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BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector

BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector

Manufacturer: BenQ
UK Price (as Reviewed): £408.35 (inc VAT)
US Price (as Reviewed): $539.00 (exc tax)

Personally I’m greatly in favour of projectors as a display medium – given a good sized room (which I’m lucky enough to have) you can set the image much larger than any standard HDTV. Which would you prefer, dropping £5,000-£50,000+ on a 60”, 100”... 150” LCD? Or grab a projector for a fraction of the cost.

The size of the display dictates how far away from your screen you have to be anyway, and the standard ratio is 1.5-3x the diagonal size, depending on what you’re comfortable with. Currently I live with a cheap and cheerful Viewsonic projector that’ll do 720p, and at 4.5m away it generates a 108” (2.7m) 16:9 display. That’s 9 feet of HD image.

OK, that’s a total willy waver I admit, but also I challenge anyone to go back to a “large” LCD after being engulfed in 9foot's worth of Halo 3 or GRID. There’s always more than enough screen space for co-op as well.

Unfortunately, projectors are something that few people consider when assessing a large display purchase. Often is case that there’s the presumption they are noisy, have a poor contrast ratio, lack High-Definition support and most of all, need considerable space to get a good sized screen.

BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector
Click to enlarge

Naturally I’m setting this introduction up to hail the BenQ MP512 ST, which sets out to readdress this blind-spot in large-screen buying decisions. Because, on paper, it does just that. The MP512 ST is a short throw projector with a 10mm fisheye lens (f/2.5) that displays a large image in a fraction of the distance that a normal projector requires. Coupled with a Texas Instruments sRGB DLP image processor and “HD ready” HDMI port in the back, it’s got great potential for the average living room, or even your bedroom.

Comparatively, with my 4.5m of living room space to play with, the BenQ doubles the screen size of my standard-throw ViewSonic to 18 feet (5.5m) on the diagonal, so at just 2.7m from the wall I can still get that same 108”/9ft display. Even if you can only push the BenQ to its minimum recommended distance of 87.3cm from the wall, itstill generates an eye widening 48” (121.9cm) display.

BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector BenQ MP512-ST Short-Throw Projector
Click to enlarge

However, the old myth that if you have a projector then you're exempt from needing a TV license is rubbish, I'm afraid, as the TV licensing laws clearly state. That you have to pay a license fee at all may seem strange to those outside of blighty, but yes, we have to pay tax to receive TV signals. However, if you’re just into gaming via consoles, watching DVDs or even streaming your TV over the net ala iPlayer or Boxee style, it’s a tempting choice.

However, notice the wording of the license agreement - You must be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. As the BBC blog states, you do need a TV license if you watch simulcasts via iPlayer.