#3 in our 4-Way Comparison: BenQ W7500 Home Theater Projector

The W7500 is one light canon of a home theater projector.  Drop one in a home theater or a decently light controlled family room, media room or living room.  The W7500 is the latest in a series that started a few years back with the W6000, in 2009.    That older projector, it should be noted, was really pre-3D.  The W6000 was built to be a light canon, it was the brightest serious projector – one with respectable black level performance around at the time, at least in reasonable price ranges. The W7500 is simply the latest combination of light canon, and home theater quality projector.

While the old W6000 was exceptionally bright in its day, the W7500 – still one of the brightest home theater projectors around, has seen many of the competition get much brighter over the past few years, as they have added brightness to deal effectively with 3D.These BenQ projectors inherently have been bright enough for that.

The MSRP of the W7500 is $2799, however street prices seem to run about $2599, putting it about the same as the Epson 5030UB also in this four way comparison.

Read the full BenQ W7500 review here.

 

Skip ahead to the shootouts containing this projector
Optoma HD91 vs. BenQ W7500
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. BenQ W7500
BenQ W7500 vs. Sony VPL-HW40ES

 

BenQ W7500 Projector - Relative Strengths

The W7500 today, has 3D, slightly improved blacks, dynamic detail enhancement, etc.   It is, like it’s predecessors, a single chip DLP projector (as is the Optoma HD91).

Best mode calibrated brightness measured 1749 lumens at mid-zoom and would therefore be only about 100 lumens brighter at wide zoom.  At maximum brightness.  Need maximum brightness.  At mid-zoom Dynamic measured just over 2200 lumens.  Awesome, but, as are many dynamic modes – it’s pretty ugly.   More on that under Weaknesses.

Of the four projectors we compare in the separate shoot out, the BenQ is most similar to the Sony HW40ES in calibrated brightness and maximum brightness, despite the Sony being a 3 chip LCoS projector.

The W7500 as a single chip DLP has a color filter wheel, and it is a fast one at 6X.  That seems to be as fast as they come.  I’m sensitive to the rainbow effect (seen mostly whan bright white objects move across dark backgrounds or dark objects move across near white or light gray backgrounds.  I found that I barely ever spotted rainbows unless I was walking around moving my head.  The W7500 is about as good at limiting the rainbow effect as any projector I’ve seen with a color wheel.

3D Performance — The W7500  is very clean, with no crosstalk attributable to the projector.  That’s no surprise as that’s an advantage of DLP projectors not shared by 3LCD or LCoS projectors.   Editor’s Note:  The W7500 has 2D to 3D conversion, which I generally do not like.  All you have to do is watch 2D to 3D conversion on the 2D movie Top Gun, and then watch the 3D version of Top Gun for comparison.  The studio’s ability to produce a clean 3D conversion is great, projectors – not very good.  As much as I like 3D, I have yet to fall in love with any projector’s 2D to 3D conversion. We won’t hold this against BenQ!

Warranty — The W7500′s warranty s a solid 3 years parts and labor, about as good as it gets at this price point.  There is no rapid replacement program, however.

BenQ W7500 Projector - Relative Weaknesses

Brightest mode color: While the W7500 is a true light canon, and measures well over its 2000 lumen claim, the 2200 lumens at mid-zoom with Dynamic mode (which is about 2400 lumens at wide zoom) is heavy green yellow. Mike tries to improve brightest modes when he can, as part of his overall calibration. When he does the goal is to improve the color as much as possible but still have a mode much brighter than default. Mike reported that by the time he adjusted Dynamic to look reasonably decent in terms of color it was already very close to the calibrated brightness.

Save Dynamic mode for when you need every last lumen. The color won’t be desirable, but if it lets you watch that sporting event, that would be harder to watch with 20% less brightness.

