BenQ W1000 DLP Projector Review

Yet another budget DLP hits the testing room, but is it any good?

by Phil Hinton
Home AV Review

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Recommended
BenQ W1000 DLP Projector Review
SRP: £1,300.00

Introduction

We have been keeping a close eye on the mid to high-end area of the projector market lately as that seems to be the place where most new innovations are taking place. However, in doing so, it could be argued that perhaps the real story of the year so far has been the recent influx of budget projectors now offering performance levels that only a year ago would have costs a few thousand pounds. It seems that the £1000 market is starting to hot up with some real quality offerings that would certainly keep those AV Enthusiasts on a budget very happy. Today we have the latest projector from BenQ to enter the market at this super competitive price point. So how does it stack up with the competition?

Design and connections

The first thing that hits you with the BenQ W1000 is its business projector looks and plastic body. Of course we don’t expect designer chassis design on a DLP projector at this price point, but the fact that this is supposed to be a home cinema model – and it has a white body – really points to its business DNA. That’s not to say that the design is bland or ugly, but rather a home cinema projector should be black for obvious reasons. If you have a normal living room set up and all you want is the occasional big screen film and football game, with some gaming thrown in for good measure; you are not going to care about the colour of the chassis.

BenQ W1000

Given that the W1000 is built to a price point we can perhaps also forgive the fact that everything bar the lens is made from moulded plastic and that the main controls for lens zoom and focus are manual affairs. Plus, don’t expect any kind of lens shift capabilities either, as the W1000 follows other budget DLP models in offering a fixed image offset. This means that placement in relation to the screen (either from a coffee table or ceiling mount) is vital to avoid unwanted use of the keystone adjustments. Using any kind of keystone adjustment with a projector is not recommended as it will add in artefacts to the image projected, so take your time by following the suggested positioning points in the manual, to get the projector installed correctly. However, if you are planning on using the projector for the occasional film and TV football game and putting it away afterwards, you will be able to do that easily, but again, unless you take some care in placement you will end up with some image issues. A possible advantage here is the short throw lens which means that even in small rooms; you should be able to get a decent size of image from your mounting position.

BenQ W1000

Moving around the back of the chassis we find the usual array of connections for your sources. We have two HDMI slots along with one set of component RCA, s-video, composite and a PC RGB connector. Also included are an RS232C port along with 3.5mm Audio and RCA audio input/output connections. Some of you will also have noticed a USB port on the back panel but this is purely for service use and does not allow any USB playback devices to be connected to the projector. What is odd, and perhaps harks back to this projectors business roots, is the inclusion of a 3W speaker on the back of the chassis. Of course as a home cinema projector this is completely redundant (as are the audio input connections) but I guess if you wanted to use it for both applications, the W1000 could easily fulfil your business presentations as well as the home movie watching role.

BenQ W1000

Menus and set up

Moving on to the menu layout and set up options, the W1000 offers the same style of menu options from the previously reviewed W6000 model. We are given presets for Dynamic (yuk!), Standard and Cinema picture profiles along with an impressive 3 User selections.

BenQ W1000

Also included in the menu system are the usual front panel controls (Brightness, Contrast etc.) as well as some welcome added menus for a 3D Colour Management System. However, as you will see from the results below in the measurements, the inclusion of this system is flawed and it doesn’t work as it should; so pretty pointless really. Added to this is some manual control of the gamma curve and the standard Brilliant Colour options found on the latest DLP projectors.

BenQ W1000

One control that is very telling in its absence (and I had to search the menus a few times in disbelief) is white balance (Gain and Offset for RGB). As this is probably the most important part of any picture set up, it is surprising that BenQ has neglected to include this - yet have added a useless CMS system - go figure!

BenQ W1000

The User selection for white balance doesn’t give you the manual adjustments, but rather it gives you a further selection of white balance points under the advanced user selection of ‘Warmer 5000K, Warm 6500K, Normal 7300K, Cool 8500K and Cooler 9300K’. So overall the menu system and set up options for such a price conscious unit are varied at best and of course we will test that fully.

Out of the Box Measurements

As always with budget projectors I was ready to have some fun looking at what the manufacturer thinks are good picture presets. Usually the colour gamut is miles away from being correct to the standards used in playback mastering by over saturating green and red primary colours, so I have to say I was surprised with the laid back approach the BenQ has taken with greyscale and colour gamut performance. Here are the results based on the out of the box ‘Cinema’ preset with white balance preset ‘User 1 Warm’ with gamma set at 2.2 in the menus, along with Brilliant Colour on and Peak white at 1. Obviously the front panel controls have also been set for our room and screen, so Brightness, Contrast etc were set with test patterns and by eye as most users would do.

BenQ W1000

First lets start with the Greyscale and I suppose if I am honest I can admit to giving a sigh of relief when the results popped up on screen. It could have been a disaster if the white balance was not tracking anywhere near the D65 white point we want for the playback standards. That’s because if it was off in any serious way there are no manual controls provided by the W1000 to correct the values back to where they should be. However, as you can see from the RGB Balance and tracking windows the W1000 has an excellent result with greyscale tracking close to what we need and with detaE errors under 2 for the most part.

This is a very welcome result and will give us an accurate level of white on screen with errors almost invisible to the human eye. I must however point out that the results obtained here may vary from other W1000 projectors by some degree depending on lamp life or the quality of BenQ factory calibration of the white balance points. We have no data that would suggest that there would be a massive difference from unit to unit, but it is worth pointing out anyway. Moving on to the colour gamut and this is where things are a little more disappointing, but certainly not a disaster for such a cheap projector. First of all let's look at what a native gamut is.

