BenQ V7000i UST 4K Laser Projector Review
- Bright, punchy and detailed images
- Excellent greyscale and colour accuracy
- Good geometry and uniformity
- Superb motion handling
- Impressive 3D performance
- Built-in sound system
- Android TV
The not so good
- No built-in tuners
- Input lag too high for serious gamers
- Possibility of rainbows
- Mediocre black levels
What is the BenQ V7000i?
The BenQ V7000i is an ultra-short-throw 4K DLP projector that uses a laser light source and supports high dynamic range (HLG and HDR10). The laser has a claimed peak brightness of 2,500 ANSI lumens, and a lifespan of 20,000 hours.
There's a built-in sound system developed by treVolo, and a sensible automatic sliding sunroof to protect the lens and laser-light assembly. New this year is the addition of Filmmaker Mode, and an Android TV smart platform via a plug-in dongle.
The V7000i comes in white and retails for £3,499 as at the time of writing (October 2021). BenQ also offers the V7050i, which costs the same and has exactly the same features, but is finished in black. So, let's plug the V7000i in and see how it performs.
Design, Connections and Control
The BenQ V7000i has an identical chassis to the earlier V6000/6050, with sharp corners and a white finish offset by a brushed metal effect on the sliding top. There are air vents at the sides, and a grey fabric grille at the front, behind which is the two-channel sound system. The overall build quality is excellent, with the projector measuring 500 x 157 x 388mm, and weighing in at 10kg.
The sliding sunroof opens automatically when the projector is turned on, and closes when you turn it off. This feature helps prevent dust build-up, and protects the lens assembly from animals or small children. There's also an added safety feature in the form of a motion sensor that detects if anything is in the light path and instantly turns off the laser to prevent potential eye damage.
The connections are located at the wall-facing rear of the projector, and consist of two HDMI 2.0b inputs, with one supporting ARC (audio return channel). The V7000i accepts a native 4K signal (3840 x 2160 pixels) at up to 60Hz, and supports HDCP 2.2, 3D, high dynamic range (HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma) and wide colour gamut. There's also a USB 3.0 port, an optical digital output, and RS232 for serial control, plus a pair of USB 2.0 ports at the side.
The Android TV smart platform is provided by a dongle that you plug into an HDMI input and a USB port
The included Android TV dongle is designed to be connected to the HDMI 1 input, while a power cable goes from the dongle to one of the USB ports on the side. It's hardly a tidy solution, and BenQ is being somewhat disingenuous in its claims of a built-in smart platform.
The main remote control uses an attractive two-tone black and dark grey finish. It's comfortable to hold, sensibly laid out, and easy to use with one hand. It also has a backlight, which is always welcome on a projector controller. There's a central set of navigation buttons, all the keys you'll need to set up the projector and quickly access the menus, plus useful day-to-day controls like the volume.
There are two remotes in the box – one for the projector and one for Android TV (which will also control the former)
There is a second remote included in the box that's primarily for controlling the Android TV dongle, although it also has a few controls for the projector itself. This was very handy because the review sample didn't actually include the main remote, so the image above left is taken from the V6050 review (which uses an identical controller).
Features and Specs
The BenQ V7000i accepts a 4K Ultra HD signal with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, and supports high dynamic range in the form of HDR10 and HLG. The projector uses a laser plus phosphor light source, with a claimed brightness of 2,500 lumens and a claimed contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. The projector supports wider colour gamuts, but uses a six-segment colour wheel, which means you may experience the colour-fringing and rainbow artefacts that often plague single-chip DLP projectors.
The laser light source doesn't just benefit from increased brightness, it also has a claimed effective lifespan of 20,000-hours compared to less than 3,000 hours for a bulb. It also turns on and off quickly, as opposed to the long start-up and cool-down periods associated with lamp-based projectors. There are fans to dissipate the heat produced by the laser, and the BenQ is relatively quiet at 32dB in the Economic mode.
The built-in treVolo sound system is based on a pair of high quality speakers, each with 5W of amplification, plus there are Standard, Cinema, Music, Game, Sport, and User modes. While not as powerful as some of the competition, the sound quality is fairly good, whether watching TV shows and movies, or listening to music. This helps the BenQ fulfil its role as a big-screen alternative to a TV, but for a truly immersive experience you really should invest in a better audio solution.
