1080p 3D Home Video Projector
February 9, 2013
Light output. The BenQ W1070 spec sheet states a 2,000 lumen maximum output. Our test sample did indeed measure 2019 lumens, but only in Dynamic mode, and then only after we increased Brightness and Contrast to their maximum limits. In the factory default settings for Dynamic mode, our test unit measured 1554 lumens with the lamp at full power. That's the maximum output we obtained in any usable mode, so it is the practical ceiling for this projector. Dynamic mode is a good choice when you need every lumen the projector can muster and don't much care about what happens to color accuracy and contrast in order to get there. With a projector designed for use in ambient light, that's a situation that will arise from time to time.
As stated earlier, the two modes that we used most often were Standard and Cinema. Standard mode, at 1271 lumens, is balanced for living room use. It emphasizes brightness, but maintains dynamic range and adds a touch of blue to overall grayscale, resulting in a color temperature around 7000K across the board. It's a well-balanced image mode for general film and video use.
Cinema mode, at its defaults, isn't much different; our test unit measures 1220 lumens in this mode at an average 6800K color temperature. If this is too much light (and it may well be once you dim the room lighting), Eco mode reduces light output by nearly 30%, resulting in 880 lumens in Cinema mode.
SmartEco mode is a bit of a puzzle. The mode claims to reduce brightness based on the content on screen, but it is not a dynamic lamp mode. Lamp power does not cycle up and down once SmartEco has been selected. Instead, the projector decides based on the content being shown how bright the lamp should be, and then locks output at that level.
Contrast and black level. As a home video projector, black level is not the W1070's main focus. Indeed, compared to home theater projectors, even HT projectors in the same price range, black level is only so-so. However, that doesn't mean that the projector's overall contrast is weak. Dynamic range is sufficient to maintain excellent separation in shadows, even with ambient light in the room. Gamma, while not as adjustable as we'd like (it uses a list of presets rather than a true adjustment tool), is accurate. If you find the image a touch anemic in ambient light, using a higher gamma setting will give the image some more punch. The 2.4 setting is great in low ambient light.
Color. The W1070 has a lot going for it when it comes to color. First of all, the projector's color calibration controls are extensive and easy to use. It features not only full RGB gain/bias adjustments for grayscale calibration, but also a full three-axis color management system for gamut adjustments -- AND there's a further ISF mode hidden behind a password. Second, and more importantly, the projector has well-saturated, accurate, usable color right out of the box, which in an inexpensive projector is arguably more important than the presence of good calibration controls. After all, relatively few of the W1070's purchasers will spend the time and effort to have it calibrated.
The default calibrations are all appropriate for different situations. Dynamic mode, which is bright and clearly biased towards green, is for combating heavy ambient light. Standard mode, at roughly 7000K, is for television and video in mild to moderate ambient light. Cinema mode, at 6800K, is the closest to a calibrated movie mode, and with a little bit of adjustment is great for night-time movie watching.
As mentioned above, the W1070 has extensive color controls and calibrates very well. Our settings for Cinema mode look like this:
Those adjustments give the W1070 a near-perfect 6500K grayscale across the board.
Sharpness and clarity. The W1070 has excellent native sharpness, even after the projector's sharpness control has been turned down (it defaults to a setting that is slightly too high). Detail in HD material is displayed with razor-sharp, pixel-perfect precision. And the W1070 does this without a smart sharpening system or other detail enhancement features.
Input lag. Normally, 3D projectors are fairly sluggish when it comes to input lag, even when they are being used in regular 2D mode. The W1070 breaks this pattern and puts up some respectable input lag numbers: around 24ms, or 1.5 frames, in the modes we tested.
2D-3D Conversion. While the W1070 is full HD 3D compatible, it cannot do 2D to 3D conversion. If you are looking for a 3D projector and 2D to 3D conversion is important to you, take note.
SmartEco. The SmartEco feature itself works well enough; punch the SmartEco button and the projector reduces lamp output. However, the implementation is hard to understand and can be hard to use. If you want to put the projector into its most economical setting, you can't just select this from a list; you need to put up some kind of content that will cause the projector to select this setting. Being able to choose your own level of lamp power would be far simpler and easier to understand.
Lens shift. The fact that the W1070 has lens shift at all puts it ahead of most of its competitors, which lack the feature. On the other hand, the lens shift range is heavily limited, amounting to a few inches of adjustment. The control itself is difficult to use -- the tiny knob is best turned by a coin or screwdriver rather than by hand. As such, while the presence of lens shift is a welcome feature, the actual ease of use of the control could be improved.