More features but a bigger price, is the W1500 worth it?
What is the BenQ W1500?
BenQ has been developing a reputation for well designed projectors that can deliver a decent big screen image at an affordable price.The latest addition to their growing line-up is the W1500 which includes a number of useful features aimed at making installation easier. The W1500 has a zoom lens, a short throw projection feature and basic lens shift for a simple setup. It also has a built-in 5GHz wireless capability which means you can connect a HDMI device to the W1500 and send uncompressed Full HD images without needing to run a cable, which could come in handy.
It’s also encouraging from an enthusiast’s perspective to see that BenQ are including ISF certification and make reference to the importance of Rec.709 in their marketing literature. As is normally the case with BenQ, the W1500 is a single-chip Full HD DLP projector with 3D capabilities. However at around £1,400 it is more expensive than usual and up against some fairly strong competition in that price bracket. So let’s see if can justify the extra cost.
Design and ConnectionsThe W1500 has the classic two-tone BenQ design, with a small plastic lens to the right and a large air vent to the left. There are also air vents on the left and right hand sides. Above the lens array there are two rings, one for manual focus and one for manual zoom. Just behind these rings is a small pop-up panel where you'll find a basic lens shift control - which is unusual on a DLP projector, especially at this price point. However in actual use the amount of zoom and shift available was minimal, almost to the point of being useless, so careful installation will still be important.
On the top of the chassis, at the left rear, there are some basic controls just in case you misplace the remote. There is a detachable lens cap and adjustable feet on the underside of the projector. The overall build quality is reasonable for the price but there is some light spill from inside, especially through the air vents and the combination of fan and colour wheel makes the W1500 a bit noisy. We ale found that HDMI handshaking could be rather slow, with the projector occasionally taking quite a while to lock onto sources, especially when using the wireless adapter. Otherwise we found that the wireless adapter created a robust connection and maintained the integrity of the image.
The W1500 comes with a wireless adapter that you connect to your HDMI source.
At the rear you’ll find all the connections, including two HDMI inputs, although the included wireless adapter means that you could connect up to three HDMI sources. There are also legacy connections including composite and component video, VGA and even S-Video - for those that still use them. The W1500 has built-in speakers and as a result there are stereo analogue inputs and a 3.5mm jack. There is also a RS232 connector for serial control and a mini-USB port for any service needs. The BenQ includes quite a few accessories with the W1500 including a carry case, a remote control, the wireless adapter, a USB power adapter with multiple plug attachments and a pair of 3D glasses.
The remote control is small and comfortable to hold, with a convenient backlight. The buttons cover all the main functions, are sensibly laid out and easy to use. The wireless adapter connects to the HDMI output of your source but you will also need to provide power for it to work. This means plugging the USB adapter into a nearby wall socket or extension cable. The projector and transmitter are paired in the factory so making a connection is very easy. The 3D glasses are large enough to fit over prescription lenses and are reasonably comfortable to wear. They are also rechargeable but the lenses are quite dark, so we’ll see what impact that has on the 3D performance later.
MenusThe W1500 uses BenQ’s standard user interface and overall it’s well designed and easy to navigate. There are menus for picture, sound, installation, set-up and information but we’ll concentrate on the first of these. The Picture menu includes the Preset Mode, where Cinema is probably your best choice but there are also three User modes that you can use as well. The Picture menu includes all the usual image controls such as Brightness, Contrast, Colour, Tint and Sharpness.
There is a Flesh Tone control and Frame Interpolation feature both of which are best left off. You can also select the Colour Temperature, as well as the Lamp Power. In the Advanced sub-menu includes a Clarity Control feature, a Gamma Selection and a two-point white balance control, which BenQ call Colour Temperature Fine Tuning. There is also a Brilliant Colour control and a Colour Management System (CMS) which is good to see on a projector at this price point.
BenQ have included a full colour management system on the W1500.
Test ResultsThe W1500 has a Cinema preset, which in our experience usually proves to be the best place to start, so we chose that for our out-of-the-box measurements. We also selected the Real aspect ratio, which will ensure pixel-to-pixel mapping of your high definition source to the 1920 x 1080 panel. We set the Brightness and Contrast to suit our testing environment and left the Colour and Tint controls at 50. We set the Sharpness and Flesh Tone controls to zero and also turned off the Brilliant Colour and Clarity Control features. We were pleased to see that the Cinema preset defaults to a Warm Colour Temperature, a Gamma of 2.4 and turns the Frame Interpolation off.
The greyscale measurements were rather heavy on the green and light on red and blue, resulting in some fairly obvious yellow discolouration on test patterns and actual content. On the plus side the gamma was actually tracking at 2.4 which was good to see. As a result of the excessive green in the greyscale it didn’t come as a surprise to see white skewed towards yellow and this backed up our actual observations. However the overall colour accuracy wasn’t bad, although there were some sizeable hue errors in red and green, whilst red was also over-saturated and green was under-saturated.
