Projector Reviews

BenQ HT3050 Projector Review – Picture Quality

BENQ HT3050 PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the box picture, Skin tones, Black Levels

HT3050 Out of the Box Picture Quality

The HT3050’s best mode is its REC 709 mode.  REC 709 is the color standard for HDTV.  It looks really good, although the HT3050’s big brother, the HT4050, was a touch better.  The overall color temp of the 4050 was closer to the 6500K target, while the HT3050 was just a touch warm – a little too much red compared to blue in the bright ranges.

Having impressively good looking color, overall, without adjustment, makes the HT3050’s ‘s out of the box color to be one of the better ones in the under $1000 price range.

We found best picture is the REC 709 mode, with Brilliant Color turned off.  If you prefer Brilliant Color on, color is still very similar, more pop, more sizzle, but definitely a bit less natural. In exchanget you do get about an extra 500 lumens! The very brightest mode; Bright, only serves up an extra 250 lumens but doesn’t look near as good.  An attempt to improve on Bright’s color performance proved futile, as brightness dropped below Vivid without looking quite as good as Vivid.  There’s a big color temp difference between the two modes.

Default for the REC 709 mode has Brilliant Color off.  Vivid mode is very similar to REC 709 but Brilliant Color defaults to On, instead of Off.

HT3050 Handling Skin Tones

Skin tones considering no adjustments, are really pretty good.  In the under $1000 price range it joins only a handful of projectors that can claim that.  (The  BenQ HT3050’s predecessors, and Epson’s HT2040/2045 come to mind as other examples).

The images above give you a good idea of what to expect from the  HT3050 projector, given that the images on our site never look as good as the actual projected images I’m photographing.  

If I had to pick out one thing less than ideal, it’s that on some skin tones  there appears to be a bit too much yellow. That was the case when viewing the projector, and you can spot it on some of the images.  That said, it’s not obvious, only noticeable on certain scenes.

HT3050 Black Level Performance

The images in this player are primarily at normal exposures, which really doesn’t give indication for any projector of how gray blacks will look when you are viewing a projector on a dark scene.  Toward the end, however, we have the usual Casino Royale night train scene.  Following the first one – the HT4050 comes the low cost Epson HC2040 (that one is unlabeled).  The rest of the train images tell you which projector they are from.  As you can see, of this group, only the over $2000 Epson 5030UB/6030UB, and the Optoma HD161X offer dramatically extra pop and massively darker blacks while having brighter bright areas.  (You can also see that the Optoma HD161X does appear a bit too contrasty.)

Then comes the HT3050 (grayscale again) showing Katniss and Rue sleeping at night.  The last two are the starship from The Fifth Element, the HT3050 first, HT4050 second.  They are very similar with just a slight advantage to the HT4050.

So, with all of that in mind, how good are the blacks?  Simply stated, despite higher contrast claims compared to competing DLP projector, the HT3050’s black level performance is definitely “entry level.”

Compared to the even lower cost Epson HC2040 and HC2045, which would have to be considered the biggest competition (based on sales), the HC2040 cannot do as well in terms of black level performance.  That’s not surprising, as DLP projectors have naturally higher native contrast in general.  Two other major competitors (both also reviewed); the less expensive Viewsonic PJD-7822HDL and the Optoma HD37 offer up black level performance roughly comparable.  Both are also DLP projectors.

Although the Epson UB projectors ($1999+ including the 5025UB) easily best all of these others in black level performance, their dynamic iris, while not always invisible, is one of the best around.  Oh, you can spot it on credits fading in and out, rather easily, but compared to that Optoma, definitely superior.  Still neither the HD50 nor the Epson UB projectors, are direct competitors due to price.  Sony’s HW40ES – another $2000ish projector also offers a significant step up in handling those very dark scenes.

Bottom Line is that in this case, you are getting what you paid for.  Entry level home theater quality black levels.  If you aspire to having black level performance typical of “serious” home theater projectors, you simply need to spend more.

That’s pretty much sums it up.