BenQ HT3550 4K DLP Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Pros
  • 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution from pixel shifting with TI's .47-inch chip; supports HDR10 and HLG
  • New .47-inch DLP chip design reduces the dark frame around the image to about one quarter as wide as with earlier projectors with .47-inch chips
  • Claimed out-of-box color accuracy is less than 3 Delta E for Rec.709; 100% Rec.709 coverage; 95% DCI-P3 coverage
Cons
  • Although our color volume measurements show the HT3550 reaching 105% DCI-P3 coverage, BenQ's default settings for optimal viewing results in a smaller gamut
  • Input lag is too high for serious gamers
Our Take

The BenQ HT3550 offers good image quality for both 1080p and HDR and an awful lot for its price.

At $1,499, the BenQ HT3550 is the top of the line for BenQ's low-cost 4K UHD projectors, a step up from last year's HT2550, and one step down from the $2,499 HT5550, BenQ's single mid-tier model that I recently reviewed. Compared to the HT5550, the HT3550 has a smaller zoom range, much smaller vertical lens shift, and no horizontal lens shift, all of which help keep the cost down. It also offers a somewhat lower claimed DCI-P3 coverage, at 95% instead of 100%, and lower dynamic contrast ratio, at 30,000:1 instead of 100,000:1. However, it includes essentially the same video processing and color management capability, and it delivers an impressively gorgeous picture. So while it's well below the HT5550 in features as well as price, it easily matches it in bang per buck.

BenQ-HT3550-front-top-800

Features

Key features for the HT3550 include its .47-inch DLP chip for full 3840 x 2160 resolution with assistance by four-phase pixel shifting; a six-segment RGBRGB color wheel; 30,000:1 contrast ratio with the Dynamic Iris on; and a Wide Color Gamut (WCG) setting. The DCI-P3 coverage is rated at 95%, and I measured it a little higher than that in my tests, but not with settings that BenQ (or I) would recommend for the best viewing experience. More on that later.

According to BenQ, the HT3550—along with the HT5550—is among the first projectors to use a new generation .47-inch DLP XPR chip that minimizes the dark frame around the image. This dark band has been inherent in all models using Texas Instrument's first-generation .47-inch UHD chip. It's usually not visible on screens with a wide black light-absorbing bezel, but might be noticed in the area surrounding the image on a screen with a narrow bezel. With the new chip, the dark frame measures a little less than 1-inch wide on each side for a 44-inch high image, or a bit under 2% of the image height, which is more easily hidden.

The 1.3x zoom offers some flexibility for how far to place the projector from the screen. For a 100-inch diagonal image, for example, the throw distance ranges from roughly 8.25 to 10.75 feet. (Check the ProjectorCentral BenQ HT3550 projection calculator for the throw distance range for your screen size.)

The HT3550 is designed to work best on a low table just below the screen or in a ceiling mount above it. The mask in front of the lens with a "4K HDR" logo, in addition to being a style point, blocks stray light from spilling onto a ceiling or table top but in no way blocks the image—BenQ's simple solution to a problem that that cropped up in the HT2550.

BenQ-HT3550-Lens-Shroud

The small vertical lens shift is enough to let you correct for a minor vertical misplacement and match the image position to the screen without having to tilt the projector and resort to keystone correction. With the projector sitting on a table, the shift range allows the bottom of the image to be anywhere from the centerline of the lens to 10% of the image height above the centerline.

BenQ-HT3550-Top

Also worth mention is that the HT3550 includes a pair of highly usable onboard stereo speakers, so if you want to take the projector to the backyard for a movie night—it weighs only 9.2 pounds—you don't have to lug a separate sound system as well. For home theater use, where you'll want external high-quality audio, the rear panel offers both analog and optical audio output jacks.

Here's a more complete list of the BenQ HT3550's key features:

  • 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) resolution with .47-inch DLP chip
  • Six-segment RGBRGB color wheel
  • Rated at 100% Rec.709 color gamut in D. Cinema mode, 97% Rec.709 (at a higher brightness) in Cinema mode, and 95% DCI-P3 in the predefined version of the User mode
  • 2,000 ANSI lumen rating
  • 30,000:1 contrast ratio rating (full on/full off with dynamic iris on)
  • Dynamic iris settings of Low, Middle, High, or Off
  • 10-element, 8-group, all glass 1.3x zoom lens
  • Modest (+10%) vertical lens shift; +/-30 degree vertical keystone adjustment
  • Two 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2 ports
  • HDR10 and HLG HDR support
  • Four color preset modes and one user mode for SDR, plus one mode each for 3D, HDR10, and HLG
  • Lockable ISF Night and Day mode support
  • Silence mode turns off pixel-shifting to offer quieter operation at the cost of dropping resolution to 1080p
  • Color management system offers settings for RGBCMY hue, saturation, and gain; white balance adjustments for RGB gain and offset
  • Five-position HDR Brightness control
  • BenQ CineMaster video processing includes options for color enhancement, flesh tones, detail enhancement, and frame interpolation
  • Onboard stereo sound system with two 5-watt speakers>
  • Full HD 3D playback (DLP-Link glasses only, glasses not included)
  • Full size backlit remote with one-button access to key picture adjustments
  • 245-watt lamp rated for 4,000 hours in Normal, 10,000 hours in Economic, and 15,000 hours in SmartEco modes; replacement lamp 5J.JKC05.001 costs $149
  • 3-year warranty; 1 year on lamp
 

