BenQ W500 Summary:
Inherently, we all have to figure that any "entry level" home theater projector is a compromise. Afterall, for example, the W500 is the least expensive of five 720p and 1080p projectors they offer.
The W500 is one of the best when it comes to "no fuss", as it is very easy to set up, and placing it is also straight forward, with many who can make it work in their room, expected to shelf mount, to cut back on some installation hassle and cost.
If anything the W500 is really, a very good "average" projector. It's not the best at anything, but does most things well. Several competitors that have other advantages, are very dim by comparison, while some others are noisier, (audible and image noise), and so on. The W500 is definitely more of a Ford, or Toyota, than say a BMW, or Lexus. I think the biggest problem is that where the BenQ exceeds, a couple of other LCD projectors - the Epson and Panasonic PT-AX100U, which do cost more, overall seem to be worth the not to huge difference in price.
The W500 is new, and I have already suggested that BenQ take a look at their gamma settings, and recommended a minor upgrade (they've done it before). The other possibility, as I wait for their response, is that this particular projector may have an issue. I mention that because when I originally reviewed their PE8720 a couple of years ago, their out of the box gamma settings were horrible (much, much worse), but they quickly came up with a firmware upgrade, and turned the PE8720 into a superb projector.
If BenQ agrees, and thinks that this particular projector may be at fault, no doubt I'll have another one here to look at in the next couple of weeks. It won't take very much improvement in shadow detail performance, plus a cure for the red shift, to change the W500 into a Hot Product Award winner.
Overall, a very nice, solid projector, with good image quality, better than average brightness, and aimed at the bulk of the entry level home theater market. I always have to remind myself that most people out there are happy to just fire up their projector, pop in a DVD (or much better a hi-def DVD), or put on some HDTV/TV/Sports, and just enjoy. The BenQ W500 should serve that largest group of buyers, very well.
I would also like to thank those of you owning W500s, who answered my request for feedback about the shadow detail. I heard from about a half dozen of you, and most agreed. I should also point out that most seemed very pleased overall with their W500.