Posted on October 23, 2017 By Art Feierman
BenQ HT9050 Home Theater Projector Review – Special Features 3: Gaming, Silence Mode, Anamorphic Lens Support
Got Game? The HT9050 as a Gaming projector:
Not being a serious gamer myself – I tend to be limited to things like Risk, Words with Friends (on phone), or, once in a rare while, Madden Football on my PS3, and I also have a PS4, but never used it to game – I can only tell you that the magic number serious gamers are looking for is input lag. The BenQ HT9050, measured using my Leo Bodnar input lag device, clocked in at just over 63 ms in Silence mode (no pixel shifting), and with noise reduction turned off, as well as 4K pixel Enhancer set to 0.
In Cinema mode, with Pixel Enhancer on and Noise reduction on, the HT9050 was slightly slower – but still between 66 and 67 ms. That makes the HT9050 marginal for hard core gamers looking for a fast display. Our rule of thumb is that 50ms (give or take a couple) is “acceptable,” down in the 33-36 ms range is good, 16-18 great, and anything below that is basically pretty awesome. For a 60fps game, 16.7ms is lagging behind by 1 frame.
For perspective, it takes most humans between 250 and 700 ms to get their foot off of a cars accelerator and onto the brake. Of course, today’s gaming controls are designed with short distances, and are hand-based, not foot-based. But still, in perspective, 16-17 ms, or even 33 ms, translates to very, very little delay.
Score the BenQ HT9050 as not ideal as a gaming projector. If only they could have halved that input lag, or at least gotten it down another 30% or so.
We harassed many Epson projectors for being right around 50 ms as being just barely acceptable. In the last few years though, Epson made an effort and now most models are down in the 33 – 36 ms. a 1/3 improvement. It’s BenQ’s turn to be a bit more gaming friendly. Sony is another company that has improved input lag with their newest 4K projectors.
Wait, we’re talking really serious gaming. If you just like to play and aren’t super competitive (like an auto racing game), the BenQ is probably fine – no worries on Risk!, or Words With Friends. But, if you want to put on a headset and join a team of fanatics for Call of Duty to compete with other hard cores, you should probably look elsewhere.
Also, the Leo Bodnar device is strictly 1080p resolution. So, while I don’t have any particular reason to believe that input lag would be different with 4K content, I can’t tell you for sure that it will be the same.
One thing about not having HDR for 4K gaming is that it means a very nice, bright image, without the potential problem of spotting enemies, or resources in very dark parts of a scene. That could prove to be a good thing for serious gamers.
Strange name. Per BenQ, Silence mode has less processing than the other modes. Why? Because Silence mode turns off pixel shifting, turning the HT9050 from being a 2716 x 1528 x2 to a mere 2716 x 1528. That is, pixel count is 4.3 million instead of overlapping 8.3 million pixels. As a result, the projector apparently runs cooler, and therefore the fan runs slower and quieter. Since the HT9050 is pretty quiet in normal modes even at full power, I didn’t spend any real time with Silence mode.
In the good old days, if you wanted to go with a real wide screen – i.e. 2.4:1 for Cinemascope shaped movies, the method was to get an anamorphic lens (and sled to move it in or out of the light path), and the projector would have an aspect ratio mode to stretch the image. But, in more recent times, having a motorized lens system allows for Lens Memory instead to support owning a wide screen.
Well, with this projector, to use a wide screen, you need the anamorphic lens, which is an expensive extra. Plan B would be to get up and adjust the zoom and lens shift every time you switch back and forth from 16:9 to wide screen content, which is exactly what I’ve been doing here for the past couple of weeks. Of course, that’s not usually practical if your projector is ceiling mounted, unless your ceiling is 8 feet or less and you are very (NBA) tall, or keep a step ladder handy. A few of you might go anamorphic lens with this projector, but more likely you’ll stick to a traditional 16:9 screen.
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