- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 08 July 2012
Introduction to the BenQ W7000 Projector
Many people are eager to experience 3D in their home, but often disappointed when they get their projector setup. The wonderful demos we see at trade shows or in stores are commonly using custom screens that add a lot of light to 3D, but most of us don't have these. The end result is often a dark, dull picture that doesn't resemble what they were hoping to see.
BenQ has an answer for this in the W7000, a single chip DLP projector that has plenty of light output. This allows for 3D images with plenty of brightness and less crosstalk that other projectors in the price range. Additionally it can pull this off with whatever type of screen is needed for the viewing environment and not just a custom, 3D specific model.
BENQ W7000 PROJECTOR SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Single chip, 1920x1080 DLP Projector
- Inputs: 2x HDMI 1.4a, 1x Component Video, 1x VGA, 1x S-Video, 1x Composite
- Light Output: 2,000 ANSI Lumens
- Contrast Ratio: 50,000:1
- Control: 12V Trigger, RS232
- Lens Zoom: 1.5x
- Lens Shift: 125% Vertical, 40% Horizontal
- Noise: 33/28 dBa (Normal/Econ modes)
- Size: 5.7" H x 16.9" D x 12.5" D
- Weight: 14.8 Pounds
- Price: $2,500
- SECRETS Tags: Projectors, DLP, 3D
Design and Setup of the BenQ W7000 Projector
The BenQ W7000 claims to offer an impressive 2,000 lumens of light. Unlike many DLP projectors that have to be set above or below the screen for a fixed offset, the BenQ can be positioned in the center of the screen and offers both vertical and horizontal lens shift. This flexibility makes it much easier to install in a typical home theater, and works with retro-reflective screens as well.
The BenQ features a full CMS system, allowing Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustments for all six primary and secondary colors. With ISFccc controls, a calibrator can configure the projector and then lock those settings to prevent an accidental overwrite. A dynamic iris system can be enabled to help with black levels and frame interpolation helps with motion resolution.
This is a lot of power to pack into a projector that sells for just $2,500. To get here they paired a DarkChip2 chip with the dynamic iris to improve black levels, as opposed to using the more recent DarkChip3 or DarkChip4 models. The 1.5:1 zoom ratio provides less setup flexibility than some other projectors, but it's have internal support for anamorphic lenses allows it to work with cinemascope screens.
Installation of the BenQ W7000 is straightforward. The manual lens shift is awkward because the joystick wasn't always perfectly precise. Once it is setup correctly it is solid and did not move during testing. Choosing a colorspace and calibrating the display to the HDTV and Blu-ray standards was next, and is covered in-depth in the Bench Test section. After it was focused and setup, I was ready to watch some content.
BenQ W7000 Projector In Use
Born to be Wild is an IMAX documentary shot in Kenya and Borneo with 65mm and 4K digital cameras. The W7000 reproduces the lush green jungles of Borneo against the sparkling blue water, as well as the red dirt of Kenya remarkably well. Greens are rich and true without being neon or unrealistic, and earth tones are very natural and true but not dull. Skies are free of banding, and details from the wrinkled skin of the elephants to the hair of the orangutans are reproduced faithfully. Many scenes jump off the screen with their bright colors thanks to the bright image the W7000 produces. It is a realistic image free of any CGI or special effects that looks very true to life on screen.
A great film for testing 3D now is Hugo, which was shot natively in 3D and is live action instead of CGI. From the opening shot between two trains the 3D effect is rendered very well on the BenQ and even the snowflakes don't fall apart or have single eye artifacts that are hard to focus on. The image is very bright in 3D mode and crosstalk is almost entirely absent. With all the 3D content I watched there are occasional slight color-shifts during viewing. This is likely from the glasses were losing sync, as it never happened on 2D material. People have also suggested you can get an even brighter, crosstalk free image by using different DLP Link glasses with the projector, but I don't have those available to test.
