Projector Reviews

BenQ HT9060 4K UHD Home Theater Projector- Picture Quality 1

BenQ HT9060 Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality: “Out of the box performance,” Skin Tones, 4K / HDR, Black Level and Dark Shadow Detail Performance

Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality

The first thing I want to mention, the HT9060 got about as close to achieving P3 color as any projector we’ve reviewed. That is, per Jason’s measurements, the BenQ achieved 97% of P3 color and did it fairly accurately. Remember, this is an LED light engine, we really haven’t found any lamp-based DLP projectors that could even exceed REC709 color gamut, while P3 is 50% larger! On 3LCD and LCoS projectors we’ve seen lamp models (Epson 5050UB/6050UB) and JVCs that use a “cinema filter,” getting as close to P3 as DLPs with lasers, or LED light engines.

Ghostbusters
4K HDR content. Lot’s of pop, rich colors! Ghostbusters 2016

 

That said, overall, the Out of the Box Picture Quality: Pretty good on non-HDR content, and better with HDR content. Generally, we’ve found that BenQ projectors for home are a bit more focused on good, relatively accurate, out of the box color in its best modes. This HT9060 is no exception. Definitely not as close to the color from a professional calibration, as some, but, at least very nicely balanced color that looks really good to all but the most critical eye!

If viewing HDR content, the projector automatically switches to HDR mode (as opposed to Vivid, Cinema, etc.)

College football Vivid mode
Penn State vs Ohio State - 1080i cable, Vivid mode, moderate ambient light. With low ambient, the picture is slightly "over the top, in saturation, contrast.

On our calibration pages, you’ll find settings to User 1, which provides an excellent, accurate picture. Uncalibrated, however, I relied on two modes. Vivid, which is generally more saturated, and looks best when there’s more than a little ambient light to tame it, that is, I’ve used it to watch the NFL playoff games. Very nice, but still a touch too much green/yellow – which shows up on the playing fields. That said, football looked great with a fair amount of ambient light.

HDR mode.
Black Panther image, 4K/HDR content brings up HDR mode. This image is pre adjustment

If not using our calibration settings.  Don’t know why you wouldn’t, as, we provide them free (as of this publishing). Cinema would be your first choice in a darkened theater or watching in other rooms, in the evening when you have good control of any ambient light.

Skin Tones

I focused the largest chunk of my time watching 4K HDR content, or typical sports in 1080i.
Cinema at default did a respectable job on skin tones, that improved very nicely using User 1, after Jason calibrated it. I also shot images from Blacklist (Netflix) in 4K but no HDR. User 1 looks great on those images.

The player below shows a number of skin tone images, labeled as pre or post calibration. The first images are 4K with HDR, then Blacklist – 4K, no HDR, and finally several pre or post-calibration 1080i content from the cable.

The bottom line on Skin tones. Overall, Cinema – in terms of pre-calibration is slightly cool, so those skin tones can appear slightly pale. By comparison, the 4K HDR content came out looking oversaturated in the photoshoot (not uncommon) but with a warmer, if saturated look.

Both 1080, non-HDR content, as well as 4K HDR content definitely improve with our calibration. In 10 minutes or less, you can try out our settings. Let us know what you think!

4K with HDR Picture Quality

Overall I found that 4K HDR looked and behaved very well pre-calibration (better than 1080 non-HDR content.) That’s good, because as Jason reported when calibrating, there isn’t a whole lot of adjustments.

Night cityscape - Black Panther
Rich, dynamic night time scene from The Black Panther. 4K HDR, note how well the colors really pop! This image was especially stunning.

I didn’t get to spend as much time working with the HT9060 post-calibration because shortly after it was done, I had to leave town due to a family emergency over two weeks ago, and still away. So I’ve been finishing the review, after watching less 4K HDR content than usual, just parts of three regular movies, plus a couple of others briefly just to take photos.

Overall, I found the color accuracy to be pretty good, but not exceptional, for, as Jason explains it, there are limited color controls when in HDR mode. Don’t count the HT9060 as highly accurate, but the overall color in HDR looks rather good, (if a touch oversaturated, which is easy to adjust). If anything, it is slightly cooler than the calibrated User 1 mode for non-HDR content.

As to gamma – or really EOTF for HDR, I found the HT9060 to have the same tendency as their lower end 4K UHD projectors. They tend to be a bit too SDR, compared to HDR. Keep in mind, that, since projectors (and many LCD TVs) are not bright enough to do perfect HDR dynamics, there’s always a compromise. If you go for the full HDR effect, you end up with a dim image. BenQ compromises as do all projector makers, with their default definitely not looking dim. I personally adjusted their gamma/EOTF to -1, and at least once, preferred -2 setting. The range on the controls is from -2 to +2. Adjust to your taste, just remember, the brighter the overall image, the less “pop” from having HDR.

Bottom Line on 4K HDR content: Not quite as accurate as I had hoped for, but still very good color balance but for a slight push blue. Depending on your screen, room, etc., in general, I would recommend slightly reducing saturation. The projector has a healthy amount of lumens to look good in a theater environment, with reasonable HDR.

HT9060 Black Levels and Dark Shadow Detail

Black levels on the HT9060 are definitely a bit different if you compared HDR content to non-HDR. That is not uncommon. Generally, I’m finding that blacks typically aren’t as black on HDR content, which I understand to be to be able to have the brightest areas brighter. We found this to be true on recently reviewed Epson’s JVC’s and others. Although the blacks aren’t as black (which I find to be less desirable on really dark scenes like the photo sequence I shoot from Mocking Jay Part 1 before/after they blow up the dam).

excellent dark detail
From MockingJay Part 1 - blackout - even the brightest areas are pretty dark overall. Really good shadow detail when viewed.

That said, on photos of scenes like the cityscape earlier on this page the image really looks dynamic and you are not likely to notice the slightly brighter blacks than in the same scene shot from my Blu-ray disc. I miss the slightly darker blacks on the really dark scenes such as the people marching to the dam.

Overall, black levels on HDR content seem not quite as good, as say an Epson HC5050UB, but pretty close. Phil did the review of the JVC NX-7 which I understand definitely did darker blacks than pretty much everything we’ve looked at.

On typical 1080p content, the BenQ’s blacks, as noted, appear a bit darker. Despite an LED light engine which to some degree acts can act as a limited dynamic iris, on 1080p content, (such as my favorite black level images from, Casino Royale, and Hunger Games), the HC5050UB definitely has a noticeable black level advantage. Any LCoS JVC even more so, including their pixel shifter, and least expensive LCoS model – the RS540. Note:  I finally received the Sony VW695ES to review a couple of days ago.

I won’t get to fire it up until I return back home, but I would expect the BenQ HT9060, and the VW695ES to be pretty comparable on both HDR blacks and non-HDR as well.

Bottom Line on Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance:

On non-HDR, the BenQ is pretty good, but it’s Smart Economic mode which improves black levels is still not equal to the real dynamic irises found in some of the projectors with the deepest blacks. In that regard, on 1080 content, you can definitely do a bit better (Epson) to significantly better (JVC) spending less – or a similar amount, respectively.

On HDR content, none of the projectors lowers black levels as much as with non-HDR, but the comparisons are closer. Keep that in mind, as if you choose the HT9060 you’ll be watching higher and higher percentages of content with HDR, over the next few years.

Dark Shadow detail is basically excellent, on both HDR and non-HDR content. Very nicely done!