Projectors mostly have a reputation for catering to the film crowd, but recently, there has been a push to nudge gamers into taking their gameplay experience to the big screen. The BenQ TK700STi is another to add to that list, boasting 4K gaming with HDR (High Dynamic Range) as well as low input lag.
With the new generation of consoles now taking the next step to make 4K gaming a regular occurrence, BenQ’s projector makes for a compelling choice at elevating that experience. We take a look to see what that entails for consumers.
Design and Build
Contrary to its gamer-centred features, the BenQ TK700STi appears like most regular projectors. It comes as a box-like device decked out in white, while the front sports black colouring instead.
Coming in at 31 cm wide and 11cm thick, and with a weight of 3.1kg, the BenQ TK700STi is a nicely compact machine. While it by no means is the smallest projector around, it still is a very portable device — fitting within a medium-sized bag that you can then bring around to a friend’s house for a gaming session.
Manual navigation controls and the power button can be found on the top of the device, but you can use the included Bluetooth remote. There’s also dials to tweak the focus of the lens and zoom level of the projected display. Unfortunately, the zoom dial is merely there for minor adjustments, so you’ll have to change the projector distance yourself if you want a better fit for your screen.
Below, the projector has adjustable feet to help keep the projection display level, and at the back, all the ports can be found. There’s two HDMI 2.0 ports, 3.5mm audio out, an RS-232 port, and a USB-A port along with the power connection. Finally, there’s an area that juts out, which is the hidden compartment to house the Android TV stick, which comes along with the projector. Simply unscrew it and then plug the stick into the corresponding connections to get Android TV functionality.
On setting up the BenQ TK700STi, there’s quite a bit of flexibility in where you can choose to place your projector; with front, ceiling, rear or rear ceiling setups among the options given when you boot up the projector.
The BenQ TK700STi also functions as a short-throw projector, which means that it does not require much distance to project the screen. We only needed it to be distanced about 200cm or so away to get a nice 100-inch screen, and shorter distances still gave decent screen sizes. So it’s great for homes that might be of a smaller size, and it is entirely possible to simply set it up on a coffee table, for instance.
Tweaking the display projection for your screen was hit or miss with us at first. While the instructions are fairly straightforward to follow, there was an occasion where the projector didn’t respond to our adjustments; we had to reboot it to get it to work.
Once that issue was resolved, setting up the projection was a quick and easy process; they’ve even included a function to automatically correct the distortion with one touch if the projected image is off-axis, no need to fumble manually for it. It took a total of just about five minutes to have the projector up and ready to begin the big screen experience.
As the BenQ TK700STi aimed squarely at gamers with its list of features, we brought out Sony’s latest PlayStation 5 console to test its performance, and the results are mostly positive.
The projector is able to emit 3000 lumens of brightness, which is plenty to allow for the image to be viewable. Moreover, with the 4K resolution, the picture quality is sharp and crisp, and the high brightness brought out the vibrant colours onscreen. There are also three specific game modes in addition to the usual picture modes to further optimise the viewing experience — FPS, RPG and Sports.
The FPS and Sports modes are relatively self-explanatory on what games should be played on it, while the RPG mode is geared towards more cinematic titles. RPG mode really emphasises the cinematic colouring to make it stand out; Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a fine example of this, with the vibrant aesthetics of the game shining through. FPS mode brings more detail to the picture, which helps viewers spot things easier within the quick gameplay. Finally, the Sports game mode makes the image more colour accurate.
One caveat to its overall performance is its HDR mode. Upon detecting an HDR signal, the BenQ TK700STi automatically switches over to it (same as in the game modes), which have their own HDR modes. It is indeed a visual showpiece, you get deeper blacks in the picture, and the brighter colours take on a whole new level of vividness. However, it is pretty sensitive to any light within the space. If even a small amount of light leaks in, the image becomes very washed-out and dim, making it hard to make out what is going on.
Unless the spot you intend to set up the projector is nearly devoid of outside light, it will be tough for the viewing experience to be enjoyable overall. You can mitigate this by upping the brightness settings on the projector, but you run the risk of having inaccurate colours onscreen. In any case, the SDR mode is plenty fine on its own to deliver crisp and bright images should your space be more susceptible to letting in light from outside.
Image quality has been proven to be great, which extends to the input lag performance. We’ve experienced no problems in terms of reaction when playing fast-paced games. While the BenQ TK700STi cannot take advantage of 4K 120fps gameplay due to lacking HDMI 2.1, it can do 1080p 120fps to decrease the input lag further.
Gaming is a big focus for the BenQ TK700STi, but you can use it to watch films and TV shows too. The aforementioned Android TV dongle gives access to a raft of the usual services right out of the box, like YouTube, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. It strangely does not have the biggest media service though; Netflix. Regardless, if you have a game console, you can access it through that as well, so the loss isn’t as bad.
Much of the picture performance seen on the gaming side can be applied to regular media viewing. Images are vibrant and crisp, but HDR content should likewise be under little light for the best results. It is an excellent projector to use for the viewing experience and will no doubt be a superb device to have for film parties with friends and family.
Do be sure to have a dedicated speaker to use with it though. The in-built speakers are serviceable and can get pretty loud, but it lacks depth in the audio to pick out some of the subtler aspects that could be important for both the gaming and media experience.
The BenQ TK700STi is an excellent 4K projector by itself, but goes the extra mile with features to make it an exceptional gaming projector as well.
It is by no means perfect, and it is seen as more of a luxury purchase with its price. But if you do have the cash and setup available for it, you’ll be in for a treat.
Photos by Brandon Neo of the DANAMIC Team.