BenQ HT5550 Review – A Very Impressive 4K UHD Home Theater Projector – Under $2500!

BenQ’s $2499 HT5550 4K UHD projector is really the BenQ that I’ve been waiting for (2-3 years?) No, it isn’t a 2-year-old projector, it has just started shipping about a month or so ago, relative to this HT5550 review going live. It certainly fits into the BenQ line-up as a potential star performer. The HT5550 is a serious home theater, not home entertainment!

Some Background leading up to the new BenQ HT5550 

BenQ has long done well in the home entertainment projector space, but perhaps their best success in terms of home projectors has been a long-running sequence of models that started about a decade ago with the W1070, (and several since) a low cost 1080p projector that simply handled color and picture quality better than any of the other DLPs near the price. We long recommended that series as the best “entry-level” home theater choice.

Going about that far back though, BenQ also had their W6000 a favorite of mine. The W6000 and its successors, the W7000, W7500, etc. were in my book the best home theater choices for more serious than entry-level – they had a good dynamic iris, so were the projectors that could best compete with the Epson UB projectors of their day.

Well, folks, the W6000 series successor is here in the form of the HT5550.  It gets a W designation overseas where it is the BenQ W5700. The similarities to the older series are obvious: Dynamic iris for improved dark scene/black level performance), a zoom with a good amount of range (1.6:1 zoom), and a moderate amount of lens shift. This new HT5550 also has a 1.6:1 zoom and a healthy amount of lens shift for placement flexibility. Unlike those predecessors, though the HT5550 is a 4K UHD projector, not a basic 1080p. True, it uses 1920x1080px4 pixel shifting, but that’s what we call 4K UHD – not to be confused with real, native 4K – which costs a whole lot more.

And the HT5550 serves up some pretty darn good color, an area BenQ has long emphasized. The HT5550 is part of their Cinematic series.

View Full Specifications Here >>
BenQ HT5550 Specs
Price$2499
TechnologyDLP
Native Resolution3840x2160
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim)18000
Contrast100000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio1.60:1
Lens ShiftYes
Lamp Life4000 hours
Weight14.3 lbs.
Warranty1 year

Overview

The BenQ HT5550 is a definite step up from their HT3550 and the 3550’s brighter twin – the TK800M. Both of those are 4K UHD projectors that sell for well under $1500. By comparison, the HT5550 is going to cost you something over $2000. This is a completely different projector than those lower-cost ones. A better lens with more range, better black levels, and it even seems to be a fair amount quieter.

From Passengers - 4K Blu-ray disc. This image looked great filling 120" of widescreen!

This BenQ is most about performance. It excels there, even if, it is a bit thin, when it comes to features. Consider:

While it has good placement flexibility it lacks motorized lens features and lens memory, so you’ll be choosing a 16:9 HDTV shaped screen to match up with it, unlike some alternatives like Epson’s HC4010 and HC5050UB, or even JVC’s much more expensive ($3999 list) DLA-RS540. Those guys have all motorized features making them great for choosing a Cinemascope type widescreen. Movie fanatics will typically prefer a widescreen setup because most movies are widescreen. (True, a lot of for TV streaming movies are 16:9) but almost all Hollywood releases are widescreen, except for some animation.

If you don’t want/need features like that, this BenQ is a top candidate for the best bang for the bucks in terms of picture quality. You can find great color elsewhere too (Epson, Sony, others) for $2000 or under, but not combined with impressive black level performance.

Ghostbusters 4K - skin tones

And let me also say, that the BenQ HT5550’s 4K with HDR performance was a bit of a surprise (a pretty good surprise). But I won’t spoil that here – only in the Picture Quality and Summary pages.

Highlights

  • Claims 1800 lumens (less than their HE models, no surprise)
  • Dynamic iris for superior dark scene handling/black levels
  • 4000-hour lamp at full power, 10,000 in Smart Eco and Economic modes
  • BenQ is keeping their focus on picture quality
  • In addition to HDR10, it supports HLG – used for broadcast and some streaming
  • Plenty of placement flexibility
    • 1.6:1 manual zoom
    • Good lens shift (V + H)
  • A bit quieter than most – still moderately (not bad) noisy at full power
  • Good, backlit remote (orange backlight)
  • CFI (frame interpolation)  for smooth motion – great on sports
  • 3D – (most projectors still support 3D – a good thing)
  • Very good color – right out of the box – in most modes
  • Acceptable gaming – input lag of 58ms
    • we consider about 55ms or less to be acceptable – close enough for most
  • Sold as the W5700 in Europe

Keep on reading!  Next are our Special Features pages which go over some unique and some not so unique abilities.  Then find two Hardware pages, covering the physical projector and the menus.  We look at the lens placement, inputs and more.

The Blacklist image 4K, no HDR
The Blacklist – pilot – 4K from Netflix – No HDR!

 

Two Picture Quality pages follow – discussing how good the HT5550 is  “right out of the box,” how it handles skin tones, and how it performs in terms of black levels, shadow detail, handling HDR content, 1080p movies and the usual HDTV and Sports.  Performance talks about how bright the projector measured (vs claim), how brightness is effected by power mode, and projector placement (lens zoom).

Almost done:  Eric serves up two calibration pages with the settings he came up with, and that is followed by my usual Summary with a brief section on the competition.

Brief in this case, because I plan to do a full comparison between the HT5550 and it’s toughest but a bit more expensive, competitor, the HC5050UB.  This BenQ, and that Epson are my two fav under $3000 projectors!  It’s that simple.  (If you have the budget for either, we’ll help you figure out which will work best in your world!  -art

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