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BenQ W7500 DLP 3D Projector Review

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#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Dave Upton

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Posted August 09 2014 - 09:54 AM

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Overview

 

As a current owner of BenQ’s W6000 projector I was eager to see what has changed in BenQ’s DLP lineup for the home theater two generations after my projector was introduced. Following 2013’s W7000, the W7500 includes the same 3D functionality but ships without any included 3D glasses. The W7500 utilizes a single chip implementation of the DarkChip 3 DLP engine from Texas Instruments and advertises a claimed 60,000:1 contrast ratio and 2000 lumens of light output. At a retail price of $2799, this all sounds pretty good, lining up relatively well with the similarly priced competitors from Epson and Panasonic.

 

For those not familiar with single chip DLP implementations, it should suffice for me to say that they are extremely sharp (no convergence issues) and the W7500 lives up to this reputation. I found the review sample of the W7500 approximately 10-15% sharper than my W6000 which is a fairly substantial improvement in a few short years. Likewise, black levels were also noticeably deeper than my W6000, particularly once dialed in with calibrated settings.
While I don’t suffer from the dreaded “rainbow effect”, the 6x color wheel in the W7500 should prevent this issue for all but the most unlucky home theater enthusiast.

 

Features
 

Creative Frame Interpolation

 

The W7500 features Creative Frame Interpolation which is quite common in higher end LCD projectors and TV’s, but less so in the DLP world and specifically at this price point. Creative Frame Interpolation is a level more complex than simple Frame Interpolation, as the onboard ASIC chips on the display actually read ahead several frames and create additional frames that reposition elements on the frame in an intermediate position between the frames on either side.
 

FrameCreation1.jpg

 

Detail Enhancement

 

I’m sure that most of you reading this have a hard time reacting with anything other than mild nausea at the thought of detail enhancement functionality on a display, and I can’t blame you given the antics we’ve seen in earlier generations. Every manufacturer these days has their own unique version of this technology in their products, whether it’s Epson’s Super Resolution, Sony’s Reality Creation or JVC’s 4K eShift, the end result is that some pretty fancy image processing is going on to make the image appear sharper. In the case of an already laser sharp projector like the W7500, there’s really no need for this technology, and while the “low’ setting of 1 out of 3 seems to make a minimal perceived improvement to the untrained eye, it’s obvious that it is still altering the source material and should be avoided if you are a purist.
 

3D Performance

 

For those like me who find the current state of 3D in the home theater an atrocious mess full of crosstalk, sync issues and perhaps worst of all reduced brightness and hence contrast – I can at least report that among the various 3D projectors I have had the chance to view, the W7500 displays the most minimal levels of crosstalk I’ve yet seen. It appears that the single panel DLP chip used here manages to minimize crosstalk to the greatest extent I’ve seen thus far, while the W7500’s undisputed capability as a light canon serves to offset some of the perceived loss in brightness once the glasses are on the viewer’s head.

 

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Despite these improvements, the W7500 still relies on DLP-link technology to sync the glasses and projector, which unfortunately is where I believe the majority of the crosstalk issues stem from. On the positive side, these new glasses are significantly lighter than the previous generation, weighing in at a hair over 46 grams (1.6 oz for the “old school”), which greatly increases comfort over the 1-3 hours typically spent viewing 3D content. BenQ has made progress here, but to echo some other reviewers, the days of DLP-link need to be firmly in the past and all manufacturers who are serious about including 3D should standardize on RF. Almost all RF glasses display significantly less cross talk than the DLP-link counterparts.

 

Dynamic Iris

 

The BenQ W7500 has a fairly solid dynamic iris with middling range but fairly effective results in dark scenes, lowering the black levels substantially enough to at least merit leaving the feature enabled, however it is not without its flaws.
First, it should be noted that this is a loud iris. In the case of my review unit, some fairly high pitched whine can be heard any time the iris makes a major adjustment which can get tiresome when not listening at a moderate to loud level. Secondly, there is some brightness pumping on content that transitions back and forth rapidly, though this was minor and not something I would necessarily penalize BenQ for.