Click Image to Enlarge

The BenQ “Best” mode – post Calibration — The W7500 calibrates pretty well, but it is definitely not as dead on, post calibration as some competitors. That said, the W7500 produces a very reasonably accurate image that should please most folks, and it has tons of pop to the image – thanks to all those lumens, but also the inherent characteristics of good DLP projectors – rich saturated colors in darker areas, that wow, but aren’t over the top. I list this under weaknesses ONLY because the final calibration isn’t as on the money as those others.

Of course, while we call that less than perfect calibration a weakness, but in the world of trade-offs, remember it’s as bright calibrated as any direct competitor, and it’s as bright with it’s not pretty Dynamic mode as any other’s not pretty Dynamic mode. The weakness is that you can’t dial down the color issues with Dynamic and still have a good deal more lumens than calibrated.

Overall Placement Flexibility — is very good. There’s a 1.5:1 zoom and lens shift. None the less I list this as a weakness, as it’s the least amount of zoom available of the projectors in the shootout and it’s got the second least amount of lens shift. Still, it should work for most people’s setups, making it a weakness that either won’t matter to you, or will simply require you get a different projector that “fits” in your room.

Cost of Operation and Ownership — While the warranty, at 3 years is very good, overall cost of ownership and operation is not a strength.  The series, starting with that W6000 emphasizes brightness, as a primary feature.  To accomplish this, BenQ apparently works its lamp hard, and brings in, by far the lowest lamp life of the projectors in its price range, with only 2000 hours at full power, and only 3000 hours in Eco mode.

By comparison, 4000/5000 hours is obtainable on at least one direct competitor and most offer at least 4000 hours in Eco mode, and 3000 at full power.  Replacement lamps seem to be priced at $299 or higher, also higher than most.   As a one more nail in the cost efficiency coffin, the lamp is a 300 watt, so the W7500 draws more power than most competitors, so your electric bill will be slightly higher (not really a big deal).

Lamp Life —  Part of Cost of Ownership, lamp life is a definitely weakness, as BenQ lamps are fairly expensive, and like the Sony, only rated 2000 hours at full power.  Also, in eco mode, it’s still only rated 3000 hours, which is 2000 hours less than the other lamp based projectors in this comparison.

More on 3D Performance –  While nicely bright and crosstalk free, it uses DLP-Link,  as their syncing method.not RF.  I have always suspected that DLP-Link limits contrast in 3D.

That means they are using a signal that’s embedded in the projector’s projected image.  Many companies have given up on DLP-Link, finding various RF technologies to have multiple advantages including a better overall 3D image.

No 3D glasses are included.  If you choose to buy BenQ DLP-Link glasses they will be typically expensive for manufacturer brand glasses, but there are plenty of 3d party “universal” DLP-Link 3D glasses that cost less.  That’s a good thing too, because although the latest BenQ glasses I’ve seen are a lot lighter than previous, they still weighed over 45 grams, about 10 grams more than average, and about twice the lightest glasses out there.

Black level performance — Very respectable, definitely what I call “ultra high contrast”, and handling of very dark scenes is very good.  But, it is not up to the best in class such as the Epson UB, or the not dramatically more expensive Sony VPL-HW55ES.  There’s enough difference between the BenQ and those two in black levels, to count that as a relative weakness.  Mind you it holds its own with other competent projectors including Panasonic’s PT-AE8000U, the Optoma HD91 and HD8300, and others.

W7500 Projector - The Bottom Line

The W7500 is a fine projector and a serious competitor. Color post calibration is very good, but not the best around. Black level performance could be better, and 3D is very good.  The W7500 is a very good projector in the theater and can handle very large screens, and it’s a “better still” projector in the family room, media room, thanks to having the sheer power to tackle a fair amount of ambient light.  Just remember, in those brighter rooms its critical that you choose the right screen.

If you love DLP projectors this is as good as you will find for the money, and one that can tackle a theater on huge screens, or most reasonable rooms on merely large ones.  I’ve always been a fan of this series from BenQ.  Perhaps my biggest disappointment with the W7500 is that its street price seems to be about $500 more than its predecessor.  Of course that could change.  Improving lamp life

Next:  Our #2 choice:  Sony VPL-HW40ES Projector

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