So far, so good. But from here on we run into a spot of bother. For as I have to admit I’d feared, the W600 is plagued rather distractingly by DLP’s 'rainbow effect’. This finds stripes of red, green and blue colour flitting around in your peripheral vision, and over bright parts of otherwise dark pictures if you move your eye over the image - or if there’s a camera pan.
Despite BenQ maintaining that the W600 uses the same colour wheel arrangement as the W1000, having run the two projectors side by side I’m convinced that the rainbow effect issue is worse on the W600 than it is on its costlier sibling (though this sibling is itself hardly immune to the problem). Maybe it’s just down to the W600’s extra brightness? Or just some subtle difference in the optics caused by the use of a lower resolution DLP chipset? I couldn’t say for sure. But what I do know is that there are times - dark scenes with bright bits in them, mostly - when the rainbow effect on the W600 makes a scene actually quite difficult to watch.
Another problem is that the W600‘s picture looks slightly noisier than that of the W1000. This is especially true if you use the BrilliantColour option, which makes skin tones in particular into a mess of dot crawl and colour noise. But even with BrilliantColor off there seems a bit more dot crawl around.
The relatively low resolution of the W600 and apparent step-down in video processing power from the W1000 (the W600 only claims 16.7 million colours versus the W1000’s claimed 1.07 billion) also prevents the W600 from delivering so much subtlety in colour tone and blend. In fact, I even spotted a little colour striping from time to time, and despite calibration, one or two colour tones - especially rich reds - always seemed slightly out of kilter with the rest of the colour palette.
Turning to the W600’s sound, it’s... functional. At best. As in, you can make out what people are saying, and it doesn’t distort. But it’s not as powerful, detailed or all-round satisfying as the surprisingly solid speaker in the W1000. A fact emphasised by the W600‘s slightly higher running noise (rated at 34/31dB versus the W1000’s 29-27DB).
When it’s at its best, the W600’s pictures, while low on subtlety, can actually look quite spectacular. The Favela level on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the daytime battle sequences of the Braveheart Blu-ray, the daytime scenes in the Bahamas in Casino Royale, any number of bright, animated scenes... All these and more look really eye-catching, and as such are much more satisfying than you’ve any right to expect for £500.
However, there’s a price to pay for these good bits. For anything containing a mix of bright and dark material invariably falls prey to the rainbow effect, sometimes to an extent that really distracts from what you’re watching. And I’m saying this as a person who’s by no means as prone to seeing the rainbow effect as some other people I’ve known over the years.