BenQ W1070 Projector - Image Quality
1/6/13 - Art Feierman
Before we get into discussing the picture quality of BenQ's W1070, our usual comments on the color accuracy of the images:
A lot of processing goes on from the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the BenQ W1070 images on your computer screen. As a result, these images are reasonable indications, but not accurate enough for comparing precise color, saturation and other aspects. Note: Selected images relating to shadow detail, and especially black level performance can be very effective at demonstrating how the W1070 positions itself compared to other home projectors. Different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software, all affect how the image looks on your screen.
One more thing. Sadly, I wasn't paying enough attention during one of the photo shoots. You will find many of the HDTV images to be a touch soft. That's due to my adjusting the projector's zoom a bit, and was a touch too quick refocusing. My bad. The projector is very nicely sharp for the price, as you can see from other images.
1/6/2013 - Art Feierman
All home theater projectors, including this BenQ W1070, should definitely looks much better live at your place, than any of our images would indicate. Yet some of these images really do look great!
BenQ W1070 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Impressive, especially for an entry level priced 1080p projector. While we did calibrate the projector, it looks pretty good even in default modes such as Cinema and User 1, as well as Standard. Dynamic is, as expected, heavy on green, but not near as much as some other projectors. If you are dealing with a lot of ambient light, you'll want to switch to Dynamic. Just don't expect good skin tones, even if it is watchable.
BenQ W1070 Projector - Skin Tones
Shockingly good. This BenQ is one of those rare projectors whose picture tends to both look good, and be forgiving. The BenQ really is a projector that you can take out of the box, turn on, and most people will have no problem with the color or the picture in general.
Lo-def TV, which I generally avoid like the plague, even looks reasonably good on color, even if as expected, it's not as vibrant as HDTV.
Post calibration the skin tones have to be considered very, very, good. No, maybe not, maybe I should say truly excellent!! I could get away with "excellent" but for one thing. As is the case with most single chip DLP projectors, this BenQ W1070 has Brilliant Color. BC is a suite of "adjustments" to the image. BC comes from TI, the maker of DLP chips. It's a system that can be customized by each manufacturer.
But, as noted on the first page, the color palette shrinks, contrast goes up with BC. Turn it off for a more natural image. The thing is, it will calibrated slightly differently. Thus you could use one User for calibrating with Brilliant Color On, and another with it off. If you've got the gear to calibrate, or the money to spend. If you are happy with BC on, try our calibration settings - they sure worked great for us.
Let's look at some assorted images, starting with good examples of skin tones. Above and below, our usual suspects - Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, on Blu-ray.
As is usual, we have three James Bond images from Casino Royale, to demonstrate that skin tones vary a lot in different lighting conditions. Here we have full sunlight, the second image is indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes noticeable changes in the skin color. In each scene, considered by itself and the setting, the skin tones are believable. But when you look at, for example, the second and third, the visible difference in the color is significant.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
Leeloo, of course! (The Fifth Element):
I should note that The Hunger Games has some exceptional Cinemaphotography. You'll find about a dozen images in this report from that movie.
Below Cima - a great character from The Hunger Games. His image looks spectacular, an impressive feat for such a low cost projector.
Below - The Star Crossed Lovers - The Hunger Games, and Iron Man
BenQ W1070 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
We start with black level performance as usual. The BenQ W1070 is neither a $3000 projector nor can it produce the kind of blacks we expect from those far more expensive (at the very least - twice the price - but typically $2500+).
OK, so now you know this isn't a great dedicated home theater projector. Still, some nights you'll want to turn out all the lights and watch a great movie with the best possible picture. I'm pleased to report that black levels are very good for the price range. The W1070, not only outperforms a number of similarly priced DLP projectors (2D and 3D ones), but it offers better blacks than the Epson Home Cinema 3020 even with that projector's dynamic iris engaged. That projector is half again more expensive.
I've watched a few movies in the last month in the theaters. Most recently Les Miz. Considering the ambient lighting level in the theater (here in California), I can say that the W1070, in a fully dark room, has better blacks than Les Miz did in a large Regal theater.
Epson Home Cinema 3020e ($1899)
Acer H9500BD (below) - this projector shared our Best In Class award last year, with the older HC3010. As was the case last year, the Acer - which had the best black levels in the price range, still does a better job on blacks than the newer W1070:
Optoma HD33: (2D, 3D)
Optoma HD23: (Different than the HD33, and 2D only) neither are a match for the BenQ
Panasonic PT-AR100U projector: (2D only, $1199) The BenQ is better at blacks.
Mitsubishi HC4000: An OLD favorite (3 year old projector), that was one of the best at blacks (a bit more expensive)
Sony VPL-HW50ES (LCoS projector $3,699): This is what you want. A massively overexposed starship, while the letterbox and the black of space is still very dark.
