The BenQ MX631ST is a short throw projector intended for use in classrooms or conference rooms. It is a single chip DLP XGA projector that in its brightest mode is specified to produce 3200 lumens and its lamp is rated to have an unsually long life of up to 10,000 hours, in SmartEco mode. Even when operated in the full power (i.e, “normal”) mode, the lamp is rated at a fairly long 4,500 hours life.
This is a XGA resolution projector (i.e., 1024 x 768) with a 4 x 3 aspect ratio as is typical for many entry-level business and classroom projectors. However, since many classrooms and conference rooms are already equipped with 4 x 3 aspect ratio projection screens, the MX631ST is certainly a viable choice when replacing an existing XGA projector.
- Long lamp life – up to 10,000 hours
- Short throw design supports placement fairly close to the screen (e.g., 1 screen width)
- Two HDMI inputs, one support MHL 2.0
- XGA resolution (1024 x 768) and 4 x 3 Aspect Ratio
- Built-in 10 watt speaker
- 3D support compatible with Blu-ray 3D sources
- Produces relatively high image contrast, for this class of projector
Business and classroom projectors in this class typically have zoom lenses with a limited zoom range and the MX631ST is no exception. Its 1.2:1 zoom ratio is typical, but this model has a relatively short throw ratio of 0.9 to 1.08 meaning when projecting, for example, an 80 inch wide image the projector can be located as close as 72 inches and as far as 86.4 inches from the screen. Ideally the projector should be placed a little below the bottom of the screen, when table mounted, or a little above the top of the screen, when ceiling mounted. Using a short throw projector, such as the MX631ST, can be useful in keeping the light from the projector away from the presenter’s or teacher’s eyes when they are standing toward the front of the room, although not to the extent possible with ultra throw projectors. The bottom line is a short throw model can be the right choice for may conference room or classroom situations.
MHL is essentially mobile HDMI. The MX631ST supports MHL on its HDMI #2 input. This allows you to plug in MHL compatible devices such as a Roku stick or a MHL enabled smart phone (however, not tested for this review). MHL is relatively recent, so it may see a lot more capabilities down the road. To be effective, since MHL supports video, audio, and command and control, a projector really should have its own sound system and the MX631ST does appear to have these capabilities. MHL allows many people to “cut the cord”. BenQ specifically says the MHL capabilities of the MX631ST allows you to display pictures, movies and games from MHL enabled Android devices to the big screen
Long Lamp Life
BenQ literature says “Within the SmartEco Lamp Saving Technology umbrella, Lamp Care mode takes your dollars further – much further by offering an astonishing lamp life of up to 10,000 hours!” Now of course you cannot expect that sort of lamp life if you always run the projector in normal power mode, but it does appear the MX631ST should be among the best in terms of lamp life and only seriously outdone by LED and laser based projectors. BenQ provide a 1 year warranty (or 2000 hours of use) on the original installed lamp while replacement lamps only carry the standard 90 day warranty.
Many low cost DLP projectors lack support for the 3D signal format used by Blu-ray Discs, but this is not the case for the MX631ST. It is spec’ed to support the most popular 3D signal formats, including the frame packing technique used for Blu-ray. BenQ did not provide 3D glasses with the review unit and I did not evaluate the 3D capabilities of the projector.
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