BenQ HC1200 DLP Video Projector - Review

Practical Video Projection For Home, Business, or School

BenQ HC1200 DLP Video Projector - Front and Rear View
Front and Rear Views of the BenQ HC1200 DLP Video Projector. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The BenQ HC1200 is a moderately-priced DLP Video Projector with extensive connectivity options that can serve equally well at home, or in a business/classroom setting.

The HC1200 displays bright/sharp images, but one feature BenQ touts is the ability of the HC1200 to display full-range sRGB color without fading over time. This capability is especially important for those in Business and Education, as the images projected using the sRGB mode will look the same as those on an sRGB LCD display monitor.

However, do the capabilities of BenQ HC1200 make it the right video projector for your intended use? To aid in your decision, keep on reading.

Product Overview

The features and specifications of the BenQ HC1200 include the following:

1. DLP Video Projector with 2800 lumens of white light output (in sRGB mode) and 1080p display resolution.

2. Color Wheel Characteristics: Information not provided.

3. Lens Characteristics: F=2.42 to 2.97, f=20.7 mm to 31.05 , Throw Ratio 1.378 to 2.067. Zoom Ratio - 1.5x.

4. Image size range: 26 to 300-inches.

5. Native 16x9 Screen Aspect Ratio. The BenQ HC1200 can accommodate 16x9, 16x10, or 4x3 aspect ratio sources.

6. Preset Picture Modes: Dynamic, Presentation, sRGB, Cinema, 3D, User 1, User 2.

7. 11,000:1 Contrast Ratio (Full On/Full Off).

8. Lamp Characteristics: 310 Watt Lamp. Lamp Life Hours: 2000 (Normal), 2500 (Economic), 3000 (SmartECO Mode).

9. Fan Noise: 38dB (Normal), 33dB (Economic Mode).

10. Video Inputs: Two HDMI, Two VGA/Component (via VGA/Component Adapter), One S-Video, and One Composite Video.

11. Video Outputs: One VGA/Component (PC Monitor) Output.

12. Audio Inputs: Two analog stereo inputs (one RCA/one 3.5mm).

13. Audio Outputs: One analog stereo output (3.5mm).

14. The HC1200 is 3D display compatible (Frame pack, side-by-side, top-bottom).

Compatible with DLP-Link - 3D glasses sold separately).

15. Compatible with input resolutions up to 1080p (including both 1080p/24 and 1080p/60). NTSC/PAL Compatible. All sources scaled to 1080p for screen display.

16. Manual Focus control located behind the lens. On-screen menu system for other functions. A Digital Zoom is also provided via onboard or remote control - however, image quality is negatively affected as the image gets larger.

17. Automatic video input Detection - Manual video input selection also available via remote control or buttons on projector.

18. 12-volt trigger included for easier custom control integration.

19. Built-in Speaker (5 watts x 1).

20. Kensington®-style lock provision, padlock and security cable hole provided.

21. Dimensions: 14.1 inches Wide x 10.2 inches Deep x 4.7 inches High - Weight: 8.14 lbs - AC Power: 100-240V, 50/60Hz

22. Accessories included: Soft carry bag, VGA cable, Quick Start Guide, and User Manual (CD-Rom), Detachable Power Cord, Remote Control.

23. Suggested Price: $1,299.00

Setting Up The HC1200

To set up the BenQ HC1200, first determine the surface you will be projecting onto (either wall or screen), then position the the projector on a table or rack, or mount on the ceiling, at the optimal distance from the screen or wall.

One thing to keep in mind is that the HC1200 requires about 10 feet of projector-to-screen/wall distance to project an 80-inch image. So, if you have a small room, and desire a large projected image, this projector may not be the best choice for you.

Once you have determined where you want to place the projector, plug in your source (such as a DVD, Blu-ray Disc player, PC, etc...) to the designated input(s) provided on the rear panel of the projector. Then, plug in the power cord of the HC1200 and turn on the power using the button on the top of the projector or the remote. It takes about 10 seconds or so until you see the BenQ logo projected on your screen, at which time you are set to go.

To adjust the image size and focus on your screen, you have the choice to activate the HC1200's built-in Test Pattern or turn on one of your sources.

With the image on the screen, raise or lower the front of the projector using the adjustable feet (or adjust the ceiling mount angle).

You can also adjust the image angle on the projection screen, or white wall, using the Keystone Correction function via the onscreen menu navigation buttons on the the top of the projector, or on the remote remote or onboard controls.

However, be cautious when using Keystone correction as it works by compensating the projector angle with the screen geometry and sometimes the edges of the image will not be straight, causing some image shape distortion. The BenQ HC1200 Keystone correction function only works in the vertical plane.

Once the image frame is as close to an even rectangle as possible, zoom or move the projector to get the image to fill the screen properly, followed by using the manual focus control to sharpen your image.

NOTE: Be sure to only use the optical zoom that is available on top of the projector, behind the lens, and not the digital zoom feature that is provided on the projector's onscreen menu. The digital zoom, although useful in some cases to get a closer look are some aspects of a projected image, does degrade image quality.

Two additional setup notes: The HC1200 will search for the input of the source that is active. You can also access the source inputs manually via the controls on the projector, or via the wireless remote control.

