720p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector Review
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.
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.
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