Do you wish to buy the best home theater projector possible for a humble budget of a couple of hundred of dollars or less? Then you’ve come across the right Buyer’s Guide – Home theater projectors is our specialty. Unlike certain other projectors that can cost a couple of hundred bucks but can’t meet current 4K Blu-Ray disc movie demands, you can depend on this guide to get you the best quality home theater projectors money can buy that offers you more value for your investment when push comes to shove.
More to the point, we highly recommend that you give the BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector a shot. It’s available on Amazon and it’s a certified best-seller with high ratings to match. Everyone loves the quality it brings for its price point that even challenges the features and benefits of more expensive offerings or even their cheaper counterparts out there.
What the BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector Brings to The Table
The main tagline of the BenQ HT3550 is that it offers “Colors as Directors Envisioned”. What this means is that it claims to be at the forefront of color fidelity. However, all projector types—LCoS, DLP, and LCD—offer excellent color fidelity anyway. What excellence does the BenQ HT3550 projector truly bring to the table that has garnered it such high ratings on Amazon anyway? To wit:
- It’s a True 4K Projector: There are fake 4K projectors out there that make a fewer number of pixels blink really fast to create the optical illusion that you’re seeing 4K resolution pixels at the same time. This isn’t the same as BenQ HT3550. It fulfills its colors tagline by projecting all 8.3 million pixels at the same time, thus ensuring you crisply defined details, clarity, and (of course) maximum color fidelity of whatever 4K movie or show you’re watching. It’s uncompressed UltraHD viewing pleasure in projector form—what’s not to like?
- DLP Technology: Digital Light Processing or DLP projectors are used in 90% of the cinemas at present and 100% of digital iMAX theaters. It’s a commercial projector that works by producing images care of a chip known as Digital Micro-Mirror Device or DMD. The DMD has millions of tiny mirrors fixed in it, allowing high-color spectrum and highly detailed faithfulness of the resulting digital projection, as though you’re looking at a real-life scene because of all the intricacies and nuances captured by this projector type. This projector produces crisper, sharper images through a longer-lasting, slimmer device.
- 10-Element Lens Array: Here’s a feature of the BenQ HT3550 that’s exclusive to the projector. It has specialized all-glass lens grouping that offers you the right light penetration levels when push comes to shove. This ensures that you get superior optical clarity, quality, color, and sharpness from the lens itself, allowing for lens zoom that doesn’t have artifacting because it’s not done digitally. Your cinema experience should seem like trying to look for fish in a muddy river. Everything must be as clear as see-through glass.
- HDR-Pro Tone Mapping: The projector also offers HDR-Pro tone mapping, which means you’re provided with greater contrast that allows you to see more detail out of every frame or picture displayed by your projector’s projection. This is particularly important with 4K content so as to avoid a pixilated, blurry, or muddy mess akin to seeing something in frosted glass or something. The extra pixels are wasted if you can’t tell what you’re looking at due to faint imagery and poor contrast.
- Cinematic Color Technology: What this means is that the color tech you can see in cinemas is also available with BenQ HT3550. The projector is specifically color calibrated to perfection from out of the box. As soon as it gets out of the box, you’ll be treated with DCI-P3 color space accuracy that’s one of the state-of-the-art techs out there when it comes to color fidelity. Every color possible and available in the visible spectrum is rendered in amazing accuracy compared to the older tech of Rec. 709.
- The flexibility of Installation: It has a 5% vertical lens shift and a short throw distance. You can also enlarge your image or projection for the 100-inch screen at an 8.2 feet throw distance range with a huge 1.3x zoom lens. Using an optical zoom lens allows you to maintain the integrity of the image and its millions of pixels without leading to artifacts and pixilation that’s associated with digital zooms or simply stretching the image to fit a certain size of the screen that’s beyond the native resolution capabilities of even a 4K projector. You can setup the projector at a limited space.
- Award-Winning Projector with Industry-Leading Warranty: The BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector was awarded the “Highly Recommended” award for Projector Central June 2019 – Best of Awards for Home Theater Projectors. It’s also gotten some best-seller awards in several e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay. It also offers 3-year limited parts and labor coverage for its warranty, thus you can rest easy that you don’t need to buy a new projector in case it was to break down within three years. BenQ’s customer service will immediately be right on it when push comes to shove.
