BenQ HT9050 Home Theater Projector Review

I started on this HT9050 LED home theater projector review shortly after determining that it would make a better review than its slightly-less-expensive lamp version, the HT8050. The HT9050 is a $8995 MSRP, medium-large home theater projector using TI’s 4K UHD DLP chip. While not what I call true 4K, this BenQ produces an exceptionally sharp image, thanks to the native 2716 x 1528 x2 pixel shifting resolution that puts 8.3 million (partially overlapping) pixels on your screen.

But, with several far less expensive 4K UHD projectors out there now, or shipping soon, for the home market, including those from Optoma, Acer, and Vivitek, the standout feature of the HT9050 is its long-life LED solid state light engine.

I started out with the less expensive HT8050, had it calibrated, and even wrote the first page before I became aware that the HT9050 would only be a grand more. From a practical standpoint, just the savings of not needing to buy replacement lamps pretty much justifies the cost difference. But there’s more to it than that.

BenQ HT9050 Specs
Price$8995
TechnologyDLP with LED light source
Native Resolution3840x2160
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim)2200
Contrast-
Zoom Lens Ratio1.5:1
Lens ShiftYes
Lamp Life20,000 Hours
Weight40.8 lbs
Warranty3 Years Parts and Labor
View Full Specifications Here >>

Overview

This BenQ HT9050 is interesting in another way. Unlike the HT8050, the HT9050 supports BT.2020 color space, or, as it is often described, since no one can do the full BT.2020 – that it does DCI-P3 – the movie theater standard – in a “BT.2020 wrapper.”  P3 is a little less challenging and within the capabilities of the HT9050, thanks to that solid state light engine. It’s the lamp based projectors – compared to LED or Laser projectors – that have the least ability to do the larger color space and their more intense colors. Most lamp based projectors are limited to only about 80% of target, so colors won’t be quite as rich or varied.

Just so you know, the BenQ HT9050, despite being a pre-production unit, was the last projector considered in our late August annual 2017 Best Home Theater Projectors Report. Despite my being so slammed after the report, between attending the CEDIA show (seeing a whole host of new HT projectors) and launching the latest version of ProjectorReviews.com, it took me a full month to write this up. Sorry about that!

Although this BenQ is a very capable projector, one capability is surprisingly missing.  The HT9050, like the HT8050, lacks support for HDR – High Dynamic Range, even though, as mentioned, it does support the wider color space normally associated with 4K capable projectors. That lack of HDR pretty much cost the HT9050 a shot at one of the awards in our report, where 4K capabilities are important.

That said, viewing the HT9050 proved to be an interesting, and overall enjoyable experience. We’ll talk later about how the lack of HDR affects the picture, and how the HT9050 differs in terms of picture from the other 4K capable projectors we’ve reviewed.

ArctuHT9050_4K_passengers_ship_fire
Passengers (4K) image of ship passing in front of Arcturus

Placement flexibility, I should note here, is extremely good. A 1.5:1 manual zoom lens seems to be especially good optics. And, there’s plenty of lens shift, both vertical and horizontal, which definitely separates it from the lower cost 4K UHD DLP projectors!

And, for those of us who are rainbow sensitive (due to the spinning color wheel), here’s one thing about BenQ – it seems at any price point, they tend to put in the fastest color wheel around compared to the competition. I’ll discuss RBE (RainBow Effect) more in the Special Features section of this projector review.

Overall, the HT9050 is well endowed, with HDMIs and other inputs. Also of particular importance to note, the LED light engine has the pleasant benefit of making the HT9050 especially quiet compared to most other HT projectors. The noise specs aren’t that impressive – 31db and as low as 23 db (Silence mode), but my experience says it’s a good bit quieter, as other projectors in the low 30s db range are quoting overly optimistic noise levels. For example, at full power, it’s quite obviously a lot quieter than the Epson 5040UB at full power, yet that projector claims to be only 3 db quieter – a small difference!

Highlights

  • 2200 lumens – and thanks to LED engine, overall brightness will only drop slowly over years, not months (as is the case for lamp based projectors)
  • 6 preset color modes and two savable User modes
  • Also ISF certified, which provides two additional modes to be set up by professional ISF calibrator
  • LED light engine claims 20,000 hour life
  • Extensive lens shift and 1.5:1 zoom for superior placement flexibility
  • Supports DCI-P3 color (subset of BT.2020) on 4K content
  • Large remote control with nice backlight (orange)
  • Very well laid out navigation menus
  • Very quiet, even at full power
  • “Instant” On/Off, thanks to LED light engine. See comments elsewhere.
  • Uses “lamp dimming” – in this case LED dimming to “emulate” a dynamic iris
  • Support for anamorphic lens
  • User manual provided on CD
  • 3 Year Warranty

BenQ HT9050 At A Glance Video

We have posted our BenQ HT9050 Projector At A Glance video, which is an overview of the projector’s features and some images/clips of the projector in action, with a few comments. This is not summary of this full in-depth review.

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