Two of the hottest 1080p home theater projectors on the market today are made by BenQ. Their entry-level W1070 sells for less than $1,000, while the W1500 has more advanced capabilities and convenience features and sells for around $1,599. The two models share some common DNA; both have accurate color and 6X-speed RGBRGB color wheels. Both are fully HD 3D compatible. Both earned high ratings here at Projector Central. So, naturally, you may want to know if the W1500 is worth the extra money. What exactly does another $600 buy you?
The Viewing Experience
The W1500 is the brighter of the two projectors, measuring over 1750 lumens in Cinema mode to the W1070's 1220 lumens. This extra light output is most useful when watching 3D movies, where the W1500 will be able to support larger screen sizes than the W1070. The W1500 should be capable of lighting a 100" diagonal screen in 3D, while we would not push the W1070 past about 80" diagonal.
Black levels are more or less equal, with the W1070 having a slight, barely perceptible edge due to its lower light output. This edge disappears if you switch the W1500 into Eco lamp mode, reducing light output to just over 1100 lumens, the same as the W1070. Essentially, the projector with the lower light output at any given time will also have the deeper black level. Neither projector has an inherent advantage. Both projectors do a great job preserving shadow detail, as well.
The projectors' handling of color is identical. Both use the same 6x-speed RGBRGB color wheel, so color light output exactly matches white light output and colors are properly saturated. Neither projector is perfect out of the box, but both the W1070 and the W1500 have full RGB Gain/Bias color controls as well as full color management systems. The W1500's preset Cinema mode has slightly more accurate white balance, but after calibration the two projectors perform equally well.
If there is a sharpness difference in the two projectors, it is exceedingly subtle; we aren't seeing it in head-to-head testing. Both projectors do an excellent job rendering fine detail in high-quality HD sources. Neither projector uses a smart-sharpening system, and neither projector applies too much edge enhancement by default.
Feature Differences between the W1500 and W1070
While there aren't many image quality differences, there are a lot of usability differences and added features that make the W1500 easier to use and more capable than the W1070. Some, like input lag, are crucially important for certain groups; others, like zoom range, make the W1500 easier to install and mount but do not directly affect performance.
1.6:1 lens vs 1.3:1 lens. With a 1.6:1 lens, the W1500 can display a 100" diagonal image from 7' 9" to 12' 5". The W1070, with its 1.3:1 lens, can display that same 100" diagonal image from 8' 4" to 10' 11". In other words, the W1500 can display the same image both from closer to the screen and from farther away, making it a good option when the W1070's lensing does not fit your installation needs. The two projectors both have vertical lens shift with a very similar, albeit limited, movement range.
Much brighter. In testing, our W1500 measured 1766 lumens in Cinema mode with the lamp at full power, while the W1070 measured 1220 lumens in the same mode. The extra 500-ish lumens amount to a 40% increase in brightness, and can be helpful when you want to watch 3D movies, allow some ambient light into the room, or use a very large screen. They also allow you to use the W1500 in its Eco lamp mode and still obtain 1112 lumens, which is roughly equal to the full-power output of the W1070 but gives the projector a much longer estimated lamp life of 6,000 hours.
Frame interpolation. Frame interpolation is an image processing technology that analyzes a projector's input signal and then inserts interstitial frames to reduce judder and motion blur. The W1500 has a frame interpolation system, while the W1070 does not. At low levels, the W1500's frame interpolation system reduces judder without introducing the annoying "soap opera" effect, also called the digital video effect.
WHDI. The W1500 has wireless HDMI connectivity and an included transmitter. This has obvious benefits when you want to ceiling mount your projector, because it cuts down on the number of cables you need to run. It is also helpful when you want to place your equipment stack at the front of the room and the projector somewhere else, such as on a coffee table. By reducing cabling, WHDI simplifies installation and provides a tangible benefit over the W1070's cabled solution. On the other hand, our tests show higher input lag of 118ms when using WHDI, so the technology is not useful for gamers.
Onboard speakers. The W1500 has two 10W speakers. The W1070 has one 10W speaker. If you plan to use the projector without an external sound system, the W1500 produces clearer, louder sound.
Input lag. Input lag is the difference between the time a source device outputs a signal and the time when the projector updates to reflect this signal. It is most important in gaming, where the delay between a button press and an on-screen reaction can be the difference between success and failure. When it comes to gaming, the W1070 is a clear winner. The W1500 measured 66ms of lag using a wired HDMI connection and a whopping 118ms of lag using WHDI, while the W1070 measured only 24ms over HDMI.
Weight. The W1070, weighing in at 5.8 pounds, is easily portable and a great option if you need to bring a quality HD picture over to a friend's house. The W1500, which is physically larger and weighs 8.6 pounds, is more difficult to transport. If easy portability is a concern, the W1070 is a better option.
Fan noise. Despite being brighter, the W1500 produces less audible noise at full lamp power than the W1070 does. Furthermore, since the W1500 in low lamp mode produces about as much light as the W1070 at full power, you can make the W1500 much quieter than the W1070 without compromising light output.
The BenQ W1070 is an impressive projector that has garnered widespread acclaim for its combination of superb image quality and a bargain-basement price. The BenQ W1500 is a feature-rich projector that offers that same great image quality plus wireless HD transmission, frame interpolation, improved lensing, better speakers, and lower fan noise for a higher price tag. The differences between the two projectors make the W1500 and W1070 ideally suited for different applications.
The W1500 will appeal to folks who want a fully-featured home theater projector at an affordable price. It offers concrete advantages over the W1070 in several applications, most significantly 3D home theater and living room use, because of its higher light output (and, in the latter case, better speakers). Those with small theater rooms will appreciate its lower fan noise as well.
The W1070 is ideal for gamers due to its lower input lag, but it is a good value proposition for many other users as well. It comes down to this: if you don't need or want the bells and whistles that the W1500 includes, get the W1070 instead. It is an excellent projector that we recommend without hesitation.