Offers a class-leading 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, a self-adjusting auto iris, and a top-notch lens. Absolutely no image lag. Tremendous 3D reproduction.
On the expensive side, but if you are all about superior, large-scale image quality, it is a no-brainer.
We are impressed by the Optoma’s 25,000:1 contrast ratio and bright 3,200 lumens. Its long-life lamp (rated at 8,000 hours) means users won’t save the projector for movies only.
Has a noticeable fan noise that gets worse when using the auto contrast feature.
It’s affordable, and it can project on a screen up to 300 inches.
At only 5.5 lbs., it can feel a little flimsy.
It supports HDR, and it’s got an optical audio out for a soundbar or home theater system.
It has a latency of 48ms, which means it’s not great for gaming.
An updated version of a popular choice among consumers who want both a good deal and exceptional picture quality. Offers 3D images and supports gaming better than the older version. Keystone adjustment supports vertical and horizontal.
Some reported issues with the HDMI ports malfunctioning. Lamp bulb has been known to burn out after several months of use.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
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.
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.
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.
The best and brightest
We love Epson’s 4K projector because it doesn’t skimp on features: it supports HDR, it’s got every connectivity option you can think of, and it produces outstanding image quality. If you’ve been itching for a 4K projector that can work with a screen as big as 120 inches, this is the one to get.
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.
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.
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.
Projector bulbs get hot, so projectors typically have a built-in fan to keep the air circulating and temperatures down.
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.
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.
The Optoma 4K projector isn’t cheap by any means, but it’s definitely one of the most affordable 4K projectors available. It’s got built-in alignment technology, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time adjusting it and perfecting the picture. If you’re looking for the most affordable 4K home theater projector out there, this is it.
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).
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