Drive is another film that was shot digitally and features great shadow detail and scenes with wide dynamic range. During the opening night scenes, the black levels are not as pitch black as some other projectors. Reducing the brightness by 1-2 clicks will get those deep blacks, but then it loses some shadow details. On the nighttime aerial shots of Los Angeles, the image really pops off of the screen quite well, with bright highlights from the lights in the buildings below. Daytime scenes look clear and natural, with skin tones appearing very neutral without sunburns and no false contouring, posterizing, or other image flaws apparent. The BenQ motion interpolation on Drive works with both 2D and 3D content and has multiple settings available. With the lowest setting engaged it produces a very video/soap-opera effect to the film cadence and introduces artifacts around moving objects. The option is there for people who prefer the effect to engage but there is no option to only use it with non-24p content.
The black levels of the BenQ W7000 could be concerning, as they aren't as deep and dark as some other projectors out there, but in real world use they don't show up that often. In scenes that are almost completely dark, such as the opening of Harry Potter 7, the blacks are dark gray and not inky black at the ideal brightness setting. If there is bright light in the image, such as neon signs in Tokyo in Cars 2 or the bright windows of LA buildings in Drive this is much less visible. The massive brightness of the BenQ allows it to still maintain a reasonable contrast ratio in those scenes, which makes them look much better.
With recorded football the motion for sports is phenomenal, with or without Frame Interpolation engaged. With it engaged scrolling text was smooth whereas without it there was occasional hitching in the motion. It did lead to a little bit of softening of the text so that is a trade-off you have to decide on. Artifacting or haloing around objects is also not an issue since the compressed signal already introduced those issues. The main difference was with the motion of text, which is a testament to how well DLPs already handle the motion of sports.
Since the BenQ W7000 is a single chip DLP with a color wheel, people may be subject to seeing rainbows. It is a 4-speed color wheel and it was quite easy to see rainbows on white objects if your eyes move quickly. With how easy they were to see sometimes I suggest you view it in person if you think you may have trouble with them. If you run in Dynamic mode, the color wheel switches to 6x speed and so rainbows are vastly reduced. The fan noise is also a bit louder than other projectors, even in low lamp mode, but wasn't bothersome unless running in high lamp mode with the projector a meter away.
The BenQ W7000 Projector On The Bench
Before calibrating the BenQ W7000 I compared its performance with a high-resolution mutiburst pattern at 4:2:2, 4:4:4 and RGB colorspaces. When set to Auto mode for HDMI, it seemed to both clip WTW and BTB data, and with RGB signals it didn't process the highest resolution ones correctly. If I set the input mode to PC, then WTW and BTB were passed, and the RGB Multiburst looked better than either YCbCr version for color information. Unfortunately when I then sent YCbCr data the black level would adjust, and so I set all of my devices to be RGB output. Since auto-detection of RGB and YCbCr didn't seem to work correctly over HDMI, I'd recommend setting the BenQ to one mode and your devices to that as well. WTW and BTB are never passed on the BenQ when using YCbCr either, which clips your headroom.
Calibration was performed with an AccuPel DVG-5000 signal generator, an i1Pro and i1DisplayPro meters, and ChromaPure software.
Pre-calibration, while aiming for a gamma of 2.22, the BenQ gets close to that but the grayscale is not very accurate at all with a heavy green push. When we look at the color data, we can see that the green luminance error is off the charts, helping to cause this shift in the grayscale. This is pretty routine performance for a projector out of the box that doesn't have THX certification or another preset calibration mode.
Thankfully the BenQ W7000 is both ISFccc capable, and has full user controls for the CMS. The benefit of the ISF mode over the user mode is that the controls are locked away, so no one in the family can accidentally erase or adjust a setting to remove the time spent fixing it. Since access those modes requires the ISF password and knowledge of how the DLP CCA modes work, I will focus on user mode. Using ISF mode gets you results that are practically identical I found, in case you do have a calibrator come in.
Using the Warm color mode and 2.2 gamma setting, I was able to get almost every point on the grayscale to a dE1994 under 1 with only the darkest shades at 10% and 20% coming in above 1 but still below 3, and the gamma to be almost spot on perfect. With only a 2-point white balance control, this is a very nice result, and will give you a totally neutral grayscale in use. I should also mention that this performance can only be obtained if you set the contrast to not clip white until after level 255. Many people clip in the range of 235-240 since content shouldn't have information above that level, and it gets you higher light output that way. Since the BenQ has plenty of light to spare, you should let this range extend all the way out as otherwise I found a gamma bump and color shift at 90%.
