BenQ W500 Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W500 Projector Highlights

  • Good “out of the box” image quality, requiring minor adjustment, but problems with red shift in dark areas
  • Very good brightness in “best” (Cinema) mode
  • Good black levels, dynamic iris provides significant improvement
  • Offers vertical and horizontal lens shift for placement flexibility
  • Uses HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) circuitry for rich color handling
  • Shadow detail is very limited
  • Color uneven across image
  • Good color management system
  • MAP (minimum advertised price) of $999

BenQ W500 Home Theater Projector Review: Overview

Update: 10/5/07: We requested a 2nd W500 projector, based on some concerns. The initial W500 provided had a strong shift to red in the lower IRE ranges (darkest areas), and “crushed” a goody amount of very dark shadow detail. (It still looked pretty good, don’t let me scare you). A second projector arrived. The red problem was no longer there, or rather, I should say, is the more usual slight shift, but this W500 is still crushing the darkest shadow detail. Is that important to you? I’ve added a paragraph on it on the summary page that should answer that question. -art

Of late, the entry level (MAP price under $1000) 720p front projector market seems to be dominated by Optoma’s and Mitsubishi’s DLP home theater projectors, so I was pleased to take a close look at the BenQ W500, a third low cost home theater projector (this one uses 3LCD technology, for buyers to choose from. I was shocked to learn that the W500 is an LCD projector. It should be noted, that this is BenQ’s first LCD home theater projector, from a company that has always offered only DLP technology until this time.

The biggest single difference (besides the technology inside), between the BenQ W500, and the Mitsubishi HC1500, and Optoma HD70, is BenQ’s adjustable vertical and horizontal lens shift, which allows the projector to be placed vertically, anywhere from 55% (of screen height) above, to 55% below, the center of the screen. The other two competitors offer fixed lens shift, with a large offset, so they need to be positioned either above the top of the screen, or below the bottom. This gives the BenQ an advantage in flexibility, especially for shelf mounting. Also, the large lens offset of the other two, tend to be a serious problem for those wanting to ceiling mount in a room with low ceilings – rooms with less than 8 feet from floor to ceiling.

Click to enlarge.  So close.The BenQ W500 is very reminiscent of BenQ’s more expensive models, in terms of looks, but is drastically smaller than the rather large PE8720, W9000 and W10000 projectors.

Click Image to Enlarge

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