BenQ W7500 Home Theater Projector Review
BENQ W7500 PICTURE QUALITY PAGE 3: 3D, Overall Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
I thought I’d repeat some of my thoughts about 3D that already mentioned in the Special Features section of this W7500 projector review, and also add some additional thoughts.
The first, most striking thing about the W7500 is its lack of obvious crosstalk. That is a distinct advantage of single chip DLP projectors.
One thing I’m not happy with. While BenQ has come out with lighter 3D glasses over the last year or so, and while the current glasses are now rechargeable, they are still using DLP-Link technology where the syncing info is added to the image. You can notice that when in 3D mode, the black areas are dark red instead of black – the sign of DLP-Link, best I can tell.
What I will state is this, when I have had the opportunity to view a projector that can run DLP-Link or a newer alternative (Mitsubishi HC8000D for one), DLP-Link has consistently disappointed, in terms of image dynamics and black levels.
Therefore I will conjecture, that there are other DLP projectors, as well as many projectors using other technologies (RF and some IR), that do provide a superior picture in that regard.
But what about the color – when watching 3D on this BenQ projector?
Like with most projectors doing 3D, color accuracy has not been a strength. For those that would like their 3D to have color accuracy approaching that of a good projector calibrated in 2D, a serious calibration is going to be needed. For example, mostly skys viewed in 3D tend to be more light blue turquoise than the traditional blue we all associate with a blue sky on planet earth. Skin tones seem a bit thin, and when watching the last Star Trek movie in 3D, the gold-yellow shirts tend to be more mustardy yellow with green in them.
In other words, the color in 3D on the BenQ is not good – compared to good 2D color. On the other hand, it’s somewhat typical. Even Epson’s 3D THX mode needs real work in terms of color accuracy, and the $15K Sony VW600ES’es color in 3D also is no match for what we have come to expect for 2D viewing.
Thus, score the BenQ this way in 3D:
- Clean signal – no crosstalk (unless bad content)
- 3DColor could use serious improvement
- Compared to many competitors, 3D lacks the pop – dynamic range
- No 3D glasses included in the price
Ultimately, though, 3D is still a blast. I’d describe the color accuracy of the W7500 relative to its closest competitor, the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB by saying it’s closer to the Epson’s 3D Dynamic, than to Epson’s 3D THX or 3D Cinema. That said, the BenQ is a bit brighter than the two better Epson modes, while the 3D Dynamic is definitely brighter than the W7500 by a greater margin.
When it comes to fixing the color, the tools to calibrate in 3D color are just reaching the market. I do not know yet when we might be ready to start calibrating 3D or even if there’s enough demand, but it’s probably going to be late 2014 or 2015… We shall see.
W7500 Overall Picture Quality
All considered, the W7500 scores really well for its price point when it comes to overall picture quality. There are some very good strengths, and a few areas ripe for improvement, but no glaring issues at all.
As a projector for general HDTV, and especially sports, the W7500 is tough to beat, as it’s one of the brightest “serious” home theater projectors near the price, and it’s exceptionally sharp (thanks to good optical design, and the inherent advantage of bing a single chip DLP.
While out of the box color is definitely very good, calibration makes for easily visible improvement. My issue here is that while the W7500 projector looks great on paper post calibration, it didn’t calibrate as well as I expected, skin tones, not quite as natural, etc. Now, this quite likely isn’t the projector. Understand, give 3 calibrators the same projector, and when they are done, the final results will all be a bit different, (but better than pre-calibration – or so we hope). That’s why I plan to have Mike the Calibrator take a second look at it when he gets back for vacation.
I’m really not a big fan of Mike calibrating these projectors with Brilliant Color on, but it does provide maximum brightness (calibrated), and according to him, like most others, the inherent starting grayscale balance and color gamut of the W7500 is better with Brilliant Color on, than off. And since there’s also a lot more lumens…it makes sense.
Fortunately, the W7500 (unlike some others) with Brilliant Color operating, isn’t over the top. Lots of pop, but artifacts are under control. A close look at skin tones, for example may show a limited color palette available. We see this sometimes dramatically on some lower priced Optoma projectors, when they have BC cranked up. Here the overall picture is still pretty clean, there’s lots of pop to the image…
3D is crosstalk free, color, as just mentioned above, is definitely off, but I have yet to see a projector, including the $15,000, 4K resolution Sony VW600ES, with really accurate color in 3D.
Getting down to the other things that matter, dark shadow detail is excellent, about as good as any, however, black level performance, while really good, is a step below the tougher direct competition, which includes Epson’s UB projectors, the Sony, and the JVC closest in price. Epson’s Pro Cinema 4030 – a step down from the UBs), which nets out for less than the W7500 (you get a free ceiling mount, longer warranty, spare lamp, and 2 pair of glasses for $2499, rivals the BenQ projector in terms of blacks. Panasonic’s popular PT-AE8000U, in its second year, is another that’s comparable in terms of blacks, but has its own advantages and disadvantages compared to the W7500 projector.
Add all of it up, and the W7500, when it comes to the picture, is a strong competitor. You’ll have to decide which differences matter the most – black levels, inherent sharpness, color accuracy, etc.
I’ll say this. There isn’t a projector under $4000 that we’ve reviewed to date, that is truly superior to the W7500 in most important ways. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but it certainly is a contender, and it is the best competitor, I can think of, without spending a lot more, that uses DLP technology. It’s good to have a serious DLP projector to slug it out with the Sonys, JVCs, Epsons, Panasonics – all using other technologies. Single chip DLP projectors these days are mostly sub-$2000, really mostly sub $1500, or very expensive ones such as those from Runco or SIM2. As those pricey DLP projectors are all $10,000 plus we won’t worry them here.
As a history lesson, eight or ten years ago, Runco’s “entry level” (over $10,00) projectors were OEMs from BenQ. Runco would put in better optics, and improve on the image processing, but they were still primarily BenQ.
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