Performance

Color Modes. The HT3550 offers 10 color preset modes plus one User mode. Five show on the Picture Menu by default—Bright, Vivid TV, D. Cinema (short for Dark Cinema), Cinema, and User mode—but the projector will automatically switch to 3D mode when it sees a 1080p 3D input signal, and it will also switch to HDR10 or HLG modes when it sees appropriate HDR input. In addition, it supports ISF Day and Night modes with lockable settings for those who pay for professional calibration, though this is less likely for a projector at this price point. For those who are particularly bothered by noise, there's a Silence mode which we only first encountered in the HT5550. It turns off pixel shifting for quieter operation, but also drops resolution from the pixel-shifted 2160p to the DLP chip's native 1080p. It made some difference in noise level in our test, but not much.

As with most projectors, the brightest preset color mode has a noticeable green bias and is best avoided. The next brightest mode, Cinema, delivers good color accuracy out of the box. I measured it at 785 ANSI lumens, making it bright enough to light up a 90-inch 1.3 gain screen in moderate ambient light.

For 1080p content on the HT3550, BenQ touts a low color error straight from the factory for both Cinema and D. Cinema modes, thanks to calibration of each projector before shipping. The company recommends using D. Cinema mode for a dark room and Cinema mode in a room with ambient light, a recommendation I agree with.

My measurements using CalMan Ultimate software, an X-Rite i1Pro2 , and a Murideo Six-G signal generator showed D. Cinema was closest to D65 color temperature, and it didn't take much to adjust Gamma and RGB Gain settings to bring it to a near perfect result. The measurements showed a slight blue bias for Cinema mode and slight green bias for D. Cinema, both of which I could see in a side-by-side comparison with the calibrated Epson HC 5040UB I use for reference. However, neither was off by enough to notice without a measurement or having a reference image to compare to, which makes it a reasonable choice to use the projector without any adjustments.

BenQ-HT3550-Front-Right2

The CalMan results also showed that Cinema mode's Delta E errors (the measurement of how close each display color is to the target color) were a touch lower overall with default settings than the D. Cinema mode errors. Some minor tweaking of the Color Management settings solved that, bringing all of the Delta E errors for D. Cinema below 3, where they become essentially indistinguishable from an exact color match.

Note that D. Cinema has the Wide Color Gamut (WCG) mode locked on. The color volume was 89.7% of Rec.709 with default settings, and it jumped to 121.5% with Brilliant Color off. After calibration, color volume increased to 97.9% of Rec.709 with Brilliant Color on and 131.4% with it off. However, turning it off also dropped brightness by so much—about 30%—that I preferred leaving it on.

BenQ-HT3550-remote

After all the adjustments, including tweaking brightness and contrast, the grayscale and color accuracy were both excellent, especially for a projector at this low price. Leaving the lamp in Normal power mode, I measured D. Cinema mode at 467 lumens, giving me a touch over 19 foot-Lamberts with a 90-inch diagonal image on my 1.0-gain white screen.

The HT3550 automatically switched to its HDR10 mode in my tests whenever it saw HDR input. As shipped, the HDR10 mode comes with Brilliant Color turned on and Wide Color Gamut off. Toggling either one to the opposite setting will increase DCI-P3 coverage at the cost of lower brightness. With Brilliant Color on and WCG off, I measured the color volume at only 59.2% of DCI-P3. Turning on WCG brought it up to 76.4%. Turning Brilliant Color off at the same time brought it up to 105.6%.

After measuring brightness and color volume for each combination of Brilliant Color and Wide Color Gamut settings, I settled on leaving both on as a good starting point, which is also what BenQ recommends. I then adjusted RGB gain and offset to improve grayscale, and Color Management settings to improve color accuracy, with CalMan measurements confirming the improvement. However, they also showed a loss of color volume.

Since the HT3550 has two HDMI 2.0b ports, and changing settings for one doesn't affect the other, I was able to switch back and forth between the pre- and post-calibration settings to do an A-B comparison. Each had some advantages. In addition to a higher measured brightness, the default settings delivered brighter-looking dark scenes with more shadow detail and slightly more saturated color in scenes that were primarily midtones. In brighter scenes, however, the color was a little washed out compared with the post calibration settings. And although changing HDR brightness settings in both cases helped minimize these differences, it didn't erase them.

My very slight preference was for my calibrated version, which I used for my viewing tests. But the two are close enough that others might prefer the out-of-box settings, depending on which compromises they prefer to make. In both cases, with Wide Color Gamut and Brilliant Color both on, the HT3550 gave me 70.7 nits, or 20.6 ftL for the 90-inch image on my 1.0 gain screen. Turning Wide Color Gamut off boosted the brightness to 119.9 nits, or 34.9 ftL. Overall, BenQ gets high marks here for having a well-tuned out-of-box image.

