The Art of Home Theater Projectors

BenQ W20000 Home Theater Projector – A first look

I’ve been blogging and writing CEDIA related stuff for the last week, but, that doesn’t mean reviewing projectors is on hold. The BenQ W20000 arrived days before CEDIA, and Mike calibrated it. I’ve logged about 10 hours of viewing on it since I got back, including some college football today. Go Penn State – best of the Big 10! (no hate email, please).

BenQs W20000 1080p projector, is a larger DLP projector, and one of the few with lens shift.

BenQ’s W20000 1080p projector, is a larger DLP projector, and one of the few with lens shift.

I also watched a couple of movies (21, Dogma, and segments of a couple of the regulars I use for my analysis (Casino Royale, The 5th Element).

My first comment is that – Yup, this is definitely a BenQ projector (remember, I owned their 720p PE-8720, and the PE-8700 before that one, before I bought the JVC RS1).

I looks just like my old BenQ projectors physically (the slightest cosmetic changes), and it watches just like them, but better. After calibration it exhibited exactly what I remember from my own BenQ’s as well as the W5000 and W10000 1080p models previously reviewed.

What that boils down to is an extremely sharp image, and very good color after calibration. The BenQ W20000 isn’t the best thing I’ve played with recently, but is a very well balanced projector. The image noise issue of the W5000 doesn’t seem to be a problem with the W20000. I wasn’t looking for image noise during normal viewing, and didn’t notice a problem.

The BenQ W20000 looks exceptionally good on HDTV, the image is just very sharp/crisp and has very good depth. In this it rivals the InFocus IN83, even though it can’t match the InFocus’es brightness.

On movies, it looks very good, but not exceptional. Again, the IN83 comes to mind as a competitor. I plan to put the two side by side in the next 48 hours, because I’m curious as to whether the BenQ W20000 (darkchip3) can beat out the IN83 in black levels. They have a dynamic iris, and from watching so far, I suspect the BenQ on those dark scenes will do a better job than the IN83, despite the InFocus’es Darkchip4.

Other than that, the BenQ is one of the larger projectors out there, and like most DLP projectors, it is limited by its 1.2:1 zoom lens. On the plus side, however, it has vertical lens shift, and a longer throw than most other DLP projectors, making the W20000 very shelf mountable, in many rooms.

Menus, remote, most things, are almost identical to previous models and they have always done a pretty good job. The remote has a nice backlite (orange) and plenty of range. It’s one of the few that I can use in my large room, and get a good bounce off of my screen/front wall, to the projector behind me.

That’s it for now. The review will be posted mid-week. By then I will have spent more time on general viewing, (their Brilliant Color implementation is a bit “interesting” causing a rather significant shift in color temperature), but I will have also spent time with it in my testing room, looking at the finer points of its performance. My initial reaction though, is a very good projector, but one facing a lot of very serious competition. BTW, it does support an anamorphic lens. -art

News And Comments

  • Bruce Chassy

    Great review! You always manage to cover all the key points that potential buyers want to know. The comparisons are really useful. Three questions though.

    1. Why do you suppose the W20000 has acceptable noise and the W5000 does not? They are built on the same platform are they not? I thought the difference was the DC2 versus DC3 alone.

    Bruce, there is a definite visible difference in noise. We are all still waiting the promised, improved firmware for the W5000. BTW, (and I’m going from memory), I believe the W5000 has the newer DC1.

    2. Did you ever see the dreaded green vale that some forum posters complain about in the W5000? What is that about anyway?

    No, can’t say that I have. I haven’t been following the W5000 threads, and you are the first to bring it to my attention. I’ll probably try to get over there. Some day BenQ promises the fix, and will send me one for a second look. I’m not holding my breath!

    3. How would the W2000 stack up against the slightly higher priced Planar PD8130/8150 machines? These seem like the real competition if somewhat pricier.

    Again, thanks for a great job of balanced reviewing!

    That’s a good question. At CEDIA, Planar said they could get me an 8150 in October, for review.

    It’s tough, over a year, I get to about 90% of the major home theater projectors under $10K, excluding outfits like projectiondesign, and Digital Projection. I should be getting a lower cost SIM2, as well. Still, this time of year it’s crunch time. I’ve got about 15 projectors on my list that should all be shipping before end of year. But, I can’t knock them off that fast.

    So, like with the Planar 8150, I can’t compare until I have one. The previous Planar I reviewed – a while back, the 7060 was pretty nice, but had some weaknesses.

    Should be fun. Hang in there! -art

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    Answers above after each question

  • Bruce Chassy

    Just search “green” on the W5000 thread and you’ll see a long string of posts. They also claim it’s got the DC2 over there, but Benq literature is silent on the subject. They do have one manual for the W5000/W20000 so they are fairly similar in most ways if not identical.

    You have to wonder why companies aren’t eager to have you review their products.

    This is a fun time in one sense–lot’s of great choices. And that’s the problem. Figuring out which choice to make!

    ************

    Ok, I’ve got an email into BenQ product management, to see if I can get confirmation re which version DLP chip is in the W5000.

