Projectors

BenQ W10000 1080p Single-Chip DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Installation

Installing the projector was a snap. BenQ provides an easy-to-use throw calculator in the instruction manual and provides a few built-in test patterns that come in handy. I used the cross hatch pattern a few times. The powered zoom, focus, and lens shift also made lining up the image and getting the tightest focus possible quite easy.

For this review, I mounted the projector on the ceiling, using BenQ's universal mount. The mount uses a plate that is essentially a cross bar mesh, and you bolt on the projector using four simple arms. From there, you level the projector in both directions and you're good to go. Then you simply connect power and your video inputs (for this review I used component and HDMI) and select ceiling mount from the setup menu for proper image orientation.

Setup and Calibration

As I mentioned before, the W10000 may be one of the best projectors I've seen to date from a calibration standpoint. It offers an awesome amount of flexibility for calibration and can be dialed in to near perfection.

The W10000 uses three completely different menu systems to achieve this. There is the standard users menu, an ISF menu, and the service menu. The standard users menu is what most people are used to when it comes to projectors. Here you'll find the usual picture controls like contrast and brightness, as well as refined picture controls like color temperature, and a few advanced picture controls.

isf The ISF menu system goes a bit further. It requires a code to enter but unlocks a host of options that are required to make the most of this projector's image. Here you'll find adjustments for color primaries and secondaries (I'd be happy if most projectors on the market offered adjustments for just the primaries!), gamma, color temperature, and all of the cursory adjustments that can be made in the standard menu. All of these settings can be saved to the various user settings or the ISF Night and Day presets. This enables a calibrator to tweak the projector in for both dark rooms and lighter rooms and lock the settings in with a password so your kids or friends don't mistakenly erase all your settings. Each mode is available from a push of a button on the remote.

The service menu is another beast entirely and isn't the place for the novice to go messing around. Controls for the DLP chip are here, including timings, color wheel speeds, gamma, and more. Unless you're working with a calibrator who really knows what he is doing, I'd stick to the previous two menus. You can still achieve an almost perfect calibration and don't have to worry about messing up the projector.

When I first received the W10000, I did a cursory calibration using mainly the ISF menu. With an assortment of custom HD test patterns, I was able to get a decent grayscale by eye, and get all of the cursory settings dialed in accurately. The ISF menu provides several different pre-set gamma options and color temperature options.

Later, I employed the help of calibrator Michael Chen for a full calibration. Michael Chen is one of the owners of Lion Audio/Video Consultants (www.lionav.com) and is a very respected calibrator. I've used his service before back in the CRT days, and he's always done a tremendous job.

This projector wasn't too far off the mark to begin with, but a little bit of dialing in did tighten the image in to reference quality. This projector really dials in well with great grayscale tracking, gamma, and color accuracy.

color coordinates
As you can see, color coordinates weren't too far off the mark to begin with, but we managed to get them almost all dialed in to D65. Some of the lower level IRE's were a bit difficult, but most meters aren't nearly as accurate below 30 IRE as you would hope them to be anyways.

color tracking
Color tracking was also excellent after calibration. With BenQ's flexible color management system, we were able to dial in both primaries and secondaries to almost perfection. Green was just a bit low ,which also pulled in Cyan a tad. The only real fault we found with the BenQ in relation to color was its decoder. Since this is an HD projector, it should use a color decoder that is accurate with REC 709. Unfortunately, the color decoder is set up for an SD color space. We tried to dial in the decoder a bit more to resolve this issue but found it ultimately frustrating. The projector should look at the incoming video signal and switch accordingly, which is what we've seen from other HD projectors. I've informed BenQ of the issue and hopefully they will resolve it with firmware and in future models.

Grayscale performance was excellent after calibration, with only a slight dip in the lower IREs (again this is more of an issue with the meter than the projector; even the high priced Minolta meter that was used starts running out in the lower IREs). We managed to get a nearly perfect grayscale from the W10000 and a gamma of 2.38, which is exactly what we want to see from a digital projector.

The W10000 had no problems at all in clipping luma or chroma with our HD test patterns. I was able to dial in the image to near perfection with no obvious banding on a luma ramp, which is a rarity in the digital projection world. There is no image cropping at all with this projector either.

Like the other 1080p DLP based projectors I've reviewed, the W10000 resolves the full resolution of 1080p with no obvious roll-off or distortion. This includes single pixel bursts and Nyquist patterns for both luma and chroma in the horizontal and vertical planes.

One of my favorite features on the W10000 is its variable iris. The BenQ employs a motorized iris that can be controlled from the remote allowing you to dial in contrast and brightness to your liking. The iris has nearly 30 steps available. At first I tightened the iris all the way down, maximizing contrast as much as possible. With the projector in low lamp mode and fully calibrated we measured out an impressive 4200:1 On/Off contrast ratio and 610:1 ANSI contrast. This is nearly the best contrast ratio that we've measured yet from a DLP design.

The flexible iris can also be used to dial in the overall image brightness you want from the projector. There are a lot of people out there who would gladly sacrifice a bit of contrast to get more lumens from their projector. This iris allows you to start with the iris closed down and open it up until you find a comfortable brightness level that works for your environment. As the bulb wears, you simply open the iris up a little more. I kept the iris closed down to about 90% of its range. This provided plenty of contrast and deep blacks, but still enough punch in the image to give the picture some snap.

Video Processing

Video processing is probably the weakest area of this design and its Achilles' heel if you are depending on it for HD video processing. BenQ went with a two chip solution for its video processing, employing a Faroudja/Genesis chipset for I/P conversion and filtering, and an O-Plus solution for scaling.

We've tested all of the Faroudja-based video processing solutions, and while they offer impressive performance for SD video sources, they haven't been as impressive with HD performance until the recent "Cortez" line was released.

The W10000 does a fine job with SD video content such as DVD sources. Feeding this projector a 480i signal from a DVD player resulted in a very good image with proper de-interlacing of both 2-3 and 2-2 sources. The O-Plus scaler did a commendable job with scaling, with only a small amount of ringing added to the image. You could improve performance by feeding this projector a fully progressive image from a higher end DVD player and get a slightly better image, but I think most consumers would notice little difference.

The HD side is another story. This projector cannot do proper inverse telecine de-interlacing of 1080i sources to its full 1080p resolution. It essentially does a "Bob" style weaving which results in several artifacts and an apparent loss in resolution compared with a good 1080p feed. While this might not be as apparent with a cable broadcast or home videos from a camcorder, it is quite noticeable with higher end sources such as HD DVD and Blu-ray. If you are using these sources and don't have a player that supports a true 1080p output, I would recommend coupling this projector with a more capable outboard video processing solution.

With true 1080p60 and 1080p24 sources, this projector shines. The BenQ will accept these resolutions and pass them straight through. For 1080p24 sources, the projector frame doubles and displays them at 48 Hz, resulting in a very clean, judder-free image that is exceptionally film-like.