BenQ W2700 4K DLP Projector Review

100% Rec.709 and 100% bargain...

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,399.00

What is the BenQ W2700?

The BenQ W2700 is a 4K DLP projector that currently retails for around £1400 at the time of this review in September 2019. The model is also known as the HT3550 in North America.

The W2700 uses the latest 0.47” DMD chip from Texas Instruments which uses a quadruple flash that tricks the eye into seeing an 8.3 million pixel image on the screen. The DMD is 1920 x 1080 in resolution but by using this technique it can give you a faux 4K image onscreen and at a significantly lower cost than a native 4K chip. There are new features this year that add in a dynamic iris and improved tone mapping to assist with HDR image reproduction. It also has a six-segment RGBRGB colour wheel that boasts 100% Rec.709 coverage and 95% Wide Colour Gamut DCI-P3 coverage with the use of a filter. BenQ also boasts that the projector is factory calibrated to the industry standards and it comes with a printed certificate to highlight this point. We will obviously be checking that claim very closely in the measurement section.

In terms of High Dynamic Range, the projector supports HDR10 and HLG standards. It also has a 4K Motion Enhancer mode that adds interpolation, but this is switched off by default as BenQ adheres to filmmaker requests to have it switched off. 24fps material is also correctly displayed by the BenQ with the optimal pulldown that reduces telecine judder or induced judder so you can see the content as intended.

It is clear that BenQ is serious about upholding the home cinema mantra of 'as the director intended' with factory calibration and technologies onboard that improve image quality without unnecessary enhancement features. Those features are here with colour adjustment, edge enhancement and so on, but they are switched off by default in the accurate movie mode.

Video Review

Watch our full in-depth review in the video -

Design, Connections and Control


The chassis is a traditional projector body design with the lens positioned to the right side of the front plate. This has a square opening and lens cover with a straight edge cover to the bottom of the lens which is designed to stop light spill when ceiling mounted. Above the lens on the top plate, we have a sliding door which opens to reveal the lens shift, focus and zoom controls that are manual in operation. These should be set once and forgotten about and, during our testing, the lens held its focus point between numerous viewing sessions. With the introduction of lens shift, you should be able to set up the W2700 optimally without using keystone. As we say in every projector review, you need to avoid keystone adjustments as it destroys detail retrieval in your image and will cause image artefacts. Take the time to properly install the projector and you will be rewarded with the best image quality.

To the rear of the W2700 we have the built-in speakers behind a grille and in the centre are the connections. We have analogue and digital audio outputs, a USB port for power, two HDMI 2.0b ports that can support 60p 4K signals with HDR10 and HLG, one USB 3.0 port with media player capabilities, a mini USB for service as well as RS232C and 12V trigger ports.

The remote control supplied with the W2700 is a familiar BenQ white plastic design with large central directional and enter keys. It is backlit for use in the dark and all the other buttons are direct access keys and the layout is intuitive to use and it sits neatly in the hand.

Measurements - Out of the Box

As we always do within all our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a projector must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

Calibration is a goal for some users, but for the majority, this is not an option, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest projector review. We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing projectors in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect how the vast majority of buyers will view content. 

Calibration and measurement are important for the overall assessment of the projector, but we don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums. Thankfully, BenQ is also interested in offering the end-user an accurate image out of the box and factory calibrate every W2700 projector before shipping. They also include a printed document verifying this has been done. So just how accurate is the BenQ W2700?

The projector has a built-in dynamic iris which can be switched off but we found that doing this didn’t produce the most accurate image. Leaving the DI switched on actually gave us the most accurate measurement results which makes sense as BenQ intend for the DI to be used. This does, however, pose issues with calibration as we will find out.

Looking at the greyscale, we can see that out of the box in the D.Cinema mode for SDR content, it is pretty accurate with a good track from black to white with just a rise of green in the brighter whites on the scale. There is a little too much red in the black end of the greyscale and this can be seen slightly in the blacks if you are looking for it. Gamma also tracks properly and we have to bear in mind that the DI has to be in operation for us to achieve this result, which highlights the accuracy of the DI. DeltaE errors are just above the visible threshold of three from 80% stimulus. This means we can just see a slight cyan tint to the brightest of whites within the content. However, we actually don’t think any normal end user will ever see the slight errors within the greyscale at all, especially not with film and TV content playback. This is the second BenQ W2700 we have measured in our room with the same results, so it would appear that the BenQ factory calibration set up does work. However, we should also point out that with any projector using a bulb as its light source, this will change from unit to unit and over a period of time. However, it is great to see BenQ taking the trouble to factory calibrate to try and get as accurate as possible out of the box. We are sure some professional calibrators will not want to point this out to potential customers.

Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut and this has been an area where single-chip budget DLP models, like this W2700, have struggled in the past. Usually, this is with the green side of the gamut not reaching the full size for 709. However, as you can see here the BenQ does a very good job of trying to cover the entire gamut and with the correct tracking points for saturation covered. It is far from perfect and there are some big errors seen within the graph, such as an oversaturation of red at each point, a large hue error with magenta at 75% stimulus along with cyan not quite tracking correctly. But given this is a budget DLP, the gamut is covered and green is also well tracked, which has always been an issue with displays like this. With the errors seen, we have an average DeltaE of 3.36 with the maximum error clocking 6.35, so it could be more accurate. However, as we have already said, the consumer at this end of the market is not going to actually see these errors as major issues and probably will not see them within content playback. It could be better, but given what BenQ has achieved at the price point, we think they have done extremely well and the end-user will benefit from some reasonably accurate image quality out of the box.

Thankfully, the BenQ W2700 does come with calibration controls for fixing the greyscale and colour gamut, but with a DI getting in the way, the process was tricky. We could have calibrated with the DI switched off, but as the BenQ is designed to perform at its best with it in use, we had to move between off and on, to try and balance the calibration and performance parameters to get the best out of the W2700. What we found was slightly disappointing.

The greyscale controls do work and we were able to balance out the tracking to a certain degree, but with the DI switched on, it distorted the results of our calibration performed in the off position, so we had to come up with a balance between the two. The end results are not perfect, especially at the low and high ends, but for the majority of the greyscale, the errors are unseen. Gamma tracks well and, overall, while not a huge improvement over the out of the box results, it was better.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the Colour Management System (CMS) which we found to be broken on our review sample, so no matter what adjustments we tried to perform, they didn’t have any effect on the BenQ. We are therefore stuck with the out of the box results for the CMS, with the slight adjustments for the greyscale having minimal effect. However, we have to acknowledge that at this price point very few end-users will have a professional calibration and in that case, the out of the box results are what matter here for most potential owners, and if our two reviews samples are anything to go by, you can expect reasonable accuracy for a bulb based projector.

HDR Results

As this is a projector review, we have to again cover the fact that a projector, especially in the £1500 and below price range, will never be able to get close to a TV display in how it represents an HDR image. The lack of brightness, dynamic range and the fact it is a reflective technology, means that HDR on a projector is substantially different to that on a TV. Even laser machines costing tens of thousands of pounds cannot produce an HDR that can get close to a TV display. So HDR is handled differently by projectors, with tone mapping and dynamic iris control being used to try and give as much contrast as possible to an image.

We used a 90-inch screen area within our normal 110” Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K screen for our measurements. The W2700 is not the brightest projector when in its accurate HDR mode and we measured 70 nits peak with contrast coming in at 2032:1. Again, this is in the most accurate mode, it is possible to get much higher peak brightness results, but with an image that is far away from being anywhere close to accurate. As well as this, we also have to remind readers and viewers that peak brightness is just one small measurement that doesn’t tell the entire story of how the BenQ’s HDR image will look. We also have to look at the tone mapping and use of the DI along with the fact that to reach the wide colour gamut it needs to use a filter in the light path.

Looking at the out of the box PQ EOTF results in the most accurate settings, we can see that the BenQ struggles with a lack of dynamic range and brightness and it does what it can to stay with the standard down low but it rolls off pretty quickly. This is not an HDR projector that can produce any specular highlights at all and the dynamic range within images does not produce any real difference to SDR images. Wide Colour Gamut is noticeable and the tone mapping does allow a consistent APL image to be displayed, just don’t expect blinding highlights and inky deep blacks. Indeed, the only difference to SDR images is more intense colour and a dimmer image due to the filter.

Colour gamut coverage, thanks to the filter used on the W2700 is interesting when looking at saturation points within DCI-P3 coverage. There are large errors with magenta and cyan is off track, along with limited brightness within all the colours before clipping. However, it does track reasonably well given these issues. There is not much in the way of colour volume and within HDR images there are no obvious bright and bold colour saturation due to a lack of dynamics and brightness. But skin tones look natural and the image has a degree of colour to it, it is just not an HDR image given the lack of brightness, contrast and dynamics. BT.2020 measured 71% XY and 77% UV with P3 measuring in at 92% XY and 94% UV.

Performance

So we have established that the BenQ W2700 is not the brightest of projectors out there and, with accurate HDR playback, that is especially true with the filter being used. How does that impact the actual image performance?

In a light controlled cinema room like our test facility, the BenQ W2700 gives one of the most cinematic and impressive images we have yet seen from a budget 4K DLP. We should qualify that with the fact that we are assessing this as a £1500 DLP projector and not against our reference JVC DLA-X7900. The black levels are acceptable in that they are a darker grey than competing DLP models and there is a little more shadow detail to see in the lower reaches of the image before it all becomes one shade of dark grey. SDR Image brightness is good for the surroundings and allows the BenQ W2700 to display a nicely coloured and textured image that is sharp and detailed. The light bars that have been an issue off-screen on similar models using the same chipset are not apparent as much here, an improvement of the upgraded DMD when used on a scope screen like ours.

With SDR content the W2700 is capable of a nice image accuracy with greyscale and colour reproduction added to the image sharpness and excellent 24fps pulldown for motion. Image brightness is capable of getting to 120 nits in the accurate SDR more and this is obvious when switching to HDR. HDR material was very similar to the SDR performance, but a tad darker thanks to the colour filter used. We actually started watching HDR content without the wide colour filter after a while as the image brightness was too dim to expand the colours in any meaningful or accurate way and they were just a little too clipped. Switching the WCG filter to off brightened up proceedings with HDR discs and content, with a Rec.709 colour palette instead. We are never going to get true HDR playback from this level of projector, but with Rec.709 coverage like that on the BenQ, films still look cinematic and very watchable. The lens is a High-precision 10-element 8-group array that provides a sharp enough image which retains sharpness across the lens and image face, with no soft corners being visible and no obvious visible issues with chromatic aberration when set up correctly. It's a shame that the BenQ isn't bright enough in the HDR mode to really take advantage of the colour filter approach with any real conviction. But the out of the box SDR calibrated modes are superb and bright enough for dim room viewing, giving a nice cinematic touch on a big screen. 

Overall, we were impressed by the image quality on offer at this price point with the W2700 and it also performed better than some other higher priced DLP rivals with SDR content. While blacks will never be inky and colours above Rec.709 are flat and dull, the sweet point of Rec.709 colour added to the perceived 4K resolution, image sharpness and motion, the BenQ is an excellent budget home cinema projector.

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Decent out of the box accuracy
  • Excellent Rec.709 coverage for a DLP
  • Excellent motion handling
  • Very good video processing
  • Sharp & detailed 4K images
  • Factory calibration a good idea
  • Dynamic Iris
  • Excellent value for money

The Bad

  • Blacks are still dark grey
  • Lacks brightness within accurate picture modes
  • Lacks brightness with HDR content due to filter
  • Lacks colour volume with WCG
  • Noisey in operation

BenQ W2700 4K DLP Projector Review

It is encouraging to see BenQ trying to push their budget projectors to produce accurate images. Taking into account the price point versus performance, the W2700 is the best 4K DLP we have tested at this and higher price points with SDR content. We do need to manage expectations and blacks are just a smidge better than mediocre with the same lack of shadow detail as similar 4k DLPs, and the W2700 is painfully dull when in full HDR mode. But even so, when set up correctly and ditching some of the HDR features, like the WCG filter, you are left with some serious value for money.

With normal HD and 4K content using the Rec.709 colour gamut (by switching off the wide colour gamut filter), we get a truly interesting proposition at the price point, with a performance that is actually very cinematic in dark rooms with little ambient light. Taking into account and accepting the dark gray blacks - lack of total shadow detail retrieval and above black performance, which is nonexistent at this price point - when you add in excellent image sharpness with good motion for 24fps material and decent colour and greyscale accuracy towards Rec.709, we get what can only be described, (at the time of this review in September 2019), as a Best Buy projector.





Best Buy

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

.
.
8

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Image Uniformity

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
9

2D Picture Quality

.
.
8

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
.
8

Features

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

10

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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