BenQ makes a lot of projectors, from small, light portables, to full-on professional installations, but there’s a new projector that stands out, the W11100. This is the first DLP 4K projector for consumers. Across the industry, projector manufacturers have been slow to implement 4K while their biggest competitor, growing in size, dropping in price, LCD displays have now been shipping 4K compatibility for years.
If you’re looking at building or upgrading a home theatre then you’ll have definitely asked yourself the question, are you seriously going to put in an HD projector as we head in 2017. It feels old and backward in a time where the 4K content libraries continue to grow, internet speeds are getting faster, so what you’d really like to install a 4K projector. Right now the sensible pricing on large displays cap out around the 65-70″ range, so if your goal is to have an immersive image that’s larger than that, you really are in prime projector territory.
The BenQ W11000 projects an image that’s up to 200″, at 3m distance, the screen size is 100″. Even the best HD content will degrade when blown up to that scale, you simply need more pixels to maintain image quality. Thankfully the W11000 delivers in spades with 3840 x 2160 pixels to play, text on interfaces remains clear and crisp, despite the size of projection.
I have to admit when I said yes to this review I never really had an appreciation for the physical size of this projector. Being in the consumer line, I guess there was an assumed sized based on previous experience with projectors, but the W11000 is easily confused with a commercial projector. The dimensions are 470.7mm (length) x 564.7 (width) x 224.9 (height) and it weighs a substantial 14.8 kg. This won’t be a problem if you’re designing a new home theatre, you’ll make provisions for these specs, but some of the audience for this projector will be upgraders. In that respect you may indeed realise your current roof mount both in position or strength isn’t capable of accommodating this size. If it can, then you’re in for a hell of an experience.
The absolutely stand out feature you get with the W11000 is image quality, brilliant in movies and fantastic in gaming. The task of delivering image input to your wall is not an easy one, particularly when you consider the challenge of accurately reproducing the director’s vision in varied home environments. BenQ has received THX certification for this projector (not an easy feat) and enabled while you can customise the image settings, its dead simple to switch to THX mode where you can be assured the colours are being reproduced accurately.
Part of the benefit of the extra size of the projector is the ability to run larger fans that spin slower to keep the projector quiet. Most of the time I used the projector, I sat next to it and it’s all but silent, there’s even a Silent mode which absolutely makes it silent (just 23 decibels) and you wouldn’t know its there. Thankfully this mode surprisingly has almost no visible difference to the image quality, so day-to-day I would probably use this to watch TV and kick into THX mode for movies. BenQ went with a neat simple airflow design where one side intakes cold air, passes it over the lamp and the hot air is expelled out the other side. Most installations will be inverted with a roof mount, but it is worth noting that it works as a nice heater if your anywhere close to the exhaust vent.
In terms of inputs, you can choose form a HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 and another HDMI 1.4a port with HDCP1.1 which can feel a little anemic compared to what we’re used to on the TV side which typically have 4. There’s also a VGA PC input, but nobody should be buying this and planning an analog connection. There’s an Ethernet port a USB Mini-B . What is missing is any audio ports. I was disappointed about the lack of an optical audio-out port, so HDMI inputs could pass through to your home audio setup. Personally I have SONOS system and don’t have an amplifier, so connecting that way isn’t always available.
On top of the W11000 you’ll find two knobs which physically adjust the lamp position. This is actually fantastic, offering a substantial vertical and horizontal re-positioning of the image while the projector stays in the same place. What is missing is any control over the keystone, so hopefully, you can position it square to the screen.
4K Content Sources
Having the 4K hardware in place, you’re next challenge or perhaps to justification to get this projector will ultimately come down to content. Almost any modern laptop or computer can power a 4K experience so PC inputs are definitely a great option. Assuming your internet connection can handle it, there’s actually a rapidly growing list of source material available in 4K. The most convenient and reliable is Netflix.
To enable 4K streaming on Netflix, you’ll need to pony up an extra few dollars per month for the top tier, but if you can afford this projector, that won’t be an issue. Netflix made the announcement some time ago that they’re shooting and releasing original content in 4K and this year they’ve continue to deliver on that. This means plenty of your favourite TV shows are available in 4K, however the number of movies remains slim.
