BenQ HT4050 projector review

Cinematic quality through and through

BenQ HT4050
BenQ HT4050

While it may look like just another projector on the outside, the HT4050 packs some extremely impressive image quality. BenQ is branding this as a cinema-quality projector for the home, and it has certainly lived up to that claim in many ways in my testing. Part of how BenQ has accomplished this is through the inclusion of "Rec. 709 cinematic color reproduction." Without getting bogged down in the technical nitty gritty, what this means is that BenQ has tweaked and refined the output of the HT4050 to be as true to the original cinematic color palette as possible.

How it works

Given the tendency of most manufacturers to include any number questionable enhancements for TVs, projectors and anything else to do with content consumption, I was a bit skeptical at first. More often than not, the processing involved has some sort of annoying attribute that ends in me simply turning it off. However, the Rec. 709 Cinema picture mode on the HT4050 actually felt good without getting in the way.

Simply put, colors were poppy, motion was clear and not muddied, and watching video felt great overall. Of course, if you're a fan of poking around with the picture settings yourself, you can do that as well. There are a number of other video presets included for things like gaming and getting a vivid picture, along with more granular settings, so you can tweak things to your liking.

One minor quibble to point out here while I'm on the topic of settings is the noticeable lag when navigating the settings menu itself. While I appreciate the number of presets included, cycling through them felt a bit frustrating at times due to the reaction time between my input and seeing the changes on screen. In my experience with other projectors and TVs, this seems to be the norm (and it's by no means a deal breaker), but it's something to be aware of nonetheless.

BenQ HT4050

Of course, excellent picture quality is nothing without great sound, and I was pleasantly surprised by the HT4050's performance here. There's a single 10 watt speaker included with the HT4050, and having not been impressed by projector audio in the past, I wasn't expecting much. However, both music and dialogue sounded pretty great coming from this unit.

The included speaker isn't going to give you booming surround sound akin to going to the movies, and those who are planning to use this unit at home in a theater setup may want to opt for a more robust speaker system. However, the audio output is honestly more than passable on its own, and can get loud enough without breaking up to work just fine for presentations and product pitches in a conference room.

In setting up the projector for use, I found the HT4050 to be pretty friendly. There's a manual focus wheel around the lens that felt pretty good, not too loose or tight, and I was able to dial in proper focus pretty quickly. In addition, you can scale the size of the projection with an arm right next to the lens, and you can even bump the lens slightly – both vertically and horizontally – with dials on top. If you're setting the projector up to be stationary in a particular room, the granular controls make dialing everything in a breeze. However, if you do plan to move the unit around, I could see getting things set up properly being a bit tedious without any sort of autofocus.

As for the number of inputs, practically everything you could want makes an appearance and it works as you'd expect. From dual HDMI ports to both composite and component video, along with the trusty old VGA port, the HT4050's media prowess shines. However, wireless connectivity is sorely lacking.

Given that the HT4050 is mainly meant to be a home theater projector, the preference for pure HDMI and other physical ports makes sense. However, the ability to push content wirelessly from a cell phone for presentations and such would have been nice to see. It should be noted that there is an optional wireless kit for the HT4050 that wasn't included with our review unit, but it only seems to act as an extension for other HDMI inputs around your home or office. Add in a $350 price tag, and it's quite an expensive add-on when you're already paying $1,400 for the projector itself.

A much better solution, and the one I turned to myself, is to simply pick up a cheap HDMI dongle like Google's Chromecast for wireless mirroring. Not only can you easily throw content from various streaming video services to the projector, but you can also push your Google Docs and Slides files as well, all while using your phone as a clicker.