BENQ W1500 projector review

Trade-offs. That’s typically what display technology is all about. Fancy crazy-high 4K resolutions, or maybe ultra-fast refresh? Bottom line: you can’t have it all. And if anything, that applies more to projectors than any other display type.

On the plus side, there’s certainly nothing as cinematic as a projector. Forget your 70-inch curved-screen HDTVs, they don’t even come close — which is intriguing, given the fact that a full 1080p beamer can be had for less money than premium HDTVs. But hark, is that the clip-clop of a proviso trotting happily in the direction of this baggy, indulgent review intro? Yup. The problem is that projectors are pretty inflexible. In our opinion, they’re basically no good for daytime viewing — even the brightest ones will always struggle.

They’re also tricky to set up, require a projection surface, and need some distance between the surface and projector itself. If you own a dedicated home cinema room, that’s dandy. If you don’t, it’s probably going to be a challenge to achieve a setup that doesn’t create clutter.

This is precisely where the BenQ W1500 comes in. Thanks to its wireless HDMI functionality, you have a whole new world of options when it comes to installation. No longer do you need cable connectivity to the playback device — namely your PC. Instead, you merely plug BenQ’s wireless dongle into your computer, select ‘Wireless’ from the projector’s sources and configure the display as you would any other.

Well, almost. With our AMD Radeon test card, we couldn’t achieve an extended display setup. The W1500 would only hook up wirelessly as the sole, primary display. Pity.

There’s another slight problem too: signal strength. The wireless HDMI link really only works line-of-sight in the same room. You may be able to achieve a link with the two devices in different rooms, but the video is blocky and ugly due to low data rates at distance. That aside, with good signal, the wireless image quality is flawless and indistinguishable from using a HDMI cable.

As a 1080p DLP projector, the W1500’s picture is amazingly crisp and packs plenty of high-contrast pop. Recently, affordable projectors have improved and the W1500 looks good for its 2,200 lumens and 10,000:1 contrast ratio. Fire up some really well-encoded 1080p content, something like The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-ray, and you’ll wonder if you ever need to go to the cinema again.

The downside — one of those inevitable trade-offs we mentioned — is a fair dose of the dreaded DLP rainbow effect. For that you can thank the 50Hz,6-segment colour wheel. A 120Hz wheel would be preferable. That said, not everyone can detect the flashes of colour involved with the DLP rainbow effect.

All of which makes the W1500 a bit of a mixed bag. It sports tonnes of features — we haven’t even had space to talk about its 3D support — but at this price point there are certainly better choices for pure image quality. You pays your money. You takes your choice.

Price: $1,899

Summary: Wireless HDMI connectivity has some limits. There is a seriously cinematic image, bar a bit of rainbow effect.

Features: 4.5 stars
Performance: 3 stars
Value: 3.5 stars

Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5