BenQ W7000 Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ W7000 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Black level performance on this engineering sample was a disappointment, especially considering how good the older variation, the W6000 is. We contacted BenQ about this issue, and they indicated production projectors should be much better.

As I believe is mentioned elsewhere, they specifically said:

“We did the measurement of the latest unit of W7000 (newer firmware) and a W6000 we have, and the result shows that they are about the same.”

That should indicate that full production W7000′s should behave pretty much like the W6000. BenQ has not indicated any change in the iris, nor changed the 50,000:1 contrast spec, so I hope, and expect to see very good, “ultra high contrast” quality black level performance.

Update 2/19/2012: No question about it, the “finished” W7000′s blacks are visibly better!

BenQ W7000 engineering sample image:
Epson Home Cinema 5010:
Panasonic PT-AE7000
Sony HW-30ES:
Optoma HD8300
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB ($2199)
Optoma HD33
JVC DLA-HD250
Runco LS10d
Sony VPL-VW95ES
Sharp XV-Z17000
BenQ W6000
BenQ W7000 engineering sample image:
+Epson Home Cinema 5010:

Note that the blacks in the letterbox area of the BenQ are just the tiniest bit darker than in the Epson below (if you measure (about 10% darker), but the starship below is far more overexposed, indicating a much greater difference between projectors, with “blacker blacks” on the Epson.

Of course we expect the newer firmware to close the gap. But will have to see for ourselves. For now, the W7000 has decent blacks but not where they need to be for this to be a really great projector. We’ll see what a few weeks will do.

Update 2/19/12:

The new firmware does improve black performance. It’s not a truly gigantic improvement (nor was one expected), but it is significant enough to move the W7000 from a projector with ” OK blacks for the price”, to one with “Especially good blacks for the price”. All considered, the finished W7000 now offers blacks that are roughly comparable to the Panasonic PT-AE7000, perhaps a tad shy of the Optoma HD8300, and a little further behind the Epson 5010. Still, these are very good blacks now. Making other issues more important to your final decision.

Epson Home Cinema 5010:

Panasonic PT-AE7000

Sony HW-30ES:

Optoma HD8300: Very nice, better than the Panasonic, about half way to the Epson

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB ($2199): Last year’s black level champ under $5,000

Optoma HD33 (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector): Blacks are no match.

JVC DLA-HD250: Now discontinued – No dynamic iris, but blacks roughly comparable to the Epson. Otherwise though, limited in features compared to the Epson (no 3D, no CFI, and half the brightness).

Runco LS10d projector ($27,000+): This one is included to make the point, that a lot more money doesn’t mean any significant improvement in black levels. Think, instead that other things become more important.

Sony VPL-VW95ES ($6999): the Sony offers exceptional black levels using a dynamic iris to achieve them:

Sharp XV-Z17000 (direct competitor):

BenQ W6000, the W7000 predecessor:

Above: BenQ W7000 (left) sporting finished firmware, Epson 5010 on the right.

Shadow Detail Performance

No problem at all with the ability of the W7000 projector to show off very dark shadow detail. You’ll find the BenQ in the image below holds its own with just about any of the other images, when viewing those bushes on the right, behind the tracks, and the trees behind them.

Click Image to Enlarge

BenQ W7000 Image immediately below was photographed with the early W7000 firmware:

By comparison, here’s the W7000 (final firmware), in a side by side photo with the Epson on the right:

Epson Home Cinema 5010:

Exposures are never identical. Note that the Epson is a bit less overexposed than the Panasonic below it. You can also determine the better black levels of the Epson.

Panasonic PT-AE7000:

Epson Home Cinema 3010: Epson’s lower cost, $1599. Not an ultra-high contrast projector.

Optoma HD33: Lower cost, competes with Epson’s 3010 projectors, and not up to this contest.

Optoma HD8300:

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB: Still the black level champ of the projectors selling for under $3000. The better blacks definitely add some extra “pop and wow”, on these really dark scenes.

Mitsubishi HC4000: Excellent lower cost DLP projector, but no dynamic iris for improving blacks.

BenQ W6000 (ultra high contrast, 2D): The W7000 predecessor – no 3D.

Sony VPL-HW30ES: Really nice blacks, but like the Optoma HD8300, not quite up to the Epson’s blacks, nor the W7000′s shadow detail.

 

BenQ W7000
Epson Home Cinema 5010
Panasonic PT-AE7000:
Epson Home Cinema 3010
Optoma HD33
Optoma HD8300
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB
Mitsubishi HC4000
BenQ W6000
Sony VPL-HW30ES
BenQ W7000
+Epson Home Cinema 5010

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: BenQ W7000 Projector – Bottom Line Great job on shadow detail, but we need the new firmware for the final call on black levels.

BenQ W7000 - Overall Color & Picture Quality

Great looking colors and skin tones, great shadow detail. The BenQ really pops. One of my favorite projectors to watch for the price. I do like that DLP look. For those of you who have owned DLP projectors, you will appreciate this one. Skin tones look really good, perhaps not as natural as some fine projectors like the SIM2 I just reviewed (about $25,000), or even the Sony VPL-VW95ES ($7000), but it has more richness, for example, than the LCoS based Sony.

A mix of additional images to show off the BenQ W7000:

Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:

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