It was good news as far as the greyscale was concerned, with a few clicks on the white balance control quickly resulting in a very accurate series of measurements. All the errors were now below one and gamma was still tracking closely to its target. As a result of the calibrated greyscale the colour accuracy immediately improved and thanks to the CMS we were able to correct most of the hue errors and set the luminance of all the colours correctly. There was still some under-saturation in green, blue, cyan and magenta and an error in the hue of blue but overall this was a reasonably good performance. In the graph below, you can see that the measurements at lower saturation points were also quite good. So considering how difficult it can be to get accuracy when using a colour wheel, BenQ have done a pretty good job.
The W1500 performed reasonably well in our video processing tests and was able to fully reproduced the SMPTE colour bar tests for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The video deinterlacing test was also good, although on the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the projector introduced some jaggies. In the cadence tests the projector correctly detected the 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format but failed to lock onto the 2:2 (PAL - European) format correctly. However the BenQ had no problems displaying mixed film material with scrolling video text and was able to reproduce the text without any shredding or blurring.
The W1500 performed well in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i, the projector 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 projector had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. The one area where the W1500 fell down was the dynamic range test showing video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). This revealed that the BenQ was clipping all three primary colours and white, thus losing detail above video level 235. However this isn’t a big deal and certainly wouldn't adversely affect the projector's overall performance.
The W1500 displayed all the usual strengths and weaknesses of DLP.
BenQ W1500 Picture Quality SD/HDIn general we found the 2D performance of the W1500 to reflect the usual strengths and weaknesses of a single-chip DLP projector. So there were no convergence issues, which resulted in a reasonably sharp image, allowing for the cheap nature of of the lens array. The excellent greyscale and good colour accuracy gave images a natural and defined appearance, whilst motion handling was superb with no judder, smearing, blurring or other such artefacts. The projector was also very bright, although considerably less so once calibrated, but this overall luminance did impact on the black levels.
Unsurprisingly these were rather mediocre and thus the dynamic range of the BenQ was somewhat limited, although the intra-frame contrast ratio is actually a strength of DLP panels. Of course the use of a colour wheel does mean that anyone susceptible to rainbows is going to see flashes of colour but this is a known limitation of the technology. Standard definition content looked reasonably good, allowing for the size of the projected image and the quality of the source. However the W1500 obviously performed better with high definition sources and the increased resolution meant that Blu-rays in particular could look very impressive. The overall performance was solid rather than spectacular but we have seen better at this price point.
BenQ W1500 Picture Quality 3DWhen it comes to 3D we often find that DLP projectors perform very well and the W1500 proved to be no exception. We started by testing the 3D using a normal HDMI cable connection and were immediately impressed by the results. The motion handling was excellent and there was a complete absence of crosstalk or flicker thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate that BenQ uses. The 3D colours were initially over saturated in red but we were able to correct this with a quick calibration. Our only compliant was that the 3D images appeared rather dark despite the W1500 being a reasonably bright projector. We suspect that this is a result of the very dark lenses on the glasses, although one useful side effect of this darkening effect was to reduce incidences of rainbows.
The dimming nature of the glasses aside, we found the 3D to be excellent, with superb depth and dimensionality resulting in a highly immersive big screen experience. We then switched to the wireless connection and although it could handle the frame packed 3D signal we noticed that initially the 3D looked strange. It appeared that the image was essentially inverted, so we tried the 3D Sync Invert control and this fixed the problem. Quite why using the wireless connection resulted in the 3D image being inverted is a mystery but once corrected we had the same excellent albeit slightly dim 3D performance as before.
When it comes to 3D we often find that DLP projectors perform very well and the W1500 proved to be no exception.
- Excellent greyscale
- Good colour accuracy
- Impressive 3D
- Great set of features
- Mediocre blacks
- Lens controls limited
- Rainbow artefacts
BenQ W1500 Full HD 3D Projector ReviewThe W1500 comes with plenty of accessories including an HDMI adapter that lets you send Full HD and 3D wirelessly from your source to the projector. In testing this adapter worked well, creating a robust connection and maintaining the image integrity. BenQ claim that the W1500 has zoom and shift controls for its lens but in practice we found these both to be nearly useless. On the plus side, the BenQ delivered a very accurate greyscale after calibration and the colour performance was also reasonable.
As we would expect from a single-chip DLP projector, the image convergence and motion handling were excellent. As we would also expect, the black levels were mediocre and anyone who is susceptible to rainbow artefacts will likely see flashes of colour. Ultimately the BenQ W1500 is a perfectly capable projector that delivers a decent 2D image, especially with high definition content, and very impressive, if rather dim, 3D performance. However at this price point there are better and cheaper projectors, which makes it difficult to recommend.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money7
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