I had a decent first impression of the new BenQ W11000 at ISSE 2016, back in November. But as mentioned in my previous article, When I pointed out that the black levels were not as black as I had expected, I was told that it could have been due to the demo room not being dark enough. I was also unable to audition the W8000 Full HD projector. So to get a clearer picture (so to speak), I was invited to visit KEC Sound & Vision, a local retailer of BenQ projectors based at Adelphi. I arrived after lunchtime and got down to work reviewing these new offerings from BenQ.

BenQ W11000 4K UHD Projector

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The BenQ W11000 4K Projector.

Just a brief re-introduction of the W11000. It is BenQ’s first truly 4K projector as certified by the CTA (Consumer Technology Association). It is also the most affordable one on the market right now, retailing at S$7,299. On paper it has a full on/off contrast ratio of 50000:1 and displays REC.709 colour gamut. The W11000 uses a single-DLP Chip and its lamp lighting puts out a maximum of 2200 lumens of brightness. With the W11000, BenQ hopes to target a more budget-conscious market – looking for projectors putting out true 4K picture resolution, but don’t want to invest a 5-digit sum for it.

I sat about 4.5 meters away from a 135″ Stewart Cinema 135 screen in a dark room roughly 30sqm. The W11000 was placed at table height behind me. The first movie I requested to use was Life of Pi. Many retailers currently use Life of Pi as the benchmark for its vivid colours, and its dynamic mix of dark and bright scenes.

Test Film 1: Life of Pi

The first scene we played was a very dark one when Pi Patel was floating amidst a sea of bioluminescent plankton and jellyfish, glowing blue under a deep starry night. Suddenly, a whale breaks out of the ocean and almost drowns Pi. The plankton and jellyfish gave off a bright and deep blue colour which was nice. However, the blacks were pale and I felt the night sky was a little too grey, which caused the stars to look sparser than I remembered in this scene. This is quite expected as the W11000 uses a single DLP Chip design. (DLP Chips are not known for their black levels, but are preferred by cinemas due to the high brightness levels they can achieve)

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A beautiful scene from Life of Pi with a black starry sky, and bright bioluminescent jellyfish.

The second scene we played was a bright, pristine scene. A desperate Pi throws a message-in-a can into the water, then turns around and pulls himself closer to the boat. Here, the W11000 performed admirably, displaying accurate skin tone, orange, yellow and red colours. I personally did not see any rainbow effects, and there were no convergence errors that marred any fine lines. (Due to its single DLP chip) Although there weren’t any fast-paced action in that scene, I did notice that the frame rate in that picture could be a little smoother even at 24fps. There was a noticeable judder when Pi shifted his body even slightly.

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Pi pulls himself toward the boat, gliding across pristine waters that reflects an orange sunset sky.

Test Film 2: Exodus: Gods and Kings

To confirm what I saw, we played a short scene from Exodus: Gods and Kings. The chariot army of Pharaoh pursues Moses across a steep mountain range with precarious drops and sharp turns. I did not see any ghosting which was a great thing, but I did see some judder overall, especially on close up scenes. (Like when a chariot commander lost control and got ran over) I might be too fastidious here, but to most people that slightly choppy frame rate would be quite acceptable and does not affect overall viewing experience.

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An Egyptian commander gets run over while racing through a precarious mountain pass, in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Verdict

I feel that the W11000 really excels in its presentation of colour; and despite the slight judder, it’s able to handle fast-action scenes quite decently. The price is also very reasonable at S$7,299, by far the most attractive price on the market for a Native 4K projector. Yes, its black levels could be better and yes, it does not have HDR. But the next most affordable 4K projector (and supports HDR) is Sony’s VPL-320ES. That one starts at S$9500, more than S$2000 more!

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The basic Sony 4K projector VPL-320ES retails for S$9,500.

BenQ W8000 1080P Full HD Projector

BenQ’s new 1080p Projector is designed to bring better value for more budget-conscious Home Theatre set-ups. Retailing at S$3,888, the projector features optional interchangeable lens, REC.709 colour gamut and THX-HD Certification. Like the W11000, it also uses a single DLP chip. If 1080p movies make up most of your movie collection, or if you want to give up your old 720p projector but don’t want to invest in costly 4K projectors yet, you might find this more compelling. Here’s my take on the W8000.

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BenQ W8000 Full HD Projector.

Test Film: Life of Pi

We played the same dark and bright scenes from Life of Pi as before, albeit on 1080p. In the night scene with bioluminescent jellyfish, the W8000 delivered the same bright and vivid blues that I saw earlier on the W11000. In the same pristine bright scene with the message-in-a can, the W8000 displayed skin-tone, orange, reds and yellows that are just as bright and vivid as before. Strangely, the picture seemed smoother than the W11000! It seemed like some interlacing was introduced into the picture processing, which made motion appear smoother and more fluid. Black levels are similar to the W11000 though.

Verdict

Maybe I’m saying this after getting so used to watching True 4K UHD. The picture quality does seem a lot flatter and the silhouettes are slightly more grainy. But, it does deliver great colour and a very smooth, bright picture. You can also customise the projection throw with interchangeable lens, providing more flexibility for a range of viewing distances up to 11 meters! Overall, this is quite acceptable for a quality 1080p projector that retails for almost half the price of the W11000, at S$3,888.

Conclusion

In this highly competitive space, BenQ has surely given consumers a viable alternative to the hi-spec, 5-figure sum 4K projectors we have grown accustomed to. The W11000 is a great projector for the price. As mentioned, any other Native 4K projectors will cost (at least) a few thousand bucks more! The BenQ W11000 is for those who want native 4K on a huge screen, but want some extra savings to invest in other nice things, like a Dolby Atmos Home Theatre system!

The W8000 will entice consumers who don’t see the need to go Ultra-HD yet, and it promises to fulfil their requirements very well with its great colour fidelity, smooth picture and flexible set up.

The BenQ W11000 and W8000 retails for S$7,288 and S$3,888 respectively. For sales enquiries, please visit KEC Sound and Vision Pte Ltd and Home Cinemapit Pte Ltd.