Projector Reviews

BenQ HT4050 Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ HT4050 is the highest quality of three new DLP based home theater / home entertainment projectors.  How improved over their W1070, HT1075 you may be asking? Is this a serious home theater projector, or “just” another home entertainment projector?  Find out here.

In addition to the HT4050, which is the most feature laden, there are two other new models, the HT3050, and the HT2050.  The HT4050 and the HT3050 tout REC 709 color – while the 2050 info talks about great color.  REC 709 is the modern standard for HDTV, etc.  Of course there’s a difference between having a REC 709 mode, and it actually measuring color that precisely meets that claim. We, of course, have calibrated the HT4050, and will report on how close the HT4050 comes to hitting the target on the money.  The HT3050 is pretty similar for less money, but is missing a couple of key features.  You’ll have to make that call.  We received an HT3050 for review as well, and I’m told by BenQ, that the same calibration settings should work for both, or rather be close enough to not matter.

Similarly, a number of projectors are THX certified, which normally implies a REC 709 accuracy, but our experience is that many projectors with THX modes are merely close, and sometimes not all that close.  Let’s just say, for now, that the BenQ HT4050 starts out with especially good, accurate color, yet can still benefit slightly from further calibrating the REC 709 mode, more accurate color.  No surprise there!

BenQ HT4050 Projector Overview

On the home projector side, BenQ was a relatively early pioneer of high quality DLP projectors back in the day (around 2005-2007) when 720p resolution dominated, and we were buying our first PS3’s and other Blu-ray players.  Since then, BenQ has perhaps, better than any other company, established their reputation for quality entry level home theater / home entertainment projectors around the $1000 price point here in the US.  Over four years ago, BenQ introduced their W1070 one of my all time favorite low cost projectors.  BenQ knows a good thing when they have one, which translates into that the W1070 was so well received, that although BenQ has offered newer projectors (including the HT1075) which could be considered “newer, replacements” they key the W1070 in the lineup because it still sells well based on its reputation.

While there are similarities, the BenQ HT4050 pushes the envelop a good bit, compared to the W1070 and HT1075.  Most notably it does that by adding CFI, aka “smooth motion” a feature that’s great for sports, is “ok” (my personal take) for some normal HDTV, and is not a feature I recommend for movie viewing, because it creates that “soap opera” affect, which means it inherently changes the feel of the movie, that is, it corrupts “the director’s intent.”

The HT4050 is bright enough to be considered a good home entertainment projector – able to play where there is some ambient light, but it’s not particularly bright claiming 2000 lumens, a bit low for today’s home entertainment projectors.  On the other hand, with 2000 lumens it’s got enough to do a respectable, but not bright job on a typical 100″ diagonal screen for 3D viewing.  More on that elsewhere in this review.  Speaking of brightness, BenQ is pushing the max lumens they can out of this projector lamp.  I say that because at full power, BenQ only rates the lamp 2000 hours, which is lower than almost any of the competition.  Some claim 4000 or even 5000 hours at full power.

As part of being a home entertainment projector, as expected the HT4050 has a built in speaker – a fairly hefty 10 watt one.  Ok, it’s no Home Theater surround sound system, but it will give you some decent sound, at a reasonably loud level for those action flicks.  Still, get yourself a sound system if you want the whole experience.

Overall, I’ve logged more than 60 hours to date on the HT4050, and will continue to watch it in action as I write up this full review over the next few days.  Overall, the experience was very pleasing.  There’s lots to like about the HT4050, but let’s say that in some ways, for the $1399 price, I was “hoping for more.”  Perhaps what I really was hoping to find was a true replacement for the aging, and $1000 more expensive BenQ W7500.  Alas, it didn’t turn out as hoped.

OK, let’s generate a list of some of the highlights, and then it will be time to turn to our Special Features pages, to see discuss some of the interesting strengths (or even weaknesses).

BenQ HT4050 Highlights

The short list:

  • 2000 lumens
  • Both vertical, and horizontal lens shift
  • 1.6:1 zoom lens
  • 2 HDMI inputs (1.4a) one with MHL for streaming
  • Fast color wheel (4X at 60hz – US, 6X at 50hz (EU)
  • Lamp dimming used for black level improvement
  • 10,000:1 contrast ratio for black level performance
  • CFI for smooth motion
  • Brilliant Color and Color Enhancement controls
  • 3D (supports RF glasses)
  • ISF Certified

In the following pages we’ll consider all of these, and a lot more, with sections on the hardware and menus, picture quality, performance, and a summary that also considers the value proposition compared to the competition, including other BenQ models.