A projector is a powerful device that makes our everyday life brighter, more colorful and much easier. It has become an important part of business meetings, scientific conferences and family evenings. Here are some tips to help you choose the best projector for your personal needs.
How to choose the best projector
Categories of Projectors
There’s some difference between a projector for your home theater or office. Of course, you can get a kind of universal projector that can cope with any task but still, you will find out that there is one function that it can do better than others.
So, the best thing you can do in this case is to make up the list of tasks your new projector will do more often. This will help you to single out the category that suits your needs best of all.
Home theater projectors
Projectors that are designed for home theaters will create a movie theater atmosphere in your house or apartment. They can simulate a dark environment like in the cinema, so it’s always better to set up such a projector in the special room. Home theater projectors have high image quality as well as the contrast ratio.
Besides, if you get a high-grade reflective screen then you’ll be able to enjoy movies even in a partially or fully lit rooms. Except for movies such projector is suitable for photo slideshows and video games.
Home theater projectors also have cooling systems that make their work almost noiseless. The only drawback here is that such an option makes projectors rather bulky and therefore not portable and sometimes not able to support inverted, i.e. upside-down, installation.
Looking for such projector, pay attention to lumen ratings. If there are more than 3000 lumens you might be shown a multimedia projector instead of a home-theater one. The point is that some companies may sell restyled multimedia projectors in the category of home theater products.
Another feature that may be a signal for being deceived is zoom that is shorter than 2x and VESA instead of HD video native resolutions, such as WUXGA or WXGA. Note that home theater projectors also have the highest prices.
The best category for business purposes are data (multimedia) projectors. They are aimed at the presentations during meetings that are held not in complete darkness but in a well-lit conference hall.
Business projectors are brighter than home theater projectors (from 2500 to 4500 lumens) and are perfect for the display of static images such as graphs. As their zoom range is shorter than home theater projectors have (1.2x to 1.5x), you should be more than just attentive when selecting one of such projectors. The point is that the screen size may be not always compatible with the projector’s throw ratio.
Most of the business projectors are portable (they weigh from 3 pounds) and easy to set up. What is more, they have many inputs, so you can easily connect them to the laptops or Blu-ray players. There is also an option of wireless projection what makes them comfortable in use.
Short throw projectors
This is a special category of multimedia projectors that are divided into the short throw and ultra-short throw. Short throw projectors aren’t usually provided with zoom lenses, while ultra-short throw projectors have a mirror onto which the image is projected first and only then it’s reflected on the screen. Ultra-short throw projectors are mounted to the wall very close to the screen (18 inches to 2 feet). As to the short throws projectors they are used in the classrooms together with digital whiteboards.
If the main demand is a compact size of projector then it’s better to pay attention at pico projectors. Such projector will fit into your purse of briefcase. It weighs up to 3 pounds, so if you often have business meetings and trips that require slideshows and presentations, such projector will suit you perfectly.
Nevertheless, a pico projector isn’t for business only. That’s a great thing for movie nights in the backyard where you can spend a good time with your family and friends. As it’s a portable product you can also bring it to your friend’s house and watch a movie or a sports game right there.
Pocket-sized projectors have no cooling systems and use LED lamps. Their brightness range from 25 to 1500 ANSI lumens, and very often there’s lack of optical zoom. It means that their image size and quality can’t be compared with the home theater projectors.
Projector’s resolution presupposes the total number of pixels that can be displayed. And remember the more pixels the resolution has the fewer chances you’ve got to face annoying squared images. What is more, the higher resolution a project has the closer it can be set up to the screen. Thus, most home theater projectors have high resolution.
Still, the best thing here is to match the projector resolution to the resolution of the video source. For example, Blu-ray players support 1080p resolution while the image format of your laptop should coincide with the projector’s format.
Standard formats with 4:3 aspect ratio are suitable for DVD-based films and TV episodes. SVGA (800×600) and XGA (1024×768) formats are good for PowerPoint presentations while SXGA+ (1400×1050) format is a nice option for photography and data graphics.
As to the widescreen format with 16:9 aspect ratio, it’s an option for HDTV and widescreen DVD/Blu-ray. Besides, its WXGA (1280×800) is suitable for devices with a widescreen output. And if you are looking for an immersive image and real movie theater at home then you should have a look at the projectors that include cinemascope with 2.35:1 / 2.4:1 aspect ratio. But keep in mind that this one requires an anamorphic lens and a suitable screen.
Another crucial factor that has a huge impact on picture quality is picture contrast, i.e. the difference between dark and bright parts of the image. The key issue here is that the higher contrast ration a projector can offer the more chances you have to define shadow details as well as white/black levels of the image.
The contrast ratio is especially important for home theater projectors as they usually are placed in dark rooms, where contrast is much more noticeable than in light conference halls. By the way, some models are provided with several lamp settings to reduce brightness and increase contrast. 4K projectors with HDR capability are able to decode HDR-enhanced video sources (e.g. Ultra HD Blu-ray) and show the highest level of picture contrast.
Light output, or brightness, is measured in lumens and the higher number of lumens a projector has the brighter image it can produce. Note that there are two brightness measurements you should take into account when selecting a projector.
The first one is white brightness that shows the general amount of emitted white light without color measurement. The second one is color brightness that shows the brightness level of red, yellow and blue colors. Note that color brightness should be higher than white brightness because otherwise, the images can be dark and dull.
Furthermore, the size of the room is one of those factors you should always take into consideration when studying the brightness of your future projector. The point is that if you have a large room and it’s also well-lit then you will definitely need a projector with the greater number of lumens. Therefore, if you are buying a projector for business purpose high brightness is a must. As to the home theaters, high brightness isn’t so essential. This category of projectors usually has from 700 to 2500 lumens.
