BenQ W5000 Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
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.
There's lots to cover in this section. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
BenQ W5000 Menus
BenQ W5000 User Memory Settings
W5000 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
BenQ W5000 Projector Brightness
BenQ W5000 Light Leakage
BenQ W5000 Audible Noise Levels
W5000 Projector Screen Recommendations
As usual, this section will be posted a few days after the review. In the meantime, although there are some differences, a look at the BenQ W10000 review's menu section will give you a good idea of the menu structure. The W5000 is ISF certified, and therefore has an ISF area, requiring a password to enter, for use by an ISF certified calibrator, to create custom modes for ISF Day, and ISF Night.
Overall, I found the menus to be better than average. Navigating is easy, and they are intelligently grouped. The real trick relating to the menus, is in how to set up your own user settings. One complaint though, when you want to switch color (picture, image) modes, the W5000 doesn't offer a pull down menu. Instead, you have to toggle through them. This means sometimes passing two, or three, or even four modes you aren't interested in, to get to the one you want. The problem with that, is that the BenQ W5000 takes its time, often several seconds to go into each mode. As a result, getting from Cinema, to User 2, for example, could take 10 seconds. As a reviewer, I do lots of that, you will do so less, but it's still annoying.
W5000 User Memory Settings
The Picture mode area (Cinema, Standard, Dynamic) also has three User programmable modes: User 1, 2, 3. There are three user modes in the Color Temp menu, in addition to Warm, Normal, and Cool. In addition if set up, you should also have the choice of ISF Day, and ISF Night modes.
When I first started to calibrate the color temperature, I went directly to the Color Temp menu, selected User 1 and went to work. Bad idea! The W5000's out of the box color balance (Cinema mode) being very good, and needing only a minor reduction of green, should be easy to fix. However, using User 1, starts you out with settings not even remotely resembling Cinema mode. A quick contact with BenQ, and I learned that the way to do it with the W5000, is to first go to the picture modes and instead of Cinema, select one of the User modes, let's say, User 1. Once you do that, you have access to a menu item that lets you tell the W5000 which mode you want that based on. I selected Cinema, and now, I could adjust color temperature, in the Color Temp area, but starting with the Cinema mode settings. Bingo, instead of a struggle, final grayscale balance became a snap.
W5000 Projector - Remote Control
BenQ is using the same basic remote that's been around for at least three years. Good idea, because it's a good remote, well laid out. Range on the remote is good, but not exceptionally so. Sitting 12 feet from my screen, and the projector sitting about four feet behind me, I can normally get a bounce off the screen/front wall, as long as I'm pointing pretty much where I need to be, to have the bulk of the signal bounce back to the projector. I can say that when I owned the PE-8720 which sat on a shelf about 10 feet up, I did the same thing. With the W5000 that's a total of 26 feet, and more like 32 with the positioning I had on the PE-8720. Bottom line: For larger rooms the BenQ should have just enough to get you by bouncing off the screen, without having to turn around or point it over your shoulder directly at the projector.
W5000 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The BenQ W5000's zoom lens has to be considered a medium-long throw. If ceiling mounted, it will probably be directly over the heads of people sitting in your "first row" (or only row), or further back. For a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the W5000 can be as close (measured from the lens) as 13.4 feet, and as far back as 16.1 feet (give or take a fraction).
Lens shift is identical to that on other BenQ projectors - that is, the center of the lens can be placed as high as even with the top of your screen surface, or as low as the bottom of your screen surface. This is great for shelf mounting, or low to average ceilings. Those with high ceilings will need a longer pole that most LCD projectors, which have a bit more lens shift, and can be perhaps a foot or two above the screen top, if need be. Other DLP projectors, without lens shift, typically have a lot of offset (Optoma and Mitsubishi, to name a couple), placing the projector about 18 inches above the top of a 100" screen.
The limited zoom range, as I stated in the Physical tour section, can make shelf mounting tough. You may find that the numbers will require you to use a slightly larger or smaller screen than you might think ideal, depending on room depth.
W5000 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
BenQ's W5000 projector has a typical 5X speed color wheel. That means a small percentage of us (less than 5%?) will detect rainbows. I am one who is a little sensitive, and I can see those rainbow flashes on occasion - darting my eyes from side to side, but more significantly, when a fast moving bright whitish object moves across a dark background (or the other way around).
