The Art of Home Theater Projectors

BenQ W1500 Home Entertainment Projector – A First Look Review

The BenQ W1500 is the “flagship” of BenQ’s home entertainment projector fleet.  Similar to the popular W1070, and the W1080ST – a short throw version of the W1070, this W1500 comes with some extra features, a zoom lens with 1.6:1 zoom range (the W1070 is only 1.3:1).

I thought I’d take a break from the full review to let you folks know that it’s about half written up.

There haven’t been many surprises.  As expected the W1500 has some pretty darn good color out of the box, and calibrates beautifully, for accurate color.  Like it’s siblings, it claims 10,000:1 contrast – not bad, considering there’s no dynamic iris, but by any measure, the W1500′s black level performance is mediocre for its just under $2000 street price.

BenQ W1500 Projector - Top-front view showing lens, lens controls, control panel

BenQ W1500 Projector – Top-front view showing lens, lens controls, control panel

But then BenQ sees the W1500 as a home entertainment projector, one more for the family / bonus / living room than for a dedicated home theater.  After all, BenQ offers up one of my favorite DLP projectors, the W7000, for about the same price, and that one has far better blacks, and is definitely more of a home theater projector.  Because it targets less than ideal rooms, and because it doesn’t take much ambient light to wipe out great blacks, all considered, blacks aren’t bad for environments it is most likely to be used in.

I like that the W1500 projector has frame interpolation.  True, the W1500 is expensive for a home entertainment projector, but creative frame interpolation is usually not found on lower cost projectors, which is interesting, since more expensive projectors are often bought by folks primarily into movies, and I would think that people putting projectors in family rooms probably have a hire percentage of sports fanatics, etc.

Well, enough for now, other than to say that this projector measured a maximum of over 1900 lumens, and that’s without making adjustments for the sake of shaking out extra lumens.

All and all, the W1500 is a fine projector.  Check out the review which will publish either 12/23/13 or 12/24/13.   I’m going back to writing more of it now… hang in there, and of course  - Happy Holidays!  -art

 

News And Comments

  • mikesco

    Thanks Art. I just picked up this projector, I love the fact that It is light enough to take anywhere and when not at home it has 2 10watt speakers built in. Given the extra lumens and mediocre black levels would you say a grey matte screen in the 92″ size would be a good choice for this projector?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi, I would definitely recommend going high-contrast grey for your screen. Since you have plenty of lumens to go around, especially for a small screen. Hope that helps. -a

      • mikesco

        Thanks, That will be what I get.

  • Richard

    Aside from CFI and WHDMI, I think what most of us would like to hear is your opinion on how PQ of the W1500 compares to the W1070, to justify the ~500 price difference.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Richard. I have no reason to believe BenQ will be importing the W1400, it’s very common for BenQ not to bring in projectors to the US that are sold elsewhere. And as to your other question, best we can tell, since it has been almost 1 year since we’ve had a W1070 here, both projectors have post-calibration excellent picture quality. On top of that, they should have the same black level performance. Bottom line: You are paying for the wireless (figure $250-300 is typical for 3rd party wireless solutions), and you’re getting more zoom range (which not everyone needs), and a few other minor features. So, it’s up to you. If you don’t need wireless, you probably can’t justify the extra cost of the W1500 unless it will work in your room (where the W1070 won’t) because of the zoom. Nothing else worth spending hundreds of dollars more. -a

      • mikesco

        From what I have read the Lumen output over the W1070 is roughly 50% higher, if you have higher ambient light levels I would think it would perform better than the 1070 in a living room environment.

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Mike calibrated both projectors (11 months apart). Now although the W1500 is rated 200 lumens higher, Mike’s calibration was over 100 lumens less bright. So, at least from our standpoint here, the two are essentially the same brightness. Even if they lined up right on their claimed numbers, then officially the W1070 would only be about 8-9% less bright, a barely detectable difference.

