For the better part of the last decade, there has been an influx of projectors specifically marketed toward gamers. This has somewhat neglected the needs of movie enthusiasts with a passion for quality visuals. They were mostly stuck with gaming projectors, paying for features, such as low input lag, that they do not necessarily need for movies.
The BenQ HT5550 projector came out in 2019; specifically designed to address the needs of a dedicated home theater projector. It is a mid-range BenQ 4K UHD DLP projector capable of high performance. It was made to hit the sweet spot with color accuracy, at the expense of brightness, which is no surprise considering it is a movie projector.
Gamers would not fancy this projector that much, although it delivers great visuals, the high input lag is undesirable. But if you’re looking for a competent movie projector for your home theater, look no further than BenQ HT5550. Let’s get into the features and show you why.
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Features of BenQ HT5550
Ultra High Definition 4K native resolution for your movies
With the BenQ HT5550, you will get a chance to experience an enhanced picture quality for your movies. It has over 8.3 million pixels to generate an out-of-the-box 3840×2160 native resolution. This projector has 2 HDMI 2.0 ports for you to connect your devices for 4K content. True 4K UHD resolution ensures that the clarity of the images on your screen will be enhanced. This is the foundation of a good movie experience.
The best thing about this is that you won’t have to sacrifice 4K resolution for an increased refresh rate because that is not required for movies. 4K display resolution is only available at a 60Hz refresh rate and this is good enough for a majority of movies.
3D support for your 3D content
The BenQ HT5550 has 3D support to allow the projector to map a 3D image on a 2D surface (your wall/projection screen). 3D adds the perception of depth to the usual length and height in 2D. 3D offers a more immersive experience to pull you into the fictional world of your movies. So for movies created with 3D technology (only a handful), you will be able to have the 3D experience with this projector.
HDR10 and HLG Compatibility
This projector supports high dynamic range images. HT5550 supports both HDR10 for 4K UHD Blu-Ray and HLG for streaming. It is important to have HLG support in this era of streaming services such as Prime Video and Netflix. Because of this, you will be able to enjoy darker blacks and brighter whites while still maintaining a high degree of detail in these areas.
±60% vertical and ±23% horizontal lens shift
If you like moving your projector frequently, this feature is for you. The HT5550 has a ±60% vertical and ±23% horizontal lens shift that gives you greater flexibility in how and where you place your projector. You can move the lens top to bottom or left to right and vice versa, without having to physically move the projector. This also helps in aligning the image to your projection surface.
±40% vertical keystone adjustment
Still about moving the projector, the BenQ HT5550 allows you to adjust distortion of the image at the top or bottom to a ±40% extent if you place your projector at an angle against the projection surface. You will be able to freely move your projector without worrying about distortion at the top or bottom.
Additionally, the projector has a 1.6x zoom; an installation feature to assist you to align your image within the projection surface, especially if you’re using a limited projection screen.
Slightly long-throw ratio with a large image size
This projector allows you to project a 60-inch image at a distance of about 7-feet from the wall. This throw ratio is not that great, especially compared to its predecessor the HT3550 which can project the same size in just 3 feet. What the BenQ HT5550 lacks in throw ratio, it makes up for it in the image size. You can project up to 300-inch image. The large screen size provides a better viewing experience but, can only be achieved within a 30 feet distance. Images above 200 inches lose some clarity so we would recommend that you do not go past this size.
Moderate light output with a great contrast ratio
The lamp is moderately bright, emitting about 1800 ANSI lumens, far much less than the gaming projectors which go past 3000 ANSI lumens, but acceptable for movies. This brightness will serve you well in a darker room, but in the presence of ambient light, some parts of the image could be washed away.
What HT5550 lacks in brightness it makes up in Dynamic Iris. Dynamic Iris minimizes washout in the presence of ambient light (more on this later).To complement this moderate brightness, the HT5550 has an unbelievably high contrast ratio of 100,000:1. This ensures darker black segments and brighter white segments.
Impressive cinematic color performance
It has four factory preset color modes for 4K HDR content that look good enough in the vivid mode without needing any adjustments. There is one for SDR, plus one mode each for 3D, HDR10, and HLG. It has a 6-segment color wheel RGBRGB to accurately display the color of images. Suppose you’re not satisfied by the default color settings, the color management system has settings for RGBCMY saturation, gain, and hue; white balance adjustments for RGB gain and offset.
Cinema modes with special features
BenQ HT5550 has 2 modes for watching your movies: the Cinema mode and D. Cinema mode. In a darker room, it is recommended to use the D. Cinema mode, while in a room with ambient light the normal Cinema mode. In these modes, there is a cinema filter to minimize the color spectrum coming from the projector lamp and subsequently generate more accurate colors.
The application of cinema filters, however, comes at the expense of the brightness of the projector (about a 30-50% reduction). But it gives you options, depending on the light in the room. If you’re in a darkened room, you stand a chance to get the best color accuracy. If you need a lot of brightness in a room with ambient light, you can still get a very good color but without this filter.
