2019 Update: Projector Reviews Best Home Theater Projectors Report

2019 Best Home Theater Projectors Report

Our 2019 Best Home Theater Projectors Report is just around the corner, so we thought it apropos to give you a quick update. Many of these projectors were not available last August, which is when we published our 2018 report, and most will have been reviewed by August this year – just in time for our 2019 report.

Our annual Best Home Theater Projectors Report is a roundup of all of the home entertainment and home theater projectors we’ve reviewed over the last year, with insights into each projector’s features and specifications.

We give awards to the best of the best in each category, such as Bright Room Home Entertainment, Most Innovative: Smart Projector and $1000-$2500 Performance 4K Capable Home Theater. Our awards aim to give you a good idea of which projector to choose for your particular needs.

Epson Home Cinema 5050UB (and 5050UBe)

Epson-Home-Cinema-5050UB

The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB (and 5050UBe) replace the popular Home Cinema 5040UB as the under $3,000, 4K capable projector that has the most capabilities, is very bright, and has the best black level performance anywhere near its price. The already-reviewed 5050UB will be competing in our full 2019 comparison report in the $2000-$3500 class. This 3LCD, 1080p pixel shifter boasts 2,600 lumens (it measured well over in its brightest mode) and a host of special features.

One of the features that caught our attention is the addition of the 18 Ghz HDMI port. This allows the projector to handle 4K gaming at 60 fps with HDR, a feature that previous models lack. We are also pretty excited about the quality of HDR, which surpasses that of the 5050UB’s predecessor! The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has excellent color – no surprises there – and it has a motorized lens with lens memory. The Home Cinema 5050UBe is the same projector, but with wireless capabilities.

Optoma UHL55

The Front of the Optoma UHL55 Smart 4K Home Theater Projector

The Optoma UHL55 is an ultra-compact, 4K UHD, DLP projector with an LED light source. At 1,500 lumens, this Optoma is definitely meant for a dedicated home theater or man-cave – unless you’re down for blackout curtains. This $1,599 projector is currently being reviewed, and we expect the review to publish by July. The Optoma UHL55 is a spectacularly smart projector, and could very well take the prize for Most Innovative Smart Projector – we’ll have to wait until the report publishes in August to know for sure!

What makes this projector particularly smart is its compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. Using Alexa, you can turn the projector on and off, adjust volume, pause your content, switch inputs and toggle through color modes, and play content via the USB Media Player. Art has both Alexa and the Google Assistant, so we can expect some insight as to the benefits of each in his full-length review!

Its 8-watt stereo speakers feature Dolby Digital Decoder for compression, and the UHL has Bluetooth compatibility if you want to sync to an external sound system. It also tackles the BT.2020/P3 color space, has four HDR10 modes, and a host of processing technologies that make this projector quite feature-laden, such as Dynamic Black, UltraDetail, PureColor and PureMotion (CFI – great for sports viewing).

BenQ HT3550

HT3550

The BenQ HT3550 is a 4K UHD, DLP projector with 2,000 lumens. This $1,500 projector has a lamp life of up to 15,000 hours, and features a 6-segment RGBRGB color wheel. BenQ projectors are known for having some pretty great color, right out of the box, and we expected no less from the HT3550. In Art’s full review of the BenQ HT3550, his thoughts on this projector’s color were, “a hardcore enthusiast looking for near perfect color will calibrate, but most users will be more than satisfied with the default color settings on Cinema and D. Cinema mode. Well done BenQ!”

The BenQ HT3550 has “better black levels” than previous models, and many other 4K UHD projectors at this price point. We always talk about how these lower-end 4K capable projectors – the sub-$2,000 DLPs – generally have merely “entry level” black level performance. The HT3550 has a Dynamic Iris, which helps with black levels considerably, and we consider this to be a significant feature for this BenQ!

Art says, “if you can’t spend a good bit more for the 5050UB at twice the price, this seems to be the next best thing for an enthusiast in a good room, and at a significantly lower price point. You might want to set your sights on one of these, rather than a competing 4K UHD DLP, with inferior black level performance.” That’s high praise, coming from Art! In addition to the Dynamic Iris, this projector tackles the BT.2020/P3 color space, and a USB Media Player, which adds a home entertainment feature to this otherwise home theater-esque projector.

Epson Home Cinema 4010 and Pro Cinema 4050

Epson-Home-Cinema-4010-and-Pro-Cinema-4050

Announced earlier this year, the Epson Home Cinema 4010 and Epson Pro Cinema 4050 will both be contenders in this year’s report. Though both lack that 18 Ghz HDMI for 4K gaming with HDR, they are priced significantly less than the HC5050UB (which does do 4K gaming), and as such, will be competitive in the lower price range of the report. The Home Cinema 4010 is a $1,999 3LCD projector with Epson’s new 4K PRO-UHD chip. The Pro Cinema 4050 has the same chip, and is priced at $2,399.

Both projectors boast 2,400 lumens, which is plenty for a dedicated home theater, and can even be used in a living room or media room with blackout curtains. The 4010 and the 4050 have HDR, and tackle the expanded BT.2020/P3 color space. Another great feature of these projectors is the addition of lens shift, which is generous (+96 Vertical, +47 Horizontal). The Epson Home Cinema 4010 and Epson Pro Cinema 4050 will be included in the $2000-$3500 range in this year’s report.

