Perhaps the area of greatest differences between these two projectors is they way in which they handle HDR. The first generation of Epson’s UB projectors doing HDR – I am talking about the HC5040UB – had very dark mid-range on HDR content when it first shipped. That was a problem with most early HDR projectors. Epson even did two end-user firmware upgrades to further improve the HDR performance before the model was discontinued.
Their final upgrade produces some very satisfactory HDR, that was no longer overall on the dim side. The brand new HC5050UB, on the other hand, starts off with some great HDR handling. I find it normally just a touch brighter in those lower-mid-ranges, than even the last version of the earlier model. The end result: Some excellent HDR performance, neither seeming on the dim side, nor on the bright/washed-out side. Nice.
If the Epson’s earlier UB projector was on the dim side, the BenQ HT5550 projector goes in the opposite direction. Everything looks normal, to being a bit too bright in the mid-ranges. What is happening here is this: When you are working with limited lumens, as these projectors are, there has to be some compromise. HDR wants to wow you when something really bright happens, and to get that extra wow, you need a greater difference between the brightest, and the mid and lower areas in terms of brightness.
The more you brighten up the lower-mids and mid-ranges, the less HDR-like the picture will look, and the more it will look like SDR. I prefer the extra pop the Epson has in HDR mode – part of that is thanks to the extra luminance, which gives it more range. But, the BenQ manages to produce a bright-looking image, where we would expect something on the dim side. I do not see this as a bad thing. I have friends who have seen both, who initially (they have no patience) were more impressed with the BenQ, because the overall image looks slightly brighter on medium and dark scenes.
The bottom line on HDR handling: I believe the Epson to be doing HDR better, providing more of the ”High" in HDR. The BenQ manages to produce a very nice, bright image that still pops – if not quite as much, despite having less brightness to work with. Overall, for HDR content, whether running with REC709 or P3 color, I do favor the Epson, but note that this BenQ HT5550 received the Runner-Up Award, because it still has an overall excellent picture for the price.