Posted on November 1, 2018 By Nikki Kahl
The BenQ LU950 is a WUXGA (1920×1200) laser projector claiming 5,000 lumens – enough to shine through the uncontrollable ambient light found in some museums, conference and boardrooms, retail spaces, and higher education classrooms. This DLP projector has plenty of special features that make it a good fit for such spaces, in addition to its high brightness claim. That it is a laser projector is a definite plus, as the lifespan of a laser light engine lasts over the better part of a decade, making it a great investment for installations where the projector will be in use daily.
We’ll start this review of the BenQ LU950 with a brief overview, followed by some highlights before moving on to that list of special features. We will also tour the hardware, as well as discuss picture quality and performance before summing it all up for you on the last page. By the end of this review, you should have a pretty good idea about whether or not the BenQ LU950 is the right projector for your business or education applications. Let’s get started!
We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report.
The BenQ LU950 is a 5,000 lumen, WUXGA resolution (1920×1200) projector, with a list price of $2,799 – what a great price for a laser projector with WUXGA resolution! That laser light engine has a claim of 20,000 hours, which translates to the projector lasting many years without losing brightness. That’s a major plus for commercial environments where the LU950 may experience heavy use. This BenQ is a DLP projector, so it has a color wheel, but it’s not the one found in most DLPs I’ve reviewed – this one has an RGBY, with a yellow slice.
An RGBY color wheel is not the most usual – typically you’d find an RGBRGB or an RGBW (RGB + clear slice). RGBW color wheels have an advantage over RGBY color wheels, as that clear slice boosts white lumens, making a brighter overall image. Adding a secondary color, such as yellow, gives some of the benefits of an RGBW color wheel, but not as much. The benefit to having an RGBY color wheel is that it gives the manufacturers more opportunity to “get the color right.” Generally speaking, though, the more slices, the less lumens per slice.
The real strengths of DLP are threefold. DLP technology allows for smaller projectors – that’s more portability, and generally lighter-weight projectors, making installation easier. In situations with ambient light, you’ll get more white lumens dollar-for-dollar than a 3LCD projector, but a 3LCD projector will perform better than DLPs in terms of color, when faced with ambient light. So, “all else being equal,” when you need good color in the face of ambient light, you’ll want a 3LCD, DLP if you want more brightness and don’t need as good of color – like we say, there are always trade-offs. In controlled conditions, both technologies perform well.
Bu all else isn’t equal. Typically DLP projectors deliver more white lumens per dollar – a similarly featured DLP might offer 5000 lumens while the competing 3LCD selling for the same price might only offer 4000 lumens. When you factor that in, then you realize that a good DLP projector like this one (which costs less than 3LCD competition), can not only deliver a good deal more white lumens, but may well have similar good quality color lumen output.
These are all things we consider in our reviews. And with that, we concluded that the LU950 is an impressive laser projector that earns one of our Hot Product Awards.
DLP projectors also have sealed light paths. This means that no dust particles will settle on the inside of the light path and cause a “dust blob” on your projected image. This is a big plus because having to get that dust removed is a major maintenance call, costing time and money. With a sealed light path, you get protection of the DMD chip, color wheel sensor, laser bank, and other optical components. 3LCD manufacturers are starting to seal their light paths as well, though they do it in a different way.
The BenQ LU950 is nicely sharp and has great color in multiple picture modes.
Colors are vibrant, whether projecting 1080p video content, web content, or presentations.
The WUXGA resolution provides great detail when projecting a variety of content, from moving video to still graphics.
Text is easily readable in a variety of sizes.
Websites, Word documents, and other content with smaller type look good when projected by the LU950.
Presentation mode is great for displaying presentation slides.
Infographics and other graphics with smaller type are easily readable when projected by the BenQ LU950.
Back to that laser light engine and its lifetime claim of up to 20,000 hours. That is typical of laser projectors, and translates to about a decade of use before that light engine needs to be replaced. That’s a clear advantage over lamp based projectors, whose lamps generally last from about 3,000 to 8,000 hours and will need to be replaced several times. But, as a plus – lamp replacements are quite affordable these days.
Lamp based projectors will have a lower up-front cost, but maintenance over its lifetime, while laser based projectors will have a higher up-front cost and low maintenance over its lifetime – and, the LU950 being a DLP, it doesn’t have any filters to clean, translating to even less maintenance. Lamp based projectors also have a shift in color and lose some of their brightness within the first several thousand hours, whereas lasers will lose brightness and shift color slowly over its lifetime – by that 20,000 hours, you can expect to lose maybe half the brightness.
The BenQ LU950 has a host of special features for business and education applications, including maintenance-free installation (thanks to the laser light engine and no filters to clean), advanced networking, and wireless capabilities using an optional plug-and-play device. The LU950 also has all of the inputs and connectors necessary for the usual purposes, including two HDMIs, some old-school video inputs, and HDBaseT. There are more, of course, but that’s a discussion saved for the Hardware Tour.
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