Posted on February 12, 2021 By Philip Boyle
BenQ TK850i 4K SMART HOME ENTERTAINMENT PROJECTOR REVIEW – Summary: Highlights, Value Proposition, Pros and Cons
At $1699 MSRP, the addition of a dynamic iris is a real win for home theater owners. The BenQ TK850i is an delightfully competent 4K HDR-capable projector and stands out from the DLP pack when it comes really good black levels with shadow details.
The out of the box color was good. Typically, DLP projector colors lean towards the reds, and with the TK850i, this was the same. However, the level of red over-saturation was a lot less than other DLP projectors I’ve reviewed. BenQ has a solid history of color management with their Cinecolor system and it was largely why the visual color accuracy was, in my opinion, a cut above many others in this price range and, in some cases, higher.
1080p picture quality is very good out of the box and, if calibrated, can be excellent. Fan noise at full power was noticeable but not distracting.
When it comes to 4K with HDR, the TK850i ups its game. This projector looks nice and bright and its auto tone-mapping does a really good job. The out-of-the-box performance is a step above competitive DLP projectors. I’m not saying it’s perfect but with the TK850i BenQ turns up the heat.
The TK850i provides users with enough inputs and connections for most setups. I wish this projector offered wired or wireless networking. Although neither are really required in a home theater setup, I think it still would be nice to have them on the projector.
Despite multiple modes and the fact that the built-in speaker provides decent volume, a pair of 5-watt speakers in a small box is no match for a real sound system. Remember, you should invest as much into your audio as you do for video, in order to have the best home theater experience. That being said, the built-in audio is the best built-in I’ve reviewed to date. There is a clear stereo signal and even some depth to the range. All of this is further enhanced by using the projector’s built-in audio presets.
The remote control is nice. It’s white, easy to spot in a theater like a darkened room, and it has a good orange backlight.
It’s nice that BenQ has put a small amount of lens shift into the TK850i, as it really simplifies both ceiling and tabletop setups, especially if you want the best quality picture.
BenQ’s handling of HDR is very good. In fact, it is far better than many equivalently priced competitors.
There are basically three groups of competing projectors – Other 4K UHD DLP projectors that cost the same or less, 4K capable projectors using 3LCD technology, and more expensive 4K UHD DLP projectors.
Keeping the above summary of the TK850i in mind, let’s start with a comparison from the first group. The Optima UHD50X is a 4K DLP projector with an MSRP of $1699. This projector does not have a dynamic iris but does have dynamic black technology. On paper, it looks like a strong competitor, as it is listed as a gaming projector with fast inputs that the TK850i does not have. We did an interview with Optima on this projector for our 12 days of Projectors holiday series, but I’d love to get my hands on this model to do a detailed review. There are more than a few 4K UHD projectors between $1000 and $2000. Most of them don’t have a dynamic iris, and that’s one thing that really makes the TK850i special. BenQ produces two projectors, the TK850 and the HT3550, that are competitors price- and technology-wise to the TK850i. Frankly, the TK850 is identical to the TK850i, except that the Android TV adapter is not included, and it retails for $100 less. The HT3550 has a lot that is similar to the TK850i with one really large exception which is it’s 2000 lumen brightness, almost a third less than the TK850i.
In the world of 3LCD, the EPSON Home Cinema 3800 4K projector. sells for $1699. This projector offers a competitive range of features and performance without any of the potential issues related to DLP, but then adds in three chip issues of its own. This projector specifies 2900 lumens and offers a 40,000:1 contrast ratio.
The BenQ TK850i is a very capable projector offering really good out of the box color and brightness options. This projector is capable of doing a visibly better job on very dark scenes than many of its DLP and LCD competitors.
I’m going to give BenQ props for both its black levels, color and HDR-handling, and in producing an all-around solid 4K HDR-capable home theater projector.
That’s pretty much the extent of the relatively direct competition, other than a lot of projectors that do not support 4K. There are a number of good ones, but I’m guessing that you are interested in 4K because you’ve made it all the way through my review and are at the summary.
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