BenQ HT3550 4K DLP Projector Review
+ 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
- Input lag is too high for serious gamers
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 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.
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.
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
|Review Contents:||Introduction, Features||Performance, Conclusion||Connections, Measurements|
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