Ultra short throw (UST) projectors are a great alternative to a more traditional projector setup, mainly because they sit a mere few inches from the screen and can project a 100-inch or larger picture. This space-saving arrangement saves you from having to dedicate your entire living room to movie viewing, but another upside to UST projectors is that they’re great for watching sports in well-lit environments, one where people are likely to be getting up and walking around.
But what about gaming? The best 4K projectors can deliver pristine pictures when used for movie viewing, but they are not always the best option for gaming, with few models featuring HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K 120Hz support or a game-specific picture mode with low input lag. There are some exceptions, such as the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 and JVC DLA-NZ8, but on the whole most projectors aren’t well-matched for next-gen gaming consoles.
Ben Q’s new V5000i is looking to address that shortcoming. It can accept 4K 120Hz signals from a PS5 and Xbox Series X (though images are displayed at 4K 60Hz), and it has “low input lag” according to BenQ, though the company’s release for the new projector doesn’t specify an exact number. (We’ve reached out to BenQ for confirmation and will update this story accordingly.) With its 2,500 ANSI lumens brightness spec, games should also pop nicely on its included 100-inch ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen, even when they’re played with room lights on.
With the lights turned off, the V5000i’s specs indicate that it will also perform well for movie watching. It supports the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range formats, while an updated HDR-PRO feature with Local Contrast Enhancement independently optimizes gamma in more than 1,000 zones across the screen.
The V5000i uses a three-laser (RGB) light engine, and BenQ’s cites BT.2020 color space coverage at 95% and DCI-P3 coverage at 98%. Having seen UST projectors with similar specs, we can tell you that colors should look vivid on the V5000i, and that both 4K Blu-ray and streaming sources will be well rendered.
For streaming, the V5000i uses an Android TV stick that plugs into one of the projector’s HDMI inputs and is preloaded with popular apps like Netflix. On the audio front, BenQ’s UST has a built-in 40W “Trevolo” sound system with support for both Dolby and DTS formats.
Opinion: Ultra short throw projectors are the perfect big-screen TV alternative
Whether you’re using it for console gaming, daytime TV watching, or nighttime movie viewing, UST projectors like the V5000i are an excellent alternative to both standard long throw projectors and ultra-large-screen TVs. And at $3,499 (around £2,775 / AU$5,175) with a bundled 100-inch ALR screen, the V5000i seems very reasonably priced for what you get.
For comparison’s sake, a good 4K long throw projector like the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 will set you back $5,000, and you’ll still have to pay extra for a screen, while some other UST projectors like the LG Cinebeam HU915QE TechRadar recently reviewed are priced even higher than that. Some of the best 4K TVs come in screen sizes as large as 98 inches, but you’ll pay $8,500 and up (way up, if you want one of the biggest and best OLED TVs) for those.
While it’s not the brightest UST projector option (the LG model mentioned above can hit 3,700 ANSI lumens, for instance), the V5000i is has enough light output to look good in a room with some measure of light control, and its ALR screen should help to enhance picture contrast. But perhaps what’s most interesting about BenQ’s new projector is its HDR10+ and HDR-PRO with Local Contrast Enhancement feature.
HDR10+ is a dynamic high dynamic range format where image contrast is adjusted on a scene-by-scene basis. And while it’s not as widely used as the Dolby Vision format found in a few UST projectors like the Formovie Theater and certain models from Hisense, programs with HDR10+ can be streamed from some of the best streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Paramount Plus.
HDR-PRO with Local Contrast Enhancement is a feature that can also be found on a trio of new long-throw projectors BenQ is introducing alongside the V5000i: the HT4550i, HT3560, and TK860i. Similar to LED local dimming on TVs, this feature divides the image up into multiple zones and an algorithm then analyzes the brightness and makes separate gamma adjustments to each individual zone.
We’ve not yet seen it in action, but BenQ claims that Local Contrast Enhancement, along with Enhanced HDR-PRO tone mapping on the new models, allows for two-times higher peak HDR brightness over the company’s previous generation of projectors – a significant improvement.
BenQ’s new HDR processing features, along with low input lag for a projector, make the V5000i in particular an intriguing all-around prospect for movies, gaming, and more. The V5000i will be available to order starting in July, and at that time we hope to be able to tell you more about the performance of this affordable and feature-rich UST projector.