BenQ W1200 Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W1200 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

W1200 Black Level Performance

No surprise here. Our expectations were obviously modest – this is a standard DLP projector, one lacking a dynamic iris. If you are hunting great black level performance, you could look to other projectors, especially the W6000, BenQ’s next more expensive DLP home theater projector.

And that is to say, that black level performance is definitely not enthusiast quality. The BenQ projector’s blacks are typical entry level.

For a projector like the W1200, I don’t see it worth worrying about whether the blacks are a touch better (or worse) say, than the Optoma HD20, the Viewsonic Pro8200, the Vivitek H1080. The issue is that none of these projectors has “superior” blacks. If that’s your goal. You mostly need to shop at a slightly more expensive price point (close to $2000).

For comparison, we set up BenQ’s W1200 against what is perhaps our favorite low cost DLP projector, the Mitsubishi HC4000. They are similarly priced, and the Mitsubishi, these days, may even be the lower priced online. In all of the side by side images, the Mitsubishi is on the left, the W1200 projector on the right.

Mitsubishi HC4000
Viewsonic Pro8200

 

In our first two image comparisons, you are looking at the same frame from The Fifth Element – of the starship. In the second one, we turned the image to grayscale so the color differences don’t distract. In that one you get a better idea of how close the two projectors are in brightness, relative to black levels.

Next we have the night train scene from Casino Royale (this one was taken several seconds earlier than usual, but that doesn’t matter for a side by side comparison). The image above gives you a good feel for black levels and a great indication of how well the projector does on dark shadow detail. Look for details in the shrubs on the right and in the trees higher up on the right. Definitely a difference with the HC4000 doing a slightly better job. Even the W1200 is doing well, however.

we have a good bit overexposed satellite image, so you can see where the shadow detail is… The overexposure lets you see some dark detail that is there, which otherwise would be hard or impossible to dis. At least as important is that it raises the black of the sky to grays you can compare. You just have to compensate for the differing exposures. Next, is the starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels. If the starship’s brightness is about the same from image to image, then the projector with the blackest blacks in the letterbox and stars background, is the one with the blacker black performance. (A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It’s the blacks you want to be watching).

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