When it comes to pixel visibility - again, this is a classic DLP, and at any normal seating distance pixel visibility should be no problem at all. If you want to sit 5 feet from a 100" screen, sure you'll see pixels, but, no one sits that close.
W5000 Projector Brightness
Impressive! Brightness was one of the reasons I had purchased the PE-8720, the similar 720p BenQ projector, which may still be the best 720p DLP on the market without getting into those "expensive" names like Marantz, Runco, SIM2, Vidikron, etc.
As those of you who follow my reviews know, I value lots of lumens. That's especially true as, over the life of the lamp, it can dim as much as 50%, so, creating a setup where you have just enough lumens to go around, when everything is new, can start to disappoint, when you have 1500 hours on the lamp.
As a result, I did most (but not all) testing with the iris fully open. Here are the numbers. The Cinema mode measurements were taken with default color temp settings unless otherwise noted.
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First set: Brilliant Color turned OFF
Cinema Mode: Lamp on high (Normal) Iris at 2, (default, and almost fully closed): 472 lumens
Note, by switching lamp to low power, lumens dropped about 19% to 383 lumens. That drop should be fairly consistent, no matter which color modes you are in.
Cinema Mode Lamp on high, Iris at 19 (fully open): 670 lumens
Cinema Mode, Lamp on low, Iris at 2: 379 lumens
Dynamic, Lamp on high, Iris 19, (default color temp - cool): 501 lumens
Dynamic, Lamp on high, Iris 19, color temp normal: 559 lumens
Dynamic, Lamp on high, Iris 19, color temp Native: 755 lumens
Standard, Lamp high, Iris 19, color temp normal: 555 lumens
Brilliant Color turned ON:
Cinema Mode: Lamp on high, Iris at 19: 825 lumens
Dynamic Mode: Lamp on high, Iris at 19: 1270 lumens
Note, please, Brilliant Color may boost lumens, but takes the image quality from very film-like, to one significantly poorer in quality. On some content, in darkened or mostly darkened rooms, it can look just good, but very dynamic, while on other content, it leaves something to be desired, with skin tones somewhat unnatural, and loss of definition in subtlely shaded areas like clouds. See the photos in the image quality section.
Bottom line: One of the brightest projectors around in "best mode", but to crank out even more lumens, you need to turn Brilliant Color on, and it seriously degrades the picture quality, even if some folks don't care. Very usable for sports, etc, but even there, you can see the Brilliant Color creates issues.
Even so, with Brilliant Color off, and some tweaking, of dynamic mode, you should be able to get a very respectable image at about 1000 lumens.
W5000 Projector - Light Leakage
No issues here. Unlike, say, the Optoma HD80 series which leaks enough light out around the lens, that you can see it on your front wall, (just barely) during dark scenes if your walls are light colored. Even when doing my photo shoot on the Carada Brilliant White screen using a relatively small 70" diagonal image, light leakage was not an issue.
W5000 Audible Noise Levels
Ahh! The W5000, like many BenQ projectors before it, is rather quiet for a DLP projector. Much of this, no doubt is due to the large size of the projector. The bigger the projector, the easier to baffle the sound. Whereas most DLP projectors are very noisy with lamp on bright, the BenQ is rather tame. I'd say it's only slightly louder than Sony's VW40, for example, and noticeably quieter than the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB. By comparison, it is dramatically quieter than the Optoma HD803 (which should also mean the HD80, and HD8000).
In low lamp, it is very quiet. I'd say overall, it's also slightly quieter than my JVC RS1, although since I don't bring that down from its shelf, it's hard to say.
Bottom line: The seriously noise adverse (including those mounting the projector directly overhead), may be a little unhappy when in full power mode, but the noise levels probably will deter virtually no one from buying the BenQ W5000 projector.
W5000 Projector Screen Recommendations
High Contrast Gray! The W5000 looks great on my Firehawk. My last viewing ( last night), at first had me wishing for a touch more lumens while filling about as much of the Firehawk as I could from where the BenQ sits (about 124" diagonal). However, after watching for about 10 minutes, I forgot completely. (Iris fully open, Brilliant Color OFF, Cinema Mode adjusted). The picture was a little dark, perhaps, but very rich, and intense. Watching Pirates, was extremely impressive.
