BenQ W1200 Projector - Performance
6/3/11 - Art Feierman
In this section, we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the BenQ W1200 home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise of the W1200.
BenQ W1200 Brightness
With an eighteen hundred lumen claim, we expected the BenQ W1200 to be one of the brighter low cost projectors we've reviewed. By comparison, we reviewed the older W1000 more a year ago, which was exceptionally bright. In that regard, the W1200 projectors was a bit disappointing, but we still, at maximum, managed to find 1418 lumens, a little more than 20% below claim. Note, of course, that most projectors come up short of claim. Almost all manufacturers can no doubt find settings to produce their claim, the problem is that usually, those aren't very watchable settings, and of little practical use, and such settings may not even be user accessible.
Around 1400 lumens is still well brighter than average, but that's pushing contrast (to 5), so crushing whites. (Mike reports that at 5, 90 IRE material very light gray, is crushed and therefore white, without detail). On the other hand, the projector can produce about 1100 lumens with pretty good looking color, and no crushing, at brightness levels where most are starting to look ugly, if they can even get that bright.
Let's look at the W1200's numbers:
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic= 1008 @ 8775
Standard= 942 @ 6928
Cinema= 643 @ 5972
User 1= 1152 @ 8163
User 2= 1085 @ 7021
User 3= 975 @ 6334 with Brilliant Color On, with BC off = 824
Those numbers are all "right out of the box", without any adjustments (except for toggling Brilliant Color for User 3).
Lumen Output (Eco-mode, Dynamic): 764
That represents a drop of about 24%. Expect that same amount of drop in any mode when switching to Eco.
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Brightest mode):
Zoom out: 1128
Zoom in: 891
Remember: We do all measurements at the mid-point of the lens unless otherwise noted. Therefore, as you can see above, zooming out (largest image) wide-angle gives you an 11.2% increase in brightness. At full telephoto, brightness is 21% less bright than at full wide angle. Your decision on where to place, or mount the projector, has a noticeable, (though not great) affect on brightness. Figure that into your decisions.
Mike recommends we use User 2 as a brightest mode for the W1200 home theater projector. It's not as bright as User 1/Dynamic, but he reports its only 70 lumens less bright, but has much better color, and I can attest to the colors. The Dynamic mode has strong greens (very typical) not pretty, but able to cut through ambient light. There are times when you might need every lumen. Otherwise, we like to start with that "brightest" mode, and improve color a bit, but without giving up significant brightness.
Of course "best" mode for the W1200, is no slouch: User 3 starts out about the same as Cinema, and is our "best" mode. Mike is able to calibrate the User modes but not the Cinema, Dynamic, etc.
User 3 starts out at 824 lumens (Brilliant Color off), jumps to 975 if you turn it on. (Brilliant Color, as always, does increase dynamics, and degrade the picture slightly - you can see that in skin tones.)
|Color Temp over IRE Range (Various Modes):|
After Mike's full calibration, "best" mode, with Brilliant Color on, the BenQ W1200 measures a very healthy 964 lumens (and a color temp of 6499K at full white). Below are the calibrated color temp results, a significant improvement over the default Cinema or User 3 above:
Calibrated Color Temp over IRE Range:
20 IRE = 6619
30 IRE = 6486
40 IRE = 6513
50 IRE = 6558
60 IRE = 6457
70 IRE = 6479
80 IRE = 6474
90 IRE = 6453
100 IRE = 6499
Default gamma 2.29, for just slightly dark mid-tones. Gamma adjustments start at 1.6 and go to 2.8. At 1.6 everything in the middle is bright and gets a washed out look. 2.0 is pretty good for sports - keeps things a bit bright in the mids - desireable for sports, especially should the overall image be a touch dark.
Below, first W1200 image with Brilliant Color Off, second one with it On. Both taken with the same exposure settings:
With Brilliant Color on, you get more punch, but her skin is less natural looking, more contrasty with less different colors.
BenQ W1200 Sharpness
The W1200 looks really sharp. It's impressive, although part may be some extra sharpening. Still, a pretty sharp single chip DLP, looking at least as sharp as any of the more expensive LCD projectors. Some assorted comparison images below.
BenQ W1200: Bottom Line Sharpness
Very sharp. Often over the top with Creative frame interpolation on, especially the highest levels. Optics seem to be very good. Does very well in maintaining sharpness from center to edges. Default sharpness setting is 8. I played around backing it off to 6 or 7.
The BenQ W1200 leaks minimal light out the side vents. Light leak through the lens is strange. There's a ring of light leaving the lens, that will hit your front wall floor and maybe ceiling. The ring of light isn't bright, and it's miles from the actual screen image. In fact it's about a screen width away. It certainly won't interfere with the projected image, but you might notice a touch of extraneous light wherever that beam might hit some light or reflective object in the front of your room. All considered, not really an issue, and certainly not in a family room or bonus room type environment. The light is easily visible when viewing in my theater - not so easy to spot in my testing room when the room is set to be more like a family room.
I saw only one problem with Image noise, and that was some sort of issue at the bottom of the screen when watching 1080p. It would have to be described as a motion artifact. It appeared almost if looking at the last inch or so at the bottom was looking through a bevel. Seems to be a timing issue when viewing 24 bit. I haven't seen anything quite like this in a couple of years. A minor distraction, but I did notice it repeatedly when watching the latest Narnia last night. The thing is, I didn't notice it at all, as I took the usual 100s of photos for a full photo shoot.
Another reason I consider the W1200 a family room projector is that in the "family room" isn't necessarily a quiet zone, unlike a theater. The BenQ's fan noise varies - all by itself. And that can be a distraction.
Yes, most of the time it's reasonably quiet, but, when it feels the need to be cooler, the BenQ W1200's fan speeds up and the noise level goes up substantially. When it's in this louder mode, then the BenQ is definitely louder than we would like to encounter in our single chip DLP projectors.
After firing up a cold W1200, with fan running on normal, it took about 25-35 minutes before the fan might accelerate. Now my theater tends to stay around 72 degrees or even a touch more.
I'm not really noise adverse so I only notice it speeding up sometimes... Others it might drive crazy, those most noise adverse. But again, this is a casual home theater projector for movies sports, Disney features, whatever you like.