best home theater projector on a budget

best home theater projector on a budget

best home theater projector on a budget

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me to get this out I’ve been taking my time I’ve spent about a month with this projector right here to gather all my thoughts my impressions I also wrote up written review that I’ll link to in the description so you can view it there before we dive into this predictor I want to give a little bit more context on what I believe this projector is – the 4k projector market today so to do that I want to talk about a projector that BenQ launched back in 2013 called the W 1070 it was the very first projector launched in the world at less than $1000 that had 1080p and 3d and so the buzz that created was that oh my gosh we have a projector at less than $1000 that can do 1080p and 3d and what it also does shorten the thrill that I mean you could do that type of image as well which was really really important to me I had a very unique setup at the time that that was awesome for and so on one hand the price was great and so on the other hand was the performance good as well and I think that most reviewers including myself would say yes it was good I think it was art fireman who coined the term light cannon in his review of the W 1070 and so it had really good brightness color accuracy out of the box was great really good sharpness 3d performance was good to boot and so it was just a very well packaged projector at the lowest price point that you could get a 1080p 3d projector for and so what it was it was a category killer was a silver bullet for the 1080p 3d market at that time and it went on to become one of the best selling projectors of all time and to give just one more layer of context I want to talk about the 4k projector crop that has been launched in last year so last year BenQ launched and was really one of the first project manufacturers to launch affordable 4k along with Optima Epson had some players in there I serve you Sonic and I think that a lot of people wanted these projectors to be those no-compromise silver-bullet projectors but the fact of the matter was is that there was a trade-off somewhere there’s a compromise somewhere it wasn’t that you know bullseye Silver Bullet that the W 1070 was for the market at that time besides the point those projectors were the most affordable way to get into 4k and they still represented a good value if that’s what you wanted so let’s fast forward again to 2019 and begin to the HT 3550 so off the top of the head again this is a 4k DLP HDR projector it’s producing a pixel perfect eight point three million pixels on the screen does this by shifting its native 1080p DMD chat four times using t-i-is XP our technology it’s a point four seven inch DLP chip as an RGB RGB color will what it also does as we’re doing a hardware tour here it introduces lens shift back into these predictors something that was missing in the TK 800 as well as the HT 2550 so that’s very well known for placement flexibility the other thing that this projector does and I think I mentioned this before is it is a shorter throat compared to the HT 2550 this is in fact almost the exact same offset lens shift as well as throw ratio as the W 1070 and HT 2050 a making it more or less a plug-and-play replacement for owners of those projectors now on paper some other things that I thought looked very good when I saw the spec list were things like the introduction of a dynamic iris Preta frame interpolation being able to smooth out fast-moving images it also is introducing 95% DCI p3 color gamut color space coverage which is a first for a DLP projector so very very good color accuracy out of the box and you’ll get with the Ben qht 35 50th factory color calibration report so one thing that Ben Q has always done very very well is out-of-the-box color accuracy and I’ve got to say this has been the best color accurate image that I’ve seen out of the box from Ben Q another big thing about this projector is USB user upgradeable firmware so the previous models if there was a firmware update the user had to ship in their HT 25 50 or TK 800 and think you would ship it out so that was just a headache for everyone involved but the reason why is because there was three processing chips or maybe even more that the those projectors were handling 3d with the XP are shifting the 4k the HDR SDR 1080p content and that was done by multiple systems on a chip within that projector the HT 3550 consolidates that it makes it much easier not only for the user interface to be navigated through but also user USB for more upgrading which is a very underrated feature of this projector a couple other things before we do that is H LD hybrid blog gamma this is a way for broadcasters to be able to broadcast HDR images efficiently without having to do multiple streams of metadata and so broadcasters like BBC DirecTV YouTube they are all starting to adopt that h LG standard for HDR over-the-air or the internet and finally on the hardware side there’s a few other bells and whistles that this Bank is rocking such as an improved new 10 element all glass lens array been cues claiming that that helps with contrast and overall image quality and color accuracy this little black placard I reviewed the bent GW 1076 years ago and one of my complaints on it is right above the projector there’s a big halo big light ring as a result light reflecting off of the arrey then can you finally listen to me and add this little black placard is the pork a logo you can see that there we go and so that fixes it completely