1080p/SDR Viewing. With 1080p SDR Blu-ray discs, the HT3550 compared well with the calibrated Epson Home Cinema 5040UB I use as a reference projector, but even after calibration I saw some minor color differences, such as with slightly bluer and darker skys in the opening shot of La La Land. The HT3550 also showed the bright yellow dress of one of the film's dancers in this scene as a tad darker and with a slightly different hue, though again, this wasn't easily called out without direct comparison. On the plus side, the BenQ's particular gamma tuning brought out more shadow detail in her face.

In another instance, as the camera stops to show the backlit and fairly dark interior of a car, the HT3550 image showed excellent contrast, with good sense of depth and shadow detail that allowed me to clearly see the ribbing on the passenger seat upholstery. It was only in some of the more challenging night scenes later on in the movie that I could better spot the HT3550's contrast limitations. In one of those, where the lead characters Mia and Sebastian are walking along in the dark in the light of street lamps, the HT3550 couldn't be adjusted to pull out the shadow details in the woods alongside the street without also starting to wash out the image, while my reference projector, with its deeper native black level, was able to do so.

Still, though it came at the cost of some shadow detail, the calibrated image on the HT3550 delivered a good, satisfying black. And, as with the car seat, even just slightly brighter details than those in the woods were discernible. That combination of the HT3550's dark black and good contrast with slightly lighter tones gave this scene a good sense of three dimensionality.

In my go-to black-and-white test clip for checking rainbow artifacts, I saw more than I usually see with current-day projectors, and I also saw them more often than is typical in other scenes. If you're particularly sensitive to rainbow artifacts, or don't know if you are, be sure to buy the projector from a source that makes returns easy, so you can test it out for yourself.

LaLaLand-4
The many streetlamp-lit scenes and vibrant costumes of La La Land helped show off the BenQ's prowess with dark tones and bright, punchy colors. (Photo: Lionsgate)

UHD/HDR viewing. Swapping out the 1080p La La Land disc for the UHD HDR version made an immediate strong case for the HT3550's 4K HDR capabilities. The improvement at 4K HDR is impossible to miss, thanks to obviously crisper images, as you would expect; more vivid color; and better handling of dark tones. In the scene of the dark interior of the backlit car, for example, the tone-mapping is such that the ribbing on the passenger side clearly stands out even with the HDR Brightness control setting that produces the darkest overall brightness.

The HDR Brightness control offers five settings, from +2 (the brightest overall picture) to -2 (the darkest). Because the HDR Brightness, Brilliant Color, and Wide Color Gamut interact with each other, you'll need to experiment with various combinations to decide which one gives you the mix of overall brightness, contrast, and color saturation that works best for your setup and taste.

With Brilliant Color and Wide Color Gamut both on (because that gave me an appropriate peak white at the default HDR Brightness setting of 0) the higher HDR Brightness levels tended to wash out colors, reaching an unacceptable level at the +2 setting. The lower settings, at -1 and -2, tended to merge shadow detail into areas of solid black in the darker scenes. In the scene in La La Land where Mia and Sebastian come out of the Lighthouse Cafe at night and walk in different directions, for example, even some parts of their faces merged with the dark background at the -1 setting, and a dark red door looked black. Going to higher levels, more details as well as the door color became more obvious at each step from 0 to +2. For my taste, the best compromise overall was a toss up between the default 0 setting for better contrast, and +1 for a brighter image. On this and most HDR content, the HT3550 provided enough range to find a happy medium.

Note that the HT3550 is limited to a maximum 8-bit color depth at 3840 x 2160 60Hz, but accepted signals with as much as 16-bit color depth from the Murideo Six-G generator at 24Hz and 30 Hz. I didn't see banding artifacts in any of the discs I tested with, but there were some subtle hints of banding in the darker area of the downloadable ProjectorCentral 10-bit HDR Grayscale test animation, which verifies 10-bit processing from input to image.

The HT3550's Frame Interpolation feature, which has three settings in addition to Off, adds less obvious smoothing and less obvious digital video effect at each level than the equivalent settings in most projectors, but it seemed a little more obvious at each step than the Frame Interpolation function on the BenQ HT5550. At the low setting it smoothed motion only a little, while adding little to no digital video effect. At the highest settings it smoothed motion significantly, and added an obvious digital video effect.

With its original 1.0 firmware, the HT3550's dynamic iris showed obvious pumping (a flickering or near flickering effect) when content switched between dark and light scenes. The unit I tested included a firmware upgrade to address that problem. At no point did I see any flickering, including in scenes where I saw this on the HT5550, which shared the same problem when I reviewed it. The HT5550 will be getting a firmware upgrade of its own, according to BenQ.

That said, you might want to avoid the High and Middle settings for the dynamic iris. When I was watching a scene between two protagonists in conversation, one backlit by a bright window and the other in front of a darker wall, the dynamic iris kicked in within one second to change brightness with every switch back and forth between the two. Even without pumping issues, this can quickly get annoying if the point of view changes repeatedly every few seconds. At the Low setting—which BenQ says refers to the dynamic iris speed—the dynamic iris often didn't activate at all with repeated fast cuts back and forth.

