Projector Reviews

BenQ W1200 Projector – Performance

In this section, we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the BenQ W1200 home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise of the W1200.

BenQ W1200 Brightness

With an eighteen hundred lumen claim, we expected the BenQ W1200 to be one of the brighter low cost projectors we’ve reviewed. By comparison, we reviewed the older W1000 more a year ago, which was exceptionally bright. In that regard, the W1200 projectors was a bit disappointing, but we still, at maximum, managed to find 1418 lumens, a little more than 20% below claim. Note, of course, that most projectors come up short of claim. Almost all manufacturers can no doubt find settings to produce their claim, the problem is that usually, those aren’t very watchable settings, and of little practical use, and such settings may not even be user accessible.

Around 1400 lumens is still well brighter than average, but that’s pushing contrast (to 5), so crushing whites. (Mike reports that at 5, 90 IRE material very light gray, is crushed and therefore white, without detail). On the other hand, the projector can produce about 1100 lumens with pretty good looking color, and no crushing, at brightness levels where most are starting to look ugly, if they can even get that bright.

Let’s look at the W1200’s numbers:

Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom)

Dynamic 1008 @ 8775
Standard 942 @ 6928
Cinema 643 @ 5972
User 1 User 1= 1152 @ 8163
User 2 User 2= 1085 @ 7021
User 3 User 3= 975 @ 6334 with Brilliant Color On, with BC off = 824

Those numbers are all “right out of the box”, without any adjustments (except for toggling Brilliant Color for User 3).

Lumen Output (Eco-mode, Dynamic): 764

That represents a drop of about 24%. Expect that same amount of drop in any mode when switching to Eco.

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Brightest mode)

Zoom out 1128
Mid-zoom 1008
Zoom in 891

Remember: We do all measurements at the mid-point of the lens unless otherwise noted. Therefore, as you can see above, zooming out (largest image) wide-angle gives you an 11.2% increase in brightness. At full telephoto, brightness is 21% less bright than at full wide angle. Your decision on where to place, or mount the projector, has a noticeable, (though not great) affect on brightness. Figure that into your decisions.

Mike recommends we use User 2 as a brightest mode for the W1200 home theater projector. It’s not as bright as User 1/Dynamic, but he reports its only 70 lumens less bright, but has much better color, and I can attest to the colors. The Dynamic mode has strong greens (very typical) not pretty, but able to cut through ambient light. There are times when you might need every lumen. Otherwise, we like to start with that “brightest” mode, and improve color a bit, but without giving up significant brightness.

Of course “best” mode for the W1200, is no slouch: User 3 starts out about the same as Cinema, and is our “best” mode. Mike is able to calibrate the User modes but not the Cinema, Dynamic, etc.

User 3 starts out at 824 lumens (Brilliant Color off), jumps to 975 if you turn it on. (Brilliant Color, as always, does increase dynamics, and degrade the picture slightly – you can see that in skin tones.)

Color Temp over IRE Range (Various Modes)

Cinema Standard User 3
30 IRE 5964 6859 6312
50 IRE 5999 6908 6350
80 IRE 5961 6903 6273
100 IRE 5972 6928 6334

After Mike’s full calibration, “best” mode, with Brilliant Color on, the BenQ W1200 measures a very healthy 964 lumens (and a color temp of 6499K at full white). Below are the calibrated color temp results, a significant improvement over the default Cinema or User 3 above:

Calibrated Color Temp over IRE Range

20 IRE 6619
30 IRE 6486
40 IRE 6513
50 IRE 6558
60 IRE 6457
70 IRE 6479
80 IRE 6474
90 IRE 6453
100 IRE 6499

Default gamma 2.29, for just slightly dark mid-tones. Gamma adjustments start at 1.6 and go to 2.8. At 1.6 everything in the middle is bright and gets a washed out look. 2.0 is pretty good for sports – keeps things a bit bright in the mids – desireable for sports, especially should the overall image be a touch dark.

Below, first W1200 image with Brilliant Color Off, second one with it On. Both taken with the same exposure settings:

Brilliant Color off / color on: Comparision

Brilliant Color Off
Brilliant Color on

With Brilliant Color on, you get more punch, but her skin is less natural looking, more contrasty with less different colors.