which is great the other thing that I like about this on the hardware side of things is that there is no light leakage off of the front in fact for how small this projector chassis is there is very little light leakage in fact if you want to look closely I mean that’s the only spot where there it could be potential light leakage and even then it’s pointed behind the projector that was my only gripe with the W 1070 is how much light leaked out of the front grille that’s been fixed with the bank you 3550 even relative to last year’s age 225 to 250 which had the grill on the front so I’d like to see more projector companies adopt this at least for these smaller projectors that can’t really find a place to put all that light a few other things before we dive in the HDMI chipset if you are considering the Epson 40 10 or 50 40 perhaps I had the Epson 4000 for a fair amount of time and one thing that led me to really come to the Ben q4k fold was the fact that it has a full bandwidth 18 gigabits per second HDMI to chipset really the primary benefit of that is being able to play on your ps4 Pro or your xbox 1s at 4k HDR 60 frames per second whereas the 10 gigabits per second chips that just can’t handle that color space can’t handle the 4k HDR 60 frames per second can only do 30 frames per second but let’s go ahead and dive in to on-screen performance alright so the first thing we’re going to talk about here is the HDR performance and this is a scene from Avengers infinity war it’s hard to really reproduce and tell you what I’m seeing with my two eyes and so I’ll try my best here I’ve spent a lot of time with the Epson 4000 the HT 25 50 TK 800 and I’ve talked about their HDR performance before and there they were pretty good I especially like the TK hundred and how the extra brightness and how he leveraged that to a good HDR image there’s a few things that the HG 3550 really has going for in terms of producing a very very good HDR image it really it’s a combination of hardware and software on the hardware side you have the new ten element lens array you’ve got the dynamic iris on the software side you’ve got a new HDR pro auto tone mapping and that’s really a happy marriage between the two the dynamic iris implementation is extremely good especially for this price range of projector and so the dynamic iris there’s no dim delay it doesn’t dim and otherwise fine and bright scene and if anything it actually increases the brightness which is great the auto tone mapping everything is working in tandem the auto tone mapping knows what the dynamic address is doing and so it pumps up a little bit more brightness in parts of the image where it needs it and then dims other parts of the image where it doesn’t very very good localized black levels now in this scene the shadow detail is very good in the clouds and I think that the art direction is overall just very good the bloom in the Sun with my eyes I can actually see the dot of this star not so much on the iPhone from what I’ve seen but it’s just kind of hard to reproduce that and so this scene is a scene that I tested with the Epson 4000 HT 25 50 as well as TK 800 and the reason why I feel that this scene is so critical and frankly those projectors struggled a bit at is because there’s a lot of yellow a lot of Reds a lot of oranges against dark black backgrounds and what typically happens in HDR implementations when you get a combination of warmth on the screen against black backgrounds it tends to hot spot those reds and oranges a little bit too much and overcook them not so with the HT 35 50 I was really really impressed with the way shadow detail as well as highlight detail where those oranges those Reds from the flames the lava is overblown and blooms like it did a little bit on those projectors so I’m gonna thumb through a little bit of this scene here I can’t really play it but you can kind of see here and it’s really hard to reproduce what I’m seeing with an iPhone image but very very good contrast black level as well as details in this scene so I’m gonna go into settings here talk about a few things first things first the picture mode automatically changes over into a picture mode called HDR 10 when HDR content is recognized which is really nice amount to have to create a new user mode called HDR and you only switch over to that when I’m watching HDR content plug and play set it and forget it I’m a team Kurt and so I fiddle with settings up and down I have not had to do that with this projector I’ve just left left almost everything at the default value now going into an advanced I did change one thing and that’s HDR brightness two plus one for my hundred and sixty inch image but even at zero it’s still a really nice image and then at plus one it actually remaps the entire image based on that setting so as to not wash out the image with the increased brightness color temperature color management left a default cinema master there’s a few settings here I just like to turn everything off here sometimes and you can play around with this and see what you think but color enhancer flesh tone pixel enhancer 4k this is all familiar to the HT 2550 and then what we add here is the motion enhancer 4k and this is where you change your setting for the MMC or CF I which is the creative frame interpolation and so that’s going to be the feature which smooths out the image I really only use this for sports do not recommend it for movies but it’s there if you want it now I’m going to talk about the dynamic carousel if I turn dynamic iris off you know it’s like the the image actually dims a little bit that’s