BenQ W7000 Projector Review: First Look, part 2 Posted on December 24, 2011 By Lisa Feierman Here we go with more juicy information on the BenQ W7000! and a quick link back to the first W7000 review blog -art Greetings and happy holidays. It’s almost Christmas Eve here in southern California, and we hope everyone is enjoying the season as much as we are. I’ll be knocking off after I finish this W7000 projector blog. (finally) I had intended to try and get a good portion of the review up and running this evening, but there wasn’t enough time. I’ve still got 100+ images to process (Lisa’s overseas – so I have to do all that myself), and tons of writing to do. But, more importantly, at this point, I really want to speak with the BenQ folks for information on the newer firmware that’s already out there. (I am working with an early engineering sample – firmware 0.22). By now, BenQ should be up to at least at 1.0 firmware. We’ve noted a number of issues in the earlier blog from two days ago. Let’s talk BenQ W7000 and our engineering sample! Based on comments and emails, I want to start off by discussing what an engineering sample is, since understanding that is important. Then back to the W7000 projector. First, for those of you concerned after reading the first blog – relax! BenQ W7000, an exceptionally bright projector This BenQ W7000 is likely to be one of the best projectors around the price, if the final versions are clean, and there’s a bit of performance improvement in one area. I elaborated yesterday when answering a comment about engineering samples, but most of you might miss that. Over the years, we’ve probably reviewed at least a dozen engineering samples out of something approaching 200 projectors. In almost every case, we were able to bring in a full production version of the projector, not too long after first consumer shipments, to confirm that all the things missing, or not working, or acting strangely, are fixed. That’s the plan here. Although the differences are a bit vague, let’s say that engineering samples are typically “unfinished” whereas a pre-production version is normally finished, and very close to what will ship. The reason we like do engineering samples when we can get them, is that it means we can give you folks a heads up, by the time the projectors are beginning to ship, and then we get a second look, for updating you. Unfinished? By unfinished, I mean that some projectors have had only HDMI working, a few had menus only in Japanese, or Chinese or Korean. In one case, in HDMI we couldn’t access most color controls making a calibration impossible. In another, HDMI was the only input working – no component, computer, or even composite video. I’ve had one where the case wasn’t even close to final. (the entire top piece was blank, and made of the wrong material. Entire modes are often missing, menus incomplete, if it’s a whole new projector, it’s probably a good bit dimmer than a full production projector. And they usually have a bunch of glitches and non-working features. This BenQ W7000 fits the bill. As I reported, some glitches, and possibly even some menu items might be missing, but as I have also said, most of what’s missing or not right, should be just fine by the time full production W7000 projectors ship. For that reason, we’ll post the review in a few days, but we plan on a major update within the next couple of weeks. Great. With that out of the way, time to talk more about the BenQ W7000 itself. I’ve been watching football on the W7000 all day while writing and minding my fantasy football. Wow, it’s a sharp image. It’s very bright! I’m filling my Studiotek 130 at full 16:9 size of 98″ diagonal for regular viewing, but when I’m watching DirecTVs NFL Mix, with it’s 8 separate games going on one screen, I zoomed out so that I was filling the full width of my 124″ diagonal screen, which works out to the equivalent of about 130″ (in 16:9). Boy is it bright. Even at the larger size, (with some of the unneeded (non game) parts of the image off the screen, the W7000 was effortlessly bright, even running in “best calibrated mode”. That was with my rear lights on, and my shutters just a little open as usual (sunny day). No problem. I’ve done some more 3D viewing. As I had reported, I believe, the BenQ when in 3D seems to be a little less bright than the Epsons (3010 and 5010 series), and the Panasonic PT-AE7000. But not by much. I found previously, that the Panasonic and Epson seem about equally bright. I normally view in 3D with the glasses setting in the medium of 3 positions, when available. Bright usually has lot of ghosting, while for me, low