Projector Reviews

BenQ HT5550 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5050UB Comparison Review – Page 2

BenQ HT5550 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5050UB Comparison Review – Page 2: Gaming, Performance Comparison, Value Propositions, Review Links

Gaming

Overall, we consider the Epson to be the better gaming projector! It’s not close to the Epson, but the BenQ’s not bad. Both of these projectors have good color and are forgiving in most ways, which leaves the real significant difference in the performance need for low input lag. The longer it takes a projector to process the gaming image and put it on the screen, known as input lag, the worse it is as a gaming projector.

We want extremely fast response. The Epson is about twice as fast as the BenQ. The HC5050UB measures in the 28ms range, while the HT5550 measures between 58 and 59ms. We have said for years, that the highest acceptable input lag for serious gamers is about 55ms, so the BenQ is close enough. However, good performance is in the mid-30ms range, great performance would be under 18ms. Hard-core gamers, including Nikki, will notice a difference.

Performance Comparison

Remember, for normal 1080p viewing, 1,000 lumens is enough to fill a typical 150” diagonal screen with movie theater brightness, which means the BenQ has plenty of power for your dedicated a home theater on screens up to about 125 inches diagonal and its better modes.

Brightness

BenQ HT5550
Color Mode Lumens
Bright 1421
Vivid TV 1073
Cinema 828
D. Cinema 546
User 847
HDR10 Wide Color 635
HDR10 REC709 1233
Epson-Home-Cinema-5050UB
Color Mode Lumens
Dynamic (full power, wide zoom) 3401
Dynamic (Mid-Zoom) 3137
Bright Cinema 2077
Natural (Full lamp) 2323
Natural (Calibrated) Medium Lamp 1842
Cinema* 1072
B&W Cinema 1966
Digital Cinema* 1116
Digital Cinema - Post Calibration 1104

*Digital Cinema and Cinema modes use Epson’s Cinema filter to improve color (out to P3), but at the cost of a good 40% of brightness when engaged compared to other modes without the Cinema filter.

Bright Room Abilities (and Screen)
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is better equipped to handle bright room environments than the BenQ HT5550.
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is better equipped to handle bright room environments than the BenQ HT5550.

The Epson may be a great “home theater” projector for its price, but it is equally impressive in brighter rooms. Epson’s brightest mode (not great – it has a bit of a greenish cast) produced 3,400 lumens, blowing away its claims, per Eric who calibrated and measured both projectors. BenQ’s brightest mode pumped out only 1,400 and change lumens, but was very green, and should not be used except when under an attack of massive ambient light.

The first good-looking mode on the BenQ puts out almost 1,100 lumens. Not bad, and is definitely better looking than Epson’s brightest, but Epson serves up 2,300+ lumens with comparable color quality to the BenQ’s 1,100 lumen mode. That’s a huge difference when fighting ambient light.

I’ve discussed the different characteristics about the two projectors handling of HDR, so I should point out that the BenQ is capable of 1,300 lumens maximum, while putting HDR content up on the screen, using REC709 color. HDR can use those extra lumens. With the Epson, our REC709 calibration for HDR, was, as expected, far brighter. It had 2,300 lumens uncalibrated to work with, and 1,850 lumens after full calibration. The BenQ, manages over 1,200 lumens in REC709 when fully calibrated, so it closes the gap when both calibrated, but the Epson is still more than 50% brighter.

Dedicated Theater/Cave Type Rooms
The BenQ HT5550 is more at home in a dedicated home theater/cave type room than a bright room.
The BenQ HT5550 is more at home in a dedicated home theater/cave type room than a bright room.

Both projectors have plenty of lumens in general for that proper “theater.” Our solution for both projectors – in terms of handling 4K HDR content, and P3 – was to calibrate both projectors, so that we have two calibrated 4K HDR modes: one attempting P3 color, and the second one, brighter, doing REC 709. Even in the theater however, we can use all the lumens we can find for HDR content, and for that reason, many of you may choose to pass on using P3 color in exchange for more pop up and wow factor, when watching HDR content.

If attempting P3 color and HDR – on 4K content, the Epson gets as close to nailing P3 color accurately as any lamp based projector we’ve calibrated. The BenQ has a lot more trouble. It doesn’t get very close to P3, but still better than REC709. Just keep in mind that the differences, say, between P3 color and REC 709, seems minor compared to HDR vs good old SDR (Standard Dynamic Range).

Sharpness

Theoretically, the BenQ has two distinct advantages in terms of sharpness. First, it does more pixel shifting, and secondly, being a single chip DLP projector, it does not have three separate LCD panels whose light it must converge. Those are the technology differences, but we are more interested in our perception of how sharp the image is, up on the screen. As mentioned elsewhere, image processing makes a real difference. Check out the images in this player where we have the full frame photos and also close-ups that can be compared between the BenQ HT5550, and the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB.

How you set the appropriate processing controls on the two projectors will determine which one seems slightly sharper to you. For all practical purposes, I consider these two projectors comparable. Perceived sharpness will not be a major deciding factor for you. By the way, from my own experience, the way I like my Epson set, it tends to appear just a touch sharper than the BenQ. I tend to push the Epson’s image processing a little harder the most, especially on things like sports viewing.

Value Proposition

Either of these two excellent projectors will probably dazzle you the first time you turn them on in darkened room (theater or family room). You will be similarly dazzled, with more ambient light present, when watching sports – most likely on a 100 to 135 inch diagonal screen. And you will continue to be wowed.

The trick is to figure out which one makes the most sense for you. Overall, the Epson is more capable, brighter, has a great picture, and handles HDR better. And, it can be used with widescreens. The BenQ has plenty going for it as well – and I expect you will typically be spending $400 or $500 less. That provides an immediate bump in value proposition. It also happens to be a bit quieter at full power, and it delivers a lot more brightness when doing HDR, than one would expect from its measured brightness.

While technically that gives the Epson the advantage in HDR, it significantly cuts into the lumen advantage the Epson has when watching 4K HDR content. Both can be set up to trade off brightness for P3 color. On HDR content, the surprise was that the BenQ delivers especially well on really dark scenes, which is normally an Epson advantage. It will depend on the scene, but that makes these two projectors closer than one might think.

Short version – tight on the bucks, don’t want to go widescreen, and your room has very good lighting control, then you can’t beat the value of the BenQ. But, if the budget is there, the Epson mostly offers you more of many things, from placement to brightness. For all the differences described, though, these are two capable projectors whose pictures are pretty comparable.

They appear to be a cut above any less expensive projectors that offer 4K content handling. These are definitely my favorite projectors short of spending at least $1,000 more list price than that of the Epson. So, choose wisely, and enjoy!