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BenQ W1400 3D DLP Projector Review

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BenQ's latest projector shows that their line-up isn't only extensive, it's also very good

by Steve Withers Apr 10, 2014

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    BenQ W1400 3D DLP Projector Review
    SRP: £1,000.00

    What is the BenQ W1400?

    BenQ might be primarily associated with data grade projectors but the manufacturer has recently launched some excellent additions to their home cinema line-up.

    In fact we've seen quite a few BenQ projectors pass through our doors over the past couple of months and overall they've been consistently good. Whilst the breadth of the range might seem overwhelming at times, with many of the models being difficult to distinguish, they're all intended for a specific purpose and frequently incorporate features not often found at the lower end of the price scale. The W1400 is a good example and has been designed to deliver big screen, Full HD entertainment with plenty of useful features and a pair of 3D glasses thrown in for good measure. And all that for around £1,000.
    Since this is a BenQ projector, the W1400 is a single chip DLP model with a colour wheel, so it's probably not ideal for those who suffer from rainbows. However if that isn't an issue for you, then there's a lot to like about the W1400. It's bright for one thing, making it ideal for lighter-walled rooms, and DLP as a technology has great motion handling and 3D, so ideal for this year's World Cup or those that enjoy a trip to the third dimension. There's a basic lens shift, unusual on a DLP projector at this price point, frame interpolation and even calibration controls - meaning you get plenty of bang for your buck. So let's fire up the W1400 and see how it delivers...

    Design and Connections

    BenQ tend to use one of two basic chassis designs for their projectors and the W1400 utilises the more rectangular one which, thanks to economies of scale, is actually quite well assembled. The overall look is rather attractive and the build quality is robust, although the large air vents do result in some light spill, which will be more apparent in a very dark room. The W1400 has manual lens controls, including a basic lens shift which is unusual for a DLP projector at this price point. The zoom and focus controls use rings at the front of lens assembly, whilst the shift control sits under a small panel just behind the other lens controls. There are also some basic control buttons on the top, just in case you misplace the remote.
    BenQ W1400 Design and Connections
    BenQ W1400 Design and Connections


    The W1400 is well apportioned for a projector at this price point and even includes a basic lens shift.

    All the connections are at the rear, with the two HDMI inputs on the left hand side, above the three-pin socket for the power cable. The remaining connections are all on the right hand side and include a VGA connector, a component video input, a composite video input and, unusually these days, an S-Video input. Since there is a built-in speaker you also get 3.5mm analogue audio in and out jacks, along with an analogue L/R stereo input. Finally there is a mini-USB port, an RS232 connector for system control and a 12V trigger.
    BenQ W1400
    BenQ W1400

    The provided remote control is a small white affair but it's comfortable to hold and easy to use. All the main controls are present and correct, with buttons for on/off, input selection and menu navigation. There are also buttons for directly accessing certain calibration controls, as well as the User modes. The W1400 comes with a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, which is a nice touch at this price point. The glasses use RF to sync and are reasonably light and comfortable to wear, with large lenses that can fit over prescription specs.

    Menus

    The W1400 has a simple but reasonably informative menu system that is composed of six basic pages - Picture, Audio Setup, Display, System Setup: Basic, System Setup: Advanced and Information. In the Picture menu there are a number of predefined Picture Modes - Dynamic, Standard, Cinema and User 1, 2 & 3. There is also what BenQ call the Reference Mode, which can use any of the Picture Modes as a starting point and can then be fine-tuned in the User Picture Modes. If you enable the ISF feature you also get two more modes - ISF Day and ISF Night, although the available controls remain the same. There are also all the standard picture controls such as Brightness, Contrast, Colour, Tint and Sharpness and Flesh Tone. Unlike many of BenQ's other projectors, the W1400 even includes a frame interpolation feature.
    BenQ W1400 Menus
    BenQ W1400 Menus

    In terms of more advanced calibration controls, you can select the Colour Temperature with a choice of Normal, Cool, Lamp Native and Warm. There is also the option to fine tune the colour temperature using a two-point White Balance control and a Gamma Selection, ranging from 1.6 to 2.8. There are features such as the Clarity Control that adjusts noise reduction, Brilliant Colour that increases the colour luminance and a control for setting the Black Level. Finally there is a Colour Management System (CMS) with control over the Hue (tint), Saturation (colour) and Gain (luminance or brightness) of all three primary colours and all three secondary colours. In terms of aspect ratio, if the majority of your viewing content is high definition then choose Real, which is BenQ's name for their pixel mapping mode.

