BenQ W100 Digital Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
Definitely a Hot Product Award Winner, the BenQ W100 DLP powered digital projector performed extremely well , even for a pre-production unit. Designed for home theater (as an entry level model) it will work in your theater or family room as long as you have reasonably good lighting control.
The projector itself is extremely easy to setup and use, with the only real weakness in terms of setup, being the normal limitations of low cost DLP projectors, which is zoom lenses without a lot of placement range, and the lack of lens shift.
Best about the BenQ W100 is that it performs beautifully out of the box.
I usually rant, in almost every review, that you want to buy yourself a calibration disk to really maximize the performance of almost all home theater projectors. Colors are usually off enough, to really merit spending some effort to get the colors right. (Not that projectors are bad in terms of color, but there's nothing like having a projector produce flesh tones, and other colors, that look really right, without your having to fiddle around with them.) In the case of the BenQ W100, if the production models are consistant in performance to this W100, you can really skip the calibration disk, just plug in, and enjoy.
There are great many strengths to this projector and only a few complaints (which is impressive for what may be the lowest cost DLP home theater projector on the market, so lets take a look at the Pros and Cons:
- Excellent color out of the box
- Very quiet operation
- Extremely long life lamp for low cost of ownership
- Low power mode
- Very functional remote, with plenty of range and bright backlight
- Good selection of inputs (one digital - DVI, plus two component video, and the usual lower resolution inputs)
- Extra presets optomized for use as a business projector
- Small and light - in case you want to take it with you, and it even comes with a soft shoulder case
- Brighter than average
- Shadow detail (within the limits of its black levels)
- 4X seven segment color wheel, for rich colors and limiting the number of people seeing the rainbow effect to a tiny percentage
- It has settings and a speaker for use as a business projector
- Ease of use
- Price Performance
- Limited color controls (which fortunately aren't needed)
- Very limited range on zoom lens - although few entry level projectors are much better, the W100 is at the low end with only 1.15:1
- Black levels (for a low cost DLP projector - still much better than entry level LCD models)
- A little bit of loss of detail in near whites in the Movie, and Home Theater modes (minor)
- As a business projector it definitely comes up short, due to its low resolution, and lack of brightness compared to less expensive entry level biz projectors. Still, tax write-off anyone?
- Light leakage out the bottom
- Warranty - 1 year parts/labor
- Documentation (just guessing here, as I haven't seen the finished documentation), but BenQ's has never been that great (and I own one of their projectors)
- Styling - nothing to write home about - but a clean looking white "box"
As you can see, I'm having problems finding things to complain about.
From a standpoint of recommending this projector compared to the competition, here are a few thoughts. Up until now my favorite entry level HT projector has been the Optoma H27, which has been around since fall of 2005.
While I liked the old BenQ PE5120 (the W100's predecessor), it became somewhat obsolete because of only a 2X color wheel as competitors moved to 4X to minimize rainbow effect.
Of course InFocus has just replaced its popular Screenplay 4805 with the new Play Big (nice name?) IN72. This should be a real contender as well. We received our IN72 review unit yesterday, have already plugged it in briefly, and testing starts on it tomorrow. I would think that those are the three major players around the $1000 price point unless you consider all-in-one units.
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Of the three, the pricing probably will look like this: The Optoma H27 seems to be commanding right around $1000, while the InFocus close to its $1299 MAP pricing. The BenQ W100, however, is being positioned by BenQ W100 projector to be below $1000, and possibly at $899!
I'm going to attempt to get my hands on another Optoma H27 for a few days. After I complete the IN72 projector review, before end of May), and hopefully give the H27 a revisit, I plan to post a comparison review of these three projectors, designed to help you figure out which projector will best fit your specific requirements. There are so many subleties that affect what works best for each installation that no one projector even has a chance of being the best for everyone, and quite often, placement issues and brightness (as examples) can override other advantages.
Back to the W100. Summary: Low cost, excellent picture out of the box with no fiddling, easy to hook up, low cost of operation due to long lamp life, a typical warranty, and very quiet! Put all that together and it translates to great price performance.
What's not to like!