BenQ W1200 Projector - Image Quality
A lot of processing goes on from the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the BenQ W1200 images on your computer screen. As a result, these images are decent indications, but not accurate enough for comparing 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 W1200 positions itself compared to other home theater projectors. Different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software affect how the image looks on your screen.
Viewing the photo images on my MacBook Pro, the BenQ W1200, has picked up a very slight green tint that was not there when viewing the projector, (not a terribly uncommon thing).
I think it's safe to for me to say that all home theater projectors, including the BenQ W1200 definitely look better live, than in even the best looking images here might suggest.
5/26/11 - Art Feierman
BenQ W1200 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Cinema looks pretty good right out of the box, but for being a bit strong on reds (average color temp down around 6000K), compared to the ideal 6500K. Standard works well for sports and movies being a bit more towards blue, with a color temp just below 7000K. For the average non-enthusiast, those two color modes should look pretty darn good!
That is to say, sure, take one home, plug it in, and enjoy. Then, since few would calibrate a sub-$1500 projector (due to cost), we invite you to try the settings we publish for the W1200, on the Calibration page. For those who care about improving the color, it is likely that our W1200 settings will make enough difference to be a noticeable, yet not dramatic difference.
BenQ W1200 Projector - Flesh Tones
Pre-calibration, the Cinema or User 3 skin tones look reasonably good but just too much red. Personally, I favor the Standard and User 2 modes, they are a little cooler (shift away from red towards blue), but just slightly. Either actually looks reasonably good. The image is well saturated, and I might even have reduced color saturation a tad for best watching, but the W1200 (at least with 1.02 firmware - 1.03 is out there), doesn't seem to allow access to the color saturation when using an HDMI source (we use HDMI for all our movies and HDTV sources).
Skin tones after calibration of User 3 were definitely better. They looked notably more accurate, and a bit more natural to boot. On a lot of content, the skin tones looked a bit ruddy with the default settings. After adjustment, much better.
No problem with skin tones. For a sub-$1500 projector they are very good. Saturation (Color) could perhaps be dialed down a touch, especially if using a high contrast gray screen. But I was unable to adjust. Interestingly Mike said this ties to HDMI, but when he was playing with the many settings he thinks he was able to adjust it once? Well, perhaps firmware 1.03 allows that, or maybe not.
The point is, I now have some 50 hours of viewing on the projector, and I'm surviving quite nicely without dialing down the Color a minimal amount. Overall, the color feel of the projector is typical DLP. Rich colors, especially dark ones.
Above and below, our usual suspects - Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, on Blu-ray.
Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Patrick - to have different looking skin tones. All look pretty good!
More images we like for considering skin tones:
BenQ W1200 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
W1200 Black Level Performance
No surprise here. Our expectations were obviously modest - this is a standard DLP projector, one lacking a dynamic iris. If you are hunting great black level performance, you could look to other projectors, especially the W6000, BenQ's next more expensive DLP home theater projector.
And that is to say, that black level performance is definitely not enthusiast quality. The BenQ projector's blacks are typical entry level.
For a projector like the W1200, I don't see it worth worrying about whether the blacks are a touch better (or worse) say, than the Optoma HD20, the Viewsonic Pro8200, the Vivitek H1080. The issue is that none of these projectors has "superior" blacks. If that's your goal. You mostly need to shop at a slightly more expensive price point (close to $2000).
For comparison, we set up BenQ's W1200 against what is perhaps our favorite low cost DLP projector, the Mitsubishi HC4000. They are similarly priced, and the Mitsubishi, these days, may even be the lower priced online. In all of the side by side images, the Mitsubishi is on the left, the W1200 projector on the right.
In our first two image comparisons, you are looking at the same frame from The Fifth Element - of the starship. In the second one, we turned the image to grayscale so the color differences don't distract. In that one you get a better idea of how close the two projectors are in brightness, relative to black levels.
Next we have the night train scene from Casino Royale (this one was taken several seconds earlier than usual, but that doesn't matter for a side by side comparison).
The image above gives you a good feel for black levels and a great indication of how well the projector does on dark shadow detail. Look for details in the shrubs on the right and in the trees higher up on the right. Definitely a difference with the HC4000 doing a slightly better job. Even the W1200 is doing well, however.
Here's another space scene. Again, the BenQ projector is on the right:
Next image, is a few seconds later. The results are similar. Normally we use these two related images to show the effects of dynamic iris action on the different projectors, but since neither of these has one, the black levels stay consistent, as long as the exposures are. In real life, the background doesn't lighten as the bright shuttle enters the scene.
