It’s clear right away as you start to watch the W1400 in action that BenQ has worked hard to tackle the key problems that traditionally trouble single-chip DLP projectors. For starters the dreaded rainbow effect – stripes of red, green and blue that flash up almost subliminally over bright parts of the picture – is very well suppressed for a projector costing just £1,100.
To be clear, you can still see the striping from time to time. But the occasions it crops up are rare enough and fleeting enough not to constitute a serious concern.
Also striking is how clean skin tones and dark scenes look. With the former there’s no sign of the blocking and colour banding artefacts once common with cheap DLP, while dark scenes aren’t awash with green or grey speckling noise in the same way budget DLP projectors often still are.
Detail levels are high too with HD sources, and so long as you don’t leave the sharpness setting too high or BrilliantColor on with grainy films the clarity is delivered cleanly. The projector’s surprisingly subtle colour handling plays its part in helping images look extremely detailed too, as the pixel-level detail is joined by suitably fine colour tone gradations.
The projector’s clarity can be enhanced still further – slightly to our surprise, if we’re honest – by the Frame Interpolation system. Calling this in on its low setting delivers a gentle motion smoothing impact that doesn’t leave 24p Blu-rays looking unnaturally fluid but certainly does reduce some of the inter-frame blurring that’s apparent without the feature active.
Also, crucially, the Low Frame Interpolation setting does its thing without causing many unwanted processing side effects, even during fast panning shots.
The higher Frame Interpolation settings should be avoided, as both introduce way more unwanted artefacts. But having even one usable judder-smoothing mode on such an affordable projector has to count as good news.
Turning finally to the W1400’s contrast, it’s best summed up as ‘pretty good’. More expensive projectors can deliver markedly deeper, more neutral blacks and considerably more shadow detail. JVC is the master of black level, even with its ‘entry level’ (though still £2,700) DLA-X35, but Epson’s recently tested £1700-£1800 EH-TW7200 also impressed where black levels are concerned.
By the standards of the ‘around a grand’ projection market, though, the W1400’s black levels are good, especially if you calibrate out a slight green tinge that reduces black level impact using the out of the box settings.
Certainly the black levels on show with favourite dark film scenes are deep enough to immerse you in the action rather than leaving you feeling like you’re squinting through a surface layer of greyness.
Very dark scenes can look rather hollow in places due to some crushing of shadow detail, but at least this hollowness isn’t accompanied/emphasised by the sort of glowing or dot noise you get with some budget projectors.