Adjusting the CMS was more of a challenge. With how the Hue and Saturation controls interact, as soon as you adjusted one to be nearly perfect, the other would adjust itself off again and you no longer had a perfect color point. Because of this I tried to get the colors as close as possible, with errors +/- 2% in Hue, Saturation, and Lightness. In the end some colors did exceed those 2% limits due to the issues with the CMS, but the overall dE1994 for the colors ranged from 0.7-1.7 which was very good. Properly calibrated, you a near reference image with the BenQ W7000 projector.
Looking at various saturations and luminance values, you can see compared to the starting values that they were much improved overall. Cyan is a little bit off, but everything else is very good. When using RGB the Color and Tint controls are locked off, so you can't use those to make additional adjustments. The CMS of the BenQ works very well overall, brining the color accuracy far more in line than it was at the beginning.
After talking to BenQ and being informed that Dynamic mode runs the color wheel at 6x instead of 4x, I tried using this mode for a calibration. You can get a pretty accurate image out of it that is good until 80% and then starts to lose red at the top end, but put out a remarkable 45 ftL of light on my screen. In order to get that grayscale to be totally linear, I had to reduce contrast to the point that the peak white level was 22 ftL, but I now had an image that was very accurate and using the faster color wheel for fewer rainbows. It wasn't quite as accurate as User mode, but if you see rainbows the lower light output and slight loss in color fidelity would certainly be worth it.
One issue I did have was getting the sharpness control set correctly on the BenQ. A setting of 0 was fuzzy, and above 5 there was edge enhancement setting in. Going to 5 was the best choice for me, but at that same level I noticed some color fringing on the screen as well and the finest detail in wedge patterns were still showing some edge enhancement artifacts. The lens or the sharpness control could introduce this, but there was certainly a purplish tint at certain points on the Spears and Munsil pattern. It seems there is no setting in the BenQ that results in exact 1:1 processing of the image with no enhancement at all, but I found 5 to be the best setting overall with the fewest artifacts.
On my 96", Screen Innovations 1.3 gain Solar HD screen I measured a peak light output of 29.42 fL in low lamp mode, and a pure black level of 0.031 fL. This would give me a lumens estimate of 600 lumens and approximate contrast of 935:1. If I enabled Dynamic Black the black level dropped to 0.01, raising the contrast ration to almost 3,000:1. Turning on high lamp mode the white output raised to 36.8 fL, for 770 lumens, with all values out to 255 still visible. There is plenty of light to spare here.
Measuring the contrast ratio straight from the gave me a reading of 890:1 with Dynamic Black off, and 2900:1 with Dynamic Black on which is almost identical to off the screen. I always focus on the number without the iris, as it is more applicable to actual content. These numbers are pretty low for a DLP and likely due to the choice of the DarkChip 2, but the very bright highlights in scenes helps make the blacks appear darker in content.
In the end you can get a well calibrated image from the BenQ, but you will have to be very careful in your choice of colorspaces, where to clip white, and striking a balance between Hue and Saturation to get the CMS points dialed in correctly. It's a bit finicky but it can get there with some work.
Conclusions about the BenQ W7000 Projector
One question asked all the time is "What's the best projector?" which is really a question without an answer. Where you watch, what you watch, and what factors you care about are going to influence what projector you are after and there is no simple one-size-fits-all answer. That said, if someone asks me what the best 3D projector out there is for under $30,000, I would answer that the BenQ W7000 is the best that I've seen.
In addition to its class-leading 3D performance, the BenQ W7000 offers a brighter image than almost any other projector in its class, a full CMS to dial in your grayscale and color points, ISFccc mode for a calibration that your family won't be able to undo, and a sharp, clear picture that has plenty of pop and brings out all the details in your content. If you are a black level fanatic or have issues with rainbows then the W7000 won't be your ideal fit, but for most people it can do a fantastic job. It handles all content well, it can light up any size screen you will likely have, and it is much more flexible in mounting than most DLP units.
For the price, I was very impressed with the W7000 and would highly recommend that you give it a look if you are after a projector in this price range. It strikes a good balance with price and performance, and has 3D performance that will actually let you understand why some people are so excited about it.