Since the HT3550 had many of its best features and improved upon many of them, the projector managed to keep the vast majority of them while giving us stunning 4K images with amazing sharpness and clarity. Colors were pretty accurate without calibration as well. Dynamic Iris significantly improves black levels and shadow details, as well as contrast. With increased zoom and lens shift offered, installation flexibility is excellent. Besides the CinemaMaster Video+ suite of picture settings, it has many additional features like a media player, HDMI-CEC built-in, and ISF built-in. The remote control also comes with a backlight, which is a special highlight of its quality design.
BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
A native 4K projector still costs a lot even though 4K UHD projectors have been around for a few good years now. In recent years, manufacturers have been able to design projectors that are capable of producing very sharp 4K images at a fraction of the price of a native 4K model thanks to the introduction of 4K pixel shifting. BenQ is one of those manufacturers that has developed a very large array of projectors to meet a wide range of budgets and needs. We will be looking at the top of the line offering of the CinePrime series in today’s BenQ HT5550 review. BenQ has created four main series that are distinguished by their performance.
As a result of the CinePrime series, serious home theater users can get more than just the basic experience without going to the high end CinePro models, and they are willing to pay a little more for it. Previously, we reviewed another BenQ projector in the CinePrime lineup, the HT3550, which is a step down in performance from the HT5550 we are going to examine today, but is also from the same CinePrime lineup. There is no doubt that the HT3550 falls into the category of sub-$2,000 models, while the HT5550 comes in a price range of $2,000-$3,500 models.
The BenQ is probably more comparable to Epson’s fabulous Home Cinema 5050UB, even if that one is still more expensive than the HT5550. This model from BenQ is rated at 1,800 lumens of brightness and features the same 0,47″ UHD DLP chip from Texas Instruments as we have seen before. We can’t wait to see if the HT5550 can take on the competition with its dynamic iris, auto tone mapping, HDR10 and HLG compatibility, 3D compatibility, motion interpolation, and a wide range of picture adjustment settings that are included with the CinemaMaster Video+ suite, so let’s see if it has what it takes.
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As BenQ is known for their quality projectors, we need to clarify the naming confusion before we can discuss the actual design. In the US, the HT5550 projector is called the W5700, while in Europe and the UK, it is called the HT5550. They are both the same, so keep that in mind when you are searching for this type of projector.
While many of BenQ’s middle and low tier models have the same traditional BenQ look, the HT5550 takes a slight departure. In some ways, it borrows some of the design elements of CinePro models, including the dark chassis and symmetrical design with the centered lens. Although the HT5550 isn’t the biggest 4K UHD pixel shifter, it is definitely larger than the HT3550 we had previously measured. Sized at 19.37 x 6.61 x 13.74 inches (492 x 168 x 349 mm) and weighing 14.3 lbs (6.5 kg), the projector is a little larger than average for its class, considering it is not meant to be portable.
With regards to its actual appearance, as we just said, this is the only CinePrime model to have a symmetrical design, with only the IR sensor sitting on the right side of the front face and the lens located exactly in the center. There are zoom and focus controls on the lens barrel, as well as huge air intake vents on the right front corner and left side. From the left side, hot air comes out. There are a lot of openings for easy air movement in this one, which seems to be very good at ventilating.
A lens shift knob sits just above the lens on the top side of the projector. Two knobs are there because they are used to adjust vertical and horizontal positioning. There is only one big IR sensor on the top face if you plan on placing it on the ceiling, and it sits in the bottom right corner. The only thing on an otherwise blank top are logos and features.
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Built-in buttons are typically placed on top of the computer, but on the HT5550 they are placed at the back, which may or may not be an issue depending on how you intend to use it. The back panel is shaped like a sphere with all the buttons on the left and all the connection ports on the right.
With one power button on the left and nine buttons on the right, we have a very basic layout. The navigation buttons include up, down, left and right but a centered OK button is included in addition to the usual up, down, left and right ones. A top left button is used for selecting a source, a top right button is used for selecting a mode, a bottom left button is used to return to the previous page and a bottom right button is used for the menu.
Last but not least, we should not forget that the projector can be mounted on a table using its two front adjustable feet. There is only a pad provided for the back, so the two front legs is all that is available. We would like an adjustable foot at the back also to make it easier to level the projector.