    Yes, lots of products, most manufacturers would tend to prefer that we didn’t get into so much competitive commenting (they love print magazines, where every product is pretty great, and it’s like only one projector exists at a time in the universe.

    That said, I really don’t have any problem getting review units, except from high end “local installing dealer” only brands like Runco/Vidikron, SIM2 (who does come through once in a while), Marantz, and some really high end.

    The biggest problem is that I can’t get to all the ones offered, and the few I want to review. There’s only limited time, and at the very best, I can only do 1 per wee, (actually I average about one every 8-9 days, over the course of a year.

    So, ultimately I can’t get to them all. A partial list of what’s coming up over the remainder of the year, including January (when I also have CES and a conference to attend). In approximate alphabetical order, these are commitments from manufacturers

    BenQ: Done:
    Epson: HC6100/PC7100, HC6500/PC7500, HC700 (720p), Moviemate 55,
    InFocus: Done
    JVC: RS10, RS20 (or the equivalent HD versions from the home division)
    Mitsubishi: HC6500, HC7000
    Optoma: HD806 (not sure whether I’ll get to it, don’t know much about it yet), if too similar to HD803, may not have time
    Panasonic: PT-AE3000U
    Planar: 8150
    projectiondesign: One of the new Avielo models
    Sanyo: PLV-Z60, PLV-Z700, (both in house, now) PLV-Z3000 (presumed to be available in Nov).
    SIM2: One of three possible’s probably the new $4995 1080p Domino.
    Sony: HW10, VW70.

    All of the above, will be reviewed, based on when they are available, but all of these manufacturers, have confirmed, that they will send units. Obviously, most will be available between now and late November, but it will take 4 months to get through all of these.

    At the end of January, or early february, I should publish my first 2009 1080p projector comparison report.

    Finally, you are correct, a lot to choose from, and many are comparable. So it really comes down to figuring out, which will work in your room, from a physical placement standpoint, which features and performance areas you value most, and which flaws will bother you the least.

    I suffer the same problem. It’s time to replace my RS1, but with what? IN83′s great, but no match in black levels (but oh, so bright), the new JVC’s maybe. I’m still slightly frustrated with the RS1′s less than 1000 lumens in brightest mode, though, which is also why I didn’t upgrade to the RS2, which isn’t as bright.

    Hey, picking the projector is 75% of the fun for many folks.

    BTW, I’d also like to get a shot at the Samsung, if I can get one out of them. Haven’t had a good connection there since Mark Pickard (their product manager) left Samsung last year, for a different company.

    Gotta get back to work. -art

  • jim chatterton

    A meaningless comment: But could you id your Blog as a Blog…I keep overlooking it. Your comments are great. Thanks..

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    Jim, I must be dense, this morning, but what exactly do you mean about ID’ing it as a blog? -art

  • greg little

    hi Art,
    You were good enough to respond once so I don’t want you to take much time with this question. I am waiting for the Mit hc7000 to be introduced and have a review written by someone.In the mean time as I wrote before I was looking at the infocus 83 on the recommendation from the retailer that a dlp threw a better picture overall than a lcd.After looking at your site I see that you have also reviewed a Benq20000 as of late. Both units you give a good review on. The in83 has no lens shift, one hdmi (although 1.3, a bit noiser 30db less native contrast and no auto iris like the benq20000. The Benq is 1.2, so no deep colour etc., but one source says the video processor is better on the BenQ..Quetion,if you found both in a new box on the side of the road with a note that said I’m free but you can only take one of me home..which one would be placed in you trunk..now say the in83 is 700 dollars more..my avr is a pioneer 94…thx Greg

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    Money is always a factor, but here’s my 2 cents. I have both still sitting here. Of the two, I put the IN83 in my main theater, while I’m using my RS1 for other purposes, these last few weeks.

    I could live with either projector, but, at the same price – placement issues notwithstanding, I’ll take the IN83. I simply believe it has the most natural looking image (skin tones in particular) of any projector here, including my JVC RS1.

    We’re quibbling over small differences on two excellent projectors. With both properly calibrated, I’d say this. If you walked into your room, sat down and watched one, then came back a couple hours later, and someone had switched to the other one, you likely wouldn’t notice any difference. Oh, perhaps if you knew what to look for and chose to do so, but, otherwise, if you were just kicking back and watching, I seriously doubt you would notice a change in the projectors, let alone which one is better.

    We tend to get all excited about very small differences which are mostly apparent only in side by side comparisons. Subtle differences may be important to perfectionists, but most people just want to enjoy. Best way to put that in perspective, is around here, most friends, etc., love my Ensemble HD setup in “theater 2″. They’ve all seen the JVC, the IN83, or other higher end projectors in my main theater, but the smaller, more personal room (no high ceilings, etc), have many preferring the Ensemble. go figure!

    I am, as you must suspect, highly critical, but at the same time, have taught myself to turn off that side, when I’m just watching, and not working. Even I enjoy the Ensemble, although I sure wish it had the Epson UB not the older HC1080. Still, I watch a fair amount in that room.

    You have to decide if $700 is worth an extra couple of percent in performance (and even then, trade-offs.) -art