Projector Reviews

BenQ W1500 Projector – Picture Quality 4


HDTV and Sports, 3D

Room Conditions - Ambient Light For HDTV Viewing

Whether you put your BenQ W1500 projector in a family room, living room, or a dedicated home theater, there are times when you won’t want to be watching in the dark.  Movies in the dark, sure, but when you have friends or family around for sports, or perhaps your favorite TV programming:  30 Rock, American Idol, or Blacklist, it’s likely that you will want some light around, for a more social environment.

To help you get a handle how much ambient light might work, we took this sequence in my theater.  As you can see, I’ve exposed the first image (blank screen, window) to give you an idea of the brightness of the room.  You can even see the shadow of my equipment on the right (on the right speaker) being cast from the light coming in the side window, on to the screen.  The shutters for this sequence are as open as I ever have them, which is wide open, but only for half of that window.  The second image shows one of the rear windows with its shutters open, as well as the open door and plenty of light coming in from the outer room with it’s huge skylight.

The next image shows the DirecTV Guide, with the image taken with the same exposure as the blank screen image.   You can see the ambient light hitting around the screen, and also washing out the image, but…  the 4th image is the same, but now exposed correctly for the content on the screen, not the room.  Bingo, it starts looking a better, but the ambient light is still visibly affecting the picture.  The remaining photos in this player were taken, with the same lighting, and the best exposure.  BTW all the other sports images on the site, but these, were taken with the shutters about 60-70% open, not 100%, which made for a much better image on the screen.

Room and Ambient Light

When it comes to watching sports and HDTV, I have but one real complaint, , but other than that, 3D’s pretty impressive.  Oh, I guess I can always wish for more brightness – for all of you who would place this projector is less than ideal rooms, or like watching with more than a little ambient light.

But, the truth is, for HDTV and sports viewing, the BenQ W1500 projector, has all the key ingredients, starting with good color, as the projector calibrates with over 80% of maximum measured lumens.  And anytime we’re talking 1500+ lumens, we’re talking – light canon – a projector that can tackle those rooms.  No, the W1500 is not the brightest home projector around, and it has several similarly bright competitors around the price, but I can’t think of any that are really significantly brighter, unless you spend a chunk more for one of those new Pro Epson’s which I’ll be reviewing shortly.   You will spend at least double, but they have just rolled out 4000, 5200, and 6000 lumen projectors suitable for home use!

Back to the sub-$2000 BenQ W1500.  Generally, I have found that when comparing to the projectors that I have here the most (the Epson 5020UB/5030UB), the W1500 isn’t quite as bright as those in their brightest modes, but it does serve up better color calibrated, with more lumens than any mode the Epson offers that comes close in terms of color accuracy.

True, I’m less critical about accurate color for sports, than for movies, but I’d still prefer to have the best possible color, with the lumens, making the BenQ vs. Epson a reasonable trade-off.

For the rest of the sports images above, the ones not in the room conditions set, again, the shutters were still mostly open.  For the images for concerts and other HDTV viewing, I dialed the shutters back to a little less than 50% open.   As you can see, those images do look really good, and that’s still a healthy amount of ambient light.

Bottom line on HDTV and Sports Viewing:  Great, especially for the money.  There is one problem though, the BenQ W1070 delivers pretty much the same brightness and HDTV/sports performance, for about 40% less money.

W1500 3D Performance

Overall, 3D is fine, but I do have a few issues:  One is interfacing 3D when using the wireless HDMI.   Twice out of perhaps a dozen attempts, for some reason, the projector never locked onto the 3D source material from my Sony PS3.  In both cases, I “started over”, basically popping the disc out of the Blu-ray player, and reinserting it. (I have it set up to auto load movies.)  Mind you some of this could relate to the player, but since I don’t have any problems with 3D on any projector not using 3D with wireless HDMI, I suspect the wireless is the main culprit.

Still, I got to watch my movies, both times, (The Hobbit, and The Avengers), with only a couple of minute delay – mostly because I let the projector try to find the signal for several minutes.  Both times, though, it worked correctly, and quickly on the second attempt.

DLP-Link isn’t my favorite thing.  Oh, the range limitations (without a booster) isn’t really an issue in all but the largest of home theaters, but the background color is.  You will notice on very dark scenes that the “black” background is showing a red cast to it.  It’s obvious if you have a completely black scene, but even under normal 3D content viewing, I sometimes noticed it.  Not the end of the world, certainly.  After all, generally color in 3D leaves a bit to be desired, at least until we try to calibrate projectors specifically for 3D content.

When it comes to 3D brightness, last evening I put The Hobbit back in, and projected at my screen’s full 124″ diagonal (2.35:1, which should be the equivalent of about 130″ in 16:9).  Brightness was not quite satisfactory for me, as I do seem to demand a bit more brightness than many enthusiasts.

We enthusiasts do have a tendency to be more forgiving than friends and family who may often want to watch in 2D because they don’t find the brightness satisfactory.  I mean, I’m really into 3D so have a tendency to forgive, but even so, the W1500 is going to be better at 3D on a 100″ screen than a 120 or 130 inch.

Bottom line on 3D.  Could be brighter, but that’s true for virtually all the competition – but there are somewhat brighter 3D capabilities on some of the competition. Crosstalk essentially isn’t there it seems, unless it’s part of the source material.  3D while using Wireless HDMI may not be a real problem, as ultimately it worked on every 3D disc I tried, but if it does occasionally “burp” when trying to lock onto Blu-ray 3D coming across the wireless, that’s an inconvenience.