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11-element lens array
In addition, BenQ’s 4K optical system uses high grade glass for a more realistic image. It contains an 11-element lens array that is divided into six groups. In addition, the lens array contains a metal barrel and cell framework. In addition to reducing chromatic aberration, the proprietary low-dispersion lens coatings provide greater light penetration, resulting in improved color reproduction, amazing clarity for 4K UHD content, and sharpness on both sides of the screen.
This CinePrime unit also offers better zoom and lens shift capabilities than the other units. In addition to the improved zoom ratio of 1.6:1, the HT5550 projectors offer a 60% vertical and 23% horizontal lens shift, which is not as much as some LCD or LCoS projectors, but it is much better than many cheap DLP projectors. It is also possible to use keystone corrections, but this should only be used if absolutely necessary because it can reduce the quality of the image.
This CinePrime projector is rated at a similar level in terms of noise to other CinePrime projectors, but keep in mind that we are essentially talking about a 4K pixel shifter. So we have two sources of sound coming from it. In normal mode, BenQ rates the projector at 32 dBA, which is slightly above the HT3550, while in Eco mode, it is slightly lower at 26 dBA. The air venting system and the pixel shifting technology both contribute to the projector’s sound.
We were more interested in testing it in its normal mode. We can admit that the projector was relatively silent in normal mode, but we could hear a soft buzz when it was completely quiet. There will definitely be a few people who will find this noise a bit frustrating, so you have to try it for yourself. If you are not extremely noise sensitive, it will not bother you very much, but you have to test it for yourself.
There seems to be a pretty even distribution of lamp life across the board with the HT5550 getting the same 4,000-hour lamp life in normal mode and up to 10,000-hour lamp life in Eco mode. This issue was previously an issue for some older BenQ models, but it appears BenQ has addressed the issue and is now in line with competitors.
As we always liked BenQ’s remotes, even the low-cost models came with good quality remotes, so we couldn’t expect anything else from the HT5550. With a slightly different layout and button functionality than the one in the HT3550, the remote here feels pretty sturdy and sturdy. To match the projector’s main color, the remote comes in black this time. As well as having a good size and enough space between them, the rubber buttons are placed well and easily distinguished.
Between the dual button power setup and the backlight, we find a light button for the backlight function. In addition to these buttons, we get the usual circular navigation controls placed in the middle along with three buttons for keystone correction, the default pattern, and the test pattern. Three white buttons are placed below for Motion Enhancer, HDR, and Cinema Master, highlighting the Motion Enhancer function more prominently. The projector is also equipped with 12 buttons that enable you to access the projector’s most frequently used features.
An anti-accumulation lens hood, as well as vertical louver air intakes, prevent falling dust from gathering and eliminate optical engine light leakage. BenQ has given this unit a lot of thought and attention. A patterned lens ring prevents stray light, and a rearward tilt eliminates optical engine light leakage. It’s a small detail but it shows how much more this unit is than you may have imagined.
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As we see with many of BenQ’s projectors, they have done a lot of things right. But one thing we have noticed is that many of them are advertised as having “true 4K resolution” which is a complete misrepresentation. The manufacturers are well aware that this is all marketing, and they want to sell something, but there is no harm in educating the consumer about the fact that a good 4K pixel shifting projector can provide remarkably sharp 4K images instead of trying to convince us that this is the real 4K projector.
Single 0.47′′ DMD chip
Our previous experiences with the HT3550 and TK850 have shown us that the BenQ HT5550 has the same single 0.47′′ DMD chip. The latest version of this chip is the HT5550 which offers the HT5550 pixel shifting technology, which basically means you can display a Full HD image and reposition it three more times in rapid succession to create the illusion of a 4K image. As a result, the end result is as close to a real 4K image as you can get, because the speed is so fast that the human eye cannot detect the difference.
This latest chip has been updated with a couple of improvements, including a faster repositioning speed that allows for brighter and clearer images as well as a narrower frame, which is a welcome improvement. Besides having the same advantages as other multiple LCD chip technologies, this single chip does not suffer from misalignment, which leads to blur, shadows, and interference.
