BenQ W7000 Home Theater Projector Review
This review of the BenQ W7000 2D and 3D Home Theater Projector has been an interesting one, since we've been working with an engineering sample. Final production projectors, due late Jan./early Feb., will have upgraded firmware, some fixes, and better performance.
1/2/2012 - Art Feierman
That is what BenQ is telling me. I'm now waiting for a firmware upgrade, (or a full production W7000).
In most areas, the W7000 is very similar to the W6000 it will replace. The W7000, however, is a bit brighter, and offers 3D. The two projectors actually physically look the same.
While a couple of things were disappointing about the engineering sample, we expect that. BenQ has already indicated that those things are being corrected with the "January" production firmware.
Let's get started!
2/19/2012: Update. You will find a number of these updates throughout this review. As of 2/19 I've been working with a W7000 with final firmware, and can report some real improvement in some areas. Notably black level performance is definitely better. Unless otherwise noted, all images in this review were taken with the engineering sample W7000. As of this update, only a few images have been taken, of just the new W7000, although we've taken a number of side by side images pitting the W7000 against the Epson 5010.
BenQ W7000 Projector Overview
Remember, this BenQ W7000 projector review has been an unfinished story, pending checking out BenQ's final firmware version for the projector.
That said, 85% of this review was finished when first posted. The rest has been added since the new W7000 arrived on 2/15.
In the meantime, we do recognize that essentially, the W7000 is supposed to be a slightly brighter, and also 3D capable "version" of the W6000. The two should be essentially identical projectors but for those two items.
With that in mind, we can "assume" some performance aspects of the W7000 will be almost identical to the W6000. That's our assumption so far. If it turns out, that the W7000 doesn't live up to our expectations, then it likely won't win the Hot Product Award (which we gave it provisionally, pending verification of black level performance, and fixing of a few bugs). Update 2/19/12: I've had enough time to confirm the improvements since the first W7000. The finished W7000 performs as we have been led to expect, and definitely earns that Hot Product Award!
With that out of the way, let's begin with a quick summary of what the BenQ W7000 projector is, and how it positions.
The W7000 projector claims 2000 lumen, making it very bright, especially since it delivers. There have only been four maybe five other projectors, as bright, or almost as bright, that we have reviewed in the last year. The BenQ offers a full CMS - color management system, so going in, we fully expected it to calibrate beautifully. That will be covered on the Image Quality, and Calibration pages.
This is a single chip DLP projector. It offers lens shift, for good placement flexibility, and is also one of only a few projectors, that offers Picture in Picture.
Overall, the BenQ W7000 is well endowed in dynamic features, including a dynamic iris for better blacks, True Video, which is BenQ's name for creative frame interpolation for smooth motion.
There's plenty to discuss, and below we'll look at some of the key features.
BenQ W7000 Projector Highlights
- 2D and 3D capable with best in class brightness for 3D
- Excellent color and skin tones, full CMS
- Single chip DLP design for minimal crosstalk/ghosting
- Rated a hefty 2000 lumens, and it meets its claims
- Ultra high contrast projector with extremely good black performance
- Suitable for theater or family room
- Very good placement flexibility due to zoom lens with 1.5:1 range, plus good lens shift
- 2 HDMI 1.4a inputs (Blu-ray 3D compatible)
- Supports required and most optional 3D formats - both 1080 and 720p, all DirecTV 3D channels work
- Picture in Picture
- A light canon that really can do a good job on 3D, or burn through a lot of ambient light in 2D
Above, Leeloo (the Perfect Being), from The Fifth Element
Basic Specs for BenQ W7000
BenQ W7000 MSRP: $3499, MAP: $2699,
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2000 lumens, 1996 measured maximum, 1571 lumens calibrated "best" mode
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1 manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: Horizontal and Vertical (manual)
Lamp life: 2000 hours at full power, 2500 hours in eco mode - Estimated replacement cost: $299
Weight: 14.8 lbs. (6.7 Kg)
Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor, 500 hours on lamp
View full specifications here: BenQ W7000
BenQ W7000 Special Features
Split Screen viewing
Once again (for almost as long as I can remember), BenQ has been offering projector models with Picture in Picture - a larger active window, and typically, a lower res, small window. The W7000 projector is no exception. My primary complaint is that you can't feed it two separate HDMI images or even HDMI and Component. One input has to be "lower quality" such as S-video.
BenQ W7000 Dynamic Iris
The W7000 uses a dynamic iris. The verdict is still out as to how good blacks will be. The engineering sample does not have black level performance rivaling that the the older W6000. The "good news" is that in conversations with BenQ, they have said that:
"We did the measurement of the latest unit of W7000 and W6000 we have, and the result shows that they are about the same."