3D Viewing. Add the HT3550 to the growing list of 4K projectors that supports 3D at 1080p using DLP-Link glasses. The image isn't as bright as it is with any 2D mode, as is typical for 3D modes, but I found it bright enough for comfortable viewing in the dark with a 90-inch image on my 1.0 gain screen, and watchable, if a little dim, even in moderate ambient light with an 80-inch inch 1.0 gain screen. I didn't see any crosstalk in my tests, and saw only the level of 3D-related motion artifacts that's typical for current-generation projectors.

BenQ-HT3550-Front

Conclusion

As a 4K UHD projector with HDR10 and HLG support, the BenQ HT3550 offers a lot for $1,499. Most people will consider its Cinema, D. Cinema, and HDR10 modes easily good enough to use right out of the box, and those who want to tweak the picture quality will find all the menu settings they need.

The test unit also delivered on brightness, despite being at the low end of what BenQ says it requires for release from the factory, and a bit lower than what it measured before shipping. The D. Cinema mode's 467-lumen brightness measurement after calibration is enough to light up a 110-inch, 1.3-gain screen in a dark room, while the Cinema mode's 785 lumens with default settings can fill a 90-inch 1.3-gain screen in moderate ambient light.

Contrast, shadow detail, and sense of three dimensionality for the HT3550 at 1080p also compared surprisingly well to my much more expensive Epson 5040UB reference projector. Although the Epson showed more shadow detail at the darkest levels, the tone mapping in the HT3550 gave it a bit of an advantage at what you might think of as middle-dark levels. That's pretty good for a projector that costs half as much as the current iteration of the Epson model.

The 1.3x zoom and modest vertical lens shift on the HT3550 are welcome conveniences that help make installation a little easier, as are details like the housing designed to block light from spilling over on a table or ceiling, and the much smaller dark frame around the image than was standard in projectors with earlier generation .47-inch DLP chips.

This all adds up to the BenQ HT3550 being an exceptional value at its $1,499 price, and a deserving recipient of our Highly Recommended designation.

 

Connections & Measurements

  • HDMI 2.0b (both with HDCP 2.2) (x2)
  • USB Type A 3.0 (media reader and firmware upgrades)
  • USB Type A (power only)
  • USB Type Mini B (service only)
  • DC 12v trigger (3.5mm mini jack)
  • IR Receiver (Front/Top) (x2)
  • Audio out (3.5mm stereo mini Jack, S/PDIF optical) (x2)
  • RS-232 (D-sub 9 pin, male; for control)
BenQ-HT3550-Connections

Brightness. The HT3550's brightest mode came in at 1,575 ANSI lumens, which is not quite 80% of the 2,000-lumen rating. BenQ says that's about 150 lumens lower brightness than it measured before shipping, which suggests it may have been subjected to some rough handling. (It doesn't take much misalignment from a physical shock to lower the brightness a few percent.) However, the more important measurements are for Vivid TV, Cinema, and D. Cinema modes—the three modes you're most likely to use. With the 1.3x zoom lens set to its widest angle setting, the measured ANSI lumens for Normal (full power) and Economic modes in each color mode was as follows:

BenQ HT3550 ANSI Lumens

MODE NORMAL ECONOMIC
Bright 1575 1202
Vivid TV 708 541
Cinema (REC. 709) 785 599
D.Cinema 553 422
Silence 732 559

Straight out of the box, Bright mode had a noticeable green shift, as with the brightest mode for most projectors. All the other modes were close enough to neutral that most people will find them quite usable as is. That makes Cinema the brightest mode without an obvious color shift. At 785 lumens, it's bright enough to light up a 90-inch 1.3 gain screen in moderate ambient light.

Zoom Lens Light Loss: 8%

Brightness Uniformity (Wide Zoom): 63%

Brightness Uniformity (Full Telephoto Zoom): 67%

Lowest Measured Input Lag (4K): 47-51 ms, all modes, frame interpolation off

Lowest Measured Input Lag (1080p): 60-61 ms, all modes, frame interpolation off

Fan Noise. BenQ rates Normal mode at 30 dB and Economic 28 dB. Both are loud enough to hear the whoosh of air from anywhere in a small room during quiet moments. It's the kind of steady sound that I don't find annoying, but those who are particularly bothered by noise may feel otherwise. Silence mode didn't lower volume by enough to make much difference with either setting. High Altitude mode, which BenQ recommends at 4,921 feet and above, is loud enough that most people will want to consider some form of acoustic isolation.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ HT3550 projector page.

To buy this projector, use Where to Buy online, or get a price quote by email direct from Projector Central authorized dealers using our E-Z Quote tool.

The BenQ HT3550 is also sold outside of the United States of America as the BenQ W2700. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with BenQ for complete specifications.

Comments (50) Post a Comment
David Gurney Posted Jun 27, 2019 2:32 AM PST
Can we please stop calling pixel-shifting HD-to-4K projectors "4K?"

