Projector Reviews

BenQ HT3550- The 4K UHD Home Theater Projector- Hardware 1

BenQ HT3550- The 4K Home Theater Projector – Hardware: Hardware Tour, The Lens, Lens Shift, Control Panel, Inputs & Connectors.

Hardware Tour

Let’s take a close look at the physical layout, hardware connections and more.  As is traditional let’s start in the front where the most obvious feature is the 1.3:1 manual zoom lens.  

Also found on the front, is the front Infra-red sensor for the backlit remote control. On the bottom are two screw thread adjustable front feet.  Two more are found in the back.  The bottom of the projector has the usual universal mounting screws that most projector mounts are designed to work with.

The top of the BenQ HT3550 has both the control panel, and a small sliding door behind the lens.  Sliding the door reveals the focus and zoom controls of the lens, and also a smaller dial which is for the modest amount of vertical lens shift.  Nice to see the lens shift back on this projector.  Even this small amount can really simplify and improve the setup.

The control panel is a fairly standard affair with an extra button (and function) or two!

All of the inputs, outputs and other connectors are located on the back.

The Lens

BemQ TK850 vs HT3550
HT3550. and TK850 -- Choose this HT3550 for home theater, the TK850 for home entertainment. The 1.3:1 zoom lens is recessed.

The lens is a short throw variety, not dramatically different than most other projectors, but it can be mounted – or placed on a table, etc., two to three feet closer to a 100” screen than most projectors.  Officially, it can be as close as 82” from that sized screen.  Few regular throw projectors can get closer than 10 feet and a few inches.   The zoom range is 1.3:1 pretty typical for most smaller DLP projectors for home (some have less, few offer more). Other tech like 3LCD and LCoS often have 2:1 zoom lenses, but are physically larger projectors.

When it comes to better QC and design, I commend BenQ, for designing things so that if you adjust the zoom size, the focus holds.  While that is common in most more expensive home theater (and business/education) projectors, many of the lower cost DLPs aren’t so well done.  Adjust the zoom and they go out of focus. Problem is not refocusing it, but that the refocusing itself causes a small shift in the size of the image.  

Getting the image to just perfectly fill the screen, can end up being a series of zoom then focus and repeat…  Not a big deal, but I would at least say, it’s a sign of quality not found in many competitors.  For those of you who only take out and set up a projector when you want to use it, it sure is nice to quickly focus/zoom set up the HT3550, rather than screwing around with a zoom control that knocks the projector out of focus.

Lens Throw Chart

Throw Chart for HT3550 – 100” diagonal 16:9 Screen
Measured from front of lens to screen

Closest Distance

82”

Furthest Distance

129”

Lens Shift

lens controls
Set just above the lens, a sliding door hides lens zoom, focus and shift controls.

Although the vertical lens shift is modest – it sure beats not having any, whether you are ceiling mounting or placing the HT3550 on a table top.  Lens shift allows you to easily keep the image properly rectangular.  Keystone correction also does that, but it is “destructive” to the image, reducing sharpness!  

If placed on a table top, the projector (as measured from the middle of the lens), when using a 100” diagonal 16:9 screen) can be placed anywhere from 5 inches below the bottom of the screen surface, to flush with the bottom of that same screen. (If a screen is  20% larger – i.e. 120” diagonal, then the shift range logically also increases by 20%, so 6 inches instead of 5.

If ceiling mounted, the numbers are similar – the center of the lens can be up to 5 inches above the screen surface top, or down as far as even with the screen surface top.

As I said, that’s not much shift. (Many lens shift projectors on the same size screen can shift 25 to 50 inches)!

The lens shift control as noted earlier – hides in the compartment with sliding door that houses the focus and zoom rings for the lens.

Control Panel

control panel

The HT3550 Control Panel is located on the top near the back, straight back from the door for the lens controls.  There’s nothing particularly special about this control panel.  Consider:

There’s the usual power button – press once to power on, press twice to power down – located furthest to the right.  A small LED light indicating power status is just above it.  There are two more indicator lights as you move to the right from the Power light, labeled  Temperature, and Lamp.

Directly to the right of the Power button is the navigation area, consisting of the four arrow keys in a round formation.  The enter button (labeled “OK”) is found in the middle.  All the arrows take on other jobs when you aren’t in the menu system. The up and down arrows let you adjust keystone correction (best to avoid – use lens shift if possible), while the left and right arrows control volume down and up, respectively.

That leaves only the three buttons at the bottom. The middle button is the Menu button, while the one to the right of Menu, is the Back button which takes you back up one level in the menu system when pressed.  

Since there is only one more button – to the right of the Menu button – it naturally is the Source button, to select between the various sources you have connected to the HT3550.  The projector does have an Auto-Source option which will automatically go to the active live source it finds.

No surprises, just a good, solid control panel.

Inputs and Connectors

inputs and connectors

This BenQ HT3550 has a pretty standard set of inputs and connectors including a pair of HDMIs, both being HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2. copy projection.  There are three USBs, including one USB 3.0  One is the usual service port which can be used to install updated firmware.  One is for PC free presentations and more, using the built in media player – which is pretty basic (discussed on Special Features page) capable as it supports various movie (mostly MPEG, and motion JPEG), audio, and still images (JPEGs, BMP and PNG)  but lacks support for Microsoft Office documents.

Interestingly, are no typical stereo mini audio inputs.  But audio can come into the projector (and then output to the internal speakers or to the stereo audio output).  In addition, both HDMI inputs carry audio, as well as audio coming through the media player.  All of those can be sent to the speakers or the audio output.

Having a 12 volt trigger for a motorized screen (or other uses), gives those of you looking for a motorized screen the ability to have the screen lower or go up automatically, when the
BenQ HT3550 is powered up.  Shut off the projector and a properly equipped screen will roll up automatically.  No muss, no fuss!

  • HDMI-1 (HDMI 2.0 & HDCP 2.2)
  • HDMI-2 (HDMI 2.0 & HDCP 2.2)
  • USB Type A (5V/2.5A power)
  • USB Type A (Media Reader, FW download)
  • USB Type mini B (FW download/ Service)
  • Audio Out (mini jack)
  • Audio Out (S/PDIF) Optical digital audio output – Toslink
  • RS232 In (D-sub 9pin, male)
  • DC 12V Trigger (3.5mm Jack)
  • Kensington anti-theft lock slot
  • IR Receiver (Front + Top)