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Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: W1080ST Projector - Bottom Line

Posted on June 16, 2013 by Art Feierman

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: W1080ST Projector - Bottom Line

Pretty good for the bucks!  The BenQ W1080ST isn't an alternative (when it comes to black level performance) to ultra-high-contrast projectors like the Epson 5020UB, Panasonic PT-AE8000U, or Sony VPL-HW50ES.  But those are mostly $2500 to $3500 range projectors.  To my best guess, the least expensive projectors with visibly better blacks are the "rough around the edges" $1599 Acer and BenQ's W7000 which seems to sell for not many dollars under $2000 at the time we did this review

BenQ W1080ST - Overall Color & Picture Quality

Truly impressive color out of the box.  My biggest complaint is that there is no usable color saturation control available when using HDMI sources, which is almost all the time for most folks.  The work around is via the CMS and that's not a very good or quick way to do minor adjustments.  On the "bright side" the tendency to be oversaturated is very, very, slight.  It's really mostly on HDTV like Leno, or CNBC that I want to dial saturation down a bit.  I haven't found it to be an issue with movies.

Certainly, black level performance for the price is respectable, but black level performance is one of those things that takes projectors to "the next level".  In a family room environment, the blacks are just fine for non-fanatics.

This W1080ST projector's picture performance is a combination of very good color and a whole lot of brightness, even calibrated.    I drop in a couple of images of how the roon is set up on the Performance page when discussing brightness, but this time, I'm covering it right here.  The first shows the front of the room with the side window shutters open, the second with them only partially open:

Note the significant difference between the two shots, based on the window shutters.  Even with the shutters set in the second position, (not really closed, they allow a modest amount of ambient light to get in).

I could watch with my room at "maximum" (horizontal) on the shutters on all windows, but that's rather weak, very washed out, as you can see above, even in Dynamic mode.  I never watch with that much light, however.  Still, it is just watchable, hardly desireable.  I use a Stewart Studiotek 130, a great screen, but not one designed to help at all with side ambient lighting.

So check this image out:  The rear image shows I've got the rear side door open (a large skylight out there some sunlight hitting the dark carpet), back shutters only partially open, but a whole lot of light coming in from that close, side window, and the door opposite it.  That's the way the back of the room (note the lights are all on, as well) for most of the sports images.

To handle that tons of light better than this W1080ST, I'm thinking mostly you'll need the Epson Home Cinema 3020 (from $1599) or the 2D only Panasonic PT-AR100U ($1199).  There are some other lower cost projectors, but I'm not sure any can match the BenQ at overall image quality.  Being practical, I wouldn't leave the shutters fully open, but the W1080ST can handle a good deal of ambient light.

Color, good shadow detail, respectable blacks for the $1099.  Solid!  Definitely worthy of one of our Hot Product Awards.

Note that the blacks of the ref's shirt below and the blacks in other football images, are not near as black as on the images above and below it.  This is just a reminder that for all the football images and some other HDTV images, rear lights were on, and side and back window shutters were partially open, allowing a fair amount of ambient light to reach the screen in this image.

NFL Game Mix, room with shutters mostly closed, in User 1, our calibrated mode, with Brilliant Color on - so almost 1500 lumens and a really good looking image in terms of handling the ambient light.

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