I recently had a chance to fly down to SnapAV's Charlotte, N.C. headquarters, where I got to experience firsthand the staff's passion and enthusiasm for products and the industry, as well as check out the company's latest products including its Dragonfly screens and exclusive BenQ HT9050 LED projector.
SnapAV has proudly signed on as an exclusive distributor of BenQ products, the company says, as it's very cognizant of its reputation of quality and the fickle nature of consumer electronics, which can turn on a dime on any company. By vetting the products it represents, SnapAV can serve its dealers in the best possible manner.
Exploring SnapAV's Demo Room
SnapAV's video demo room features a basic 5.1 surround system with Episode architectural speakers, Binary 18G HDMI cables and SnapAV acoustical treatments. The company says the room incorporates BenQ’s brand-new HT9050 LED projector, and alternates between its new Dragonfly Ultra Black ALR (ambient light rejecting) screen and AcoustiWeave acoustically transparent woven screen.
BenQ worked with Philips for its LED technologies and produced a projector capable of delivering up to 2,200 lumens of brightness. The projector utilizes Texas Instruments’ (TI) new 4K DLP chipset to deliver 8 million pixels, while providing a color gamut that is DCI P3 compatible.
Being as transparent as possible, SnapAV says that BenQ did not include HDR (high-dynamic range) in the product, I suspect because the company was concerned about having enough brightness to accurately produce HDR. I appreciate SnapAV’s honesty and truthfulness. Video experts do say the brightness levels needed to produce formats like HDR10 and Dolby Vision place a great demand on projectors. Only recently have manufacturers have been able to meet those demands.
Using both 110-inch screens, we started the demo with the Dragonfly AcoustiWeave screen, which was setup in a motorized system that dropped down in front of the Dragonfly ALR screen.
With Philips Ultra Blu-ray disc player as a source, we popped in a “Planet Earth II” Ultra Blu-ray documentary in 4K which provided a nice sense of the broad color capabilities of the HT9050 projector. The desert scenes especially highlighted the projector's brightness capabilities, which were definitely more apparent, especially when thinking back to the previous generation of LED projectors released around 2010.
Next we looked at the content with the Ultra Black ALR screen. Excusing the pun for a moment, ALR screens can be very polarizing. The technology is unquestionably a solution for rooms that possess ambient light. Videophiles will site the products’ penchant for color shift and uniformity issues, however.
In my experience with the Dragonfly ALR screen, I found it to present a nice image with the lights on and off. I didn’t notice much sparkle or hot spotting with bright content such as snow scenes during the “Planet Earth” documentary. Contrast seemed good too, viewing it with the naked eye with real world content. I also didn’t notice the same levels of color shift that videophiles will characterize with these types of screens.
Deep Dive on the BenQ HT9050 LED Projector
Getting back to the projector, it’s a nice product. Its color richness really complemented content like the Blu-ray disc release of “Beauty and the Beast.” The color palette of this movie is off the chart, and the HT9050 rendered it beautifully with a nice level of color brightness and contrast levels. Perhaps a D-ILA projector may present deeper blacks, but I thought the black levels were good with the BenQ.
Trying both screens out with a 4K Ultra Blu-ray disc of “Lego Batman,” the HT9050 looked fantastic. The colors in that movie are so vivid and the differences between the colors of that movie and Batman’s black costume really highlighted the capabilities of the LED light engine and DCI color space the projector offers.
Videophiles will also appreciate that the projector delivered a high level of detail, which may be attributable to the additional pixel count of the TI chipset especially when compared to other chipsets that offer some type of 4K-enhancement technology.
I can say that watching one of the new “Star Trek” movies with a JVC projector and the BenQ wasn’t even a contest. The BenQ presented a higher resolution image with more dynamic and smoother accurate colors, while the JVC unit running in an HDR mode would have likely looked better with the HDR option turned off. Like I said earlier about HDR, the colors were off, and the image didn’t have any depth. It may not have been quite as bright with the JVC projector because it didn’t have the lumen capability. I am not sure, but my experience with HDR-enabled projectors is that unless the projector is running at some high lightout capability, it is probably best not to engage HDR options.
I flew home from SnapAV’s office pretty impressed with the BenQ projector and the Dragonfly screens. The BenQ projector, through its LED light engine which minimizes maintenance issue, along with its DCI color capabilities and Ultra HD resolution — all for less than $10,000 — provides a really good value in today’s market.
Combined with either of these Dragonfly screens (I did prefer the ALR screen), SnapAV can now offer its dealers a choice of high performing, turnkey system solutions.
For dealers curious to learn more about the Dragonfly screens: the Ultra Black ALR is available in a choice of four sizes: 92 inches, 100 inches, 110 inches and 120 inches. Dragonfly says the .8-gain screen is optimized for 4K content, and it provides a 160-degree viewing angle.
The 1.0-gain Motorized AcoustiWeave screen is available in a choice of five sizes: 92 inch, 100 inch, 110 inch, 120 inch and 130 inch. The AcoustiWeave screen incorporates built-in black backing to help maintain black levels and contrast, and Dragonfly says the screens are controllable via IR, RS-232, wall switch, contact points and 12-volt triggers.
CE Pro Verdict
- Buying through SnapAV streamlines dealers’ purchasing
- New BenQ projectors and Dragonfly screens are competitive with any products in their respective price classes
- SnapAV has excellent dealer support
- Because BenQ products aren’t as known in the market as other projectors, it’s advisable dealers take the time to learn the product line and take SnapAV training
- Dealers should also try to learn latest video terminology because of all the jargon thrown around today, so they can highlight exactly why the BenQ projector omits the popular HDR format as a feature