In the testing room, however, where I use my 106" Carada, the W5000 really looks dynamic. The experience was totally different. The pop and wow factor really was present. The letter box grays, however weren't as you would expect, that dark.
Bottom line: Purists will love the high contrast gray surfaces. Among the advantages, is that I seem to notice the image noise a bit less, than on white surfaces. (That's very subjective!) Taking into consideration, lamp dimming over time, I'd probably say that 120" is the maximum screen size for a Firehawk grayscreen. The projector is really superb to view with a new lamp, at 110". It's got some firepower to spare. (Its 670 lumens in best mode, yield about 13.8 ft-lamberts on a 128" screen (gain 1.0).
You can definitely go larger with the Carada or other good screens from Da-lite, Elite, etc., if they are 1.3 to 1.5 gain screens.
W5000 Projector Measurements and Calibration
Ok, you're getting tired of hearing this. Out of the box color accuracy in "best" (Cinema) mode is very good, better than the majority of competitors. As usual, I measured out of the box performance, then calibrated the grayscale (R,G,B adjustments to target the ideal 6500K color temperature. Below you will find both the before and after measurements, as well as the settings used. Remember I did this with the projector having only a few hours on it. Colors will shift slightly over time, which is why many professional calibrators recommend having a minimum of 100 - 200 hours on the lamp before calibration.
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Cinema (default settings, including color temp at Warm) with lamp at full power:
White (100 IRE): 6724K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6722K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6702K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6533K
Sadly, green was a little strong, enough, that it needs some correction. Otherwise, that is a superb set of readings.
By selecting User 1, instead of Cinema, then selecting Cinema as the starting point (all on the first menu), with minor adjustment, the end result proved to be a truly excellent set of numbers, and corresponding color accuracy for movie watching:
Comment doing the calibration based on Cinema 1, doesn't seem to give exactly the same balance to start, as Cinema, (more blue in user 1), but overall, made the calibration a snap.
User 1, based on Cinema, Lamp on high, irs 19, color temp custom: Gain R50, G49, B45, Bias, R48, G48, B46
White (100 IRE): 6610K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6619K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6599K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6313K
With these settings the noticeable green shift, is gone!
Dynamic, Lamp Hi, Iris 19, Color Temp Cool (default) provided an image too blue
White (100 IRE): 9184K
Light gray (80 IRE): 9141K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 9028K
Low gray (30 IRE): 9265K
Better to just change Dynamic's Color Temp to Normal for performance in the mid upper 7000K range - great for sports, etc.
White (100 IRE): 7574K
Light gray (80 IRE): 7589K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 7509K
Low gray (30 IRE): 7548K
In Standard mode, I only measured white (100 IRE), which with color temp set to warm, was a very respectable 6636K. I expect that the color temp would have a similarly tight range.
Back to Dynamic. For maximum lumens, you need to switch the Color Temp to Native, which then gives you about 1200 lumens. Surprisingly, the measurements were still pretty good, in the 7500K - 8K range.
W5000 Image Noise
Ouch! This is the noisiest projector in terms of basic image noise, that I've reviewed for some time. DLP's it seems, tend to have more noticeable image noise. I find the amount here to be borderline acceptable. With Brilliant Color turned off, the noise level is notably higher than the recent Epson - 3LCD, Sony - LCoS, and even the HD803 - DLP projectors.
It is enough that you might occasionally notice it without looking for it. You are most likely to spot it in bright blue skys, light gray and white clouds, and other larger fairly stationary parts of images.
Some say that image noise can make a movie look more "film-like" in that it is "sort of" like the grain in film. While it can be dismissed that way, I'm not buying. Less noise is better. I found that reducing the Clarity control setting for detail enhancement does help a very little.
There is actually a noise control feature (also in the Clarity Control sub-menu), but it is grayed out, according to BenQ, for sources higher than 480/576. Why? No idea! It says 2 (grayed out), but whether it is working at all, who knows. If it is, it isn't doing a great job, that's for sure.
Kick in Brilliant Color, and image noise becomes more noticeable. Not that you will care, watching a football game, but if you need Brilliant Color's brightness for movie viewing, the noise is definitely there. Combine that with the other aspects of BenQ's Brilliant Color implementation, and you have some image issues, that purists will not find it acceptable.