BenQ HT4050 Home Theater Projector
November 20, 2015,
The BenQ HT4050 is one of three new full HD 1080p resolution home theater projectors released by BenQ this fall. Priced at $1,399, it is the high end of the three, being a step up from both the HT2050 at $799, and the HT3050 at $999. While the HT3050 and HT2050 are built on the same basic platform with some noteworthy variations in features, the HT4050 is an entirely different model altogether. Not only does it look physically different, it has a more extensive feature set that includes frame interpolation, 2D to 3D conversion, and more lens flexibility.
The BenQ HT4050 is intended to be the more elegant of the three new models, and it definitely is. The picture has a refined quality compared to its two lower priced siblings. The more expensive glass lens used in the HT4050 eliminates chromatic aberration. This contributes to a smoother, silkier, more film-like image than you get from either the HT2050 or HT3050. Having said that, we must also note that contrast (and consequently image depth) is somewhat better on two lower priced models. Casual observers examining them side by side would be more likely to notice the difference in contrast before they would see the difference in image smoothness, which is a characteristic that an experienced videophile would be more sensitive to.
Many who buy this projector will be opting for Cinema mode, which is represented as calibrated to Rec 709, same as it is on the HT3050. However, the factory programmed Cinema mode color balance on the 4050 is closer to accurate Rec 709 than it is on our test sample of the HT3050. Moreover, the general tonal balance is superior, with colors looking more natural with low saturation elements looking precisely tuned and in balance with more vibrant higher saturation elements. This is a beautiful picture, perfectly watchable out of the box without any need for calibration.
There are three other preset operating modes besides Cinema -- Bright, Vivid, and Game. A few words on each of these...
Vivid mode is incrementally brighter than Cinema and about the same as Game mode. This mode boosts color saturation and contrast somewhat but it is not overdone to the point that it looks fake. It is actually a very engaging picture. Color balance is still within the general ballpark of reasonable. As far as Vivid calibrations go, this one is extremely well done, and we would expect a lot of HT4050 users to opt for the Vivid setting for their normal movie viewing.
Game mode is a bit brighter and slightly cooler in temperature than Cinema mode, but it is also serviceable for video/film. It activates the "Brilliant Color" feature, whereas the Cinema mode does not. Adding Brilliant Color to the image boosts brightness, and shifts color temperature. White objects appear brighter than they should, but the effect is not nearly as heavy-handed as we've seen on other Brilliant Color implementations. Much of the non-blue lower saturation colors are reduced in saturation somewhat. The picture is overall quite pleasant.
Bright mode is the only one of the four that is way off in color temperature, producing a picture that is tinted an obvious green. This makes grass look brilliantly green, blue skies look cyan, while anything red or magenta becomes dull and brownish. We cannot think of a good use for Bright mode, but if you want a bright greenish picture, there it is.
In general, the HT4050 delivers solid black levels and high dynamic range, consistent with what we've come to expect from DLP. The picture is sharp and clean with no excessive noise. Colors are (or can be) naturally saturated and well balanced due to high color brightness (see Performance section for details).
The HT4050 has an impressive frame interpolation (FI) system which BenQ calls Motion Enhancer. You can activate it or not as you wish, but when set to Low it removes a substantial amount of panning judder without imparting any hint of undesirable digital video effect (or soap opera hyper-reality). At Medium and High, it virtually eliminates judder without introducing very much soap opera effect at all, which is quite remarkable. But in these modes it does introduce some intermittent ghosting artifacts that you may not be crazy about. Typically they occur when a subject in the foreground is moving sideways across the screen against a stationary background. This artifact is common in FI implementations, so it is nothing out of the ordinary on this one. Overall, the FI system works very well and is particularly noteworthy for its lack of soap opera effect.
Rainbow artifacts are infrequent on the HT4050. Although the HT4050 has the same RGBRGB 6x speed wheel as its two lower priced siblings, rainbows do pop up a bit more than they do on the HT3050 and HT2050 (possibly due to some Pixelworks processing that exists only on the HT4050). When they do occur they are smaller and dimmer than typical rainbows on competing units. Overall, we would guess very few users would find the level of rainbow activity to be problematic.
As with the HT3050 and HT2050, brightness uniformity is not terrific, measuring 75%, with the image tending to be less bright toward the upper left and brightest in the lower center. However, we see no obvious vignetting on this unit, and the relatively average uniformity is not visible in normal movie or video viewing.
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