BenQ W1070 Home Theater Projector Review
Wow! 3D capable and 1080p, exceptional brightness and the promise of really good color! Sounds like a really nice, and expensive projector.
Not so. Allow me to introduce you to BenQ's W1070, the first 3D capable projector we've seen that we expect to be selling for under $1000! Officially the price is $999.
January 2013 - Art Feierman
BenQ W1070 Projector Overview
The BenQ W1070 is a Light Canon of a projector! Mind you, there's no official determination of how bright a projector has to be to be one, but I've referred, in the past to a number of projectors as light canons, that even in their brighest modes, can't match this 2000 lumen rated BenQ W1070 even after its calibrated.
This is a single chip DLP projector. A small one. Although you can find a few smaller home entertainment projectors that are smaller (all DLP) I can't think of a single 1080p LCD projector that isn't dramatically larger.
Physically the W1070 looks pretty cool, or at least cute! But, it's the picture that we really care about.
I have yet to see an official price. The projector is just starting to arrive in the US, even though it's been available in Europe and elsewhere for months. In the EU it's supposed to be $749 last I checked. It turns out that the official US price is $1099. It's the lowest cost 1080p 3D capable projector yet to grace our theaters.
The projector is just starting to ship in the US as this is published. 3D Glasses are not included. The official price for the glasses is $79. Even that is a little less than most others.
Contrast, it should be noted, is also a lot higher than most of the competiton, which should indicate respectable black levels for the price. Just don't expect too much in that regard, as projectors with great black levels are typically at least $2500. It's less of an issue in a typical family room type environment.
Let's take a quick look at some bullet point highlight, some specs and then we can get into the meat of this projector review!
BenQ W1070 Projector Highlights
- 2000 lumens bright - suitable for family/living/bonus rooms
- 3D Capable
- Higher contrast for better blacks, than most low cost projectors
- 10 watts of Audio, audio output
- Full color management controls, ISF certified
- Minimal lag times for great gaming
- Remote control
- Smart-Eco for energy efficiency (see more below)
- Very long lamp life (for low cost of operation)
- New lighter 3D glasses from BenQ (not included)
- Excellent warranty
- Lowest priced 1080p 3D capable projector we've reviewed so far
Specs for BenQ W1070
BenQ W1070 Price: $999
Technology: DLP single chip
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2000 lumens, 1711 lumens "best" mode after calibration, mid-point on zoom (brightest mode only slightly brighter)
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.3:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: Yes, vertical - limited
Lamp life: 3500 hours at full power, 6000 hours in smart eco mode
Weight: 5.84 lbs. (2.65 Kg)
Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor
View full specifications click here.
BenQ W1070 Special Features
3D looks very good. Before I get going on the BenQ's 3D I've got an interesting story (cautionary tale) before I go further. I've been having problems with one of my long cables of late, ordered in someone's "top of the line" cables (off of Amazon - I was in a real hurry), and when I put on John Carter in 3D last evening, all kinds of crosstalk and judder. Switched back to that truly (but 5 year old), top of the line cable - an Ultralink, and all that garbage went away. I confirmed that the problems also were there when I switched to an expensive JVC projector. BTW the issue was with Blu-ray 3D, side-by-side off of HDTV didn't seem to suffer.
If you think you are the type who will upgrade in a couple of years (maybe to a 4K projector when they become affordable), that's a killer reason for buying really good cables.
Back to the 3D performance. With a proper cable, crosstalk is a non-factor. I found watching 3D to be rather enjoyable and relatively bright. Color was pretty good (in 3D), I don't expect color as good as 2D, and we have never tried to calibrate 3D. The excellent brightness allowed me to put on some widescreen movies and fill my 124" diagonal. Not bad, watchably bright. At 100" diagonal there's plenty of lumens for 3D. Afterall, consider that 400 lumens is more than enough (with proper lack of ambient light) to watch a 100" screen. With over 1700 lumens calibrated, that's more than 4 times as much. 3D no longer costs 75% of brightness even if it does cost viewers a good bit more than half the brightness. Translated, this W1070 can do a great job in 3D on an average sized screen.
I was very pleased with HDTV 3D. Everything from a Penn State football game, and some little league baseball I recorded in 3D, to a National Parks tour of Arches, looked really good.
Below, the same image before 3D processing (Side-by-Side 3D format from HDTV.)
As a 3D image:
Color remained good even in 3D. Of course we never attempt to calibrate 3D, so I'm sure it could be improved. If we find a 3D calibration disc, at some point I'll have Mike calibrate some 3D modes on future projectors.
Overall, very good 3D, lots of brightness, and an almost total lack of rainbow effect (for me) make this W1070 the best lower cost DLP projector for 3D that I've played with.
In other words: I really like it!
BenQ 3D Glasses
As mentioned, they are optional.