what I love about her Nana Kairos is actually in scenes where it doesn’t really need it it actually helps too and this is a tone mapping working as well it actually brightens up the just a bit really color on/off you can change that there as well now wide color gamut this is the the setting where you engage the DCI p3 and I’m gonna show you what the difference is between off and on so I’ll turn it on I’m gonna put my camera right to the projector so maybe you can hear it I’m gonna turn that back off so you can kind of hear it I’m gonna turn it back on so you can kinda hear it click and that’s the filter being slid over the light pass I actually found that with the wide color gamut on I’d like to turn brilliant color off I think that those two compete with one another so what I feel about the white color gamut is it’s really intended for screens that are smaller than I’d say 120 inches people are saying that the calibrated lumens on a picture with the wide color gamut filter set to on is around 800 lumens 1600 lumens and for my screen I usually leave it off but I did watch a movie with it on and your eyes just get used to it and the color that it reproduces is just like truly truly awesome okay light moan normal economic economic and smart eco so smart eco is software dimming I do notice a little bit of dim delay with the smart eco and so I don’t really touch that just throw it in normal and dynamic I receptor on you can’t have dynamic iris on and smart eco on so if I change this to smart eco it turns off the dynamic iris I’m gonna turn this back to normal and now I can turn the dynamic I respect them alright so the next thing I want to talk about is 3d and I feel like the HT 2550 and TK hundred kind of took a step back in 3d it took a long time to handshake and it didn’t I recognize some of the content it was a pain when you got it working it worked pretty well there was some green tennis shoes but I actually enjoyed it with the HT 3550 it does a very good job with 3d I feel like it’s back to where we were with the W 1070 where it would automatically recognize 3d content and do a good job displaying that I’m going to do two use cases so I’m going to display 3d content from my Nvidia shield through Plex and then I’m going to switch over to a blu-ray and show you how that works when 3ds engaged from a 3d blu-ray player so let’s play this now with sci-fi so I love my content on plexus side-by-side I want to pause so on this once you have the side by side content playing just go to 3d 3d mode side by side and when it engages 1 2 3 4 5 usually it’s about 5 or 6 seconds compared to like the 20 to 25 seconds on the TK 800 which is definitely a good thing so now we’re in 3d mode and the brightness I feel is pretty good this is 160 inch screen it displays in 120 Hertz DLP link it’s I really enjoy watching 3d movies on this actually so I’m going to go over to blu-ray Alexa turn on the blu-ray so we’re back to 4k mode and now we are going to play a blu-ray and country how that works so automatically started playing and now we’re going to go into so you can see here it’s hand shaking takes about five six seconds to handshake now with blu-ray content blu-ray 3d so now it’s in 3d model with blu-ray content it automatically pops into 3d mode which is great so you don’t have to mess with any settings with 3d blu-rays so it’s in 3d mode right now okay so I want to go through you video mode picture modes with you so what we are displaying right now is cinema and cinema is I fill the best blend of brightness and color accuracy and I feel is really good just right out of the box and so we’ll go through these the first picture mode is bright and this is going to produce a really bright and ugly green tinted image that you can use in a pinch if you need it but to be honest you should never really use this image mode but there you go the next one is vivid TV I’ve used this a few times like sitcoms and just like on my Xfinity DVR and it you know amps up the color apps up the saturation it’s not bad especially a certain content and it brightens up the image a little bit as well so maybe sport sitcoms TV something like that I showed you thinnamon mode we’ll go back there I’m gonna pop it into digital cinema this engages the DCI p3 color filter and so the color accuracy is actually very very good but I feel it’s too dim for my hundred and sixty inch diagonal screen I’d recommend this like I said before for screens 120 inches or less in a dark light controlled Theater not a bad image though and then I’m gonna go back to cinema you also have a user configurable picture mode that you can save an image mode to as well and customize it there rename it so there you have the picture modes I’ve left pretty much everything at the defaults values again I just feel that this projector does a very very good job with default values right out of the box going into advanced gamma selection I think this is a two point four out of the box I moved it to two point two since I feel that’s kind of the gamma that this tends to skew towards but it’s fine at two point four where it was by default color temperature color management all that’s at default again cinema master I left this one at default as well an HDR I had all set to zero but this one I did just leave where it was when I got it as well except you don’t super load the motion dancer but it’s good I mean it does a good job I just don’t like the feature overall so don’t hold that against me dynamic iris on/off we went through that light mode normal I just leave it in normal all the time I like my bright image with my big