The cinema mode has a Rec. 709 color gamut, rated at 100% with the wide color gamut settings off by default in the normal cinema mode but always on in the D. cinema mode. The DCI-P3 color space is also available in cinema mode. This is reserved for HDR content to provide better picture quality.
Dynamic iris for superior dark scene handling
This is the feature that makes a real difference in the dark scenes of a movie giving the HT550 unparalleled black levels. It is no secret that movies have a lot of dark scenes, unlike sports. BenQ projectors generally have good black levels even without this feature because of the high contrast. The BenQ HT5550 performs quite well on non-HDR content, producing some considerable black levels, slightly lower than its closest competitor.
Just like other recent projectors, the BenQ HT5550 is compact and moderately lightweight. It weighs 14.3 pounds, which you can lift with both hands (one hand if you’re strong enough). So if you do not have a fixed home theater in your house, you don’t have to worry about moving it.
Long lamp life
BenQ HT5550 has a 245-watt lamp that lasts for 10,000 hours (more than 1 year) in Eco and Smart Eco modes. Switching to normal mode will allow it to last 4000 hours. You can confidently use the projector knowing when you will need to change the lamp. We advise you to alternate between different modes to preserve lamp life.
If you would like to know measures you can take to extend lamp life, check this out.
Motion enhancer for creative frame interpolation (CFI)
If you’re a fan of animated movies, you’ll love this feature. The HT5550 has a motion enhancer for motion-compensated frame interpolation. This serves to create intermediate animation frames between existing ones by the means of interpolation. This results in animations being more fluid and a cleaner and artifact-free viewing for sports.
The CFI feature is available for you to use if you want it. In high octane action movies, like the James Bond series (Spectre, Skyfall, etc.) CFI could potentially mess with the director’s intent. A smoother motion may not necessarily be good for these movies. The BenQ HT5550’s CFI is typical, you can choose whether to use it or not.
Reasonable pricing with an industry-leading warranty
The pricing justifies the features. Being an impressive improvement on the BenQ HT3550 which costs about $1700, the HT5550 adds more features that allow it rub shoulders with projectors around the $3000 range. You will be contented because you will get exactly what you paid for.
One of the best things about BenQ projectors is their outstanding warranty. The BenQ HT5550 is no exception, having a limited warranty of 3 years. It is important to note that projector lamps, refurbished products, mounts, and all other accessories are excluded from this warranty. This long period warranty will allow you to comfortably purchase the product knowing there is ample time for customer service provided the projector malfunctions.
Having looked at the features, does this projector have any limitations? Let’s compare the pros and cons to find out.
Pros and Cons
Just like all other products, the BenQ HT5550 has its advantages and limitations. Let’s analyze them.
BenQ HT5550 Pros
Bringing the cinema experience to your home
Everything about this projector is geared towards providing the actual cinema experience in your home. From the color accuracy, HDR10 and HLG support, 3D support, to the actual cinema mode, this projector was made for the home theater. It delivers high-quality colorful images for your movies. Every pixel counts and a great level of detail is covered. The image size is huge while still maintaining a good level of clarity.
Flexibility in installation
This projector offers a lot of options for installing the projector wherever you want. These are vertical and horizontal lens shifts to align the image and vertical keystone to adjust distortion at the top and the bottom.
BenQ HT5550 Cons
Gamers should look elsewhere
If you’re a competitive gamer, we recommend that you look elsewhere, this projector is just not for gamers. First of all, the input lag is way beyond acceptable levels in the range of 80 – 90ms. So basically images on the screen will respond to your controller much slower than in dedicated gaming projectors. The brightness is also far much lower than most gaming projectors.
You need a large room to fully enjoy this projector. A 60-inch image can be projected at 7 feet away. Most projectors generate a 100+ inch image at this distance. You’ll need at least 29 – 30 feet to project the maximum image size. This is not convenient for if suppose you have a small room for this.
No inbuilt speaker
Most modern projectors come with an inbuilt speaker, usually 5 – 10 watts. The BenQ HT5550 is an exception. It comes without an inbuilt speaker. Suppose you don’t have an external sound system, you might have to purchase one before you can use this projector.
If these cons have changed your mind about getting the BenQ HT5550, what other options can you consider?
BenQ HT5550’s closest competitor is the Epson 5050UB with similar features. It is brighter, emitting 2600 ANSI lumens while the black levels are unmatched especially with non-HDR content. It also has a much lower input lag (22ms) to support some competitive gaming. This is considerably better than the 92ms for the HT5550.
Installation of Epson 5050UB is much easier courtesy of the motorized lens feature; which allows you to use a cinemascope screen since it has lens memory. The BenQ HT5550 is, however, far much sharper because it has a 4K native resolution while the Epson has about half of that.
The BenQ HT5550 would be a fantastic addition to your home theater. It is poised to deliver the cinema experience. It does have limitations in input lag and brightness but makes up for it with unmatched sharpness at 4K native resolution. If you’re looking for a dedicated home theater projector, this is the one for you. But if you want a multipurpose projector with some features suited for gaming, we recommend you opt for the Epson 5050UB.