REVIEW: BENQ W5700 4K UHD PROJECTOR
There's been quite a buzz around BenQ's W5700 announcement since word broke earlier this year. Demand has outstripped supply, and we were as eager to get our hands on a review sample as consumers have been to snap one up!
True 4K UHD Projector
AUD $3,999 RRP
If you’ve read any of our recent coverage of BenQ’s W2700 and W5700 projector launches, you’d know that the Taiwanese company takes colour reproduction seriously.
As a professional calibrator myself, this is an aspect which is close to my heart, yet often overlooked by consumers. There’s way too much faith placed in both televisions and projectors to produce an image that is ‘right’.
Being blissfully unaware of the benefits of colour accurate images may be alright for the masses. However, if you're serious about movies and want to get the best image quality from your TV or projector, accurate colour reproduction should be a priority.
It’s an aspect of image reproduction that BenQ has taken to heart, with its latest W5700 ($3,999) projector not only capable of reproducing full Rec. 709 (HD) and DCI (4K UHD) colour gamuts, but doing so accurately.
They take it seriously enough to calibrate each of their W5700 and W2700 to exacting tolerances at their Taiwanese facilities. Every projector is calibrated by BenQ’s technicians to have a Delta E of 3 or less. In case you're wondering, Delta E is a means of measuring colour error, with 3 or below accepted as unperceivable.
The W5700 claims a native resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is just a tad shy of ‘true 4K’. In reality, there’s only a handful of projectors including Sony and JVC’s new range of 4K projectors that offer full 4096 × 2160 4K resolution more commonly associated with cinemas.
The W5700 shares the same resolution used by today’s televisions and specified as the standard by the UHD alliance for 4K. The W5700 achieves its 3840 x 2160 resolution courtesy of Texas instruments 0.47” DMD (Digital Micromirror Device).
In reality, the 0.47” DMD has a native resolution of 1080p. However, by flashing its 2 million + micrometer-sized mirrors four times in fast succession, it’s able to display 8.3 million pixels.
Call it what you will, all projectors at this price-point use a form of digital or mechanical manipulation to achieve their quoted ‘4K’ resolution. If you want the bragging rights of being able to own a true 4K projector-sans the digital wizardry-be prepared to pay double or more the W5700’s asking price.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
The W5700 looks svelte, with a curvy appearance that’s modern-retro is certainly an attractive piece of AV equipment. Finished in matt black to avoid reflections, the W5700 has a centrally mounted lens and forward facing vents.
It’s obvious there’s been a lot of thought regarding the W5700’s designs, with features such as a hood covering the top of the lens to prevent dust falling on it. Speaking of the lens, the W5700 has a 4K optimised all-glass lens array, comprised of an 11 piece lens structure.
As for the light source, the W5700 uses a lamp with a quoted lamp life of 4,000 hours in Normal Mode, 10,000 hours in Eco Mode and 15,000 hours in smart Eco Mode. The 240 watt Osram lamp is quoted as being able to produce 2,000 ANSI lumens, with a FOFO (measured with a full black screen and a full white screen) contrast ratio of 30000:1.
A dynamic iris is a welcome inclusion at this price-point, which is used in conjunction with BenQ’s HDR Pro technology to improve the W5700’s tone mapping capabilities. Naturally, the W5700 supports HDR10 in addition to HLG.
The W5700 has two HDMI inputs (2.0b/HDCP2.2), each of which supports a full 18 Gb workflow. Rounding out its inputs- all of which are on the back of the projector, are 1x USB A input, 1x USB B input, LAN connection, RS232 connection and a 12-volt trigger.
A rarity in our electronic-age, the box also contained a user manual, in addition to the power cord, CD with user manuals, an envelope with calibration certificate, and of course the remote.
The remote is somewhat on the smaller side, but the large buttons and back-light button are handy when you’re trying to navigate your way through the menus in a dark environment.
Like the Sony VPL-VW270ES which I reviewed recently, the W5700 also favours a ‘wider’, rather than ‘longer’ chassis design.