Vivitek H1080FD ($899):
BenQ W7000: The BenQ is more of a home theater projector than a home entertainment one. It definitely does better on blacks - it is one of only two under $2000 reviewed projectors so far, that we consider "ultra high contrast."
Shadow Detail Performance
Below is a favorite image for looking at dark shadow detail. It's also a good test of black level performance. As already noted, the black levels of the W1070 are very good for a non "ultra-high-contrast" projector. Dark shadow detail of the W1070 projector is excellent.
Note the details in the dark of the woods on the right, and easier, look at all those shrubs on the other side of the tracks on the far right. Wow! OK, it's easier to see the darkest shadow detail on projectors that lack super-dark blacks, but this shadow detail is great even for a projector with only good black level performance.
Epson Home Cinema 3020: There may be some color shifts, but the shadow detail is about identical.
Acer H9500BD ($1595): Much better blacks, not as good on shadow details
BenQ W6000 (ultra high contrast, 2D, $2000+):
Sony VPL-HW50ES: A big bucks top performer that's four times the price, and drastically better on blacks.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: W1070 Projector - Bottom Line
Wow! The BenQ W1070 isn't an alternative (when it comes to black level performance) to ultra-high-contrast projectors like the Epson 5020UB, Panasonic PT-AE8000U, or Sony VPL-HW50ES. But those are mostly $3000 range projectors. To my best guess, the least expensive projectors with visibly better blacks is the $1599 Acer and BenQ's 2D only, W6000, (the 3 year old 2D predecessor to the W7000), which is still available.
BenQ W1070 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
On everything but the darkest scenes, the BenQ produces a really enjoyable, watchable picture. I'm watching an NFL play-off game while working on this section of the review. The football field looks good, the artificial turf looks almost like grass, very believable. The skin tones on this broadcast seem to have the slightest touch of orange, but that's not something I found when watching movies or other HDTV content. Blame someone else, not the BenQ W1070 for that. The only real complaint would be the mediocre black levels. On the other hand, this is a family room projector, a home entertainment projector. It's expected to handle ambient light. Excellent black level performance seems to start on 3D capable projectors with only two projectors (so far) above $1600 and below $2000. That would be the Acer H9500BD and BenQ's higher end W7000.
Still, black level performance for the price is respectable, as note above. I watched John Carter in 3D on this BenQ last night. Lots of dark and very dark scenes. The W1070 produced very watchable dark scenes, but having also seen the movie on a $5000 JVC, there's a world of difference.
What really makes this W1070 projector's picture so impressive, is the brightness. I usually drop in a couple of images of how the roon is set up on the Performance page when discussing brightness, but this time, I'm putting them right here. Why?
Because I'm able to watch this game with the side window shutters full horizontal. That's letting in the maximum amount of light from a large window just to the side. Remember, I'm using a Studiotek 130, a great screen, but not one designed to help at all with side ambient lighting.
So check these two images out. I've got the rear side door open (a large skylight out there), back shutter partially open, but a whole lot of light coming in from the side window, and the door opposite it.
What we have is still a good looking football game, despite dealing with more ambient light, than I can normally with any projectors except the Epson's (from $1599) and the 2D only Panasonic PT-AR100U ($1199). The thing is, while those other three projectors are brighter still, they aren't near as bright calibrated. So, I can have great color and a medium amount (instead of the usual "modest amount") of ambient light.
I am impressed! Especially for $999 (give or take)!
A mix of additional images to show off the BenQ W1070:
Ultimate Wave Tahiti:
Note that the blacks of the ref's shirt below and the blacks in other football images, are not near as black as on the images above and below it. This is just a reminder that for all the football images and some other HDTV images, rear lights were on, and side and back window shutters were partially open, allowing a fair amount of ambient light to reach the screen in this image.
Above: From The Fifth Element, below Rue from Hunger Games
BenQ W1070 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
The W1070 looks drastically better than some of these HDTV images below that are out of focus. We will have them replaced mid-month.
There's a lot of good looking imagery on HDTV, starting with this screen image from this year's Victoria Secret Fashion Show:
The W1070 projector lacks CFI - Creative Frame Interpolation - often referred to as smooth motion. Of course, very, very few projectors under $2000 offer this feature, and none in the W1070's price range. As I've said, too many times, I consider CFI to be a nice feature to have, but one I, and most, can live without. That said, if a projector has it, I do use it for sports, and on some occasions, other HDTV.
BenQ W1070 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
Beautiful, especially considering the price of the projector. If you do something silly, like not focus the projector properly, you'll get some soft images as I did on HDTV, but, in reality, this is a sharp projector, and it's pretty good at holding sharpness from center to edge - better than a lot of the competition.
Mad Money: (sorry, I picked out a slightly overexposed image)
Below - a little Joe Walsh and Brian Paisley, anyone? This is one of the many HDTV images taken with a fair amount of ambient light hitting the screen.
Below, Mars Needs Moms (recorded off of HDTV)