Of course if you want a more permanent solution for your home entertainment, you may consider the Xbox One S with 4K Blu-ray support and upscaling for gaming (until Project Scorpio ships next year, then say hello to 4K gaming). After connecting a mates Xbox One S, signing into the right account, we fired up the Netflix app and surprisingly the Xbox app doesn’t feature the same dedicated 4K section found on the Netflix app on Samsung’s smart TVs. That aside, we searched and found a 4K movie to watch and test the quality of the projector.
From the moment the movie began, it was beautiful, gorgeous in fact, as 4K should be with 4 times the resolution of HD, you’d expect nothing less. The scenes with motion and multi-person fights were smooth and edges of hands, weapons and environments all well defined, instead of the standard blurs we typically forgive. Its the kind of experience that ruins your movie experience because everything else you’ve watch now looks rubbish in comparison. As the movie went on there were plenty of cinematic environment scenes where the world looked amazing, even despite some pretty budget CGI at times. Generally watching a movie in a light controlled environment is an absolute pleasure of a money-can-buy experience.
After the movie we fired up the racing game of the year, Forza Horizon 3. The Xbox One S upscales games to 4K from the original HD, however this game was perfect as the games assets were developed for 4K resolution, as the complimentary play anywhere PC version is available in native 4K quality. The console upscaling combined with the projector quality to delivery a stunning reproduction of the game. At first we remarked that it looked good, then minutes later revised that to ‘no actually that looks fantastic’. Despite this not actually being 4K native gaming, it sure did look like it, the graphics were fantastic. Through the shadowy forests to the sunny beaches or city streets of the Gold Coast, I could have played that all night just to stare at it some more. Keep in mind this is a game I’d already poured 30-40 hours into it, but that was on a 40″ HDTV.
To update a quote from Homer Simpson,
“Stupid non-4K TV, might as well rub dirt in my eyes.
YouTube 4K is another great option for ulra high definition content. As more of us get cameras, phones, drones etc that can film in 4K and our internet connections support uploading them in raw uncompressed quality, the bank of content is exploding. Add to that you’ve got every Hollywood trailer now shipping in 4K and even some music videos, there’s a wide variety of video on YouTube. You definitely want to head to GoPro’s channel and see humans around the globe do amazing things in amazing detail, it really is one of the best sources, along with DJI’s channel for 4K videos shot with their drones.
Price & Availability
The BenQ W11000 costs A$7,999.00. Yep, that’s definitely not cheap, but there’s a couple of ways to justify that price. First of all this is early, really early in the industry for 4K in consumer projectors, that means part of the price can be attributed to an early adopter’s tax. The price will come down as competition increases and the technology gets cheaper with scale.
The other component is the size of the projected image is far in excess of what’s possible with LCD-based TVs. By comparison, JB Hi-Fi has a sale on a LG 75″ 4K TV for $3,996 which is actually a great deal from the standard price of $5,496. At full price that’s around $73 per inch, given the W11000 projector is capable of 200″ it makes the cost per inch $39.99 (if you’re room’s big enough) which actually seems a pretty decent price.
Perhaps the best way to accommodate this is to include it in the price provisions for a home theatre room if you’re building a new home or renovating an existing home theatre.
What BenQ have delivered with the W11000 is a projector that’s capable of changing your home movie experience. This is genuinely the kind of device that ends your relationship with the cinema as you can build one in your house. The image quality delivered by this is fantastically addictive and substantially changes your expectations of how content should look. The THX certification and mode on the controller is a dead set simple confirmation that you’re seeing content the way it was intended, rather than requiring a calibrator to come to your house to tweak things.
The size will be a hurdle for some, as will be the cost, but if you have the means to make add this projector to your home (or business) you won’t be sorry, this thing is brilliant and does it without making a fuss.
I’ll offer the same disclaimer I would with any projector, it works best in a light controlled environment and I’d suggest most purchasers would be well aware of that, but for those imagining they’ll be watching TV on it in the middle of the day in the living room, you can, but you’ll need to crank the brightness and rapidly diminish the lamp life.
If you’re serious about watching movies, you’ll know most ship with an aspect ration that’s not 16:9, instead in 2.35:1 widescreen and BenQ actually ship an accessory for the W11000 that augments the projection to achieve just that. This means those pesky bars at the top or bottom are removed and you get a pristine movie experience.
I wish it was smaller, I wish it was cheaper, but mostly so more people could experience what the W11000 offers a home theatre enthusiast.