So here's my mini-review of the BenQ W1070... (Updated 5 Dec 2013)
As an American living in the Philippines it's very frustrating to get electronics gear and when the dynamic iris on my Panasonic AE-900E went intermittently bad on me last month I was like Oh No! How can I get a new home theater projector here in this country? Luckily googling Top 10 projectors yielded the W1070 and after much searching I was able to find a distributor in Manila who carried it. But of course this being the Philippines with import duties for electronics sky high I had to shell out $1150 US for it (51,000 pesos) but at least I was able to get something useable. And it came with a 1 year warranty for the bulb and 2 year warranty for the unit so I guess I can live with that.
This is my third projector, the first being in 2007, the lowly starter-projector Benq W100 and then replacing it two years ago with the barely used Panasonic I mentioned above which I got for the same price as replacing the bulb for the much inferior W100 ($400). I don't know if the Panasonic spoiled me for projectors but I gotta say it is (was) much better or at least it was when it was working haha.
My W1070 is a newer model (manufactured July 2013), came with 1.06 firmware and the box says Revision 01-105. It also came with a different (better) backlit remote than the original W1070 did (as per reading the many professional reviews on the web). After trying out various "Best Of Image Settings" guides I can confirm that these newer revisions must have different default picture settings because following those guides screwed up my picture. The most blatant is the first step of a few of them telling you to raise Brightness up to 51 from 50. Well for my revision projector that induces shimmering grey artifacts immediately across the entire screen, most noticeably in the black bars top and bottom in a letterbox movie when looking at the image from no more than 6 feet away. Very noticeable and takes away from the blacks that this projector is already supposedly lacking.
* (5 Dec 2013 Edit: I have since done various "Best Of Image Settings" guides and just skipped that raising the brightness to 51 step and have gotten good results. All I can tell you is to compare the black bars in a letter box movie between Brightness 50 and 51, for me it's a world of difference. Steady black vs shimmering dark grey)
I am using my W1070 hooked up to my PC via 5m HDMI. I set Cinema mode as my default and left it at it's original settings (2.4 gamma). As a home theater enthusiast I am watching videos using Zoom Player media player with LAV as my splitter/decoder, madVR as my video renderer (highest settings, smooth motion on), avisynth script "LimitedSharpenFaster" as a sharpening post processor and of course Reclock. Mainly I watch videos that are encoded at 23.976 and 25 fps. With my now defunct Panasonic I had output 50hz refresh rate to the projector as it's easy to get Reclock to work properly with that Hz. Well, let me tell you that my W1070 doesn't like 50Hz refresh rate all that much. The blacks and greys got a weird shimmer to it and only setting the projector (default Cinema mode as I mentioned) to 1.6 gamma fixed the shimmer. Which is of course way too bright. Setting it back to 60Hz refresh rate immediately fixed that problem. Another problem I have with 50Hz refresh rate with this projector are panning scenes. Even with mVR smooth motion & Reclock there is more judder to the scene than at 60Hz. My for-testing-purposes panning scene is 25fps so it should have looked great with reclock and mVR smooth motion with the projector being fed 50Hz but nooope, that's not the case. So I am using the projector at it's default 1080p60 resolution & refresh rate.
*(5 Dec 2013 Edit: Still using it 60Hz refresh rate)
I had been able to post process SD material with very good results using my Panasonic with avisynth script sharpener "limitedsharpenfaster", there was not much aliasing and the SD material looked fairly good (improved upon). I gotta tell you though that I cannot use any sharpening post processor with SD material with the W1070 as it makes the image pretty bad. I have also tried the script "FineSharp" with same poor results. There is way too much aliasing and the image just looks like garbage even with the projector's sharpness level set at 0. So I have to watch SD material on the W1070 with no post-processing. Now to be fair, I don't know if the image on the Panasonic would be equally bad if it had the same high lumens ouput as this Benq does. Perhaps since the Benq is so bright it is causing all the SD artifacts to become more visible. All I know is that for me using a post-processing sharpening tool does not yield good results with this projector with SD material. Anything HD 720p and up though looks great with "LimitedSharpenFaster" so I have limited my post processing sharpener to only 720p+.
