BenQ W3000 DLP Projector Review
Is it a CinemaMaster?
What is the BenQ W3000?The BenQ W3000 is the company’s top 1080p model in their budget line-up of DLP projectors and it sits above the W2000 and W1110 in the 2016 range. It promises new technologies to help it achieve the goal of showing the full colours available in Rec.709 HD pictures. It does this by employing a special coating on the RGBRGB colour wheel to expand the usually restricted colour gamut to meet the standards for full Rec.709 cinematic colour. Ben Q call this CinemaMaster technology and the projector is also fully ISFccc certified so it can be accurately calibrated by a trained professional should you desire and it also offers a good degree of flexibility in set up and positioning. So let’s get stuck into the W3000 and see if it really is a CinemaMaster or not…
Design, Connections and Control
The BenQ W3000 is a familiar design for the company with a wedge shaped body with grey front and rear colour panels and the rest of the body in white. The lens is offset on the front panel to the right, with the exhaust vents to the left hand side. Below the lens and BenQ logo is a white button that when pressed lowers a small stand to raise the front of the projector up during set up. The lens is glass fronted and the rest is plastic at this price point, but it produces sharp enough images and focus was very good across the entire image. The focus and zoom are of course manual affairs at this price point with a focus ring on the lens and the zoom control is a slider to the right of the lens. It has a 1.6X zoom capability but the throw is slightly longer than recent BenQ projectors meaning it will need to be placed further away to achieve the same screen size as say the W1110 model.
Above the lens on the top plate of the chassis are two lens shift adjustment wheels. This type of adjustment is rare at this price point on DLP models but their presence is very welcome. It makes set up even more accurate without resorting to keystone adjustment. You should never be tempted to use keystone and should take the time and effort to align the projector correctly with the screen you will be using. The lens shift wheels have a good feel to them and we didn’t have any issues with the lens moving between viewing sessions which can be a problem with some similar designs. To the top left side of the chassis (looking from the front) is a selection of menu and direct access keys should you misplace the remote control.
Around the back of the projector the connections panel is also grey coloured like the front. Here you will find two HDMI 1.4 slots with MHL compatibility on HDMI2, there are also two USB ports, one mini for service updates and one Type A which is used to charge the optional wireless FHD kit. There’s also a 3D sync slot, PC-VGA input, Composite, Component jacks, a 12V trigger and an RS232C control port. Rounding off the connections panel are a selection of audio in and outputs.
There is an optional Wireless FHD kit you can use with the W3000 which will send the HDMI and full HD video signals from your source equipment to the projector without having to use long cable runs. This certainly comes into its own if you want to place the projector at the opposite end of the room from the sources. We didn’t test it with the W3000 but have tested it with previous BenQ models and it does work surprisingly well.
The remote control is your typical BenQ model which is finished in white with a red backlight. It is normal in size and although made from plastic, it has a good weight and sits nicely in the hand, making sure the most used commands are within thumb reach. The centre of the remote is dominated by the direction keys and OK button with back, menu and source keys just below. You are able to control everything about the projector from just these keys which makes navigation and control very easy to manage. Other buttons of interest are at the bottom of the unit and allow direct access to items like gamma and colour temperature controls. Overall we really like the simplicity and build of the remote control.
Hitting Rec.709 colour at this price level is pretty unique
Features and SpecsThis is a single chip DLP projector which sits at the top of BenQ’s budget range aimed at home entertainment use. As such the main feature of the W3000 is the CinemaMaster technology which boasts accurate colour to the industry standard Rec.709 colour gamut for HDTV and Blu-ray. Most single-chip DLP projectors use a colour wheel which is not capable of producing a native colour gamut that matches the Standard. Usually the gamut produced is restricted and isn’t wide enough to produce what is required to accurately present colours saturated enough to hit the Rec.709 points. What BenQ have done with the W3000 is come up with new colour segments in the RGBRGB 6 speed colour wheel and also employed a new coating for the colour wheel. This was further enhanced with software tweaks by the ISF qualified engineers making sure that in certain picture modes white colour was correct at D65 and the colour gamut matches as much as possible the Rec.709 standard. BenQ stress that checks are also made on every single unit leaving the production line to make sure they hit the parameters for Rec.709 and that they are committed to making sure users get the most accurate image possible for HD viewing. We will obviously check this in the results below and their dedication has to be applauded.
