BenQ W10000 1080p Projector Review - Image Quality
The W10000 performs! As noted on the overview, the W10000 lives up to my expectations. In many ways, it's just a higher resolution version of the PE-8720, with a sharper image and more detail. Since I was impressed enough with the PE-8720 to own one, you can understand why I am enthused by the W10000's performance. Let's get started, first with handling of flesh tones.
The W10000 home theater projector offers very good out of the box color. I found my evaluation unit to lean slightly towards the cool side (favoring blue) in its Cinema mode (designed for movies of course). Cooler temperatures are a better match for most TV/HDTV, however the Cinema mode is not quite that cool. It was very easy to adjust the Cinema setting to bring the color temperature down slightly to the desired 6500K to match normal DVD movie content. More on this in the calibration section.
The images below were taken after the minor adjustment I performed with my calibration equipment, however, the grayscale adjust I performed should be easily handled with a basic "end user" calibration disk, such as the AVIA disk which lists for only $50. I definitely would recommend picking one up when you buy your projector. If you are looking for perfection, however, with an investment in this price range, you may very well want to consider spending the $500-$1000 for a professional to fully calibrate your projector to get out every last bit of performance, including calibrating it to your room and screen. You will see a difference!
BenQ W10000 home theater projector -
Color handling of flesh tones
First the usual images from standard definition DVD's - from Lord of the Rings; Gandalf and Arwen, and from The Fifth Element - Leeloo, and Bruce Willis.
One more note: As I point out in all reviews, my digital camera cannot capture the full dyamic range of what the projectors put on the screen. If an image is properly exposed, the camera loses details in the shadow areas. Also, color accuracy from screen to camera to your computer screen, will shift colors a bit. So, remember, the images are here, to support the commentary, not the other way around. They have definite limits in helping you see the differences between different projectors' performance.
Please note, most of the images provided can be clicked on to view a larger version.
Flesh tones are consistently natural, and, at the same time, you will notice a level of detail not found on similar images shot of the many 720p projectors reviewed here.
Moving to Hi-Def images, first is the image of Carlota from Phantom of the Opera, from HD-DVD. From a natural flesh tone standpoint, this image looks about as good as any from the other projectors reviewed.
One of my new favorite HD-DVD's from the standpoint of great scenes to photograph, is AeonFlux (yep, another Sci-Fi flick). Unfortunately, it doesn't support the bookmark capability of the HD-DVD player, so from review to review, you will see similar, but not identical frames. Here are a couple of images from the movie.
Below is an image of Clint Eastwood, from Space Cowboys (also from HD-DVD). The flesh tones in this image run strongly to red in every projector I have photographed, so attribute it to the movie itself.
BenQ W10000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail
While the current generations of LCD projectors (and LCOS ones too), have to rely on a lot of fancy image processing to achieve good black levels, DLP projectors with the Darkchip3 DLP in them, inherently have a big advantage. The processing in the LCD's (often referred to as "AI") can actually produce black levels superior to a DLP projector on the right scenes - very dark ones with no bright areas - but they come up short on scenes that are a mix of a lot of dark area but still some very bright parts to them. Overall, I give the DLP projectors like the W10000 the advantage. In fairness, though, the differences are no longer really significant. While the W10000 can produce blacker blacks overall, the Panasonic PT-AE1000U and the Mitsubishi HC5000 (both LCD) can do a better job on a very dark scene without any bright areas.
Before I provide general images, I'll start with this star scene. I use this in the other recent reviews, including the Panasonic PT-AE1000U and the Mitsubishi HC5000. In both cases, there are two images, this frame, and another with those projectors' menus open. The bright menus prevent the AI from partially closing their dynamic irises, and therefore the black levels get much brighter, and stars start disappearing. With the BenQ, there is no dynamic iris, so I have only provided the standard shot (no menu) for comparison with the other two, since opening a menu has no effect.
Here's an old favorite, also from The Fifth Element. You'll also find this image on most reviews done in the last year.
Here's a different sort of image from the HD-DVD Phantom of the Opera. This was taken from the beginning of the movie and is in black and white, with lots of shadow details.
Moving on to shadow detail, I'll start with the same old images. The first is from Lord of the Rings. In the first image, the frame is normally exposed. In the image below it, I have seriously overexposed it so that you can see what detail the projector captures in the shadow areas along the bottom and in the shed on the right.
Not only is there plenty of detail, but note the rich colors that are present in the grasses, etc. In this regard, the W10000 does a significantly better job than most of the other projectors we have reviewed. (One notable exception is the Samsung SP-H710AE, a fairly expensive 720p DLP projector, which comes out of the box about as close to being fully calibrated as one could hope for. The Samsung sells for more than $3000 putting almost at the W10000's price point, even though it is only 720p resolution. The Samsung is great on shadow details but weak on black levels.)
A similar comparison, from Phantom of the Opera (HD-DVD). The first image is normally exposed, the second overexposed. You can clearly see the details in the stones and the frescos on the walls. The scene itself is very dark, as it is "candlelit."
Here are a number of additional images, including the first one, of Nancy dancing, from Sin City. Very good detail in the dark walls, and you can make out objects on the shelf on the right.
And now, some images from HD-DVD:
You'll note that in the image above, from Phantom, the BenQ W10000 projector does an especially good job of providing shadow detail in the glove and the top of his coat, compared to other projectors where I have provided the same image.
I also call your attention to the first image from Phantom (the 5th image in the flesh tones section above), which is also repeated about two paragraphs below. Another good place to look for shadow detail is on the left side, you can make out faces and more. Since this image is on all reviews since mid-summer, you can easily compare.
