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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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