and medium aren’t too different, with low a touch cleaner. Well the BenQ doesn’t have any glasses options (don’t expect them too, either) – that feature seems to be showing up on 3 chip LCoS and 3LCD projectors but not DLP. Basically my impression is that the W7000 falls in between the Epson 5010’s medium and low brightness glasses settings (this is a feature controlled by the projector – you won’t see any difference to the image in brightness unless you have the glasses on). There isn’t a whole lot of difference between those two modes. Switching back and forth between the different classes (both projectors running at the same time), it took a bit of time to get the overall feel that the Epson was brighter. In other words, if a full production W7000 is at all brighter than this engineering sample, it should be at least as bright as those other bright projectors in 3D. Movie viewing is a pleasure, but for the blacks that could/should be a bit blacker. Classic, rich, deep colors, well calibrated as we have come to expect from DLP projectors. Black level performance is actually at the top of my list of questions when I talk with BenQ this week, rather than some of those reported glitches. We shall see if production projectors do better blacks – boy if they do, look out! Brilliant Color – the implementation is subtle (compared to most). It really doesn’t get “over the top” like so many do. The BenQ’s image is still excellent with BC on, but still, as expected, the W7000 is a little more natural looking with Brilliant Color turned off. BenQ W7000 - X-Men - Cityscape Touring the BenQ W7000 – I’m going get the Tour page up perhaps first, so you get a feel for the W7000 hardware. Remote and most menus look like they have for years, and I’m a fan of both. It’s basically the same remote that I loved when I owned BenQ projectors way back to the PE-8700 and PE8720, 4,5,6 years ago. It’s got good range, a great backlight and good organization! The collection of inputs is pretty standard, no surprises, that too will be covered in depth on the Tour page. 3D brightness – seconds ago, I found more lumens, from playing around. You will all love this, especially in regard to things “missing” on engineering samples. In 3D mode, first of all, the menu is all kinds of stretched, they haven’t grabbed it, and made it 3D, pretty ugly, but functional. When the W7000 was setup next to the Epson 5010 in 3D, as reported above, it wasn’t quite as bright, but very close. Now I should have been running with Brilliant Color on, as I was looking for max lumens. Well, I got that wrong, and I think it relates to some work not yet done on this .22 firmware. When in 3D with BC On, the projector seems to be in a Warm or Normal Color Temp modes – basically, based on our calibrated best. When I went to the Color Temp settings, though and tried to change to other Color Temps, I could change it from Normal to Warm, Cool and Native, but while the words changed, the picture did not. That’s right, essentially, in 3D on this projector, the Color Temp looks good, but we can’t get to the one really bright mode – Native. But: Turn Brilliant Color to OFF, and strangely, now 3D drops into the Native Color Temp mode, and brightness goes up. Now that I’m aware of these idiosyncrasies, I’ll take another look, against the Epson to see which one rules in terms of brightness. It’s quite possible I was in their “3D best”, rather than 3D brightest. I don’t think so, but, I’ll get back to you. Real soon! BenQ W7000 Projector - Image from X-Men FC We’re not going to try that with this engineering sample, but we will give 3D gaming a spin when the production version shows up. Meantime I’ve dropped in the PS3’s hot new game UnChartered: Drakes Deception. I even tried playing it for a few minutes. The 3D looks pretty good (says the non-gamer), but, in this case, the game is 720p. With all this screen surface, I sure would prefer a game in 1080. Pete or Scott will ultmately get a full production unit to test for lag, and for their gaming expertise. Uh-oh, family obligations. OK, I’m out of here! I’m going to stop back tomorrow or after Santa leaves, and drop in a few images for you. One last time – happy holidays! -art PS. Was watching a replay of the old Uconn vs. Oklahoma BCS Tostidos Bowl in 3D on ESPN 3D, few a few minutes. Turning off BC, really made a difference. On a related note, ESPN 3D is coming over in 1080i/60. Their 3D implementation (DirecTV + ESPN 3D), definitely isn’t a sharp as a 2D 1080p signal, no doubt about that. I had thought that ESPN 3D was 720p (will check), in which case DirecTV may be converting it to 1080i.