BenQ W2000

BenQ has filled a gap in its AV projector line-up — between the budget and the higher-level models — with the W2000 home theatre projector. As is BenQ’s wont, this is a full-HD DLP projector, but it comes pre-calibrated with, and defaults to, the Rec.709 HDTV colour standard.

The W2000 has new styling, but remains quite a compact unit. The lens is offset to the left of the centre line, with the connection panel on the rear and a small control cluster on the top. Focus, zoom and lens shift are all accessible through an inset in the top of the projector, revealed by a sliding panel.

The moderate weight and compact size of the unit, along with a fairly short-throw design, make this projector particularly suitable for environments where it can be brought out as required, although it’s also suitable for permanent installation. While we prefer that projectors are precisely square to the screen or wall to deliver their most consisent image, if a temporary installation doesn’t permit that, then both vertical and horizontal keystone correction are available here — extreme amounts, indeed, should you want it.

The new enclosure design allows the use of a lower speed cooling fan, reducing noise to 29dBA in Normal mode and 27dBA in Economic mode.

BenQ traditionally doesn’t say much about the particular Digital Micro-mirror Device it uses, aside from the obvious fact that they’re from Texas Instruments. This one offers full high-definition resolution and that’s all we know. This is a single-chip projector, of course, so colour is delivered sequentially. It uses a six-panel RGBRGB colour wheel that runs at 6× speed.

The 240-watt lamp has three operation modes: Normal (the default) runs at full brightness, while ‘Economic’ runs at 70%. A third mode called ‘SmartEco’ seems to adjust brightness according to the conditions of the picture. BenQ says that it can save ‘up to 70% lamp power consumption depending on the content brightness level’. Even in Normal mode the lamp is good for 3500 hours. Economic pushes this out to 5000 hours, and SmartEco to 6000. Replacement lamps cost $229. At the SmartEco rating, that comes to less than eight cents per two-hour movie.

BenQ says that the projector has a brightness rating for 2000 ANSI lumens, and a full-on, full-off contrast ratio of 15,000:1.

The usual range of connections, both analogue and digital (with two HDMI inputs) are provided. These include audio as well as video, because there are two internal 10W amplifiers and small rear-mounted speakers here, designed for those who don’t have a home theatre sound system.

Under a removable panel is a bay for the addition of a wireless full-HD receiver — forthcoming, we’re advised, in the new year.

The W2000 is sort of a shortish-throw projector, typically needing to be located significantly closer to the screen than most other home theatre projectors that we see. For a 100-inch (2.54-metre) screen, the projector range must be between 2.532 and 3.291 metres away.

In most circumstances this is quite a convenience for users. If you’re ceiling-mounting it, the throw distance really doesn’t matter since you’ll be placing the mount to match. For ad hoc and coffee-table use, having the projector able to sit in front of the viewers has obvious advantages.

The zoom range is 1.3:1, so fairly modest, but additional flexibility is provided by the vertical lens-shift feature.

The unit comes with an infrared remote control, which proved quite powerful enough to bounce its beam from the screen back to the IR sensor on the front of the projector (so you don’t have to aim the remote control over your head). There’s also one on its top which was equally responsive to the remote.

The projector supports 3D and is supplied with two pairs of active 3D glasses included. Additional pairs are $129 per pair. These are synced to the projector by means of infrared.

Setting up the projector was simply a matter of getting the room geometry right, then adjusting the three rotary controls for zoom, focus and lens shift to align the picture correctly with the screen. These were positive in their operation, allowing very easy optimisation. The focus remained solidly in place over many, many hours of use, never straying a bit.

Being a single-chip unit, there was no possibility of an issue with misaligned panels, so focus was extremely sharp. Uniformity of focus across the screen, including up into the corners, was also very good.

Making other settings via the menu, or dedicated keys on the remote, was easy too. The projector can be set to show a basic menu or a full-featured one, the former for those not comfortable with too many options.

Out of the box the projector delivers a picture of which BenQ is justly proud. The standard picture mode is entitled ‘Cinema(Rec.709)’. This is the standard colour format for HD material and BenQ has put a lot of effort into ensuring that consumer HD is getting accurate colour. The result was an extremely natural appearance, especially with skin tones, yet where called for by the source material, the colours are bold and rich. We rewatched Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ with this projector and the result was positively glowing.

