BenQ TK800 review: Experience the realm of 4K at an affordable price
At 1.99 lakh, it’s a compact design for a 4K projector.
Price: Rs 1,99,000
As our appetite for higher definition increases, we need better displays to support it. You may have already switched to a 4K TV since they’re so much cheaper now but 4K projectors have remained the reserve of movie theatres and high-end home setups. That might change soon with consumer 4K projectors like BenQ’s TK800. It’s a very compact design for a 4K projector. The blue-white combination looks unique and is also fairly unobtrusive. There’s no maintenance or cleaning required and the only recurring cost is that of the replacement lamp.
In terms of the ports on the back, there’s 3.5mm audio in, power in, audio out, VGA input, dual HDMI inputs (one is HDCP 2.2), USB type A, RS232 and a 12volt trigger (can be used to trigger motorized curtains or projector screens). Controls on top include power, a 5-way D-pad, source selection, eco button, back, menu and mode. There’s also a backlit remote in the box that can control all functions.
The lens is quite recessed into the unit so there’s no need for a lens cover (and one isn’t provided). Next to the lens is the 4K HDR logo and an IR port for the remote. Like most other projectors, there’s a second IR port too. Zoom and focus for the lens is manual and this being an entry-level 4K projector, there is no lens shift control either. What it does have is auto keystone adjustment.
Depending on how much the projector is tilting up or down, the auto keystone adjusts to make the image rectangular. This feature can’t be turned off (so you can’t manually adjust keystone). At certain angles, we found it doing constant minor adjustments to keystone, which was an annoyance.
BenQ says the TK800 delivers true 4K (3840x2160) UHD resolution with 8.3 million distinct pixels and HDR. However, the specifications list it as having a 1080p DLP chip from Texas Instruments.
So how is this possible? This is the secret behind the TK800’s comparatively affordable price (market price is about Rs 1.75 lakh, and it’s significantly cheaper abroad). The tech is called DLP XPR and it uses ‘pixel shifting’ to upscale a 1080p chip up + down + sideways at a very high frame rate (240hz) to effectively increase the pixel count to 8.3 million pixels, i.e., the pixel count of 4K resolution.
Will this tech be as good as native 4K? Obviously not, so it can be described as a stopgap. It brings down the price and gives you 4K in a smaller, lighter projector. Apart from 4K on the cheap, one of the other main benefits of the TK800 is the long lamp life: up to 10,000 hours in eco mode (8,000 hours in smart eco).
Right out of the box, we didn’t much like the colours and contrast. This is despite the high brightness and 10,000:1 contrast. Picture is something you will have to tweak in the settings, adjusting the various levels (hue, saturation, gamma, contrast, sharpness et all) till you get an image you like. After that, you can play around with the various colour modes and the dedicated sport/football modes.
Even after all this, there is significant light leak — light spreads out to areas around the image which can be distracting in dark scenes. There’s also a tiny 5 watt speaker inside which can work as your audio source in a pinch. It gets surprisingly loud though you wouldn’t really expect a tiny mono speaker to deliver the best experience all the time.
Overall, if you’re looking for a step up from the crowd of 1080p projectors, this gets the job done at a budget. It does ‘create’ 8.3 million pixels of resolution which is again a step up from the other 4K enhanced projectors (which upscale to 4 million pixels). And you need to be willing to overlook the slight disappointments like the light leak and fiddly keystone.