Since these are so similar projectors (but for the 3D and a slightly more powerful lamp for the W7000), I would expect them to be essentially the same. And we plan to confirm (or deny) this as soon as we can get a full production projector, or a firmware update for our engineering sample.
If all proves well, the W7000 should turn out to be a good ultra high contrast projector. The W6000 was and we were very pleased. The W6000 was roughly the equal or better than the Panasonic PT-AE4000, but blacks weren't quite as black as the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB.
Image above from the Victoria Secret Fashion Show this year.
BenQ W7000 Projector 3D
The 3D is about as bright as any I've seen so far. The W7000 is right up there with the Epsons and the Panasonic. Like the others, it has right around 2000 lumens to work with, and that's pretty respectable.
In truth, the W7000 is probably the brightest of the group in its Dynamic mode. Since the dynamic mode isn't that great looking color wise - a native lamp mode, we much preferred using the calibrated mode, giving up only a few hundred lumens, and essentially seems just a tad less bright than the Epson. But not enough to worry about, especially since the W7000's color in 3D in its calibrated mode, is better than the color of any of the other projectors, at their brightest.
In other words, the BenQ is certainly fully competitive with those other bright 3D projectors, and it costs a good bit less.
Among other 3D content, I used the BenQ W7000 projector to view a bit of a college football game, Tron, some of Monster House, Ultimate Wave, Legends of Flight, and a variety of concerts, travel, and science programming in 3D. This projector was as satisfying as the Epson and Panasonic - my two favorites due to brightness combined with good color.
BenQ's glasses are a bit bulky, and run on lithium batteries. I wear glasses, and I must say, they worked rather well, with no back reflections, and a wide view. There should be plenty of 3rd party glasses that are compatible, which also includes Optoma glasses, and most others that use DLP-link.
Bottom line on 3D:
The BenQ W7000 is about as good as it gets in terms of color and brightness. It's also pretty clean in terms of ghosting, although no projector so far has been clean in 3D on all types of content. Still this is a great choice if you are really into 3D.
BenQ W7000 Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion
The BenQ W7000's creative frame interpolation is well done. It's not so unnoticeable that I'd use it for watching movies, extremely few projectors are. It's fine for sports, I did watch a lot of football with it engaged. I only really noticed related noise around fast moving objects when looking for it. Beyond that, it isn't any more noticeable, than say, the visibility of 24fps, especially with fast motion. A net plus when you want to use it. BenQ's CFI is called True Video. In the Menus they give you a choice of True Video, or True Cinema (which is CFI turned off). There is just one setting, whereas some projectors' CFI may have as many as three settings - such as low, medium, and high. (When a projector has 3 settings, I generally find it best to avoid the highest setting.)
For your consideration: The image above was taken with the calibrated W7000 engineering sample. The side by side image below (W7000 on the left, calibrated Epson 5010 on the right, is using the new W7000 but is not calibrated. This should give you a good idea as to the importance of calibrating the W7000, as you can see, even in User 1, the mode that will result in our "best" mode of the W7000, is way too green, thin on reds. Obviously, the calibrated engineering sample above, is extremely similar to the calibrated Epson below right:
BenQ W7000 Lamp Life and Cost of Operation
The BenQ is built for brightness, no other 2D/3D projector comes close near its price range, when doing 2D. The price one pays for all that brightness though, is a 300 watt lamp, and an average power draw of just over 400 watts. Most projectors run lamps from 170 to 250 watts, so your electric bill will be a bit higher.
The lamp life itself is below average - 2000 hours at full power, and 2500 in eco mode. We consider average: 2000 hours at full power, 3000 in low. Truth is, though, that several competitors are offering 4000 or 5000 hour modes. The shorter lamp life and higher wattage lamp, will make this BenQ W7000 a bit more expensive to own, from a long term standpoint, than most of the competitors. Still, the difference is likely only to be significant if you are a very heavy user in terms of hours per week. That more frequent lamp replacement is likely an unfortunate by product of being designed for maximum brightness.
BenQ 1.5:1 Manual Zoom Lens
The 1.5:1 lens offers really good range compared to most other lower cost DLP projectors. That's still not as much as some LCD and LCoS projectors but, combined with lens shift, provides very good flexibility. As mentioned elsewhere, the W7000 is typically ceiling mounted, as you would need an especially large screen, in most rooms to be able to place the W7000 far enough back to place on a rear shelf. Of course this is a projector designed for larger screens!