Four Home Theater Projector Comparison

Cost of Ownership and Operation

Currently there’s about a $1400 street price difference, or at least I can’t seem to find the HD91 selling for below it’s $3999 price tag.  A heavy user, though (40 hours a week), running the BenQ at full power, can go through a lamp every 18 months, so over 5 years they would buy 3 lamps, mitigating almost 2/3 of the price difference.

Of course these two projectors are really not close competitors because of the brightness differences.  Certainly if you were looking to put both in the same room, it would seem likely that you would run the BenQ W7500 projector in its eco mode which would still be a good deal brighter than the HD91, and that would change the math above, favoring the W7500 even more.

Both projectors sport 3 year parts and labor warrantees, and neither has a replacement program.

Placement Flexibility

This one’s a win for the HD91.  Neither projector has a whole lot of lens shift, but the Optoma’s 1.9:1 zoom lens has almost twice the range of the W7500’s 1.5:1 zoom.  Both are manual zoom lenses.

Audible Noise

As long as we’re talking hardware, I should mention audible noise.  No question, the HD91 is the quieter of the two.  It’s pretty quiet overall, while the W7500 is on the loud side of home theater projectors.  Lots of lumens means lots of cooling needed, and that means fan noise.

Remotes and Menus

No issues with remotes or menus.  I’ve always liked those big BenQ remotes.  It’s basically the same (different button labels) as I had 10 years ago when I owned a BenQ PE8700 projector.  My biggest objection to Optoma’s remote is it’s pretty blue LED backlight, which can be too bright in a really dark room.  Now that’s a problem people can easily adjust to.

NOTE ON IMAGES: The first image on the right shows the Optoma’s backlit remote. Second is the BenQ’s remote. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Both projectors are happy in dedicated theaters, although typically I’d recommend no more than 110” diagonal screens (assuming 1.1 to 1.3 gain) for the HD91, while even 150” diagonal is doable for the W7500.

The real strength of the HD91, is that once you have it calibrated and installed, you can basically forget about it, or rather, watch it, and forget about it when you aren’t watching it.  No additional calibrations should be needed, the light source will dim slowly over years, etc.  As a result, under normal operation, once set up, just watch it – until it’s obsolete!

The BenQ W7500 on the other hand, is a very competitive projector.  It’s overall brightness stats rival any of the competition.  It was built to do battle with ambient light, at the expense of lamp life.  Yet the W7500 works great in a dedicated theater, although I sure wouldn’t pair it with a small 80 or 88” screen.  It just might be too bright.

 

The W7500 has a much larger potential owner base than the Optoma.  Only in the area of placement flexibility, does the HD91 have a distinct functionality advantage, and even that won’t affect that many people.  While black level performance should be about comparable – basic “ultra-high contrast, the Optoma’s “rough around the edges” Dynamic Black gives the competition the advantage.

Despite the obvious advantages of the W7500, a projector I really like, I really did also like the HD91.  It’s quiet, it needs no attention, for years, and if it’s calibrated it can look very good.  And while again, my brightness comments might discourage you, as I look back, the HD91 is just a little less bright than several projectors I have owned, including two old BenQ’s and my JVC RS1 and  RS20. (BTW, I still have the RS20, which still has much better blacks than either of these.)

My point is, pick the one that suits your needs best.

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