Finally, here's a dark shadow detail image we like, also from Space Cowboys: The blacks are a bit blacker on the Mitsubishi, but most notably, there's less detail in the dark blinds on the window.
Below, we have a good bit overexposed satellite image, so you can see where the shadow detail is...
The overexposure lets you see some dark detail that is there, which otherwise would be hard or impossible to dis. At least as important is that it raises the black of the sky to grays you can compare. You just have to compensate for the differing exposures.
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 8350:
Next, is the starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels. If the starship's brightness is about the same from image to image, then the projector with the blackest blacks in the letterbox and stars background, is the one with the blacker black performance. (A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It's the blacks you want to be watching).
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector:
Sony VPL-HW15 (LCoS projector under $3K)
Vivitek H1080FD ($899)
BenQ W6000, BenQ's next step up, with better black levels.
Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
As is typical with home theater projectors lacking stellar black level performance, shadow detail is pretty good. The heavily overexposed image of the building's room and the trees and shrubs shows that the BenQ is doing a very nice job on shadow detail.
In our seriously overexposed scene of Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys, you can make out plenty of detail in the dark shades.
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The W1200 offers a great amount of dark shadow detail.
Click on left thumbnail image for the BenQ W1200, right for Viewsonic Pro8200, and on the second row; Mitsubishi HC4000 (left) and the Optoma HD20.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the BenQ, followed by the Pro8200, the HC4000, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-HW15, the Sharp XV-Z15000.
All considered, the W1200 shadow detail is good, but not exceptional. It's definitely losing a touch more in the dark shrubs by the track, than some of the competition. Overall, though, that's not significant.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: W1200 Projector - Bottom Line
The overall performance of both shadow detail and black levels are consistent with our belief that the W1200 is a very good, general purpose home projector, rather than a performance oriented projector like their more expensive W6000, which we consider better suited for dedicated home theaters with their more controlled room conditions.
BenQ W1200 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Want a nice, reasonably bright projector? Not a perfectionist - you like your LCDTVs or Plasmas, but never really fiddled with the controls? If that sounds like you or your family (and if you are doing all the research, then the other family members are likely even less critical), then you should be thoroughly pleased with the W1200's overall picture quality. Sure, when I switch back from the W1200 to more expensive projectors like the Epson 8700UB (great blacks), JVC RS20 (mine - even better blacks), I tend to go. "Wow - that's better!" (notably on darker scenes).
This is a fun projector. The family rarely notices when I switch from one projector to another. Wife and daughter have watched American Idol, Fashion Police, etc. on the W1200 and nary a complaint!
In fact the only issue reported by my daughter, is when I first turned on the W1200 (with CFI turned to off) and she exclaimed - CFI is on. She's my CFI bird-dog - she can walk into my room, glance at the screen for maybe 1/2 second and immediately tell me if CFI is in play. She, BTW, found the "wrong" CFI - set to off, but really on, to be well over the top. I always turned it off, myself, except for checking out sports. I've been running it on the lowest setting for the basketball playoffs.
A mix of additional images to show off the BenQ W1200:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
BenQ W1200 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
BenQ W1200 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports
The W1200 is great on sports. The home theater projector has a very sharp image combined with CFI for smooth motion, and colors that really pop. Although the W1200 is brighter than average in its brightest modes, it isn't a light canon. There are others with more sheer horsepower, but as far as the 1100+ good looking sports lumens go, the W1200 is great. The $7K Runco LS-5 the W1200 is sharing the table with, has better color and better blacks and better everything, but with an extra 400 lumens, when I switch to the W1200 with a NBA playoff game on, everyone goes "wow".
The room lighting around my dark floors/walls/ceiling was shutters partially open. In addition, seven 50 watt equivalent down facing LED lights are on in the back half of the room, and along with incoming light from the windows, lights up the couch. It's plenty bright in the back of the room despite the surfaces being very dark. A fair amount of ambient light is hitting the screen and you can see that it's washing out the image a bit. It's still a good looking image though. I wouldn't normally have the shutters anywhere near that open for real watching, and I'd still have plenty of light to work with in the back.
Above and below, two identical photos except for the exposure. The first of the pair gives you a reasonable idea of the room lighting.
The second looks darker so that you can get a better idea of how good the picture actually looked.
More importantly take a look at another HDTV NFL image. Most impressive: