If there’s a new projector technology being developed, you can rest assured that Benq is either exploring it, backing it or in this case, pioneering it. The X3000i is an odd-looking unit in the shape of a futuristic cube that could well be holding our cryogenically frozen DNA samples. But instead, it houses a 4-LED light system that promises more light output (brightness) and longer life without generating any more heat than conventional 3-LED projectors. Intrigued? Read on…
BenQ X3000i review
Tech: Designer video
Benq has clearly demarcated its projector line up with X and W prefixes, the former indicating a solid-state light source and the latter denoting a traditional lamp. So the X3000i is clearly marketed as an LED projector that is optimised for gaming, but is no slouch when it comes to stunning HDR home-theatre performance too, as we find out.
It does a one-up on 3-LED projectors by adding a fourth “blue-pump” LED that allows Benq engineers to increase overall light output by 12% without sacrificing thermal efficiency or the need for a larger chassis. This gives the X3000i a respectable 3,000 ANSI lumens brightness spec along with full coverage of the DCI-P3 colour space, a feat that gives it the necessary home-theatre credentials.
Of course, there’s HDR-10 support albeit with a Benq twist to it in the form of HDR-PRO, which combines tone mapping, dynamic Iris and HDR brightness control. This makes for a more “projector friendly” HDR image and not the usual greenish overcast that a lot of HDR projectors display.
While the form factor is unique and non-conformist, Benq has tried to keep it as easy as possible to make it a part of your home. It comes with a Benq Android TV stick that is supplied in the box and sits under a flap on the bottom of the projector, so is out of sight. The 1.3x zoom lens also allows some flexibility in terms of placement distance in the room, but what is missed is lens shift.
You have to make do with digital keystone correction, which works well but can affect gaming performance. And gaming is the real party trick of the X3000i with a 4ms input lag time on 1080p/240hz content. Jump to 4K/60Hz resolution, and you can still get a respectable 16ms response time.
Three picture modes; RPG, FPS and SPG are also thoughtfully included as a starting point to immerse you into action. Two rearward firing speakers tuned by Trevolo add a basic soundtrack, but they won’t be a substitute for a soundbar or a full blow Dolby Atmos speaker system. Thankfully, the HDMI e-ARC port can transmit a 7.1 or Dolby Atmos signal back to your AV receiver so you could just use the X3000i as a projector and a source with its built-in apps. The large side vents do let out some fan noise but it only lasts for a few seconds before the thermals stabilise and once settled, it doesn’t call any attention to itself even if you’re seated within 2ft of the unit.
Remote: For the family
It’s white and approachable! Both things are vital in making the X3000i more friendly for all members of the household. It has hotkeys for Prime Video, volume control, keystone correction and getting into the projector settings menu besides being useful as an Android TV remote. A dedicated voice control button makes light of searching chores too and the only thing missing here is backlighting, which would’ve made low-light operation easier still.
Performance: It’s getting serious!
Like almost all recent Benq projectors, even straight out of the box, the X3000i displays deeply accurate colours. Get into the projector settings menu and you can even take control of gamma if you prefer inkier blacks than the standard 2.2 default. Between Cinema and Game though, everyone from Fury to Forza fans will be covered, without much tweaking.
There are none of the rainbow wheel artefacts that are oh-so-common with the lamp-based DLP projectors, and the ‘instant on’ of the LED source means the X3000i feels closer to a TV in operation than ever. Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever - A Love Letter to Los Angeles concert on Disney+ Hotstar is rendered with beautifully judged colours, superb sharpness during close-ups and smoothness to the motion that is closer to the best LCD projectors in the business.
Benq claims that this is almost like the successor to the revered W5700 4K HDR projector they launched to much acclaim in 2019, and it really does feel like a step forward. The HDR performance is a lot more mature too, with Fame Game on Netflix via our Apple TV reproducing stunning shades of Madhuri’s dazzling outfits and highlights in the hair.
Gamers won’t have any reason to complain about either with a vivid and punchy image without any visible delay. It’s the duality that impresses more with the X3000i
The QS-01 Android TV stick does a great job of integrating apps and it serves up most of the popular ones, barring Netflix which is a strange omission. App loading times are par for the course and won’t frustrate you with endless waits. The only real nitpick here is the slight vertical offset and the lack of lens shift, which means that you will have to be mindful of your installation location, especially if you don’t want to meddle with keystone correction. You won’t be able to just place it on any available table and expect to get perfect geometry.
Verdict: Should you buy it?
With a wide array of essential connectivity and convenience, the Benq X3000i is an accomplished projector with a playful exterior. Its industrial design hides some serious engineering that impresses with a picture quality that sets new benchmarks for a 4K HDR projector at this price point.
It may be marketed as a gaming projector, but its ability to wow as a home-cinema projector with rich, accurate colours and super-smooth motion is deeply impressive. Add Android TV OS and it only sweetens the deal as an all in one video streaming device.
Looks funky but projects an image that is way more mature than it looks, the X3000i is great for gamers and movie lovers.
|3000 ANSI lumens
|16ms (4K@60Hz), 4ms (1080p@240Hz), 8ms (1080p@120Hz)
|HDMI 2.0, HDMI 1.0, USB, RS-232, Audio-out 3.5mm, 12v trigger
|272 x 197 x 259mm