BenQ W600 720P DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$899 MSRP Discontinued

The BenQ W600 is a DLP 720p home entertainment projector with 3D capability. With 2600 lumens of brightness, it has the power to be used in almost any projection environment. Its 3000:1 contrast is great for home entertainment such as video games and television. Its user interface is sometimes difficult to manage, and its limited adjustability will not appeal to those who like to fine-tune their equipment. But with a price of $799 at most retailers, it is a solid value.

Advantages

Light output. The W600 has a highly variable light output that makes it easy to use in almost any projection environment. Dynamic mode, the brightest available, measured 2494 lumens on our test unit, very nearly reaching the projector's specified maximum of 2600 lumens. This mode has a strong green push, but would be appropriate for high-brightness applications such as HD sports in a living room or even "party" video games meant to be played by a large group in a moderately-lit room.

Standard mode, the next brightest, has less of a green push than Dynamic along with better color saturation and contrast. Our test sample read 1748 lumens in this mode. If you do not need the extreme brightness of Dynamic mode, Standard mode results in a generally more accurate, better saturated image with better shadow detail.

If color accuracy and contrast are your primary concerns, Cinema mode is better still, though lumen output drops to 1320. Using low lamp mode extends lamp life from 2500 hours to 4000 hours, but also decreases brightness by 20%.

For the best possible performance with film or video, you will want to disable BrilliantColor, which is enabled by default. BrilliantColor boosts highlights without affecting the rest of the image, leading to a brighter picture with much higher dynamic range. While this sounds like a good thing, it also destroys the sense of balance that you get from a good home theater projector, where the picture feels like an integrated whole. This quality, sometimes difficult to describe but always important, is improved greatly by disabling BrilliantColor. This brings lumen output down to 795 in Cinema mode using high lamp and 636 in Cinema mode using low lamp.

Contrast. When using the brighter image modes, the W600 has a very dynamic picture, with brilliant whites and deep blacks - or, at least, it seems that way. In image modes like Cinema, especially with BrilliantColor disabled, dynamic range is reduced but the picture as a whole looks more natural and well-balanced. The actual measured black level does not change; it merely looks less deep in comparison to the less brilliant highlights. Shadow detail is very good - in fact it is better in Cinema than in Dynamic - so you are not losing any information in the projected image itself. The W600's competitors do not fare well with regards to black level either, so in comparison it has a slight edge.

Inexpensive Maintenance. The W600 is not just inexpensive at purchase; it is also inexpensive to maintain over time. Lamps last 2,500 hours in High lamp mode or 4,000 hours in Eco mode. Replacement lamps cost only $199 each directly from BenQ. Assume for a moment that the lamp runs for a full 4,000 hours, and the cost per hour is a mere nickel. At 2,500 hours of runtime, it is still only eight cents per hour. And, since there are no filters to replace, lamp changes are the only required maintenance you will ever have to perform.

Placement. The W600 has a fixed throw offset of 18%, meaning the bottom edge of the projected image will appear 18% of the image height above the centerline of the lens. In practical terms, a 100" diagonal image would have an offset of just under 9". While this is ideal for a coffee table placement, a ceiling mount might require a drop tube if you have a ceiling fan or other obstruction.

The projector has a manual 1.2:1 zoom lens, allowing it to throw a 100" diagonal 16:9 image from 11' to 12' 8". This leeway should allow you some flexibility when mounting the projector, though care must still be taken to plan at least the basics of your installation before purchase.

Speaker. The W600 has a 2W mono speaker. This doesn't sound like much (pun fully and completely intended), and indeed volume is rather low. The sound never gets loud enough to cause distortion, which is good, but it also never gets loud enough to be audible to more than about three people, which is not so good. Unless you are sitting very close to the projector in a quiet room, you will need an outboard sound system of some kind.

Limitations

2x speed color wheel. The W600 has a 2X-speed, 6-segment color wheel, with Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Yellow, and White segments. This configuration is standard in this class of projector, and the W600's main competitors share this same color wheel layout. However, people who are susceptible to seeing rainbows will very likely see them on the W600.

User interface. The menu system is the same as that on the W1000, but there have been a few modifications. Where the W1000 had named color temperature presets, the W600 has presets named T1 through T4, with no indication what they represent. The T1 preset seemed to be the warmest of the bunch, though it still had a noticeable green bias. Like the W1000, there is no system for the fine-tuning of RGB gain and bias. The projector does have a control to adjust the overall gamut, which is useful in some circumstances, but not nearly as effective or important as simple gain/bias adjustments.

Color saturation and Tint controls are grayed out in many instances, including when using 1080p/24 over HDMI. The projector supposedly has 3D capability, though we encountered difficulty getting it to function correctly (more on that shortly). In short, the W600's interface made normally easy tasks more difficult, and normally difficult tasks impossible.

