The Q5’s picture is such a striking mixture of pros and cons that in the end it feels like the projector has tried too hard to be all things to all men rather than focussing on a particular area of expertise as it perhaps should have done.
The biggest strength of the image is undoubtedly its brightness. A surprisingly large amount of that promised 500 Lumens of light output finds its way out of the Q5’s lens, giving presentations and bright movie scenes startling punch in a fairly dark room even if you push the image up to the relatively large (by Pico projector standards) 70-inch level.
Alternatively the brightness is sufficient to deliver perfectly watchable images up to 50 inches or so with a degree of ambient light in the room.
As we would expect with so much brightness to work with, the Q5 produces eye-catchingly bold colours by Pico projector standards. This vibrancy isn’t accompanied by any great subtlety in the delivery of colour blends or tonal shifts, but at least the image looks dynamic rather than flat and wishy washy.
The dynamism joins with some impressive sharpness too, delivering a genuine sense of texture and HD detail with high-res sources and a decent sense of depth with bright footage.
The sharpness remains intact, too, when the image contains a lot of motion, and finally in the plus column the clarity isn’t troubled by much in the way of such common noise types as grain and striping or fizzing over areas of fine detail.
Where the Q5 starts to unravel is with its black level response. Even using the Movie preset any remotely dark footage exposes an inability to deliver anything resembling a black colour. Instead dark scenes invariably look greyed over and milky, to an extent which routinely obscures shadow detail in dark areas and badly damages colour tones, leaving them looking flat and infused with a mucky yellow tone.
It’s fairly common in the Pico projector world for black level response to be pretty uninspiring, but it’s worse on the Q5 than usual.
While this isn’t a massive problem for the majority of presentations you might want to put on, it’s definitely an issue for movie viewing. So much so that we struggled to enjoy watching all but the most uniformly bright animated films on the Q5. This seriously undermines the projector’s apparent ambition to cater for home as well as business users.
Next, a lack of discipline with the Q5’s light handling results in a distracting ‘frame within a frame’ effect where you seem to have multiple overlapping light windows. To make matters worse here, along the very top of the image there’s a messy stripe of strangely well-defined light spillage that readily draws your eye away from what you should be watching.
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Yet another unwelcome distraction is the alarmingly regular appearance of a strange wave of diagonal line interference appearing over the image for a second or so at a time. We weren’t able to discern either a pattern or cause behind this line glitch, but our inability to explain it just made it even more annoying!
All in all, the Q5’s problems are at least as numerous as its strengths, while its inability to render a half-decent black colour also makes it much more of a one trick business presentations pony than we’d hoped it was going to be.