BenQ continue to expand their lineup of projectors and their latest one for the home is the TK800. It features 4K image quality, with a HDR support, a compact design and bold face, along with improved colour and brightness over previous models. When you're choosing the right display technology for your home (or home theatre) then you have a decision to make, an LCD TV or a projector and when you choose, you'll really have to commit, with both requiring mounting options that are hard to back out of. Along with the financial investment, you'll want to choose carefully to make sure you're meeting your entertainment goals.
One key aspect is the size of the display you want to achieve. If you're after a really big picture, then projectors used to be the only sensible way to achieve that, but increasingly TVs are growing in size, 65, to now 75" displays are reaching affordability for some, eating into the projector market. If you're after the home cinema effect, then you'll want to push that size over 100" and for at that size, 1080p is not going to cut it, as stretching pixels that far, results in terrible picture quality, regardless how good the source material.
Thankfully, half way through 2018, projectors like the TK800 are making 4K quality affordable and with 4K source material now freely available, you should consider nothing less.
Bold face that demands attention
The TK800 features a bold blue face which is sure to draw attention, particularly if mounted against a white roof. Personally I'd be a lot more comfortable with this embellishment if it was a replaceable or removable face plate. I can't think of a reason people would want to draw attention to their projector, it's a piece of functional equipment, not usually a piece of interior design. If you were going to try to integrate it into your decor, then I'm struggling to imagine this shade of blue is the right choice to appeal to a mass market. Perhaps a wooden veneer would contrast the white body and have more of a premium Scandinavian feel.
The size of this project is fairly standard, compact enough for portable applications, but small enough to be mounted on the roof without consuming the whole ceiling. This is a mid-sized consumer projector that's 353mm wide x 135mm high and 272mm deep. If you don't plan on mounting it permanently, but move it between rooms, you'll be carrying 4.2kg, also important when considering mounting option.
The top features all the standard zoom and focus controls, along with a backup set of on-device controls should you ever loose the remote control.
A list as long as your arm
This projector features a Texas Instruments 0.47” single-Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) DLP imaging chip and uses XPR pixel shifting technology to achieve its 4K projection. This means your 4K input (3840 x 2160), like that from your Xbox One X, is projected with great quality and thanks to an impressive 3000 lumens the projector is bright, while keeping blacks dark, thanks to a serious 10,000:1 contrast ratio. The projector also supports 30-bit colour and HDR, so when you feed it HDR content, like Netflix, it looks great with vibrant colours, even on a basic wall. This effect will be enhanced if you invest in a good projector screen.
Those vibrant colours from the projector is achieved thanks to BenQ's new 4K color wheel, the projector achieves 92% of the Rec. 709 color space. What that means is that more of the colour of the final product intended by the director reaches you and your family and friends gathered around your projector.
With an impressive 120Hz refresh rate, image blur is all but eliminated and after some thorough testing with video games and movies, I can confirm this works achieves the objective, great performance from the projector. The lamp life has been rated for 10,000 hours in eco mode, SmartEco will get you 8,000 and Normal mode will get you 4,000 hours. I found there's almost no practical difference between the modes, so running in SmartEco would be my setting so you get years of life from it, even if you use this projector for TVs, movies and gaming.
Like many displays, there are multiple display modes. These modes change the performance characteristics to better support the content you're running through them. While we'd love to imagine that in the future, AI would recognise the content and automatically switch modes for us, currently this is up to you. The TK800 features Football mode, preserving lifelike skin tones and lush green grass and even tweaks the sound to make it feel like you're in the stadium. There's also a Sport mode that renders realistic skin shades, warm wood tones, while accentuating the commentators voice and sound effects like squeaking sneakers, referee whistles, and scraping skates in an indoor arena are all enhanced.
The speakers in projectors are generally terrible and in any projector home theatre, you'll want to get a soundbar or even better, full surround sound. If you don't have that and have to live for a while with the built-in speaker, the TK800 has one of the best I've ever heard in a projector. The CinemaMaster Audio+ 2 offers an unexpected amount of volume, while actually sounding half decent. The EQ of this audio is user configurable in a User Mode, or you can select from Football, Sport, Cinema, Music and Game modes. Personally switching audio modes is something I never remember to do, so end up defaulting to Game mode.
In terms of throw distances, you'll get a good 100" display when the projector is 3.25 meters away from the wall. Thanks to a physical zoom slider, you can shrink or grow the display, particularly useful if your projector mount is already positioned. For the majority of the review period, I had the TK800 in our rumpus room and at 4m away from the wall, the projector created a massive 112" image.
BenQ actually offer a great online calculator that'll help determine the optimal position for your projector.
In terms of connectivity, on the back of the device, you'll find 2 HDMI ports, 1x USB Type A port, 1x USB Type B port, VGA and 2x IR receiver ports. That HDMI and USB port combination will support accessories like Microsoft Wireless HDMI dongle or a Google Chromecast to wirelessly project from your devices.
Room for improvement
When sitting down on the couch with a good drink and some nibblies, you need to be prepared for the projector startup time. Unlike a TV, the projector takes a while to get started. In the case of the TK800, it takes up to a minute before you can use it. If you plan on watching a 3.5hr movie, then this isn't an issue, but if you're used to the sub-1 second startup time of a TV, it does take some getting used to.
I've used a few remotes from BenQ now and they're continuing the same brick-style remote here. This features similar ergonomics to the original NES controller. 5 years ago, they may have got away with phoning in a remote, but the truth is remotes have actually come a long way on smart TVs and there's no reason that shouldn't be matched if you choose to go with a projector.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
How much does this cost?
In Australia, the projector is available for A$2,499.00. That price reflects a great product and in terms of value for money, is right up there. If we consider the price against a 4K TV, considering the screen size and quality you can achieve at that size, this price tag does represent good value.
The projector is available from BenQ.
All things considered, this is a very capable projector, one that should be on your shopping list if you want 4K quality projection at an affordable price. Those purists may be concerned by the lack of native 4K support, but the technological trickery that is employed to deliver 4K quality works, so the resulting imagery you see is crisp, clear and of great colour, even when projecting at massive sizes.
Despite the brick remote, the coloured face, when all things are considered, BenQ has put together a very impressive offering here with the TK800.