And, like the Sony, it affords some flexibility with placement, giving you the option to place the projector close to a back wall. This design element and the W5700’s more svelte form factor is going to be of particular interest to those with smaller spaces.
Throw in the fact that it’s capable of projecting a 100” image at three metres, and the W5700 should suit all but the most demanding installations.
Lens control is a manual affair, with a lever on the outermost ring of the lens barrel controlling zoom, while the innermost ring controls focus. Both horizontal and vertical lens-shift are adjusted via dials mounted on to the chassis.
The W5700 does offer keystone adjustment. However, it shouldn’t be required with the range of lens controls at your disposal, and of course a bit of patience. Keystoning digitally manipulates the image and in the process, softens it, so avoid it if you can.
Although the on-screen menu looks somewhat antiquated, it’s functional, with a logical layout that’s easy enough to navigate. In addition to the usual range of controls, the W5700 features a full suite of calibration controls, including 2 point greyscale, user selectable gamma control and six-point colour management system.
Given the W5700 is a single chip DLP projector, there’s no need for panel alignment- align the image correctly to your screen, focus it using the inbuilt test pattern and voila!
MEASURED PERFORMANCE AND CALIBRATION
When it comes to judging the picture quality of a television or projector, the impact of incorrect picture settings cannot be underestimated. Before making any critical observations concerning picture quality, every display we review is professionally calibrated.
Both an X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectroradiometer and x-rite i1 Display Pro colourimeter (profiled against the i1Pro 2) were used to take measurements. The meters were tripod mounted, with measurements taken directly from a Severtson 100” CineGray projector screen.
A mixture of 10% and 15% window patterns were used. Meter integration times were tested, and final readings were the mean of two readings for increased stability.
The W5700 has seven picture modes, including Cinema Rec 709, D Cinema, User, Vivid TV, Bright, Silence and HDR10, the latter of which is only available with an HDR signal.
BenQ recommends using Cinema Rec 709 for accurate HD colour reproduction and D Cinema for accurate 4K DCI colour reproduction. With the controls in their default positions, I measured light output at 54 nits in Cinema Rec 709 and 38 nits in D Cinema mode.
While the Severtson Cinegray screen will reduce the overall light output, the W5700 uses a colour filter to achieve the DCI colour space in D Cinema mode. While introducing a filter in the projector’s light path does indeed increase its colour capabilities, it also reduces the projector’s light output.
Using Cinema Rec 709 as the basis for SDR calibration, the W5700 exhibited extremely accurate grayscale tracking, with a mean Delta E of 2.5. As it stands, this is an impressive level of accuracy, even more so when you take into account the difference in screen materials and environment.
Calibration brought further improvement, reducing mean Delta E to 1.1, however, given the W5700’s accurate greyscale tracking, it’s highly questionable if it’s even necessary for this picture mode. Likewise, colour reproduction was superb, with the W5700 having a mean Delta E of 2.8 before calibration and 0.7 after calibration.
Both pre and post- calibration saturation sweeps produced a level of a colour accuracy that rivalled my own Sony VPL-VW270ES, which is double the price. While my Sony did have a small upper-hand in terms of colour reproduction, it couldn’t match the W5700 in terms of pre-calibration greyscale accuracy.
Pre-calibration gamma tracking averaged 2.3, with a bump in the 20- 50% region. Calibration did improve this, but in doing so, reduced average gamma to 2.21.
With HDR material the W5700 automatically switches to HDR 10 picture mode. With the colour filter engaged I measured light output at 34 nits with the controls in their default position. Pushing the contrast control increased light output to 41 nits- less than ideal for HDR viewing.
While using a white screen would have resulted in higher light output, it’s still going to be less than ideal for a satisfactory HDR viewing experience.
Measurement of the HDR10 picture mode revealed a greyscale that couldn’t match the accuracy of the Cinema Rec 709 picture mode. Likewise, the W5700 wasn’t able to reach the full DCI colour gamut in this mode, producing a rather peculiar looking gamut.
