The BenQ TK850 is one of the best 4K projectors for your living room, with amplified audio, intense 3,000 lumens brightness, and a deep focus on sports broadcasts to help it stand out from the stacks of other projectors out the re. It’s not the first BenQ projector we’ve noticed: we gave a glowing review to the BenQ HT3550 last year, even though that model is more focused on die-hard cinephiles than the TK850. So is the BenQ’s TK850 worth a look? This is our BenQ TK850 4K Review.
BenQ TK850 4K Review: Design
Even before you’ve turned on this projector, the TK850 is pretty easy on the eyes. It comes in soft, rounded edges in a mostly white design, which helps to prevent this rather bulky (13cm x 38cm x 26cm) device from dominating the room. After all, that’s one of the advantages of not choosing a television set. The ports are all on the back, which means they are probably facing the viewer, which makes it much easier to navigate the connections and connect the right cables during use.
You’ll get two HDMI 2.0 inputs, which means you can connect two sources at the same time (e.g., an Xbox One and a 4K Blu-ray player). There are also ports for SPDIF, audio out, USB 3.0, and RS232, with a 12V trigger to turn on the projector automatically when a live device is connected. At the top of the projector, you’ll find buttons for the power and D-pad, as well as ‘OK,’ ‘Back,’ ‘Menu’ and ‘Source.’ There are also LED indicators for the power supply, lamp, and temperature.
The remote control is brilliantly crafted, even if it doesn’t look particularly flashy. The simple two-tone silver color is great for visibility in the dark, thanks to its reflective finish. The pinkish backlight is also great for illuminating buttons from below, and the re’s a button to turn this light on and off. The TK850 projector sometimes seems to get a bit warm, even in standby, so we recommend unplugging it completely when not in use for a long time.
Software and Setup
Considering that the BenQ TK850 is just a short-throw projector – instead of the kind of ultra-short-throw model you can push against a wall – you’ll have to have it outdoors a bit. We’ve placed it on a coffee table, but any surface in your living room from which it can look face to face with the wall will do the job. Of course, the TK850 is not a miracle worker. You need to have it at a height that is conducive to projecting the whole image on the wall, no matter how big you decide to set the display.
There are overhead mounts for these things, although we felt that a table at waist height was high enough to get the image at eye level. The vertical lens shift of 10 degrees, that’s how much you can slide the projector up or down without distorting the picture – also helps in this respect. You may not want to see much of the projector in view during use, but keep in mind that viewers may block the projection from behind, depending on where the projector is placed.
There are a few things on the projector that you will need to adjust manually during installation, before accessing the software section. The first is for the zoom and focus functions, which you adjust from above – there is a small hatch that covers these moving parts, although it automatically slides open if the projector is even slightly tilted.
When the projector is on, pull back the small hatch on the top of the projector and adjust the lens left and right to zoom in to adjust the size of the image – up to a maximum of 100 inches at 8.2 feet away – then push it forward or backward to focus the image. You can then use the lens shift wheel to increase or decrease the picture; all in all, it’s a simple and intuitive process that allows you to achieve the perfect image.
There is also a manual elevation stand on the underside of the TK850. All you have to do is press the bracket above the front foot and pull the foot down to set the projector at the desired height. The auto-keystone function can be a bit overzealous, and we’ve had to correct the keystoning in the menu settings ourselves for a few minutes. The re’s not much here that stands in the way of a smart platform, which is a good thing as well as a bad thing.
It’s good because the re’s little in the way of the action. After all, you only have to deal with one menu that appears over the projection. The bad news is that there are no built-in apps like Netflix or YouTube, and you need a physical source like a game console, set-top box, or 4K Blu-ray player to watch it, well, everything. Connect your source via USB or HDMI, press the power button on the projector or remote control.
BenQ TK850 4K Review: Performance
The most striking thing about the BenQ TK850 is its brightness. With 3,000 lumens – considerably more than the 2,000 lumens of the BenQ HT3550 – it can project a prominent image, which means we can comfortably watch movies even with a moderate amount of light in the room. You’ll still get the best picture in a dark environment, although you won’t be too much penalized for wanting to leave a lamp on to see the furniture (or your loved ones).
That light has excellent results for watching HDR in particular. The high dynamic range offers improved contrast and more vibrant colors than the standard SDR (standard dynamic range), and the powerful lamp in the TK850 means that HDR makes a fantastic difference.
When viewing The Martian, we found that turning HDR on gave a completely different picture. Flat desert tans became intense, textured colors on the red planet, while even the small and easily missed flashing blue lights in the middle of a howling gray storm came through brilliantly. This is a projector that does HDR good – while still having the chops to make SDR look good on its terms. HDR gaming is also a real sight. The Witcher III has been recreated on our Xbox One X in vivid detail, with excellent contrast that makes the gaming environment stand out. The delay also seemed minimal.
You won’t get Dolby Vision or HDR10+ here – or on any projector – but the standard HDR format still offers dividends on the TK850. There is also support for HLG and even 3D video.
However, the BenQ TK850 projector is marketed as a device for watching sports programs – how does that work? We’ve fluttering between football and rugby matches and found the motion controls very convenient – while the increased contrast of the special Sports mode helped players to appear against the green of the pitch behind them, and gave the sound a slight boost to hear the roar of the crowd better.
It’s worth using the projector’s exclusive Cinema or Sports settings for whatever content you’re watching – with a Bright mode for bright environments, or a Living Room setting for more everyday use. You can also create a custom picture mode for the user to suit your personal needs. The re’s some light video noise that appears regardless of the source we’ve used, from low-resolution YouTube videos to sparkling 4K Blu-rays. However, the impact is small and hard to avoid on a projector that can’t stop shining through every pixel of the video it shows.
This projector is generally better at showing deep colors and bright scenes, and worse at showing shadows or distinguishing grey tones. The sound is not small, for what it is – and will undoubtedly cover the sound of the TK850’s fans – but if you want more than 10W speakers, you may also want to connect a separate soundbar or hi-fi system.
Price and Availability
The Ben TK850 sells for $1,699 in the US, which is approximately £1,300/AU$2,600. The projector has just been launched in the UK and can be found on eBuyer for only over £1,340.
BenQ TK850 4K Review: Conclusion
The BenQ TK850 is a great example of a 4K HDR projector with the brightness to make the image stand out. You’ll have to do without many smart features, but if that’s not a problem, you should have little reason not to enjoy what the TK850 offers. HDR, in particular, is exceptional – while the manual zoom, lens shift, and focus tools allow you to fine-tune your projector to suit the needs and size of your living room. Check out our list of Best HDR Projectors
The BenQ TK850 is a great example of a 4K HDR projector with the brightness to make the image stand out. You'll have to do without many smart features, but if that's not a problem, you should have no reason not to enjoy what the TK850 offers.
- Extremely Bright and Vibrant
- Excellent HDR
- Sports Mode
- No streaming apps
- No Dolby Vision or HDR10+