    Whilst the out-of-the-box measurements could have been better, the W1400 was very accurate after calibration.

    Calibration

    Pre-calibration

    As usual, the Cinema picture mode proved to be the most accurate and so we used that for our out-of-the-box measurements. We chose a colour temperature of Warm, which came closest to the industry standard of D65 and we selected a gamma of 2.2. We also turned off the Clarity Control, Frame Interpolation and Brilliant Colour features, whilst a Sharpness setting of 1 appeared to neither sharpen nor soften the image. We left most of the other controls at their default settings, turned the Flesh Tone control down to zero and selected the Eco Lamp Power setting. You can find all our recommended best settings here.
    BenQ W1400 Calibration
    BenQ W1400 Calibration

    As the graph above left shows, there is too much green energy in the greyscale and not enough blue; the errors aren't huge but they do give images a slight green/yellow tinge. However choosing any of the other presets resulted in an image with far too much blue in it, so Warm gets us closest to D65. The gamma was tracking very accurately around our target of 2.2, which is good to see. The graph above right shows the colour performance which was reasonable but clearly being affected by the errors in the greyscale. We would expect to see an immediate improvement once we actually calibrate the greyscale itself.
    BenQ W1400 Calibration
    BenQ W1400 Calibration

    Calibrated

    The two-point white balance control proved to be very effective and after only a few minutes we had the greyscale tracking at our target of 100 with equal amounts of red, green and blue. As a result the errors were now all below one, which means that they are imperceptible to the human eye. The gamma was still tracking at 2.2, so overall this is an excellent greyscale performance. The colour management system (CMS) wasn't quite as effective and we were unable to correct the errors in blue but this wasn't apparent in actual viewing material. All the other colours had overall errors that were well below the threshold of three and, as the saturation sweep below shows, the colour accuracy at lower saturation levels was extremely good. In fact all the colours were close to their targets aside from some minor hue errors in green and magenta and overall this is an excellent colour performance.
    BenQ W1400 Calibration
    Video Processing

    The video processing in the W1400 was reasonably good and it accurately scaled the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. Whilst it correctly detected 3:2 (NTSC - US and Japan) cadence, it failed to detect 2:2 (PAL - European) cadence, so you'll need to output a progressive signal from your source device. However it had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, which was always clearly readable without any shredding. The BenQ was also good in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i it correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed good scaling and filtering performance, as well as good resolution enhancement. With 1080i material the W1400 had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. The W1400 includes a frame interpolation feature but given the excellent motion handling of DLP it really isn't necessary and has a detrimental effect on motion in film-based material.

    The W1400 was capable of some very impressive images, with natural colours, good motion and plenty of detail.

    BenQ W1400 Picture Quality 2D

    As we would expect from a manufacturer like BenQ, the W1400 delivered a bright picture that makes it ideal for rooms with light coloured walls. The projected image was highly detailed thanks to the use of a single-chip and, in general, the greyscale and colour performance was extremely accurate, especially after calibration. The projector is simple to setup thanks to the lens controls, flexible in terms of placement and very easy to use. Whilst not having all of the features found on more expensive projectors, the W1400 would be ideal for anyone looking for a projector to quickly setup and use for big events (movie nights, football matches, gaming sessions).

    As with any single-chip DLP projector, the W1400 has certain strengths and weaknesses. The images are always bright and contain plenty of detail, whilst the motion handling is superb, never smearing on camera pans or fast movement. Conversely, the blacks and shadow detail are mediocre meaning that the BenQ wouldn't be ideal for a very dark room. The other major issue is that the use of a colour wheel can result in rainbow artefacts, for some people, although the W1400 didn't seem to suffer from that as much as other DLP projectors at the lower end of the price range. The combination of the fans and colour wheel could also get quite noisy, especially in Normal lamp, and there was some obvious light spill from the chassis.

