Unusually for a brand generally associated with a computing background rather than a video one, BenQ has thus far used DLP technology for its home video projectors. But not today. For in making its cheapest movie projector yet, the sub-£600 W500, BenQ has turned to LCD for the very first time. But will the W500 suffer for BenQ’s LCD projector inexperience? Or will the opposite be the case?
First impressions are pretty good, with the W500 sporting an attractive little body soothed by slightly curved edges and given drama by a two-tone silver and white colour scheme.
It’s not overburdened with connections, I guess, but with its HDMI input, component video input, D-Sub PC port and standard composite and S-Video options, the essentials are certainly catered for. It’s worth noting that the W500’s HDMI is only built to the v1.2 standard, and so is not compatible with Deep Colour technology. But if you ask me this isn’t really a major deal on such a budget projector.
Although the remarkable InFocus X10 DLP projector proved that Full HD resolutions can be bought for under a grand, it’s really no surprise to find the considerably cheaper W500 sporting an HD Ready 720p resolution rather than 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. This inevitably means it can’t do the whole ‘pixel for pixel’ HD presentation thing, for the ultimate in HD image purity. But it has a surprisingly nifty trick up its sleeve to help get round this in the shape of the Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) picture processor from Silicon Optix.
This system has proved uncannily good on other projectors at resizing both standard and high definition sources to suit different projector resolutions, so unless it’s bizarrely lost the plot on the W500, it can be considered a really great discovery on such a cheap projector.
Other specs of the W500 are quite promising, too. The claimed maximum brightness of 1,100 ANSI Lumens is very high for this price level, as is the claimed contrast ratio of 5,000:1. This contrast ratio is dependent - as usual with LCD technology - on a dynamic iris that continually adjusts the amount of light output through the lens based on an analysis of the image content. Such dynamic iris systems can cause flickering or brightness ‘steps’ if not done well, so that’s definitely something we’ll need to be on the look out for with the W500.