* (5 Dec 2013 Edit: Have since discovered that supersampling (increasing the strength) of my "LimitedSharperFaster" avisynth script (1.5x) (or LSFMod) yields pretty good results with SD material. I think the reason it is so poor with SD material is because the Benq is so much brighter than my old Panasonic so it's easier to see all the artifacts in the SD material. I don't have the above SD video problem anymore since I have upped the strength of my avisynth post processing script but be aware that since the Benq image is so bright you will see more "bad" video if it's not cleaned up with some strong video post processing)
Immediately using the projector you really notice how bright it is. Which is fine for a family room with the overhead or lamp lights on. But if you are using this projector in a totally darkened room as I am you will immediately notice that this thing leaks light. LEAKS A LOT OF LIGHT. ALL OVER THE PLACE. Pausing a video on a totally dark scene such as a fade out and looking around the screen and around your room you will see blocks of light on top of the screen, the bottom of the screen, to the left and right. This leakage is coming out of the lens. Then there is the second light leakage coming out of the front vent grill which blasts a ton of light out of the vent holes to the right (left if upside down). This is not a little light leakage. It is A LOT and disturbs your movie experience in a totally darkened environment. My Panasonic didn't have this (darn I guess I am spoiled, but I couldn't find a panasonic replacement in the philippines sniff). But luckily it is fixable. What I did was make a lens hood out of a mini Chips Ahoy plastic container and duct tape to prevent the light leakage around the lens. Mine just slides in the hole, the plastic sides prevent it from falling out. And for the front vent grill I just pulled off the cardboard back cover of a steno notebook, painted it black and double tape stuck it on there. I put my hand in there during usage to see how hot it was getting and it wasn't too bad. The air still has room to flow out the side(s) so I am not too worried about it.
* (5 Dec 2013 Edit: Still have it set up the same way with my makeshift lens hood and vent cover ;-) Working great. I would say at this point after using the W1070 daily for five months this light leakage issue is really the only major issue I have with the unit)
When I am not watching videos, I am surfing the net from my couch. When looking up close at the projected image and with CNN or some other text heavy site is up I can tell the image is wobbling a tad bit. When sitting 12 feet away from that 90" image though I can't see it though. Just something to be aware of. Sharpness is pretty good though. On my unit I have uniform sharpness, corner to corner even with keystone at -2 due to my unit sitting under my coffee table facing up at slight angle. Had to increase the font size though in my internet browser (opera) though so I could actually read the news in 1080p sitting 12 feet away. But that's because I was used to the huge text in 720p hehe.
* (5 Dec 2013 Edit: To be honest I don't think that the wobbling occurs anymore or at least I have never seen it sitting 12' feet away. I also still maintain uniform sharpness across the screen, corner to corner. I did have to fiddle around alot though with the focus ring to get it like that and then once the unit was in position I had to bump it a little back and forward til I was happy with focusing)
SMART-ECO what's it good for? I don't know. It does for sure make the image brighter but then it also makes your blacks brighter too but in a bad way as they certainly don't become deeper, but grayer. I certainly find no use for it in my darkened cinema room. It also made the projector much louder. ECO mode is fine though and it makes the projector barely barely audible for me and it's only sitting about 6 feet in front of me under my coffee table. And the blacks deepness level is fine for me too with default CINEMA mode in ECO.
*(5 Dec 2013 Edit: Still got it in plain Eco, no increase in fan noise is noticed since I first started using it. But have since stopped using default CINEMA mode and used a "Best of Settings" guide leaving brightness at 50 as mentioned above)
So overall, after preventing as much light leakage as I could, and setting my Hz back to 60Hz (from 50Hz) on my laptop and playing around with the picture and my media player post processing settings, I can honestly say I am pleased with the Benq W1070, pleased enough because it was the only cinema-type home projector I could actually find here in the Philippines with the throw ratio I was looking for. And for $1150 I really can't complain.
The BAD (IMHO): In summary
- Lots of light leakage coming out of the lens and the front vent grill. - YES DEFINITELY (5 Dec)
- 50 Hz problems ; Blacks & greys squirrelly looking at 50Hz & panning scenes more judder at 50Hz (together making 50Hz unusable for me) - YUP STILL TRUE (5 Dec)
- SMART ECO not a viable option in a dark cinema room - I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT GOOD IT DOES (5 Dec)
- Lamp usage hours are not calculated properly in Normal & ECO mode (as previously reported in this thread)
- Picture shakes a bit but really can't tell from 12' away. But it does. - DELETED (5 Dec)
- (5 Dec) I had to pay $1150 for it while ya'll got it for less than $1K haha
The GOOD (IMHO): In summary
- Bright image and sharpness is pretty decent. Mine is sharp corner to corner
- The beeping when the unit is turned on/off. I like it so I know I actually hit the On switch properly and that the unit is all the way off so I can turn off the power strip that it's plugged into.
- Throw ratio pretty good. Was able to stick it in the same place as my Panasonic (8' from wall) and get same approx 90" diag image. From 12' away that's plenty big for me.
- Affordable enough
- (5 Dec) Eco Mode (fan) has been quiet enough for me the past 5 months
- (5 Dec) Have noticed no bulb flickering (bulb arcing) at all (yet)
* (5 Dec Edit: So after using this projector daily for past 5 months I must say that I am much more pleased with it now than when I first got it. But it did take a steep learning curve, trial & error, and study to get it the current performance level that I am happy with. I just never had to do so much with a projector before to get it the way I want)