BenQ W7000 - Review Summary
We have considered the features, performance, flexibility, warranty, and other aspects of the BenQ W7000 projector. We have had to take into consideration, that we have been working with an engineering sample. Based on feedback about "fixes" included in the full production firmware, Projector Reviews is provisionally awarding the BenQ W7000 our Hot Product Award.
We will test BenQ's W7000 firmware improvements, as soon as they are available, in order to make sure our expectations for the W7000 earning this award, are satisfied.
Primarily we are seeking a promised improvement in black levels, a correction to the color table, and a couple of minor glitches.
1/4//2012 - Art Feierman
Update: 2/18/2012: A full production BenQ W7000 with "final" firmware arrived 48 hours ago. As anticipated, black level performance is dramatically improved, compared to the engineering sample.
BenQ W7000 Projector - The Bottom Line
The overall picture quality - notably the colors, of the W7000 really do look impressive. That DLP look and feel - rich colors yet without being over the top, is in its full glory with the W7000. That's not to say you can't find more natural looking color, especially on far more expensive DLP projectors. What I can say, though, is that for a roughly $2500 projector, it should knock your socks off.
After all, it's not just good color and skin tones, it's also near wall-melting brightness (ok, that's a bit over the top). Still over 1500 calibrated lumens, is rather dazzling considering much of the BenQ's competition would be very happy if they could deliver even 600 calibrated lumens. Wow!
Our only real complaint was black level performance. We expected it to be the same as the older W6000's but it turned out not to be. BenQ says the full production projectors should be as good, though.
Update: W7000 black levels are much improved. As noted on the Image Quality page, they are now comparable to most of the other projectors in the $2000 - $3500 range, which is to say, extremely good black levels. Only the Epson 5010, near its price (a couple hundred dollars more in the US), has a slight advantage in terms of blacks. To find the next more expensive projector to best the W7000 you would have to go up by almost $1000 to the JVC RS45 projector. Of course, the W7000 is dramatically brighter in "best mode" than either of those two projectors.
Add to the image performance a good set of features - CFI for smooth motion, an impressive Detail Enhancement function (seems to dynamically sharpen), and Picture in Picture, and the value proposition of the BenQ W7000 projector gets even better.
BenQ W7000 and 3D
This year's crop of 2D and 3D capable projectors had grown in both size and level of performance when compared to last year's projectors. I know a lot of you aren't sold on 3D yet, but if you, like me, just returned from the other side of the Universe, watching Hubble 3D on the BenQ W7000, you most likely would change your mind. Better yet, get thee to an IMAX showing of the excellent movie Hugo (awesome - Steam Punk and clock tower mechanisms - very Victorian).
After watching the 3D IMAX version of Hugo, sneak yourself into a standard 2D showing of Hugo for a few minutes. If that doesn't sell you on 3D for your home, then probably don't worry about it. Also remember this, 3D is best large - lots of immersion. Small LCDTVs and plasmas (say 40 - 50 or 60 inch diagonal), really don't cut it, compared to a projector. Those TVs doing 3D seem downright puny by comparison.
The BenQ for 3D, allows a reasonably bright image on fairly large screens, especially compared to most of the competition.
If you've seen 3D in non-IMAX theaters at your local cineplex, you may be one of many who complain the picture isn't bright enough (I agree in most cases). This BenQ W7000 should easily be brighter on, say, a 100 or 110" screen than I am finding 3D theaters to be!
The BenQ W7000 seems to have a MAP price of $2499 - that's Minimum Advertised Price, and that typically would be about the lowest you can find this projector for, at least until it gets near the end of its life, or an unexpected price drop before that..
That's great news, especially when you consider that placed the W7000 about $200 below the Epson Home Cinema 5010, and $500 below the Panasonic PT-AE7000!
The image below, from Howl's Moving Castle (very cool flick)
The Very Bottom Line on the BenQ W7000 projector:
Having been playing with the finished W7000 firmware (2/18/2012) for a dozen+ hours, I'm prepared to finally position the BenQ in terms of quality, and value.
The W7000 is a light canon, when it comes to 2D viewing. If you run its "best" mode, with Brilliant Color On, this projector is about twice as bright as most of the competition, and even with BC turned off, none of the projectors near its price can beat it for sheer brightness when calibrated. This makes the W7000 a first class choice for all of you who are into large screens. Even a 140" screen, with say, a typical 1.3 gain, isn't a challenge for the W7000 after calibration. By comparison, the Epsons and Panasonic can't get close. Even the LCoS and other DLP competitors, come up very short in terms of brightness when calibrated.