In terms of disadvantages, one is that it can be noisy due to the extreme speed at which the pixels shift, which can result in a light buzzing sound when the room is relatively quiet. We always recommend testing out pixel shifting projectors yourself just to be on the safe side because it depends on how sensitive you are to sounds.
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4K UHD / HDR Content
Our next test was to see if we could test Aquaman in 4K UHD, which has amazing image quality but has a lot of brightness demands. The HT5550 produced very sharp 4K images, as we have seen in other projectors using the same DLP pixel shifting chip. When you look at the screen, you will not be able to tell you’re not viewing a native 4K projector, it’s that good. Rather than paying attention to the film, you will spend more time looking at the water surface, their armor, and everything else
A Dynamic Iris significantly improves black levels and shadow detail when using the camera. As a result of this, the HT5550 is much closer to the Epson UB series when it comes to black levels, although it is still slightly inferior in this category. Despite the low brightness rating, the projector is not great on the brightness front. It hasn’t delivered the kind of pop you’d expect and the lower brightness rating doesn’t help. You will greatly appreciate what it has to offer right out of the box, even if you are not into it. The colors were fairly good even without any calibration.
Auto Tone Mapping is one of the features we see in more expensive projectors and it has made its way into this one as well. By doing so, HDR is dynamically adjusted according to each scene’s requirements. The HT5550 offers a noticeable improvement in contrast and image quality overall as a result of the Dynamic Iris and Dynamic Black technology, combined with Dynamic Iris.
With its HDR support, the projector is able to display both HDR10, which can be used in UHD playback, and HDR10, which is mainly used for broadcasts. Due to the fact that no projector in any price range currently supports Dolby Vision or HDR10+, no projector in this range will be able to display them.
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Full HD / SDR / 3D Content~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
Choosing Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Blu-ray version was the best way for us to test the unit’s 1080p capabilities. No matter what its main focus is, any serious projector should be able to provide great Full HD performance out of the box even if it has a heavy focus on 4K content, since many still have large collections of 1080p content.
As a result of this, the HT5550 proved very impressive. The image quality was excellent with excellent clarity and sharpness, good colors, and adequate brightness. As we are used to with BenQ projectors, motion performance was above average. In general, Full HD content is a real treat with this projector. All of the details on the surfaces, clothes and skin imperfections were very well conveyed with the help of the colors. No calibration was needed.
While the image displayed by the projector was excellent and without any visible crosstalk or artifacts, brightness left a lot to be desired despite the fact that the projector is capable of displaying 3D content. Due to the HT5550’s lower brightness than the HT3550, we saw a darker picture of 3D content, and brightness always drops when viewing 3D content, so this is not its strongest feature. It’s good, but not great.
There is no included 3D glasses in the package, so you will need to purchase them separately.
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Here is a look at the projector’s color performance. BenQ has added a special color filter to the 6-segment (RGBRGB) color wheel that is used in the D mode of the projector, which improves colors even further. With Cinema mode, colors are even more improved to ensure 100% coverage of DCI-P3. However, the extra filter improves colors at the expense of brightness, so at least you can choose which one you like. The Wide Color Gamut and Brilliant Color settings go together in picture mode to make things simple.
We were indeed able to achieve 100% coverage in the DCI-P3 with D. Cinema mode in low lit environments, which BenQ recommends using for SDR content. However, with WCG enabled, the projector cannot achieve 100% coverage when HDR content is used on the DCI-P3. Additionally, this depends on your choice of Brilliant Color setting, which reduces the overall coverage of colors as well.
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Brightness / Picture Settings
A bit of an interesting twist comes when you look at the brightness level. There are 1,800 lumens rated in the HT5550 projector, which is fairly low. When you compare this with the HT3550 projector that is in a lower category, which has 2,000 lumens of brightness, and the even lower HT2550 which has 2,200 lumens, you realize that this projector is rather limited in terms of brightness. It is important to bear in mind that numbers by themselves do not mean anything, so let’s look at how these all relate to the real world.
On the projector’s menu are several pictures modes as well, including Bright, Vivid TV, Cinema, D. Cinema, and User defined. The projector also has a few others that it automatically switches to when the correct signal is detected, including 3D, HDR, and HLG, and a Silent mode, which basically turns the projector into a pure 1080p one by removing the pixel shifting technology. Finally, there is a Silent mode. To measure the widest angle, we used the Normal lamp mode, as we always do.
