Projector Reviews

BenQ HT5550 Projector Review – Hardware 2

BenQ HT5550 Projector Hardware 2:  Inputs and Connectors, Remote Control, Menus

Inputs and Connectors

The control panel is located on the back, a convenient location when installing a projector.
The control panel is located on the back, a convenient location when installing a projector.

All of your cables, etc. will get plugged into the back input panel of the projector. It is located to the right of the Control panel. The HT5550 is rather well equipped. Let’s tour the back, starting (as usual) on the left side.

The first thing you’ll see is a feature found mostly on more expensive home projectors – That is few projectors much under $2000 that are geared for home theater, have wired networking. The first jack here, though is a typical ethernet LAN connector!

Next is a very nice touch – a feature I’d like to see most home theater projectors offer, but very, very, few do: An Optical Digital input (SPDIF).

Next comes another fairly rare feature – a connector allowing the hard wiring of the remote control. Now normally there are two cases where this is a handy feature:

  • When the remote control is normally too far away from the projector (more than 30 feet). – Now that is very rare in a home theater!
  • Rear screen setup – In homes almost all projectors are set up to project forward onto a screen and we watch the reflected image. But If the projector is behind the screen (rear screens are translucent – they pass light through so you can see it on the front side). Still where people have the space behind the screen to make this work, the advantage is that rear screen setups are relatively unaffected by ambient light in the viewing room

Right below the IR connector is a 12 volt screen trigger which is normally used to…of course…lowers, or raises, a motorized screen when the projector powers on, and off

BenQ is staying current, because our next input over to the right is a USB 3.0 input functioning as a Media reader.

Next comes a pair of HDMIs. Both are HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. That’s a good thing. Many competitors are providing two HDMi’s but only one 2.0, and the other a 1.4 to be backward compatible with some very old HDMI gear. (So far, my older Blu-ray players, etc. have all managed to work with HDMI 2.0, but I’m sure there’s gear out there that won’t.) Still, I think BenQ has it right – going with both inputs being HDMI 2.0. My only regret – as always – I would have loved to see a 3rd HDMI input. Very few projectors do that. I expect though, that a number of the new UST laser projectors for home will have 3. Why? Because the UST projectors basically have “sound bars” built in, so they don’t really need an AV receiver. And, if you don’t’ have an AV receiver, you’ll need some very smart switch boxes if you have 3 HDMI devices, such as: A 4K UHD Blu-ray player, a cable or satellite box, and a gaming system like PS4, PS5, Xbox…

Hey, we’re not done yet. After the HDMIs is a 2nd USB this time a mini-USB input as a Service port for things like firmware upgrades.

An RS232C is next – that’s the old school serial port for basic command and control from a computer or other devices.

Wait – next are two more USBs – for a total of 4! These two, are standard USB C style inputs, one as another media reader – but with the far more common USB connector at this time (since USB 3.0 is relatively new). The other one has 2.5 amps at 5Volts its there to provide power to other devices, perhaps a plug in Roku stick, and other streaming devices that need power, or (if not ceiling mounted) to recharge 3D glasses.

Our last connector on the row is a stereo audio output. This is important to have (some form of audio out) on projectors with Media player capability, or even just streaming from a device plugged in such as a smart 4K UHD Blu-ray player, that has Apps for Netflix, Amazon, etc.

This BenQ HT5550 is a dedicated home theater projector in theory, and most lack media players (hard to plug in a USB thumb drive when the projector is hanging from the ceiling well over your head) but streaming from another device, is practical even when mounted.

This way you can take that audio and feed it to a serious sound system! Let’s face it if you are trying to watch Blacklist from Netflix, it’s going to be a real drag without sound. Unfortunately BenQ only provides stereo audio out, and not a digital optical or other alternative that can output 5.1, 7.1 or other full surround sound data. (Too bad!)

Bottom line: A really good selection of inputs. As I stated, a 3rd HDMI would have been a real plus for those without an AV receiver. BTW, Comprehensive makes a very small HDMI splitter that is fully 4K capable, I use it in my theater, and also their HDMI splitter that let me split the incoming signal from my AV receiver or other source, into two HDMI outputs to do my side by side comparisons.

Remote Control

Time for our usual “quick” run through of the included HT5550 remote control. We start at the top of this black remote, that has a good backlight system (but it could be a touch brighter).

Power on, is top left, Power off, top right (press twice for off). In the middle is the backlight button, but pressing any button will turn on the backlight.

The 2nd row starts off with a feature you want to avoid – keystone correction. The BenQ HT5550 has a healthy amount of lens shift, which is less damaging to the picture quality, and should get your image nice and rectangular without keystone correction.

Default (I don’t like the location) can be used to reset the feature you are working with in the menus. A test pattern button is on the right – it’s a simple test pattern ok for focusing. If you were expecting a full color test pattern, sorry – you’ll have to go by a disc like The DVE (Digital Video Essentials – btw, I believe they are now shipping a 4K version of the DVE.)

The HT5550 remote control is medium sized with a backlight and good range.

Next below is navigation – the four arrow keys in a round formation with an OK (aka Enter) button in the center.

Directly below the nav are the Back button (takes you back up a level in the menus) and in the center, the Menu button itself. On the right is a Source button letting you toggle through the sources you have hooked up.

That leaves us with 5 more rows of three buttons. All of these are shortcuts to menu items or allow direct control.

Pic(ture) Mode is next – toggle between the various picture modes. In the middle is an HDR button taking you to the BenQ’s HDR menu. Cinema Master is on the right. That brings up a menu with a variety of picture quality controls.

After those three, there’ a space before the last four rows.
PC mode for choosing modes like Vivid, D. Cinema, 3D for bringing up the 3D menu, and Invert, in case with 3D, the left image shows up on your glasses on the right…

All the rest but the bottom right relate to Picture Quality:
Bright, Contrast, Dynamic Iris (menu)
Color Temp (for calibrating), Color Manage (CMS – for calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors), and Light Mode (select power level).
The last row: Gamma control, Sharp(ness).

The far right last button – is ECO Blank, which mutes the picture (and saves electricity) when you don’t need an image on the screen.

That covers the remote control. Did I mention it is sort of average size, far smaller than the large remotes from Epson, Sony, and some others, and a lot larger than credit card remotes, and some very basic remotes.

What’s missing? No HDMI-Link! Too bad. I like to control my Sony or other 4K and Blu-ray players with my projector remote when I can – because players rarely have backlit remotes. Oh well, we can all go out and purchase, and set up a third party universal remote, to accomplish that same task.

The Menus: Coming Soon!

That concludes hardware 2.