4K projectors may be getting better right alongside their big-screen TV counterparts, but while the latter has been coming down in price, the former has been slow to accept a more consumer-friendly price tag.
At least, that was the case up until earlier this year when BenQ announced the HT2550 (called the BenQ W1700 in the UK, Australia and UAE). Of course, at $1,500 the BenQ HT2550 isn’t exactly cheap. It’s just cheaper.
Is the BenQ HT2550 still a good beamer despite the slashed sticker price? We put it to the test to find out.
When you first take the BenQ HT2550 out of the box, you’ll notice its design: it’s a nice-looking device. Its design is clearly more functional than anything else, but that’s certainly not a bad thing, after all, no one will be buying a projector simply because it looks good. Still, we like the white-and-silver color scheme and the subtle curves, and we think the projector should look right at home in any home theater.
On the back of the device, you’ll find your inputs and outputs. While there aren’t a ton there, we think there’s pretty everything most will need: You’ll get two HDMI ports – one HDMI 2.0-compliant port that should be used for any 4K HDR content, and one standard HDMI port for anything else – plus you’ll also find a USB port for powering a device like the Roku Streaming Stick+, a 12-volt trigger, 3.5mm audio input and output, and a VGA input. It’s unfortunate that the USB port doesn’t support streaming files from a hard drive or USB drive, but not unexpected.
It’s not a bad selection, but there are times in which it might not be enough. For example, if you have more than one 4K HDR source you want to connect to the projector, you’ll want to use an A/V receiver or HDMI switch.
The projector is a little big, which is something to keep in mind. At 353 x 135 x 272 mm, it’s not unexpectedly huge, but you may want consider mounting it from the ceiling if you plan on keeping it installed in your home, rather than taking it on the road.
Thankfully, the remote is relatively easy to use and it's brightly backlit if you tap a “light” button at the top of the projector, which is very helpful for dark rooms.
At the top of the remote, you’ll find power controls and some picture settings controls, under which is a directional pad. Under that, you’ll get menu controls, playback controls, and more. Despite the big selection of buttons, you'll be able to pick up the controls in no-time.
Setting up the projector is really very easy. Simply take the projector out of the box, plug the power cord and source in, and turn it on. You may want to adjust things like keystone, zoom, and focus, but doing so is very easy given the relatively simple remote.
Unlike more expensive projectors, the BenQ HT2550 does not boast any lens shift features, so we recommend placing the projector on as horizontal of a plane as you possibly can. (Though, the projector boasts 1.2x optical zoom and features like automatic vertical keystone to help with the setup process, which is very nice.)
Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to place the projector horizontally, which is where the vertical keystone can help. There’s also a little kickstand on the bottom of the projector, which might also help ensure a quality picture.
Generally speaking, the BenQ HT2550 is very easy to install – though, if you plan on mounting it from the ceiling or need some electrical work done to properly install it, it's wise to get professional help rather than go it alone.
The software on the projector is basic, but functional. It looks a little dated, to be sure, and this isn’t a smart projector so you can’t connect to any devices through Wi-Fi. That said, when it comes to software, you’ll get simple on-screen menus so don’t go in expecting a complex smart platform like the kind you see on LG, Samsung, Sony or other big-name smart TVs.
In testing the BenQ HT2550 projector, we set it up in a few different environments that included several different lighting situations. Of course, in all fairness to the projector, most of the testing was done from around 11 feet away in a largely dark room – and in that environment, the projector is a stunner.
With both a 4K resolution and HDR support, the HT2550 projects at up to 2,200 lumens. While it’s not the highest brightness projector out there, it performed extremely well in most of our tests. Sure, environments with more light simply won’t look as good, but as long as the light isn’t over-the-top, it should do just fine.
Perhaps just as important as the projector's brightness, however, is its color accuracy: The beautiful colors on offer in Planet Earth II were on full display here, as were the details to be found in Stranger Things. Pretty much everything we watched on this projector was detailed and clear, provided relatively good environments.
Outside of the usual specs, the BenQ HT2550 also has a few of its own tricks up its sleeve. For example, it has a unique HDR processing that’s aimed at providing a balance between contrast and color accuracy. We found that it looked quite good and while perhaps not as stunning as some more expensive projectors, it’s still far better than what you’ll get from basic SDR content.
Despite the bright colors and heavy detail, the contrast on offer wasn’t quite as high as we might have liked. You’ll see grayish letterbox bars around the image that are pretty noticeable, and that may be a concern for some that are looking for only the highest quality image. For most, however, we think the picture will do perfectly fine.
The BenQ HT2550 also boasts a built-in speaker, and it was actually pretty impressive. Now, to match the stunning image on offer you’ll definitely want to invest in at least a decent sound bar, if not a surround sound system – but in a pinch the built-in speakers can convey the message with some depth, and get loud enough for moderately-sized rooms.
Speaking of sound, though, there’s definitely some noise emitted from the fan in the projector, but in our view it’s not too excessive. Decent speakers and smart projector placement can help cut out that noise too.
Overall, for the price the BenQ HT2550 is a stunning projector. While black levels may not be as dark as they could be, colors are bright and detail is high even if your living room setup allows some light in the room.
The BenQ HT2550 may look a bit pricey to someone used to seeing discount 4K TVs, for the price you can’t do much better. The projector boasts vivid, clear colors, plenty of detail, and a 4K resolution – all at well under $2,000. That’s no small feat.
The projector isn’t perfect – the blacks on offer aren’t as deep as we might have liked, the projector still creates some fan noise and there’s also no lens shift – but those small downsides aside, we think the BenQ HT2550 is an excellent option for those that want a solid, no-frills projector with support for a 4K resolution and HDR content.
Are there better options? Well, there’s the Optoma UHD50, which is $100 cheaper and offers many of the same perks (though color accuracy isn’t quite as good, and the BenQ projector is slightly better-built) but in the end, we think it’s better to spent the extra $100 for the BenQ HT2550. If you do end up buying it, coupled with a decent screen and sound system, you won’t be disappointed.
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