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BenQ HT4050 projector review

Cinematic quality through and through

BenQ HT4050
BenQ HT4050

TechRadar Verdict

The BenQ HT4050 packs some truly impressive image output that comes pretty close to offering a personal theater experience. However, the HT4050 isn't perfect. There is no built-in wireless connectivity and you'll have to manually focus your projections. But those are pretty small gripes for what is otherwise an outstanding projector.

Pros

  • +

    Fantastic image quality

  • +

    Inputs galore

  • +

    Granular image settings

Cons

  • -

    No built-in wireless

  • -

    No autofocus

As the latest high-end projector from BenQ, the HT4050 ($1,399, £906, AUS$1,960) packs plenty of premium features that may strike the fancy of home theater enthusiasts and business professionals alike. Between its accurate color reproduction, surprisingly robust sound, and its bevy of inputs and controls, the HT4050's admittedly hefty price tag could be easy to justify depending on your needs.

As for the competition, the HT4050 sits in the same space as the much more expensive Sony VPL-HW55ES ($3,999.99, £2,591.60, AU$5079.87), along with the ViewSonic Pro 8600 ($2,520, £1,500, AUS$2719) and Epson EX7235 Pro ($599.99, £385.24, AU$738.45). However, with the exception of Sony's option, this latest offering from BenQ looks to be the better option based on its image purity alone.

Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at the design and performance of the BenQ HT4050 to see if it's worth the price tag.

BenQ HT4050

Design

The BenQ HT4050 features a shell that is largely composed of a glossy white plastic with matte grey wrapping around the front, back and the top of the sides. Overall, the color scheme is unassuming, but it does look fairly slick and is worthy of some admiring before you put it to work.

At the top of the HT4050, you'll find a compact grid of buttons for controlling the projector, including navigation buttons for the menu, a source selector and a power button. In addition, there are a set of dials that allow you to shift the lens slightly – both vertically and horizontally. Outside of that, there's a large BenQ logo, along with some DLP and CinematicColor branding.

On the front of the HT4050, the large lens features prominently, with an IR sensor, another BenQ logo and large fan output. In addition, there is a convenient little push-button that allows you to control a small kickstand for further adjusting the vertical angle of the projector.

BenQ HT4050

The sides of the HT4050 are fairly nondescript, simply featuring large cutouts for fan intake and output. However, at the back, you'll find all of the ports you'll be using to blast your content onto the big screen.

As for dimensions, the HT4050 is a fairly hefty beast, which should be alright considering you're unlikely to be hauling this guy around as often as something like a Pico projector. The projector weighs 9.26 pounds (4.2 kg), and measures 12.99 x 4.72 x 9.72 inches (WxDXH, 330 x 120 x 247 mm).

Specs

The HT4050 is packing plenty of ports. On board, you'll find two HDMI ports – with one sporting MHL compatibility – component and VGA ports, audio in and out and a 3D Sync out port. Additionally, there's a USB Type-A port along with a mini USB port, but you'll only be using these for power and servicing, respectively. Oddly enough, the HT4050 also sports a serial RS-232 port if you're in need of one.

On to the meat of the HT4050, the projector is packing a pretty powerful 2000 ANSI lumens bulb that is capable of putting out a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. The projection system itself is DLP, and the unit pushes out at a native resolution of 1920x1080, giving you a full HD picture.

BenQ HT4050

Below is the BenQ HT4050 configuration sent to TechRadar Pro:

  • Projection system: DLP
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 native (480i-1080p supported)
  • Brightness: 2000 lumens
  • Contrast ratio: 10,000:1
  • Projection size: Up to 196"
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, VGA, Composite, Component, Audio in, Audio L/R in
  • Outputs: Audio out, 3D Sync Out
  • Dimensions: 12.99 x 4.72 x 9.72 inches (WxDXH)

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.

The BenQ HT4050 certainly has a lot going for it. Picture quality is insanely impressive, the 10 watt speaker is deceptively full, and the sheer number of inputs allows you to cover almost all of your bases. Yes, there are some minor flaws, but the HT4050 is an impressive machine.

We liked

Simply put, the picture quality on the HT4050 is fantastic. The colors look great, the image pops, and HD content looks great. Add in a bright 2000 lumen bulb that looks great even in semi-bright environments, and using the HT4050 feels great. If you're looking for a projector that will serve up a cinematic feel, look no further than BenQ's latest.

And while the lack of wireless connectivity is a tad disappointing, it's easily surmountable with a $35 HDMI dongle. Nearly every input you could think of is covered, making for a powerful media streaming tool.

Finally, sound quality with the built-in speaker is superb. Both music and dialogue sound great and are far from tinny. In a home theater setup, external speakers will probably be preferred, but the experience of just setting the projector up and pressing play is pretty great for a projector.

We disliked

As previously mentioned, the lack of wireless display mirroring is a bit of a disappointment. It's not a total deal breaker because there are a number of cheap solutions to work around this. And if you're feeling especially fancy, you can pick up BenQ's own (admittedly expensive) optional wireless kit if you have a Blu-ray player or other HDMI device in another room.

Additionally, even though the projector gets so much right, it would have been great to see some sort of autofocus included. It's a minor quibble because you're unlikely to be moving the HT4050 around a lot, but autofocus would have been a great little perk to add in.

Final Verdict

There's no denying that the BenQ HT4050 skews more towards the home theater crowd. Most of what makes the projector great involves making video content look amazing. However, for business use where you're likely to be using the projector mostly for presentations and product pitches, many of those image enhancements that you're paying for may be wasted.

That being said, if you're looking for a great all-around projector, you can't go wrong with the HT4050. Yes, there are cheaper options out there if you don't need all of the bells and whistles, but going with the HT4050 will ensure that all of of your content looks great.