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BenQ W500 DLP Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance 4

Posted on September 11, 2007 by Art Feierman

BenQ W500 Projector Screen Recommendations

Hmmm! As usual, I viewed the W500 on multiple screens. Because I found the projector's tendency to have a slightly darkish looking image (higher than 2.2 gamma), with normal settings, and the iris working hard in Auto mode, I did not find it to be great match with high contrast gray surface screens like my Stewart Firehawk. I enjoyed the image much better using my Carada Brilliant White screen (gain of about 1.3). I also tried the Elite HC Gray surface, which was a good compromise, as I consider it to be barely "high contrast" and it is a very light gray. Overall, though, I favored the Carada with the W500's Auto Iris engaged. With Auto Iris off (iris open), the Elite became an excellent alternative, although it couldn't get the black levels as good as the Carada produced, with the Auto Iris on.

Overall, I think this is a projector that works best with white surfaces, the exception might be for screen sizes no more than 100" diagonal.

Red 48
Green 42
Blue 43
Red 50
Green 45
Blue 45

The W500 was easy to adjust the grayscale balance, and should be equally easy for those of you using a basic calibration disk. For my test unit, a I ended up with Brightness set to 51, and Contrast 54 (never was quite happy with the contrast setting, due to the loss of dark shadow detail, but more on that later). The default Color (saturation) is 60, and I found that to be a little over saturated, and for much of my viewing had it down around 52. Black levels were set to 7.5 IRE, which produced that loss of very dark shadow detail, but the 0.0 IRE setting seemed a bit to bright in dark areas, and letterboxes. Overall, the default Cinema preset was a little cool, with white measuring 7167K (6500K is ideal for movies). By using the color management, for a quick grayscale calibration, I adjusted the separate Red, Green, and Blue controls for both Gain and Offset, and ended up with these settings:

That yielded the following grayscale color temperatures:
I00 IRE (white) 6944K
80 IRE (light gray) 6907K
50 IRE (neutral gray) 6494K
30 IRE (dark gray) 6523K

Overall, that is still a bit cool, and further tweaking should get it closer to ideal, but these temperatures are close enough to be considered overall, to produce good colors. On the other hand, dark gray images still managed to have a slight redish cast to them, as noted in the Image Quality section, with the black and white image from Phantom of the Opera. Also from that disk, the very, very dark cavern scene also projects too much red, compared to most projectors. If you are using Eco-mode, as is common, the lamp temperature measures a bit cooler, so, at 100 IRE, before the adjustment, Eco-mode (Cinema) produced 7318K, about 150K cooler than full power. Auto Iris: I preferred the Auto Iris on, as it dramatically reduced black levels, but, as noted took its toll in shadow detail in very dark areas. The pairing with a white surface screen, rather than the Firehawk that I did most of my watching on, however produces a more enjoyable image to watch, although a loss of shadow detail is still evident.

BenQ W500 Image Noise

The W500 performed very well in terms of most types of image noise. This is not surprising since there is an HQV tie-in. The BenQ uses HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) image circuitry, and I have been using the HQV test disk for looking at noise, for well more than a year now.

I would give the BenQ W500 a slight advantage over the DLP competition, in terms of motion artifacts. Noise on still images, is very good, better than typically found on DLP projectors, but that is generally true of LCD projectors. In watching about 5 hours of HDTV, and a close to 15 hours of DVD (mostly Blu-ray, but some SD-DVD, and HD-DVD), nothing ever "jumped out at me" indicating a problem. If there was a flaw, it was occasionally a touch slow, in handing motion artifacts, but you aren't likely to notice, unless looking for it.

Ok, time for a quick look at the Warranty, then the Summary section!

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