BenQ MP522 ST review
Short-throw projectors are gradually becoming more common and affordable. Claiming to throw a full-sized image at shorter distances than a standard projector, they sacrifice a little in quality to cater for those cramped locations such as meeting rooms – not to mention offering the ability to project anywhere in a home or office with nothing more than a coffee table and a blank wall.
BenQ’s MP522 ST is an impressive example of the format. It’s relatively small and runs quietly, with an eco mode to further silence the fan if you’re in a particularly cosy location. While it doesn’t quite manage the 72in display from a metre claimed on the website – at least not without propping the front higher than its foot can extend – it did produce a decent 57in diagonal for us. Try putting a coffee table a mere metre from a wall at home and you’ll realise just how space-saving that fish-eye magnification is.
Automatic keystone correction would have been useful, as from that short distance the image is expectedly warped, but it was easy enough to adjust manually to the correct dimensions. The remote is standard fare, and the menus are pretty comprehensive. The 2,000-lumen brightness was high enough to get a clear image even in a reasonably lit room, and the colours were pretty good, although out of the box the BenQ is a little cold for our liking; a few tweaks improved things.
Video runs smoothly over the VGA connection, while text and graphics are clear enough to read – although at greater distances it does begin to get a little fuzzy. The choice of VGA, composite and S-Video allows for connections to PCs, laptops and standard definition consoles such as the Wii – the 1,024 x 768 resolution isn’t enough for HD and it projects a 4:3 image. The single speaker is adequate for presentations and the like, although not really powerful to truly enjoy entertainment through it.
It’s not meant for HD films and high quality video, though, it’s meant for bringing out when needed to add a bit of size to your screen – and it does its job very well. Compared to a normal projector the tiny space the BenQ requires is liberating.
The MP522 ST is the cheapest short-throw projector we’ve seen at £493, but that’s quite a lot to pay given the basic specifications. When you consider that the brightness and contrast are lower than significantly cheaper office models, it’s clear you’re paying a bit of a premium for the short-throw capability. But in an office that simply doesn’t have the space for bulky, fixed projectors, that’s a premium well worth paying.
|Resolution||1024 x 768|
|Lumens brightness||2,000 lumens|
|Speaker power ouput||N/A|
|Dimensions||255 x 214 x 90mm (WDH)|
|Max diagonal image size||7.5m|
Lamp & running costs
|Lamp life, standard mode||3,000hrs|
|Lamp life, eco mode||4,000hrs|
|Replacement lamp cost|
Power & environment
|Peak noise level||31.0dB(A)|
|Idle/eco noise level||26.0dB(A)|
|Composite video inputs||1|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
Data ports and connectors
|Front panel memory card reader||no|
|Other memory media support||N/A|
|3.5mm audio input jacks||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|RCA (phono) inputs||0|