The Pros and Cons of The BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector
Back in 2013, BenQ released the W1070, which is critically acclaimed. This projector model is the first of its kind. It combines the right ingredients at the right price. This package deal allows you to do things well above its price grade. The W1070 was the first 3D projector with a 1080p HD resolution for under a thousand dollars. It doesn’t skimp on performance at all.
As for the Super-Wide DCI-P3 with True 4K HDR projector for home theaters, it has features to spare. However, quite a lot of consumers can get confused with the jargon and the terminology you need to learn when it comes to picking the right projector. This is what this guide is for, thankfully. Instead of making things hard for you to know what to buy, you’ll immediately understand what the benefits of BenQ HT3550 are along with its detriments so that you can make an informed buying decision when all is said and done.
Here’s the breakdown of the pros and cons of the BenQ HT3550.
- Minor lens shift
- Low-light leakage
- Auto HDR10 mode
- No more grey borders
- Amazing color as advertised
- True 4K image is sharp and detailed
- Dynamic iris allows for deeper blacks
- It handles the 3D effects quite excellently
- CFI and HLG offers a well-rounded feature set
- The best HDR implementation we’ve ever seen from a projector
- Fan noise has significantly been lowered compared to earlier models
- Out-of-the-box image is very good, with little fiddling in the settings required
- Dark letterboxing, good localized black levels, and excellent contrast and blacks
- Menus are responsive, good compatibility in terms of HDMI handshakes, and quick power on
- The color accuracy doesn’t lower the brightness—it’s actually quite excellent and comes with 3D and ambient light spaces
- The user interface requires updating
- Average input lag or that’s tolerable
- Several complaints in regards to defects and longevity
- Certain units have aberration issues and slight focus uniformity problems
How the BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector Fares in All Buying Guide Categories
There are several things you need to keep in mind when shopping for a projector like the BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector. With that in mind, across all categories needed to get the best possible projectors money can buy, the BenQ HT3550 is able to outshine its competition in more ways than one, from true 4K quality to multiple extras like dependable lens zoom.
This projector combines 3D features, color accuracy, sharpness, 4K resolution, and brightness together for a good price. This is how it became an award-winning projector with best-selling awards in multiple sites. At any rate, here are the things to keep in mind when shopping for a good projector and how BenQ HT3550 passes these guidelines with flying colors.
- Aspect Ratio: Aspect ratio, to the layman, is the ratio that dictates the shape of the image being projected on the screen. Old-timey television sets had a 4:3 aspect ratio across the board. UltraHD and HD projectors, TVs, cameras, and so forth have a 16:9 aspect ratio. The BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector specifically has a 16:9 aspect ratio for all your movie viewing needs. It’s also adjustable or amenable to many other vintage aspect ratios for business and home cinema projectors. Some letterboxing might occur for certain classic movies or TV shows.
Make sure your screen, whether it’s mounted or not, matches this aspect ratio. Widescreen releases of the 21st Century are typically formatted for 16:9 widescreen. The right screen at the correct throw distance—which can be as big as 100 inches if needed—will have the image fit it exactly without any gaps on either side of the screen as well as above or below it. On the other hand, you might wish to err on the side of caution and have a bit of leeway in terms of space between the screen, particularly if you’re working with a business projector or home video projector aspect ratios beyond or smaller than 16:9.
It’s certainly better than having the projection bleed out of the frame of the screen though. There are ways for you to adjust the screen that’s present in the projector like lens shift and keystone correction. You can also stretch the image in accordance with the preferred 16:9 aspect ratio, but to maintain fidelity it is best that you go with the original aspect ratio of whatever you’re watching. This will prevent you from experiencing a poorer quality viewing experience. This also ensures that you get to see the movies as intended.
- Modes: There are multiple modes to be had from the BenQ HT3550. It has a hidden HDR10 mode that auto-activates when you’re playing HDR content. It also has 5 standard SDR modes for everything else that’s non-HDR. It isn’t necessarily true that the more modes your projector has the better since you’re likely to stick to just one default mode, but it is useful to have a bit of leeway or versatility from your projector in terms of dealing with different conditions. To wit:
- Bright: The Bright Mode does things as advertised—it keeps everything bright. It’s perfect for outdoor viewing or viewing with all the ambient lighting turned on, which is known to make the projection or image weaker and muddier. However, the bright mode of BenQ HT3550 is like everything else out there, which is most unusable and washed out in green unless you’re projecting your data in a conference room setting.
