While we’re on the subject of lens capabilities, we should add on a more positive note that – as BenQ seems very keen to tell us – the W9000 is compatible with Panamorph technology. Which is to say that you can screw to its lens barrel a special lens (the P380-2) from third party specialist Panamorph which allows you to enjoy 2.35:1 aspect ratio films without any black bars or distortion on a 2.40:1 ratio screen.
So far as we could tell, Panamorph lenses don’t currently have a UK distributor, but they’re available from the US for around $495.
If you’re a dedicated black bar hater and love the sound of this feature, though, please bear in mind that it’s not actually unique. For while BenQ plasters the Panamorph logo on the W9000’s box and crows about Panamorph in all the W9000’s literature, the same lens compatibility can also be found on projectors from rival brands as diverse as Optoma, JVC, Sim2, Sony and InFocus. It’s just that these rivals don’t tend to make such a song and dance about it.
Heading back into less esoteric waters with the BenQ W9000’s connections, there’s a surprising disappointment in store with the discovery of just a single HDMI input. This really isn’t enough in these days of Sky HD receivers, Blu-ray players and HD games consoles.
There’s some compensation for this in the form of two component video inputs for analogue HD playback, but the preference for analogue HD sources over digital ones seems totally out of place as we head into 2008.
Other jacks of note include PC support (via one of the component inputs), a 12V trigger jack for driving an electronic screen, and an RS-232 port via which, we’re pleased to say, it’s possible for a trained engineer from the Imaging Science Foundation to professionally calibrate pictures to suit your specific domestic environment. This level of customisation is unusual at the W9000’s price point.
Trawling the W9000’s menus for further features of interest quickly reveals that, as we’d hope of a full HD projector, it’s capable of receiving the ultrapure 1080p/24fps format now output by many HD disc players.
Then there’s BenQ’s proprietary Senseye technology, which can automatically adjust the bright and dark areas of an image separately, introduces plenty of fancy noise reduction circuitry to boost the appearance of relatively weak sources, and incorporates a dynamic iris system that reduces the light output from the projection lamp during dark scenes, in order to make black levels look more profound.