BenQ HT8050 DLP Projector Reviewed

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BenQ HT8050 DLP Projector Reviewed

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Measurements
Here are the measurement charts for the BenQ HT8050, created using Portrait Displays' Spectracal CalMAN software. These measurements show how close the display gets to our current HDTV standards. For both gray scale and color, a Delta Error under 10 is considered tolerable, under five is considered good, and under three is considered imperceptible to the human eye. Click on each photo to view the graph in a larger window.

BenQ-HT8050-gs.jpgBenQ-HT8050-cg.jpg

The top charts show the projector's color balance, gamma, and total gray-scale Delta Error, below and after calibration in the HT8050's THX mode. Ideally, the red, green, and blue lines will be as close together as possible to reflect a neutral color/white balance. We currently use a gamma target of 2.2 for HDTVs and a darker 2.4 for projectors. The bottom charts show where the six color points fall on the Rec 709 triangle, as well as the luminance (brightness) error and total Delta Error for each color point. 

For more information on our measurement process, check out How We Evaluate and Measure HDTVs.

The Downside
From a performance standpoint, the HT8050's main downsides are that its black level isn't as good as similarly priced (and some lower-priced) projectors, and the sub-par quality of its dynamic iris forces you to turn it off, further diminishing the image contrast.

The HT8050 will accept a 480i image, which many of these new 4K-friendly projectors don't do. However, the point is moot because the deinterlacing of 480i signals is so poor, any DVD movie you try to watch will be filled with jaggies and moire. With 1080i content, the projector correctly handles 2:2 video and 3:2 film sources, but it fails most of the assorted cadence tests on my Spears & Munsil Blu-ray test disc. You should let your source devices or an external processor handle the deinterlacing duties.

The HT8050 lacks a lot of features that you'll find in other projectors that carry a similar MSRP (and many that cost less). The projector doesn't support Rec 2020/DCI-P3 color or High Dynamic Range, and it doesn't support 3D playback. Now, I know 3D is considered dead in the TV world, but it's still a coveted feature for a lot of projector owners and makes sense in a big-screen HT environment. There's also no smooth mode to reduce film judder, which doesn't matter to me personally but is desirable to some. Finally, some competitors offer higher zoom and lens-shifting amounts, and these functions are motorized, instead of manual as they are on the HT8050.

Comparison and Competition
Sony's current VPL-VW365ES native 4K projector carries the same MSRP as the BenQ HT8050: $7,999. It supports 3D playback, motion smoothing, and HDR10, but not DCI-P3 color. Its rated light output is lower, at 1,500 lumens. We have not reviewed the VPL-VW365ES; however, we have reviewed the step-up VPL-VW675ES, which is brighter, adds DCI-P3 support, and costs $14,999. At the recent CEDIA Expo, Sony announced a new entry-level native 4K model, the VPL-VW285ES, that will cost $5,000 and support HDR.

JVC's closest competitor to the HT8050, price-wise, would be the DLA-X770R at $6,999. The X770R should have nearly identical performance to the step-up DLA-X970R that I recently reviewed, with just a slight decrease in light output. The picture quality of the X970R was exceptional, offering a better black level and contrast than my reference Sony (the same one that outperformed the BenQ here). The X770R is a pixel-shifting D-ILA (LCoS) projector, but it supports HDR10, DCI-P3 color, 3D playback, and motion smoothing--and it has dual 18-Gbps HDMI 2.0a inputs. JVC also announced new models at CEDIA, and the mid-level X790R will cost $5,999.

Epson's $7,999 Pro Cinema LS10500 is a pixel-shifting model that uses a laser light source and supports HDR10, DCI-P3 color, 3D playback, and motion smoothing. Epson also offers the pixel-shifting $3,999 Pro Cinema 6040UB that supports HDR10 and DCI-P3 color, although not in the same picture modes. I reviewed the 6040UB and found its performance to be excellent, with excellent contrast and black-leval performance for dark-room movie-watching.

For DLP fans specifically, the major competitors to the HT8050 are Optoma's new UHD65 and UHD60 that use the same TI chip and are rated at 2,200 lumens and 3,000 lumens, respectively. Because they use the same chip, they don't support 3D playback either, but they do support HDR10 and DCI-P3 color. The UHD65 is the one aimed at the more dedicated theater room, and its asking price is just $2,499. I received a review sample of the UHD65 just as I was finishing up this BenQ review, so I did some preliminary comparisons: The BenQ feels like a more substantial, well-built projector, and it looks to be more accurate out of the box than the Optoma, with better processing. Once again, though, the BenQ's black level fell short of the Optoma's in both the THX and Cinema picture modes, so darker film scenes lacked the same depth and contrast.

Conclusion
I'm kind of at a loss for how to wrap up this review. Why? Because I like a lot of things about the HT8050: This projector is quieter than many, and it serves up a very clean, sharp, accurate image without a whole lot of tweaking required. Both HD and UHD content looks quite good in the brighter picture modes when there's some ambient light in the room. The problem is that its $7,999 MSRP pits the HT8050 directly against very strong home theater projectors from JVC, Sony, and Epson that deliver better black levels and contrast for a dedicated theater or completely dark room, as well as more comprehensive 4K support and other features. Yes, the HT8050 delivers better resolution than the pixel-shifters, but that's only one piece of the complete 4K experience.

Now, unlike the other guys, BenQ tends to sell its projectors for a good bit less than the stated MSRP, but there's no official "street price" that I can use as a reference. So, I have to go with the $7,999 MSRP and judge this projector against similarly priced peers, and it falls short as a premium HT projector. To be honest, even if the HT8050 were to sell for half of its MSRP, it would still face very strong competition from the likes of Epson and Optoma in the 4K-friendly projector market. At the end of the day, this one is just a tough sell.

Additional Resources
• Visit the BenQ website for more product information.
BenQ Announces Its First 4K DLP Projector, the HT8050 at HomeTheaterReview.com.
BenQ Introduces 3,300-Lumen MH530FHD DLP Projector at HomeTheaterReview.com.

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HTR Product Rating for BenQ HT8050 DLP Projector

Criteria Rating

Performance

3.5

Value

1.5

Overall

2.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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