BenQ W10000 DLP Video Projector 
Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors
Written by Kevin Miller   
Wednesday, 01 August 2007

1080p resolution has finally come full circle for DLP displays, and all the DLP projector manufacturers now have 1080p models to market. Enter BenQ’s W10000 one-chip DLP projector with, of course, a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This little powerhouse delivers the video goods in spades, and was designed with a relatively large lamp, which means it can illuminate larger screen sizes than much of its competition. The W10000 is a capable performer in its category, and outperforms all of the competitively priced LCoS projectors that I have seen in recent months. But how does it stack up to the Sharp XV-Z20000, my current favorite 1080p one-chip DLP projector? That is the big question.

While not exactly a sexy tour de force of industrial design, the W10000 is nonetheless a sleek and reasonably attractive-looking projector with a retail price of $6,000.00. It is a squarish unit, measuring 19.3 wide by seven-and-a-half inches high and 15.4 inches deep, weighing in at about 21 pounds. My review sample was finished in two-tone silver and white, with the front and top sections white and the sides and rear panel silver. All the input jacks are located on the rear panel, which has a snap-in flip-up door to conceal them, and an additional contoured panel is provided for covering the entire rear panel, so that nothing, including the AC power cord, is visible when it is mounted on the ceiling.

The remote control is a very well-thought-out design. Direct access keys for all the most important features and functions are provided for ease of use. This also makes the installer’s job of programming these functions into a touch panel remote system relatively easy. All inputs, aspect ratios, ISF Day and Night modes, picture controls and lens features are directly accessible from the remote. The menu key and navigation arrows are all located directly in the center of the unit within easy thumb reach. It is also fully backlit, which will make initial set-up and tweaking a breeze in your darkened home theater environs. The internal menu system is simple and easy to navigate. The first of five pages, laid out horizontally, gives you the basic picture controls (contrast, brightness, color, etc.), as well as picture modes and color temperature selections. The last page has all the advanced features like grayscale control, 3D color management, iris control and ISF menus.

BenQ’s W10000 is packed with features that mainly add flexibility to set-up, and give you the ability to fine-tune the picture quality. However, I was surprised to find PIP (Picture-in-Picture) and POP (Picture out of Picture), which are not commonly found on front projectors, as they are intended more for consumer televisions. A number of picture modes are available, including Cinema, Home Theater, Family Room, Photo and Gaming. From my testing, Home Theater provided the closest approximation of an accurate picture prior to any tweaking.

In the Extended Picture Settings menu, in the first page labeled Picture, there are the obligatory selectable color temperatures. You can choose between Warm, Normal, Cool, and Lamp Native presets, with Warm definitely being the closest to the broadcast standard of 6500 Kelvins. The Advanced Menu has the iris settings, white balance controls for grayscale calibration, 3D color management and ISF C3 features. When calibrating the grayscale, you must save your work to either User 1 or User 2, which effectively gives you two grayscale memories. This means you could do a separate set-up for black and white, which requires a different, somewhat warmer color temperature for accurate reproduction of older black and white movies.

I was very pleased to find the lens features. Zoom, focus and lens shift are all electronic and accessible directly from the remote control. This makes sizing, focusing and positioning the picture much easier than on projectors where these functions are all manual, as you can do everything while being right on top of the screen. The BenQ also has 1080p/24fps support, which means it can accept 1080p/24 fps from the new Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. These are two advantages the BenQ W10000 has over its most direct competitor, the Sharp XV-Z20000.

BenQ is one of only a handful of ISF C3 licensees in the front-projection market, with Runco being the other notable front-projection manufacturer that offers this unique and useful functionality. This feature allows a technician to set up two new locked modes that are fully calibrated for each input/source being used. If the user wants to change the picture settings, he/she can go to one of the other provided picture modes and change anything they desire. By simply selecting one of the ISF modes, the user is then back to a calibrated picture that cannot be changed.

Connectivity options on the W10000 are somewhat limited, with only a single HDMI input being provided. There is one component video input using traditional RCA jacks. An RGBHV input with BNC connectors can also be configured to be a component input by simply using the first three Y, Pb, Pr BNC jacks with BNC to RCA adaptors. Of course, there are the other obligatory analog video inputs: one S-Video and one composite video input. An RS-232 port for control, which resembles a PC mouse connector instead of the traditional nine-pin configuration, and a 12-volt trigger, for controlling electric drop-down screens, comprise all the connectivity on board the W10000.

The W10000 uses a 250-watt lamp that is rated at 1200 ANSI lumens of light output, which means it is capable of driving large screen sizes relative to other 1080p DLP projectors, most of which use a considerably smaller lamp. It has a rated lamp life of between 2000 and 3000 hours. Chances are, you will get longer life if the iris is not fully opened. On my review sample, I adjusted the iris down to two clicks above the lowest setting. This gave me acceptable brightness (about 14 foot-lamberts) and still maintained very good black level performance. I found that the Home Theater picture mode and the warm color temperature setting produced the best starting point for optimizing the picture. In fact, the BenQ W10000 produces a very good picture at these factory presets relative to many front-projection systems. The grayscale was reasonably close to the standard. Some of the other picture controls, especially color, needed to be toned down a bit, but all in all, it was definitely a good ballpark starting point for dialing in and fine-tuning the picture.

