Thankfully, though, the W500 has a decent amount of good points to set against the flaws I’ve just covered. For starters, the HQV processing engine does a superbly good job of rescaling both standard and high definition sources to the 720p native pixel count. In fact, in HD’s case the resizing is nearly flawless, with startling amounts of fine detail and sharpness being retained and practically no processing noise being added, even around the edges of fast moving objects like all the flailing limbs during the Olympic taekwondo finals.
Even with SD sources, though, the W500 manages to make digital broadcasts and DVDs look noticeably sharper while actually suppressing noise rather than adding it. I’ve seen projectors costing three times as much fail to upscale standard def as successfully as the W500.
It should also be said that colours during bright scenes are much more natural than they are during dark scenes, and brightness levels are extremely high for such an affordable projector, making it a great friend of your average video game.
Any concerns we may have had about the W500’s dynamic iris, meanwhile, prove almost completely unfounded, as it actually performs so subtly that we never found ourselves distracted by it.
The W500 handles motion surprisingly well, too. Even when watching a 1080p/24 source there’s precious little judder to report, and although HD images from a Sky HD box occasionally became a bit twitchy, this was soon rectified by powering the projector off and on again. I’ve seen such HDMI twitches before, by the way, so the W500 is by no means uniquely troubled in this respect.
The final point to make about the W500’s performance is that it’s about average when it comes to running noise. The fans certainly can be heard, but not excessively. And the noise produced is, at least, very smooth, with no additional ‘gear shifting’ noise audible from the dynamic iris.
With a price under £600, the W500 was inevitably never going to challenge the best projectors out there. If you’re a real movie buff on a tight budget, you’re certainly better trying to scrape together another £300 or so for the InFocus X10.
That said, for all its black level and occasional colour shortcomings, the W500 has still got more than enough going for it to be well worth considering if you’re looking for a fairly casual, ultra-affordable projector for general TV, sporting event and gaming use.