Projector Reviews

BenQ HT3050 Home Theater Projector Review – Summary

BENQ HT3050 PROJECTOR SUMMARY:  General Capabilities / Features, Picture Quality, Brightness

BenQ’s HT3050 is the logical successor to BenQ’s aging W1070, and the HT1075 (that “replaced it” even if the W1070 didn’t go away in the US). Being new, it resets the price point to $999, whereas while you can find the others, they will be a bit less.

What I liked about the W1070, that carries through to the HT3050 today, is that it is not only a respectable home entertainment projector for the price, (although there are far brighter ones out today for dealing with a larger amounts of ambient light), but it pretty much makes a very nice, purely entry level home theater projector.  That is, one designed for a fully darkened room.   But it’s more than just working in the dark, it’s presenting a well balanced picture…

 

HT3050_beauty
BenQ HT3050: Very good picture, recessed 1.3:1 zoom, some lens shift and very good sound.

 

That the HT3050 has some vertical lens shift is a plus.  For those ceiling mounting this projector – those are going to be mostly folks with a single viewing room.  The lens shift can help with positioning without degrading the picture at all.  Few under $1000 projectors offer any lens shift.

The 1.3:1 zoom provides good front to back placement flexility, although not the most, but more than the average sub $1000 projector.

Audible noise are a bit on the loud side, fairly typical for the price, so go with eco mode which isn’t bad, if you are particularly noise adverse. When I say on the loud side, I’m talking a step or two up from more expensive home theater projectors.  I can hardly think of any current projectors near the price that are significantly quieter.

If you are going to feed the HT3050 more mobile sources than the traditional Satellite/Cable box, Blu-ray and DVD players, you’ll appreciate that one of the HDMI ports supports MHL, so, as I did, you can just plug in a streaming stick like the Roku one I use, dial up Netflix or whatever other channels you like.  It will also help with interfacing to some smartphones and tablets.  I don’t believe you need MHL to support Apple TV which will work as well.

Gaming was one area slightly disappointing.  Input lag times are longer than serious players hope for, and definitely not up to the fasted DLP projectors in that regard.  I was a bit surprised it wasn’t quicker. Still, it the HT3050 offers acceptable input lag times for the vast majority of us.

Overall, the projector is medium small in size, reasonably clean looking, can be used table top, or ceiling mounted.  It’s got sound – a pair of 10 watt speakers, and that means this projector can produce some pretty impressive sound levels for your favorite action flick or sporting event. As you would expect, though, no earth shattering bass.  Still I have to give the HT3050 high marks for outdoing pretty much all the home entertainment competition for built in sound.  (The presumption is, if you are serious enough to be a home theater enthusiast, watching your movies in a really dark room, then you are going to also have at least a pretty respectable stereo, or more likely, surround sound system.  That’s why speakers show up in “home entertainment” projectors, but not in “serious” home theater projectors.

Warranty is one year parts and labor.  No replacement or loaner program.  That’s a minimal warranty, although there are others similar. There are also projectors with two year warranties and a rapid replacement program, and even a  three year warranty or two.

3D uses DLP Link, and works as expected. Brightness is the Achilles heel of 3D viewing, but the HT3050 is adequately bright in 3D on typical 100″ screens or even a size larger.  That’s one area where the high brightness home entertainment projectors have a big advantage, with the ability to get 3000 or even 4000 lumens these days, that makes for reasonably bright 3D. No crosstalk, so you do get a nice clean image.

That it’s using DLP link means it’s pulling the sync from info embedded into the picture.  Turn your head too far off angle and your DLP-Link glasses  can briefly loose the 3D, but that’s been the case since DLP projectors first got 3D.  The more expensive HT4050, BTW, can accept an optional RF 3D emitter which solves that minor issue and has other benefits.

HT3050 Picture Quality - Summary

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Color right out of the box is really very good, if just a touch warm, and a slight tendency to show a bit too much yellow in skin tones.  Minor tweaking can improve further.  This projector is in a price range where calibrating it is unlikely except for those hard core enthusiasts with their own calibration gear and knowledge.

 

I favor the more natural looking REC 709 mode over Vivid, which seems to be about the same, except for Brilliant Color is off on REC 709, but On for Vivid.  Vivid provides more punch to the picture, technically “over the top” but just what’s called for when viewing with more than an insignificant amount of ambient light. Bright Mode is the brightest, but has the least desirable color.  Save if for when you need every last lumen.

Black levels are still very entry level.  With Smart Eco engaged you can argue that lamp dimming is acting like a dynamic iris, but the amount is slight and slow compared to a dynamic iris.  The amount of change is slight enough that it’s extremely hard to spot, even when looking for it. Even on flashing credits, it can be tough to notice.  As a result, which the HT3050 can beat the lower cost 3LCD projectors out there, it has no advantage in terms of black levels against other DLP projectors.  Shadow detail turns out to be very good, but you can definitely find better at the price.

If you are one of the rainbow sensitive, relative few, as I am, then the color wheel could be faster. Working in the US it’s a 4X wheel, while in the EU and other places with 50z electric, it runs at 6X.  The 4X wheel is still faster than the color wheels on most DLP projectors around the price, making it one of the better choices for the rainbow sensitive around $1000.  (Of course, 3LCD projectors do not create Rainbows so that’s the safest rout for those concerned.

Still the overall net on the HT3050 picture is that its well balanced, tends to look good on almost everything.  I call it entry level HT, because it really doesn’t shine at anything, but, perhaps more importantly, there’s nothing to distract you from being immersed in what you are watching – in other words, the HT3050 is well behaved when it comes to its picture, not overly contrasty, etc.

Brightness

The HT3050 is definitely brighter than its predecessors, beefing up its ability to tackle ambient light. Even in “Best” mode, the HT3050 puts out more than 1500 white lumens at mid-zoom. “Brightest” mode with good color at wide angle touches 2400 lumens.  In Eco mode running REC 709, you have about 900 lumens, which isn’t too bright for fully darkened room viewing.  There’s barely a 10% brightness difference between wide angle and telephoto on that 1.3:1 zoom lens.

Bottom line on brightness:  The HT3050 can easily handle 150″ screens, and 100″+ in 3D, in darkened rooms.  Paired with the right screen almost 2200 lumens with very good color can tackle quite a bit of ambient light, although there are now projectors twice a bright out there.