BenQ W7000 Home Theater Projector Review

The Very Bottom Line on the BenQ W7000 projector:

Having been playing with the finished W7000 firmware (2/18/2012) for a dozen+ hours, I’m prepared to finally position the BenQ in terms of quality, and value.

The W7000 is a light canon, when it comes to 2D viewing. If you run its “best” mode, with Brilliant Color On, this projector is about twice as bright as most of the competition, and even with BC turned off, none of the projectors near its price can beat it for sheer brightness when calibrated. This makes the W7000 a first class choice for all of you who are into large screens. Even a 140″ screen, with say, a typical 1.3 gain, isn’t a challenge for the W7000 after calibration. By comparison, the Epsons and Panasonic can’t get close. Even the LCoS and other DLP competitors, come up very short in terms of brightness when calibrated.

But, you aren’t just considering the BenQ W7000 projector as a 2D movie projector only. For the rest of 2D viewing, it’s hard to beat, not only the brightness, but also the sharpness. Note, please, BenQ’s Clarity control (default is 7) is way over the top. If you want some dynamic sharpening, you really need to drop that setting to 2, or maybe 3. At 7, everything is oversharp, and color edges are standing out and shifting white. No worries, just turn it down. The BenQ 2 setting, is still a bit more than Super-Resolution set for 3 on the Epson. Purists, will not use either projectors’ dynamic sharpening.

3D could still be a bit brighter, for my tastes, this projector is not going to fill that 140″ screen adequately in 3D, even if it can do so without effort in 2D. On the other hand, like the Epson, Panasonic, Acer, the BenQ has enough lumens to do a 100″ diagonal screen in 3D without making you think “dim” on a lot of content.

Value and Quality: First, if DLP is your thing and $2500 your general price range, the BenQ would seem to be your best choice. Note – first timers – that many folks that have owned DLP models, then switched to LCoS or 3LCD, “miss” the DLP “look and feel.” I tend to be one of those people. Still, that DLP feel is only one aspect of the image quality. For those of you who tend to be rainbow sensitive, the W7000 is about as clean as they come. I have to work to spot a rainbow with this projector, and I’m definitely “rainbow sensitive”.

If DLP isn’t your specific thing, this W7000 is still going to be one of the best choices out there. Assuming its merely “good” placement flexibility doesn’t pose any problems in your room, the W7000 has to be thought of as right up there with the Epson, the Panasonic, and the much more expensive JVC RS45 overall, and not one of them can challenge the W7000′s brightness.

I’m glad BenQ finally got the firmware finished. That they started selling W7000′s with firmware that still needed some improvement, does raise a question or two, but that sort of thing happens all the time, especially with companies expected to have a new projector lineup to offer, every 12 months. The important thing, though, is that BenQ has promised to get everyone upgraded to the new firmware. BenQ’s rep for following up, is one of the best, as I’ve described in other reviews.

Meantime, if you’re shopping now, the finished “firmware” is what’s out in dealer hands. I learned, for example, that one of the dealers who is a heavy advertiser on our site, has already had BenQ send out replacements for the earlier projectors in their inventory. They now have W7000s with the same firmware as I’m working with now, as of mid-February.

 

Ultimately, I’m loving the pop, and wow factor of the BenQ W7000. That DLP look on those darker scenes where DLP projectors already tend to excel, really works for me. Even the projector or two out there, that can just slightly best the W7000 in dark shadow detail, really do not, on those all dark scenes, manage to have more pop, than the BenQ. That pop, folks, is s a key reason to want great blacks – dark scenes “pop”, while projectors with so-so blacks tend to look flat and dull.

Above: BenQ W7000 (final firmware) on left, Epson Home Cinema 5010 on the right. Overall, the W7000 image is a touch brighter than the Epson, while the Epson has the slightly blacker blacks.

Click Image to Enlarge

Not this BenQ. Put it on your short list, start it near the top. And if you are a really big screen person, start it at the top of your list of projectors in this price range. Then, goo ood luck in finding something to knock it off.

A Hot Product Award goes to the W7000 for simply being an excellent overall projector in 2D and 3D, but one that has all the competition beat for viewing movies with calibrated color on a really large screen.

I plan to be switching back and forth between the W7000 and the Epson Home Cinema 5010,until the next projector arrives for review. (That should help me sort things out when it comes to issuing the Best In Class awards. All considered, I’m impressed with the W7000. This finished W7000 is truly a major improvement over the engineering sample, and a top projector overall.

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