CinemaMaster video+ also features other technologies including a motion enhancer which is a frame interpolation system to smooth video source playback for content such as sports and other fast moving images. However, it also introduces the dreaded soap opera effect to film-based material that should be played back at 24fps, making it look like smoothed video footage and not like film. We urge caution with film based material and thankfully you can switch the motion enhancer off for this. There are also pixel enhancer and skin tone enhancer options which basically do what they suggest. The pixel enhancer is a sharpening tool which we experimented with before switching off completely, as we did with the Skin tone control which added an off hue effect that wasn’t required when the projector was accurate enough to follow the standards to show off tones correctly. You can also experiment with these controls but we would recommend leaving them off as the projector does a decent enough job.
CinemaMaster audio boasts 10W speakers housed in the projector that are suitable for temporary use of the projector in an office or perhaps gaming on the move. But if you are planning on using it for a home cinema or home entertainment set up we would advise you use an outboard sound solution (and most AVForums members will be well ahead of us on this one).
Finally the W3000 is ISFccc certified and has lock out menus for day and night settings so nobody but your calibrator can change those settings. Plus it is fully 3D ready and comes with a pair of free glasses in the box, which is becoming rare these days. So with all that covered it’s time to get it set up and find out if it is indeed a Rec.709 capable machine…
Out-of-the-Box SettingsAs you would imagine we started with the Cinema (Rec.709) preset and then found the closest colour temperature setting for the greyscale at D65, which turned out to be the Normal setting (usually the Warm setting is closer, but not on this occasion). As we have a light controlled bat cave we used a gamma setting of 2.4 and had the lamp in Eco mode. The projector was soaked in so the bulb had some hours on it.
For an out-of-the-box preset the normal colour temperature setting gave pretty decent results (top left). The greyscale tracking was red and green biased from low down to the light end of the greyscale tracking with blue dipping below by 8% at 100ire. However the gamma was tracking at our desired 2.4 point and DeltaE errors were reasonable at between 3 and 4 above 60ire. Onscreen this translated to a mild yellow tint to the image in the brighter reaches which was not overly distracting and to the vast majority of users would be unnoticed with most material. This is a very good result out-of-the-box.
Looking at the colour gamut and tracking (top right) and again for a budget level DLP projector the fact it can reach the desired points for the Rec.709 gamut is a real achievement for BenQ. Green and magenta suffer a little from the white balance skew towards red and yellow, with red over saturated slightly at all points. However as most DLP projectors at this price point are restricted in their colour gamut performance, even with slight errors in the graphs; onscreen colours are seriously realistic and accurate in tone.
Calibrated SettingsUsing our trusted Klein K10A meter, Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN 2016 professional software we set about calibrating the BenQ W3000. There are full ISFccc hidden menus with extra controls and the ability to lock out the day and night settings so they are not accidently changed or wiped. This is also the only way to make sure that the settings you use are saved and can be applied to all sources. If we had one major gripe with BenQ it is the fact there is no way to save the user settings and then apply them to any source input – can we have that fixed? Please?
The greyscale (top left) was corrected using the two-point controls for colour temperature fine tuning. These controls do the job but are not as fine as we would like, so it takes a little bit more back and forth to get the best possible tracking of the greyscale as seen above. Here the Gamma is also still bang on our desired 2.4 point and DeltaE errors are well under 1 which is well below the visual threshold, meaning that yellow tint is gone and greys are accurate from black to 100% white.
In most respects just correcting the greyscale skew towards yellow from the out-of-the-box preset brought most of the colour points in the gamut (top right) back in line. There was not a lot we could do to get red saturation correct across all points from 25-75% but this wasn’t an issue with actual viewing material. Every other point was almost bang on with some light tweaking using the provided Colour Management System (CMS) to the kind of colour accuracy usually only reserved for very expensive DLP machines. It is encouraging to see BenQ take feedback seriously about colour accuracy to the standards and that they are applying that to their DLP projector range at this price point. Well done BenQ!
Picture QualityWith the display world currently going through major changes with 4K Ultra HD and Wide Colour Gamut with 10bit video and High Dynamic Range, it is a nice change of pace to work with a 1080p ‘only’ projector and see if it can reach a 20 year old picture standard properly. After all for the next few years we are still going to be watching and consuming the majority of our content in good old HD. Some of us also still enjoy a good old 3D movie too. So the BenQ is certainly still relevant and at the price point it could also be pretty revolutionary.
