REVIEW BenQ W1500 Home Projector

BenQ W1500 Highlights

  • 2200 lumens claimed – suitable for family/living/bonus rooms – or a home theater
  • 3D Capable
  • Good contrast for black level performance
  • Vertical lens shift (the amount is limited, but better than none)
  • 2 x 10 watts of Audio, audio output
  • Wireless HDMI (WHDI) using included dongle
  • Full color management controls, ISF certified
  • Minimal lag times for great gaming
  • Remote control
  • Smart-Eco for energy efficiency (see more below)
  • Very long lamp life (for low cost of operation)
  • New lighter 3D glasses from BenQ (not included)
  • Good warranty
  • All around, well thought out projector

Overview

The BenQ W1500 is the third projector in the BenQ lineup that offer essentially the same picture performance.  The W1500 home entertainment projector is by far the most expensive, and most feature laden of the three.  We’ve previously reviewed the W1500 projector’s siblings, the basic, and extremely popular W1070 just one year ago, and the W1080ST (similar but with a very short throw lens).

The BenQ W1500 simply ups the capabilities, without really affecting what is already impressive picture quality.  The major feature additions that make the W1500 BenQ’s flagship home entertainment projector, are the zoom lens – which offers more range – 1.6:1, that’s twice the flexibility of the W1070 and even more compared to the short throw W1080ST.

But the highlight “extra” feature has to be the Wireless HDMI solution. There are few projectors that offer such capability (and convenience), so far.  Epson, for example offers up their competing Home Cinema 3020e with wireless HDMI, and they also offer it on their $900 more expensive Home Cinema 5030UBe, but that one is a step up projector, not only in price, but performance.

Other than that, there are several 3rd party wireless hdmi solutions out there, in fact I’m reviewing the latest version of the DVDO Air, at the same time as reviewing this BenQ projector.  (I’ll even let you know later how the BenQ’s WHDI wireless solution performs compared to the outboard competition.

CMS – Color Management System

BenQ provides a full Color Management System on the W1500 projector.  You have separate Gain and Bias controls for grayscale balancing of Red, Green, and Blue, and full Hue, Saturation and Gain controls for calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors.  (Subscribers, we have published the CMS calibration info on the Advanced Calibration page just for you guys!)   The rest of the calibration info is available to everyone, on the regular Calibration page in this review.

The bottom line is that the W1500, like the W1070 and W1080ST, calibrates beautifully, with the result of really good looking, accurate color.

Frame Interpolation

BenQ serves up creative frame interpolation with 3 levels:  Low, Middle, High.  The low and middle settings seem to do relatively little, for sports I tried high, and it seemed a bit jerky.  I was watching a pan across a picket fence, and it looked more real with it turned off.  Sports seemed fine.  I remind you I’m not a big fan of CFI.  I use it in moderation for sports, and little else.   I think it’s a nice extra feature to have, but not one that many would consider essential, or even very important.

I did try watching a movie with the High setting, just to see if it showed the same jerkiness I spotted on sports, and sure enough, it was visible on a typical movie (1080i) off of HDTV.

Stick to the lower settings.

W1500 Brilliant Color

The last projector I reviewed had 10 different Brilliant Color settings.  That was the Optoma HD131Xe.  BenQ takes a simpler approach.  Their customization of Brilliant Color gives you a choice of Off, or On.  Brilliant Color adds some pop to the image.  The W1500 also measures about 30% brighter with Brilliant Color engaged.  Generally you have a more natural image without using Brilliant Color, but it does add a dynamic edge to the picture, one that’s very handy when there’s ambient light present.   With both pair of images shown here, the first one has Brilliant Color off, the second one has it turned on.

W1500 menus

BenQ’s menu design hasn’t changed much in the last decade, in fact if anything, other than the addition of new features, they have barely changed at all, going way back to the old 720p BenQ PE-8700, which I owned about 10 years ago.

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