Come on, guys. This site should do better and its readers should expect better.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 27, 2019 2:42 AM PST
David, I understand the distinction between this and a true "native" 4K projector that delivers all the pixels of a UHD or 4K signal to the screen simultaneously, but it's a mischaracterization to not call it a 4K projector when it's delivering all the pixels in the signal in the timeframe required, and when it does so with excellent results that (short of a huge leap in the quality of optics) performs about as well as a native 4K projector. We are very careful not to refer to these projectors as "native 4K" and reserve that for projectors whose imagers have full UHD or 4K resolution. That said, discussion of the Epsons as 4K is a bit misleading--what they call 4K or 4K enhanced is really 1080p pixel shifted just twice rather than the 4 times required in the 0.47-inch DLP chips or twice in the 0.66-inch DLP chips. But we use Epson's (clearly marketing driven) product designation and explain clearly in the reviews what's going on inside the projector.
Chris Posted Jun 27, 2019 11:47 AM PST
I tried the calculator to see if this would work in my room, but it said to reduce picture size as it'll be too dim at any throw distance. My Epson 8345, rated at 1800 ANSI lumens shows fine. What's the difference? The calculator works nice & cleanly I must say. One thing that's missing is the screen gain though. I have an Elunevision Elara with 2.4 gain, so it would be good to see the difference different gains make.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 27, 2019 11:50 AM PST
Chris, I'll refer you here to my response to David below regarding how we arrive at estimates for the calculator and why the reading may be coming up low. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have the juice to light up your screen, only that the mode we're using for the estimate might not have the reserves needed.

And our calculator does have a field to punch in your screen gain...

Joe N Tell Posted Jun 27, 2019 12:23 PM PST
I just wanted to say that this is an excellent and thorough review. Thank you for everything you do.
Brandon M. Posted Jun 27, 2019 1:21 PM PST
Thanks for the review! I most appreciate that you include 3D in your reviews, as that is one of my most important consideration along with many others. I am happy enough with my 1500-hour HT3050 for now, but am looking forward to some of the upcoming bright laser projectors with both 4K and 3D. The HT3550 is just going to be too dim for me. Take care!
David Posted Jun 27, 2019 4:47 PM PST
Just checked your calculator..this projected has limited brightness(12) for. a 120” screen at 1.1 gain? am I reading this right?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 28, 2019 1:54 PM PST
Well, yes David, you read it right, but this estimate needs to be taken with just a bit of salt and some understanding of context.

For most home theater projectors, our new calculator offers two choices to arrive at a brightness estimate for a given screen size and gain. There is a button to select the ProjectorCentral estimate for calibrated dark-room settings, or to use the manufacturer's full rated brightness specification (in Lumens) as the basis. The ProjectorCentral estimate, if available, is based on one of two things. If we haven't reviewed this particular projector, we apply a reduction in light output based on our experience with the brand to make a rough call on what it will put out in the preferred dark-room color mode with the most accurate color. As you probably know from looking at our reviews, the calibrated image for dark room viewing rarely comes close to the full output of the projector in its brightest mode...which is most often unusable due to excessive green bias meant to pump up the lumen spec.

If we have reviewed the projector, we report the calibrated peak white light output from the review to Bobette, our database maven, and that becomes the basis for the ProjectorCentral brightness estimate in the calculator. For example, here's a pertinent excerpt from David's review of the HT3550:

"After all the adjustments, including tweaking brightness and contrast, the grayscale and color accuracy were both excellent, especially for a projector at this low price. Leaving the lamp in Normal power mode, I measured D. Cinema mode at 467 lumens, giving me a touch over 19 foot-Lamberts with a 90-inch diagonal image on my 1.0-gain white screen."

If you go to the calculator, plug in 90 inches for the screen size and 1.0 for the gain, you'll get a result of 19 ft-L at mid-zoom, and a range of 18 to 20 ft-L across the full available range of the zoom. If you bump the image size up to 120-inch diagonal and the gain up to 1.1, then you end up with a range from 11 to 12 ft-L within the available zoom range.

So what does that mean? It means that this projector, which let's face it, isn't exactly a powerhouse, may not deliver enough punch to a larger 120-inch screen WHEN USED AT OUR SETTINGS FOR A 90-INCH SCREEN. Does that mean you can't get it to light up a larger screen? No, but it will be dimmer and you may not love the result if you use the D.Cinema mode we used for the review. The Cinema mode, which was an excellent alternative, was considerably brighter according to our measurements and would likely deliver the desired punch.

Keep in mind, too, that David's sample of the HT3550 showed considerably less output than the 2,000 lumen spec for this projector in its brightest mode. It's possible that a different sample might have more brightness to spare in the D.Cinema mode. That doesn't mean our calibrated brightness would have been any different -- 19 ft-L is a nice punchy image for SDR and David would not likely have tuned to the projector any brighter. However, a different sample hitting something closer to the factory spec in the brightest mode would have delivered more lumens in every color mode, which means that it might be possible to use the contrast (peak white) control to get a more favorable result in the Dark Cinema mode on the larger 120-inch screen without needing to switch to the Cinema mode for its extra reserves.

Of course, you can always just use the calculator option for the manufacturer's spec, but assume that you'll be in a different, more color-accurate mode that will considerably reduce the light output from the full spec to something that might be 1/2 or less, maybe much less. This varies by manufacturer and model, but ultimately you can see that we ended up on our 90-inch, 1.0 screen using about 1/4 (give or take) of the full manufacturer's rated output.

