If you’re a film buff who wants to bring the authentic theater experience into your living room, a projector is a great purchase for your home cinema. These devices turn any wall into a movie screen, making your films, video games and even business presentations more immersive than ever before.
You can easily position a home theater projector on a coffee table, desk or counter, and many are portable enough to move from room to room. While projectors are typically more affordable than purchasing a new 4K or 8K TV, there are still many factors to consider when choosing the best projector for your home.
When shopping for a home projector system, the resolution is perhaps the most important detail to consider. Most mid-tier models have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, while many 4K home projector units support 3840 x 2160. Anything less than 1080p is going to produce a low-quality image on most surfaces.
Just like the projector in a movie theater, home projectors perform best in dark or low-light areas. If you’re unable to make your viewing space sufficiently dark, look for an extra bright projector. Anything over 2,000 lumens should be suitable for rooms that contain a lot of ambient light.
Most home projectors are meant to stay in one place, but certain models are built with portability in mind. Portable projectors may have reduced resolution, but are typically more compact and perfect for taking on vacation or hosting a movie night outdoors.
While some projectors come with everything you need to start using them right away, most models will need a few accessories.
Screen: Many consumers choose to project their entertainment directly onto a white wall or curtain in their home, but you can also purchase a high-quality screen for the best viewing experience. These typically come with mounts or foldable stands that can be collapsed and carried easily.
Remote control: Depending on where you choose to place your projector, a remote control can be a very convenient accessory for a home projector setup. It can be used for things like switching your projector’s content source and adjusting the light settings. Your projector might come with its own simple remote, but a smart universal remote can be helpful if you want to control multiple devices in tandem.
Speakers: While projectors are great at producing theater-quality video, the built-in speakers are usually subpar. To truly maximize your viewing experience, get standalone speakers or a soundbar.
Bulbs: Projector bulbs are usually included with your purchase and will last for several thousand hours of usage, but expect to make the additional purchase once they eventually go out. In the meantime, conserve bulb life and electricity by turning off the projector when it’s not in use.
In addition to the occasional bulb replacement, dust can build up in your projector’s fans over time. Buy a can of compressed air and use it every few months to prevent overheating. If the lens gets dirty, use a soft microfiber cloth to wipe away any dust or debris. If you have one, you can also place a dust cover on the lens when the projector’s not in use.
Our take: This high-end Sony projector comes with crystal-clear color and a dynamic HDR enhancer for realistic picture quality.
What we like: 4K resolution and nine pre-calibrated picture modes mean that the quality is excellent for a wide variety of entertainment.
What we dislike: At 1,500 lumens, this projector is not as bright as you might expect for the price point.
Our take: We deemed this the best budget projector for home theater setups, using 1080p projector resolution and 3,600 lumens to deliver vibrant picture quality.
What we like: The high amount of lumens means that this projector is bright enough for use during the day, and the 120-hertz refresh rate prevents graphics stuttering.
What we dislike: Some users report blurry images on larger screens.
Our take: Compact, stylish and integrated into the Samsung device ecosystem, this smart projector boasts bright images and built-in surround sound speakers.
What we like: This Samsung projector is loaded with features like smart voice assistants and 30-watt speakers. The sleek design means that it will blend seamlessly with your existing decor.
What we dislike: Navigating the projector’s menus can feel slow.
Our take: This versatile 4K projector is specifically optimized for gaming.
What we like: This lightweight projector boasts 3,400 lumens of brightness and an enhanced gaming mode that eliminates lag.
What we dislike: This model is a bit pricey and better suited for gaming than watching films or TV.
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.