Projector Reviews

BenQ HT3050 Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality 2

BENQ HT3050 PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:   HDTV and Sports Viewing, Shadow Detail, Overall Picture Quality

Sports and General HDTV Viewing with the HT3050 Projector

The HT3050 is a solid projector for general HDTV viewing, and sports.  Of course keep in mind that its still a relatively inexpensive projector.

For sports viewing it’s missing one capability that many people really like – CFI – that is “smooth motion.”  Myself when available on a projector I basically only use CFI on sports.  That said, many people have CFI defaulted to on on their LCD TVs so see it on all programming.  I’ve already addressed CFI (lack of it) on the Special Features page, here I’ll talk about that specifically relating to HDTV and especially sports.

I’ve always felt that is was silly that lower cost – especially home entertainment projectors tend to lack CFI.  I figure that higher end projectors are purchased by “movie first” or “movie only” buyers, (where CFI is considered undesirable by most enthusiasts).  Thus, sports and general programming tends to be more important in this price range.

Although people watch movies all the time off of cable/satellite, I really am focused here on non movie viewing so that things like black level performance is less important.

Trying to find CFI on a sub-$1000 projector isn’t easy.  The HT3050’s biggest competition in that range includes the Epson HC2040/2045, which is one that does have CFI.  Other entries such as those from Optoma, LG, and Viewsonic do not have it.

Dark Shadow Detail

As was the case with the more expensive HT4050, all you need is a minor adjustment to Brightness (per Mike change Brightness from it’s default 50 setting to 48).  That will give you the the blackest blacks the HT3050 is capable of, without crushing dark shadow detail (REC 709 mode).

Turns out the HT3050 is especially good at dark shadow detail.  The image I look at most closely in my viewing is the first one in this player – Katniss and Rue from The Hunger Games, sleeping in the woods.  The image is intentionally overexposed to make it easy to see how much detail is there.

Right below it are two competitors images 2nd is the Optoma HD37 (same list price) and the Epson HC2040.  The Optoma is definitely loosing a some dark shadow detail (despite being slightly more overexposed than the other two).  (It also looks more contrasty.  The Epson has the most detail despite being the least overexposed, but only slightly better than the BenQ.  But, as you can see, it’s black levels aren’t as good, as as we’ve said forever, it’s easier to spot dark shadow detail on projectors with the lightest “blacks.”  The BenQ definitely has a bit more pop than the Epson, without being to contrasty.

Bottom line:  Dark Shadow detail on the HT3050 is really very good, but not the absolute best at it’s price point. No complaints!

Overall Picture Quality

The HT3050 has to be considered one of the very best projectors under $1000  when it comes to overall Picture Quality.  With minor tweaking the color goes from really good to excellent.  The black levels are typical for the price range but dark shadow detail is better than most.  The image has good pop, without being overly contrasty.

CFI would have made the HT3050 even more competitive.  Even without that, it is very much like the old, and finally going away, the BenQ W1070,  which I considered the most home theater-like low cost projector (it won one of our “coveted” Best In Class awards in its price range).  Overall, that’s because it suffers no significant flaws compared to the competition, and its picture is rather natural looking.

Bottom line:  When it comes to under $1000 projectors, this is a top contender.