Hands On: BenQ HT4050 Projector Delivers Big Bang-for-the-Buck Performance

BenQ’s HT4050 home theater projector has a very small footprint. The unit is 1080p versus 4K and boasts vertical and horizontal lens shift, as well as 3D capabilities.

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For years BenQ has quietly produced some of the best values in the projector category. The large manufacturer’s products, while big in the commercial market because of such value, have yet to completely catch on in the residential market.

With the release of the HT4050 that could change. Carrying a street price of about $1,300 (MAP $1,399) the low-cost projector features multiple HDMI inputs, 3D options, a 1080p resolution and default image options that comply with Rec. 709 specifications.

While 4K may be the video buzz term, value for big-screen 1080p may appeal to consumers who thought projection was out of their budget.

Features & Installation

Taking a closer look at its features, the projector incorporates an all-glass lens with a low-dispersion coating, vertical and horizontal lens shift, BenQ’s latest image processing, a 6x speed color wheel with custom segment angles and coating, a 1.6x zoom lens ratio, 3D capabilities and ISFccc Day/Night modes.

From a physical standpoint, the projector borders on portable size. BenQ has experience with “pico” projectors, so it knows how to produce a big screen from a small footprint. Because of its size, the HT4050 unpacks easily and takes up minimal real estate within a room.

BenQ HT4050 Home Theater Projector

  • 1920 x 1080p DLP projector
  • Two HDMI inputs, including one with MHL compatibility
  • 12-volt trigger and IR control
  • Brightness levels up to 2,000 lumens through 260-watt lamp system
  • Contrast ratios as high as 10000:1
  • Image presets include Rec. 709, and options for ISFccc Day/Night modes
  • Vertical and horizontal lens shift
  • Street price approximately $1,300 (MAP $1,399)

I placed the projector about 11 feet from a Screen Innovations (SI) 100-inch, 0.8-gain Zero Edge Slate screen. After running an HDMI cable from an Onkyo receiver’s HDMI output to the HDMI 1 input of the projector, I finished the connections by plugging the projector into an APC UPS unit.

After the installation, I adjusted the projector’s picture size and alignment, and then entered the HT4050’s menu system. Leaving the projector in its default Rec. 709 mode I made a minor adjustment to its keystone before I entered into “advanced settings.”

In that menu I made a few adjustments such as placing the projector in its “Eco mode” to save on lamp life, and setting the motion processing to “low.”

Looking at the picture quality informally, I thought it maintained good contrast even with some ambient light in the room, and when I shut the lights off the image noticeably improved. Without doing any sort of calibrations I was impressed with the color accuracy, gray scale and overall contrast and brightness levels.

After about a week’s worth of TV watching, including one of my go-to items as a source of real-world color performance — Boston Bruins’ hockey games — I thought the Bruins’ uniforms looked dynamic with deep blacks complemented by richness of the gold and the bright white accents. I also thought the image processing was better than past generations of BenQ projectors I’ve evaluated, with fewer compression artifacts, less jitter and improved deinterlacing.

After examining the HT4050’s picture modes, I thought the “normal” option looked the best and from there I began to calibrate the projector. Going through the settings I made minimal adjustments to it brightness and contrast levels to improve on what was already a good image. After verifying the color settings I felt satisfied with the accuracy of the color parameters and left those at their stock settings.

Performance & Final Thoughts

Making my adjustments midway through binge watching Netflix’s Jessica Jones, I found the fine-tuning improve image depth in particular. The images looked brighter and low-level detail had increased with this streamed content.

Moving to Blu-ray discs I watched via an Integra BD player, I popped in a couple more of my staple real-world content pieces: The Matrix and The Dark Knight. These movies are two of the most used demo pieces in custom electronics history, and with good reason as they provide a wealth of performance information — which the BenQ unit did a really nice job handling.

The gray scale reproduction during the opening scene of The Matrix showcased that not only could the HT40450 produce deep blacks, but it could so with the finesse to deliver detail without crushing low-level information.

On The Dark Knight, I thought the overall image clarity was impressive, especially considering the projector’s cost and the many image variables the benchmark comic book movie throws at a home theater system.

I found the HT4050 to operate an acceptable noise level for a home movie-watching environment, but I would have liked to see the projector react to the switching of sources with more speed. For example, going from Dish Network to my Apple TV took several seconds for the projector to lock on to the newly introduced source.

I got used to it, but given something that’s easy to overlook the lag is noticeable.

For the attractive price it’s hard not to like the HT4050. I think it’s a good example of how BenQ continually improves its product line without exceeding its target pricing goals, and ultimately it delivers everything a consumer on a budget would want from a projection solution: good brightness levels, deep blacks, terrific color fidelity and for the most part noise-free images.

CE Pro Verdict

PROS: Out of the box Rec. 709 mode images look very good, and better with calibration; nice color fidelity and contrast levels; image processing better than previous-gen products.

CONS: Switching between sources not as fast as other projectors; would be nice to see longer bulb life capabilities — Eco mode does help, but there is a compromise in brightness.

About the Author

Robert Archer
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Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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Audio/VideoProjectors/ScreensProducts

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BenQ