Picture performance after a full-blown ISF-style calibration was quite impressive. Gamma implementation is good, with a slow rise out of black that resembles the performance of a CRT. This helps the projector deliver excellent shadow detail, as it reproduces many shades of gray just above black, which was always one of the CRT’s best performance attributes. Grayscale tracking was fairly good, but could be improved a bit as it went slightly blue at the very top of the grayscale. Color accuracy is generally good. Primary colors at the factory presets are way off, which is typical of most of the front projectors I have seen in the past couple of years. However, I was able to improve the primaries and get them reasonably close to the SMPTE specifications, using the 3D color management feature in the advanced menu. I was disappointed to find that I could not dial in the secondary colors nearly as well. This means the decoder is not working properly, because if you get the primary colors correct, the secondary colors, which are derived from the primaries, should be correct. If BenQ were to improve this feature, it would lead the pack in overall color accuracy.

When it comes to natural colors, it is hard to beat the excellent HD DVD transfer of Seabiscuit (Universal Studios Home Video), which remains one of the best-looking titles available in that format. Chapters 13 and 25 make good demo material, as they both offer outdoor scenery with plenty of grass, tree leaves and other natural objects that we know well, with saturated colors like the jockeys’ uniforms. Chapter 25 has all of that, as well as the excitement of seeing Red (Tobey Maguire) redeem himself by winning his last race at Santa Anita, where he embarrassed the crew by losing years before because he lost his temper. Whatever the chapter, the BenQ did a remarkable job, faithfully rendering all of the detail and rich colors this HD DVD had to offer.

On Blu-ray, I watched some scenes from the very racy Crank (Lakeshore). Chapter 3 in particular is fast-moving, exciting video with a lot of really saturated color. The quality of the disc is indisputable. It’s too bad the quality of the film isn’t there to match it. The jerky motion of the camera is so intense at times that I find it difficult to watch from beginning to end. However, the BenQ didn’t add to my visual discomfort with excessive motion artifacts or loss of detail, despite the film’s best efforts.

Kingdom of Heaven (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), also on Blu-ray, is very good-looking material, but with much more subdued and natural-looking colors. The BenQ once again reproduced the Blu-ray disc faithfully, and I found myself immersed in the material.

Batman Begins (Warner Home Video), on HD DVD, has a lot of dark material throughout the film, and is therefore a good choice to examine shadow detail and black level tests. In Chapter 3, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is thrown into solitary in a Chinese jail cell in sequence that is mostly dark. When blacks are reproduced well, you can see all the fine detail on the walls, as well as being able to make out fine detail on his face and clothes. In all the dark material I watched on the BenQ, blacks were clean and there were very few visible “dithering” artifacts, which appear like floating noise just above black.

HD material on my Time Warner cable system wasn’t as enticing as the HD DVD and Blu-ray sources. The optical HD formats have much higher bandwidth than any broadcast HD, and the superior sharpness and clarity are quite apparent as a result. However, Discovery HD, HDNET and PBS looked pretty good. The BenQ actually did a nice job of cleaning up noisy standard-definition sources on my cable system, which is always a plus, considering how much SD we are all still watching.

The Downside
There is some loss of resolution with 1080i HDTV sources from cable or satellite, as evidenced by the Silicon Optix HQV HD DVD test disc. The video resolution loss test showed some loss of detail, which means the BenQ’s video processing isn’t properly de-interlacing 1080i signals. Although BenQ has done a better job than most manufacturers with their 3D color management system, they need to further improve it so we can get accurate secondary colors in addition to accurate primary colors. I was a bit disappointed to find only one HDMI input. I would prefer a minimum of two, because then at least you could run your two best digital sources directly to the projector, instead of having to switch them through an A/V receiver or switcher, which can degrade image quality. Mating the W10000 with a good video processor, like the awesome DVDO VP50, would be the best solution to both the 1080i de-interlacing issue and the limited digital connectivity.

There is no question that BenQ’s W10000 is an impressive 1080p one-chip DLP projector. It does have a slight edge over the Sharp XV-Z20000 in primary color accuracy when tweaked, but falls short on the secondary colors. On the other hand, the Sharp does a better job of processing 1080i HDTV sources, which include the vast majority of HD content on cable and satellite systems. The Sharp also has a total of three digital inputs: two HDMIs and one DVI. I consider the two projectors to be very close in performance, with the Sharp having a slight edge over the BenQ, offering better connectivity options. At its retail price of $6,000, I consider the BenQ to be the best value in 1080p DLP projectors as of this writing. It also handily outperforms any and all of the LCoS projectors I have seen in its price range, including the $5000 Sony VPL-VW50 “Pearl,” in just about every aspect of picture quality.
Manufacturer BenQ
Model W10000 DLP Video Projector
Reviewer Kevin Miller
Chipset 1-Chip
Native Resolution 1080p

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