- Vivid TV: As for the Vivid TV mode, it’s the mode that amps up the brightness and color saturation, but doing so results in less accurate colors. If you’re willing to make that switch and sacrifice then it’s an alternative way for you to get better brightness from your projector that’s “vivid” even outside a conference room. You can watch your NBA games or watching TV on your Xfinity DVR in this mode. It’s a good way to enjoy live games too.
- Cinema: This one is self-explanatory. Cinema mode is for all your DVDs and Blu-Ray movie needs. Every download or high-quality HD stream will also benefit from BenQ HT3550’s cinema mode. It’s a favorite mode of ours when viewing anything on widescreen 16:9 resolution. It also has a Brilliant Color Set sub-mode you can turn on in order to acquire the best brightness, detail, and color accuracy possible for viewing all those Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters or the latest Star Wars movies.
- D. Cinema: As for Digital Cinema Mode, it leverages the Wide Color Mode by turning it on and giving you your money’s worth in terms of DCI-P3. During this mode, you can get to access the 4K DLP projector’s ability to get 95% DCI-P3 color space coverage and 100% Rec709 coverage. This mode takes advantage of the digital format of present films so that you don’t only get to optimize widescreen viewing but also the many ways you can make a digital video more vibrant and immersive than ever before.
- User: This is a model that’s based on Digital Cinema and Cinema. You can consider it default or variable mode. It’s basically custom mode, really. You can incorporate the settings of the other preset modes in order to put in a user-customized mode for your needs and preferences, whether you want to watch something in a more psychedelic manner or you wish to turn your horror game videogame that you’re playing into something clearer because the developers have made the ambiance of their game a little too dark to see anything.
- HDR10: This mode automatically activates when HDR content is detected by the projector. We’ve yet to see it fail to activate when introducing HDR content. It detects it quite consistently. Even in HDR10 mode, you can customize it to your needs. However, the default or preset mode is already quite ideal in accordance to our estimations. Additionally, it autosaves. Any changes you make for the HDR10 setting will be automatically saved and used in the next activation.
- Resolution: 4K resolution means that you’re looking at the highest possible resolution for movies in the 21st Century right next to 8K because 8K projectors still don’t exist yet at the time of his writing. However, you shouldn’t get too caught up with a resolution. If you’re okay with 1080p HD versus 4K UltraHD then you can buy a much cheaper projector than BenQ HT3550. Maybe you can instead avail of the BenQ W1070 released back in 2013. As a rule of thumb though, most customers buy the highest resolution possible without knowing what it means, just believing more resolution equals more quality.
More resolution actually means more pixels. With 4K, you’re dealing with millions of millions of pixels and a wider detailed screen compared to 1080p or 720p HD. When watching movies at your backyard, it doesn’t matter as much as having a higher contrast and brightness setting to combat ambient light issues. However, in a home cinema, you’re likelier to scrutinize the screen for pixilation problems. Outdoors, the picture is never going to be perfect but indoors it’s possible to see nuances more closely, like when you’re watching a film in iMax.
HD and UltraHD work best in ideal or optimum conditions, like in your home theater or even a commercial theater. Movie buffs are all about detail whether in order to see the special effects of a superhero movie better or to see how well Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro are acting in another one of Martin Scorcese’s hit mafia films. You want things picture-perfect, and BenQ HT3550 is one of the most cost-effective ways to get genuine 4K resolution that works with so many pixels that the resulting digital pictures look as sharp as or even sharper than a brand new film roll during the film projector days of commercial cinema.
- Brightness: Brightness is a must, of course. You need it to deal with ambient lighting, even in low-lighting conditions like a home theater. The more brightness you have the better versatility your projector has in multiple lighting conditions. The BenQ HT3550 claims to offer 2000 lumens of brightness. Compared to the BenQ HT2550, that’s 200 lumens less. When we tested the 4K projector, it seems brighter than the HT2550. Is this false advertising gone right? At any rate, our preference lies more on the calibrated color brightness.
Too much brightness without color calibration typically results in something unwatchable or washed out, after all. What was projected unto our 160-inch screen was bright enough by our estimations. The BenQ HT3550 has just enough max brightness and mode calibrations for your every projector brightness need. In fact, the HT3550 is more spot-on with its brightness compared to its HT2550 predecessor. Just put it on Cinema Mode and you’ll see that out-of-the-box, the brightness is great for any BD, DVD, digital download, or digital streaming video you wish to watch. The HDR mode brightness also remains consistently fantastic.