BenQ W1000

The native colour gamut of a projector or TV is what that display is capable of resolving in terms of colours. If you look at the CIE chart the solid lines are the Rec709 HDTV colour standard points. The broken lines with black dots are the colour points that the W1000 is natively capable of displaying. In the case of the W1000 this will have a lot to do with the colour wheel and the lamp used as to what we see on screen and in the chart. If the points are inside the solid triangle and towards the white point square, this indicates that the colour point is under saturated when compared to the desired colour box.

Also if the black points are to the side of the colour box in a semi-circular fashion this points to the hue of the colour also being off target. We also look at the Luminance chart on the right and the Luminance DeltaE box second from top on the left. What this tells us is that the majority of the primary and secondary colours are low in brightness to what they should be for correct playback of HD and Pal material. The other DeltaE boxes also show us the error levels for colour, hue and overall at the top left box. What we are looking for here are errors to be at least lower than 4 for an excellent performance and under 2 for reference.

So, as you can see looking at the CIE chart the native colour gamut of the projector is for the most part under saturated for Green, oversaturated for Red and within a smidge of being correct for blue. The secondary colours are for the most part slightly under saturated but with larger hue errors. As all the errors are quite large they will be seen by the eye. So can we correct any of these issues? One important thing to point out here is that because the native gamut is under saturated for Green by some margin, we cannot add back what is not there. So, we will have to accept that Green is going to remain an issue. We can however look at the other points and in particular the luminance issues and if the 3D Colour Management tool works as it should, we might be able to get the errors for the majority of the other colour points correct.

Calibrated Results

BenQ W1000

Greyscale controls for a manual calibration are not available on the W1000, so the only thing we have been able to do is use the contrast and brightness controls to get a slightly more accurate feel to the Greyscale, but that is all we could do. It is just fortunate that the out of the box settings used above gave us a good result. There is nothing else we could do to correct this further but with errors under 2dE it shouldn’t be a visible issue.

BenQ W1000

Moving to the colour gamut we do have a very basic colour management system to try and dial in some improvements. As explained above regarding the native colour gamut there is not a lot we could do with the green under saturation, but with some careful set up with what is a poor CMS (but it is a cheap projector), we managed to at least balance the gamut a little closer to the standards with some slight compromises. The most important part we could correct was the colour luminance and bring that back to where it should be, however, we did have to compromise slightly with colour and hue errors. Given that the CMS included with the projector is more of a marketing ploy than an actual useful tool, I was happy with the final results which shouldn’t cause any major issues with picture quality on playback.

Video Processing

This was one area where the built in scaling and de-interlacing did suffer the price point. On standard definition material there were issues with ringing on fine edges and jaggies on diagonal edges. The HQV results were disappointing with some issues with cadence detection errors for all but NTSC 3:2 material. I guess this is somewhat expected for such a budget unit and can be overcome by using a good upscaling player. For 24p signals the W1000 faired a lot better with doubling of the input to produce a performance that was free from induced judder. There were no issues with image blurring in fast moving scenes, however the W1000 is capable of introducing quite a bit of rainbow effect if you are susceptible.

BenQ W1000

Picture Quality

So, with all the testing and measuring done, what is the W1000 actually capable of with Blu-ray and other playback material? Let’s start with the most obvious question first, what is the dynamic range and black level like on this budget machine? Well, pretty good with all things considered, especially at the price point this projector comes in at. The black level performance along with shadow detail retrieval in a fully light controlled room is impressive for such a budget conscious machine. Dealing in a world of actual contrast performance over the usual silly numbers produced, the W1000 is an average performer with absolute detail retrieval. Blacks, while good, do tend to miss out with the finest shadow detailing that more expensive projectors can handle with ease.

For example areas of Chapter 48 on the King Kong BD brought up the limitations of the W1000 with areas of dark buildings on the New York street melding into one shade of black, rather than offering distinctive gradations of the lower black levels. When you add in some ambient light to the equation (with obvious results) the contrast ratio reduces by some margin. If you have a bright living room and don’t want absolute critical film watching performance, I doubt you would complain with the black detailing issues and lack of overall contrast performance. One area where the W1000 doesn’t offend is its colour reproduction given the reduced nature of its native gamut. In calibrated mode skin tones were extremely natural and detailed with primary colours handled without any issues that would stand out as being wrong.

Indeed apart from subdued greens on grass fields the overall colour performance was very acceptable and offered good gradation between various hues of colour. There was some signs of posterisation and banding from time to time, but no more than expected and certainly nothing that detracts from the overall performance at the price level. Watching a variety of formats and material from disc to TV signals, the overall performance of the W1000 stands up with its rivals such as the Mitsubishi HC3800. However, it does miss out some features such as anamorphic stretch.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Compact enough to use as an occasional display
  • Excellent value for money
  • Good greyscale performance out of the box
  • Good black levels at the price point
  • Good colour performance, if a little limited gamut wise

The Bad

  • Noisy fan
  • 3D CMS has limited use
  • No manual greyscale controls
  • Rainbow effect is quite noticeable
  • Lack of lens shift, means limited placement options

BenQ W1000 DLP Projector Review

If you are an AV Enthusiast on a budget and want an all rounder that produces very good images at the price point, then the W1000 is worthy of an audition. Some issues may affect some users such as the higher than normal instances of rainbow effect I saw during my stay with the BenQ. Make sure if this will be an issue for you by getting a demo before buying. I would also suggest trying to place the unit away from your seating position as it is also not the quietest machine out there. Overall the W1000 doesn't set the world on fire in terms of features but given its price point and good performance levels, it's an ideal projector to audition for cost effective big screen Home Cinema and it competes fully with its peers at this price level.

Recommended

Scores

3D Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Features

.
.
.
7

Ease Of Use

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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