But, you aren't just considering the BenQ W7000 projector as a 2D movie projector only. For the rest of 2D viewing, it's hard to beat, not only the brightness, but also the sharpness. Note, please, BenQ's Clarity control (default is 7) is way over the top. If you want some dynamic sharpening, you really need to drop that setting to 2, or maybe 3. At 7, everything is oversharp, and color edges are standing out and shifting white. No worries, just turn it down. The BenQ 2 setting, is still a bit more than Super-Resolution set for 3 on the Epson. Purists, will not use either projectors' dynamic sharpening.
3D could still be a bit brighter, for my tastes, this projector is not going to fill that 140" screen adequately in 3D, even if it can do so without effort in 2D. On the other hand, like the Epson, Panasonic, Acer, the BenQ has enough lumens to do a 100" diagonal screen in 3D without making you think "dim" on a lot of content.
Value and Quality: First, if DLP is your thing and $2500 your general price range, the BenQ would seem to be your best choice. Note - first timers - that many folks that have owned DLP models, then switched to LCoS or 3LCD, "miss" the DLP "look and feel." I tend to be one of those people. Still, that DLP feel is only one aspect of the image quality. For those of you who tend to be rainbow sensitive, the W7000 is about as clean as they come. I have to work to spot a rainbow with this projector, and I'm definitely "rainbow sensitive".
If DLP isn't your specific thing, this W7000 is still going to be one of the best choices out there. Assuming its merely "good" placement flexibility doesn't pose any problems in your room, the W7000 has to be thought of as right up there with the Epson, the Panasonic, and the much more expensive JVC RS45 overall, and not one of them can challenge the W7000's brightness.
I'm glad BenQ finally got the firmware finished. That they started selling W7000's with firmware that still needed some improvement, does raise a question or two, but that sort of thing happens all the time, especially with companies expected to have a new projector lineup to offer, every 12 months. The important thing, though, is that BenQ has promised to get everyone upgraded to the new firmware. BenQ's rep for following up, is one of the best, as I've described in other reviews.
Meantime, if you're shopping now, the finished "firmware" is what's out in dealer hands. I learned, for example, that one of the dealers who is a heavy advertiser on our site, has already had BenQ send out replacements for the earlier projectors in their inventory. They now have W7000s with the same firmware as I'm working with now, as of mid-February.
Ultimately, I'm loving the pop, and wow factor of the BenQ W7000. That DLP look on those darker scenes where DLP projectors already tend to excel, really works for me. Even the projector or two out there, that can just slightly best the W7000 in dark shadow detail, really do not, on those all dark scenes, manage to have more pop, than the BenQ. That pop, folks, is s a key reason to want great blacks - dark scenes "pop", while projectors with so-so blacks tend to look flat and dull.
Above: BenQ W7000 (final firmware) on left, Epson Home Cinema 5010 on the right. Overall, the W7000 image is a touch brighter than the Epson, while the Epson has the slightly blacker blacks.
Not this BenQ. Put it on your short list, start it near the top. And if you are a really big screen person, start it at the top of your list of projectors in this price range. Then, goo ood luck in finding something to knock it off.
A Hot Product Award goes to the W7000 for simply being an excellent overall projector in 2D and 3D, but one that has all the competition beat for viewing movies with calibrated color on a really large screen.
I plan to be switching back and forth between the W7000 and the Epson Home Cinema 5010,until the next projector arrives for review. (That should help me sort things out when it comes to issuing the Best In Class awards. All considered, I'm impressed with the W7000. This finished W7000 is truly a major improvement over the engineering sample, and a top projector overall.
BenQ W7000 Projector: Pros and Cons
Image above, from Quantum of Solace
BenQ W7000 Projector: Pros
- 3D capable
- Single chip DLP provides pretty clean 3D
- Excellent calibrated color and skin tones
- Very good black level performance - true "ultra high contrast"
- Rich colors, especially on darker scenes
- Very good placement flexibility
- Very good black level performance (but not the best)
- Picture in Picture
- True Video - CFI - smooth motion, good for sports and other non-film based content)
- 2 HDMI 1.4a (Blu-ray 3D compatible) inputs
- Excellent remote control, with good backlight and range
- 3D Works with 3rd party glasses
- Excellent value proposition
Image above, from Quantum of Solace
BenQ W7000 Projector: Cons
- Below average lamp life for higher operational costs (a price, in this case, paid for all that brightness)
- A noisier projector than average, at full power, although typical of most DLP projectors and a few LCD and LCoS projectors
- Lacks second HDMI circuit to allow two HDMI sources for Split Screen, would be much better
- No 3D glasses included at the price
- BenQ 3D glasses are a bit larger and heavier than most
- Color wheel is 6 segment, but only 4X speed. That will have more rainbow sensitive people noticing rainbows more often than on the 5X wheels typical of more expensive DLPs, still I rarely spotted any rainbows
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