Projector Reviews

BenQ TK800 Home Theater Projector Review-Picture Quality 1

BenQ TK800 4K UHD Home Entertainment Projector Review – Picture Quality: Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality, Skin Tones, HDTV and Sports

Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality

Hey, I’m a fan of BenQ, and have been for a long time. Back when I bought my first, BenQ was relatively premium compared to most relatively affordable projectors. At the same time, they were well known for putting in good dynamic irises in their projectors, and also fast color wheels.  Not much has changed.

Wow! Pop! Wham!!!  One thing about the BenQ TK800 is that it has a picture that has a lot of punch in several of the brighter modes, including the likes of Vivid TV, Sports, Football, and a couple of others.  Those all put up at least 2000 lumens on the screen (in a dark home theater you only need about 400 – 450 lumens to fill a 100” screen with typical non-HDR content).

As you can see, in some of these TK800 sports (and other) photos, the colors are rich looking, vibrant reds, greens, etc., even with the “home entertainment” color wheel.  In any of those modes, which I figure are going to get a lot of use, there’s a lot of wow factor, on top of a very sharp image. 

The “best” mode or two (one of them was calibrated by Eric), on the other hand, aren’t quite as good handling color as the other BenQ, the HT2550, but still really good for a home entertainment projector.  We’re talking “out of the box” performance here. By the time you get the best mode looking accurate and right (calibrated), the brightness does drop a great deal (very typical of DLPs), to not much over 1000 lumens.  That’s still a healthy amount when your room has minimal ambient lighting. That’s your turn off the lights in the room mode.  

Skin Tones

Those same brighter modes, with all that pop and wow, aren’t perfect on skin tones, often they are oversaturated at least a little, but then that’s the goal when you have selected a mode that is geared to cut through a lot of ambient light.  You can take any of those modes and dial them back down, but remember, these are the modes for looking spectacular. Some of these modes might give you a bit too much contrast too, but even the Victoria Secret models (only HDTV) looked really good in those modes.

Photo and Caption Player

Switch to the better modes, and skin tones are more natural. But the BenQ improves with our calibration settings to be even better, and typically a little warmer.

While all our images are compromised and never look as good as the projected image (for many technical reasons), our skin tone collection gives you an excellent idea of what to expect.

All the HDTV sports images were taken in either Vivid TV, Sports or Football, with more than a little ambient light present.  The other HDTV images focused on skin tones (except 4K from Netflix), were taken off the projector using either our best mode for non-4K or the user mode labeled by Eric – 4K HDR when he calibrated the projector.

Sports and HDTV – 1080 and 4K Resolution

I can’t wait until most of my sports viewing College and NFL football, Olympics, X-Games, etc., are available in 4K.    And what I really want to see, is DirecTV’s 8 game Game Mix for Sunday football, to switch to 4K, so each individual game gets even sharper.  (that would be huge).  

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That said, again, sports is mostly killer on this projector.  I think the Acer I recently reviewed was even better, but this is a $1499 lamp based 4K UHD (of the lower resolution), and the Acer VL7860 is a $3999 4K UHD using the higher res chip, and sporting a laser light engine, which just that by itself makes it seem brighter.   

In other words, the TK800 is doing great things for few dollars when it comes to sports.

Most of the “brightest” modes are on the cool side.  But, that’s OK too, because I have long believed that most people prefer their sports to be a bit less red, a bit more blue, than the standards for movie viewing (6500K).  By the time you get up over 8000K, it’s probably getting too blue for most folks, but our info on the Performance and calibration pages can inform you of the color temp of several modes.

Some of these images are 4K but from Netflix, not disc.  There’s a bit too much compression to start with from the streaming, but the picture is an easily noticeable step up from watching the same programming (whether movies or “tv”), from 1080p sources. 

That’s great, and that’s one reason why you spent an extra $500 or so for 4K capabilities.

Still, you’ll find the 4K images to be very impressive, even shown here at a lower resolution than on the screen.

Black Level Performance and Dark Shadow Detail

Alas, the TK800 is a “home entertainment” projector while the HT2550 is a  little bit closer to “home theater” projector.  No matter, neither of them can produce really dark blacks on very dark scenes, where that ability is most needed.

It’s not BenQ, or these models, per say. With only one exception so far, of the more than 10 4K UHD DLP projectors to come through here, all are weak. The exception is a $3999 4K UHD laser projector from Acer, which does an adequate job using their laser engine as a dynamic iris on darker scenes.

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Call the BenQ TK800’s black level performance pretty entry level, although there are some sub $1000 3LCD projectors that are slightly worse.  Expect the $500 – $700, lower resolution 1080p DLP home projectors to be comparable to this BenQ.

In the player above you will find some comparison images from different projectors, using our Casino Royale – Bond: Night train scene, which we greyscale and overexpose for your viewing consideration.  There are a few captions to explain what to look for. In addition, more good examples of black level handling, but with normal exposure are included.

Then there are a few images for looking at dark shadow detail. Again, use the train image, look for details in the shrubs behind the tracks on the right, and in the large dark area of the forest.  Also, there’s the Hunger Games image (greyscale and overexposed) of Katniss and Rue sleeping.  Look in the lower center and to the left for details in the darkest areas.

Most importantly you bought this projector because you don’t have a fully darken-able man cave/theater.  Once there’s even a modest amount of ambient light, significant differences in black level performance become small differences.

Besides, I can’t recommend any other projector around the price that could do better in this regard. The least expensive projector that can, and is 4K capable is about $1000 more.  Next:

Shadow detail is very good.  I’ve spotted some flattening in the very dark ranges – not enough different color/brightness in an area, so what could be multiple shades has less, but I have mostly found that problem with streaming content, where there’s far more compression than say Blu-ray or Blu-ray UHD.  It is also more noticeable in the brighter modes, which may have to do with how BenQ “pumps up” the dynamic look, for modes like Vivid TV, Sports, etc.  Those are more worried about bright and average brightness content than very dark content.