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1385 lumens in Bright mode~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
It measured 1385 lumens in Bright mode, as in all cases, but we saw the same green bias as with the HT3550 in the Bright mode. In this mode, you should avoid using it as it doesn’t have very accurate colors, and it should be used only if you need as much brightness as possible in an environment with extreme ambient light. We also measured the Vivid TV at 1011 lumens, providing more accurate colors. Cinema mode came in third at 803 lumens and D. Cinema ranked last with 517 lumens.
The projector will automatically switch to HDR10 mode when it comes to 4K/HDR, with Wide Color Gamut (WCG) enabled by default, though it can be turned off if desired. By leaving it on, we’ll get better color reproduction, but it will take away brightness, so it’s best to use it in places where there are no bright lights. When you turn it off, some colors will be lost, but you gain a lot of brightness that is very useful in bright rooms.
In terms of 1080p/SDR content, D is recommended. If you want to get the most brightness out of the projector at the expense of color coverage, use Cinema mode with the Wide Color Gamut set on by default in low-lit rooms and Cinema mode with the Wide Color Gamut turned off in bright rooms.
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Black Levels / Contrast ~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
These low-cost DLP projectors offer a lot of features that you can appreciate, but they do not have very deep blacks. In some cases, these devices have been using Dynamic Iris, such as the HT3550 and the TK850, to rectify the problem, but while this helps somewhat, the overall results still leave a lot to be desired.To achieve good black levels, you will have to purchase Epson’s UB series, which costs about $3,000.
In comparison to the other CinePrime models, the HT5550 has significantly better black levels, which is almost as good as the Epson 5050UB, but is not exactly the same. When it comes to black levels, the HT5550 is extremely close to the HT50, even with a price difference of about $300 at the time of writing. The 100 000:1 contrast ratio and Dynamic Iris together make this unit unique in its class for its deep blacks and great shadow detail.
It is fair to say that as things stand at the moment the HT5550 offers the best black levels at this price point out of everything else we have seen. It is only the Epson 5050UB that comes close to beating it at the moment, but at a price of $300 more than the HT5550. BenQ definitely delivered here.
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Input Lag ~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
A maximum input lag of 50ms is considered a respectable limit for projectors when it comes to gaming, but the HT5550 disappointed us in this area. A Full HD 1080p signal averaged 61ms, which is above our threshold for acceptable input lag, but feeding a 4K signal resulted in a 91ms average input lag, a result we would not consider acceptable. Our measurements would be even worse if we turned on motion interpolation in both cases.
Our strategy is to try and translate these numbers to a brief session of Call of Duty WW2, which is perfect for measuring fast reactions. We need to make clear that we do not have extreme standards, because we are mainly casual users, so we do not require as high standards as some other gamers.
We had the opportunity to use our trusted PlayStation 4 for a number of months during our time with it and while it did not completely ruin our gaming experience, we must admit that the high input lag did not completely ruin our enjoyment of it, but it did take some time to get used to it, especially if you intend to play in 4K resolution. No, it isn’t a disaster at all. In fact, we could say that we actually enjoyed ourselves with it, but this isn’t a projector for hardcore gamers. For casual gamers, however, it should do just fine.
You may want to try using Silent mode if you only play in 1080p resolution, since this turns off pixel shifting technology and improves input lag a little. Despite the fact that the difference isn’t vast, we were able to get a measurement of 56 ms using this method. So why not take full advantage of it?
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Motion Performance ~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
Among the features of the CinemaMaster Video+ suite is Motion Enhancer 4K, essentially the projector’s motion interpolation feature. It is included in all CinePrime models too. In this way, laggy images, jittery playback, and blurry shadows are greatly improved by inserting 36 interpolated frames between sequences to create seamless, vibrant 60 frames-per-second videos.
The amount you use is yours to choose, but higher settings can cause images to look strange, which is an effect of high CFI usage. Whenever possible, it is best to use the lowest settings possible so that motion judder does not occur, but the image remains as true to the original as possible.
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Inputs ~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
It appears that the HT5550 has a similar feature set to the CinePrime series, which also includes an improvement in ports. As mentioned previously, all the ports are located at the back and to the right side of the unit.