This projector is designed as an alternative to a big screen TV, but unfortunately there are no built-in tuners
In terms of other features, the V7000i includes 4K Motion Enhancer using frame interpolation, which is best avoided with movies, but can be a benefit when watching sports on the big screen. There's also 4K Pixel Enhancer to get more out of lower resolution content. There are no built-in tuners, so you'll need a PVR like the Manhattan T3-R if you want to fully replace your TV, but at least the support for HLG means you can enjoy the benefits of broadcast HDR.
Set up is straightforward, and all you need to do is place the projector next to the wall and move it backwards and forwards to change the image size. BenQ helpfully includes an integrated screen size measuring tool, which is essentially a pair of rulers you pull out of the projector to accurately measure the distance from the wall, and ensure the chassis is parallel. The V7000i can produce an image that ranges from 70 to 120 inches diagonally using a throw ratio of 0.252:1. There's a grid pattern that allows you to line up and focus the image, and you can adjust the orientation by physically moving the projector to the left or right. There are adjustable feet on the bottom to help level the image, and a keystone adjustment, but the latter is best avoided.
The menu system is intuitively laid out, easy to understand and responsive to navigate. There are submenus for Picture, Display, Installation, System Setup (Basic and Advanced), and Information. The various choices in these sub-menus are fairly self-explanatory, and BenQ has now added a Filmmaker Mode, which is designed to deliver an image that's as close to the creator's intent as possible by adhering to the industry standards and turning off unnecessary image processing.
As mentioned in the connections section, BenQ includes an Android TV dongle that connects to one of the HDMI inputs and a USB port. As a result, BenQ's claim to a built-in smart system isn't strictly true, and while the included second remote controls both the dongle and projector, you could get a similar experience by simply adding a Roku or Fire stick instead. In fact, these would be a better choice because the app support isn't great. Disney+, Prime Video and YouTube are pre-loaded, and you can use Google Play to add ITV Hub, All4 and My5, but BBC iPlayer and Netflix are missing. Otherwise, it's a standard Android TV system with the usual clear layout and intuitive navigation.
SDR Out of the Box
The BenQ V7000i has a Picture sub-menu, where you can choose from five pictures modes: Bright, Living Room, Filmmaker Mode, DCI-P3, and User (plus a 3D mode when appropriate). There's also a standard set of calibration controls with Brightness, Contrast, Colour, Tint, and Sharpness. Under the Advanced section you'll find Gamma Selection, Colour Temperature, Colour Management, Cinema Master (Colour Enhancer, Flesh Tone, 4K Pixel Enhancer, and 4K Motion Enhancer), Noise Reduction, Brilliant Colour, Wide Colour Gamut, LumiExpert, and Light Mode.
The best starting point for an accurate SDR image is the Filmmaker Mode with the light mode set to Economic, and the LumiExpert turned off - so it doesn't automatically adjust the gamma based on ambient light.
As you can see in the graph above left, the greyscale is fairly accurate and the overall errors (deltaEs) are around or slightly above the visible threshold of three. However, there is a deficit in blue energy in the greyscale, which gives whites a slight push towards yellow. While this is a reasonable performance, we'd expect better from the Filmmaker Mode. In fact, comparing these measurements to the now cheaper V6000/6050, BenQ's Cinema mode on that projector was more accurate. The gamma is also tracking around our target of 2.4, but not as accurately as the V6000/6050.
The out-of-the-box performance is good, but we'd expect a greater level of accuracy from the Filmmaker Mode
The colour performance is also reasonably accurate, and is good for a DLP projector using a colour wheel, which can often struggle to cover the whole of the Rec.709 colour gamut. No such problems exist here, with the projector handling all three primary colours and the three secondary colours very well. The tracking is also very good, aside from some minor hue errors which are largely the result of the yellow push caused by the deficit of blue in the greyscale.
The calibration controls offer a degree of flexibility and the two-point white balance control allows for some fine tuning of the greyscale, while the colour management system (CMS) allows you to adjust the hue, saturation and gain (luminance) of the primary and secondary colours.
The two-point white balance control resulted in a more accurate greyscale, although the gamma remains unchanged. The three primary colours are all very close together and all the errors are below three, most are below two, and some are even below one. As a result, there aren't any visible errors.
The calibration controls proved effective and resulted in excellent greyscale and colour gamut measurements
The colour gamut immediately benefits from the improvements in the greyscale. The gamut covers the whole of the Rec.709 colour space, with excellent overall tracking and luminance (not shown on the graph above right). As a result, the CMS was only needed to tweak the projector's colours.
