Best Home Theater Projectors

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

98 Models Considered
43 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
208 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best home theater projectors

Last Updated October 2019
By Jaime Vazquez

In the world of home theaters, 4K TVs get a lot of hype, but if you’re looking for a true cinematic experience, you should consider getting a home theater projector.

Home theater projectors have all the same bells and whistles as their TV counterparts, with one big difference: with a projector, you can easily watch your favorite shows and movies on a 100-inch (or larger) screen. The projector works with any content source, so you can enjoy everything from streaming video to video games on a giant screen, and all for less money than you’d spend on a 4K TV.

If you’re ready to level up your home theater, or you simply want to replace your existing projector with a more advanced model, you’ve come to the right place! Read on for everything you need to know about home theater projectors. When you’re ready to buy, check out or top picks, too.

About the author

Jaime Vazquez has been writing about technology and geeking out with gadgets since 2000. He loves trying the latest electronics so that his readers don't have to, and using his inner cheapskate to find the best bargains.


Jaime Vazquez  |  Writer
Modern TVs no longer support 3D content, but projectors still do. If you’re a fan of 3D movies, get a projector that supports them, and give your giant screen some added depth.

Key considerations

Before you start looking at different projector models, answer these questions to help you find the ideal model for your lifestyle:

How big is the wall or screen you’ll use with your projector?

The first thing to determine is your ideal screen size because this will be your most important feature. Most projectors can create an image that’s at least 100 inches (measured diagonally), but some can do up to 300 inches. Consider your viewing area and buy a projector that works with the available space.

How many devices do you plan to use with your projector?

Most home theater projectors have a whole suite of connectivity options, but it’s still a good idea to make sure that every device you need will connect with the projector you like.

How close will your projector be to where you sit?

One thing most projector manufacturers don’t mention in the marketing materials is just how noisy projector fans can be. As you’re comparing models, pay attention to user reviews about the noise level. Some projectors are so loud they can make it hard to hear dialogue.

TESTING HOME THEATER PROJECTORS

We spent 43 hours considering 98 projectors and consulting with over 100 consumers. We then purchased our favorite projector and tested it in our lab.

Home theater projector features

Most projectors are simple to use; you plug it in, connect a content source, press power, and you’re up and running. But if you’re looking for additional functionality or just the projectors that set themselves apart from the rest, keep an eye on these three features in particular:

Resolution: The screen resolution represents how many pixels a projector can display. Today’s projectors usually have a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 (1080p), while some advanced models support 3840 x 2160, otherwise known as 4K. If you see a projector with a native resolution that’s lower than 1080p, don’t buy it.
 

Portability: Most projectors are made to stay in one place, but a few select models are portable. These projectors are typically more expensive than standard ones, and in many cases, they sport lower resolutions. If you’re looking for a portable projector, be sure to shop carefully and read the fine print about what features they support. If you don’t need a mobile projector, it will be much easier to find a suitable option.
 

Brightness: Brightness isn’t just about how vibrant an image a projector can produce, it’s also about how dark the room is to begin with. Projectors rely on dark rooms for ideal image quality, so if you’re putting your projector in a room that isn’t completely dark, get the brightest model you can afford – it’s the one with the highest count of lumens.

Essential Accessories

While you’re shopping for the perfect home theater projector, don’t forget about the accessories that complete the experience.

Extra-long HDMI cables - Twisted Veins 100-ft. HDMI Cable with Ethernet

If you’re mounting your projector to the ceiling or putting it at the back of the room, you may need an extra-long HDMI cable to connect your cable box or streaming device. We like the cables from Twisted Veins because they’re super durable, they’re affordable, and they even include right-angle adapters so you can easily connect to your TV, even if it’s in a tight space or mounted against a wall. 

Soundbar - Sony CT800 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

There are a lot of great soundbars out there, but Sony’s CT800 stands out because it supports 4K HDR passthrough as well as high-end surround formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Throw in the wireless subwoofer and built-in voice control via Google Home and you’ve got a soundbar that can control your smart home and sound great doing it.

Universal remote - Logitech Harmony Smart Control

Logitech has a variety of universal remotes, each good for particular use cases — but their ‘jack of all trades’ model is the Harmony Smart Control. It’s got a super-simple remote with all buttons and no screen, plus a hub that can translate remote commands to all of your home theater components and smart home devices. If you’re looking for one remote to control your projector, your content source, and your smart lighting, this is the one.

Home theater projector prices

Inexpensive: Between $500 and $1,000 you’ll find home theater projectors with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 (1080p). Projectors in this price bracket are solid performers – if you don’t mind forgoing 4K – and are perfect for modest home theaters. 