In order to connect to the internet via wire, we will be using an Ethernet port, an optical audio output, an IR input, and a 12 volt trigger for a motorized screen. We are also presented with the following features from left to right: a USB 3.0 port to connect to external storage and stream content, 2 HDMI inputs, a mini-Type-B USB port that allows firmware updates, a classic RS-232 port that allows you to connect to your computer, another USB port for connecting external storage, but this is a USB 2.0, a fourth USB with a charging rating of 2.5A, and last but not least a mini 3.5mm audio output.
As many low cost projectors offer a single HDMI 2.0 port and one HDMI 1.4 port, it is great that both HDMI ports are 2.0 and support HDCP 2.2. In addition, there is an astounding number of USB ports available, including the newer 3.0 version as well as the older 2.0 version for compatibility. In addition, it is rare to find an Ethernet port at such a low price range, while an optical output is also appreciated.
Our overall impression is that BenQ went above and beyond what we would normally expect at this price point.
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OS, Apps and Features~ BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
It has the same menus and settings as the HT3550 with an additional tab for Network. In the HT3550, it has the same menu and settings. In each tab, you will find the appropriate subcategories depending on the functionality of that tab. For example, Picture, Display, Installation, Network settings, System Setup Basic, System Setup Advanced and Information are all available. Though there are plenty of settings on the projector, every setting is very easily accessible.
The CinemaMaster Video+ suite, which we briefly discussed above, needs a special mention. This version appears similar to the one that we saw in the HT3550, but it includes some additional picture quality features. You have the option of fine-tuning color saturation with greater flexibility in the HT5550 suite with the Color Enhancer. Using a sophisticated algorithm, it recreates saturated colors, fine gradients, intermediate hues, and subtle pigments without affecting the quality or accuracy of the visual result.
In addition, Flesh Tone provides an intelligent hue adjustment that is used only to calibrate skin color, not other colors in the image. Consequently, every skin tone is represented in its most realistic shade, as light from the projection beam does not discolor it. Pixel Enhancer 4K, a super-resolution technology which radically improves the color, contrast, and texture of Full HD content, is another feature. The Motion Enhancer 4K provides motion performance and sharpness enhancement to refine surface details. Finally, we have the Detail Enhancer 4K which enhances surface details and composition.
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Newer H.265 (HVEC) codec
We can’t say we’re thrilled with the media player on this model as its capabilities are very limited, just as we are with the HT3550. The model also has the same built-in media player we saw on the HT3550. Instead of supporting the popular H.264 (AVC) codec or the newer H.265 (HVEC) codec, it is only able to play back the older MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and H.263 standards along with a limited selection of images and audio files.
Aside from the ISFccc calibration built into the HT5550, there are preset light balance modes for day and night to customize the image and color performance of the HT5550 easily.
I would like to point out that the projector includes a Smart Eco feature that can greatly extend its lamp life, HDMI-CEC, which automatically turns on and off the projector when the other device it is connected to is also capable of using this feature, as well as a High Altitude Mode, which should be used when necessary.
There are no audio capabilities built into the projector, but that’s to be expected since it’s meant mostly for home theater applications where a separate audio system is used.
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Final Thoughts on BenQ W5700 4K DLP Projector
In summary, the HT5550 is one of the best projectors in the category. It is an excellent choice as a 4K projector for those of you looking for an affordable 4K projector.
Sadly, we found the brightness of this unit a little disappointing. The HDR projector didn’t achieve its acclaimed DCI-P3 color coverage in HDR mode, and this affected its HDR and 3D performance as well. Also, it seems that HDR mode couldn’t achieve its acclaimed DCI-P3 color coverage. While this isn’t the quietest of projectors and the pixel shifting technology noise can be bothersome to some, input lag was also measured to be very high so you will have to look elsewhere if you are a hardcore gamer.
As a conclusion, we can say that if you are looking for a 4K projector at a reasonable price but want something more than the basic experience offered by projectors under $2,000, then the BenQ HT5550 is an excellent option. While it may not be as good as the Epson 5050UB, it is also much less expensive. In addition, this printer has excellent blacks and contrast, and at this price, you won’t find anything better for the price. Highly recommended.
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