ProjectorCentral.com
WORLD'S LARGEST
PROJECTOR RESOURCE
Celebrating 20 Years
Top 10 Find a Projector Reviews Throw CalculatorCalc Buyer's Guide Expert Blogs Projector Forums
Share:

BenQ HT3550 4K DLP Projector Review

Review Contents
Best Home Theater Projector
Performance
4
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
BenQ HT3550 Projector BenQ HT3550
(add to Compare List)
Go to My Compare List

30000:1 Contrast Ratio
2000 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$1,499 Street Price

BENQ HT3550 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

BENQ HT3550 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 ON THE BENQ HT3550

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

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.

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

Next Page
Performance, Conclusion
Review Contents: Introduction, Features Performance, Conclusion Connections, Measurements

You support ProjectorCentral when you buy
the BenQ HT3550 from these
authorized resellers.
Thank you!



OR get competitive price quotes
by email direct from BenQ dealers

Get an E-Z Quote
Comments (24) 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.

Post a comment

Commenting on this article is easy and does not require any registration. Your email address is necessary for you to activate your comment once it has been submitted. It will not be shown to other site viewers. ProjectorCentral reserves the right to remove any comment at any time for any reason. Foul language is not permitted, nor are personal attacks. No HTML allowed. All comments should remain on topic.

Name:

Email Address:(used only to confirm your comment)

Your Comment:

(Enter the numbers as they appear to the left)