Mid-range: Between $1,000 and $2,000 you’ll find top-notch 1080p projectors and some excellent 4K options. Be particularly careful in this price range and pay attention to the native resolution of the different models. Many that claim to support 4K can only do so by downscaling the image to 1080p. If you’re looking for an outstanding, truly 4K projector, you’ll need to spend this much.

Expensive: Between $2,000 and $35,000 (yes, you read that right) you’ll find professional-quality projectors. Projectors in this price range are designed for large home cinemas and auditoriums. You don’t need to spend this much to get a great projector for your home, but if you’re looking for the absolute best image quality available, it’ll cost you.

EXPERT TIP

Projector bulbs get hot, so projectors typically have a built-in fan to keep the air circulating and temperatures down.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Plan for audio before you buy a projector. In general, projectors are really good at video and pretty bad at audio, and in most cases that’s because manufacturers assume you’ll bring your own audio solution. Before you plunk down any cash, think about where your projector is going to sit and how you plan on connecting the audio to a more capable speaker. For example, if you’ll be using a soundbar, make a plan for sending your content’s audio to the soundbar and the video to your projector.
  • Consider a short throw projector if you have a particularly cramped viewing area.  Short throw projectors are designed to be placed a few inches from the surface they’re projecting on. They’re perfect for conference rooms, small bedrooms, or any area where you want a projector but don’t have the space to properly position a full-size one.
  • Keep an extra bulb around just in case. When your projector bulb burns out, you can’t watch anything until you’ve replaced it, so minimize your downtime and keep a spare bulb or two nearby.
  • Keep a can of compressed air handy. Dust can build up in projector fans, so it’s important to clean your projector regularly, at least every few months, to keep the picture looking good and prevent overheating.

If you’re planning to mount your projector to the ceiling, don’t forget that you’ll need extra-long HDMI cables to connect your video sources to it.

Other products we considered

We’re big fans of the BenQ HT2050A Home Theater Projector because it’s one of the few that’s good for both watching movies and playing games. Most projectors suffer from lag times, which can really throw you off in a game, but the HT2050A has a 16ms lag time, so you can play all your favorite games as intensely as you want. The JMGO J6S Projector is also another strong contender for anyone who needs a portable projector. It’s truly designed to be taken anywhere: it’s got a built-in protective lens cover, stereo Bluetooth speakers, and weighs just over three pounds. If you’re looking for a 1080p projector that’s basically a portable party, look no further.

Save money on a screen and instead use reflective projector paint. When you paint a whole wall with it, you don’t have to worry about your projector lining up perfectly with a screen.

FAQ

Q. How long do the bulbs typically last in home theater projectors?
A.
It depends. Projector bulbs are usually rated by the number of hours they can last before needing to be replaced, and bulb ratings range from 2,000 to 4,500 hours. Your mileage will vary, but in general, you can at least count on a bulb lasting a couple thousand hours. Conserve bulb life and always shut down your projector when you’re not using it.


Q. What is DLP?
A
. Digital Light Processing, commonly known as DLP, describes how some projectors display an image. DLP projectors use thousands of tiny mirrors, while LCD projectors send light through a prism to create an image. DLP projectors generally produce better picture quality than LCD projectors, although some users complain that reds aren’t as vibrant as they could be. DLP projectors are a little more expensive than LCD projectors, but the upgrade in quality is usually worth it.


Q. Can I connect my cable TV box to a projector?
A.
Yes. You can connect your cable box to a projector provided that your cable box has HDMI output, and the projector has an HDMI input (both are standard, so in the majority of cases, all you’ll need is an HDMI cable).

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor
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When's a good time to go to the movies?
Well if you're looking to watch an Oscar-winning Best Picture, you might as well skip the months of February through September.

Since 1996, 82% of the movies that went on to win Best Picture were released within 4 months of the presentation of the Academy Awards held in February.

It turns out that more than half of the winners were released during the two months preceding the Awards ceremony, with January (the month before the Oscars) having the highest total of best picture-winning releases.

We offer two different explanations for these results.

Theory 1:

It's possible that releasing a movie in the few months preceding the Oscars gives the film an edge in terms of visibility with film critics and the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the people who ultimately vote on the winners. These members, who are 77% male and have a median age of 62, may pay much less attention to movies released during the spring and summer months. However, as the Oscar buzz begins in the fall, film critics begin writing about their favorite movies, and the voters, who can be swayed by public opinion themselves, make their selections with an obvious bias towards the movies that are top of mind.

Theory 2:

Film studios that are gunning for the Best Picture award may selectively time their releases to take advantage of the fall and winter months preceding the Academy Awards. Best picture-aspiring movies are often targeted at older and more mature viewers, so film producers wait to debut these films until after the summer winds down and the movie-going audience shifts from children to adults.

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