Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance
We start with black level performance as usual. The BenQ W1070 is neither a $3000 projector nor can it produce the kind of blacks we expect from those far more expensive (at the very least - twice the price - but typically $2500+).
OK, so now you know this isn't a great dedicated home theater projector. Still, some nights you'll want to turn out all the lights and watch a great movie with the best possible picture. I'm pleased to report that black levels are very good for the price range. The W1070, not only outperforms a number of similarly priced DLP projectors (2D and 3D ones), but it offers better blacks than the Epson Home Cinema 3020 even with that projector's dynamic iris engaged. That projector is half again more expensive.
I've watched a few movies in the last month in the theaters. Most recently Les Miz. Considering the ambient lighting level in the theater (here in California), I can say that the W1070, in a fully dark room, has better blacks than Les Miz did in a large Regal theater.
Epson Home Cinema 3020e ($1899)
Acer H9500BD - this projector shared our Best In Class award last year, with the older HC3010. As was the case last year, the Acer - which had the best black levels in the price range, still does a better job on blacks than the newer W1070:
Optoma HD33: (2D, 3D)
Optoma HD23: (Different than the HD33, and 2D only) neither are a match for the BenQ
Panasonic PT-AR100U Projector: (2D only, $1199) The BenQ is better at blacks.
Mitsubishi HC4000: An OLD favorite (3 year old projector), that was one of the best at blacks (a bit more expensive)
Sony VPL-HW50ES (LCoS projector $3,699): This is what you want. A massively overexposed starship, while the letterbox and the black of space is still very dark.
Vivitek H1080FD ($899):
BenQ W7000: The BenQ is more of a home theater projector than a home entertainment one. It definitely does better on blacks - it is one of only two under $2000 reviewed projectors so far, that we consider "ultra high contrast."
Shadow Detail Performance
Below is a favorite image for looking at dark shadow detail. It's also a good test of black level performance. As already noted, the black levels of the W1070 are very good for a non "ultra-high-contrast" projector. Dark shadow detail of the W1070 projector is excellent.
Note the details in the dark of the woods on the right, and easier, look at all those shrubs on the other side of the tracks on the far right. Wow! OK, it's easier to see the darkest shadow detail on projectors that lack super-dark blacks, but this shadow detail is great even for a projector with only good black level performance.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: BenQ W1070 Projector - Bottom Line
Wow! The BenQ W1070 isn't an alternative (when it comes to black level performance) to ultra-high-contrast projectors like the Epson 5020UB, Panasonic PT-AE8000U, or Sony VPL-HW50ES. But those are mostly $3000 range projectors. To my best guess, the least expensive projectors with visibly better blacks is the $1599 Acer and BenQ's 2D only, W6000, (the 3 year old 2D predecessor to the W7000), which is still available.