Gerardo Delgadillo Posted Jun 28, 2019 2:40 PM PST
I'm planning to replace my three-year-old, 4000-hour HT2550 with the HT3550. The HT2550 in eco-mode projects to a 170" screen in my dark room. And I love it. My concern with the HT3550 is the 200-lumen drop. Should I be extremely worried about this or not? I also watch the occasional 3D movie.
Gerardo Delgadillo Posted Jun 28, 2019 2:42 PM PST
Correction: I meant to say HT2050! (Not HT2550)
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 28, 2019 2:55 PM PST
Gerardo, that's a pretty big screen for this projector, especially if it performs like our sample, which actually came up a bit short on measured lumen output compared with the manufacturer's spec. But even if we assume an extra 20% output to account for that, you'd end up with approximately 950 lumens or so in the Cinema mode based on our measurements, which is the brightest of the two preferred color-accurate modes on the projector. That's a bit less than half of the projector's full specified output and I think would net you about 11-12 ft-L on your 170-inch screen at the widest (closest) zoom setting. It'll be a lot dimmer in 3D, obviously. You could get more light from it in bright mode, but with a noticeable green bias.

Not sure what you're getting now from your 2050, or what settings or screen gain you're using, but your concern about having enough firepower here to take full advantage of UHD HDR content for such a large screen is legit. You do sacrifice some brightness in these 4K projectors to get better color fidelity and gamut.
SimonBG Posted Jun 30, 2019 6:09 AM PST
Another disappointment from BenQ (I own one). Marketing it at 2000 lumens when it can barely hit 800 usable should be punishable. In this case, the punishing system is my wallet (I was hoping to upgrade to this one). Shame.
mike Posted Jul 2, 2019 12:06 PM PST
I have a BENQ 3550, i purchased a 175" screen, will the projector still handle this large screen size ?
kzh Posted Jul 3, 2019 2:16 PM PST
Thank you for the review, but I do have a question: I know it's possible to measure black level- shouldn't be that hard, even so, only hometheaterhifi include black level measurements in their reviews. Why does't Projctorcentral include black level measurements? Even if it were inaccurate, as long as your methodology is consistent, it would still be very helpful when comparing projectors you review.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jul 3, 2019 3:10 PM PST
KZH,I agree that black level and contrast are critically important performance parameters for home theater projectors and we continue to struggle with both arriving at the best methodology to use for measurement and how we can consistently measure across all of our reviewers who work in different environments and on different screens, etc. It's better delved into in a longer missive at some point, but suffice to say that I continue to have this top of mind and hope we can start sharing a more formal indicator on this. In the meantime, I believe the best service is done for readers when we compare the black levels of a new projector against known reference projectors that we've previously reviewed.
Kevin Posted Jul 10, 2019 9:38 AM PST
If input lag with gaming is a concern, what should an alternative to this unit be? I like that it does well with a shorter distance, I may have to use the short length for my new house, but I can't sacrifice gaming performance because input lag on FPS shooters is monstrously aggravating.

I don't know if dropping to a 1080p projector is the right choice, or if 2000 and under is not a high enough price point.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jul 22, 2019 8:04 AM PST
We've just not seen super-fast lag times among the 4K projectors generally, Kevin. The Epson 5050 measured about 22-24 ms in 4K, and about 28-29 ms in 1080p, which isn't actually too bad but still not quite the 8 to 16 ms you can get with some 1080p gaming projectors. The Epson 4010 measured about 28-29 ms with 1080p; we could not measure it with a 4K lag meter due to the restrictions of its HDMI inputs. The Sony VPL-VW695ES measured about 36 ms with 1080p and Sony claims 27 ms with 4K with its Input Lag Reduction turned on, but we couldn't verify it as our 4K meter wouldn't link properly with the projector with that feature turned on; it measured 77 ms with that featured turned off, though.

So it depends on how critical the speed is for you. You can get a really quick and not bad 1080p projector these days for well less than $1,000...
Jason Posted Aug 7, 2019 11:15 PM PST
How does it goes on a 150 inch screen ? I will use to watch movies mainly ..
shaun vale Posted Aug 15, 2019 7:50 PM PST
So is the recommendation a pass........... if you own a large 3-D collection????
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 16, 2019 8:24 AM PST
I don't think you can infer that from David's comments, Shaun, but what should be clear from the review is that we're not talking here about a particularly bright projector by today's standards with 1,500 rated max lumens at rated brightness. If you watch in a dark room at a 90 or 100-inch diagonal image size it'll likely have enough punch for 3D; if you go much larger on the size or introduce any ambient light, maybe not.
Hassaan Posted Sep 17, 2019 8:47 AM PST
Hello! Are those lumen readings based on off the screen measurements or off the lens? In the hometheaterhifi.com review, Chris Eberle reported brightness readings that worked out to a "Bright Mode" lumen rating of 1103 lumens and when I asked about why he thought it was so low he mentioned that these were readings taken off the screen instead of off the lamp.

Since your Bright Mode reading is significantly higher, I was just confused as to which lumen reading to plug into online calculators to figure out how many nits I was gonna get with my screen size and gain.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 17, 2019 9:42 AM PST
Hassaan, we do an industry-standard ANSI lumen measurement taken into the lens from screen distance, with readings from 9 different points across an imaginary tic-tac-toe grid and averaging these to then calculate the lumens based on the light reading and the image size. This is how the best manufacturers establish their lumen specification, and it takes the screen material out of the equation. How much light you or anyone else will get is dependent on how large an image you try to project, the reflectivity of the screen material, and the amount of ambient light.