The black levels were respectable, but not outstanding. There was never a truly deep inky blackness, and yet we never felt that in watching movies and TV shows there was a lack of richness or depth in colour, or an inadequate blackness underpinning the image. In near-black areas of the screen it was possible to discern the DLP dither — which seemed to employ larger than expected dots — when we examined the screen from up close. But of course this was all invisible from the usual seating position just 2.7 metres from the screen.

The settings on the default picture mode were very close to optimum. Overscan was off by default, so there was proper 1:1 pixel mapping with 1080p input material. Contrast could stand being knocked down a couple of notches, and brightness up a couple of notches to deliver the correct grey scale. And as seems to be a universal in consumer electronics, the ‘Sharpness’ control was also up too high. But BenQ has a special Sharpness process that manages to avoid introducing halos around hard edges, so the damage it does is... well, it just makes things excessively sharp. The processor is so good that while it should be dragged down a bit, we’d suggest just halfway from the default, leaving it operating a little at the edges.

Another first-class aspect of operation was the deinterlacing. The one control for film and video mode selection was greyed out so we couldn’t use it and had to rely on auto mode. And when it came to selecting between film and video mode, its processor was as good as it gets, not being tricked up by even the trickiest of the test clips we use. We’d be happy to just send native interlaced material to this projector and let it do its stuff.

There was no frame interpolation, so obviously there was no resulting picture distortion. The fast switching speed of DLP meant that poorly-shot material exhibited marked judder. With this projector, what you get is what you see.

As for 3D, the performance was as we expected, which is to say as good as it gets. There was effectively zero crosstalk or ghosting. Combined with the huge display, that made the 3D effect extremely effective.

A little thank you to BenQ is warranted. Nearly ten years ago the HDMI version 1.3 specification was released and, among other things, this provides for auto lip-sync. That is, during the HDMI handshake the display device is capable of advising the picture source device the amount of delay it needs to apply to the sound to make sure it lines up precisely with the picture. The amount of processing that takes place in modern display devices often means that the display of the picture is significantly delayed.

Yet in our experience a minority of display devices include this bit of information, even though just about all decent AV receivers could use it. Well, this projector does indeed support auto lip-sync. Using our sweep test pattern with auto lip-sync switched off in our AV receiver, we estimated the delay at a remarkably short 50 milliseconds. When we switched the feature on in the receiver, the sound and video were brought into perfect alignment. We checked with our meter for the amount of delay, and it was 49.7 milliseconds (regardless of the picture settings). That’s towards the quicker end of the spectrum for home theatre gear, so it should be fairly satisfying for gamers.

Do be aware, lest it surprise you, that when you switch off the projector, after a minute of two of running the fan to cool itself down, it issues a couple of startling beeps to let you know that it has finally switched off.

With the W2000, BenQ has produced a high value-for-money home theatre projector that provides very strong picture quality and a 3D picture which we doubt could be surpassed.

BenQ W2000 AV projector

Price: $2499 (including two pairs of 3D glasseS)

+ Excellent overall performance, brilliant 3D, with eyewear included in price, good value for money
- No frame interpolation

Projection technology: 1 x Digital Micromirror Device (size not stated)

Resolution: 1920 by 1080 pixels

Aspect ratio: 16:9

Lamp: 240 watts

Lamp life: 3500/5000/6000 hours (Normal/Economic Mode/SmartEco Mode)

Contrast ratio: 15,000:1

Brightness: 2000 ANSI lumens

Audio: 2 speakers, 2 x 10 watts

Inputs: 2 x HDMI (1 with MHL support),1 x component video, 1 x composite video, 1 x D-SUB15, 2 x stereo audio in (1 x RCA, 1 x 3.5mm)

Other: 1 x stereo audio out (3.5mm),1 x RS-232C, 2 x USB (for service and accessory power), 1 x 12 volt trigger

Dimensions (whd): 312 x 104 x 245mm

Weight: 3.6kg

Warranty: Two years (12 months or 750 hours for lamp)

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