If you have ever walked through the Television and Home Theatre section at a Best Buy and thought to yourself “I wish I could watch TV with an image sized larger than 75 inches” then you are a projector person. If your next thought is “too bad I can’t afford an HD projector” then you really need to check out the BenQ HT1070A Home Cinema Projector. In this blog I will talk about the BenQ HT1070A’s features, plusses and minuses, and share my experiences setting up and using it.

Specifications for the BenQ HT1070A

Setup screen

At this particular price point, the BenQ HT1070A is a feature rich treasure that provides an opportunity for almost anyone to have the chance to experience their favourite TV shows or films from an image size of 60” up to an incredible 300”. The size of your projection will depend on the distance the unit is from your screen. The HT1070A has “short throw” capabilities which make it practical for almost any sized space, large or small. With the projector only 2.2’ for example, you are able to get a crisp, clear, HD image albeit at a slightly smaller size. It also features 1.2X zoom for even more spatial flexibility.

Image Quality

The HT1070A projects a full 1080p High Definition (HD) image in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The contrast is 15000:1 which provides an adequate delineation between lights and darks but won’t necessarily provide the subtle differences in shadows and the like. The higher the contrast ratio, the more distance there is between the brightest white and the darkest black and more distance allows for more variation in how they are projected. More variation lets us see more the full colour and light spectrum in crisp and vivid detail. For comparison’s sake, you could get a home projector with a contrast ratio of 120000:1 but can expect to pay at least 3 times more than you will to purchase the HT1070A. In a room with the lights out, as this significantly increases our ability to visualize the range in contrast, the differences between projectors are not as pronounced. In any home theatre setup with a projector, keeping ambient light down as much as possible is the ideal as this will help alleviate concerns you may have with your unit’s contrast ratio.

projecting a 4:3 TV image

The BenQ HT1070A also features CinematicColor ™ technology that allows for a more accurate colour reproduction and enhanced imagery. In the accompanying paperwork there are several references to the fact that the HT1070A has “96% coverage of REC.709”. REC.709 is the International HDTV standard for presenting colour as it was intended by the producer of the image. What this essentially means is that the HT1070A is able to show you the colours that were recorded and it does this with 3 different modes of image projection. Sport mode is the mode of choice for, wait for it, watching sports from your projector. Cinema mode is a more subtle presentation that works best for movies and Vivid TV mode uses a more vibrant setting that works well with regular television broadcasting. As the end user, you are able to adjust the settings on any of these or create your own mode with your own settings so in this sense, your visual options are seemingly limitless.

Easy Image Correction with Keystone feature

The BenQ HT1070A features a lamp with a brightness of 2200 lumens and the lamp life is approximately 4500 hours when used at full power and closer to 10 000 hours if used on eco power. If you are using the unit on a table top or other flat surface, there are adjustment feet that will allow you to stabilize and square the image. There are also settings in the menu that allow you to square the projected image if it initially appears asymmetrical on the screen or wall. This is called “Keystone Correction” and can take an image that is initially angled on the screen and return it to its symmetrical 16:9 ratio. The back of the unit features 2 HDMI inputs, a Computer input (vga), Composite video input (RCA), Audio input (mini), Audio output (mini), USB (mini-b), and a built in speaker. The under carriage has mounting capabilities and you can flip the image in settings allowing for a ceiling mount if preferred. In the box you also get a remote (batteries INCLUDED), a VGA cable, and the power cord. In all, the BenQ HT1070A weighs in at a svelte 5.65 pounds. Of note to some I’m sure, it does NOT come with an HDMI cable so you will have to already possess one or will need to get one of your own.

Setting up and using the BenQ HT1070A

It wouldn’t be overstating anything to say that from taking this out of the box to getting an image projecting onto the screen was incredibly intuitive and easy. The BenQ menu interface is very easy to understand and navigate. For my first setup I pulled the unit out of its box, set it on a coffee table whilst aimed at the screen. I ran an HDMI cable out from my laptop in the HT1070A’s HDMI 1 input. I turned on the unit and it automatically found the input channel and started to project. The BenQ HT1070A was almost 10’ from the screen and as a result my projected image size was just over 90”.

Multiple options for Audio

90″ projection

I started a movie on my laptop and a couple of things became immediately clear to me. First of all, if you intend to do any meaningful movie or TV viewing, you have to connect to an external speaker source, whatever that may be. The built in speaker could work in a pinch I suppose but would be the equivalent of going to the local theatre to see a movie but only getting sound from your phone. I ended up running an optical cable from my laptop into my Bose Cinemate and problem solved as the movie (Logan Lucky) was now playing in all of its glorious audio. In a separate configuration I ran audio out from the HT1070A and into my receiver which worked amazingly as well. Depending on the setup of your whole home entertainment system, there are several ways for you to get incredible audio and you never have to use the built in speaker.

Ambient Light is the enemy of your image

The other thing that really stood out to me, and I did mention it earlier, is that you really do need to try and eliminate as much ambient light as possible. The darker I was able to make the room, the more amazing the images were. There is a reason why even your local theatre turns off all of the lights as projectors do not project the colour black, the blacks that you see on the screen are there due to the absence of light. Obviously then the more light that is in a room when using the projector, the more washed out the darks will be. This of course applies to all projectors in varying degrees and isn’t a limitation of the HT1070A by any means. This is why contrast ratio matters so much with projectors.

110″ Projection onto backdrop

I can attest that when my media room was dark, the audio was connected to my receiver and playing in a fully immersive 5 channel surround, the huge image in front of me was crisp and vibrant, save for the wrinkles in my backdrop. As I mention in the accompanying video tests, I do not own a screen and have been projecting images onto a white backdrop that I have and use to shoot video Even after 30 minutes of ironing, hanging it, and then steaming it, my backdrop still had visible wrinkles. So while the image was amazing I know it would have been even more mind blowing had it been projected onto a proper high contrast screen. Unfortunately, I did not have the space to go gargantuan with my screen size and after a few different setups ultimately used in these configurations. As I mentioned above, setting the projector approximately 10” from the screen gave me about a 93” image. When I shifted the HT1070A back a couple more feet I had an image over 100” that was incredible to behold. That was also the largest my backdrop could go. When set up just 4’ from a wall, I still got about a 55” image.

Verdict on the BenQ HT1070A

55″ wall projection

At the end of the day, if you want your movies and TV shows to be 80 plus inches then you want a home cinema projector. If you want a home cinema projector that doesn’t require a second mortgage and/or a lifetime of debt, then you definitely want to look at the BenQ HT1070A. Easy to setup, intuitive to use, and capable of blowing you away with its capabilities at this price point the HT1070A is a definite contender. Full 1080p HD, multiple mount, configuration, and viewing options, great colour reproduction, and projection sizes that will amaze and astound, I encourage you to drop by your local Best Buy store and see if it is right for your needs.

Darren Blakeborough
My day job is as an Assistant Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. My primary teaching and research interests revolve around popular culture and technology. I am an adequate at best guitar player currently attempting to romanticize my inglorious youth in a Hair Metal cover band called "Glam Chowder”. When not working or watching TV, I am usually listening to music, recording music, playing music, or trying to figure out what gear I need to make all of that music sound even better.