BenQ W6000 Home Theater Projector "First Look" Review

UPDATE: The BenQ W6000 projector review has been posted.

The BenQ W6000 is one of 3 new 1080p projector offerings from BenQ.

Front view of the $2799 BenQ W6000 DLP projector

There’s a lower cost – $999 – W1000, which should also be shipping shortly, and a very expensive LED lightsource top of the line, due out in January/February ’10 timeframe.  (Should be most interesting!!!)

But let me try to keep my focus – this blog is about the BenQ W6000 projector.

What’s the scoop?

The BenQ W6000 s a DLP home theater projector, with 1080p native resolution, and a street price that should be based on MAP pricing, of $2799. Since the BenQ is one of the first fall projectors to ship this year, it likely will hold pretty close to that price for the immediate future.

The most notable “spec” is the W6000’s brightness.  Even in the W6000’s best mode we measured over 1000 lumens!  Considering that most projectors are in the 350 – 600 lumens, and very few hit even 800 lumens, that ‘s pretty impressive.  Folks this projector’s got some muscle, even when you want best quality!   More about the W6000:

  • 50,000:1 contrast ratio – a very impressive number, “promising” most impressive black levels.  More on that later
  • Better placement flexibility  compared to the W5000 it replaces, with a 1.5:1 manual zoom lens, and lens shift
  • Nice shiny black finish (some very dark blue front center, as well)
  • Moderately quiet (particularly for a DLP projector)
  • Very sharp image – outstandingly sharp, when viewing HD sports!
  • Dynamic iris is more noticeable than on some competitors – a definite negative, but could be worse
  • W6000 Skin tones – gorgeous, I’ve always liked BenQ color, but this one pleasantly surprised me, regardless
  • Under $2800 MAP

Thoughts on the W6000 home theater projector:

Let’s start with some background:

I just got back from the CEDIA show last night.  I had the BenQ W6000 hooked up where I had left it, sitting on the usual table behind me in my main theater.  Above, on the rear shelf is my own JVC RS20.

I popped in Hunt for Red October – Blu-Ray, of course, rather late last night to watch with my daughter (who never saw it before).

I’ll  start with the negative first, get that out of the way, and get into the positive, impressive stuff.

The first thing that was evident, with all the dark scenes at the beginning (and throughout), was that the dynamic iris action is often definitely visible.  I wasn’t intending to watch for flaws, but I couldn’t help but notice.  Now, every dynamic iris is noticeable if looking for its action. The challenge is for it to “blend in” and rarely be noticed when just casually watching content.

BenQ doesn’t offer different iris settings, only on or off, so I left it on.  I let it do its thing.  OK, I can live with this dynamic iris, but it really could use improvement!   I favor projectors that have irises both  smoother, and less noticeable, when trading off for those better blacks.  The BenQ W6000’s solution is better than the function of the Image AI on the most recently reviewed Optoma, but no match for, say the Sony VPL-HW15, a pretty direct competitor, or, for that matter, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.

Ok, that’s the biggest downside in terms of image.  More than making up for it, however, is the overall color handling, most notably skin tones.  There’s plenty of real close ups in Red October, and most of the scenes are dark, inside the submarines and ships.   Well, so far I think the skin tones are exceptional, for an under $3000 projector.  I’m going to have to take this BenQ and take a closer look, side by side with the Sony and others.  The way Mike calibrated the Cinema mode, however, it looks to me, like I’ve got skin tones rivaling the better InFocus projectors (which I hold in great esteem in terms of skin tones).

BenQ W6000 displaying image from Space Cowboys

Let me put it this way.  We watched late last night, and I was on the east coast earlier yesterday.  I was pretty tired when I started watching.  I may even have dozed off for a few minutes.  Thing is, at one point, I completely forgot that I wasn’t watching my JVC RS20.  That’s not due to the black levels (which while good, are not a match for the JVC), but because of the skin tones.

Today, while I’m getting slaughtered in Fantasy Football, I’ve got the BenQ W6000 projector doing assorted games.  I’ve selected Standard mode, which looks rather good (a bit cool), on football.  I passed on the brightest mode which is Dynamic, as it needs to be adjusted to get rid of the over the top greens.    Still, the BenQ in standard, is significantly brighter than my JVC (hey, even in its Cinema – best – mode, is about 20% brighter than my JVC at its brightest.

Ultimately, when it comes to picture quality, color in best mode is rather excellent, and as noted (Red October) a pleasure to watch.  Sports are typically BenQ razor sharp, and nice and bright, probably providing the best overall color for any projector cranking out as many lumens as I was anywhere near its price.  Mike didn’t calibrate Standard for me (I might do a quick measurement using my adjustments).  I’m guessing though, that I’ve got a color temp a bit below  7500K, and about 1300+ lumens.  That’s pretty good, the Epson “UB” can muster up about 1500 lumens in an adjusted dynamic mode, but I’ve got better color here.  Putting both Epson and BenQ in their dynamic modes, both are too green and cool, but the BenQ is the brighter of the two.   So, when it comes to sports viewing, the BenQ seems to have a slight advantage in lumens if you want pretty good color, and a slight advantage, if all you want is maximum lumens, regardless of color.

But perhaps the most significant thing about the BenQ W6000 is that in a calibrated best mode (based on Cinema), it puts out more than 1000 lumens, and that makes it the brightest under $5000K projector around when comparing movie modes!

The BenQ W6000 (right) is far brighter than the Sony VPL-HW15

On the physical side, the BenQ is fairly quiet (especially for a DLP projector), it sports a 1.5:1 zoom, a lot more range than the DLP competition, and most helpful for many.  And also setting the BenQ W6000 apart from most of its DLP competition is that it has horizontal and vertical lens shift.  All in all, it matches the Sony HW15 in placement flexibility, and perhaps more to the point, it’s zoom (longer throw than the Sony’s) will allow the W6000 to be rear shelf mounted in most folks rooms, if that’s their preferred setup.

That’s all you get for now.   I’ll post the full review later this week.  I’ve taken a few images but many to go, and definitely plan a lot more viewing.  -art

I am most impressed, the BenQ W6000 is a

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