screen a few things you can do here this is where you manually engage 3d like we went through before HDR auto off leave it in Auto silence silence is where it disables the xpr shifting for the 1080p chip to produce the 4k image if you engage this it is going to put it into 1080p mode and what I like about this the menu everything is so much faster than the HT 2550 and TK 800 and I mean what they did is they consolidated the processing from multiple chips down to one or two and that just led to so much improvement from handshaking to power on time power time is actually 20 to 25 percent faster and it’s a predecessor you just saw that silence moving in silence mode on the TK hundred and eighty 2550 took it feels like twenty to thirty seconds and you can do that in just a few seconds on this which is nice so the silence mode is going to engage a native 1080p image and then when you turn that to off it will go back to the 4k image other things you got Auto Keystone I don’t really mess with that but it is there other than that I mean it’s your basic stuff that you’d get from a bank you projector want to talk very quickly about firmware version 1.0.0 I just updated this from what it was before in the sample engineering unit that I got and the USB upgradeable firmware is awesome so on this guy the USB port is on the back so all I had to do is go to Ben cues website and it was there as the HT 3550 firmware I downloaded it stuck it in the that USB port just to the right of the HDMI cable it was very straightforward I just went to the usb firmware upgrade QuickTime USB firmware upgrade but it walked me right through it and my firmware was upgraded in about three or four minutes this is huge because before this you had to ship in your BenQ projector and then they would update it and it was a huge pain in the rear to do and it cost both parties a bunch of money but there was really just no way around it but now the user updatable firmware I mean there’s really no downsides to getting this early on while Ben key works out some final kinks that has you know my unit speaking of kinks I think the only couple things that have a gripe on this particular unit is the focus uniformity on this lens isn’t fantastic in the sample engineering unit I’ve been told that that will be fixed in mass production and as engineering units go they are rough around the edges there’s also a minor amount of chromatic aberration I only noticed it because I had a peer tell me about it and I put my nose to the screen and it was there again that could be down to the unit here but so in wrapping up this review I want to revisit again briefly the Ben qw 1070 at the beginning of this review I mentioned that the W 1070 was a silver bullet in the 2013 projector market simply because of just how well packaged it was relative to its price relative to its performance relative to the competition and its peers at the time there just was something unique about that projector and it caught consumers attention that’s what I believe the HT 35 50 is today I think that this projector the HD 3550 has the opportunity to be that category killer to be that Silver Bullet for 4k projectors in 2019 and will be the projector that brings 4k projection into the mainstream the a CRM implementation is among the best I’ve ever seen it’s not the best that I’ve seen on a projector with the Auto tone mapping and how it works in concert with the dynamic iris in the new lens array the whole package puts on the screen a beautiful image relative to the price of this projector that punches well above its weight with performance black levels and contrasts are vastly improved compared to its predecessors thanks in large part to the dynamic iris the new lens the auto tone mapping the lack of gray border what you also get in this projector is a 4k image I mean that’s got to be at the top of your list if you’re gonna consider this image this projector user upgradeable firmware a reintroduction of landship I mean these are others these are things that other projectors have but as far as packaging them all together in one feature set at a price less than $1500 there’s just simply nothing on the market right now that can compete directly with this at the time so let’s back out here so should you buy the Ben qht 35 50 so I would say if you are in the market for a 4k projector of 4k HDR is at the top of your priority list and your budgets $1,500 my answer to that is yes ten times out of ten if $1500 is your ceiling if your ceiling is $2,000 my answer to that is still yes like maybe nine out of ten times if you have an extra $1,500 to spend and you’re up to $3,000 you should still be considering this projector that there is other projectors you might want to consider if that extra $1,500 worth of performance is worth it that’s the question that you always need to be asking yourself I mean just putting things in perspective this projector performs very very very well for the price and so I’d recommend it wholeheartedly I’m going to be doing some other reviews of some projectors soon here so let me know if you guys have questions I will sincerely try to get to them as soon as possible but as a busy working man and a father of three with one more on the way it might be a few days before I get to you but absolutely comment below if you have questions or if there’s specific things that you’re wanting to see maybe in another review this is absolutely an amateur review so don’t be too hard on me hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and we’ll see on the next o

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