BenQ W10000 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
If you haven't figured it out by now, I really am impressed with the W10000 home theater projector. So far, it's the best overall 1080p projector reviewed. Of course there are a couple more contenders that will be reviewed in the upcoming month or two, but, as they say... so far, so good.
While the W10000 doesn't have the best color out of the box, it does do a good job. Minor adjustments using a basic calibration disk that almost any non-technical person can probably handle in an hour's time, is all that is needed to improve performance. For the real hard core afficianado, the W10000 is ISF calibrated, so, if you are dropping the "big bucks" on not just a projector, but screen, room furnishings, etc, you should seriously consider spending the roughly $1000 for a professional calibration to take the W10000 to its ultimate performance level.
Sharpness is excellent, and that's going to be a real plus with those of us who like large screens and/or like to sit close. This combines with a pixel structure that is effectively invisible at any normal seating distance (including my very close seating - of 11 feet to a 128" screen).
Placement flexibility is a mixed bag. Unfortunately the zoom lens had to be reduced to only a 1.15:1 zoom, from BenQ's PE-8720 which sported the same lens but with 1.35:1. On the other hand, this is the first 1080p DLP projector under $10,000 to offer full vertical lens shift.
Warranty, as noted is one of the best, if not the best in the industry, and that's more important, since is likely to be most people's "last projector" for the foreseeable future.
Before I start the usual list of Pros and Cons, here's a brief comparison against the BenQ W10000 home theater projector's major competitors:
Before I start, of the projectors compared below, only the Optoma and BenQ are DLP projectors. As a result, those are the only two that might lose a very small percentage of potential buyers due to the rainbow effect. Obviously, if you can see the rainbows, you will choose one of the other projectors that don't use color wheels.
BenQ W10000 projector vs. Panasonic PT-AE1000U
To me, this isn't a direct competition - too many differences. First of all, the Panasonic, being the least expensive 1080p projector on the market, is going to sell for almost $2000 less. It also has the advantage of placement flexibility with its wide range zoom and an unbelieveable amount of lens shift. Lastly, the Pansasonic has slightly better color accuracy out of the box.
After that, however, it's all BenQ W10000. Right off the bat, the W10000 is significantly sharper, which will be important to many. The BenQ also, in my opinion, produces a more vibrant image. And for those wanting every last ounce of performance, the BenQ is ISF certified, and has everything needed to be fully calibrated for your room, screen, lighting, etc.
The W10000 also can crank out more lumens in its best mode, enough to move up one or two sizes in screen. I've deemed it just fine for my 128" Stewart Firehawk, whereas I was barely satisfied with the Panasonic's brightness in its Cinema 1 mode, when using only about 106" diagonal of my screen. So brightness is another BenQ advantage. Note, the two are much closer in maximum brightness (lowest image quality) modes.
Is the the W10000 worth the extra almost $2000? I've got to say YES, if you have the budget, and it works in your room, overall, I would say go for it. Of course, you must decide your priorities.
BenQ W10000 projector vs. Mitsubishi HC5000
Now this is a much more interesting comparison. The Mitsubishi, an LCD powered 1080p projector has the advantage again, in placement flexibility, with its 1.6:1 zoom and more lens shift than the BenQ W10000. It also is comparable to the W10000 in sharpness. Perhaps its biggest advantage, however is price. With a MAP of $4495, it is likely to be about $1200 less than the BenQ (+/- $200).
Although I think the HC5000 is a great projector, and that few would be disappointed, my take is that overall, the BenQ does produce a slightly better picture.
The BenQ has several things in its favor, enough for many to easily rationalize the price difference. First of all, it definitely delivers better overall black levels (although shadow detail is pretty much a tie.) In dark areas on scenes with some very bright areas, the BenQ has a significant advantage in black levels, although in scenes that lack any bright areas the two are close.
Also tied to this is the advantage the BenQ has in achieving very good black levels without a dynamic iris. The Mitsubishi's dynamic iris is sometimes detectable during scene changes, or the addition or subtraction of a bright area in one scene. Many may not notice this, or more likely never be concerned about it on the Mitsubishi, but it is another plus for the W10000
Perhaps the biggest difference to some, will be pixel visibility, since the HC5000 is LCD, its pixels are inherently more visible. But, since it's 1080p, people sitting at most normal distances won't have a problem. The pixel visibility was just barely visible in credits at my seating distance, but projecting a smaller image in the 106" diagonal range. So, if you like to sit fairly close, the BenQ has this advantage as well.
Like many, I generally find that DLP projectors tend to be more film-like. What causes that is up for debate, as several factors are involved, but I'll stick with my preference for DLP projectors.
The BenQ W10000 also has that extra year warranty, and the first year replacement program in its favor.
Is the W10000 worth the $1000 plus difference (assuming it works in your room in terms of placement)? My vote is yes, but if your budget is not able to stretch for the W10000, the Mitsubishi - all else being equal, is a great alternative.
BenQ W10000 projector vs. Optoma HD81
I'll say only a few words here, as the HD81 is due in any day, and I will get the chance to run them side by side. Historically (in my humble opinion), the BenQ projectors have produced slightly sharper images than competing Optomas. By comparison, the Optomas tended to have richer colors in dark areas. Whether this remains true between these two is a question I'll be able to answer in the HD81 review.
