BenQ joins the UltraHD ranks with the W11000 home theatre projector

Today in a prelude to the Australian HIFI and AV Show in Melbourne, BenQ launched its newest projector, the W11000. This projector could well be a real game changer. Why? Three letters: U, H and D.

Now the W11000 isn’t the first Ultra High Definition home theatre projector to be released in Australia, but it is the first competitor to Sony, which has had the category to itself for several years. Sony’s models – which are actually full 4K models, with a resolution of 4096 by 2160 pixels, but are also fully UHD compatible – range in price from $14,999 to somewhere around $90,000. That’s the fruit of having an effective monopoly.

BenQ is going to kill in this market because its RRP is a much more approachable $7,999. And that’s in the same ballpark as the price of premium 65 inch UHD TVs. Yet, really, where is the greatest advantage of UHD to be realised? I’d suggest that it’s in really big screens.

Naturally, BenQ says that this projector is good for screens up to 300 inches.

BenQ W11000 UHD projectror

This being a BenQ projector, it is based on DLP technology, in this case using a Digital Micromirror Device measuring just two thirds of an inch for a pixel size of 5.4 micrometres.

The projector features both vertical (65%) and horizontal (27%) lens shift and a 1.5:1 zoom range. BenQ specifies the native contrast ratio at a modest 4000:1. But thanks to the dynamic iris this is stretched to 50,000:1 The lens system uses fourteen individual pieces in six groups for the fine focus needed to fully realise UHD. The brightness is specified at 2200 ANSI Lumens. One of the two HDMI inputs supports the HDCP 2.2 copy protection scheme required for UltraHD Blu-ray.

The projector is big and heavy as befits a premium model. It weighs nearly 15 kilograms.

BenQ had the projector set up showing the superb UltraHD version of Life of Pi on a widescreen display screen – that is, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio – with a three metre diagonal. That’s close enough to a 120 inch screen. The projector was not being shown off quite to full advantage because it was running in an anamorphic setup. That is, with 2.35:1 aspect movies, the projector was set to scale up the height of image to so that it filled the full frame. Then an “anamorphic” lens in front of the projector’s lens stretched the image sideways so that it resumed the correct shape.

This kind of system is much loved by some home theatre devotees since it follows the “constant image height” system used in cinemas, where a wider movie doesn’t have black bars at the top and bottom. Instead, the curtains to the left and right sweep majestically more open to allow the extra picture at the edges to be displayed. However, it does mean that the image is reformatted to match the greater height, and is shone through an additional lens, and this inevitably reduces the clarity of the image somewhat.

BenQ W11000 UHD projectror

So with those limitations in mind, I must say that the image still looked exceptionally fine. I spent most of the time about two metres from the screen and the picture was smooth and detailed, and sharp, with clean unbroken lines in the smallest details, and no visible sense of pixels at all. The result may not have been as sharp as could have been the case had the anamorphic system been eschewed, but it was extremely close to the look of real film.

When I peered extremely closely at dark areas, I could occasionally make out just a little “dither”, the slight brightness instability at the pixel level. DLP projectors control the brightness of each pixel be switching them on and off extremely quickly – over a thousand times a second – and varying the proportion of the time in which they are “on”. Low levels of light mean the pixel is flicking on only occasionally, and this tends to manifest as that “dither”. At any reasonable distance this was, of course, invisible.

Completely absent was any appearance of the “rainbow” effect, a distortion peculiar to DLP projectors which BenQ seems to have just about eliminated in recent years.

So, at last, UHD is becoming more widely available where it belongs: on the big screen. If $7999 still seems too pricey for you, I’d just recommend patience. The first three full HD front projectors to be released in Australia, all three from different brands, each cost $40,000. Now that there’s real UHD competition, expect prices to fall.

  1. There are very few native 4K front-projection options in the home theatre category. If money is no object and you’re assembling a six- or seven-figure, 200 + inches screen home theatre, perhaps you can afford to explore professional-grade cinema projectors from the likes of Christie and Barco that have a native 4K resolution. It should be noted that a few reviewers testing the resolution of Sony’s true UHD projectors have found them unable to resolve the full resolution.

    BenQ W 11000 or HT 8050 in the USA has new Texas Instrument – TI 4K UHD chipset built in. This projector achieved THX HD Display certification. This is Full 4K UHD, not native or true 4K but does this matter? Would you be able to see the difference between Full 4K and true 4K on the 130 – 150 inches screen?

    Texas Instrument chipset consists of the DLP660TE digital micromirror device (DMD), DLPC4422 digital controller, and DLPA1000 power management device.

    Technically, TI 4K DLP chip uses four million mirrors, which translates to four million pixels. Native 4K has roughly eight million pixels, while 1080p has roughly two million pixels, so the DLP design falls in between. However, the fast switching speed of the Texas Instrument DMD enables 8.3 million pixels to be displayed on the screen using 4.15 million micromirrors. The resolution delivered is equal to combining four 1080p displays.

    JVC and Epson projectors with JVC e-shift and Epson’s 4K Enhancement Technology are 2K HD 1080p projectors. They are not in the same league, and they are not 4K certified projectors. There is no way they can deliver 8.3 million pixels on the screen. The consumers should be aware that these projectors are just Full HD 2K projectors, not 4K projectors as they are claim falsely.

  2. The picture and the price of this new BenQ projector is fantastic. The projector has 14-piece glass lens in six grouping structure including a 6-piece extra low dispersion coating glass lens for 4K images.

    BenQ W11000 ( BenQ HT 8050 in the USA) has a native Texas Instrument TI 4K chipset. The picture and the price of this new projector is fantastic.

    It is a real 4K, projector not like those pseudo-4K projectors from JVC or EPSON. In the JVC models, the technology is called e-shift and in the Epson projectors it goes by the name of 4K Enhancement or 4Ke but in both cases, what is actually being done is a 2 million pixel Full HD 1080p sensor getting flashed twice per frame but with the pixels shifting. Thus, with the JVC and Epson projectors, even the use of this 4K upscaling technology produces nothing more than 1920 x 1080 resolutions.

    There is no doubt that SONY will be upset as SONY monopoly over 4K UHD projectors is coming to the end.

    1. Unfortunately it’s actually not 4K… just over 2700 x 1500 (4m pixels, it then optically doubles the pixels to 4k…. but its not 1080p> 4K like all the rest so it is still much better than any other single chip DLP

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