This isn’t the first projector we’ve reviewed from BenQ, and it probably won’t be the last either. The last time around I got my hands on the BenQ TK850, which was excellent timing as it allowed us to watch Euro 2020 in all its glory. Sadly, England didn’t bring football home, losing to the final in Italy. But we’re over that now, and we’re moving on, specifically to check out BenQ’s TK700STi projector. So let us see how I got on with it and how it compared to the previous projector I checked out.
Straight out of the box
First impressions probably weren’t as great straight out of the box for the TK700STi compared to the TK850, but not because it was terrible or broken. I just think aesthetically, the TK850 had a much nicer design to it. It looked more high-end, a little fancier, and just had an all-around better feel to it. But that said, I wasn’t terribly disappointed with the TK700STi, I just think it looked more like the professional kind of projector you expect to see in the meeting room at the office.
The good thing about it is I could instantly tell it was a much lighter unit than the TK850, and it was more compact in size too. Which was confirmed when I checked out the specifications on the official BenQ website. It also came with a nice surprise, since I didn’t read too much into what I was receiving before I got it, because I like to play with the things I review and find out what they’re like along the way.
That surprise was that it came with a Smart Stick, BenQ’s version basically of an Amazon Fire Stick or a Google Chromecast device. This turns your projector into a super-smart projector that allows you to stream content using the apps you can download, or to mirror your phone to it to play content directly from there. This was nice to see considering that was one of the features the TK850 had lacked, which at its price point, really should’ve been included as standard.
Built for gaming
Now, the last projector we had was built for sports, whereas BenQ state that the TK700STi is built for gaming. In fact, they claim that it is the “world’s first 4K HDR gaming projector with 4K@60Hz 16ms low latency. And I have to admit, it’s ideal for gaming if you’re on a console that can output 4K@60Hz, which isn’t always the case. Some games struggle to hit the peaks, even on the newer generation consoles. But still, it’s nice to have the equipment that can cope with it well when you do find the games that hit that sweet spot.
For PC gaming though, it won’t be as good as you’ll get on a decent gaming monitor because as PC gamers know, a decent system can push more than 60fps, a lot more. Even at 4K if you have a good enough setup. So you’ll be capped at that lower refresh rate, whereas a good monitor can easily attain double that. It doesn’t mean your games will look bad on this, they’ll still look fantastic. Although, if you turn down the graphics quality to 1080p instead of 4K, then the refresh rate can reach 240Hz, and the response time hits just 4ms.
So if you want to play in 4K, you may want to stick to playing story-based games like Destiny 2, games that craft beautiful worlds that you can explore, because the response time, whilst sounding fast at 16ms, is nowhere near as quick as a monitor which often has 1 or 2 ms response. It won’t affect you too much really if playing games like I suggested above, but if you’re playing competitively then the input lag you’ll get, whilst better than other projectors out there, could be the difference between you putting a bullet between your enemies eyes, or them beating you to it.
That is unless you drop the graphics quality on the games you are playing as mentioned above. In which sense this becomes an absolute beast. Because you are still getting an excellent quality image, but all the negative aspects of playing in beautiful 4K are removed. And this won’t be much of a downside to professional gamers or those who play competitively, because quite often in games such as CS:GO, people lower the quality of the games to get higher fps to give them the edge over their opponents, so this is how the pros do it anyway.
One thing that is great about the TK700STi design when it comes to gaming is that it’s the opposite of the TK850, this is a short-throw projector. This means that you don’t require as much space to get a big image on the screen, in fact, just a 2m distance will allow you to project a 100-inch image. Which makes it ideal for gamers because we’re often tucked away out of sight in the smaller areas of the house.
I have to admit, I did really enjoy playing games on this because especially if you are playing the type of games where you’re following a story and you get these dramatic cutscenes, the TK700STi makes it look glorious. I hit up a number of titles to check them all out, and each one looked incredible, I specifically enjoyed playing Samurai Warriors 5 which I reviewed not too long ago, just because the chaos I was unleashing was magnified tenfold being blown up on the big screen.
One particular feature I believed was lacking from the TK850 that has been improved on with the TK700STi was the lack of horizontal keystone correction. This time around, we have it, so you no longer have to have the projector placed bang the centre of your screen. You can offset it slightly to keep it out of the way, angling the image by up to 30 degrees so it is a nice flat finish on your projector screen, or whatever surface you’re using.
It was almost a shock to see the TK700STi with this feature, considering it costs a whole lot less than the TK850. It was that same reason we were happily surprised to see a Smart Stick included too so that you can get access to apps such as Netflix and Amazon when you’re wanting to relax with a movie after slaying some samurai. Although, the way Netflix is going, maybe you’ll be streaming games from there too before too long.
There were two problems for me with the TK700STi’s Smart Stick though. Firstly, I’d like to have seen this system in-built into the projector. There is more than enough space inside to fit this small little stick, so I’m not sure entirely of the reason this isn’t done. But that’s more of a personal preference, the fact you get something is better than nothing. The actual issue with it is, and I checked it was all up to date before I used it, but some apps didn’t work. They downloaded fine from the Play Store, but when I tried using some, such as ITV Hub, it just refused to open up, stating it wasn’t compatible.
The one area where arguably the TK850 outperforms the TK700STi is in the audio department because the prior projector was fitted with two 5W chamber speakers, whereas this one has a standard single 5W speaker. It’s understandable why though because most gamers use headsets to immerse themselves on the battlefield, racetrack, football pitch, wherever it is their game takes them. So audio isn’t going to be key for a gaming projector. Plus, as I always say, for a better experience no matter what, you’re always best looking at investing in separate speakers anyway, as the sound quality is always much better.
Bang for your buck?
Like the previous BenQ projector we checked out, the TK700STi is still a little on the pricey end, retailing at around £1199. However, it is much cheaper than the TK850 we reviewed previously, and it has more features that we criticised the other for lacking. So compared to that, this is a no brainer, because you are certainly getting more for your money at the end of the day.
It’s also impressive that it’s a world first, but whilst that means temporarily it will be the world’s best too, it now allows competition to analyse this, and work on their own products. So expect to see more projectors of this variety to be released in the near future, and people will be looking to better the specs of the TK700STi. Although, BenQ will also be looking to improve on this too, so it’s just a case of who manages to better it first.
Overall thoughts on the TK700STi?
I think the TK700STi is a much better projector for me personally than the previous TK850 that we tested. It may not look as pretty, but it has more features at a lower price. I love how the refresh rate and response times are adjustable according to the output, making it suitable to use across all gaming devices, that said, it is probably better suited to consoles.
The TK700STi’s smaller, compact size, combined with the fact this is a short-throw projector, means even those with smaller spaces can enjoy using it without too much hassle, especially with the horizontal keystone correction. But, if you’re going to include a Smart Stick to allow users to get more out of their projector, make sure it works, and try and build it into the device itself. It’s just a pain fiddling around with sticks, and when apps don’t work you end up losing interest and giving up.
Still, I’m much more impressed with the TK700STi than I was the TK850, and with a few tweaks here and there, this could be a world-beater as well as a world’s first.