BenQ's 3D glasses have gotten a lot lighter and less bulky that past generations (a really good thing). Still they could be lighter. Comfort is respectable (as good as the 3D glasses that come with the $4K, $6K and $25K Sony projectors). The glasses run on batteries. They are still IR, not RF. Many companies are switching to RF these days. The big difference? With RF, if you look away from the screen, you don't lose the 3D sync like you do with IR.
The power switch for the glasses is on the bottom of the left arm, near the front.
Overall, consider the glasses to be good.
Unlike some other newer glasses, these are not rechargeable. It runs on the usual small lithium type batteries, which will likely last around 100 hours between changing. (That's my guess.) That's a lot of movies in 3D. Enough for me to watch just about everyone I own, without needing to change a battery.
Gaming with the BenQ W1070
This is an excellent projector for gaming. Or so my hard core gamer, and star blogger, Pete tells us. You'll want to check out his detailed blog about his experience playing games on the BenQ W1070.
Here's a link directly to his W1070 blog:
Pete shows lag time results, gaming, and also, his own general take (review) of this projector. He's certainly less wordy than I.
Let it be noted that this is one of the few projectors that is nvidia 3DTV Play certified (for gaming, including 2D to 3D game conversion). There aren't many, and most are 720p projectors not 1080p like this BenQ!
W1070 Brilliant Color
This BenQ W1070 offers Brilliant Color. BC is a suite of "adjustments" to the image. BC comes from TI (Texas Instruments), the maker of DLP chips. It's a system that can be customized by each manufacturer. In some cases - like this BenQ, your choices are Off or On, with some others, I've even seen up to 10 levels of adjustment. That might even have been a very old BenQ, now that I think of it, I just can't recall.
While Brilliant Color - to some degree with any projector possessing it, tends to add pop, and brightness, it also reduces the naturalness of the picture a bit. The W1070 is no exception. That said, you won't notice a huge difference with this projector as you switch back and forth. In terms of picture quality that's a good thing, because the relatively brighter Brilliant Color is (compared to Off) with most projectors, the less faithful the image. With most projectors, not only is engaging Brilliant Color obvious, but upon close inspection, you can see that it can deteriorate the smoothness and limit the color pallette available for a skin tone. At its worse, BC can really take a good image and drastically alter it - not for the better. This BC implementation though isn't near that great. In some cases a projector in Brilliant Color is twice as bright as without, and that usually means brightness at the EXPENSE of picture quality. With the W1070, you get a boost in brightness and pop, but skin tones still look respectable.
Check out these Brilliant Color On vs. Off images below.
Notice that with BC on, the higher contrast around the eyes and the flattening of the colors (seems like less colors to create smooth gradations) on her right cheek. Definitely smoother and more natural on the lower image. Still, with BC on, the W1070 projector still looks good. Both were taken with the exact same exposure.
Full Color Management System - CMS
Not only does this BenQ have a proper set of controls for adjusting grayscale (Gain, and Bias for R, G, and B), but also a full CMS to individually tune each primary and secondary color. This is what you expect in expensive home theater projectors. Few under $2000 projectors offer all this.
W1070 ISF certification
The W1070 has two extra modes for a professional calibrator to use. They are password protected to keep You from messing up the settings. If you want to play, there are the two standard User modes. To my knowledge, BenQ could not have obtained ISF certification without the full CMS mentioned above.
W1070 Smart-Eco mode
BenQ is apparently using some smarts in their Smart-Eco mode. I never had to leave it. On really bright scenes it seems every bit as bright as full power, but on dark scenes it will save you lamp and power consumption. Think sort of light a dynamic iris, but lamp dimming. Not a new technology - lamp dimming, but a fine implementation. They indicate that switching to a darker scene can drop power consumption 40% or more. They mention up to 70% energy savings, but they fail to specify how to get that much (a pitch black image?) Seriously though. I'd recommend starting in Smart-Eco. Fool with the other two if you wish.
Yes, the W1070 has an internal speaker. 10 watts! That's a plus if you are moving it from room to room and a big home theater system isn't available in each. Oh, the sound quality is about what you wouild expect, no low bass at all, but not really tinny either. What is important is that it does generate a decent amount of volume. It may not shake the walls, but you will hear the action!
W1070 Lamp Life
Darn impressive!!! 3500 hours at full power isn't by any means the longest out there, there are now a number of 4000 hours and even a 5000. But BenQ also claims 6000 hours in Smart-Eco! That really is as long as I have seen, short of a solid state (LED/laser) light source.
And don't forget all those lumens. Unless you have a huge screen - lets say 130 inch diagonal or larger, no problem running in Smart Eco for 2D unless you have a fair amount of ambient light, and even then it's probably fine. As Smart Eco seems to be just as bright as full power, when it needs to. The only thing they don't make clear is if the 6000 hours is good in Smart-Eco or only in Economic. My guess is that Smart-Eco will end up with a lamp life inbetween those two numbers.