but is good for the resolution. I saw the slightest hint of posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually) in one clip that tends to bring out that problem, but no other issues worth mention. Very much in the plus column is that the projector doesn’t show as many rainbow artifacts (in the form of red-green-blue flashes) as many DLP projectors. I saw few enough that it’s unlikely anyone in your audience would find them bothersome.

The audio also counts as a plus, with the 10-watt mono speaker offering acceptable sound quality and enough volume to fill a small to mid-size room. If you want stereo, higher quality, or more volume, you can plug an external sound system into the stereo audio output.

Although the BenQ MX600 doesn’t offer quite enough to replace the Epson 93+ as Editors’ Choice, it offers enough to put it in the running. It’s portable and bright, it delivers both high quality data images and surprisingly good video, and it offers some features that the 93+ lacks, notably MHL support and 3D. Even if you don’t need either feature right now, having them helps future-proof your investment. And if you need either or both, that may be enough to make the BenQ MX600 your XGA projector of choice.

Specifications
Native Resolution 1024 x 768
Wireless Connectivity No
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA, HDMI
Weight 5.1 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 13,000
Engine Type DLP
Video Interfaces Component, Composite, HDMI, S-Video
Type Business
Aspect Ratio 4
Rated Brightness 3200 ANSI lumens

Verdict
The BenQ MX600 projector is light enough to carry easily, at 5.1 pounds, and delivers both a bright, high-quality data image and surprisingly good video, along with 3D and MHL support.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc