The BenQ TK850 is a great budget 4K projector to consider, with rich colors and simple interfacing that will make it at home in any living room. It's not a native 4K projector, despite the branding; it replicates 4K resolution by quadrupling a 1080p output. This won't be the best option for recreating true Ultra HD, then, but it does have a 4K effect that should look more detailed than lower-res models – and for the price it may be worth the compromise.
The BenQ TK850 outputs at 3,000 lumens, offering an exceptional brightness (despite some resolution trickery) and aiding an above-par color performance through BenQ's CinematicColor processor.
As a DLP projector, the TK850 saves costs by using a micromirror device allied to a spinning colour wheel to create images. DLP is popular choice for cheaper projectors, but is still able to output sharp images, even if occasional rainbow effects mean it won’t be the ideal choice for perfect recreation of monochrome photographs or videos.
The 1.3x zoom means you can get a 100-inch projection from a little over nine feet away, or pull the projector in closer to the wall for a smaller, more intimate size. There’s also a vertical lens shift feature that moves the image slightly up or down (good for avoiding furniture or picture frames), while the underside of the projector also has a stand you can unscrew to better angle it in a specific direction.
Resolution: 4K (4 x 1080p)
Brightness (claimed): 3,000 ANSI lumens
Contrast (claimed): 30,000:1
Zoom: 1.3 Dimensions: 477.5(w)x383.5(h)x195(d)mm
Build and operation
The TK850 is not a slight projector. The profile is obviously smaller than the average TV would be, but it has a rather chunky, if rounded, shape and measures 13 x 38 x 26cm, weighing just over 4kg. While it went well with our own decor during testing, you may want to consider how you like the appearance of it – though the strength of its images should mean you’re not staring at it too much.
The ports are all on the rear side, facing the viewer, making it easy to access the two HDMI 2.0 inputs, USB 3.0, SPDIF, RS232, and audio out (for headphones or speakers). The upper side of the TK850 features some basic inputs, but you’ll largely be making use of the backlit remote, which helps to ensure you can see all its buttons clearly even when you’ve turned the lights out for an evening movie.
It’s hard to knock the TK850’s brilliant brightness at 3,000 ANSI lumens, which helps to keep picture vivid and visible even in the daytime or with any kind of ambient light in the room.
The mix of BenQ’s CinematicColor processor and that high brightness means that HDR content does offer a notable uptick in contrast and color depth – ideal for movies over Netflix, and the like – even while ensuring that regular SDR content is shown off in a good light.
You may well be eyeing up the TK850 for sports in particular, given that’s what BenQ is marketing this model around. The capable contrast is definitely a boon for seeing players against football pitches, especially when using the dedicated Sports Mode to improve contrast further. Motion handling is more than good enough too, while the Sports Mode also tweaks the basic 10W audio output to ensure the sound of live crowds doesn’t get lost in the background.
This isn’t a true 4K projector, though. BenQ’s wizardry technically quadruples the same 1080p output to give an appearance of Ultra HD. This is handy especially when using the TK850 for its largest image size, ensuring that you aren’t faced with big blocky pixels, though it is a touch less impressive than some 4K laser projectors out there – given that you’re essentially seeing each pixel four times, rather than 8.3 million individual ones.
There’s some slight video noise you’ll have to forgive, whatever the resolution of the content you’re viewing, though at this price we wouldn’t call it a deal-breaker.
BenQ TK850: Verdict
It’s hard to knock the BenQ TK850 for what it offers. Yes, the 4K label is a bit misleading, but it does ensure large projection sizes don’t break up the picture unnecessarily, and the strength of the HDR and color performance is more than enough to make up for it.
At this price, too, the TK850 is a great all-round option, able to output movies, games, and sports matches with an impressive level of contrast and color. The variety of zoom and focusing tools at your disposal too mean you’re fully able to tweak the TK850’s images around your particular needs. Be mindful, though, that you won’t get streaming apps built-in, so connecting devices through the HDMI or USB ports is pretty essential to get the most out of this model.