Turning the HDR control in the menu from automatic to off allowed me to select D Cinema, which BenQ recommend for 4K signals without HDR meta-data. Of course, this means the W5700 will convert the signal from HDR to SDR.
Depending on what side of the fence you're on, this may not be that big a deal. While I prefer to keep the HDR signal intact on my projector, many prefer to convert HDR images to SDR, enabling them to keep the resolution and broader colour gamut intact.
Regardless, the W5700 can reproduce the full DCI colour gamut in D Cinema mode. The projector produced an excellent facsimile of the DCI colour gamut, with a mean Delta E of 3.1.
Once again, the final colour accuracy is influenced by both the screen and the viewing environment. However, given the competent colour management system on board the W5700, there’s no reason why a decent calibrator couldn’t bring this to a reference level of performance.
Greyscale tracking wasn’t as accurate as Cinema Rec 709 exhibiting a blue push. However, I have every confidence that a competent calibrator could eliminate this. Gamma tracking, or more correctly EOTF, followed the PQ curve, with the caveat that it’s a little darker towards the bottom of the curve.
I chose to start evaluating the W5700’s image with an old favourite, The Wolverine.
With the Wolverine clawing his way through a seemingly endless supply of Yakuza, the most striking aspect of the W5700’s image is its ability to produce razor-sharp images. Coupled with decent black levels the W5700 produced sharp, yet pleasing images with a good sense of dimensionality.
It’s evident that BenQ has put in some work in behind the scenes to improve the black levels of their projectors. While you won’t find the inky blacks of some its competitors, black level performance was satisfactory and a definite step-up on other BenQ projectors I’ve reviewed.
The improvement in black level I’m sure is helped in no small part by the W5700’s dynamic iris. The downside of using a dynamic iris is the potential for image pumping, which takes place when an image abruptly changes in brightness.
I did observe this phenomenon with The First Purge on Blu-ray. However, this was the only time I could recall seeing it, and the trade-off in better black levels was more than worth the small and infrequent inconvenience.
Colour reproduction was excellent, often exhibiting a bit of ‘pop’ but never appearing overdone. Regardless of the content, flesh tones looked natural.
Despite being animated, How To Train Your Dragon- The Hidden World is one of the best HDR transfers I’ve seen to date. With the W5700 set to HDR10, the picture couldn’t muster the same sense of pop nor contrast as my Sony VPL-VW270ES, images looking washed out by comparison.
Turning to D Cinema, with its subsequent dynamic range conversion was my preferred method to watch HDR movies on the W5700. In this mode, colour reproduction was at a level that my own Sony couldn’t even muster.
Granted, The Greatest Showman has a broad colour palette that looks great on any display, but the W5700 takes it to a new level. Primaries looked both deeper and brighter, and the hues used in outdoor scenes made the images look more like theatre set pieces- a deliberate design choice of the film’s creators I’m sure.
While images remained razor sharp with 4K Ultra HD transfers, the W5700 wasn’t able to convey quite the same level of image detail that I have become accustomed too. I’ll be the first to admit the differences were small, but they were nonetheless there.
Like all DLP projectors, the W5700 can create extremely film-like images, which many are going to favour over the more digital clean look provided by other technologies. The downside of this technology, however, is that it can cause Rainbow Effect.
During my time with the W5700, I didn’t witness any instances of Rainbow Effect (RBE). I am, however, not prone to this phenomenon, so I strongly encourage you to demo a projector instore before committing your hard-earned.
The W5700 is a fantastic home theatre projector. However, it’s not without its limitations. On the one hand, getting the best in terms of UHD playback requires dynamic range conversion. On the other hand, the W5700 produces razor-sharp images which are the equal of some more expensive projectors I’ve seen.
While the W5700 couldn’t quite muster the same detail as my own native 4K projector (admittedly double the price of the W5700), it’s a definite improvement over 1080p. Yet again, its ability to convey the full DCI colour gamut of the UHD format resulted in beautiful looking images.
As for SDR Blu-ray playback, the W5700 is a no-brainer, the sharp colour accurate images it produces breathing new life into the aging format.
For more information visit BenQ.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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