[Update 1/29/07: The initial posting of this review indicated that the W10000 has a 1.35:1 power zoom and focus lens, when in fact the zoom range of the lens is 1.15:1. This means that the W10000 can produce a 100" diagonal 16:9 image from 13.1' to 15.1', not from 13' to 17.7' as originally indicated. This review has been updated with this data, and we apologize for the error. --bl]
BenQ has recently come to market with the W10000, a native 1080p darkchip3 DLP projector that delivers a beautiful, bright, high-contrast image. It has a moderate-throw 1.15:1 lens with generous lens shift. However, as of this writing, it requires some fine-tuning that only an ISF-certified calibrator can perform to reach its best possible performance. Once calibrated it delivers a rich, sharp HD picture with a tremendous amount of detail. Its performance with standard definition material is less impressive, but on par with some of the other 1080p models on the market.
ANSI lumens: 1200
Contrast (full on/off): 10,000:1
Light Engine: 1920x1080, native 16:9, 1.0" single-chip DLP with an 8-segment, 5x rotation speed color wheel and a 250W lamp.
Video Compatibility: 1080p/60, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i. NTSC/PAL/SECAM.
Connection Panel: One HDMI, one YPbPr Component, one BNC component, one s-video, one composite, one 12V trigger, one RS232c port.
Lens and Throw Distance: 1.15:1 powered zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal 16:9 image from 13.1' to 15.1'
Lamp Life: 2000 hours (3000 in eco-mode).
Warranty: Three years.
General Impressions / Feature Set
The BenQ W10000 shares the casework of BenQ's last home theater offering, the PE8720. The case is a stylish glossy white, with a large lens assembly centered in the front of the case. At 20 pounds, it's not a small projector, so a rear shelf mount would require a very large shelf. Hot air exhausts out the front through vents angled slightly to either side.
The W10000 has powered vertical lens shift with a range of two screen heights total. Neutral position places the projected image half above and half below the lens centerline. From there, you can move the image entirely above the lens centerline or entirely below it, which gives reasonable flexibility for rear shelf mounting, but may be a bit tight for ceiling mounts unless you use a drop tube. There was no detectable loss of brightness uniformity or lumen output when using the extreme ends of the vertical lens shift range.
The W10000's exhaust fan is nearly silent. When placed a few feet from the audience, our test unit was almost inaudible. The fan noise is also low in pitch.
The remote control is large, with a strong backlight. While there are many buttons and the remote is somewhat cluttered, labels are printed on the buttons themselves for easy reading in the dark. Included are buttons for all sources, aspect ratios, and some common image adjustments. The backlight button is centered at the bottom of the remote.
The W10000 includes a picture-in-picture function for use of two sources simultaneously, as well as an option to place two sources side-by-side. While one of these sources can be HDMI or component, the other must be s-video or composite. There is no way to display two component sources or HDMI and component simultaneously.
The W10000's 1.15:1 zoom and focus lens is powered, which allows for precise adjustment - you can stand near the screen and adjust focus to perfection using your remote. The projector will throw a 100" diagonal 16:9 image from 13.1 feet to 15.1 feet. This requires placement of the projector behind the audience, such as in a rear shelf or ceiling configuration, if one desires to sit at 1.5x the screen width.
The menu system is easy to use and subdivided by category. However, some critical features are missing, such as overscan adjustment and horizontal and vertical adjust. The projector's service menu includes an overscan adjustment for each source, but the service menu is only available to qualified technicians. BenQ has stated that a firmware update is being released that will allow overscan adjustment by the end-user, but as of this writing the update is not yet available. This is important because the factory default overscan is 96% for progressive sources and 94% for interlaced sources. Our test unit gave its best performance when we went into the service menu and manually set overscan to 100% for 480p, 720p, and 1080i, and 98% for 480i material. Thus, owners of the W10000 will want to acquire the firmware update that moves overscan adjustment to the main menu as soon as it becomes available. Meanwhile, an ISF certified technician can adjust overscan as part of their installation and calibration service.
The connection panel on the W10000 is rather utilitarian. It includes one HDMI port, one set of YPbPr component inputs, and one set of five BNC inputs. These days, with the emergence of more and more HDMI-capable source devices, two HDMI ports would have been desirable on a projector of this size and price.
The W10000's price includes a three year warranty, which is about as long a standard warranty as exists in the projector industry. On many other projectors one must pay extra for the same coverage, if it is offered at all.
The W10000 is a bright projector, when compared to its direct competition. Our test unit measured 650 ANSI lumens in Home Theater mode, with the lamp on high and the manual iris fully open. With the iris closed halfway, our test unit measured 500 ANSI lumens, but had a much deeper black level. In low lamp mode, lumen output dropped about 20%, to 377 ANSI.
In all projectors with zoom lenses, lumen output is higher in wide angle mode than it is in telephoto mode. On the BenQ W10000, this drop in lumen output is only 9%, due to the short zoom range.
Contrast is superb, and one of the W10000's strongest features. Even with the iris only halfway closed, black level is inky and deep, and shadow detail is distinct and well-defined. This gives the image good "pop," and lends to the appearance of three-dimensionality. However, default gamma settings resulted in dark, closed mid-tones. Gamma adjustment by an ISF technician can correct this problem. As with overscan, the gamma controls are located in the service menu and not available to the user.
Our test unit displayed very good color straight out of the box. Colors were accurate, while saturation was deep and rich without being overdriven.
The W10000's scaling of non-native 480-line signals is on par with what comparable 1080p projectors are capable of. Both interlaced and progressive-scan 480-line DVD content looked slightly soft, grainy, and overall somewhat lacking. A good upconverting DVD player should rectify this situation.
As far as sharpness and clarity of detail in high-definition are concerned, the W10000 shines, once properly calibrated. The sharpness control on our test unit defaults to zero; above zero it added artificial edge enhancement, and below zero it lost detail through undue softening of the picture, so for our testing it remained in its default position. With 1080i and 1080p content, the amount of detail in the picture was excellent. The BenQ W10000's detailed picture is easily one of the best we've seen on this new crop of 1080p projectors, and is worthy of note.
Brightness uniformity on our test unit was roughly 70%. There was some visible lumen drop-off in the lower right corner that was especially clear in a projected image of one solid color. During normal use, this drop-off is more or less invisible.
The BenQ W10000 showed excellent performance with progressive scan 720p material. The projector lost some vertical resolution using 480-line interlaced test patterns, resulting in horizontal lines that were muddled or soft. When using 480i video or film content, this loss in resolution was not as dramatic as on a test pattern, but some degradation was still visible. With standard definition material there was a good amount of noise that produced a graininess in the image that contributed to its apparent softness. In general, standard definition progressive scan signals show better than interlaced signals.
The BenQ W10000 is capable of amazing picture quality using native 1080-line signals, and average quality when using 480-line DVD or television content. However, for best performance, a professional calibration by an ISF-certified technician is a necessity. While it sells for $1,000 to $2000 more than comparable 1080p LCD projectors, it is still a strong contender in the 1080p market, offering dynamite contrast and accurate color with a detailed high-definition image.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ W10000 projector page.