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BenQ W1500 - Features and Performance

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


BenQ W1500 - ISF Support

Heading into the W1500’s onscreen menus uncovers a number of interesting features, as you might expect of a ‘step up’ projector. Its picture calibration tools, for instance, are extensive enough to keep even the most ardent of AV tinkerers satisfied, and include full colour tone, white balance, colour temperature and gamma management systems.

Don’t just take our word for it, though; the projector’s set-up flexibility has earned it the backing of independent calibration group the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). So if you fancy paying one of their trained calibrators to come round your house and ensure that you’re getting every last drop of performance out of your W1500, you can.

Less likely to curry favour with AV enthusiasts – but something we’ll nonetheless be checking out later – is the W1500’s Frame Interpolation system for reducing judder.

BenQ W1500

One last feature worth a shout in today’s green age is SmartEco. This enables the projector to adjust the output of its lamp based on a built-in sensor’s assessment of your room’s current light conditions. So if you’re watching in a blacked out room – as surely you should be whenever you possibly can – the SmartEco feature can reduce power consumption by as much as 70%.

Personally we wouldn’t use this feature as it means putting the look of your pictures in the hands of an automated circuit that’s only interested in one thing (and that thing isn’t picture quality!). But if saving the planet is your passion, then the W1500’s got your back.

BenQ W1500 - Performance

Sadly, though, it doesn’t have your back quite as much as we’d have liked it to if you love cinematic picture quality.

There’s one main reason for this, namely a surprisingly average black level response. Dark scenes tend to look rather grey and washed out, a fact which also causes the darkest parts of the picture to miss out on quite a bit of shadow detail, leaving them looking rather hollow.

The uninspiring black levels also mean that where you suddenly have a bit of brightness amid a dark surrounding – such as the white cuffs and collars against Hogwarts’ black uniforms in the last Harry Potter film – those white bits tend to stand out a bit too aggressively, making the image look uneven.

BenQ W1500

It doesn’t help this latter issue, either, that bright points of predominantly dark images also tend to suffer a little with the rainbow effect (flickering stripes of pure red, green and blue).

BenQ has shown with cheaper models in its range that it knows its way around projectors. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find the W1500 doing some good things once you look past the uninspiring black levels. Images look extremely sharp, doing great justice to HD detail levels from good Blu-rays and broadcasts. It’s in this respect, in fact, that we’d say the W1500 most justifies its extra cost over BenQ’s budget models.

Actually, pictures can look a bit too sharp using the provided presets, even the Cinema one, leading to a rather speckly image finish at times. Fortunately nudging the sharpness and brightness settings down a fraction reduces this problem.

Also striking is how bright the W1500’s images are – a fact that makes them watchable even if there’s some ambient light in the room. This brightness helps colours pop off the screen nicely despite the relative lack of black level response, and there’s some impressive subtlety when it comes to colour blends too – considerably more, again, than you get with BenQ’s budget models.


June 11, 2013, 2:45 pm

I cant believe that this reviewer did not realize that he was testing this projector with the old Benq glasses that do not support 144kz. That is why there is a problem with 3d.
Hope this review gets revised with the right glasses.


August 29, 2013, 2:14 am

it said the unit came with a pair of 144Hz active shutter, so where does it say he was using the wrong ones?


October 20, 2013, 12:31 am

"144Hz 3D. Many DLP Link 3D glasses top out at 120Hz, which was the maximum synchronization rate for a lot of first- and second-generation 3D projectors. The W1500 runs at 144Hz, so these slower glasses will not work. While the new glasses are not too much more expensive than the old ones, it is one additional thing that can go wrong when attempting to purchase your complete 3D system. At least one review rolling around criticizes the W1500's (excellent) 3D capabilities because the reviewer accidentally used a pair of 120Hz glasses to do their evaluation"(Retrieved from Projectorcentral.com).


October 20, 2013, 5:44 pm

He doesn't. But another reviewer (Bill Livolsi) claims that's
happened, without mentioning Archer's name. Livolsi says 'another
reviewer' used 120 Hz glasses instead of 144Hz. Doing searches for reviews, I only found Archer's to be critical of the 1500's 3D ability.


December 25, 2013, 2:05 am

Hi, I'm just publishing our review of the W1500. I've used the provided (144 hz) 3D glasses, and have found nothing weird. I have old BenQ glasses here, too, though, and they barely work, so I tend to agree that most likely the glasses were responsible for the issue. If there's one issue with the 3D, it's that you tend to notice that the blacks are a little dark red. That's very DLP-link, and one more great reason to move to RF 3D glasses on those projectors that give you the option, or are already standardized on the newer types.


March 8, 2014, 1:18 am

I recently purchased the W1500. In 2D it is hands down superb. Bright, clean, sharp imaging. Wonderful! However, I have consistently experienced some 'unusual' issues with 3D Blu Rays. I use a PS3 for Blu Ray playback. When I insert and begin playing a 3D disk, the projector switches to 3D and runs through a 'test' mode before the disks menu appears. This takes several seconds but is normal. The issue that arises though is that when I proceed to play the movie itself, the resulting 3D playback has some significant depth of field issues that frankly make it horrible and pretty much impossible to watch. The eye is extremely confused by what is being projected. It has nothing to do with the 'invert' option (I have tested this option several times in the projectors 3D menu) as there is some sense of correctness about the image, but it is barely watchable due to the above mentioned depth issues. The only way I have found to correct the issues is that while the actual 3D movie is playing, I must switch the projector off (which takes a minute or 2 while it cools) then switch it back on while the ACTUAL movie is paying, at which point the projector runs through it's test mode again. The resulting 3D image is now correct and perfectly watchable. I have tested with several disks and 2 separate 3D glasses (one of which is the Benq glasses that came with the projector) and the problem is consistent. I am in the process of contacting Benq to see if they have a resolve for this, but wondered if others had experienced the same problems as 3D issues are commonly reported in other reviews for this projector.

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