BenQ W1500 Home Projector – Review
BENQ W1500 HOME PROJECTOR: SPECIAL FEATURES 2: 3D, User Modes, ISF, Full CMS, Audio
BenQ W1500 3D Capabilities
I originally erred and advised that the BenQ W1500 came with one pair of glasses. Turns out, like many 3D capable projectors, none are included. The latest in 3D glasses for BenQ means that their new 3D active glasses are rechargeable, rather than using small button batteries.
More to the point, the 3D picture is clean. As is typical, single chip DLP projectors seem to have no native crosstalk issues of their own, so visible crosstalk when using the BenQ projector and glasses, if you see any at all, would be inherent to the content, rather than the projector’s 3D processing, or latency of the panels/chips.
Weight wise, the new BenQ glasses are reasonably light, but hardly exceptionally so. They weigh in at just over 46 grams (about an ounce and 2/3rds).
Back to the 3D glasses for a moment: By comparison, Epson’s classes (also rechargeable and RF), weigh just 37 grams, and Panasonic’s about 3 grams lighter than the Epsons. Our lightweight champs, Samsung’s battery powered (but not rechargeable) RF glasses, weigh just 23 grams – exactly half of the BenQ’s. Those Samsungs are compatible with Epson and Sony projectors. Comfort is OK not great on the BenQs, at least for those with a large head like mine. Note that I wear them over the top of my regular glasses. (My glasses, BTW weigh in at just over 22 grams!)
3D looks great, overall. The W1500 being rather bright, I find that at 100″ diagonal, The Hobbit, and other 3D content looks reasonably bright hitting a 100″ 1.3 gain screen. At my full 124″ diagonal, the W1500 is still pretty good, but running out of brightness. I have watched The Hobbit all the way through at 124″ and I would say that the Epson Pro Cinema 4030, with it’s glasses setting on medium, is just a little brighter than this BenQ. Ultimately, I think about the only competing projectors in 3D, to the W1500, that you would consider brighter, would all be 3LCD projectors. (OK, if you are going really low end – sub $1000 you can find brighter DLP projectors, but they aren’t a quality match for this BenQ.
Three User Modes + ISF - Hooray!
I’ve spent a lot of time bitching about the User area situation on a number of other home entertainment projectors, basically just about all the Optoma and Acer projectors at this price point or below. I like having multiple modes for different situations, but I also don’t end up using the default settings. I find many projectors to be rather user unfriendly in this regard. There are three User modes on this BenQ W1500, and two more which are the ISF modes for your friendly neighborhood calibrator to use.
All three User modes show up in the modes menu, as User 1, 2, and 3. You can rename them (my User 1 is labeled “Calibrated”). We did not set up the ISF modes (Imaging Science Foundation – the folks that train and certify many professional calibrators, and without setting those ISF modes, they don’t show up in the Modes menu, but should when they are set up. There will be two ISF modes: Day and Night, even though we never used them.
Still 3 savable modes is a respectable number (without ISF modes), one that sure beats the DLP competition, but is no match for say the 10 modes that some of the Epsons offer. In my case, I’ve got my calibrated mode, and I’d use a second one for a maximum brightness mode, and the third, perhaps for a second calibrated mode, but at low lamp power (since low lamp generally means a slightly higher color temp). What I hate about some of the competition (Optoma, Acer), is that after you plug in all your settings (and any change becomes User no matter which mode you start with), they stay only until you go to another mode, and change one setting. Then all your other settings are wiped out, so you better hope you wrote them down. That will drive many of us crazy, but it’s not a problem with the BenQ, Good job BenQ!
CMS - Color Management System
BenQ provides a full Color Management System on the W1500 projector. You have separate Gain and Bias controls for grayscale balancing of Red, Green, and Blue, and full Hue, Saturation and Gain controls for calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors. (Subscribers, we have published the CMS calibration info on the Advanced Calibration page just for you guys!) The rest of the calibration info is available to everyone, on the regular Calibration page in this review.
The bottom line is that the W1500, like the W1070 and W1080ST, calibrates beautifully, with the result of really good looking, accurate color.
BenQ W1500 Big Audio
Wow! The W1500 out muscles every other home entertainment projector I can think of, in terms of the built in sound. Epson’s got an all-in-one projector that comes close, and so do some others, but the W1500 projector just has bigger, louder sound than the competition.
BenQ managed to plug a pair of 10 watt speakers into the W1500, that’s about double or more what you’ll find in most other home entertainment projectors including their W1070 and W1080ST. Mind you “serious” home THEATER projectors normally have no built in speakers.
With two 10 watt speakers there really isn’t any lack of volume, but as you might expect, there really isn’t any deep bass, so, as it is, it may fill your room with sound, but it’s just not going to “rock the house”.
The W1500 has an audio out. Sadly, if you use the audio out, it disables the internal speakers. The reason that’s not the greatest design, is that you can’t just plug in a powered subwoofer to provide some “real” bass to accompany the internal speakers, which are capable of some respectable movie volume. (Respectable, but remember it’s two 10 watt speakers, not a full surround sound system with hundreds of watts. BTW, the W1500 has SRS surround sound, to try to get you that room filling sound effect from two speakers.
The speakers can do a good job, but ultimately those internal speakers really are not what you want for listening to a gorgeous orchestral performance.
BenQ does provide some audio controls, including separate bass and treble, volume (by menu or by remote), Mute, and SRS surround sound (off/on). There’s even a toggle to switch the right and left sides. Personally, I think they could have added one more control – a classic Loudness button, for elevating bass when at modest volume levels.
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