Posted on January 31, 2021 By Paul Wilkie
If you’re just getting started in the projector space and want something smart that will ensure you have seamless access to the latest shows, movies and music content, we recommend the BenQ TH685i, which offers everything you need to get a fantastic projector experience with smart functionalities. Now to be clear, this is by no means an entry-level projector, but in the burgeoning category of smart projectors, we think this is a great place to start.
The TH685i features Google-certified Android TV, which enables really easy access to all the great content available to us today, even allowing users to search for their favorite TV or movies with their voice. An added benefit to the BenQ TH685i, it is also designed with gaming as a core focus, so if you or your kids are avid gamers, this projector has added benefits. This includes low-input lag so you’re never caught a step behind, beautiful 1080p HDR graphics and 3500 lumens of brightness so you can watch with ease, even in daylight.
If this isn’t your first rodeo in the projector game and you’re ready for a serious projector upgrade with smart technologies, it’s easy for us to recommend the BenQ TK850i. As with BenQ’s other smart projectors, the TK850i benefits from the company’s robust integration with Android TV to bring content to your fingertips with a single remote, or no remote at all if you opt to use your voice.
Where the BenQ TK850i really stands out is the fantastic image quality it provides. Like the HT3350i, the TK850i uses BenQ’s exclusive HDR-PRO technology to enhance 4K HDR content, and expands on that with true 4K UHD 3840×2160 resolution with 8.3 million distinct pixels, which reduces blur and provides an incredibly clear picture and defined details for your favorite TV show, movie or sporting event. This advanced 4K picture is brought to life with a precision 10-element 8-group lens array, allowing greater light penetration for an extremely intense 4K picture.
In addition, with a dedicated “Sports Mode,” the TK850i enhances all of the right colorations for your favorite sports, which provides more true-to-life skin tone, immersive sound and motion enhancing properties. To ensure watchers don’t miss a second of the action, the built-in Motion Enhancer actually inserts interpolated frames between action sequences to provide an even more seamless picture, which makes the game look smoother and easier to follow.
If you’re not keen on gaming and want a projector that instead focuses on outstanding home theater capabilities alongside smart features, we recommend the BenQ HT3550i. While the TK850i is designed to deliver a bright vivid image even in a room with some ambient light, the HT3550 was designed for dark theater environments where black level and accurate colors are more important than maximum brightness. To further improved its black level, the HT3550i is one of the least expensive 4K DLP projectors equipped with a dynamic iris.
Powered again by Google’s Android TV, the HT3550i enables you to seamlessly access 500,000 TV shows and movies from Google Play, and all of your favorite streaming platforms with the simplicity of a single remote and your voice.
Now the core thing to focus on here is ease-of-access. Not all smart projectors are created equal, and BenQ has focused on creating a platform that makes Android TV easy to use, and ensures the latest apps, streaming content and cast-able content from your laptop and phone are simple and fun to use.
Since this is a projector designed to make home theater look amazing, the HT3550i leverages BenQ’s CinematicColor™ technology, which enhances optimal colors for precise picture quality. The important takeaway here is that the projector accurately reproduces cinematic quality with wide and precise color accuracy, which helps bring the directors’ vision to life for TVs and movies alike.
In addition to this, the projector is calibrated out of the box, which can be a fairly challenging barrier to people who aren’t familiar or are new to projector technology. It is also enabled with BenQ’s exclusive HDR-PRO technology, which enhances 4K HDR content with greater contrast range through enhanced tone mapping. This helps you achieve better detail from streaming content, which again, is the most important part of investing in this type of technology.
Whether you’re ready to dive into a new projector or not, the good news is that the incoming array of amazing content from major studios and streaming services is sure to continue growing for the foreseeable future. The push to elevate streaming content was already underway prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but like so many other industries, the pandemic helped spur along the radical shift to at-home entertainment in a major way.
This paradigm shift to home entertainment is reminiscent of the way arcades fizzled out of popular culture, which took place decades ago. Before at-home gaming, the only place to get your game on was the local arcade, where Pac Man, Skee Ball and Galaxiga could be played for a dime or two. Then something radical happened. Magnavox introduced something called Odyssey, which was followed by Atari, Sega, Nintendo, and well, the rest is history. Now arcades are relegated to boardwalks on the Jersey Shore and the majority of gaming takes place at home.
But let’s be clear, we’re not saying the theater industry is doomed to the same fate. There will always be die-hard fans who want to watch the latest blockbuster on a real IMAX screen, and we support that mission 100 percent, because well, we’re fanatics of the big screen ourselves. But it can’t be denied, the pandemic has dramatically altered the way content is produced and delivered to consumers, and that won’t quickly shift back to the way things were. In fact, we’re betting it won’t.
Luckily for us, companies like BenQ have been at the ready for this moment in time. Quietly developing the best projector technologies to bring your favorite TV, movies and other entertainment to life. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that you can, as a consumer, dramatically elevate your home theater experience without dropped oodles of money to do it. Think about it, a 100” 4K image for less than $2,000 is something we could only dream of ten years ago. We believe this firmly slates where we’re at today as the absolute best time to be a projector enthusiast, and perhaps the luckiest time of all for people just getting started in the hobby.
So, if you’re looking for a smart projector to access the latest content, we strongly recommend you check out BenQ’s stellar lineup of smart projectors. Whether that’s something focused on gaming, like the BenQ TH685i, or something more home theater oriented, like the HT3550i or perhaps something bettered geared towards sports, like the TK850i, there’s something for you. And remember, don’t despair, despite the fact we’re all stuck at home, at least we’re stuck at home with access to some of the most amazing home theater technology ever before in human history.
© 2019 Projector Reviews (V0625)