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BenQ W10000 review: BenQ W10000

Design
The BenQ W10000's overall design is basic with a touch of sleekness. It's one of only a few one-chip DLP projectors with the lens assembly located smack in the center of the chassis, which adds to its attractively symmetrical look. The central lens also makes it much easier for installers to mount the projector on the ceiling correctly, relative to the screen. Our review sample was finished in a two-tone silver and white; the sides and rear were all silver, while the front and top were white. The W10000 measures 19.3x7.6x15.4 inches and weighs about 21 pounds.

8.0

BenQ W10000

The Good

Accurate color; solid feature package for setup and optimization; 1080p resolution for sharp, crisp images; clean video processing.

The Bad

Somewhat limited connectivity with only one HDMI input; CMS (Color Management System) system needs refinement.

The Bottom Line

BenQ's W10000 delivers excellent performance for a 1080p 1-chip DLP projector, especially considering its relatively low price.
BenQ has been a major player in DLP front projection display technology for years, and the company's latest flagship projector, the W10000, is a one-chip design with Texas Instruments' new 1080p resolution chip. A good-size lamp means the 10000W will drive large screen sizes, which is an important consideration since most of the competitive 1080p resolution projectors are not as bright. This unit also sports an excellent feature package offering plenty of flexibility for setup and picture tuning. The W10000 is one of the top performers in the rarified category of 1080p resolution DLP front projection, and certainly trounces the LCoS projectors we have seen in that price range--including the $5,000 Sony VPL-VW50 "Pearl"--in just about every aspect of picture quality. When you consider that it sells for around $6,000 online, it's also one of the best values in the category.

The remote control has a simple, well thought out design. It's long and thin with complete backlighting for use in darkened theater environments. It has direct access keys for all inputs, aspect ratios, and picture controls. The menu key and navigation arrows are all located directly in the center of the unit. The zoom, focus, and lens shift features are all also directly accessible from the remote. Having these direct access functions will also make touch-panel remote control programming easier for custom installers. The internal menu system is simple and easy to navigate with five pages in total; the first page is devoted to basic picture controls, picture modes, and color-temperature selections.

Features
This projector is feature-packed with utilities to help in setup and fine tuning the picture for optimum performance. A slew of preset picture modes are on board, including Cinema, Home Theater, Family Room, Photo, and Gaming. We chose Home Theater since it provided the closest approximation of a well-calibrated picture. BenQ is one of the few front projection manufacturers, along with high-end label Runco, to offer the ISF Day and Night Mode feature, which allows a technician to set up two locked modes that are fully calibrated.

Under the extended picture settings menu there are a number of selectable color temperatures, including Warm, Normal, Cool, and Lamp Native presets. Warm definitely is the closest to the broadcast standard of 6,500K. There are also two custom color temperature memory slots, labeled User 1 and User 2, that are used during calibration. The Advanced Menu contains the Iris settings, controls for grayscale calibration, 3D color management, and ISF C3 features.

The W10000's connection options are a little limited, namely because it offers only a single HDMI input, where most high-end displays have two or more. This is disappointing because with two inputs you can run your two best digital sources directly to the projector instead of having to switch them through an A/V receiver or switcher.

A component-video input and an RGBHV input with BNC connectors, which can also be configured for component video, are the second-best video connections available. The other obligatory analog video inputs include a single S-Video and one composite-video input. There's also an RS-232 port for custom remote control systems (it resembles a PC mouse connector instead of the traditional 9-pin configuration) and a 12-volt trigger for controlling electric drop-down screens.

Performance
The overall performance of the BenQ W10000 is very good especially after calibration. However, even if you simply select the Home Theater picture mode and Warm color temperature, you should be in the ballpark without a full blown calibration. That was our starting point.

The W10000 has a 250-watt lamp with a rated ANSI lumen light output of 1,200, and is capable of driving fairly large screen sizes. With our relatively small 72-inch StudioTek 130 screen, we stepped the Iris down to two clicks above the lowest setting. That setting resulted in enough light output (about 13.5 footlamberts) while still retaining deep black levels. Post-calibration performance was impressive. Gamma is well implemented, with a nice slow rise out of black, which helps the projector deliver excellent shadow detail. Grayscale tracking was reasonably good, but it could stand some improvement as it went slightly blue at the very top of the grayscale.

Colors were quite accurate overall. Primary colors from the factory are way off, but we were able to improve the primaries and get them fairly close to the HD color specification using the 3D color management feature in the Advanced Menu (see the Geek Box below). Unfortunately, we were not able to dial in the secondary colors nearly as accurately, so BenQ still has a little work to do on this utility. This means the decoder is not working properly, because if you get the primary colors correct, the derivative secondary colors should then be correct.

For color demos, our current favorite is the HD DVD transfer of Seabiscuit, which remains one of the best looking titles available. Chapters 12 and 13 depict outdoor scenery with plenty of grass, tree leaves, and other natural objects that we know well. Chapter 13 has a lot of saturated colors such as the jockey's uniforms, which really stood out on the BenQ, thanks to reasonably accurate primary colors.

Chapter 3 on the HD DVD of Batman Begins, where Bruce Wayne is thrown into solitary in a Chinese jail cell, is a challenging shadow detail and black-level test. The cell is quite dark and dingy, and we could see all the fine detail on the gray brick walls as well as being able to make out minute textures on his face and clothes. Blacks were clean and there was very little "dithering" noise just above black, indicating good video processing.

HD channels on our cable system weren't quite as riveting as the HD DVD material, because of the heavy compression. Nonetheless, Discovery HD and HDNet looked really good. Even standard definition channels such as TCM and CNN looked reasonably clean and quiet, again attesting to video processing of the BenQ W10000.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 7,000/7,085 Average
After color temp 6,375/6,490 Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 538K Average
After grayscale variation +/- 103K Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.657/0.326 Average
Color of green 0.261/0.666 Good
Color of blue 0.150/0.056 Average
Overscan 0 percent Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Yes Good

8.0

BenQ W10000

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8