Very sharp image, very good out of the box color accuracy, and excellent shadow detail and the combination of "film-like quality, crossed with lots of depth, combine with adjustable lens shift (not common on DLP projectors), to create a really good value proposition. When all is considered together, they earn the BenQ W5000 home theater projector our Hot Product Award. From a competitive standpoint, the W5000, which seems to sell for around $3000, has only a couple of serious rivals. Those rivals are the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and the Sony VW40. Each really does have some strengths and weaknesses compared to the others, so there is no one projector that is dramatically better than the other two. That said, I give the BenQ the overall advantage compared to more than a half dozen other 1080p projectors I've reviewed, including all the other DLP projectors.
I'm going to be very brief, in discussing the W5000 compared to the Epson, and the Sony. After all, approximately 2 weeks from this being published, I will publish the full 2008 1080p Home Theater Projector Comparison Report. (How's that for a long name?).
BenQ W5000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
The BenQ definitely has the advantage in brightness in best mode (even with Brilliant Color off). Actually turning Brilliant Color on, to me means the projector is no longer in its very "best" mode. The BenQ also has a very slight advantage in dark shadow details. With both running with lamps on brightest, the BenQ is also the quieter of the two. Lastly, I find the BenQ to appear slightly sharper than the Epson, but the difference is very small. The W5000 supports an optional 3rd party anamorphic lens for true 2.35:1 aspect ratio (no letter box), which the Epson does not, without an expensive outboard processor. On the other hand, the Epson easily produces blacker blacks, better than any projector I have tested short of the JVC RS1 and RS2, both significantly more expensive. This really can make a difference on certain dark scenes, where the Epson I clearly favored, even if a tiny amount more shadow detail is lost by it. The Epson supports HDMI 1.3 and Deep Color, while the W5000 only supports HDMI 1.2.1, and therefore no Deep Color.
The Epson has three other big advantages. If you really need the lumens for dealing with ambient light, the BenQ with Brilliant Color on, musters up in brightest mode, about 1270 lumens, while the Epson can crank out over 1800, and when tuned off, still over 1500, which produces a superior image to the BenQ at 300 lumens less. Next, the Epson has more placement flexibility, by virtue of a 2.1:1 zoom instead of 1.2:1, and more lens shift as well. In fairness, though, a good number of people will be able to shelf mount the W5000 if desired in their rooms, while the Epson should be able to shelf mount in just about everyone's room. (Shelf mounting traditionally is easier, and less expensive, with less wiring, than ceiling mounting.) Lastly, there's Epson's 2 year warranty with overnight replacement both years, vs. the BenQ's basic 1 year warranty.
BenQ W5000 vs. Sony VW40
I'm torn between these two. The Sony VW40, once again, has the placement flexibility, but in this case, the BenQ is both brighter in best mode, and in brightest, although not by really dramatic amounts. The Sony we reviewed had a problem with evenness of the background, with blue hotspots in two corners. We are awaiting a replacement for testing. This makes it hard to pick the black level winner, but it's going to be close to a tie, either way. The Epson easily has them both beat, even as these two have advantages over the rest of the competition.
Both BenQ and Sony are very sharp, although on some scenes I think the BenQ is sharper, on others the same, and still others favor the Sony. This leads me to think that one or both, are using some sharpening algorithms, which means that they are more effective on some scenes than others. If you aren't into calibrating projectors, the BenQ has the distinct advantage. Both also perform very well in terms of shadow detail. One area where the Sony has a real advantage is in image noise, perhaps the W5000's biggest weakness. I pretty much consider these two about a tie, with people choosing one over the other, based on their rooms, type of content they view, placement flexibility and other preferences. Note, the BenQ W5000 only supports HDMI 1.2.1, which means no support for Deep Color. By comparison, the Sony VW40 supports HDMI 1.3, but for some reason still doesn't support Deep Color, so, effectively, there is little difference, in that regard.
BenQ W5000 Projector: Pros
- Very sharp image
- Very good out-of-the-box color accuracy in Cinema mode (better than most)
- Brighter than most, in best mode
- Brighter than most, in brightest mode
- Excellent shadow detail
- Very good black levels
- Fairly quiet
- Image has good depth
- Support for 1080p/24fps
- 3 User savable color modes, and 3 user savable color temperature modes
- ISF Certified, with ISF Day and ISF Night modes for programming by a calibrator
- Sealed light path (keeps dust from marring the image)
- Lens shift (rare on affordable DLP projectors)
- 12 volt screen trigger
- Support for 3rd party anamorphic lens for Cinemascope movies (most) with no letter boxing (you need the lens, motorized sled, and a 2.35:1 screen)
- Good remote with bright backlight, well spaced buttons, and good range
- Overall, excellent price/performance value