BenQ W600 DLP Multimedia Projector Review

10-14-10 -Mike Rollett

BenQ W600 Color & Picture Quality

To start, I connected my laptop to the W600 via HDMI and fed the projector its native resolution (1280 x 720).  The W600 synced quickly and displayed a bright, colorful image.  As is usually the case with a DLP projector, colors are off when using the brightest picture mode (in this case, Dynamic).  With most DLP multimedia projectors, reds are very dark and yellows lose their brightness and tend to look like mustard.  However, the W600 did not suffer from these issues as much as most DLP projectors we’ve reviewed in this price range.  In Dynamic mode, the picture was still quite watchable for all but the most demanding presentations.  Dropping down in brightness to any of the other picture modes, colors were quite accurate.  So, using Standard or sRGB mode will give you very good color rendition and does so at over 2000 lumens.

For movie or video viewing, Cinema mode gives you the best color balance, as well as noticeably improved contrast.  Cinema mode can be used for photo presentations when high brightness is not necessary.  This will result in the optimum color rendition and displayed accurate colors and great realism.

Switching to the W600’s VGA input, there was the usual minor change in picture quality and depth of color one usually experiences going from a digital to analog connection.   It’s only noticeable when you switch back and forth, so it’s really a non-issue.  I still prefer to use a digital connection when available, so it’s nice to have that option with the W600.  Overall, the depth of color the W600 provides in its brightest modes is similar to what many similarly-priced DLP projectors provide in their best modes.

As a result of the good color balance, skin tones look quite accurate with the W600, particularly in either Standard or Cinema modes.  As mentioned in the Setup and Menu section of this review, the W600 also has full color management for really fine tuning the color balance.

BenQ W600 Readability

The W600 had little problem providing a sharp image at any resolution or aspect ratio.  We started with the W600 displaying its native resolution on a 70” diagonal image.  With this setup, our usual spreadsheet, which has a range of text sizes and colors, was easily readable for all color and size combinations (from 8 pt. to 36 pt. text and white text-on-black or yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds).

Even with higher resolutions and aspect ratios than its default 1280 x 720, the W600 was more than up for the task.  As many laptops display at 1280 x 800, we tried that minor change in resolution and as expected, the W600 looked the same.  Moving up to 1600 x 1200 (higher resolution and different aspect ratio), or 1600 x 900 (higher resolution and same aspect ratio), the W600 had no problems.  There’s been a lot of improvement in recent years in image scaling and compression techniques and it’s becoming the norm for a multimedia projector to cleanly handle any resolution or aspect ratio in its specified range.    As a result, there were virtually no issues with even the smallest text on the spreadsheet.  Such text remained quite readable and there was no color separation or overlap as can be found on some LCD projectors (mainly due to slight convergence issues inherent in a three-chip projector vs. a single chip DLP).

It should be noted that in most presentations, it is unlikely that there would be much (if any) text as small as 12 pts., nor would a presenter be likely to use a resolution that differs much from the projector’s native resolution.  However, if the need arises, the W600 will handle it cleanly.

Overall, with the text sizes and resolutions that would most likely be used in presentations, the BenQ W600 will have no problem maintaining readability.

BenQ W600 Video Performance

As I mentioned earlier, The BenQ W600 is really something of a hybrid projector as it is designed and can be optimized for video playback and features two HDMI connections.  Using the DVD playback from my laptop computer connected via VGA, I checked the W600’s ability to display video from a PC source.  Using Cinema mode, I reviewed scenes from a number of movies I’m quite familiar with.  As far as color rendition is concerned, the W600 was certainly the equal of any home theater projector in its price range.  Skin tones were quite natural and, as we mentioned about photo presentations, the overall color balance was quite good.  About the only place where the W600 was lacking compared to some of the home theater projector competition was in its absolute black levels and contrast ratio.  However, this was mainly due to the high brightness of the W600, even in Cinema mode, which precludes deep blacks.  Even using the Eco lamp mode in the Cinema setting, the W600 is still putting out over 1200 lumens, which is higher than many home theater projector’s brightest mode.  As the W600 is unlikely to be used in a theater room for critical viewing, the trade off between black levels and brightness is a plus for most video viewing.

Connecting the W600 to a Blu-ray player via HDMI, added greater depth to colors, as well as the increased sharpness you’d expect from the higher resolution source.  As previously noted, for more critical viewing, a calibration using the color management feature of the W600 would allow for even greater accuracy in skin tones.  There is some of the typical DLP “rainbow effect” during viewing, but no more than other projectors in the W600’s class.

Overall, the W600’s good color reproduction and decent (if not exceptional) contrast and black levels, warrants its classification as a home entertainment projector that is also more than an acceptable choice for classroom video presentations.  It should be noted that if you have a video presentation that includes audio, you’ll want to use external powered speakers, as the W600’s built-in 2-watt speaker is not up to the task of creating an acceptable volume level for all but the smallest rooms.

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