BenQ W1500 Home Projector – Review

BENQ W1500 PROJECTOR – SPECIAL FEATURES:  WIRELESS HDMI, LENS SHIFT

BenQ W1500 Wireless HDMI

I am a fan of wireless HDMI solutions.  Prior to moving to our current house, in our family’s last home, which we bought over a decade ago, I had wired up my room with component video cabling.  HDMI was at best, very new, and very, very, limited in range, so it wasn’t practical to run HDMI cables though the wall, but I did also run a pair of CAT5 cables as well.

Then of course HDMI became the defacto standard.  I tried using some of the early HDMI to CAT5 and back adaptors with limited result.  Ultimately, I did start using a Gefen Wireless HDMI solution back then, and it just barely had enough range to get the job done, but work, and work well it did.  My only real complaint at the time, is that when 3D rolled out, the Gefen only supported older HDMI, without 3D.

Today most  wireless HDMI such as the solution BenQ provides, are HDMI 1.4a compatible, and that should mean no issue with wirelessly transmitting 3D content as well as 2D.

So, with that lead in, the question is why do you, or should you, care about Wireless HDMI?

Before I answer, one additional thought.  Most Wireless HDMI solutions are referred to as lossless.  That is, they will not, in the course of transmitting that HDMI signal, lose any part of it. The finished signal should be identical to one transmitted over a good HDMI cable.

I can think of three reasons to care about/want, a wireless HDMI solution like the BenQ W1500′s:

In no particular order:

In a permanent setup (typically with a ceiling mounted projector), if you were, like I was in my last house, not wired for HDMI, but previously wired up, and you aren’t into wires running along the floor, etc., then wireless may save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars to open walls, and run relatively expensive HDMI cabling, then sealing the walls, patching, and repainting.   With a wireless solution, all you need to do is get power to the projector, and bring in the rest of your signals by wireless.  Savings can be huge.

Portability favors the wirelessly hdmi enabled.  Let’s say it’s a nice summer night, perfect for that backyard family movie night!   Get a (waterproof) extension power cord, a table, and something to use as a projector screen, and you are in business.   Plug the wireless HDMI dongle into the back of your source, such as the blu-ray player in your family room, and let it get the signal to your projector, instead of having to drag the blu-ray player and cables outside.  That surely will simplify things!  Or perhaps having wireless hdmi will make life easier if you take the projector on your vacation?  (It does come with a soft, padded carry case, after all.

Don’t forget, the W1500 projector is very capable, and can double as a business projector, so when on the road, that wireless hdmi means you aren’t carrying a heavy HDMI cable.

When push comes to shove, though, the questions about Wireless HDMI are really threefold:

 

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More on the BenQ' W1500's Wireless HDMI

Does it work reliably?  and  How much range does it have?  Is it 3D compatible?

Here are your answers!

As long as you aren’t beyond its working range (which varies depending on walls, etc.) it’s very reliable.  That said, it does take some getting used to.  That’s to the slowness of HDMI’s HDCP copy protection, we’re already used to it taking many seconds for a blu-ray player to first get an image on your projector.  At least, though you see it putting up play buttons, resolution changes, while you wait.  With Wireless hdmi, it shouldn’t really take any longer, before that final image is up on your screen, but often you won’t see those indicators while the wireless hdmi is negotiating.  The end result, you aren’t initially confident that it’s working.  But, fear not, if within usable range, that image will appear.  After you get used to having wireless, it becomes a non issue.

How much range?  I had 0 problem in my main home theater.   My PS3 starts out sitting about 13 feet from the projector.  No issues, so from there, it was necessary to move the projector to a couple of different locations, to test effective range.

The first thing I did was move the projector into the adjacent room.  That required the signal front he back of my PS3 to negotiate 27 feet, and pass through two interior walls.   I figure if it works there, we’re doing well, but in talking to BenQ, they were “boasting” that unless I had a huge house, the wireless should cover it.   We’ll here’s how all of that played out:

OK, in the adjacent room everything 2D worked fine.  Again, that’s about 27 feet, two walls.  I then moved the projector into the master bedroom.  That added another 25-30 feet and at least 3 more interior walls (hallway, in one side of a closet, outside the other.   Sadly, that was too much distance and or too many walls.  The BenQ could not find the source.  BTW anytime 2D worked, I also found 3D worked from that same distance.

 

Vertical Lens Shift

We’ll provide the amount of lens shift, in the W1500 Hardware Tour section, but it’s worth noting here, that BenQ does have a modest amount of vertical lens shift on this projector, as they do on it’s lower cost sibling, the W1070.  The lens shift control is hidden behind a spring release small door, just behind the lens zoom and focus rings on the top of the W1500 projector.

It’s unusual to have lens shift on sub-$2000 DLP projectors, but having it is a real pleasure if you are ceiling mounting, and merely a real convenience if you are “portable” placing it on a table top, or using it in multiple locations.   Keep in mind that the amount of shift is limited.  It’s a relatively small amount of shift, compared to the 3LCD projectors out there with lens shift, or the more expensive LCoS projectors.

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