You can read more about how we do lumen measurements in this article.
Hassaan Posted Sep 17, 2019 1:04 PM PST
Rob,

Thank you for your detailed reply! My apologies I think I asked the same question on the comparison article between the 3550 and 4010. Please feel free to ignore that one.

My follow up question would then be: Can I go to an online calculator, such as projectorscreen.com/projector-screen-calculators and plug in the lumen values you have provided here, along with screen dimensions and gain to get an accurate estimate of the reflected image brightness? Or do I need to factor in an percentage of light that gets "absorbed" by the screen surface? Surely a 1.0 gain doesn't reflect 100% of the light that is incident on it - only a mirror would.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 17, 2019 1:09 PM PST
No worries, I already replied to that comment on the 3550/4010 comparison earlier as well and referenced our article on this subject.

Regarding screen gain: we do regard a 1.0 gain screen in the calculator as providing perfect reflectivity as is standard for such calculations. In any event, our calculator does not allow you to insert the number of specific lumens you want to use for purpose of the brightness estimate adjusted for screen size and gain. It's either based on the full rated output of the projector, or sometimes the full measured lumen output if we've reviewed the projector. We're working on a version that will allow you to select the calibrated brightness for projectors we've reviewed, or some percentage of full output for those we haven't reviewed, on the assumption that the actual lumen output of the mode used for home theater is much lower than the full rated output.
Robert Gavrel Posted Sep 25, 2019 9:18 PM PST
This was the best economically priced 4k projector I have bought. The picture quality this projector lens puts out is simply impeccable and enjoyable to watch on a big screen. Plus I love that both hdmi ports are 2.2 hdmi quality.
Andrew Posted Sep 28, 2019 5:07 PM PST
I am extremely confused between HT3550 and Optoma UHD60 , also I have to place my projector at around 10ft. Can someone please recommend which one should I go for
Thomas Posted Nov 1, 2019 4:48 AM PST
Did you try to measure the input lag in silent mode? The mode where the pixel shifting is turned off? Would be cool if it could reduce lag by 1/2 or more... 🧐🤔

Seems weird that 4K has less lag than 1080p...
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 1, 2019 7:58 AM PST
Thomas, we did not test lag in Silent mode I'm afraid and the projector is no longer in house. As for lag times in 1080p vs 4K, I've seen it work both ways where sometimes the 1080p is faster and more often the 4K is faster (probably due to less processing required)...
Henry Ho Posted Nov 29, 2019 1:54 PM PST
I would love to upgrade my BenQ to 4k one day but how come BenQ stopped making Short Throw projectors? I don't want to change my ceiling mount position if possible.
hisgreatness Posted Dec 2, 2019 1:12 PM PST
@robin - great review. btw, i understand many true 4K projector owners are a bit annoyed about the cheaper 4K pixel shifting projectors we see nowadays - and it's understandable that only a few of them used to enjoy 4K as true 4K projectors are costly. but nowadays, they're annoyed and won't accept the fact that technology advances (pretty sure they don't know Moore's Law) that provides to more people and enjoy cheaper technology which performs or produces the same as the expensive ones.
Stephen Bookbinder Posted Jan 1, 2020 3:53 PM PST
Lol at posters still thinking DLP pixel shifting isnt 4k. The information is there and its not like line doubling. 3 chip "true 4k" projectors have convergence distortion which offsets their slight advantage in resolution compared to DLP 4k.
Jason A Posted Jan 16, 2020 2:34 PM PST
Considering that the Epson 3800 and the BenQ HT3550 are currently priced the same on Amazon, which would be the best projector to buy for a dedicated theater room with a 140" screen and no windows or ambient light? Looking for the best overall picture quality and performance.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 16, 2020 3:54 PM PST
These are both fine projectors with excellent color and HDR, Jason, but in this instance the extra brightness attributable to the Epson will come into play for your large screen. The BenQ TK850, which is the same projector as the HT3550 but with a different color wheel to boost the light output, is yet another option. We just began a comparison of that model with the HT3550 that will likely not be published until February.

Our direct comparison of the HT3550 and Epson HC4010 may give you further insights. Although the HC3800 is built on a smaller chassis with a somewhat less sophisticated lens and more light output, you can draw some parallels. One thing the 3800 has that the 4010 does not is Epson's 16-position slider for HDR brightness first introduced in the HC5050UB. It's HDR tone-mapping is likely to be very similar, but you obviously get more ability to fine tune to specific content than with the 4010 or the HT3550.

Lenni Skovgaard Posted Jan 23, 2020 4:13 PM PST
Regarding this comparison You mention (TK850 vs HT3550) :

I really need this info, especially what the downside is, if chossing the higher brightness from the TK850.

The different colorwheel....will is improve/remove some of the rainbow effect that the HT3550 review mentions as above average-issue?

I need to make a decision soon between HT3550, TK850 and Optoma UHD52alv (UHD380x).