          So from a practical standpoint, I’d call them a tie! Also since they have different lenses and throws, that will come into play. Since the W1500 has more zoom range – there will be more lumen drop from wide angle, to midpoint on the zoom. That might explain the loss of 50-100 lumens. -a

          • mikesco

            Hmmm, very confusing how to reviews can come up with numbers so different, Projector Central about a month ago did a shoot out between the W1070 and the W1500 and found the calibrated numbers to be 40% higher on the W1500 (roughly 1700 compared to 1200) obviously if those results were true it would justify the cost difference quite a bit more. Granted your numbers are closer to the manufacturer’s claims. I have to wonder what could account for such a dramatic difference in results, maybe bulb age, or someone calibration system is off.

          • ProjectorReviews.com

            Confusing here, too. I have been discussing with Mike. As he points out, he uses default settings for the general mode measurements of lumens and color temp. Factors that could cause differences (large ones) could be whether Projector Central had Brilliant Color turned on for a particular mode, where Mike had it off. Also if a mode defaults to low power (eco) on the lamp, Mike would measure that mode, that way, Perhaps Bill might have used full power. The fact that several measurements are very similar, certainly would lead me to believe, that differing settings such as lamp and Brilliant Color, in some modes are causing the different measurements. Overall, though, I would conclude that there’s very little difference in brightness (if any) between the two. I wouldn’t even “bet” that there really should be a 10% difference (2000 vs 2200 lumens). I’ve suspected in the past that plenty of companies will fiddle with their claims, to better position certain projectors. That is, if you want to sell more W1500′s compared to W1070s tell the world it’s brighter. I’m not saying overstate the W1500, but understating the W1070 would accomplish the same goal, and who can criticize them for being too conservative?
            Along those lines, I have suspected, and written about the Epson HC2000 vs HC2030, two virtually identical projectors, sold through different channels, also with a 10% brightness difference. I suspect those two, also, should measure almost identically. Especially since in that case, the online – lower cost HC2000 claims less contrast as well. Guess what, all else being equal, the lower contrast should make the HC2000 brighter… So let’s not forget, that it may be marketing, rather than technological differences.

          • mikesco

            I’ve been thinking about this, and wondered if the disparity may be based on the quality of lens and zoom. For example if Projector Central was having a shootout between both projectors at the same distance from the screen, the 1070 might be set at minimum zoom while the 1500 would be about at mid zoom. The 1500 also might have a larger aperture lens at certain points which would allow for more lumens. (If this is how that works) This might make the difference since you are testing lumens at midpoint on both projectors rather than a fixed distance or screen size. Just a thought?

          • ProjectorReviews.com

            I considered the same thing, but none of that alone would explain anything near the 2:1 difference on one of the modes. Lens at most, probably could account for 30% difference in brightness, and probably less.

      • Richard

        Hi Art, Thank you for your candidness. Is there much difference in light leak or noise level of the W1500 compared to the W1070?

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Hi guys. First, Richard, light leakage as I recall was not a real issue with the W1070. I also remember being dissapointed with the amount of light leakage the short throw W1080ST had. Well, I don’t think the W1500 is any better than the W1080ST. It does leak a good amount of light, both around the image and a few random places further off access. I would assume that BenQ, in treating this projector as more for a family room than a theater, wasn’t that concerned about the amount of light. It’s till not huge, but more than I’ve seen on any other home projector in many, many months. -a

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Richard, As I see it, most folks would be hard pressed to rationalize spending the $500+ extra for the W1500, unless they need the wireless HDMI, which I figure is a $250-$300 value. Of course if someone needs the greater zoom range of the W1500 to work in their room, where the W1070 wouldn’t, that would be the other possible reason.
      Certainly people who plan some mobility for their projector – like the backyard evenings, or ocasionally traveling with it (for biz or entertainment), are most likely to appreciate the WHDI, and therefore consider the W1500. But other than that, I don’t expect that the W1500 will sell in anywhere near the numbers of the W1070, simply because those are the only two compelling reasons to spend 50% more. The other differences have to be considered minor.