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Best Short Throw Projectors

Updated December 2018
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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.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
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.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 90 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 buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    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.

    Shopping guide for best short throw projectors

    Last Updated December 2018

    If you’ve ever dreamed of building a home theater with a projector for giant-screen fun, but you don’t have the space or you’ve been intimidated by the cost, we have good news for you. Short throw projectors, a subset of the projector market, specialize in projecting a large image while sitting only a short distance from the wall. With an emphasis on portability and simplicity, short throw projectors are perfect for anyone with big home-theater ambitions but a small space.

    At BestReviews, we’re on a mission to be the internet’s go-to resource for unbiased product reviews. We believe in equipping our readers with all the product information – both the good and the not so good – needed to make informed purchasing decisions.

    Read on for our advice on short throw projectors, and when you’re ready to start shopping, see the table at the top of the page to learn about our favorite models.

    One of the biggest advantages that short throw projectors have over standard projectors is a lack of shadows. Short throw projectors are so close to the wall that people don’t have room to walk in front of it and block part of the picture – a welcome relief for anyone who’s ever had to yell “Down in front!” when using a standard projector.

    Short throw projectors vs. standard projectors

    Standard projectors work best when placed about eight feet from the screen, but short throw projectors typically only need to be about three feet away from the screen. If you’re not sure if a short throw projector is for you, consider a few of the most common situations in which people use them.

    Smaller home theaters: Short throw projectors are great for apartments because they can create a big-screen experience in a tiny room. If you’re short on space, or if you want to dip your toe in the water of the world of home cinema, a short throw projector is the perfect place to start.

    Conference rooms: If you’ve ever been in a tiny conference room, you’re familiar with the headache of trying to set up and adjust a traditional projector. Short throw projectors work in small rooms and are typically designed for simple connectivity to video sources. If you need a projector that can increase the efficiency of your meetings, consider a short throw model.

    School classrooms: Gone are the days when teachers had to fumble with overhead projectors and unwieldy transparencies. Many teachers appreciate short throw projectors in the classroom as an invaluable tool for helping students watch slideshows or movies or even play educational games.

    A console’s best friend

    For gamers, response time is critical. Even miniscule delays between video source and screen can cause a player to miss critical in-game opportunities. That’s what makes Optoma’s Darbee short throw projector so incredible. With a 16ms response time, it’s easily the best – if not the only – projector option for serious gamers.

    Short throw projector features to consider

    To help differentiate models, manufacturers of short throw projectors add new features – some of which are must-have innovations while others are jargon-based annoyances. At the end of the day, there are three key specifications that really matter: screen size, resolution, and weight.

    Screen size

    Naturally, the thing that matters most is how big of an image a short throw projector can display on a surface. Pay close attention to how each model describes its maximum screen size – it typically lists a range, with the lower number representing the size where the image is going to be clearest and the larger number indicating how big it can get (so long as you’re willing to deal with a slightly blurrier picture).

    Resolution

    Where screen size reflects how big a projector’s image is going to be, resolution reflects how sharp and clear the picture will be (that is, how many pixels it can display). Ideally, a short throw projector with a native resolution of 1280 x 720 (or 720p) or higher will produce an impressive image. Keep in mind that the number that matters the most is the native resolution. If a projector says it has a native resolution of 800 x 480 but accepts images up to 1920 x 1080, it means that it will take any picture larger than 800 x 480 and downscale it, thereby losing much of the clarity.

    Weight

    While it might not seem like a big deal at first, the weight of the short throw projector you buy will have a big impact on its portability. Some models are as light at two pounds, while others can be as heavy as seven pounds. Add that to the weight of a bag, accessories, and your video source, and that’s a lot to carry around. If you’re planning on using your short throw projector in multiple locations, buy the lightest one you can afford.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The majority of short throw projectors support screen resolutions through full high definition (also known as FHD or 1080p). While there are a few models that support Ultra HD (better known as 4K), they cost several thousand dollars more than typical short throw projectors.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some short throw projectors include built-in apps, similar to a smart TV. With these models, no external video source is needed. Users can jump right in and enjoy streaming video services like Netflix and YouTube on their new big screen.

    Short throw projector prices

    Between $80 and $399: In this price range, you can expect to find short throw projectors that focus on portability over picture quality. Models in this range are light, and some even include a rechargeable battery for outdoor projector parties. Images from short throw projectors in this range will be blurry and pixelated up close but look fine from several feet away.

    Between $400 and $900: In this price range, you’ll find short throw projectors with features aimed at competing with the traditional projector market. These models have higher resolution, better contrast ratios, and in some cases, built-in apps. If you want the convenience of a short throw projector but the tech of a traditional projector, expect to spend closer to the high end of this range.

    Most short throw projectors include standard connectivity options like HDMI or DisplayPort. If you have an older video source that you need to connect, such as S-Video or VGA, instead of looking for a projector with those ports, look for an adapter. Adapters are the most cost-effective way to use newer projector technology with older video sources.

    Tips

    • Decide on sound quality. Most short throw projectors include built-in speakers, but in most cases they don’t sound amazing. As you’re planning your short throw projector setup, keep in mind that you’ll need an external audio solution like a soundbar if you want decent sound quality along with your projector’s picture.

    • Pay attention to “contrast ratio.” Contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightest and darkest color a projector can project. In simplest terms, contrast ratio is roughly equivalent to how bright a projector is. The higher the initial value, the better the picture quality. For example, a projector with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio won’t be nearly as vibrant as one with a 22,000:1 contrast ratio.

    • Measure your ideal screen size on the wall before you buy a projector. Different models of short throw projectors support different image sizes, so it’s important to know your ideal screen size ahead of time. Remember that projector image sizes are measured based on their diagonal width (the distance between two opposite corners). Don’t buy a short throw projector that can’t meet your screen size requirements.

    • Buy a carrying case or padded bag to transport your projector. Short throw projectors are pretty portable, and that’s great for taking them from conference room to conference room or even on business trips if you’re a road warrior. Protect your investment and keep your short throw projector in good shape by buying a padded case for it, and always replace the lens cap to avoid scratching the glass.

    • Consider a ceiling mount. If you plan to only use your short throw projector in one room, a ceiling mount is the perfect way to keep it stable and out of the way. Most short throw projectors can be easily mounted with standard projector-mounting hardware. Just remember that you’ll also need to run an HDMI cable to your projector if you want to hook up a video source like a streaming box or gaming console.
    If you need a projector that can get closer to the wall than a short throw projector, consider an ultra short throw projector. These projectors are significantly more expensive but can often function as close as 18 inches from the screen.

    FAQ

    Q. How far away from the wall should a short throw projector sit?

    A. Most short throw projectors are designed to project a 60-inch image while sitting approximately three feet away from the wall.

    Q. Are short throw projectors as loud as traditional projectors?

    A. Short throw projectors are typically a bit louder than their standard projector equivalents because they get warmer faster and use built-in cooling fans to avoid overheating. However, because short throw projectors are so close to the wall – and usually farther away from where the viewing audience is seated – the sound is much less noticeable than it is with a standard projector.

    Q. Do any short throw projectors include 3D support?

    A. Yes. Although televisions stopped including 3D as a feature in 2016, many current projectors still support it. If you’re a fan of 3D movies, make sure the short throw projector you buy explicitly states that it includes 3D support.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer

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