A 4K Projector for $1299
ViewSonic has set the official street on their new 4K projector at a very aggressive $1299...
We currently have a pre-production sample of the ViewSonic PX727-4K. We expect to get a final production sample next week, so we will do a final review of the product based on that unit when it arrives.
However, we can say this. Based on the pre-production unit's performance, this is the finest home theater projector ever produced by ViewSonic. The company has been focused on refining and optimizing the color performance and accuracy of their home video projectors over the last few years and it shows in spades on the PX727-4K. This projector features a ViewSonic proprietary custom-designed RGBRGB color wheel that they have been working on for some time.
The PX727-4K is intended for dark room home theater. Its Movie mode produces about 1030 lumens of accurate, well saturated color with virtually perfect flesh tone reproduction. Contrast, while not equal to the more expensive home theater models, is ample for this class of product. The PX727-4K, rated at 12,000:1 contrast, competes directly with the Benq HT2550 rated at 10,000:1. In their respective factory default Movie/Cinema calibrations, the PX727-4K is visibly higher in contrast and color saturation than the HT2550. However, with some calibration work we can get the HT2550 much closer to the performance of the PX727-4K than the HT2550's default calibration produces.
In point of fact, the PX727-4K and the HT2550 are built on the same hardware platform in the same factory, which accounts for the fact that the connection panels, intake/exhaust vents, and 1.2x zoom lens placement and configuration are identical. They measure virtually identical input lags of about 47 ms. Fan noise is about the same on both of them as well -- not as quiet as one would prefer, but most will find it easy enough to live with, especially when ceiling mounted. Both have +/- 40 degree vertical keystone adjustments.
Both projectors will throw a 120" diagonal 16:9 image from a distance of 12'10" to 15'4". They throw at a slightly upward fixed throw angle such that the bottom edge of the projected image is several inches above the centerline of the lens (or below the centerline of the lens if ceiling mounted). Neither unit has lens shift.
Both of these projectors throw a dark but not solid black frame around the active image area. The frame is about 5% of the active image width. So for a 120" 16:9 screen, the projected dark frame extends about 5" to the sides and above and below the active image. That means if you have a screen with a 3" black frame mounted on a white wall, the dark frame being projected from either of these projectors will be visible on the wall. That is something to consider and take steps to mitigate if possible.
On our test samples, the brightness uniformity of the PX727-4K is 78% on both ends of the zoom, and on the HT2550 it is 73% on both ends of the zoom. On both models the shifting luminance across the screen is subtle and there are no obvious hotspots or severely faded areas.
However, beyond their many superficial similarities, the HT2550 and the PX727-4K are distinctly different projectors. with different RGBRGB wheels and remarkably different default programming. They respond quite differently to source material, and in some cases they respond radically differently to the varying output levels of HDR sources. They both require adjustments to accommodate varying HDR source output levels, but that is not the fault of the projectors.
The BenQ HT2550 has two advantages worth noting. First, it has 3D capability for 1080p material. You must go into the menu and turn off 4K resolution in order to display the picture in 1080p, but it is easy to do. As a side note, the 3D system on the HT2550 units shipped prior to this week suffers a regular intermittent loss of sync, but BenQ has identified the problem. A firmware upgrade which fixes it is being made available this week. If you have already purchased the HT2550 and are having 3D issues, you can ship it to a BenQ service center for upgrade (contact BenQ for details).
The second advantage of the HT2550 is the onboard audio. Though rated at only 5 watts compared to the PX727's 10 watts, the HT2550's audio is louder and more robust, with a comparatively deeper bass and longer dynamic range. If you need onboard sound for your particular use, the HT2550 is the better deal. As these are excellent home theater projectors, hopefully most users will be using external surround sound systems rather than onboard audio.
Based on our initial experience with these two projectors, they are both capable of delivering impressive 4K resolution pictures for the money. Our ViewSonic PX727-4K shows better out of the box and requires less adjustment to get a vibrant, well balanced image. But the HT2550 can be calibrated to rival the picture quality of the PX727. Once we get the production sample of the PX727-4K we will examine color and contrast differences between these models with more scrutiny.
TheViewSonic PX727-4K is now selling for $1299. The Benq HT2550 is $1499. Both come with a 3-year warranty, and both have a replacement lamp price of $149. Once we see the final production sample of the ViewSonic PX727-4K, and once we get a BenQ HT2550 with the 3D fix, we will finalize the reviews of both of them.