We were effectively spoiled when BenQ loaned us their last projector, the HT1085ST DLP. It was a model that stood out by not skimping on the basic features but versatile enough for either a multimedia display or a preliminary into the serious home theater arena. It didn’t necessarily excel in a specific area but got some high marks as a whole package, which usually trumps most options in the very popular sub-$1500 category.
So where does the BenQ HT3050 Colorific DLP Projector stand with our expectations so high? On one hand, the HT3050 does tout improved picture quality, but one could argue that the enhancements aren’t radically overwhelming in scope; despite the niceties of more concise vertical lens shifting, and newly a added Rec. 709 color mode derived from the BenQ HT4050.
The HT3050 is a little larger than most in its class, topping out 7.93lbs and occupying 4.8” x 15” x 10.9” (HWD) of space. The outward styling is inoffensive, with lots of vent and curved corners abound, while a lightly textured top surface that makes a clean break from the typical glossy treatment. The control panel is also very minimal but is intuitive enough for navigating common settings and source inputs, and nothing more complicated. the only bit of exterior flair is a copper painted front that’s tastefully refreshing from the rest of the body.
Common for BenQ projectors, the HT3050 retains a generous array of ports and inputs with two HDMI (one with MHL), analog composite, component (YPbPr), and VGA on the video end. With external audio and functionality consisting of 3.5mm audio jacks (input/output), two USB, 12V trigger, and a calibrator-specific RS232 port.
Even the remote is the same from before, with shortcut buttons and red backlighting being the most prominent features. Unfortunately, those PIP and SWAP buttons are ones of unfulfilled promises reversed for office and professional DLPs.
Because onboard speakers on projectors are considered lacking at best, the HT3050 packs two 10-watt speakers for stereo sound. BenQ must be confident because they’re billed as “CinemaMaster Audio+” which is supposed to be an enhancement by MaxxAudio Technology, the dual drivers do spread the sound evenly but not really in a sophisticated manner. Differentiation between off and loud is slightly better for game night, but won’t replace any soundbar.
A common rule among home entertainment DLP projectors is that the rainbow artifact effect is almost guaranteed. Simply because they (typically, but not exclusively) utilizes a single DLP chip working in conjunction with a RGBRGB color wheel running at six times speed — and in the case of HT3050 — the hue segment gaps are minimized and better coating process. These little tweaks help the HT3050 with noticeably improved color brightness while delivering that advertised 2,000 lumen (white) count, something that will be beneficial when you eventually overcome the initial flash of colors while blinking.
The HT3050 is more evolutionary than anything else. Color balance with their latest wheel is generally superb and definitely earns its Rec. 709 cinematic color certification, which was clearly evident during a side-by-side comparison with the Optoma HD28DSE. The bold hues and gradients on the HD28DSE were good, but the competing BenQ didn’t succumb to hue oversaturation out of the box. Neutral grays and shades were 15% better, although crushed blacks are still present to a lesser degree.
The only adjustments we found necessary were the miscellaneous ones involving gamma, keystone, and wall color (in case you don’t have a projection screen). When set the HT3050 can automatically straighten the vertical keystone to align on most surfaces, taking a lot of the guesswork out of tight or awkward arrangements. We imagine that most people in the market for a DLP will greatly appreciate the ease in setup, but the more advanced features will keep budding enthusiasts satisfied for such an unassuming projector.
Those expecting immersive 3D plastered on a large wall will not be disappointed here either. DLPs do stereoscopic picture quality amazingly well and we didn’t observe any crosstalk, however, there was motion artifacts but negligible as a whole. Of course, enjoying 3D is purely optional with DLP-Link glasses but you’ll have to pony up for the privilege.
Input lag is clocked at 51ms (milliseconds), which is great for movie night but less than ideal for benchmark gaming. This roughly equals out to a 3-frame lag out of 60fps, but workable if your competition involves Mario Kart 8 with good friends — twitch-style mechanics and seriousness be damned.
If the rainbow artifacts don’t play tricks on your eyes or you’re more into movies, the BenQ HT3050 Colorific is an appealing, almost extraordinary pick. With so many picture options and conveniences under its belt it would be harder not to recommend this projector, but even with the extras such as vertical lens shift, excellent picture quality, and better color representation the competition remains fierce.
For example, LCD projectors from Epson handle brightness better and you could probably save a couple hundred dollars with Optoma, Vivitek, and BenQ’s step-down models. If anything though, the HT3050 is another great choice in affordable entertainment projectors.