BenQ W7000 Home Theater Projector Review

The images in this review are taken with the W7000 projector projecting onto a Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. That’s only the beginning though:

The projected image -any shifts due to the camera, (a Canon 60D dSLR), a Mac laptop for cropping and resizing, etc, using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, then saved “for web” (super compressed), and displayed with your graphics card, monitor, and browser all, further coloring the BenQ W7000 photos. In other words, they are useful only to a point, as colors are not going to be all that accurate. Rest assured, the BenQ W7000 will look far better in your darkened theater, than these images will ever look on your computer monitor.

With each review we find that the entire batch of images takes on a touch of coloration. We won’t get into the “why that is” here, but in the case of the BenQ W7000 projector, overall, the finished images in this case seem to have taken on a slight yellowish cast to them, that was not exhibited by the W7000 projecting on to the screen. It really is rather slight, but, definitely is there when viewing on my MacBook Pro. You might spot that touch of yellow shift in the shadows of skin tones for example. I can see some of that color shift, just going from the raw image to the compressed jpg final.

BenQ W7000 Out of the Box Picture Quality

For an engineering sample, the User 1 mode (which Mike calibrated) actually looked rather decent, not great. Let’s conjecture that full production W7000‘s will be even better, as BenQ has already confirmed they have improved the color tables on the newer firmware.

Update 2/27/12: The new W7000 with final firmware still only looks decent, right out of the box. I cannot say that the default color accuracy has improved. There’s still a pretty impressive difference between calibrated, and “right out of the box”. -art

Click Image to Enlarge

With that in mind, the color right out of the box isn’t bad, but, production software hopefully will be better, we noticed one issue in the color management, which BenQ advised has been corrected in the production firmware. (Update, that related to poor Cyan settings in the color management system. Those have been changed, but that had no real impact on out of the box color.)

Important note: Although we received a W7000 projector with the finished firmware, the vast majority of images in this review were taken, using the original engineering sample W7000, after it was calibrated. Exceptions are so noted.

We have not calibrated the new W7000 nor retaken any of the images not specific to black level performance, unless otherwise noted. There are a number of side by side images with the Epson 5010 scattered through the review. Most of those were taken using the uncalibrated new W7000. As a result, the color accuracy of those W7000 images is inferior to the originals, even though a calibrated, “new” W7000 will do better color than the calibrated engineering sampe. (Mike – our calibrator. is away for a month).

The new W7000, like the engineering sample, is not great “right out of the box”, though a touch better. The W7000 is a projector, that to fully enjoy its performance, should be calibrated!

BenQ W7000 Projector - Flesh Tones

We consider skin (flesh) tones in terms of how they look after a basic grayscale calibration. (This is something you can do yourself with some calibration software.)

The BenQ W7000 projector calibrated extremely well. The skin tones the W7000 displays are rich and accurate, as one would expect from a very good DLP projector.

The W7000 certainly has that “DLP” look and feel, and the skin tones do look the part.

Our first two (above and below) as usual, are Gandalf and Arwen, from the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. Unlike most projectors, the BenQ does pick up the greenish caste caused by the scene being shot in a very lush, green forest.

Below are three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first – full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, a nighttime photo. As one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond – Daniel Craig – to have different looking skin tones.

Of course there are more images showing skin tones throughout the review, but that concludes the sequence here.

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BenQ W7000 Image Quality Slideshow

Flesh Tones

Gandalf from the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings

Flesh Tones

Arwen from the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings

Flesh Tones

James Bond images from Casino Royale

Flesh Tones

James Bond images from Casino Royale

Flesh Tones

James Bond images from Casino Royale

Flesh Tones

Flesh Tones

from Quantum of Solace

Flesh Tones

from Quantum of Solace

Flesh Tones

Flesh Tones

Flesh Tones

Regarding Calibrating the W7000 Projector:

While the finished production W7000 is definitely better than the engineering sample, these side by side images below (W7000 vs. Epson 5010), show you the importance of getting the color right on the W7000. These side by side images are using the W7000 uncalibrated (left), and it is definitely off, compared to the same images elsewhere in the site, taken with the calibrated engineering sample. The calibrated Epson image gives a good reference of what the W7000′s color should be, post calibration:

And, here again, is the same image as immediately above (Bond – plane), taken with the calibrated W7000 engineering sample:

 

As expected, any calibrated W7000 will look closer in terms of color, to another calibrated projector – be it an Epson, or anything else properly calibrated), than to, in this case, an uncalibrated W7000. Again, the heavy green on the uncalibrated W7000 is way over the top, but a calibrated W7000 looks just great!

In the two images below, the first is from the BenQ W7000, taken, uncalibrated, “right out of the box”. In the second image, we dropped in the settings from the calibration of the engineering sample W7000. To my pleasant surprise, the full production W7000 took very nicely to the older color table. One exception. due to an anomoly Mike spotted with the sample projector, he felt forced to make some modifications to Cyan in the CMS. Well, the newer BenQ uses different defaults in the CMS, etc. Short of calibrating, I found very little difference, between the default Cyan on this full production one, and Cyan after adjustements on the sample. Bottom line, in observing the color, after applying our original calibration settings on the engineering sample to the full production W7000, the result looks really good. Thus, the settings we provide on the calibration page, should be a great start for those not prepared to hire a calibrator.

Here’s a quick look at “out of the box” color on the final W7000, followed by the W7000 using the calibration settings (except CMS), from the sample W7000:

Click Image to Enlarge
W7000 using "out of the box" color
W7000 using the calibration settings (except CMS)

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