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BenQ W1500 Projector: Summary

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Art Feierman

BenQ W1500 Summary - Color and General Picture Quality

In summarizing the many pages of this review into just a couple, I'll discuss briefly, my conclusions about most of the features and performance that were discussed in depth within the pages of this report.

The place to start is with color.  While out of the box, the W1500 looks pretty good, it gets even better with calibration.  If you aren't springing to have your W1500 projector calibrated, then may I suggest you try our post calibration settings, that Mike came up with.

Skin tones look really, really good color wise, when calibrated, as does just about everything else.  The images here, certainly would agree!


Dark Shadow Detail and Black Level Performance

Dark shadow detail is another major strength of the BenQ W1500 projector, so no issues there.  That leaves us to discuss black level performance.  The BenQ W1500 like its less expensive relatives the W1070 and W1080ST lacks a dynamic iris.  Instead it has to settle for reasonably good black level performance for a projector without a dynamic iris, which it accomplishes thanks to some good native contrast.

But ultimately, when it comes to viewing really dark scenes, the W1500 is no match for some competitors.  Now some of those competitors have some other (and sometimes very serious) issues, but others do not.   The Acer H9500BD projector for example, or the Optoma HD25-LV, both have much better black level handling, but both are rather rough around the edges, in other areas, including user friendliness!  On the other hand, the slightly more expensive Epson Pro Cinema 4030 easily outperforms the W1500 in terms of black levels on dark scenes.



W1500 Brightness Summary

To think only a few years ago (4+ years, really) only a handful of home projectors under $10,000 could do more than about 1500 lumens even in their worst looking "brightest mode" and very, very few calibrated out to more than 800 lumens.   Of course "way back then" 3D wasn't out yet (in current form), so manufacturers only had to worry about 2D, rather than 3D which needs to be about 3X brighter to seem as bright to our eyes.

Well, the W1500 projector musters out just a tad shy of 2000 lumens at its very brightest (without fiddling with settings for the sole purpose of getting more lumens in exchange for a degraded image.)   If the W1500's zoom lens is at mid-point, that only will cost you about 11% of brightness, which is a minimal loss.

Even calibrated, Mike measured a whopping 1581 lumens.  That's about double the brighter projectors of just 4-5 years ago.

The point being the W1500 has the brightness to find a good home, outside of a dedicated theater or cave.  You can go big screen such as 150" diagonal, or you can tackle a decent amount of ambient light on more moderate screens.  In fact, with all those lumens, if you have a pretty good room, you might just want to go with a high contrast gray screen surface to lower those black levels.  You've got the lumens to spare!

Even with Brilliant Color turned off, the BenQ is still really bright with over 1200 lumens (mid-point on the zoom).  Turn the lamp down as well, into eco-mode, and you've finally discovered that the W1500 projector is capable of putting out less than 1000 lumens, but only barely with a measured 955 lumens (again, mid-zoom, it would still be over 1000 lumens at full wide-angle on the zoom.

3D Performance

3D Performance could be better, and a bit more comfortable.  BenQ has newer glasses, that were provided with my review projector, however, I am told that the W1500 projector, at least here in the US, does not come with any 3D glasses included.  Those newer glasses were still in the upper 40 gram range, with some competitors offering 3D glasses that are 20-40% lighter.   The good news is that some of those are "3rd party" glasses that you can buy to use with the W1500.

Brightness on 3D is pretty darn good, there are some Epson's and Panasonic's near the price that are definitely brighter when doing 3D, but understand, not drastically so.

My primary complaint is that BenQ is still using DLP-Link glasses.  Many (most) manufacturers seem to be moving to RF glasses.   When viewing 3D, on very dark scenes, I sometimes notice that black seems to be slightly red, and that's the DLP-Link, I've seen that many times before.  It's mostly subtle, but a flaw, when you do notice.

That said, crosstalk is basically nonexistent, unless it's coming from the source material or the source players themselves.  No apparent crosstalk is a real plus!

That said, I'll cross my fingers that BenQ abandons DLP-Link in their next gen projectors, as I have found non-DLP link glasses (when an option for a projector with DLP-Link) to be slightly brighter, produce a slightly more dynamic image and do better on black levels (no red).

Bottom line on 3D on the W1500 projector:  3D is a lot of fun, but most will find (using a typical screen in a darkened area), to be a bit thin on brightness if you try to push out past about 110" diagonal.  I still find 3D to be less accurate color wise, and suffer some other issues, so I don't try to judge 3D performance anywhere near as critically as I treat the 2D image!

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