As long as the HDR option in the Display sub-menu is set to Auto, the V7000i will switch into HDR automatically when it detects the appropriate signal. As a result, you can leave the projector in the Filmmaker Mode, and it will automatically select the PQ curve (ST.2084), and apply the necessary tone mapping for HDR content.
There are limited HDR-related controls but if you want to cover more of the DCI-P3 colour space, turn Wide Colour Gamut on. This engages the colour filter, reducing the overall brightness but allowing you to enjoy more nuanced colours. This control shouldn't be used with SDR content, unless you're watching 4K content that uses DCI-P3 but not the HDR PQ curve. The other main control is HDR Brightness, which can adjust the tone mapping if the image appears too dark.
The laser light source is pretty bright, even in the lower Economic mode, and is capable of hitting a range of levels depending how the projector is set up. The Normal light mode is the brightest, and without the wide colour gamut filter it can hit around 280 nits, while the Economic mode can deliver over 210 nits. If you engage the filter, these drop down to around 200 and 130 nits respectively.
The laser light source generates 200 nits, even with the dimming effects of the colour filter that covers 95% of DCI-P3
The best choice in terms of brightness and colour gamut is Normal plus the colour filter, where you'll get around 200 nits of peak brightness and 95% of DCI-P3 – although the Normal setting does result in more fan noise. If you don't engage the colour filter, the brightness increases to 280 nits but the DCI-P3 coverage drops to about 82%.
There is a third light mode, called SmartEco – this automatically adjusts the laser light source depending on the content brightness levels. While it generates about the same level of noise as the Normal mode, it delivers slightly darker blacks than the other two modes, and similar peak highlights to the Normal mode, making it quite effective at delivering better perceived contrast ratios.
The colour gamut coverage is excellent for a DLP projector, and the greyscale is fairly accurate until it starts to roll-off. The tone mapping is also pretty good, tracking the PQ EOTF within the limitations of the projector. The V7000i handled 1,000 nits content very well, but suffered from clipping at 4,000 and 10,000 nits, although this is only really noticeable with specific test content. Overall, the HDR performance is very good given the inherent brightness limitations of any projector, and the six segment colour wheel handled the wider colour gamuts well for DLP.
To test the BenQ V7000i we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.
The BenQ V7000i delivered an excellent performance overall, and any issues were largely related to the inherent limitations of DLP projector technology. First the positives: the single chip nature of DLP ensures a sharp and detailed image, with 4K test patterns looking superb. The ultra-short-throw optics are also very good, ensuring pleasingly accurate geometry and uniformity.
Unsurprisingly for a DLP projector, the motion handling is impressive, with smooth images that are free of judder, smearing or blurring. As a result, you really don't need to engage the motion enhancer, even with fast-paced sports action. The laser light source not only has the benefits of long-life and faster on/off but is also more consistent over time compared to a regular lamp.
As you'd expect from a DLP projector, the black levels aren't great. The resulting contrast ratio is around 2,000:1, which is reasonable for DLP, and this increases to 4,000:1 if you use the SmartEco setting. While nowhere near BenQ's ridiculous claims of 2,000,000:1, the real world results can be quite impressive, and the detail in shadows remains fairly good. Since this projector is intended as a replacement for a TV, and thus will primarily be used in rooms with windows and light coloured walls, the contrast performance is less of an issue than in a dedicated home cinema.
What's of greater importance is the light output, and the V7000i is very bright, although not as bright as the now cheaper V6000/6050. As a result, it should be able to handle most rooms including those with a lot of ambient light. Under these conditions, an ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen is recommended to optimise the overall performance and help with the perceived black levels and contrast. One thing to note is a bright border around the outside of the projected image. This can be easily hidden if the screen's frame is covered in black velvet, but a lot of ALR screens have virtually no border in an attempt to replicate modern TVs, and thus this could be an issue.
The 4K images are sharp and detailed, the motion is excellent, and the HDR is bright, saturated and punchy.
Running through the test patterns and demo scenes on the Spears & Munsil 4K Blu-ray reveals a clean and detailed image with a pin sharp delivery. The pictures appear natural, with accurate colours and plenty of brightness that results in a pleasingly punchy and vibrant experience. The delivery is generally free of any unwanted artefacts but, given this projector uses a six-segment colour wheel, anyone who suffers from rainbows could see colour fringing on moving objects.
