Four Great Home Theater Projectors Compared
Let’s talk noise.
First, audible noise. This is a clear win for the Sony. It’s not dramatically quieter, but it definitely is quieter, being pretty reasonable in terms of fan noise, for full power. By comparison the BenQ is on the noisy side (like the Epson). Both should be more than quiet enough in their eco-modes to satisfy even the noise adverse. The BenQ as mentioned can have some iris rumble, but often that isn’t a problem unless the mount, or the table its on is amplifying it, which should be fixable with suitable spacers.
Now to image noise. I had expected the Sony to have a distinct advantage as DLP projectors tend to show more background noise. This Sony though, seems to exhibit more image noise that it’s big brother, and isn’t much different than the BenQ. Please note that I spent most of my time viewing these two projectors with their dynamic detail enhancement features on modest settings. Those dynamic controls also make image noise more visible. I’ll give the Sony the slight edge, but not by much.
Watch the comparison!
This video demonstrates the detail enhancement features of both projectors, which can make image noise (discussed above) even more noticeable.
For our subscribers only: Click here to see the other video comparisons that show how the BenQ and Sony stack up in terms of black level performance, shadow detail, detail enhancement, brightness, and color.
Color! Both projectors calibrate very well. The Sony is already excellent right out of the box, while the BenQ has some good color, but appreciates a calibration more.
Still, when shooting the side by side video clips for this, the calibrated images were very close. I’ll give the slight advantage for accuracy to the Sony, but both produce extremely good color and a well balanced picture.
Note: In the images above, the BenQ comes first, followed by the Sony.
As I’ve mentioned, the Sony has a built in IR transmitter for 3D sync, while the BenQ uses DLP-Link. Both share similar limitations (ie look away, lose the sync). I favor RF glasses, which I believe, all things considered offer a better picture (not due to the RF, but because that’s the direction of the market, so that’s where the improvements are showing up. Generally RF glasses are also lighter than the other two. Sony gives you the option, but before you can buy RF glasses instead of IR for the Sony, you need the $199 3D RF emitter by XPAND, so that changes the cost aspects a bit.
The W7500 is cleaner on 3D, as it should be, since DLP’s are purported to be cross-talk free, but I’m very pleased with the Sony’s efforts with RF glasses. Considering that few of us weight 3D (other than having basic sufficient brightness) to be a big factor at all, in the decision process, let’s call this a tie. The Sony can be better, if you spend more, the BenQ is my choice if it’s going to be DLP-Link vs IR. Very subjective of me!
Cost of Ownership and Operation
Well the starting prices are comparable. The replacement lamp prices are too. Since both have three year warranties, lamp life becomes a factor. If you plan to run both projectors at full power, there’s a difference of 3000 hours for the BenQ, vs 5000 for the Sony, but both claim just 2000 hours at full power. Of course, few will need to run either of these projectors at full power in a dedicated theater, except for 3D.
Remote and Menus
Note: The first image on the right is the BenQ W7500’s remote, followed by the Sony VPL-HW40ES remote.
Both projectors have largish remote controls. Both are well laid out. I’ve been using similar remotes to these current projectors for years, as both typically merely change out some functions over time, adding others. I don’t think anyone will have any serious complaints about either. Both have good back lights, although I find the BenQ to have just the right amount of brightness. Both have well thought out menu systems that have survived many generations of projectors, again, with new features occasionally added. Both have multiple eco features above and beyond having a low power mode.
This comparison is really a tough one for me. Brightness is so similar, color, post calibration, the same. In the main article I considered the Sony to be the #2 projector, ahead of the BenQ in #3 slot. But, from a personal standpoint, if I had to choose one for my own use, overall, I suspect I’d go with the BenQ. I think it has more pop on those dark scenes. When it comes to black levels, as I’ve stated above, the BenQ can go darker on dark scenes, but there is a trade-off. It’s iris, while a good one, like all dynamic irises, will sometimes have some slightly visible iris action or pumping. Still, I found the BenQ’s iris smooth enough that it works for me. Now the Sony is the more elegant projector from a hardware standpoint, (it will more easily pass the “spouse test” but when the lights are out, and the image on, I think I’d rather choose the DLP in this case.
Either projector will wow not only first time owners, but many who are coming from older projectors, some costing more. It’s hard to argue with really good color, powered by lots of lumens.
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