Home Cinema 8500UB vs. BenQ W6000 Bottom Line
This year, the BenQ has some respectable placement flexibility, so the lack of same (last year's W5000) allowed a lot of readers to say: "Won't work in my setup." That's not likely to be the case this year, even though the Epson has the placement advantage..
Sharpness, and sheer horsepower (brightness), are the real strengths of the BenQ W6000. Color is really good after calibration, I mean, really good!
Click to enlarge. SO close
Click to enlarge. So close. The Epson, cannot match the sharpness of the image, and definitely cannot match the brightness, even though being one of the other brightest projectors in this group. On the plus side, though, it's color accuracy is even a tad better, and its black levels are outstanding. That's the Epson's big advantage, vs the BenQ's brightness advantage.
Click Image to Enlarge
On average and bright scenes, they both look great. Go with a very dark scene, and the very respectable black level performance of the BenQ W6000, still provides a very good image. The Epson though, on that same dark scene, is better. And the difference is quite noticeable. Now if you watch nothing but romantic comedies you might not run into very many very dark scenes, but most of the rest of us, will.
And the Epson's blacker blacks wins the day. Oh, it's got other advantages - a CFI that is at least, good for sports, a better warranty (2 years with replacement program, vs. a basic 1 year regular warranty), and it's THX mode guarantees a picture at least as accurate as you will get calibrating the W6000. Finally, the Epson and BenQ as of this timeframe (April 2010) seem to be selling for about the same price. That makes the Epson the less expensive to own, thanks to the longer life and lower cost lamps. I won't do the math again, I've done it several times in this report, with Epson vs. other projectors, and it is discussed in the review as well. The bottom line in cost is that for someone watching a lot - movies, HDTV, sports, it could save many hundreds of dollars over several years of use.
I favor the Epson overall, but, I certainly like, and definitely could live with the W6000 as well. I'm confident of that having owned older BenQ models. Now let's overlay some reality. In my smaller room - with a 100" white surface (Epson Ensemble), I've already got the first generation Epson UB projector. It's perfect for the room and screen size. I could put the BenQ in there, but quite honestly, it's pretty much too bright for movie viewing in that room, in the dark. Still, I could have BC off, and put the lamp on low, and it would be just fine.
In my larger room, though, The BenQ will work, because it can be placed far enough back in my 21 foot deep room to sit on my rear shelf. My screen is 128" so that's 28% further back than a 100" screen, and that means the front of lens can be 1.28*17.7 feet = 22.6 feet back - a couple of feet to spare. On the other hand, as I've often said, the Epson just doesn't have the muscle in best mode. It's just 500 lumens is barely enough for movie watching, when the lamp is new, but, wait until it's lost 20 - 30 - 40% of it's brightness. The image will be noticeably darker than in a movie theater. The minimum for movie theaters is the SMPTE standard of 12 ft - lamberts.
With a new lamp, the Epson, on a screen the size of mine, has a maximum of only about 10.5 lumens assuming a screen gain of 1.0, and by end of lamp life, would be down to a rather pathetic 5.25 ft lamberts. I don't even like 12 ft lamberts a lot. I favor 16 or so for normal movie viewing. My Firehawk G3 has a relative gain of 1.25 which helps, but not that much.
So, the point of this excercise is to remind you that you need to focus on the projectors that will work for your setup, your viewing requirements, budget, etc. Ultimately there is no best projector for everyone. Save yourself time and aggravation, and focus on those that have the capabilities that work best for YOU (and the family)!