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The BenQ HT4050 3D projector is the ultimate definition of loud, hot, and fast, with speakers that boom and iris-shattering image quality. But what really makes the BenQ so good that it was able to earn the #3 spot on our list of the best projectors?
Read on in my review of the BenQ HT4050 to find out.
Price: $1,399.99 on Amazon
Summary: The BenQ HT4050’s color representation and picture quality go above the call of duty.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The BenQ checks all the right boxes for a great projector.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
If I had one complaint about the current state of projectors right now, it would be the lack of inspiration in their designs. For a piece of kit that can often take center stage on a coffee table or above the shelf in your living room, many projectors seem to skew toward the safe side, with plain white shells, standard control buttons, and one big gaping hole where the lens goes.
Read: Best Projector Screen 2018
Of course, projectors will also often be hidden behind walls or underneath the table in other living room setups, so it’s understandable why engineers aren’t exactly going out of their way to make their devices look unique or stand out from the rest of the pack.
Unfortunately, the BenQ falls into the “uninspired” column, with little (if any) discerning features. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it’s also not a projector that excites you the first time you look at it, either.
Related: If you want a projector that gets the design right, check out our BENQ i500 mobile LED Projector review.
The BenQ HT4050 uses DLP display technology with a 6X speed RGB color wheel for the absolute best color reproduction in movies, games, and television shows. The HT4050 has a maximum display resolution of 1920 x 1080, a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, and can create an image as large as 196″ across from 15ft away.
The unit itself has a veritable bounty of ports and input options, including PC (D-Sub), one composite in, one component in, two HDMI (1.2), 1 MHL-in, 3.5mm in, L/R audio in/out, USB (one mini, one 2.0), and a 3D sync out.
At 9.62lbs the unit wasn’t so heavy that we were straining to get it on a shelf during installation, but you’ll also want to make sure that wherever you eventually mount the unit (on an arm or a shelf), it has enough strength to bear the extra weight.
Related: Also, check out our BENQ HT3050 Review roundup.
The user interface of the BenQ HT4050 was essentially idiot-proof, with many of the more confusing aspects of setting up a projector left in the “Advanced” section where they belong.
The basic menus allowed you to do simple tasks like changing the input, brightness levels, and aspect ratio on the fly. We appreciated this minimalist approach, especially considering that the projector would automatically keystone itself depending on where we placed it in the room.
Although it wasn’t accurate 100% of the time, we were still able to get in and make fine adjustments once we started tinkering around in the advanced section. This is also where we found interesting additions like the option to turn on “High Altitude” mode (speeds up the fan for thinner air conditions), as well as a password that prevents anyone without the keycode from displaying content on their own.
The BenQ HT4050 comes with a rating of 2,000 lumens, which was just enough to give us a visible (although not very rich) picture during the middle of the day. During our tests, which were taken during the middle of the day with the ambient light of 8 lux coming in from the nearest window, the BenQ performed admirably, but not as great as we would have liked for a projector at this price point.
At a distance of 5ft with the lens shining dead on during the day, we recorded 2540 lux of brightness. At 10ft (distance from the projector to the screen), that figure dropped pretty significantly, to 1332 lux, with the dead zones (the outer corners of the image) recording just 1058 lux.
Once the sun had set and there was zero ambient light, however, the picture quality of the BenQ HT4050 during movies and TV shows was incredible, with color representation that was above and beyond what you would expect from a projector that costs as much as this one does. Skin tones were accurately represented, blacks were rich and vibrant (at least by the projector’s standards), and the motion of characters on screen was fluid and smooth.
Similarly, during our tests running fast-paced multiplayer shooters like Halo 5: Guardians, we saw little of the screen-tearing artifacts that can often appear in lesser projectors. Although projectors aren’t exactly recommended for gamers who demand the absolute fastest response times possible out of their devices, the BenQ still held its own without a flinch.
Noise and Heat
During our noise evaluation, our testing environment had an ambient noise level of 35dBA, which shot up to around 42dBA when the projector was turned on and displayed media content. And while that might sound impressive at first, we suspect the HT4050 was able to stay so whisper quiet due to its almost complete lack of cooling fans – save for one hidden directly next to the lens.
The result of so few fans running at low speed was an immense amount of heat pouring out the front of the projector for as long as we had it turned on. Though we didn’t have a way to actually record the temperature difference in hard numbers, anecdotally, I can say that I had to remove an outer layer during testing because I was only a few feet away from the unit, but was already starting to work up a sweat.
Last, we were extremely impressed with the quality of the onboard speakers. Normally, projector manufacturers will simply assume that if you’re buying a projector, you must already have a pair of boomy stereo speakers to go along with it, skimping on the quality of the onboard tweeters in the process.
The BenQ HT4050’s speakers, on the other hand, were substantial, with well-balanced highs and grumbly, deep bass that seemed to come out of nowhere. This makes the projector a perfect fit if you use your projector on the road, and need a unit that can provide the full movie-watching experience without any extra add-ons required.
The BenQ HT4050 is an excellent home theater projector, especially if you’ve actually got a “home theater” to put it in.
Even though it may not have been as bright during the day as we would have liked, and it ran hotter than a V12 engine, the HT4050 makes up for its shortcomings by including an impressive number of available inputs and a pair of speakers that could put lesser stereo systems to shame.
At $1,399 it’s at the pricier end of the spectrum, but once you lay your eyes on the deep, luxurious richness of its colors, you won’t know how you ever watched movies any other way.
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