Our BenQ TK700STi projector review reveals that gaming has really come of age when you look at the best projectors these days.
The BenQ TK700STi is a compact beamer built with console connoisseurs in mind, but it’s more than able to handle movies and sports. Installation is straightforward too, making it an option that deserves to tempt you overall.
It's a short-throw design, meaning it can cast a 100-inch image while sitting just 2m away from the wall, so placement on a coffee table or shelf is completely doable.
However, don't sit too close yourself, as it makes a bit of noise… but if you're looking for giant gaming, built-in smart TV features and simple setup, this is one of the best options available today.
BenQ TK700STi review: Price & release date
The BenQ TK700STi was released in spring 2021, and its official price is £1,199/$1,699/AU$2,595.
The TK700STi can be considered aggressively priced for a 4K projector with HDR10 and HLG support – it’s at the leading edge when it comes to gaming projection.
A mid-tier offering in BenQ’s Home Entertainment range, it’s flanked to one side by the TK810 and TK850 models which are slightly more expensive 4K movie models, and the cheaper TH685 and TH685i 1080p gaming options. For 4K gaming, this is very much the sweet middle ground.
BenQ TK700STi review: Features & what's new
The TK700STi is undeniably well specified for the cash. For one thing, it’s got Google TV onboard, the projector shipping with a dedicated BenQ QS01 HDMI streaming dongle that plugs into a recessed third HDMI slot on the rear. With a screw lock cover, the stick is swallowed from view once installed. Once in place, the projector launches with the standard Google TV Home screen, offering shortcuts to streaming services.
There’s a limited selection of streaming apps available from the Google Play store, including Disney+, Apple TV+, Prime Video and YouTube, but no Netflix unhappily. You can always add it with a different streaming stick, or the projector also has Chromecast built-in, for easy streaming from a smartphone.
The TK700STi tempts with a low input lag, just 16ms (2160/60), and a trio of gaming presets. FPS, RPG and SPG modes are optimized for different styles of gameplay. Select FPS, and snipers who may be lurking in the shadows are flushed into view by higher brightness levels.
The projector is also compatible with 3D sources, although no DLP 3D glasses are included in the box.
BenQ TK700STi review: Performance
This BenQ is based around a single-chip DLP solution. It’s not native 4K, rather it employs inventive mirror flipping to generate an 8 million pixel projected image. The result is a smooth, pixel dense picture that looks reassuringly filmic, with superb colour stability. It’s not wideband colour capable though, quoting 96 per cent coverage of the Rec.709 colour space.
Still there’s a lushness to its colours that’s beguiling – and like all single-chip DLP models, the image looks extremely sharp, because there’s no panel alignment issues to contend with.
Average picture level is high, with brightness rated at 3,000 Lumens. While at its best in low or no light, the projector can be used in rooms with reasonable levels of ambient light. Inevitably the picture becomes washed out, but colours punch through in the brighter viewing modes. There’s an opt-in dynamic sensor system called LumiExpert, which automatically adjusts the gamma offset according to levels of ambient light in the viewing room (although this doesn’t work with HDR sources).
The standard qualifications apply when it comes to single-chip DLP models: contrast is limited, and there’s no true black. Consequently, noirish thrillers tend to flatten out, with near black details lost. But brighter scenes pop, sports and animated movies looking particularly terrific.
Image presets comprise Bright, Living Room, Game, Sports, Cinema and (adjustable) User.
Opt for Sports and you’ll immediately notice a colour bump. This oversaturation works for green pitches (watching the bright hues of an NFL game on this is a real treat), but it’s less flattering for fleshtones. Cinema offers a better all round balance. Bright does what it says on the tin, while Living Room has a slightly more naturalistic tonality.
When the projector receives an HDR signal, it defaults to either an HDR10 Movie or Game picture mode.
HDR handling doesn’t overly impress. Projectors cope with HDR content differently to flatscreen TVs, and this BenQ tends to dim the overall image. After squinting through a horror movie on Netflix, wondering where the zombies had gone, I concluded that the TK700STi actually looks rather nicer working within an SDR colour space. There is an adjustable HDR brightness setting, but this simply lifts the overall picture level.