 

Lens Shift & Placement Flexibility

 

The W7500 has a 1.5:1 manual zoom lens with a large chrome focus ring along the periphery. Just like my trusty W6000, the W7500 also offers lens shift in the form of a joystick on the front of the projector. The adjustments that can be made are relatively fine, but still take some time to avoid keystone issues if you’re too far off axis. In my own room, the projector is about 8” off horizontal center due to the position of the stud for my rear shelf and is about 6” below the top of the screen. Even with this relatively minimal amount of shift, I noticed some geometry issues in the far quadrants of the screen that prevented truly perfect in-plane focus. I saw similar issues in my W6000 and continue to chalk this up to the budget BenQ is trying to stay within for these projectors as it is no doubt a very expensive proposition to insist on optically perfect lenses outside the “sweet spot”. When temporarily positioned in the center of the screen, the W7500 was about 98% of the way to being uninform and perfectly focused from edge to edge. A very respectable result for a projector at this price range offering such extensive lens shift.

 

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Picture Quality

It should be noted that the W7500 features several out of the box picture modes. Dynamic doesn’t bear mentioning as it looks like crap, so I’ll move straight on to the ones that matter: Standard, Cinema and User 1-3. Standard has a default color temperature of about 7000K, while Cinema is closer to 6700K from my subjective viewing. After calibration I was able to get it fairly well dialed in using User 1-3 modes for varying levels of brightness in the room. While the W7500 didn’t have the organic out of the box calibration like some projectors I’ve seen, Cinema mode gets you close enough that simply disabling Brilliant Color and some minor CMS adjustments will have a great image on your screen in little to no time.

 

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Shadow detail and black levels were both “good” but fell slightly short of the excellent level seen in the newest 3LCD models from Panasonic and Epson, though certainly in terms of raw contrast this projector seems to have them beat subjectively speaking thanks to its prodigious light output.

 

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the time I spent with the W7500 was highly enjoyable. It felt largely like I had just upgraded my W6000 by about 20% across the board and added 3D. Suffice to say, if sharpness is your game and you like a bright, rich image then the W7500 seems to be one of the best options on the market at this price point.

 

Prospective buyers may want to demo the Epson 5030UB and Panasonic PT-AE8000U to get their own sense of their preferred image, but for my money, the W7500 remains the clear choice at this price point. Highly Recommended


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#2 of 8 ONLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted August 09 2014 - 01:40 PM

Dave, thanks for the great writeup.  I was shopping for a projector a couple months ago, and this was one of the ones I was considering.  I ended up going in a different direction, but I was convinced from everything I read that this was going to be a pretty impressive piece of hardware.  Glad to read that it does live up to the hype!


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#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Dave Upton

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Posted August 09 2014 - 05:41 PM

Dave, thanks for the great writeup. I was shopping for a projector a couple months ago, and this was one of the ones I was considering. I ended up going in a different direction, but I was convinced from everything I read that this was going to be a pretty impressive piece of hardware. Glad to read that it does live up to the hype!


Thanks Josh. What did you end up buying?
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#4 of 8 ONLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted August 09 2014 - 06:50 PM

Thanks Josh. What did you end up buying?

 

I went with an Epson 5030UB. 

 

I had a few different reasons why I went that way, in no particular order:

- I had previously owned an Epson projector (standard definition) years ago, and was very happy with both the quality of the projector and Epson's customer service - familiarity isn't everything, but I felt comfortable with Epson

- I was able to see the Epson in action at local stores; no one that I could find in my area had this BenQ in stock, so there would have been no opportunity to try it before buying

- The Epson had greater flexibility with lens shift and zoom. This is really important to me because I'm in a rental apartment, and the projector is in the living room and not a dedicated theater -- so not only did I have restrictions on where I could place it in the room, but I also can't drill holes into the ceiling to mount it.  And there's a chance I could be moving to a different apartment in a year or two, so I liked the extra flexibility in case a future space isn't as accommodating as my current space is.  I was a little worried about getting something with less placement flexibility and then finding out in a couple years that I really needed it.