The Optoma was my choice intill this afternoon when I saw it libve in a showroom. It has a big problem with yellow color for some reason !?. Yellow almost looks orange. I have read from owners, and now I have seen this myself. Have You seen / heard of this (mayor) issue? Optoma told me I was wrong when I contacted them abut this weird yellow-problem...but I'm not unfortunately.

Thanks in advance Lenni.

I live in Denmark, with almost no showrooms for projectors around, so I rely heavily on input from sites like yours. I have not ben able to find anywhere to see the BenQ HT3550.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 23, 2020 11:33 PM PST
We are anticipating having this comparison review posted early next month. I can't say what the difference might be in rainbows, but if the pairing follows our experience with the similar pairing from BenQ with these models predecessors (HT2550 and TK800)and a pairing from Optoma (UHD51 and UHD51ALV) the likely difference will be a slight sacrifice in color accuracy in return for the extra brightness. But I'm afraid we can't comment with authority till we complete our evaluation of the new models. Meantime, you can get some idea from looking at our existing shootouts of those earlier pairs.
Zoub Posted Mar 22, 2020 12:53 AM PST
This site is amazing, I'm a totally new to projectors, and I'm looking for 1 but there are so many things to look out for, buying the right one.. tvs are way easier. Thanks projector Central!!
Dexter Posted Apr 3, 2020 10:26 PM PST
I have a 125 inch screen and I’ll be placing the projector about 13-15 away, will this be a good fit?? Meaning will I be able to get a good/sharp 125 inch image from the projector.
Dexter Posted Apr 3, 2020 10:53 PM PST
I have a 125 inch screen and I’ll be placing the projector about 13-15 away, will this be a good fit?? Meaning will I be able to get a good/sharp 125 inch image from the projector.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Apr 4, 2020 3:38 PM PST
You need to check our throw calculator to see if this projector will throw that image size from that distance.The HT3550 has a relatively short-to-medium throw lens. If the image size is attainable from your throw distance, you should get a very nice and sharp image, at least in the dark room this projector is designed to be used in.
Jeff Whiteman Posted Apr 10, 2020 12:08 PM PST
what are you recommendations on maximizing settings on cinema and hdr modes? Will the 3550 do dolby vision or only hdr10?
Brad Posted May 30, 2020 7:24 AM PST
Great review but Looking to answer a simple question for a not so Project savvy person. I am looking for a good quality projector to watch movies outside with my family. You mention good speakers if used outside. However sounds like this is designed for a dark room. Will this work in my yard with some ambient light from a suburban neighborhood? Intend to use 120” screen. Should I go for it or pass. Thanks!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 30, 2020 7:49 AM PST
Your perception is accurate—this projector is primarily designed for higher performance and contrast in a dark room and its light output is commensurate with that. Look into BenQ’s TK 850 or Optoma’s UHD52 ALV, both of which we have reviewed. We also have a comparison review of these two coming out shortly. Both are designed to deliver more brightness for ambient light environments or larger screens.
Ala Shleeh Posted Jun 26, 2020 4:08 AM PST
What video and audio formats can I play via ht3550 USB.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 26, 2020 7:56 AM PST
If you visit our View Projector Details page you can call up a pdf of the spec page or manual to find that information.
Jeff C. Posted Jun 30, 2020 4:17 PM PST
I am thinking of upgrading my HT2050 to the HT3550. Is there a noticeable difference in the 4K picture (being pixel shift and not native) compared to the 1080p picture to justify the $1500 price?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jul 1, 2020 9:01 AM PST
Jeff, the difference will be like night and day. First, put aside any concerns about DLP projectors achieving their 4K UHD resolution via pixel-shifting. It is very hard to detect any difference at all between native 4K and DLP 4K with TI's XPR pixel-shifting. When you move now to a 4K display and start viewing both 1080p scaled content and native UHD content, you'll see a tremendous improvement in detail. Add to this the ability to view HDR content, and the excellent contrast and out of box tuning for the HT3550, and you won't go wrong upgrading. The is a very slight difference in rated output between the 2050 and 3550, with the BenQ sacrificing a couple hundred lumens in return for its better contrast and color accuracy with 4K content. But that's a very minor difference that would normally be difficult to see.
Jeff C. Posted Jul 1, 2020 2:32 PM PST
Thanks for the info Rob. One more question. I think I remember reading that I can swap out the 2050 with the 3550 without having to move my bracket. Is that correct?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jul 1, 2020 2:46 PM PST
Jeff, these projectors have relatively similar zoom lenses/throw ratios, but not the same so there is no guarantee. You need to visit the HT3550's throw calculator, insert your fixed throw distance from the lens to the screen, and see if the zoom adjustment will accommodate your screen size without having to move the projector location.
Andy Posted Aug 22, 2020 6:22 AM PST
Hi,

it seems the data (eg ft-L) is a bit off in the current calculator, comparing with the ones replied to David Posted Jun 27, 2019 4:47 PM PST. Anything changed since then?

Thank you
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 24, 2020 7:48 AM PST
The projector hasn't changed but it's possible our calculations have. You may notice that the latest version of the calculator allows you to select between using the manufacturer's spec and a ProjectorCentral estimate which would be based on our measurement but also may account for what we think is the most likely picture mode. Not sure if this might account for what you're seeing.

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