BenQ W10000 General Color Handling
Overall color handling is excellent! Of course, as mentioned the out of the box color is good, but minor user calibration improves them. Below are a number of images to give you a good idea of the BenQ W10000's capabilities. As I am moving more and more to Hi-def content in my reviews, I'll start this section off with images from movies on HD-DVD. (Don't worry, those of you who haven't bought an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player yet, I'll keep providing images from standard DVD on future reviews for probably at least a year.)
The combination of good color handling, and respectable brightness even in the Cinema mode, provides a dynamic looking image - one that "pops" off the screen. Some projectors by comparison, appear "flat". For example, I found that the BenQ W10000 definitely provided a bit more dynamic viewing than Panasonic's PT-AE1000U, even when I used the manual iris on the BenQ to adjust the BenQ's brightness to match that of the Panasonic. (I did not have the Mitsubishi in-house when the W10000 arrived to do any side by sides, however, I have the Optoma HD81 arriving soon and will have an overlap for doing comparative images.)
The term I would use to describe the BenQ's overall color handling would be "vibrant".
Let's start with HD-DVD images, repeating the Phantom image of Carlota:
Of course there are a number of other images scattered about this review, to give you more samples.
Time to consider non-movie content from HDTV. As usual, I have only done a grayscale adjustment (and brightness/contrast) on the Cinema mode. The images below, show the W10000 home theater projector's output in the significantly brighter (and different color temperature) Family Room mode, which most will choose for TV/sports viewing. Colors are off a bit, and this mode is "pushed" to fight ambient light. A quick user calibration of this setting will definitely improve the colors slightly.
All of these images, unless noted are with moderate room lighting, from 4 halogen ceiling lights. In a couple, you can light hitting the top of my speakers and painting, just below the screen. As usual, the walls, speakers, etc., appear much darker than in real life, as the camera is set to expose the brighter image on the screen.
The first two images are from Discovery-HD channel (hope you like birds), followed by an image from a college football game.
BenQ W10000 Home Theater Projector - Sharpness and Detail
As usual, sharpness is of concern to most home theater projector buyers. And it's still an area where there are visible differences in sharpness from one projector to the next.
Of course, here we are working a 1080p projector, so you can expect both a sharper, and more detailed image than lower priced 720p projectors, and that is why people are choosing 1080p.
Again, I point out, that having the extra resolution of 1080p is of greater benefit with a projector system than a plasma, LCDTV or Big Screen TV. Afterall, you are looking at a far larger image, and probably still sitting no further away, than if you had a 50" plasma.
We are into projectors, for the theater-like immersion that makes the other sets seem like kitchen sized TV's by comparison. Therefore, I heartily endorse 1080p projectors, and have been waiting patiently to upgrade to one.
I'll start off by saying that the BenQ is very sharp. This was expected. The sharpness of their PE8720 was a key reason I chose that projector, so I fully expected this projector to do more of the same, while producing a higher resolution image on the screen. I was not disappointed.
The first image below is a closeup of the same HD-DVD shot of Carlota from Phantom, that you have seen above. In this case I zoomed in to the necklace. Directly below that, you will find a similar image from the Panasonic PT-AE1000U, and after that, the Mitsubishi HC5000.
You'll note immediately that there is a very visible difference between the W10000 and the Panasonic. Comparing the W10000 against the Mitsubishi, is more interesting. Initially the Mitsubishi appears to be slightly sharper, however if you look closely, try to make out how much of that "apparent" sharpness is actual detail from the image, compared to the slightly visible pixel structure. It has always been said that LCD projectors appear sharper than DLP, and a key reason one gets that impression, is not that they actually are (its more, model by model), but rather the more visible pixel structure, that gives the impression of more sharpness. Try to ignore differences in brightness and contrast, as they impact what you see, but that's due to slightly different exposures, etc. Let's look: (and of course, click, to enlarge). You'll need to view the enlargements to compare, as compressing the images down to the screen size below destroys some of the differences, as the images are too low resolution to capture the differences.
Next are images shot side by side with the Panasonic on the left, and the W10000 on the right. The first is an image from AeonFlux, from 1080i HD-DVD. (Don't worry about color differences, these were taken before the W10000 was calibrated.)
Below it, are enlargments of the two images, with the W10000 first, and the PT-AE1000U second. You can click on each to open up the usual much larger images for comparison. Of particular note, look at her eyes, and also details in her hair.
Next are three thumbnail images of Gandalf from standard DVD (480 resolution), again, the W10000 is first. Click to enlarge and compare.
HC5000: (note this is a slightly different frame, than the two images above, and also appears to be a bit lower in contrast.) -art
Note in the Gandalf images the differences in detail in his face, not just the eyes sharpness, but the texture of his nose and cheeks and detail in the hair. Enough difference exists between these images for you to easily see. Remember of course, without side-by-side comparisons, the Mitsubishi and BenQ are very similar, but with the Panasonic coming up short.
For our last pair, it's the BenQ W10000 projector against the Panasonic, again. The image in use is from Space Cowboys, another HD-DVD. The images are slighly cropped to begin with, and you may click to enlarge both. A quick note, regarding settings of the W10000: Default on sharpness is at 3, which is oversharpening. I would recommend 1. I believe the W10000 image below, like the Gandalf image above was shot at the original 3.
I'll just toss in a couple more images for your perusal, but it's time to move on to the General Performance section of the W10000 projector review.
Note, in the image above, from The Italian Job (HD-DVD), the enlargement is cropped, so that this image can be used in the future for sharpness examples. Of particular note is the sign next to the lampost, and the details in the masonry.