The BenQ TH685P is one of the few 1080p projectors that is able to handle HDR color adequately, making it an excellent choice for gaming and home entertainment that is a step above basic level.
BENQ TH685P SPECS
|Rated Brightness||3500 ANSI lumens|
|Native Resolution||3840 by 2160 using 1920 by 1080 DLP chip with XPR fast-switch pixel shifting|
|Maximum Resolution||3840 by 2160 HDR; Full HD 3D|
|Inputs and Interfaces||HDMI 2.0b|
|Dimensions (HWD)||4.3 by 12.3 by 8.9 inches|
The BenQ TH685P, which costs $799, is an excellent illustration of the fact that a projector’s specifications do not provide all of the information that one needs to know about the device. It is essentially an upgraded version of the BenQ TH685, which it replaces in BenQ’s line, and its specifications are almost exactly the same as those of its predecessor. Only in the absence of two VGA ports—one for a PC input and the other for a passthrough monitor out—do they differ from other products available on the market today. The TH685P is the only one of the two that delivered an obviously better image with HDR input in our tests; this is a notable plus in a gaming and home entertainment projector at this price point. Both of these projectors have the ability to accept 4K HDR input and downconvert it to their native 1080p with HDR.
An Upgrade From Projectors Intended for Beginners
The TH685P is BenQ’s next-generation gaming and home entertainment projector, and it costs $100 more than its predecessor, the TH585P. The TH685P has an ANSI brightness rating of 3,500 and is constructed around a single DLP chip with resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, just like its more affordable sister. The projector can light up a maximum of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels at once, and the extra 120 rows of pixels are employed to add a vertical digital shift. This results in the rated resolution of 1080p being the native resolution of the projector. You can eliminate the need to rely on the vertical keystone correction, which can add artifacts to some photos, by moving the picture by a little more than 5% up or down from its vertically centered position using the commands in the menu.
The chip is accompanied with a six-segment color wheel that, in addition to the three primary hues, includes panels displaying white, yellow, and cyan (red, green, and blue). Because it produces an image that is more luminous than what you would get from an otherwise identical projector that had a white panel, the white panel has become a typical component of DLP projectors that are designed for use in ambient light. The use of a white panel often results in a loss of some of the color fidelity, but the yellow and cyan panels assist restore some of that precision.
The TH685P weighs 6.2 pounds and measures 4.3 by 12.3 by 8.9 inches (HWD), which makes it light enough to bring with you for a gaming session and easy to handle, whether for permanent installation or an ad hoc setup. Its dimensions are 4.3 inches high, 12.3 inches wide, and 8.9 inches deep. The 1.3x zoom and the digital image shift also aid to make setup easier by adding flexibility for positioning, and I found that it was much easier to manipulate the manual focus in comparison to the TH685 in order to obtain an image that was sharp over the entirety of the screen. The only connection choices available are two HDMI 2.0b inputs, which allows you to connect the vast majority of modern image sources, including the majority of personal computers, but not older devices that require other types of connectors.
When compared to its 5 watts of power, the TH685P’s chamber speaker is able to produce more fuller-sounding audio than one might anticipate from such a low rating. It has a sound quality that is pretty usable and a volume level that is high enough to fill a large family room. There is a 3.5mm stereo audio output for an external sound system, which can provide stereo sound or sound of a greater quality.
Accurate color reproduction, strong contrast, and detailed shadows.
Bright, Living Room, Cinema, Sports, and Game are the five standard picture modes that may be customized on the TH685P. Additionally, there are two User modes available. Bright mode, like the brightest modes on the majority of projectors, has a discernible lean toward green. The color reproduction that was achieved with the default settings for all of the other modes was precise enough for the majority of people to consider any of them to be more than satisfactory. The menus provide all the options you require, including a color management system that allows you to alter each primary and secondary color independently for full calibration. This is useful if you wish to improve upon the defaults that are now in place.
Following a series of preliminary experiments, I decided that Cinema would be the best mode for viewing content using a 1080p SDR input. Because Game mode performed somewhat better than Cinema mode with shadow detail, it is the mode of choice for gaming, which is an activity in which being able to quickly notice details in dark places can make a difference. However, there was also a hint of a blue hue about it. Because of its higher level of color realism and superior contrast, the Cinema mode is unquestionably superior for viewing the vast majority of films and videos. Even in a room with moderate ambient light that was trying its best to wipe out the image, it was able to handle shadow detail well enough to pick out what was happening in the most demanding dark images in our test suite.