Though for those in the UK who do want to watch in HDR, you'll be pleased to know that unlike some projector rivals, the TK700STi is fully compatible with HDR content from Sky Q.
Rainbow fringing, a characteristic of single chip DLP, is sporadically evident. Some viewers are more sensitive to this than others, and I didn’t find it particularly intrusive.
The built-in 5W sound system is loud enough to combat the excesses of the operating noise, but it’s not particularly pleasant. There are a quartet of Custom modes – Cinema, Music, Sports, and Game modes – which offer mild EQ differences. Stick with Cinema from the projector, and plan for either headphones or a speaker upgrade for better audio overall.
BenQ TK700STi review: Design & usability
Tipping the scales at just 3.1kg, with a footprint not much larger than a sheet of A4 (312x246x110 mm), this BenQ is easy to live with. It can be ceiling mounted quite easily, or more likely, popped on a bookshelf or coffee table.
Setup is quick and relatively pain-free. The model has a manual zoom with focus control, plus auto vertical and 3D Keystone correction if needed (if you opt for the Fast game mode setting, keystone correction is cancelled, just so you know). I was up and running, looking sharp in a matter of minutes. You’ll need around 3m to cast a 150-inch image, or 2m for 100 inches.
Design and build quality are solid, as we’d expect from BenQ. The model isn’t aiming to win any design awards, but it’s nicely turned out, and finished in trendy white. The design, heavily ventilated to bring in cool air and expel heat, includes handy controls atop the chassis. There’s a navigation pad and Menu, Back and Mode buttons, plus an input selector and Eco Blank mode, which kills the display.
Connectivity is good-enough, with two HDMI 2.0b inputs (HDCP 2.2 enabled) that support 4K at 60Hz, plus an RS-232 PC input and USB port. There’s also a 3.5mm audio output, should you want to route audio to a more substantial sound system. There’s no 12v trigger, though, to sync with a motorised projection screen.
The supplied remote, with its black and white colour scheme, is easily distinguished from other zappers, and sports a familiar Home icon that drops you onto the Google landing page. A separate Projection Menu button overlays the standard projector menu box, with the choice of a Basic or Advanced view.
A word of caution: operating noise is high, worth bearing in mind if you plan to park it near your sofa. You can drop this down by selecting one of the Eco Lamp modes, but this takes a toll on brightness, and effectively rules out viewing in a bright room (with lots of sunlight, for example).
The projector has a 5W monophonic sound system. It’s not short on bark, which goes some way to disguising that operational thrum. The audio output is adequate for impromptu sports parties or gaming sessions, but home cinema fans are advised to look for a more immersive solution.
BenQ TK700STi review: Verdict
The TK700STi is a solid choice for those looking for a multipurpose beamer that doesn’t let the side down when gaming. Its pixel-dense imagery and colour performance make for an entertaining watch, although it’s best suited for dark room viewing. Having Google TV built-in will make this a viable alternative to a telly for some users. The main caveat is operational noise, which is high. If you can live with that, it’s well worth shortlisting.
BenQ TK700STi review: Also consider
The Optoma UHD38 is the main rival to the TK700STi. This gaming-centric projector is also built around a 4K single-chip DLP solution, but boasts a brightness of 4,000 lumens. It’s HDR10/HLG compatible, and supports 1080p 240Hz playback. It also has a novel Wall Color setting, which allows a convincing colour gamut to be displayed on walls that aren’t white: options include blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink and grey.
This Epson EH-TW740 may only be 1080p, but it pips the BenQ when it comes to brightness, at 3,300 Lumens. This makes it potentially the better option if you’re looking to game and watch sports outside of a dark room environment. It’s also considerably cheaper. A 3LCD model, it doesn’t suffer from rainbow fringing effects either. A 4K enhanced version, the EH-TW7400, is available, but at twice the price of the BenQ.