The Optoma HD81 is using Gennum image processing, which I regard highly (Marantz has been using Gennum for several years, in much more expensive projectors), and may have an edge in image processing (noise, artifacts, etc.) not that the BenQ has any overt issues. The Optoma also has a big advantage in handling inputs, with its outboard processor and 3 HDMI inputs, etc. By comparison, the BenQ is pretty basic - one HDMI, and two component video (or one component, one analog computer). The extra inputs may be an advantage for those who do not have a receiver that has multiple HDMI and component video inputs and switching. (That can be solved by switchers that cost, typically $250 or more.) Of note, using an outboard processor like the HD81's means everything hooks up to the processor by the rest of your gear, and only a single digital cable runs from the processor to the projector. This can save some time and money with your installation.
The Optoma also claims 200 more lumens, that of course will be measured when it arrives.
The BenQ W10000 on the other hand has a big advantage in placement flexibility. True, there is virtually no difference (and the Optoma has the slight advantage in zoom lens ratio), but the Optoma, first, lacks any lens shift, so it needs to be mounted significantly above the top of your screen, or well below the bottom. With the BenQ, the projector can go anywhere from even with the bottom to even with the top, which also makes it viable for shelf mounting.
The BenQ also has the longer warranty, and looks to be selling for about $1000 less.
I won't pick a winner just yet, here, although, placement issues aside, the HD81's going to have to be really really good, to be worth the difference.
BenQ W10000 vs. Sony Pearl VW50
I still haven't seen the Pearl outside of Sony's fully darkened theaters at trade shows. The Sony will have a pricing advantage, probably of $1500 or so, for careful shoppers. The Sony uses 3 LCOS chips (Sony markets them as SXRD), and traditionally LCOS designs have a soft looking image. I do know that other reviewers have commented that the sharpness of the Sony and the Panasonic are very similar.
The BenQ therefore, should have a big advantage in sharpness. In addition the Sony is not considered a bright projector, probably at best, as bright as the Panasonic, so the BenQ can definitely support larger screens or more ambient light.
That's about all I can say until I get a Sony in to play with.
BenQ W10000 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Performance
- Extremely sharp image
- Brighter than most other 1080p projectors
- Very good black levels
- Good color out of the box (could be better)
- Lens shift for better placement flexibility
- Very good remote control
- ISF Certified (if you are really serious, get the W10000 professionally calibrated by an ISF calibrator)
- Support for 24fps (1080p/24) without adding 3:2 pulldown
- Great warranty - best around
- Multiple user saveable modes, as well as ISF Day and ISF Night (for calibrators only)
- Very good build quality
- Premium performance for a very reasonable price
- Effectively invisible pixels
- Lamp can be changed without unmounting a ceiling mounted projector
- 12 volt screen trigger (for equipped motorized screens)
- Low image noise
- Sealed light path
- Good shadow detail
- Comment - BenQ will also be introducing a motorized anamorphic lens in the very near future, for those that want to go full Cinemascope with their screens and not have letterbox.
- Lens has very limited zoom range (1.15:1)
- Only 1 HDMI input (overall very basic selection of inputs)
- Manual could use better explanation and (more) detail about use of certain functions
- Leaks light out the front (although extremely low levels, it's not detectable if looking for it, even with light walls around the screen, and a black image on the screen)
- One of the larger projectors out there (might be a problem for someone)
W10000 Typical Capabilities
- User Manual
- Audible noise levels (certainly very acceptable, but noiser than LCD competitors)
- Requires occasional filter cleaning
- Average lamp life
Note, this full frame image above, is also posted on the Panasonic PT-AE1000U review for comparison.
They say the guy who fell of the top of the Empire State Building was heard saying all the way down: "So far, So good". I am reminded of that, because so far, the BenQ W10000 is the best (affordable - under $10,000) overall 1080p projector we have reviewed. Over the next 2 - 3 months we will have, several additional reviews, including the Optoma HD81 which will post by December 20th. We hope to also get in the Sony Pearl, and a JVC D-ILA projector that isn't even scheduled to ship until Feb. 2007.
The combination of a really sharp image, a bright, vibrant image even in "best mode" very good black levels, rich colors, lens shift, very good, (not exceptional)l out of the box color, and the ISF calibration option, make the W10000 a standout product. Only zoom lens range is a limiting factor for some. My impression is that the W10000 "so far" is the best affordable 1080p projector out there.
There are less expensive 1080p models out there, but in terms of image quality, the BenQ overall has the advantage. The price is reasonable, and the price/performance has to be considered very good, at least.
As noted I'm a current owner of the very similar 720p PE-8720 projector and have been extremely pleased with it since I got it. It's definitely looking like I'm going to replace my 8720 with the W10000. The Panasonic isn't a contender nor is the Mitsubishi, they're just aren't bright enough for me, along with some other issues, and from all I hear the same is true of the Sony.
I will however put off my decision, at least until I get the Optoma HD81 in in a couple of days.
I'm just like many people; placement is a problem in my room, my 8720 is shelf mounted in the back, and due to the more limited zoom range of the W10000, I'm going to have to extend my shelf another 16 inches, but since my wife will let me... The point is, despite the extra hassle, I consider the W10000 good enough for me.
Note - unless I can talk SIM2 into GIVING me a nice 3 chip 1080p ($49,995). Fat chance.
Like most of you, I'll just have to wait a few more years until those 3 chippers come down to prices for normal folks.
If your budget can take you over $5000, put the W10000 at the top of your shopping list. It's at the very top of mine!