Optoma HD27HDR

Optoma-HD27HDR

The Optoma HD27HDR is a straight, non-pixel shifting, 1080p projector. We have not yet reviewed this projector, but plan to before the report publishes in August. This is a $1,099 model, but can be found for $600 online. So what makes this projector one we are excited to include in the report? It may be 1080p, but it can accept 4K content and deliver HDR! That’s a unique feature, as most non-pixel shifting 1080p projectors can only accept content up to 1080p, and forget about HDR.

Speaking of HDR, most projectors lose up to half their brightness when projecting content in HDR. For some projectors, this can make HDR totally unwatchable during the day. I don’t expect that to be an issue with the Optoma HD27HDR, however. This projector has a brightness claim of up to 3,400 lumens! Though that claim is for its brightest mode, which will undoubtedly have the least desirable color of the modes, its other color modes will likely have enough power to use HDR during the day.

Another exciting feature of the HD27HDR is that it is a gaming projector! Optoma is known for their low input lag on projectors, which is the time between when the gaming system sends out its signal, to the time it is received by the projector, and is measured in milliseconds. The HD27HDR has an input lag of 16ms! That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to projectors. Even more impressive, the projector can accept 4K game content in HDR. That’s a feature many 4K UHD projectors lack!

BenQ HT5550

BenQ-HT5550

The BenQ HT5550 is a 4K UHD projector with 1,800 lumens, and is intended for a dedicated home theater environment. This DLP has a lamp life of up to 10,000 hours in its ECO modes. It is currently being reviewed by Art, which he intends to publish later this month. As mentioned in the section about the BenQ HT3550, BenQ tends to have great out of the box color. I fully expect BenQ to maintain that standard of excellence with the HT5550, which is a higher end model.

This BenQ features a Dynamic Iris, which aids in black level performance. This is something Art urges every home theater projector manufacturer to incorporate, but not all listen (go figure). When they do include it on home theater projectors, we are thrilled, because it makes the projector’s handling of dark scenes much better than those that do not have this feature.

The HT5550 tackles the expanded BT.2020/P3 color space, delivering deeper, richer colors on projected content. That means your movies, TV shows, video games, and other content will look much higher quality than if they were being projected in the regular REC709 color space that we’ve experienced since the days of DVD. Add HDR to that mix, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good-looking home theater projector. We’ll have to wait for Art’s review to publish to get the full scoop!

ViewSonic LS700-4K

ViewSonic-LS700-4K

The ViewSonic LS700-4K is a 4K UHD, 3,300 lumen projector with a laser light engine. We haven’t reviewed this projector yet – it just launched in February of this year – but hope to get it in for review before our 2019 Best Home Theater Projector Report publishes in August. With a $3,499 list price, it just barely stays within our Best in Class: $2,000-$3,500 category. If we get to review it in time for the report, this ViewSonic will be competing with Epson’s Home Cinema 5050UB – it will be interesting to see which awards these projectors take (if any – nothing is set in stone).

The LS700-4K has 360-degree projection, which gives a lot of placement flexibility for installation, as well as a 1.30:1 zoom lens. The projector features easy streaming from content popular content services such as Netflix, thanks to an integrated Smart TV interface. For those who still love 3D in their home theater, this ViewSonic is compatible with 3D BluRay players! The projector does have an HDCP 2.2 HDMI port, but I am not seeing any literature on whether the projector can handle 4K games. Here’s hoping!

Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB

Epson-Pro-Cinema-6050UB

Like the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has its own Pro Cinema counterpart: the Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB. This projector is just shipping, and has some differences from the HC5050UB, just as the PC6040UB had differences from the HC5040UB. Epson is calling the 6050UB their “most advanced 4K home theater experience to date.” This 3LCD projector features 2,600 color and white lumens, Epson’s new PRO-UHD chip, and their enhanced pixel shifting technology – an upgrade from the previous UBs. The projector tackles the expanded BT.2020/P3 color space, has HDR, and undoubtedly a stellar image, based on what we’ve seen from the Home Cinema 5050UB.

So what makes it different than the HC5050UB? The Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB has the best quality-controlled lens, comes in black instead of white (better for dedicated home theaters), and has a longer warranty and replacement program than the HC5050UB. While you can get the Home Cinema 5050UB online, the Pro Cinema 6050UB is only sold by Epson’s list of authorized local CEDIA dealers and integrators.

The Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB also comes with some bundled extras that the HC5050UB does not have. Those are: a spare lamp, a ceiling mount, and a cable cover. What else does it have? The $3,999 Pro Cinema 6050UB has a motorized lens with powered zoom, focus, lens shift, and lens memory for widescreen usage. It has two ways to do HDR and color: “Best” is Digital Cinema Mode for 4K HDR and P3 color, and “Brightest,” which are Cinema or Natural Mode for 4K HDR with REC709 color. The Pro Cinema 6050UB also has an 18 Ghz HDMI port for 4K gaming, like the HC5050UB, and low input lag, making it great for hardcore gamers.

The Best Home Theater Projectors Report

These are some of the projectors you can expect to see included in this year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report, which is set to publish in August 2019. We tend to include some of the previous year’s models that are still shipping in the report as well, but you’ll have to wait and see what those might be! We’ve got to have at least a little element of surprise for you! If you’re curious as to what the report will be like, check out the 2018 Best Home Theater Projectors Report. It’s bound to get your gears turning about the next addition to your personal projector collection.

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