Posted on February 12, 2021 By Philip Boyle
BenQ TK850i 4K Smart Home Entertainment Projector – Performance 2: Shadow Detail, Overall Picture Quality, Brightness, Sharpness, Contrast and Audible Noise.
The TK850i Dynamic Iris really makes a difference in this projector’s black level performance. The TK850i offers a very nice level of contrast. Most definitely a step up, compared to competitors in this price range, when it comes to handling dark scenes.
There’s plenty of dark detail, as you can see above, on the TK850i. The dynamic iris on the TK850i is a big part of the detail visible in the scenes above, showing that this projector clearly is better than many of its competitors in its class. It is only in an extremely dark image that you might find another, more expensive, projector where you could see more visible detail. In most scenes, the action isn’t where the darkest detail is, it’s in brighter areas. So more often than not, you won’t notice when viewing casually.
An ANSI lumens rating of 3000 lumens, combined with a more than acceptable black level, makes images pop. Blacks were nice and deep, with subtle shadow details visible.
HDR on the TK850i is handled extremely well. As I stated in my feature description of 4K HDR. BenQ clearly leveraged their expertise in this new generation of HDR-capable projectors. They figured out a better tone-mapping solution, allowing the “gamma” of HDR to “brighten” those lower- and mid-brightness parts of an image. This results in a noticeable improvement in HDR performance and gets closer to the goal of achieving the same quality as the creator intended.
The Bottom Line on Picture Quality is that, overall, I was very pleased. The TK850i offers some of the best black levels in its class of DLP 4K projectors.
Does that mean that there is no room for improvement? Absolutely not, but let’s keep this in perspective. I’ll always want better blacks, who wouldn’t? But, the combination of out-of-the-box color performance, overall pleasant tones and the Dynamic Iris’s black level details, shows that BenQ has succeeded in getting better performance out of this DMD technology.
BenQ TK850i has a rated brightness of 3,000 lumens. As we normally do here at Projector Reviews, I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens, which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens. At full wide angle, I measured the TK850i in its brightest picture mode, BRIGHT, with the lamp power set to NORMAL.
BenQ TK850i Brightness:  Lumens
At wide zoom, BRIGHT mode, the TK850i measured 3030 lumens. The TK850i was a little above its rated brightness, so it should be more than bright enough for most intended applications. I measured all five available brightness modes at wide-zoom, and my measurements are below.
The BenQ TK850i claims 3000 lumens. It was 3030 lumens measured in Bright mode (which is its brightest mode) with the zoom set to wide for maximum brightness, which is just a bit higher than their published ANSI Lumens specification.
ZOOM LENS POSITION’S EFFECT ON BRIGHTNESS
MEASURED BRIGHTNESS AT TELE-ZOOM
Bright Mode: 2880 Lumens
Our measurements found a roughly 38% drop going from full power (labeled Normal), down to Eco mode. Many projectors drop 25% to 35% when switching into their “eco” mode.
The TK850i has a third mode, Smart-Eco, which is a dynamic mode. As such, it will measure nearer Normal mode, when we feed it white for measurement. The TK850i uses TI’s Dynamic Black, which is definitely a plus. However, lamp dimming is always very minor, because lamps dim and brighten too slowly to get much “dynamic” range out of them without visible pumping. Visible pumping is a phenomenon in which the image lightens and darkens a bit at times when it should not.
The BenQ TK850i displayed no major issues with the sharpness of the image. Like many projectors in its class, and even some more expensive ones, there’s a little bit of softness in the corners, if you focus it in the dead center. I recommend focusing using their menus, but go for best focus about 1/3 out from dead-center. That should provide a very sharp-looking image overall.
The BenQ TK850i has a published dynamic contrast ratio of 30,000:1. The higher dynamic contrast is predominantly due to the effective use of the projector’s Dynamic Iris technology.
As is typically the case with DLP projectors, the black levels of the TK850i were more akin to very dark greys instead of a pure black. No one expects for a sub $2K projector to rival the black level of a far more expensive home theater projector. When it came to accurately reproducing subtle shadow details in dark video scenes, the BenQ TK850i performed well. The TK850i shines in perceived contrast when compared to competitive projectors in its class. The contrast capabilities of the BenQ TK850i is more than good enough to satisfy.
The fan noise produced by TK850i is on par with other lamp based projectors. The BenQ TK850i produces 30dB in Normal mode and 28dB in Eco Mode. I never found the fan noise from the TK850i to be an issue or distracting. In my lab, the noise was noticeable, but in a typical home theater setup, where that projector would be ceiling mounted, I don’t think the fan noise would be noticeable. If it was, it wouldn’t be particularly distracting, especially when the Light Mode is set to ECO. The TK850i does offer a silent mode that shuts down all the components in the TI DMD chip that are used for 4K video.
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