The remote control is actually quite well-designed, but its range was so short that we ended up using the hardwired control panel more often than not. Even at a relatively short distance from the screen (about six feet), we were not able to bounce the signal back to the projector and were instead forced to turn around and aim directly at the sensor.

3D Capability. The W600 is billed as a 3D Ready projector, meaning it can handle a 120Hz refresh rate and incorporates DLP Link technology. However, we ran into the digital equivalent of a Mexican Standoff when we tried to use it. Sound confusing? Well, that's because it is.

The W600's "3D Mode" option is grayed out in the menu, and will only become available if the projector detects a 120Hz signal being sent to it. However, many devices, including both 3D-capable computers we have in our lab, will only send a 120Hz signal if the display is capable of displaying it. And the W600 does not report that it is capable of displaying such a signal until you turn on 3D Mode. But you cannot turn on 3D Mode until you send a 120Hz signal, so you loop back to step one.

If you can force your 3D source to output 120Hz, or somehow trick the W600 into enabling 3D mode, you can use 3D mode as intended. However, many people will find this system frustrating and difficult to use.

Shootout:
BenQ W600 versus Optoma HD66

The Optoma HD66 is another 3D Ready 720p DLP projector for home theater. Our review of this projector was posted in early February, but we happened to still have the projector in our lab when the W600 showed up. The two projectors are remarkably similar, at least when it comes to specifications - both are over 2,500 lumens, both have relatively low contrast, and both are 3D Ready. However, side-by-side testing reveals just how different these two machines actually are.

Light output. The W600's 2494 lumen Dynamic mode is much brighter than the HD66's 1979 lumen Bright mode. For rooms with a lot of ambient light, the W600 is the clear choice. However, when it comes to home theater, things are not so clear-cut. The HD66's Movie mode, after proper calibration, measures 670 lumens in high lamp mode and 582 lumens in low lamp mode. After some basic calibration, the W600 measures 795 lumens in high lamp mode and 636 lumens in low lamp mode. This is a much smaller divide - only 125 lumens - and might not be visible to your naked eye. Therefore, there is no decisive winner in the lumens category, at least when it comes to home theater.

Contrast. The HD20's black level is good, but not excellent. In comparison, the W600 has deeper blacks, though the two projectors perform equally in terms of shadow detail. During use, the HD66's higher black level did not put it at a visible disadvantage in most scenes, but night skies and star fields will suffer in comparison.

Another point that some folks might not consider is black bars. Since the HD66 can also natively display 1280x800 content, all 1280x720 content will have small black bars on the top and bottom of the image. These bars are not very bright or distracting, but the W600 has none at all, which is an advantage in a very dark theater setting.

Color. The W600 has four color temperature presets and no easy method of adjustment. The HD66 has three presets, but more importantly it has extensive color adjustment options. Since neither projector starts out at perfect 6500K, the ability to adjust color balance and saturation is critical if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Since it is difficult (if not impossible) to adjust color on the W600 but fairly trivial to do so on the HD66, the latter will be the projector of choice for those who demand accurate color.

3D. Using the same settings, we attempted to use both the W600 and the HD66 with our nVidia 3D gaming system. Neither projector is nVidia certified, meaning setup is more complicated and tricky than simply "plug and play." However, there were differences here, as well. The HD66 automatically told the computer that it was 3D capable, then detected the 120Hz signal without issue and activated 3D mode. Total setup time was about five minutes. Meanwhile, after two hours of tweaking, troubleshooting, and trying different options, the W600 still would not accept a 720p 3D signal from our computer system.

Overall Image Quality. Thanks in part to its easy-to-adjust color and well-balanced picture, the HD66 looked better integrated, more film-like, and more natural than the W600 while watching a Blu-ray movie. The two projectors are equal in terms of digital noise and sharpness, but the accurate color and shadow detail of the HD66 made it our favorite in this setting. While it cannot hold a candle to the W600 where sheer brightness is concerned, the HD66's cinema performance went unmatched.

Conclusion

The BenQ W600 is not a bad projector--far from it. It is exceptionally bright, and its brilliant, high-contrast image is a great fit for projection in ambient light. However, when it comes to viewing high-definition movies in a darkened room, it cannot match the performance of its nearest competitor. Its user interface is frustrating at times, and fine-tuners will not enjoy the difficulty of adjusting color balance. But for those who just want to put a bright, high-contrast, high-definition picture on the screen, the W600 is another solid option.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ W600 projector page.