- The BenQ uses DLP-link for its 3D, instead of RF.  I've only seen limited demos of home DLP projectors, so it's totally possible that DLP link might not be an issue for me in practice, but in theory and from what little I did see of other models that used DLP link, it would be occasionally noticeable in a distracting way.  I really like 3D, and I was worried this might be an issue for me.

- My girlfriend, who shares the apartment with me, has noticed the "rainbow effect" before - it's entirely possible with this BenQ's fast color wheel that it wouldn't have been an issue, but since we didn't have the opportunity to see it in use before buying, I was still a little concerned about it being an issue.

 

Basically I had a couple too many unanswered questions on this BenQ where I really would have needed to see it in action to feel comfortable purchasing it.  It's totally possible that my concerns about the DLP-link affecting 3D quality and rainbow effect could have been non-issues when I actually saw it in action, but without being able to see it, I couldn't really get myself completely comfortable with that.  The Epson's greater lens shift and zoom definitely helped also, but the BenQ seemed to be miles ahead of its competitors in what they offered, so that wasn't as much of a factor as I thought it might be when I started looking. 

 

I'd still love to see this projector in action one day.  I'm very, very happy with my Epson (I've had it for about three weeks), but this one looks pretty awesome as well.  If my circumstances were a little different and I had a dedicated room, and if the BenQ used RF instead of DLP link, I might have made a different choice.



#5 of 8 ONLINE   Reed Grele

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Posted August 09 2014 - 07:45 PM

I owned the previous model (W7000) for about a month but ended up returning it.

 

The DLP link contributed to the degrading of the 3D quality by introducing an annoying red tint to the image which the glasses couldn't entirely eliminate.

 

If I watched 3D content with my head dead centered on the screen, there was no crosstalk. But as soon as I moved my head either slightly right, or left, crosstalk would appear.

 

Sometimes when I'd press 'stop" while a 3D image was being projected, the image would freeze, then a black screen with a white jagged "lightning bolt" line would appear, and the projector would lock up. I'd have to power cycle it to get rid of the error.

 

There were several other bugs that plagued my unit, and finally, I decided to return it. Perhaps I just got a bad one. I had read a lot of glowing reviews prior to purchasing.

 

Anyway, I now own a Sharp XV-Z30000 which has none of the problems mentioned above. Unfortunately, it was discontinued, and is hard to find. Otherwise, I'd recommend it to anyone who is considering a DLP projector.


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#6 of 8 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 30 2014 - 05:19 PM

Thanks for the review. I enjoy reading these to get a little info, for when I one day go shopping for my own projector.

 Creative Frame Interpolation The W7500 features Creative Frame Interpolation which is quite common in higher end LCD projectors and TV’s, but less so in the DLP world and specifically at this price point. Creative Frame Interpolation is a level more complex than simple Frame Interpolation, as the onboard ASIC chips on the display actually read ahead several frames and create additional frames that reposition elements on the frame in an intermediate position between the frames on either side.


What is the benefit to this? It seems like a fancy name for "Soap Opera Effect". Do DLPs have frame transition deficiencies like LCDs TVs, and use inter-frame interpolation to compensate?
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#7 of 8 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted September 10 2014 - 07:00 AM

Thanks for the review. I enjoy reading these to get a little info, for when I one day go shopping for my own projector.


What is the benefit to this? It seems like a fancy name for "Soap Opera Effect". Do DLPs have frame transition deficiencies like LCDs TVs, and use inter-frame interpolation to compensate?

 

DLP has much better motion but some people still love frame interpolation, they add the feature as a selling point.

 

It might work for sports programming but i would never use it for films.


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#8 of 8 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted September 10 2014 - 07:37 AM

DLP started adding that for the same reason plasma started the "we have 600hz".

When a tech needs "gee-whiz" to function...that other tech doesn't, misinformed Joe Public thinks they need to buy "gee-whiz"...

How else do you explain the success of LCD?





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