The HDR performance is equally as impressive, and the Vespa-related antics in Luca look stunning, with wonderfully detailed animation and richly nuanced colours that burst across the Italian landscapes. The tone mapping is also effective, producing specular highlights that pop, and shadows that retain plenty of detail. A film like Dunkirk is a great way to show-off the projector's ability to render fine detail, and while the colours are more muted they are undeniably natural and accurate.
The V7000i is perhaps slightly less successful with darker movies, so a film like Overlord, where the first half of the film takes place at night, can be struggle with its extensive use of darkness and shadow. The same is true of the scene where Apollo 11 enters lunar orbit in First Man, but both these films can be a struggle for most displays, and the IMAX moon walk at the climax of the latter does reveal plenty of detail and highlights on the lunar surface.
If you're a hardcore gamer, the input lag of 75ms might disappoint, but most will enjoy the bright, detailed gaming images and buttery smooth motion. If you're a 3D fan and have the necessary glasses, the results are absolutely superb. The 3D images are bright, detailed and clear, with plenty of depth and no crosstalk. As a result, watching Philippe Petit step out onto his wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in The Walk can be vertigo inducing.
BenQ V7000i UST 4K Laser Projector Review
Should I buy one?
The BenQ V7000i is an excellent ultra-short-throw laser projector that delivers pin-sharp 4K images and HDR that's bright and punchy. The design and build quality are great, the sliding top is sensible, and the connections are good. The included remote is comfortable to hold, intuitive to use, and has a backlight. The projector is easy to set up, with handy rulers that slide out to measure the distance from the wall and thus the size of the image. You can project onto a white wall but to maximise the performance, it's best to invest in a dedicated screen. If you're planning to use the V7000i in a room with ambient light, a screen that rejects it will pay dividends, but the easiest way to optimise the image is to simply pull the curtains. No projector looks its best competing with sunlight!
The V7000i delivers impressively accurate geometry and uniformity, the 3D is superb if that's your bag, and the motion handling is also excellent. The projector is relatively quiet in operation but the level of fan noise will depend on the laser light setting. The built-in speakers are reasonable, although not as powerful as the V6000/6050, and if you really want to do justice to your big screen images you should invest in a soundbar or surround system. BenQ has added a Filmmaker Mode, but ironically the V6000/6050 proved more accurate in testing, and is also brighter. BenQ claims the V7000i has a 'built-in' Android TV system but this is delivered using a dongle, so owners of the V6000/6050 could simply add a Roku or Fire streaming stick and basically get a better choice of apps.
So what's not so good? Well, this DLP projector delivers the usual ropey blacks, and some people will suffer from colour fringing (rainbow) artefacts. Despite the great motion, the input lag is too high for serious gamers at 75ms and there's no dedicated low latency mode. There are also no built-in tuners, so if you're planning on using this projector in lieu of a TV you'll need to add a set-top box or PVR. One final issue will depend on the screen you're using, but there's a bright border around the edge of the image. This can be easily hidden if the screen's frame is covered in black velvet, but a lot of ALR screens have virtually no border, which could be an issue. Overall, the V7000i is an excellent UST 4K projector, but the equally good V6000/6050 makes a cheaper option at £2,999.
What are my alternatives?
The VAVA VA-LT002 makes for an equally affordable alternative at £2,799. This 4K HDR ultra-short-throw projector also delivers detailed, bright and saturated images using a DLP chipset and laser light source. You get similar connectivity and a decent sound system, plus there's even built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a smart platform. The VAVA isn't as accurate, the colour gamut isn't as wide, and the input lag is higher, but in most other respects you get a similar performance for less.
If you have a larger budget, the £3,999 LG HU85LS is another cracking alternative. This 4K HDR ultra-short-throw projector also uses a DLP chipset and laser light source, plus a built-in sound system and webOS smart platform. Like the BenQ and VAVA, it has no built-in tuners, but otherwise this is a highly effective beamer with excellent SDR and HDR big-screen images that are sure to please. The LG also has a similar input lag to the BenQ at 78ms but doesn't support 3D.
If you can afford the £6,999 asking price, then the Samsung LSP9T (The Premiere) is the only 4K HDR UST DLP laser projector in this group that can actually replace a TV because it has built-in tuners, impressive sound system, and a full Tizen OS with a comprehensive choice of apps. There's excellent connectivity, the lowest input lag at 55ms, HDR10+ support, and amazing images thanks to an RGB laser light source. In fact, the only thing missing is 3D, but otherwise this is the one to beat.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
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