BenQ W5000 DLP 1080P Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality
Check out how the BenQ W5000 fared in our comparison report.
Update 6-30-11: We recently reviewed the BenQ W6000, the replacement of the W5000. Click here to read the projector review of the new BenQ projector.
The W5000 projector immediately impresses, right out of the box. Color Temperature measurements produced a consistent color temperature, very close to dead on, but with a slight increase in greens, which can be adjusted out (see calibration section on the General Performance page).
Upon first putting on the W5000, the things I immediately noticed was the overall very good out of the box performance in Cinema mode, the sharpness, and the rich colors. Overall, the W5000 meets the description of being very "film-like". Image noise is higher than most, but distracts very little from the overall picture quality.
Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
Out of the box, skin tones are very good, but with that little extra green to them, they can be slightly improved. Let's take a look as some of my favorite screen images, starting with the usual Lord of the Rings images of Arwen and Gandalf, from standard DVD (SD-DVD).
Moving to hi-def - Blu-ray disc, the first images are from House of the Flying Daggers, followed by Aeon Flux, and Pirates of the Carribean - Black Pearl.
As I have been doing in other recent reviews, I must point out that good skin tones need to reflect the lighting conditions. In the series below, James Bond's skin tones look very different, depending on the scene lighting. First is full sunlight, then florescent lighting in an airport, then filtered lighting, and finally incandescent lighting:
Sorry, for the one above, I should have selected a slightly brighter version, but alas - what you see, is what you get. Next, the filtered sunlight:
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OK a few more for your consideration, and then time to move on:
From Sin City (SD-DVD) this movie scene uses a sepia like color base, with some spot color added:
And from Hitch (Blu-ray):
Bottom line: While the out of the box color performance (Cinema mode) on skin tones is very watchable, setting up a user mode, based on Cinema mode, but decreasing the green content just slightly, makes the BenQ W5000 really excellent!
W5000 Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail
Again, the BenQ W5000 is extremely impressive. OK, Black levels are not best in class (that honor falls to the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB), but the W5000 is just about next best, competing directly with the Sony VW40 for that honor. Shadow detail is excellent, both before and after adjustment, it has a slight advantage over the Epson, and is about the same as the Sony. I could compare it to other projectors as well, but let's stick to those projectors that also have really good black levels. Projectors like the HD80 series, and the other 3LCD projectors, can't quite match the W5000 in black levels, so even if they do rival the shadow detail, they aren't overall competition. Consider for example, the Mitsubishi HC4900. It has very good shadow detail, but what is now worst in class black levels. That means you can see the dark details, but the image never has the pop and wow of a projector with much better black levels, no matter how good the shadow details.
W5000 Black Levels
Let's start with the usual space scene from The Fifth Element (Blu-ray).
And while we are doing space scenes, these are from Space Cowboys:
Nice inky black blacks, and lots of stars. When comparing to the similar image on other reviews, note the brightness, which does vary, from one review image to the next. The more overexposed, the more stars, you will see. This image, though, also reveals good details in dark areas.
Here are a couple of side-by-side images comparing the W5000 (always on the left), to first, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, then the Optoma HD803 (another DLP, recently reviewed), and lastly to the Sony VW40!
Note, it is impossible to get the projectors identical in brightness for these side by side shoots. I do what I can. In this case, as you can see upon inspection, the W5000 turns out to be just from just slightly brighter to a "little" brighter in the three sets below. One indication is the amount smearing of the bright red lights in the space shot that all three sets have in common.
W5000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
W5000 vs. Sony VW40
W5000 vs. Optoma HD803
BenQ W5000 Shadow Details
Shadow detail performance is excellent. The first series are intentionally overexposed images from Lord of the Rings, a night scene in Gondor. The top left image is the BenQ, to its right, the Sony VW40, and below, the Panasonic PT-AE2000U. Look for details in the dark areas, as well as how subtle colors stand out.
Click on the image below for a large, overexposed version to see how well the BenQ delivers on details in the dark areas of the shed and structure. It is one of the very best, with lots of detail in the wood posts, whereas many projectors lose virtually all that detail.
From Space Cowboys, this image of Clint is in a very dark room only illuminated by a down facing table lamp. The first image is from the BenQ W5000 projector, the second, from the Sony VW40, and lastly, the JVC RS1 (which I own), and the projector that had the best black levels of any projector reviewed, until the RS2 came out.
The image immediately above (JVC RS1), was taken early 2007. Look for details in the blinds in the back. You will note, that the shadow details are similar. Unfortunately, it's impossible to get exactly the same exposure. In this case, you can see that the upper image (the Sony, is a bit more overexposed). With that considered, to me, this looks about as close to a tie as one can get.
To put these three particularly excellent projectors (at black levels) in perspective to more average projectors, here's one more, this time from the Panasonic PT-AE2000U: (Dark areas just aren't black enough, even though shadow detail is very good).
Moving to another Blu-Ray movie, here is a night scene from Aeon Flux:
For comparison, here is the same, from the Panasonic PT-AE2000U:
Here's the re-entry image from Space Cowboys. Click on the thumbnail image for an overexposed version, and look for the details on the right side. This image is found on most recent reviews:
Now for a more balanced scene (where dynamic irises are not very effective). The left thumbnail when clicked on shows a cropped area. This scene has extremely bright areas, and dark. Look at these overexposed images to details of the satellite on the left side. The left thumbnail is the BenQ, the right one, the JVC RS1:
This from Casino Royale on Blu-ray disc.
This (generic) image of the resort at night looks great, but when you click on the images below, you'll see significantly overexposed versions. Look to the bushes, and most importantly the building's roof. The average 1080p projector's roof is near invisible under normal viewing, or you can make out a little detail toward the left and top of the roof line.
