Offers a 0.49 throw ratio, which works well for those trying to create a projection in a small area. At 16ns of lag time, this projector works especially well for gaming images. Includes a 3,000 lumens rating and a full 1080p HD resolution video signal for excellent visuals. Contrast ratio of 28,000-to-1 for deep blacks.
Unit may run hot after a few hours of use. Picture flickers in some modes.
Offers a projection size of up to 250 inches at 24 feet. Excellent lumens rating of 3,200 along with a 1080p HD resolution signal that works well for movies and games. Contrast ratio is well above average at 22,000-to-1. Fast setup time for a home theater projector. Reasonably good audio quality with a 10-watt speaker.
Minimum throw ratio of 1.15, which may not work well in a very small room.
Offers a maximum projection size of up to 170 inches. Complete support for full 1080p HD resolution videos that works well for gaming and movies. Supports ceiling mount installation. Offers up to 1,500 lumens of brightness for a good performance level in this low price point. Projector is small and lightweight.
Only offers contrast ratio of 1,000-to-1. Small speaker yields poor audio quality.
Includes 3,200 lumens rating for outstanding brightness levels. Maximum projection size of 277 inches for gaming or movies. Good audio quality with a 10-watt speaker. You'll receive deep blacks with this projector, thanks to its 22,000-to-1 contrast ratio. Sharp-looking projector with an all-black finish.
Minimum throw ratio of 1.49, which doesn't work well in really small rooms.
Very small projector that will fit in the palm of your hand and only weighs 0.75 pounds. Short minimum throw ratio of 1.1, making for a good performance in this price point. Offers a maximum projection size of 100 inches, a great performance level for such a small projector. Better than expected audio quality.
Limited brightness of 200 lumens. Only includes a maximum ratio of 854x480.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.