BenQ W20000 1080p, DLP, Home Theater Projector Review

Well, as you would expect, the W20000 is better than the lower priced W5000. Primarily it’s better at black levels, shadow detail, and a bit on brightness. It also has a longer warranty. The W5000 suffers from more image noise than most projectors, and it’s definitely enough to bother some folks. Between the two, I favor the W20000, even considering the price difference.

BenQ W20000 vs. JVC DLA-RS1

A very interesting battle between these two (I own the JVC). The JVC RS1‘s black levels are outstanding, only beat by the RS2 (and, no doubt the just announced DLA-RS20). The difference is rather significant, and those who truly appreciate superb black levels will favor the RS1.

On the other hand, in terms of brightness, the two are about equal in best mode, but the W20000 has almost twice the lumens in brightest mode. From a color accuracy standpoint, I’d say the two are about equal, but different. If I had to pick one over the other in this regard, though, I’d favor the RS1.

The RS1 also wins the placement flexibility battle hands down, with a 2:1 zoom and both vertical and horizontal lens shift. In addition, the RS1′s lens shift has more range, allowing a projector to be placed well above the top of your screen surface.

No doubt about it, the W20000 puts a sharper, crisper image on the screen.

The RS1 is no doubt the favored projector for the hard core enthusiast, but the typical buyer in this price range, is likely to favor the BenQ W20000 overall, if placement isn’t an issue, mostly thanks to brightness, sharpness and shadow detail, not to mention the extra year of warranty.

BenQ W20000 vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U, with some thoughts on new PT-AE3000U

Once again, the W20000 has the advantage in sharpness of the image. In terms of color accuracy, post calibration I’d give the Panasonic the edge, and it has better color out of the box, as well.

Shadow detail is going to favor the BenQ, and the BenQ will also have the advantage in black levels. The PT-AE2000U has all that placement flexibility advantage typical of a 3LCD projector, but loses in the warranty game, with only a single year (promo’s with a second year of warranty are typical for this Panasonic, but that still leaves it a year short).

The Panasonic is power everything, a plus, and has at least as good a set of color controls.

In my book, the Panasonic, which is currently about the same price as the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and far less money than the W20000, is not a match for the W20000. Other than placement flexibility, the W20000 has the Panasonic beat in almost every way. If you choose the W20000 over the PT-AE2000U, it’s because you are willing to pay for better, brighter, sharper, and you will get a lot of each for the price difference. I’d say they are about equal in terms of the value proposition.

The W20000 is, overall, a real step up, and can justify the price difference.

That brings us to the just announced PT-AE3000U, which I’ve seen demo’d, but only at the CEDIA show in a pitch black room. The PT-AE3000U will be selling initially for right around $3000 or a little less (my best guess), and it does significantly improve on the PT-AE2000U in terms of black levels. I would guess that it is, in that regard, at least comparable to the W20000. The PT-AE3000U also uses frame interpolation (see article), to reduce motion blur, which was a real plus on demo content where motion blur is obvious. In the real world it’s less of an issue. The BenQ will still have the sharpness advantage, and although we haven’t got a PT-AE3000U to measure for brightness, considering it’s only supposed to be slightly brighter than the PT-AE2000U, the BenQ will also easily win the brightness battle in best, and brightest modes.

BenQ W20000 vs. Optoma HD8000/HD80 and HD81-LV

I really don’t think there’s much contest between the W20000 and the HD8000 or its almost identical sibling, the HD80. Both are sharp, but I’ll give the W20000 the advantage in color accuracy, black levels, shadow detail, brightness, placement flexibility, warranty… You get the picture. The HD8000 is about $1000 less, but the W20000 is the better value. Nothing else needs to be said.

The HD81-LV, on the other hand, is a very serious competitor. First of all, it’s the brightest of all the sub-$10,000 home theater projectors we’ve reviewed, and still significantly brighter than the W20000 (by 40-50%). That’s a really big plus for the large screen crowd, especially for those that face a significant amount of ambient light for HDTV and sports viewing.

While the HD81-LV does better than the lowe cost models in black levels, at best (it’s been a long time), the HD81-LV is no better than the W20000. Shadow detail, color accuracy, and film-like qualities all favor the BenQ, although color accuracy is going to be more different, than better/worse. The HD81-LV has a slightly hard (less film-like) image than the W20000 projector. The HD81-LV also sells for more. No lens shift, and a lot of lens offset, put the projector well above the top of the screen surface (about 17 inches for a 100″ screen), making it very limited for ceilings of 8 feet (ok for average screens, but not enough ceiling height for say, a 120″ diagonal screen.

If you need the absolute maximum brightness, the HD81-LV is the way to go, otherwise I favor the BenQ W20000. Remember, it’s no slouch either, when it comes to brightness.

Enough! Time to wrap this up. Look for my thoughts on the W20000 as it compares to some of the just announced projectors, in this section in those future reviews.

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