Projector Reviews

2019-2020 Home Theater Projectors Report – Non-Winners $1000-$2000 Class

This page contains comments on projectors that were considered in this year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report, but did not win awards.

Optoma UHD51A

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The Optoma UHD51A won an award in last year’s report for Most Innovative: Smart Projector in the $1000 – $2500 Projector Class (now the $1000 – $2000 Class). Though it did not take home honors in this year’s report, it is still quite a good and highly relevant projector. This $1,699 Optoma is a 4K UHD pixel shifter (1920 x 1080 x4), and has support for Alexa and Google Assistant.

It is a smart projector, but it is by no means the kind of smart that LG brings to the table. That is, no integrated apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. What it does have is voice control of the projector via both Alexa and Google Assistant, so you get to choose which you prefer. With either of these AI assistants, you can turn the projector on and off, control volume, change sources, etc.

The Optoma UHD50 has an RGBRGB color wheel.

The Optoma UH51A has an RGBRGB color wheel, which gives it some better color than many of its competitors. Lots of DLP projectors utilize an RGBW wheel, which features a clear slice to allow more white lumens through, resulting in a brighter projector when it comes to white lumens so it is better at tackling ambient light. For an RGBRGB color wheel, however, the UHD51A does pretty well, with right around 2,000 lumens calibrated.

Post calibration, the UHD51A does some fine color, though its black level performance isn’t much better than entry level. And, for a home theater projector, that is one of our top priorities – the ability to do well on really dark scenes. This year, the Optoma was competing with some projectors that have great black level performance, so it’s really no surprise that Art would choose those for an award over a projector that lacks in this department.

BenQ TK800

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The BenQ TK800 won an award in last year’s report for Best Bright Room Home Entertainment in the $1000 – $2500 Projector Class. It might have won this year, too, if BenQ hadn’t come out with an updated version – the TK800M, which is a mere $50 more than the TK800’s current list price of $1249. For that extra $50, you get improvement in the picture, thanks to its utilization of the new Texas Instruments 0.47” DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) imaging chip.

The TK800 is a DLP projector with 4K UHD resolution, thanks to its pixel shifting technology. It is a true bright room projector, meaning it is suitable for rooms that have little to no control over ambient light, as it has a high lumen claim of 3,000 lumens. When measured, it got within 5% of that claim, so kudos to BenQ. Many projectors will fall up to 25% below claim.

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This BenQ features a Silence Mode, which turns off the pixel shifting, should you want to significantly lower the gentle hum that emits from the fan. If you’re watching 1080p content, this is no real sacrifice, though for 4K content – leave that pixel shifting on. The TK800 does HDR, and for that, it has two real modes: Auto, and HDR. Most will want to leave it on Auto unless you really like fooling around with your projector (I fall into the latter category). There is also an SDR setting, should you want to turn HDR off.

DLP projectors often have a function called Brilliant Color, which allows you to mess around with the color of the projector. The TK800 is no different. Brilliant Color is best suited for TV or sports content, as it does tend to have less natural-looking color than when left off. Speaking of sports, the TK800 does not have CFI – Creative Frame Interpolation – which adds frames to make the action seem more life-like. This is a major bummer for sports fans, but not a deal-breaker for most. One final note on the BenQ TK800 – it is 3D capable!

ViewSonic PX727-4K

ViewSonic PX727-4K Front

The ViewSonic PX727-4K is another one of last year’s winners that had to concede an award to its successor. Last year, the PX727-4K won an award for Best Value 4K Capable Home Entertainment in the $1000 – $2500 class. This year, the PX747-4K won the Best Bright Room Home Entertainment Award, alongside the BenQ TK800M, in the $1000 – $2000 Class.

The PX727-4K took home that Best Value award because of its price, and price alone. At the time, its competitor, the TK800, was a full $200 more than this ViewSonic. Now, it can be found for less than $1,000, making it just about the lowest-cost 4K capable projector – tied with the AAXA 4K1 pocket projector that won an award in this year’s report in the Under $1000 Class. The ViewSonic undoubtedly has the upper hand in the lumens and color department.

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This ViewSonic claims 2,200 lumens, which is enough for most room environments, save for the brightest of living rooms and media rooms. This is a projector you could use in your home theater or cave, as well as a living room environment. Eric did a “quick-cal” of Standard Mode, which resulted in about 1,500 lumens – still enough for watching TV during the day, with some degree of ambient light. That said, the projector does pretty good out-of-the-box-color, which will be suitable for all but those home-theater-aficionados that will want to calibrate.

This is a 1080p pixel shifter that pixel shifts the image four times (1920 x 1080 x4), and it can handle 4K content. It has HDR, which is great for that 4K content, and it attempts the P3/BT.2020 color space. The ViewSonic PX727-4K also has a fast color wheel, so no Rainbow Effect to comment on. For those of you who don’t know, the Rainbow Effect is a phenomena that occurs with DLP projectors when the color wheel is slow, where a small percentage of people will see rainbow artifacts across the screen.

BenQ HT2550

BenQ HT2550

The BenQ HT2550 is another great home theater projector that has fallen below the $1,000 mark. It uses the same 1080p pixel shifting chip as the ViewSonic PX727-4K (1920 x 1080 x4) to reach the 4K UHD standard. It was included in last year’s report, and though it didn’t win an award, it is still relevant and an excellent value with that under $1000 price sticker. Here’s why:

It offers HDR support, but none for the BT.2020 color space, which is a shame. It does, however, have a fast RGBRGB color wheel, making it more ideal for those who want the DLP look without the rainbows. To be fair, only about 5% of the population is affected by the Rainbow Effect, but if you are of that small percentage – the HT2550 shouldn’t bother you. This BenQ also has a three year parts and labor warranty – one of the best around!

HT2550_passengers_aurora_diningroom

The BenQ HT2550 does pretty excellent color in multiple modes, right out of the box. This is a 2,200 lumen projector, which is decent for living rooms and media rooms with control over ambient light. Since HDR significantly reduces brightness, however, the HT2550 is best suited for a dedicated home theater or cave.

It does feature a range of image processing solutions, should you want to enhance the picture of this BenQ. BenQ’s Cinema Master has three types of processing – Color Enhancer (Hue, Saturation, Gradients), Flesh Tone (for adjusting skin tones), and Pixel Enhancer 4K (allows you to dial in the amount of sharpness/detail on 1080p content, which can significantly enhance the picture over the default setting). The projector is also suitable for gaming, which is a major plus. For the price, this BenQ is really hard to beat, though the newer model, the HT3550, certainly did!