Projector Reviews

Home Theater Projector Comparison Report – Best in Class Awards for 2010-7

Best in Class, Runner-Up: BenQ W6000 Projector

When the W6000 was first shown at Infocomm 2009, I was truly excited. Here was BenQ offering up a new projector that seemed to be answering my long running request for some reasonably bright home theater projectors. Hooray for BenQ. They designed the W6000 projector around a big fat 280 watt lamp, whereas only a few under $10,000 projectors use any lamps brighter than 240 watt, and most offer about 200 watts, some less.

That did the trick. No question at all, the W6000 is bright. The only projector in this report that is visibly brighter in “brightest” mode is BenQ’s own entry level W1000 projector!

No projector being perfect, I do have one complaint about the W6000 in “brightest” mode, and that’s the lack of the ability to seriously adjust the color. As a result, in “brightest” mode, the projector is heavy green (and yellow), but get the maximum lumens on the screen. It is, however, too green, (way too green). It’s definitely watchable when you are fighting serious ambient light, but better color would be nice. Fortunately, there is an alternative mode, which has good colors, but the brightness drops down to about 500 lumens to 1250 lumens. By comparison, consider our Best In Class, winner, the 8500UB. It too has too much green in “brightest” mode, but not to the extent of the BenQ. It’s about 1750 lumens for the BenQ to high 1300’s for the Epson in comparable “brightest” modes. Drop both projectors down one level, though, and the BenQ color is comparable to Epson’s in its 2nd brightest – Livingroom mode. In comparing “2nd brightest” modes, the BenQ is (with 1250 lumens) still brighter than Epson’s roughly 1100 lumens. Comparing each projectors “brightest”, to the other, then doing the same for “2nd brightest”, keeps things “apples to apples.”

In Best mode, though, it’s a different world. The Epson’s got 500 really good looking lumens, but the BenQ measured 866 lumens with Brilliant Color off (preferred). Note though, the BenQ still looks pretty good with Brilliant Color on (many projectors tend to be “over the top”, and can deliver 1060 lumens in “best” mode with BC on). By comparison, the Epson’s color (at 500 lumens) is still more accurate. On the other hand, the W6000, with “best” mode and BC on produces about the same lumens as the Epson in Livingroom mode. That’s an important consideration as, in that case, I’d say the BenQ has the slightly better picture when it comes to color and contrast.

The BenQ W6000 does very respectable black levels. Like several others, it just makes my subjective determination to be an “ultra-high” contrast projector. That puts it in the league with the LG, the Sony VPL-HW15, and several others, while still being a step down from those with really great black levels such as the Epson 8500UB, or better still, one of the JVC projectors.

Placement flexibility is “pretty good.” The 1.5:1 zoom, combined with a moderate amount of lens shift, is a big improvement from most less expensive DLP’s, none of which have lens shift, and most, with a lot less zoom range. Speaking of zoom lenses, the BenQ, for a 1.5:1 zoom, sits a little further from the screen than most others. This makes rear shelf mounting practical in some rooms, but not particularly deep ones, or rooms where you are going with a fairly small screen relative to room size.

I really did enjoy working with the W6000. The first one I received, was pre-production. I took BenQ over the coals, complaining about their very visible dynamic iris action. Most impressively, they took my criticism (and perhaps others) to heart. By the time the product started shipping more than a month later, they had improved the iris. They sent me an updated unit, and while it’s still far from the best I’ve seen, it is now a “good one”. Anyone looking for it should always be able spot the iris action. The trick is for a dynamic iris to accomplish its primary goal – to significantly drop the black level down on medium to very dark scenes, without being to visible/annoying. The pre-production unit fit into the “annoying” category. The final version W6000, is definitely in the “watchable” category. Had they not improved the iris, there is no way this projector could have received this award.

If you are one of those that likes the look and feel of DLP projectors, the W6000 is just that, a classic DLP when it comes to color handling and dynamics. Lots of “pop”, yet it looks pretty natural. And don’t forget, compared to any of the competing LCD and LCoS projectors, the single chip DLP W6000 is especially sharp looking, something you can appreciate slightly on film based movies, but really appreciate the sharpness advantage on full digital content, such as HDTV sports, really high quality HD programming like Discovery HD, Travel HD, etc. As I commented in the full review.

Thanks to the brightness, this is the kind of projector I’d consider for my main theater if I had to give up my JVC. With my large screen, etc., the Epson just isn’t bright enough, so the W6000 would do except I’d have to ceiling mount, which in my cathederal ceilinged room I’d prefer to avoid having to hang down at the bottom of an 8 foot pole.

Definitely the W6000 is a top contender in the price range, and thanks to the lumens, can boldly go in some peoples theaters, (and family rooms), where other, dimmer projectors dare not go. “Bright, Pop! Wow!,” good color, very good (not exceptional) blacks, and pretty good placement flexibility. It would be nice though if BenQ beefed up the warranty from one year to two.