With the prices of home projectors falling and their specs rising in recent times it’s not out of the ordinary to invest in your very own home theater. There are various factors to consider when purchasing any kind of hardware and it’s no different here. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best options sorted by their defining characteristics were you’ll get all the info you need all in one place.
Couple of notes before continuing. We’ll be citing some technical details in our blurbs about the products so it’s important to know what to keep an eye on. Aside from resolution, which is self-evident, you should also always know the brightness and contrast components (the bigger number, the better). As you would guess, the brightness determines how good the picture will be if the room isn’t completely dark, but it also provides better picture quality even when the projections is extra big. Contrast on the other hand ensures the colors look like they should. If the contrast is to low the colors will look less sharp, even washed out in worst cases.
We’re going straight for the high end stuff. Although 4K is the standard when talking about televisions, prices for 4K projectors are still pricy, especially compared to those same televisions.
One of the more affordable options, however, is the Optoma UHD300X. Optoma is a well-established brand on the market and will be featured again down this list. Their first entry is a 4K projector that came out in 2018. Both the brightness (2200 lumens) and contrast (250000:1) are average, at least for this tier, but that’s one of the reasons the price is on the low end of the spectrum (again, for this tier). You’ll also be getting two integrated speakers (5W each), but like most integrated speakers it’s not worth mentioning and you’ll have to invest in a more powerful option to get the cinema effect. If it has to be 4K, but you don’t want to spend a fortune this could be just the thing for you, especially if you have a good space for screening that mitigates some of the hardware limitations.
On the other side of the 4K coin is the UHZ65. Also released in 2018. the UHZ is a beefed up version of the UHD65. A top of the line product it offers a brightness of 3000 lumens and a contrast of a staggering 2000000:1. You can probably put on a movie on a side of the house in broad daylight and the picture would still be perfect. Integrated speakers are again present, even weaker this time around – 4W each (two pieces). These really can’t be considered a deal breaker in any of the cases on the list since there simply isn’t enough room in the casing to put anything better/more powerful. The only real downside, obviously, is the price. Expectedly, it can’t come anywhere near any “reasonable budget” but if you have the money and are willing to spend you absolutely can’t go wrong with this one.
Full HD projectors
Televisions put the 1080p resolution in the rearview mirror as a standard a while back, but that doesn’t mean projectors with that standard can’t still be viable. For a reasonable price you can equip your home with a theater that won’t be any less than its 4K counterparts.
Everyone hates wires. The selling point for the 2150 is that it provides a streaming option through Miracast. A streaming option like this still isn’t a standard in the industry, so it separates this model from the pack. The standard technical details are also really good with brightness of 2500 lumens and a 60000:1 contrast. You’ll also have an integrated speaker of 10W. These are all average or above average stats when compared to other products on the market. If you have a fast, stable wi-fi connection and are looking to cut down on the number of wires in your home, try the Home Cinema 2150.
If you’re using a projector mostly for gaming, then you should look into the HT2050A for its low input lag. The input lag maxes out at 16 ms, which is specific for projectors since most of them are made for screening videos and not for games. Because of it, most of the time, this isn’t a characteristic projector companies look to when developing their products. The technical stats are average with 2200 lumens and 15000:1 contrast, so you’ll need a good dark space to use it. The HT2050A does target a niche audience, but aside from its selling point it still provides a decent projector for general use.
The successor to the super popular mid-range HD142X projector, the HD143X has the perfect cost to benefit ratio. The whole HD14 line from Optoma has been the go-to choice for first steps into projectors for years. They always have great stats for the price and are very reliable. The HD143X has a brightness of 3000 lumens and a 30000:1 contrast with an integrated 10W speaker. The reliability is on center stage when considering the advertised 12000 hours of lamp light, which is above average compared to the market. With the all-around quality and affordable price, we can recommend it to everybody who isn’t looking for something specific.
Mini projectors or portable projectors are, just as the name implies, used as solutions when you don’t really have the means to set up regular ones. You’ll be sacrificing quality for mobility and size (some of these can literally fit into your pocket). Basically you’ll have a screen wherever you go.
With dimensions of just 9,80×9,80×2,16 cm this projector is small even for mini standards. The ultimate travel companion that is much bigger than an average smartphone does have some expected drawbacks. The native resolution is 854×480, but it does support full HD. It has two integrated speakers (1W per speaker), but it has a 3,5mm jack, so you’ll be able to hook up external speakers. It comes with a 3400 mAh battery that should last you about two hours which is solid. The projections themselves run with 100 lumens and 3000:1 contrast. After reading everything else so far this can seem underwhelming, but these kinds of specs are normal when talking about mini projectors. It doesn’t have Bluetooth or wi-fi, so the only way to connect it with a source is via HDMI. If you want to connect to your phone, you’ll need a micro USB to MHL adapter. The main selling point of the NM4 is the size and the price – the target audience are those who can live with lesser quality, but need the size and don’t want to reach too deep into their pockets.
A tad bigger (11,94x1049x3,56 cm) the LV130 does bring more to the table. The native resolution is the same (854×480) and it supports full HD inputs which it then scales down, with the maximum output resolution being 1280×800 which is still pretty good for smaller screens. Everything else however is above average for these types of models. With a brightness of 300 lumens and contrast of 100000:1 you can be sure the picture quality will be top notch. It comes with a 2W speaker and a 6700 mAh battery that should keep it running for up to 4,5 hours. All the input options are here – USB, HDMI and 3,5mm audio, but you’ll also be able to connect to it via wi-fi, because the LV130 has an integrated wireless connection. The LV130 is the all-around equivalent of the HD143X in that it has great picture, reliable components and moderate price. We can, again, recommend it to everybody looking for a quality product without any niche features.
Ultra short-throw projectors
Ultra short-throw projectors function much like regular projectors with one distinct difference – they have lenses that project full size picture just inches away from the intended surface. All other specifications apply here (bigger numbers are better in every category) and the only noticeable reason you’ll opt out of these models is the price tag.
Looking at the specs alone you can see this is a high-end product. With a brightness of 4000 lumens and contrast of 2500000:1 the picture will always be crystal clear. The size of the projections is also somewhat staggering – just 10 cm from the surface it projects 203,2 cm diagonal screen and if you move it a bit further to 38 cm you get a screen of over 300 cm. These numbers really don’t do it justice and you can appreciate what this really means only after you’ve seen it for yourself. Probably the only downside is the lack of 4K support, since the output resolution is capped at full HD, but we have little doubt the newer model will add that to the list. The lack of integrated speakers on the other hand isn’t troubling at all, when we know you’ll be using external ones like with any other model on this list. If you have the money and don’t want a projector to mess with your space esthetics this is the model for you.
Optoma really have every all options covered. With the GT5600 you’ll have put it just 23cm from the surface for a 254 cm diagonal image. Much like the previously mentioned LS100 it projects a full HD picture, so no 4K yet. The technical specs are lower with a brightness of 3600 lumens and contrast 20000:1, meaning you’ll need to have a darker space to watch to get the most out of it. Two interesting features include support for wireless connections and one of the few viable integrated sound solutions out there. Although it houses only a single speaker, it’s a 16W one, much more powerful than anything else we’ve mentioned so far. With this one could argue that the difference in price could be mitigated by not having to invest in additional sound equipment. The price is actually on the low end for ultra short-throw projectors and could even rival some more expensive regular models.
There you have it – a projector for every occasion. We’re sure you’ll find everything you need here, no matter what those needs are, but feel free to look beyond these, but be sure to keep an eye on for those key specs.