BenQ HT2050 review: Classy BenQ projector shows you a good time (and isn't *too* pricey)

BenQ's remote is very good, with lots of direct-access keys and full red backlighting. I especially like the "Eco Blank" key, which you can use to black out the image temporarily without turning the projector completely off. Its suite of picture adjustments is top-notch too.

Picture quality details

Just like with a TV, the ability to produce a dark shade of black is one of the most important ingredients in projector picture quality. And according to both my measurements and eyeballs, the BenQ's black levels are a step better than all of the other sub-$1,000 projectors I compared it to.

The difference required a pitch-black room to appreciate, but once the lights were off, the BenQ's contrast and realism in dark scenes, like the void of space from "Gravity," looked significantly better and more realistic than on the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL, the Epson Home Cinema 2045 or the Optoma HD142X. Sure, those projectors achieved brighter highlights, but in a dark room that makes less of a difference than black level. That said, the difference was subtle enough that it would be tough for truly budget-minded buyers to justify the price difference between the BenQ and a unit like the Optoma based solely on that advantage.

Other aspects of picture quality were similar between the BenQ and the others. Its precalibration color accuracy fell short of the Viewsonic and the Epson, but wasn't terrible by any means -- the worst part was a the plus-green color temperature. Of course, a professional calibration could fix the issue, but I didn't perform one as part of this review.

Most 1080p DLP projectors I tested scored about the same for gaming input lag, around 33 or 34ms. That qualifies as "Good" by my scale -- it beats many TVs and should satisfy all but the twitchiest of gamers.

It's worth noting that all of these units suffered from an artifact I found distracting at times that's common to DLP: the rainbow effect. It caused brief rainbow "trails" to appear when I looked across or away from the screen in high-contrast areas (like white text against a black background). It didn't bother me much during the course of a movie, but if it bugs you, a projector like the Epson 2045, which uses LCD instead of DLP, might be a better bet.

Measurements

To arrive at all of results below, I measured the HT2050's best default picture setting, Cinema with BrilliantColor turned Off and Gamma set to 2.3 (I did not perform any other calibration). The exceptions are peak white luminance and derived lumens, which were measured in Bright mode (thanks to Chris Heinonen for the lumens calculator). All observations and measurements were taken on my reference 120-inch Stewart StudioTek 130 screen.

Geek Box

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.015 Good
Peak white luminance (100%) 44.5 Average
Derived lumens 1,462 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.36 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 7.550 Poor
Dark gray error (20%) 5.234 Average
Bright gray error (70%) 10.304 Poor
Avg. color error 3.584 Average
Red error 3.904 Average
Green error 3.663 Average
Blue error 2.412 Good
Cyan error 5.545 Average
Magenta error 3.84 Average
Yellow error 2.138 Good
Percent gamut (Rec. 709) 93.4 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 300 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) N/A N/A
Input lag (Game mode) 34.5 Good
benqht2050report.jpg
Spectracal/David Katzmaier

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