Projectors are amazingly versatile. They can be used in professional capacities, for things like presentations and keynote speeches, but they can also be used in the home to give you a more theatre-like experience. I recently received two projectors from BenQ to test and review. The BenQ SVGA DLP Data Projector (MS517EH) (on the right) and the BenQ 1080p DLP Home Theatre Projector (W1090)(on the left).

Each projector has has a different core function, but both of them can be used for both data projection and home theatre use.

About the BenQ MS517EH data projector

I’ll start with the BenQ SVGA DLP Data Projector (MS517EH). This device is made specifically for presentations, with adjustable feet, 3300 lumens of brightness plus sharp SVGA resolution. The 3300 lumens means it can be used even in bright rooms. (SVGA resolution is a standard for video or computer monitors, so this model uses that measurement since its primary use is for data projection from a computer.)


  • 4:3 aspect ratio, SVGA (800 x 600) resolution, and 13,000 contrast ratio enable natural sharpness and clarity for presentations
  • DLP display technology ensures smooth video with deep blacks and high contrast
  • SmartEco lamp technology enables a lamp life of up to 10,000 hours, making the projector an eco-friendly choice
  • Dual HDMI connectivity can support 2 digital sources
  • Throw ratio of 1.95-2.14 allows you to project to a screen up to 300″ in size
  • Built-in 2W speaker supplements your presentations with audio
  • Lightweight design at only 4.9lb. makes the projector easily portable

What’s in the boxbenq-ms517eh-projector

The BenQ MS517EH digital data projector comes with the projector, a remote control and batteries, a QuickStart guide, power cord, and video cable.

Testing the BenQ MS517EH – Set Up

There’s virtually no set up required on this machine. It’s pretty much plug in and turn on. The first thing I tried to do was remove the lens cap which had arrived on my projector already installed. I’m not sure why, but the lens cap was fitted incorrectly and as a result I could not easily remove it. After finally risking probably breaking the lens cap by prying it off I was able to see clearly.

The first thing I noticed is how crisp and bright the picture is. Even though I was merely looking at a language set up screen, the picture was so clear and bright I could hardly believe it. After a quick ‘auto detect’ correction that happened almost without my knowledge, the Google Chromecast I had plugged into the back of the machine took over.benq-data-projector-image

Home Theatre use

The picture was pretty good, even just looking at the Chromecast screen savers. So I decided to power up a TV program to check it out.

Despite the fact my initial early tests were done against a blue painted wall, the picture was so bright and crisp, it was hard to notice the background colour at all once the lights were turned off.  I was impressed, surprised, and pleased, as this was definitely not the experience I’ve had with other projectors in this room.

After hanging up a proper white backdrop, the picture it was even more impressive.

While the speaker quality on the BenQ MS517EH is very limited, it does play out of both sides of the device, giving it some versatility for people who may be gathered round. Even so, you’re going to want to add a proper external speaker via the auxiliary connections in the back.benq-data-image-screen-computer-jpg

Data projection

Next I used the included video cable to connect my laptop to the device, as you would if you were going to use it for presentations or slideshows. I was easily able to connect my MacBook Pro using a Mac video to VGA Adaptor. The computer connected easily and provided a very clear and detailed picture of the desktop screen. It was easy to adjust the focus and make the image perfectly crisp using the focus or zoom wheels.

Video quality

This projector is pretty much the ultimate in versatility; you can use it at home to watch streaming TV or by connecting your cable TV to one of the two HDMI ports. You can also take it with you if you need to use it for a presentation or for other professional purposes. Again, I was surprised at the crispness of the image, and the accurate representation of the colours. When I got up very close to the picture, some pixelization was evident, but for most uses of this device, that’s not something you would even notice.

There are no apps or software to worry about so it’s ultra easy to use no matter which capacity you decide to use it in; the recommended presentation mode or for home theatre use.

The machine was very quiet, ultra-quiet. Despite having a fan running most of the time during my testing, it was not very noticeable and did not take away from the experience at all.

While you can control all of the settings and features using the included remote control, the key controls you will need are also on top of the projector.

Projecting a large image

benq-ms517eh-rearI tested this item in the largest room I have; a large recreation room approximately 11 feet by 14.

Despite the fact that I placed the projector all the way at one end of the room, I had to pull it out into another room to enlarge the image. With the projector all the way across the room (11 feet away) I was able to get a very large and crystal clear 77″ image with no trouble at all.

Even at that size, the picture it was extraordinarily bright, the colours were true to life, and it was enjoyable to watch. I’ve tested other projectors where this was not the case, where trying to project a larger image ended up being faded out and blurry. As far as I’m concerned, I could happily and easily watch a TV show on this projector with no concern over quality. Yes it will be missing some of that fine crispness that can be found in HDTVs, but even so this was pretty enjoyable.

It’s worth mentioning again that this device is able to project an image up to about 300”. I don’t have a space large enough to create a video picture that big for testing, but I created the largest size image I could and it was extraordinary.

Checking viewing distance

At about a 9 foot a viewing distance, the picture was very enjoyable to watch. Extending it to about 11 feet made it even less noticeable that there were tiny dots making up the picture. When I shortened the distance to about 5 feet, the dots were more noticeable but not unpleasantly so. Again, home theater is not the primary function of this device, but even so it was up to the task.