Comments (19) Post a Comment
vlatko stanojkovski Posted Apr 23, 2010 12:27 AM PST
excelent
Francisco Posted May 14, 2010 9:42 AM PST
I am trying to decide between these two projectors BenQ W600 and Optma HD66, my primary goal is to project movies, music videos in my back yard after the sun goes down...which one do you think will provide better performance outdoors at night? thank you.
matta Posted May 18, 2010 6:19 AM PST
I hope for to buy a projector but I have no idea which one is the best. I need one that I can hook up dvd/vcr/gaming systems to, but they all seem so priceless. Are there and affordable projectors that will do what I need? http://2000direct.com/Projectors/Projector/
vesco Posted Jun 2, 2010 12:32 AM PST
I wonder if you can see rainbows in 3D mode.
cute Posted Jun 15, 2010 10:35 PM PST
Where searching for a good projector, is BENQ has a good performance than the other brand?
Craig Posted Jun 16, 2010 10:55 AM PST
Francisco: For outdoor settings, the BenQ will definitely be the better projector. It has a MUCH brighter image, which I feel would be much better when you are projecting outside, where the light levels will be MUCH LESS controlled. The HD66 is for rooms with little to no light, while the W600 is for situations with much more ambient light. For your specific application, you would get a much better, brighter image with the BenQ. It would enable you to project a bigger image, with plenty of background light in your outdoor setting, as bright as you need. I know I keep talking about "brightness this and that", but for outdoor projecting, that is the single greatest concern. Hope this helps!
Francisco Posted Jun 16, 2010 3:23 PM PST
Thanks Craig. I will order one this week!

Francisco
solmed Posted Jul 24, 2010 12:07 PM PST
The monitor settings must be changed to a refresh rate of 120 hz.This will enable the 3d function that is grayed out.
rene Posted Dec 15, 2010 10:32 PM PST
Tranlated - hej alle sammen jer der tror at benq600 er klar til 3d så er det en stor løgn..... men der er lavet to af samme slags den anden hedder benq-w600+ den er klar til 3d

hello all you who think that benq600 ready for 3d then it's a big lie ..... but has made two of the same kind the other is called benq-W600 + is ready for 3d
timothy Posted Jan 11, 2011 7:56 AM PST
I just owned w600+ for a week. To connect with the bluray player or laptop through HDMI, the effect is just acceptable. The color is not vivid, some kind of orange. only blue can be seen naturally. In 10 score max, I will give 6.
Deane Posted Apr 9, 2011 11:49 AM PST
I am trying to get the 3D working with my PS3 that has latest ver. installed ...I can enable 3D on the w600+ but it sill says it's 60hz and Tron 3D wont play what happens is the disc says the player or tv does not accept 3D ..... If anyone can help please email deane928@live.ca
Alan Posted Apr 10, 2011 10:56 AM PST
I have the exact same situation, between these two projectors BenQ W600 and Optma HD66. I want to get one for outside viewing
Moe Posted May 24, 2011 10:41 AM PST
I have a Benq w600 and have just purchasd a sony bdp-s470 blu ray 3d player,however when I cannot get the content to play on the projector, the 3D Option on the projector is always grayed out, any advice?
Kevin Posted May 25, 2011 8:33 AM PST
Moe,

You need to add an Optoma 3DXL DLP-Link 3D convertor (and glasses) to your system if you want to be able to display 3D content. A quick Google search will get you to sources and pricing. Expect to pay at least $350-400 for the 3D link and first pair of glasses (sometimes included). Additional glasses can be purchased for about $80-200 apiece. DLP-Link uses the native DLP "white frames" to make the glasses shutter properly for 3D, so you don't have to worry about setting up an IR transmitter. And, yes... these are active glasses.
Ravi Posted Jul 10, 2011 2:37 AM PST
Hi. I know that it is a year since you posted this comment. I have only just connected my W600 to a 3D Blu Ray player. How do I change the monitor refresh rate to 120hz?
Ray Posted Jul 14, 2011 7:49 AM PST
Solmed: "The monitor settings must be changed to a refresh rate of 120 hz.This will enable the 3d function that is grayed out." Could you please tell me how to change monitor settings?
Vincent Posted Jan 3, 2012 5:33 AM PST
good morning from France, The explanation from BENQ concerning 3D activation is that this feature is only available on PC source. So, even you can provide 120Hz source, BENQ 3D DLP cannot be actived if source is not PC. After paid my calamitous BENQ, I use OPTOMA EX 762, and that's feel good ! very fun ! No error : select OPTOMA for 3D.
kev Posted Feb 23, 2012 6:25 AM PST
Just bought the BENQ W600+ because the last model without the + couldnt play 3D. I bought a LG 3D Blueray player but the 3D option on the blueray player is greyed out and the Blueray manual says something about the special LG 3D systemy is mandetary. I will take the Blueray player back to the shop in the morning for a refund- as I explained it was to use with a Benqu 3D projector, but I guess they thought they would try conning me??
francis Posted Feb 23, 2012 8:27 PM PST
the Benq W600+ does not support blueray 3D. no movies available to play in 3D on this projector so don't buy it if you want to watch 3D movies, even though they sell them with active shutter glases!!

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