    We tested the W1400 with a range of material and found that the it performed well with both standard and high definition content although, unsurprisingly, it was Blu-ray that looked the best. Alfonso Cuaron's flowing 10-minute single takes in Gravity were very well produced thanks to the impressive motion handling, as was Peter Jackson's constantly roaming camera in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The high contrast space shots in Gravity were also nicely reproduced, whilst the level of detail was astounding in some of the spaceship close-ups. The colours were extremely natural, especially when it came to flesh tones but the W1400 also delivered the stylised colours of The Hobbit with great effect. Overall it was an impressive performance for a budget projector.

    BenQ W1400 Video Review


    BenQ W1400 Picture Quality 3D

    When it comes to 3D, DLP is by far the superior technology, taking full advantage of its inherent strengths to deliver a highly immersive experience. So unsurprisingly the W1400 was impressive, producing big 3D images that were both detailed and, most importantly, bright. As we'd expect from a DLP projector, the motion handling was great and the 3D images were completely free of crosstalk. As a result there were no distracting artefacts or other issues to detract from the performance and thanks to the large projected image, it was a highly immersive experience. For those that suffer from rainbows but are thinking of using a DLP projector for 3D viewing, colour artefacts on the W1400 were almost completely eliminated when wearing glasses for 3D.

    We began by testing the BenQ with our recently arrived Blu-ray of Frozen which, excessive singing aside, proved to be a dazzling 3D experience. The W1400 did a wonderful job of replicating the stereographer's intent, producing images that were bright, detailed and crosstalk-free. The frequent snow backgrounds were devoid of discolouration and the sense of depth and dimensionality was excellent. Then we moved on to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and the BenQ did a great job of delivering all the deep positive parallax within the film, giving the appearance of looking through a window into Middle Earth. The few negative parallax effects were also well handled and Peter Jackson's constantly moving camera was never an issue thanks to the W1400's superb motion handling.

    As we would expect from a DLP projector, the 3D on the W1400 was excellent.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Impressive greyscale after calibration
    • Very good colour accuracy
    • Excellent motion handling
    • Decent video processing
    • Great 3D performance
    • Sharp and detailed picture
    • Bright images
    • Lens shift for easier installation
    • Price

    Cons

    • Mediocre Blacks
    • Limited shadow detail
    • Rainbow artefacts
    • Fans can be noisy
    • Some light spill
    You own this Total 4
    You want this Total 1
    You had this Total 0

    BenQ W1400 3D DLP Projector Review

    BenQ have been quietly producing a range of budget DLP projectors that can deliver genuinely impressive levels of performance, especially when you consider their price. Whilst single-chip DLP won't be for everyone due to the rainbow artefacts that the colour wheel can produce, if they don't affect you then the W1400 represents a tempting combination of performance and value. The projector itself is reasonably well made, although the fans can get a little noisy and there was some light spill. The remote control is rather small and fiddly but the inclusion of a pair of RF 3D glasses is very welcome. Setup is simple thanks to the easy-to-use manual lens controls and the menu system is sensibly laid out. There's even a decent set of picture controls, which meant the W1400 could produce a very accurate image after calibration.

    The 2D performance was very good, with bright images that had natural colours, great motion handling and plenty of detail. The black levels could have been better and shadow detail has never been a strong point of DLP technology, but overall the W1400 produced a very pleasing image. As we've come to expect, the 3D performance was superb and the BenQ delivered an immersive and enjoyable experience, with images that were completely free of crosstalk. The BenQ W1400 makes a great all-round projector and whatever you plan to use it for - sport, movies or gaming - the resulting big screen images are sure to please, especially when you consider the price. The lower end of the projector market is highly competitive but, based on its winning combination of factors, the BenQ W1400 makes for an interesting proposition.


    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

    7

    Colour Accuracy

    9

    Greyscale Accuracy

    9

    Video Processing

    8

    Image Uniformity

    8

    2D Picture Quality

    8

    3D Picture Quality

    10

    Features

    7

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Build Quality

    6

    Value For Money

    8

    Verdict

    8

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