Overall thoughts on the BenQ SVGA DLP Data Projector (MS517EH)

In all, I really enjoyed my experience with this projector. If you asked me today if this is one I’d buy I would definitely say yes. It’s easily one of the better ones that I’ve tested in terms of quality, brightness, crispness, and true to life colour. Again, even with lights on and being projected onto a blue wall, the picture was so bold I was able to enjoy it as though I were watching a TV screen.

I did notice one thing about the device; I picked up the projector after about 30 minutes of testing and it was quite hot to the touch. Not unbearably so, but noticeably so.

I really liked the quality and ease of use with this projector and found it versatile and good for TV viewing, despite the fact that’s not its primary use. It projects a nice, clear, and large image without fuss.

BenQ 1080p DLP Home Theatre Projector (W1090)

benq-home-theatre-w1090-projector-1Next up in my testing was the BenQ 1080p DLP Home Theatre Projector (W1090). This model is noticeably bigger and wider than the other one. With 1080p video resolution,  and 2000 lumens of brightness, this projector differs from the other model in that it’s specifically designed for HD video in a home theatre capacity.

What’s in the box

Similar to our previous model the box contains the projector, an AC cable, a larger and more modern looking remote control. Unlike the other version, this one has no lens cap included.

This version too can connect a laptop or computer with an adaptor, but in this version the cable is not included in the package. (Because it’s designated for home theater use, not data projection)


  • 16:9 aspect ratio and Full HD 1080p resolution means you can watch the big game or a blockbuster hit on the wide screen in crystal-clear detail
  • DLP display technology ensures smooth video with deep blacks and high contrast
  • Lamp life of up to 6500 hours makes this projector a long-lasting investment
  • Connectivity options include dual HDMI with MHL
  • Throw ratio of 1.15 to 1.5 means you can project to a 100″ image from just 2.5m
  • Built-in 10W speaker with Maxx Audio by Waves pumps out immersive audio to match your entertainment
  • Sport mode brings out the realism of green grass and enhances the skin tone of players so you feel like you’re at the stadium cheering your favourite team on
  • Built-in RGBRGB colour wheel produces cinematic colour
  • 1.3x zoom ratio enables flexible installation

Testing the W1090 – Set Up

When you turn on this projector, you get a tutorial that will help walk you through how you want to set it up. The tutorial includes selecting where in your room you will place it, as well as selecting a language. You can also choose whether the projector will search automatically for input sources connected to the device. Once again for my testing I connected the Google Chromecast device to begin streaming TV.

After a few seconds the device automatically found the Chromecast and chose that as the source. As soon as the picture came up, the device started making a very quiet robotic ‘chuck-a chuck-a chuck-a’ sound. It kind of sounded like a robot typing. It continued throughout my testing, but with the speakers on it was much less noticeable.

Home Theatre usebenq-projector-home-theater

Not surprisingly, the video picture on this device was even more remarkable than the previous one. It was ultra crisp, clear and colourful. It made video very easy and enjoyable to watch.

The speaker on the BenQ W1090 was much more powerful as well. It sounded much less tinny and actually sounded fuller compared to the MS517EH version. I would still want to add an external speaker or properly connect it to my home theatre for the best sound, but there was a noticeable improvement in the internal speaker quality of this device. That’s probably due to a significant upgrade in the audio guts; a built-in 10W speaker with Maxx Audio by Waves.

Video quality

Again, during my early testing, I projected this device onto the blue wall with lights on. The picture was absolutely great and I couldn’t even see the colour of the way through the image. With the lights off the picture was even better. Once we went to a white screen in a dark room, I’d say this picture rivaled any TV. I was blown away!

Checking viewing distance

At 9 foot, 5 foot, and 7 foot distances I could discern no dots making up the picture. I needed to be about 8 inches from the screen before I could detect any pixellisation in the image. Wow!

Data projection/presentation use

Though this device isn’t meant specifically for data projection (but it does have a “PC” connection in the back), I connected my laptop anyhow to check it out using my video adaptor. Again, the quality of the digital image I got was fantastic. I was able to project a huge image size of about 77 inches (as big as my room would allow) and it was clear and bright and true.

Overall thoughts on the BenQ 1080p DLP Home Theatre Projector (W1090)

I’ve tested my fair share of projectors. I find that more often than not, I’m left a little bit disappointed. But with this projector, I think I finally found one that I would actually consider purchasing and putting in my home.

The quality of the W1090 is outstanding. It’s bright, sharp, crisp, and a joy to watch overall. While sometimes watching movies or TV shows on projectors can leave you feeling like you’re working too hard, with this projector it’s very easy to enjoy.

The colours are true to life, and the contrast ratio is similar to that of an HDTV. There is no washout whatsoever, and after a while it’s easy to forget you’re watching a projected image and not a TV screen. When you consider the fact that this projector can also be used for presentations, and that it’s obviously fully portable that gives it additional versatility.

Whether I was watching television or connecting my laptop, the image was top quality.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this projector and would definitely get one for myself.

The BenQ SVGA DLP Data Projector (MS517EH) and the BenQ 1080p DLP Home Theatre Projector (W1090) are available at Best Buy.

Erin Lawrence
Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog TechGadgetsCanada.com


  1. would love to have one as i have seen one of them at my buddy’s home.
    it will go best with 5.1 surround sound speakers and a Playstaion.

  2. Awesome! wide screen in crystal-clear detail with Lamp life of up to 6500 hours makes this projector a long-lasting investment. Just to name 2 features I really would enjoy.

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