Lets get the negatives out of the way first. As with every other budget level DLP projector black levels and shadow detail reproduction is poor. It is to be expected at the price point and whilst the W3000 is slightly better than the lower stable mates, in a bat cave environment the raised black levels and lack of shadow details have a negative impact, especially with mixed scenes where the lack of dynamic range is quite apparent. However, the vast majority of W3000 owners and users will be using the projector in a normal living room that has light coloured walls and ceilings and the curtains pulled closed. As such the black floor is far higher than a bat cave cinema room, so the black level is not as disappointing or as impactful on performance. There are still no deep blacks full of shadow detail, but these faults are less likely to be noticeable to the average user in such circumstances. It certainly doesn't detract from the overall performance of the W3000 in such surroundings.
The real plus points here are the video processing, motion and the brilliantly accurate colour performance. I see so many budget DLP projectors over the course of a year and you tend to build up a picture (excuse the pun) of what the strengths and weaknesses are for the technology at this price point. So when you do get DLP projectors with excellent colour performance you take notice. It adds so much to the overall performance to have properly saturated colours at the correct hue and brightness. Skin tones suddenly look perfect with excellent primary colours popping from the screen as they should. The biggest difference is with Green and of course Cyan and yellows. Football now looks like it is being played on grass and not some kind of artificial off hue surface. At this juncture I have to warn you to never use the football mode on this projector, it is horrendous! Stick to the settings we discussed above that get so close to the picture standards and you will be rewarded with excellent hues and tones that make it feel like you're there; not some over the top, overly bright and garish picture mode dreamt up by marketing.
As a home entertainment projector for use in the living room the W3000 excels with movies, sports and gaming. The input lag was measured at 38ms which is very good for a projector and will be unnoticeable to even the most hardcore gamers out there. Motion is also good and the W3000 also has motion enhancer for fast moving video content that might help with football and other sports. It is certainly worth a go to see if it helps, but don’t use it for film-based content as it ruins the look of movies and makes them look like cheap video or soap operas. Motion is a strong point with the W3000 and of course it plays back 24p material without any induced judder; instead allowing the film like images to come to life without overly smeared or blurred side effects. Image blur is natural and displayed as expected.
The other big highlight with a good budget DLP projector is 3D playback. If you are still a fan of the technology and buying 3D Blu-rays, this projector is right up your street. Whilst the absolute accuracy of the colours seen with 2D content are not present with 3D playback through the 3D glasses and the filter, they are respectable and certainly passable for watching movies. The vast majority of users would not be put off with the colour performance and motion handling is a strong point here with very little crosstalk or ghosting ruining the scene. In fact this is one of the best 3D projectors I have tested in a while and where I set out to watch just one scene with our Man of Steel test disc, it ended up almost being the entire movie, yet again.
Overall we just couldn’t help liking the images produced by the BenQ W3000 and as a home entertainment machine it does everything extremely well from low gaming input lag, excellent motion with 3D and movies to fast moving sport and extremely lifelike and accurate colour performance.
- Gets close to Rec.709 out-of-the-box
- Good greyscale performance out-of-the-box
- Can be calibrated quite accurately to the standards
- Decent motion handling and video processing
- Good input lag for gamers
- Great 3D performance
- Good all round performer for the average living room set up
- Weak black levels
- Still quite noisy even in Eco mode
- Some rainbow effect
- Shadow detail performance is poor
BenQ W3000 DLP Projector ReviewWe always seem to start wrapping up with the negatives but that is merely to manage expectations when it comes to picture quality from a budget projector like the W3000. The message is simple and at this price point it doesn’t matter what projector technology you invest in it will have poor black levels. You need to be spending multiples of the cost to get inky deep blacks with stunning shadow detail and image dynamics. But don’t let that put you off going down the projector route because in all likelihood you are going to be using it in a living room with white walls and ceilings and with the curtains closed. This straight away raises the black floor of the room when compared to a home cinema bat cave and as such the blacks are not as perceivably poor in comparison; and the rest of the plus points then outweigh the inherent black issues.
Make no mistake this is a cracking home entertainment projector for gaming, sports, movies and 3D viewing. It does all this with excellent brightness and, thanks to the CinemaMaster technology employed in the colour wheel, with superbly accurate colours as well. Input lag is excellent for gamers at 38ms and for sports fans there is a frame interpolation motion control to smooth out fast moving football and other sports. In terms of movies the BenQ does a commendable job with good brightness and accurate colours mixed with strong video processing and good motion at 24p. 3D movies are outstanding on the W3000 and this is one of the biggest plus points for this machine.
Overall the W3000 aces it for this price point and I would argue the one above as well. Only the Sony HW45ES offers up any real cinematic competition, but it still around a grand more. So the BenQ W3000 wins a best buy badge without breaking a sweat. Go try one out if you think it suits your needs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you do.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,100.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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