Review: BenQ DV S11 Films And Projects Full HD In One Small Device

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Record 1080p HD videos and play them straight off the same small unit at up to 50 inches with an inbuilt Pico projector.

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Nikon released the first camera with an inbuilt projector back in 2009 with the S1000pj, and BenQ have added a few upgrades to the concept with the DV S11. The projector outputs an extra 10 inches to reach a potential 50 inch display, while the LCD screen is given touch control and increased to 3.5 inches from Nikon’s 2.7. They’ve also gone for the unconventional design of what looks more like a camera phone than a video camera.

Unlike Nikon’s version of the projector camera, the image quality isn’t very good for 1080p recording, especially in low light and worse still under any zoom. Digital zoom over optical zoom leaves nothing to be desired. Image quality is fair, but at only 5 MP it doesn’t stand close to any compact cameras or other recorders in the market and it’s easy to pick up on noise in the picture quality in video. The recording is fluid though, and there isn’t much motion blur on action shots with a consistently quality frame rate.

Just make sure you’re in a dark room with a white wall when you’re projecting because the small projector doesn’t pack much of a brightness punch on the small unit that shapes up to smaller than your typical mobile phone. A scroll wheel on the top right corner of the unit adjusts the focus of the projector.

 
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The interface is blurry, with unclear buttons on the 230k pixel LCD, but everything’s incredibly simple, from quality and aspect ratio switching to flash and still image controls. The still photo function also gives 10 shooting modes like Auto, Sports, Night and Landscape that enhance image capture settings for different surroundings, though none of the settings apart from image size and ratio are customisable. When you turn off the unit by the on button on the top end of the unit it can be turned back on with a poke of the touch screen – handy for quick shooting, but annoying if you accidently activate it in your pocket.

But this is all part of a big plus for the S11 where quick shooting is a key function so you don’t miss a moment. It includes clever functions like being able to capture still images out of the video playback screen on the fly from the touch screen. A three-second pre-record feature preserves whatever it captures 3 seconds before you push record so that if you’re anticipating a Kodak moment you’ll avoid missing the first second of reaction time.

Featuring an SD card slot and HDMI port, managing content on the unit is extra simple and effective on the DV S11. BenQ has included software with the unit to make clips downloaded online compatible with the camera so users can project videos other than what they’ve recorded on the S11 or even just use the camera as a HDMI-compatible hub for their TVs.

Though the quality isn’t the best, the simplicity of the unit and the simple connectivity makes the S11 very practical for the amateur video shooter, but it’s definitely no replacement for existing cameras and handy cams. BenQ is hitting the casual market with what is essentially a point-and-click compact with the easy-connect sharing functions that most camera brands are capitalising on in the current photography market, as well as a tasteful and stylish new design that comes in a range of colours with black trim for the trendy shooter. Though for an RRP of $299, it may be pushing too much simplicity and not enough quality.

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