The HDR10 and HLG HDR formats are both supported by the TH685P. More importantly, it did a noticeably better job with 4K HDR input than many, if not the majority of 1080p projectors that claim HDR capability. This is a pleasant surprise that falls under the category of happy surprises. When compared to the 1080p version of the same movie, the 4K HDR version of a movie on disc almost always appears to have a lower overall picture quality than the 1080p version of the same movie. The TH685 was an exception to this rule; however, as I mentioned when I reviewed it, despite the fact that the 4K HDR version appeared as though it might be a little better than the 1080p SDR version, the two were so comparable that I was unable to confirm this in the absence of a side-by-side comparison. The TH685 was an exception to this rule.
In the tests that we ran, the TH685P performed noticeably better than its predecessor. When we ran our typical comparison of the identical movies available on both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR discs, the HDR versions gave such a noticeable improvement in contrast and shadow detail that I didn’t even need to do a side-by-side comparison to be certain of it. In addition to that, the color accuracy was maintained.
DLP-Link glasses can be used with the single 3D picture option that Full HD 3D offers. During my tests, I did not observe any crosstalk and observed only the moderate amount of 3D-related motion artifacts that is normal for 3D projectors. I found this to be quite surprising.
After being measured with a Bodnar meter, the input latency of the TH685P was found to be 8.4 milliseconds (ms) when operating at 1080p/120Hz, making it suitable for even the most demanding gamers. The measurement that was taken for 1080p/60Hz was 16.4 milliseconds, which is the same as the measurement that was taken for 120Hz and is still sufficiently short for the majority of players. On the other hand, the lag was measured at 33.1 milliseconds for 4K/60Hz. Even though this is a significant improvement over what many projectors are capable of achieving for 4K, it is still too long for competitive gaming. Other projectors we’ve seen have measured lag as low as 16.7 milliseconds at 4K/60 frames per second.
One potentially major problem for people who find the red-green-blue flashes that are produced by single-chip DLP projectors (also known as “rainbow artifacts”) to be distracting: Our studies with the TH685P revealed that they occurred much more frequently and were much easier to spot than is currently the norm. Always make sure to purchase from a dealer who makes it simple to return anything if you are concerned about the issue.
According to the standards provided by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), a brightness of 3,500 lumens is sufficient to fill a 270-inch, 1.0-gain, 16:9 screen in a dimly lit room. It is sufficient for a screen that is 150 inches in size when there is moderate ambient light. In the tests that I ran, even the Cinema setting with its lower brightness produced a bright image that measured 90 inches and had colors that were nicely saturated. The image became a little washed out when the lights were turned on, but it was still bright enough to make out shadow detail, even when the area was completely black.
Conclusion: An Excellent Option for Those Who Are Afraid of Rainbows in 1080p
The only thing that prevents the BenQ TH685P from being an Editors’ Choice pick for an entry-level gaming projector is the fact that it exhibits rainbow artifacts both more frequently and more obviously than the vast majority of current-generation DLP projectors. This is a problem that it shares with both the TH685 that it replaces and the TH585P, which is significantly less expensive. If you want to steer clear of that, you should probably go for a projector that has either very few flashes or none at all, even if it means giving up some of its other advantages.
Optoma HD39HDR and Optoma GT1080HDR are two potential options. Both of these models give virtually the same amount of input lag as the TH685P when operating at 1080p resolution and also created less rainbows in my tests. Another option is the rainbow-artifact-proof Epson Home Cinema 2250. It comes with a lifetime warranty. However, neither of the Optoma models handled HDR as well as the TH685P did in our tests, and the Epson model had a larger input lag and doesn’t support HDR or 4K input at all. The TH685P was the clear winner. The BenQ TH685P delivers a combination of low input lag, outstanding image quality for both standard dynamic range (SDR) and high dynamic range (HDR), and even superb built-in audio for users who aren’t troubled by rainbow distortions in their display. In comparison to other options, this one is a clear winner.