Now that's the type of results we consider shadow detail so important:
The enlargement of the first image is the W5000 overexposed, the second, is the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and the third one, the Sony VW40.
Lastly the table image from Aeon Flux. Look to details in the table, and shadows cast by the glasses.
Bottom line: The W5000 does offer very good black levels but not as good as the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB (or the Pro version for that matter). Comparing black levels to the Sony is a bit tougher, as the Sony we reviewed was unevenly illuminated, with heavy blue in the upper right and lower left. Overall, with a properly working Sony, these two are probably just about a tie. When it comes to shadow detail, the BenQ W5000 is excellent. The BenQ manages to maintain very good black levels without sacrificing the shadow detail. In this regard, it does reveal a little more shadow detail than the Epson. Still, the Epson, on mixed scenes, based on my side by side looks, creates a more dynamic, richer image thanks to the significant black level advantage.
BenQ W5000 Home Theater Projector: Sharpness
The thumbnails below when clicked on, show a drastically cropped area of just the logo and dts-hd area. The five thumbnails are for the following projectors:
Top left: BenQ W5000 Top right: Panasonic PT-AE2000U
2nd row left: Sanyo PLV-Z2000, middle: Sony VPL-VW40, right: Mitsubishi HC6000
As you can see from comparing these images, the Sony is very similar in sharpness to the Panasonic, but not as crisp as the Optoma HD8000. The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 and Mitsubishi definitely appear to be a step up, not exhibiting the softness found in the Sony or Panasonic.
Our last sharpness image is a close-up of this computer monitor from Space Cowboys on Blu-ray. You can click for larger images to compare the readability,
Click on the left thumbnail for a large, cropped version of the original frame on the BenQ, and the middle for the Panasonic. On the right, is the Epson.
Bottom line: While the images are inconsistent (mostly due to cropping/resizing, and jpg compression), the BenQ definitely appears very sharp to the eye. Whether this is in part due to optics, and part due to image enhancement (sharpness, edge sharpness type controls), or not, doesn't really matter. When I put on some HDTV Discovery HD content, or the BBC Blue Planet disc, to view scenes from around the world, etc., the BenQ immediately comes off as being extremely sharp. You get that looking through a picture window type of feel and depth. As the owner of a JVC RS1, which is definitely a little soft by comparison, I'm rather jealous.
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Projector Overall Picture Quality
W5000 Brilliant Color Performance and Issues
For the best picture quality, Brilliant Color must be turned off. Unlike some other DLP projectors with Brilliant Color from TI, the W5000 offers only one setting. That setting increases overall brightness significantly, and not evenly. It also seems to affect saturation, and other aspects of the image. The point is, sometimes it is over the top, where the picture quality suffers enough to be noticeable to most. Also some detail is lost. Here are several sets of images with Brilliant Color Off, then the same image (adjusting the camera, as best I can to get the same overall brightness), with Brilliant Color On.
Talk about over the top. Look what happens to the yellow above, with Brilliant Color On. It really didn't look as bad as it appears on the photo. That the area is extremely bright, combined with the camera setting, did exaggerate it a bit. Remember, in normal use, Brilliant Color is much brighter overall, than without.
In the images above look at the textures in his nose and cheeks.
In the image above look at the loss of detail in the snow, with Brilliant Color On.
In this image from Pirates, above, look to the clouds. The difference is rather significant, and the smaller clouds on his right seem flattened in terms of color palette and the pink cast is very flat at points.
BenQ W5000 - Overall Picture Quality
When it comes to kicking back and enjoying the content, the BenQ, all considered, does an excellent job. My biggest complaint being image noise. Beyond that, it is a top performer in just about every area. Here are a few more images for your consideration:
Now, here are some images from standard DVDs.
Viewing - HDTV
Coming in a couple of days!
Let's just say, for now, that it did extremely well for sports viewing, with or without Brilliant Color on. With it on, again, it could get a little over the top, but plenty of punch to make up for that, when you need it.
Picture Quality - Bottom Line:
I'm getting rather repetitive. This BenQ always impresses overall. Good color accuracy, very good black levels, great shadow detail, and a really sharp image, provide a great overall viewing experience. Only the image noise stands out as an issue, and while some say that adds a "film-like" quality, let's just say, "it could be better in that regard".
Like the Epson and Sony VW40, this projector is one, that while overall does not quite match my RS1, is one I could certainly live with, if I had to give up the RS1, and had a $3K budget. Now, if only BenQ will add additional settings for Brilliant Color, so it can be reduced a bit on the content where their implementation is a little over the top.
One thing I don't normally mention is the issue of motion blurring. I see in the forums there are definite conversations about motion blurring on 3LCD and LCoS projectors. The DLP chip reacts much faster than the other two technologies, and is considered completely free of motion blurring. Myself, I just don't notice motion blurring when watching movies, etc. It is a much more subtle issue in my opinion, than the 3:2 pulldown effect which creates a slight stuttering - called judder - in the image when panning or action is present. Fortunately, the W5000 like most new 1080p projectors supports 1080p/24fps, which eliminates the need for 3:2 pull-down, and thus, eliminates the judder. I think this allows motion blurring to show up on some people's radar. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but I don't see it as an issue for most. For those that do see motion blurring in 3LCD and LCoS projectors, that makes the BenQ W5000 an even better projector, by comparison. As a big proponent of DLP projectors who emailed me at length about motion blurring pointed out, once he shows people what he's talking about, they can see it. I'm more of the school that says, if you don't see a minor issue, then focus more on the issues that are major (such as black levels, shadow detail, brightness and color accuracy). It's just one more reason why there is no "perfect" projector.
OK, let's now look at all those "General Performance" aspects of this BenQ projector.