BenQ W1200 Home Theater Projector Review

Viewsonic Pro8200 vs. BenQ W1200

The Viewsonic Pro8200 was reviewed earlier this year.. Here’s a projector that costs less than the BenQ and is significantly brighter. It’s a single chip DLP projector like the W1200. The Pro8200 will simply light up that family room better. That said, the picture quality really favors the BenQ. If you aren’t calibrating, the Pro8200 is not particularly good looking right out of the box. Even calibrated, its not up to the BenQ, In the Pro8200′s review I commented in the Viewsonic’s review that skin tones still weren’t great even after calibration.

Both have speakers, both have picture in picture, but the BenQ does better dark scenes due to better black level performance. The Viewsonic, though, has an exceptionally long lamp life to keep costs down 4000/6000 hours compared to 2500/4000 for the BenQ. The Pro8200 has a 3 year warranty compared to the BenQ’s one, so overall, you can expect the Viewsonic to cost a lot less once you own it. Both projectors have 1.5:1 zoom lenses are are about the same overall in where they can be placed, relative to your screen.

The BenQ, for your extra money, gives you the better picture. It’s that simple. The Viewsonic is brighter, and less to own and operate, but, just can’t match the picture, and lacks creative frame interpolation

Panasonic PT-AE4000 and Epson Home Cinema 8700UB compared to the BenQ W1200

First of all, price wise, the W6000 BenQ is the more direct competitor to the Panasonic and Epson, than BenQ’s W1200 is. The more expensive W6000 is about the same price as the Epson and a couple hundred more than the Panasonic, it seems at this time.

But, like the W6000, these two top rated projectors (by us and others), would be two of the most logical projectors to consider if you are looking at the W1200 but have an extra $400 – $650 you could spend (6/11). Both are 3LCD projectors. Both offer less brightness in their “best” modes, but the Epson will be a bit brighter in “brightest” mode, and the Panasonic a bit dimmer than the W1200.

Both 3LCD projectors have much better placement flexibility with 2:1 range on the zooms, and more importantly plenty of vertical lens shift (horizontal too). Those two can both be easily placed on a high shelf on a rear wall (as I did for many years). Without lens shift, and a shorter throw zoom, the BenQ isn’t designed for same.

The real difference is in image performance. The BenQ is certainly capable of really good color, and can rival the other two, but difference in dark scenes – thanks to the huge difference between either of these ultra-high contrast projectors and the W1200 is often dramatic. That’s not to say that the BenQ can’t look good on dark scenes. The other two will just look better. Car analogy: The Ford Focus gives a perfectly fine ride. The Cadillac CTS and a top of the line Lexus, though will do better. Same idea. On dark scenes, the difference will be the difference in two of the projectors looking really dynamic – a lot of pop to the image, and one looking relatively dull and flat. That folks is what your extra money is primarily buying. While we’ve mentioned several other projectors above with better blacks (including the Mitsuibishi HC4000), these two projectors are dramatically better than all the others mentioned above, except for BenQ’s own W6000.

And that folks translates mostly into you spending $500 or so more for a projector that offers a whole different class of performance on dark scenes. Life and movies are just filled with dark scenes. Point made. That also means if you are looking for a projector primarily for watching sports – which are virtually never really dark scenes, black level performance isn’t that critical.

The rest of the differences are relatively secondary. Both 3LCDs support using an anamorphic lens, the Panasonic can even emulate having one. All of these three have creative frame interpolation, although in terms of best designed CFI, I’d rank the Panasonic the best, Epson second and BenQ last. Not big differences, but if I had to watch a movie with motion smoothing engaged, the Panasonic least gives you that soap opera – or live digital video look, the W1200 the most.

That’s it. Of course, our friendly reminder. Don’t worry about what is the best home theater projector out there in your price range. You should be picking your projector to match the type of content you plan to watch, budget, room conditions (wall colors, ambient light), desired screen size, and features. Each of us have widely varying requirements even those with dedicated rooms.

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