Projector Reviews

BenQ HT2550 Low Cost 4K UHD Projector Review – Summary

BenQ HT2550 Low Cost 4K UHD Projector Review – Summary: Summary, Last Comments Re: 4K HDR, The Competition, Pros, Cons

Summary

Subjectively, I really like BenQ’s HT2550. It’s got a lot going for it. After much viewing, I consider the HT2550 to be a great little home entertainment projector with the spirit of a home theater projector. Truth is, it’s in part, both.

Consider: At the moment, it’s the lowest cost 4K UHD DLP projector shipping, or at least, was, when I started this review (several others will no doubt ship shortly if not already – we’re expecting the Optoma UHD50 for example, to arrive shortly, and an Acer whose model I just can’t think of, off the top of my head).

If you’ve read any of this review, besides this Summary page, you know that this BenQ is the first to use the lower native resolution (1920x1080x4) of the two 4K UHD DLP chips out there. That simply means, under ideal circumstances that chip can’t produce as sharp an image as the higher resolution chip that started shipping early last year. Both, however, under ideal circumstances, will come up short of a true native 4K projector, and also will exceed the perceived sharpness of the JVC and Epson pixel shifters, which have the same size pixels but only shift x2.

Keep in mind, at these price points, though – let’s say “under $5K” – there are plenty of compromises in all the projectors. Most important, for example, to take full advantage of any of these resolutions, be the projectors DLP, 3LCD, or LCoS, requires some really good optics.


Getting back to my point, I find many of the low cost home entertainment projectors, have less accurate color out of the box, often lack some features (but almost always have a speaker or two built in, something not found on serious home theater projectors), and have mediocre black level performance that dramatically reduce the picture quality of very dark scenes in movies, etc.

With all that said, here’s how the BenQ fits in:

First, for “right out of the box” they have a couple of modes that have color that looks really good and well balanced, even when they are not highly accurate. That’s more than some of the competition can claim. Epsons come to particular mind when looking for such color modes, but, Epson’s least expensive projector that can accept 4K content and HDR, is $500 more list price – their Home Cinema HC4000, which I consider to be more “entry level” home theater, than fully featured (and not entry level) home entertainment.

But I digress. Okay, not only very good color to start, but all the calibration controls work rather well, so any competent calibrator should be able to produce excellent results.

The projector is 2,200 lumens claimed, although it comes up a bit more than 10% short of that (not unusual). More noteworthy is that even fully calibrated, it delivers just over 850 lumens at mid-zoom. Eric did a “brightest” calibration (“quick-cal”) of Vivid, which measured in at 1,400 lumens, very respectable, and capable of handling modest ambient light on sports and typical HDTV viewing.

Considering that the HT2550 looked particularly good for a projector in the mode we choose for “brightest,” you have a very useful mode when you need more brightness, without really significant compromise. We almost never use the actual brightest mode, because those usually start with color best described as ugly, or perhaps “heavily shifted to greens and yellows.”

What do I wish for? Primarily two things. No – primarily one – better black levels, but I’ve never reviewed a sub-$2,000 list price projector yet, where that isn’t at the top of my short list of desired improvements.

The other item, in this case, is CFI – a.k.a. “smooth motion” or creative frame interpolation, which I like for sports – can tolerate in most cases on regular HDTV, and never use on movies. One exception – Sony’s lowest level of CFI, is barely detectable on movies. I’ve watched some with it turned on, without noticing. I can’t say that for anyone else’s. Still, CFI would be nice, especially since a lot of home entertainment projector buyers are sports and HDTV first, and movies second in importance.

Last Comments Re: 4K HDR

Coming in a couple of days.  -art

The Competition

Competitive content to be added in a couple of days. For now, here’s the order of these comparison images from Passengers 4K with HDR, and Victoria Secret show (1080i)  in the photo player:

From the left (1st):  Passengers 4K HDR

HT2550, Optoma UHD60, UHD60 vs HT2550 (Optoma on bottom), UHD60 vs Vivitek HK2288 (Optoma on bottom), Epson LS100 (1080p laser), BenQ HT9050 (their high end PJ), Epson HC4000, Epson HC5040 vs Acer V7850 (thus 8 projectors in all).

Victoria Secret – 1080i (obviously no HDR)

HT2550, Vivitek HK2288, Opotma UHD60, Epson LS100, Optoma UHD65, Sony VW285ES ($5K, true 4K), BenQ HT9050, Epson PC4040, HC3700

Of all the projector images  shown, in this player, all are 4K capable projectors of varying native resolutions, with the exception of the Epson LS100 (to include a laser projector), and the Epson HC3700, (costs less than the BenQ), both of which are 1080p and do not support 4K, so are showing 1080p content.

Where we are showing stacked images, for comparison, the HT2550 is on the top as is the HK2288, both compared to the UHD60.  In the last comparison from Passengers, the Acer V7850 is on the bottom, Epson HC5040UB on the top (the Epson shows you what great black levels should look like.)   -art

Pros

4K UHD resolution of 1920x1080x4 with pixel shifting

4K content capable

Supports HDR for expanded dynamic range – more “pop”!

Picture quality right out of the box, better than most

Fastest color wheel – means virtually no RBE – rainbow effect for most of those who are sensitive

RGBRGB color wheel for the best color

4000 hours lamp life at full power, and 8000 in Eco is a bit better than most

5 watt speaker provides “decent” sound quality when no AV audio system available

Can double as a high resolution business/education projector (although not all that bright)

Conveniently small and light – suitable for back yard movie parties, vacation, work

Excellent remote control – in terms of layout, range and backlight – the Trifecta of remotes

MHL on one HDMI – for mobile devices

Support for, and very good 3D

Reasonably fast input lag for gaming – acceptable to most (48ms)

Full color controls, calibrates easily – also ISF Certification w/ ISF modes

Considering Price, and Value, my favorite 4K UHD projector so far

Makes an excellent first home theater projector with 4K capabilities

3 year parts and labor warranty – better than most

Although missing some features, no significant flaws

Cons

Could definitely be brighter for handling HDR (like most projectors)

Only offers basic placement flexibility, with 1.2:1 zoom and no lens shift

No CFI for smooth motion on sports and other HDTV

Of course the small 5 watt speaker is no substitute for a real sound system

And, 5 watt speaker is side facing, instead of front or back

Gaming – Input lag of 48ms is acceptable, but most gamers prefer 33ms of less

No support for P3/BT.2020 color space for 4K (projector claims 96% of REC709 the lower existing standard for color space

Could be quieter in terms of fan noise at full power and has a sort of hum as part of it.  (That said, it’s typical of this class of projectors.

No onboard media player to allow PC free – plugging in a USB or card for photo shows, and more

Has audio out, but Bluetooth audio out would be a nice addition a few projectors are now offering

The HT2550 is basically another stupid projector.  Today’s projector manufacturers need to make these projectors smart, like today’s LCD TVs.  We see smarts on some pocket projectors like LGs, but not on mainstream home projectors.  This is a shout out to the whole industry, it sure isn’t just BenQ!