Well…I tried to get one in, but it appears that I won’t be reviewing a 4K/UHD home projector until next year. Unsurprisingly I’m not thrilled about the outcome as ultra-high definition models have finally dipped below tens of thousands of dollars for regular mortals, although consumer availability remains scarce and prices higher than anticipated.
So what is the silver lining for current-generation DLPs from companies like BenQ and their MH530FHD? Fortunately, all good news for people who simply want a huge screen and essentials for not a lot of dough. That along with a reliable warranty makes it worth looking at.
Compared to BenQ projectors we’ve reviewed before, the styling of the MH530FHD doesn’t break any new ground and heavily borrows cues within the family. The textured top surface is similar to the HT3050, and the entire body is done in plain white hard plastic with ventilation on the sides. The control panel is uncluttered with a small array of buttons for basic menu navigation and a lens zooming dial, while a remote control offers a lot of the same in-menu options with more one-button shortcuts. Everything on the outside is unremarkable but its unfussy dimensions make it travel-friendly for most situations.
Unlike other home projectors in this category, the MH530FHD appears to have connectivity more suited for office meetings. You get two HDMI, two VGA (D-sub), video-out (RCA) and S-Video inputs. Additional stuff includes 3.5mm stereo input and output, VGA monitor out (D-sub), RS232 (DB-9pin) and a USB Mini-B port. The array will certainly be a mixed bag for people and some of these ports probably won’t be used at all, but if you have a HDMI adapter workaround or modern AV receiver you can hook up your stuff anyways.
Previous entries from Optoma, Epson, and InFocus are usually inundated with miscellaneous enhancements to improve the picture, except the MH530FHD takes a broad approach by only offering a native brightness of 3300 lumens (ANSI) and a high contrast ratio of 15000:1. The immediate result is a big image that be projected up to 300-inches while looking good in full HD/1080p, more than appropriate for current game consoles, 3D Blu-ray movies, and any video streaming app. The visual details are generally on par with premium LED/plasma TVs from before, but the crushed black levels are inevitable tradeoffs of DLPs.
The only notable technology is the SmartEco adjustment, which optimizes image brightness and energy savings for maximized lifetime lamp performance of 10,000 hours. Related features are Eco Blank mode and LampSave mode which are intended to cut ownership expenses by roughly 50% when enabled.
The minimal amount of niceties mean a couple things for the MH530FHD: A really affordable projector with barely any complication. Only the expected features that we used to laud in other projectors come standard, with simple picture presets (presentation, cinema, sRGB, bright), vertical keystone orientation, and automatic BrilliantColor thrown. The hues weren’t entirely to our liking out of the box with a predominantly warm temperature, but we did manage to fix most of this by changing the wall color and minor RGB offsets; with the interchangeable six-segment color wheel exhibiting no bleed to the naked eye throughout testing.
Brightness is another perk and is indeed usable during the daytime as long as direct sunlight doesn’t hit the image, and is blindingly radiant for movie night — or those Smash Bros. get-togethers I used to have with past friends. However, if there are any outstanding complaints it has to be the audio speaker which only manages a meager 2W of power, which sounds flat and horrible to listen to. It’ll be okay for random YouTube videos but you’ll definitely want to get some external speakers to pair.
Definitively, the BenQ MH530FHD is a culmination of affordable DLP projectors. As large screen enthusiasts move on to the wonders of 4K/HDR, this works well as a home entertainment alternative for everything else current — despite technically being considered last-gen. Still, the attraction of instantly getting an oversized picture almost anywhere makes the MH530FHD a clear bargain that’s here to stay, at least until 4K becomes cheaper in a few years.