- Processing: This is a major consideration since it impacts everything the projector does. BenQ has moved on from using less powerful chips working together to act like one big chip—which was the case of the HT2550 or TK800—to simply biting the bullet and using a big chip. This allows the projector to not get overheated or simply freeze when dealing with the multiple processing loads brought upon by handling uncompressed HD, 3D, HDR, and 4K videos. More to the point the BenQ HT3550 has consolidated the processing power down to 1 to 2 SOCs versus too many chips from previous iterations, leading to smoother unencumbered performance overall.
This welcome upgrade leads to many end-user benefits like the typical cost-effective integration of more features like dynamic iris for no extra charge to quieter operation because the fewer processors can multitask or manage the task with state-of-the-art efficiency. As soon as you turn on the processor, you’ll notice that the device is 15 seconds faster on the cold boot compared to its TK800 predecessor. We also took note that switching from feature to feature or turning on one mode to the other is quite snappy. We also dealt with less lag or wait times when it came to 3D detection, HDR content detection, switching Picture Modes, handshaking, and source switching compared to either TK800 or HT2550.
- Audio: For many a home theater, you’d think audio is a low-priority consideration since the media can be plugged into a separate audio system while the projector merely doubles as the monitor or soundless TV set. However, in the case of the BenQ HT3550, the audio must be taken note of. The company that makes these projectors should be congratulated in regard to having a multi-use audio feature set. You have an optical out and 3.5 mm out for your audio needs. Additionally, the sound profile of the projector is consistent and deep. It doesn’t have a tinny or off-putting buzzing at startup or when engaging XPR.
- Dynamic Iris: Regarding the dynamic iris, it’s the tech responsible for ensuring better contrast from your projector by it controlling the brightness just right, like how a camera controls how much light enters it through iris manipulation. The HT3550 is the first projector of the line to get this spec. It’s also typically found in projectors much more expensive than the BenQ HT3550, but BenQ found a way to get it without ballooning up the price of their quality, cost-effective DLP projector. Say goodbye to low-contrast muddiness and hello to self-adjusting crystal sharpness.
- CFI/MEMC: The CFI/MEMC works hand-in-hand with the Vivid TV mode in order to watch sports games in stunning realistic quality. Cinema has a more stylized coloring and lower frame rate that is ruined when you go into Vivid TV more due to the soap opera effect. However, when viewing live-action sports from pro-wrestling shows like WWE Raw and Smackdown to boxing and MMA pay-per-views, this jarring sharpness and high-frame movement becomes more necessary. We particularly approve of using this feature to watch basketball from our DVR due to how it smoothens out motion with immersive realism. It also runs great in certain videogames, particularly motion-dependent first-person shooters.
- Noise: Noise is significantly reduced thanks to the many “noise-canceling” and anti-artifacting features of BenQ HT3550. The fan won’t give you problems because the only sound you’ll get when turning the projector on. You will not be distracted by a whirring or buzzing sound as your device quietly and efficiently projects the video while at the same time controlling its temperature. Even when you mount the projector above your head, there are no distracting fan noises emanating from it. This ensures a smooth viewing experience even during the quiet parts of the movie.
The Bottom Line When It Comes to the BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector
The BenQ HT3550 projector is worthwhile because its projections are detailed and come with true UltraHD 4K resolution that has 8.3 million pixels of image largeness and detail. It’s able to capture the quality of HDTV sets but at much huger screens. This is cinema or commercial quality images at that, with it running the widest color gamut possible thanks to DCI-P3 technology. Cinemaphiles or film buffs love the difference it offers in terms of cinematic color performance and aesthetics. The direct vision of the director of any given show or movie is shown through this high-fidelity DLP projector.
This projector is highly recommended because it can fit 100-inch frames or screens at just 8.2 feet away thanks to the shorter throw projection of the HT3550 lens. It’s also designed for straightforward installation if you have a dedicated theater room, man cave, or home cinema entertainment center available. Preferably, you should get one where you can dim or turn off the ambient lights so that you can easily watch your movie or TV series as well as streaming video in peace. You can even play videogames on this projector on the latest videogame consoles of Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii-U, X-Box One, PlayStation 4, or perhaps the upcoming PlayStation 5.