If you have purchased an accessory 3D glasses - all you have to do is put on the glasses, turn them on (make sure you have charged them first). Turn on your 3D source, access your content (such as 3D Blu-ray Disc), and HC1200 will auto detect and display the 3D content on your screen.

Video Performance - 2D

The BenQ HC1200 does a very good job displaying 2D high-def images in a traditional darkened home theater room setup, providing consistent color and detail.

With its strong light output, the HC1200 can also project a viewable image in a room that may have some ambient light present, however, there is some sacrifice in black level and contrast performance. On the other hand, for rooms that have may not provide good light control, such as classroom or business conference room, the increased light output is more important and projected images are definitely viewable.

The HC1200 provides several pre-set modes various content sources, as well as two user modes that can also be present, once adjusted. For Home Theater viewing (Blu-ray, DVD) the Cinema mode provides the best option. On the other hand, I found that for TV and streaming content, I actually preferred the sRGB mode, although that mode is intended more for business/education presentations. The mode that I felt was really terrible was the Dynamic Mode - to bright, too harsh, to much color saturation. However, another thing to point out is that even though the HC1200 provides independently adjustable user modes, you can also change color/contrast/brightness/sharpness settings on any of the Preset Modes (except 3D) more to you liking.

In addition to real world content, I also conducted a series of tests that determine how the HC1200 processes and scales standard definition inputs signals based on a series of standardized tests. For more details, check out my BenQ HC1200 Video Performance Test Results.

3D Performance

To find out how well BenQ HC1200 does with 3D, I used the OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc players in conjunction with a set of 3D glasses provided for this review by Benq. It is important to note that the 3D glasses do not come as part of the projector's package - they must be purchased separately.

Using several Blu-ray disc movies and running the depth and crosstalk tests available on the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Disc 2nd Edition I found that the 3D viewing experience was good, with no visible crosstalk, and only minor glare and motion blurring.

However, the 3D images are somewhat darker and softer than their 2D counterparts. If you are planning to devote some time watching 3D content, definitely consider a room that can be light controlled, as a darker room will provide better results. When the HC1200 detects 3D content, the projector automatically goes into a pre-set 3D mode for brightness, contrast, color, and light output - However, my suggestion is to make sure you run the lamp in its standard mode, and not either of the two ECO modes, which, although saving energy and extending lamp life, does reduce the light output that is desirable for good 3D viewing.

Audio Performance

The BenQ HC1200 incorporates a 5 watt mono amplifier and built-in loudspeaker, which is definitely anemic, especially considering that this projector is not well-suited for a small room setting. I definitely recommend that you send your audio sources to a home theater receiver or amplifier for that full surround sound listening experience, or, take advantage of the HC1200's built-in audio outputs in conjunction a sound system that is better suited for a large meeting or classroom.

Also, one thing I observed is that even though I would set speaker to Mute in the menu - if I turned the projector off and then back on later, I found that the speaker came on again that that I had to reset it to Mute. My suggestion, if you are using the HC1200 with an external audio system, just turn the volume level of the speaker all they down - that way, when you turn in off and then back on, whether or not the Mute function is active or not, you will not hear any sound from the projector's speaker.

What I Liked About The BenQ HC1200

1. Very good color image quality - Full sRGB right out the box.

2. Accepts input resolutions up to 1080p (including 1080p/24). Also, all input signals are scaled to 1080p for display.

3. High lumen output produces bright images for large rooms and screen sizes. This makes this projector usable for both living room and business/educational room environments. The HC1200 would also work outdoors at night.

4. Compatible with 3D sources.

5. Both Audio and Video loop through connectivity provided.

6. Easy-to-use Remote Control with Built-in Laser Pointer.

7. Can be integrated into a PC or network controlled environment.

8. A soft carrying bag is provided that can hold the projector and provided accessories.

What I Didn't Like About the BenQ HC1200

1. Long projector-to-screen distance required.

2. Black level performance is just average.

3. 3D is dimmer and softer than 2D.

4. Underpowered built-in speaker system.

5. No MHL compatibility.

6. No Lens Shift - only Vertical Keystone Correction provided.

7. DLP Rainbow Effect sometimes visible.

8. Fan is louder than some projectors in the same price/feature class.

9. Remote control not backlit.

Final Take

The BenQ HC1200 is definitely one of the more interesting projectors I have reviewed. On the one hand although it does provide the connectivity, control features, and both Cinema and 3D viewing modes that are suited for home theater, it also provides extra features that are not required for that environment, but are great options for those that are looking for business/classroom presentation needs.

Taking all into consideration, if you are looking for a dedicated home theater projector, the HC1200 may not be the best match, but if you desire a projector that provides a lot of flexibility for a variety of uses (at home or at work) and lighting conditions, the BenQ HC1200 is definitely worth checking out - (love that built-in Laser Pointer in the remote) especially with its current $1,299.00 price tag.

For a closer look at the features and video performance of BenQ HC1200, check out a sampling of Video Performance Test Results and supplementary Photo Profile.

Official Product Page

Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Players: OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel mode)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

Examples of Software Used

Blu-ray Discs (3D): Brave, Drive Angry, Godzilla (2014), Gravity, Hugo, Immortals, Oz The Great and Powerful, Puss in Boots, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Adventures of Tintin, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Blu-ray Discs (2D): Battleship, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Pacific Rim, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Dark Knight Rises, John Wick.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.