This feature shows what width your image will have if you place a projector at this or that distance from the screen. It’s always important to calculate the throw ratio for projectors that are planned to be installed permanently. And if there are certain layout peculiarities that do not allow you to place the projector far enough from the screen then pay attention to the short throw projectors. This kind of projectors can be mounted very close to the screen.
LCD (liquid crystal technology) is one of the main technologies used in projectors. Its key advantages include impressive color brightness and sharp images of detailed data graphs. Thanks to its brighter output LCD is relevant in well-lit rooms. Thus, most of the business projectors are provided with this technology. What is more, LCD is less noisy and has higher energy efficiency than DLP projectors.
As to DLP (digital light processing) projector technology, it provides high color contrast as well as a smooth motion for videos. It can create a movie-like image from HDTV, DVD or Blu-ray sources too. DLP-based projectors are very popular with pico models that are well-known for their light weight and compact size.
LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) projector technology is mostly provided in top-notch models. That’s a kind of combination of all pluses DLP and LCD projector technologies have, such as a smooth video, immersive colors and brightness. LCoS may include 3LCD reflective technology, in which light is reflected from a silicone-/quartz-backed LCD panel instead of micromirrors.
Lens zoom is especially effective for portable projectors. This feature will help you to adjust the image size and get a desirable result. The point is that you can’t always choose or change the screen size as well as projector placement. In such case, lens zoom is a kind of secret weapon. Note that not all of the projectors are equipped with lens zoom.
Keystone Correction and Lens Shift
Another feature that will help you to install your projector correctly is keystone correction. It presupposes correction of all distortions you face when trying to place a projector perpendicular to the screen. Keystone correction allows you to adjust the image digitally. Almost all modern projectors have this option.
As to the lens shift, it’s available mostly on high-grade home theater projectors that are usually placed semi-permanently on the ceiling or wall. Unlike keystone correction, lens shift involves mechanical adjustment of the lens angle by shifting it up, down or sideways.
The screen is an integral part of any projector. Of course, you may use a white wall in your room but it won’t show you the desired effect. Projector screens make the image look brighter and smoother.
There are white and grey screens. White screens are usually paired together with business projectors as they have higher brightness level and that’s important for well-lit rooms, which often become the place for business meetings. Grey screens are popular with home theater projectors. The point is that they are aimed at a high contrast level and this factor plays a crucial part for 3D images.
Except for this classification, there are four main categories of projector screens:
Motorized (electric) screens
This type of screens can move up and down just at the light touch of a button. They make the control process fast and easy. Note that’s really great for those screens that are placed out of reach.
Unlike motorized screens, these ones are permanently mounted on the wall and do not have any options of movement. So, if you’ve got enough space for the screen and it is a part of your interior design then a fixed screen is a good choice.
Manual (pull-down) screens
If you don’t want a projector screen to become an integral part of your room and there’s not enough space for it then pay attention to a manual screen. You can use this type of screens only when you need it. By the way, it’s one of the most popular screens for classrooms as they allow using the same space for whiteboards.
Portable (tripod-mounted) screens
This category of screens is relevant for those who have a portable projector and need a portable screen. Such tripod-mounted screen includes tripod legs or a built-in stand for support.
By the by, don’t forget to take into account a screen size. Before choosing a screen, remember to measure the ceiling height and decide what place will be the best for it.
11 Best Projectors in 2020
Great 1080p Projector
This Full HD home theater projector has advanced SXRD panel technology that is combined with Sony’s Super Resolution processing technology. Such combination results in a detailed image with subtle colours and textures.
Sony VPL-HW45ES has 1800 lumens, high contrast ratio and 6000 hours of lamp life. Although it’s more a home-theater projector it can also show a nice performance in well-lit rooms for business purposes.
It is provided with MotionFlow technology, which guarantees minimal blur, and has the panel’s super-fast response rate. There is also a manual zoom lens with a 1.6x zoom ratio and wide lens shift range to make its installation a more flexible process.
- advanced SXRD panel technology
- Sony’s Super Resolution processing technology
- MotionFlow technology
- Manual zoom lens
- high picture quality
- built-in 3D
- no 3D glasses
- lamp life
The Best LED Projector Under $500
This is an example of best budget projectors you can find on the market. Epson VS250 costs less than $300. It will be a good choice for everyday PowerPoint presentation of graphics and different kinds of data thanks to its SVGA resolution (800×600).
Epson VS250 has 3200 Lumens of color and white brightness. Besides, it includes 3LCD reflective technology what makes the image much brighter and more accurate. This cheap projector is well-compatible with all up-to-date devices and supports HDMI standard.
- 3LCD reflective technology
- bright and accurate image
- perfect for business use
- low resolution
- not durable
For Movies, Sports & Gaming
With the Optoma HD243X projector you can take the cinematic experience with you! Capable of generating a super bright image (3300 Lumen) for daytime viewing and watching content with the lights on, the device can be paired with a wide array of sources. This means you can watch your favorite Blu-ray content and play your game while enjoying the large screen experience.
Optoma HD243X has 16ms response time and enhanced game mode on, which reduces any lag that may show during modern fast-paced action-heavy games. It also comes with two HMDI inputs and USB ports.
Featuring 24,000:1 contrast ratio, brilliant color technology, and an incredibly crisp image quality (1080p quality), this is the projector to improve your home-theater setting. Furthermore, it comes with a 12,000-hour lamp life, which reduces the overall cost of ownership.
- Bright image with vivid colors (even during the day)
- Low lag for gaming mode
- A variety of available ports
- High contrast ratio
- 12,000 hours lamp life
- Content is delivered in 1080p quality
- Color accuracy could be better
- It can get quite hot
- Sound quality is not impressive
Great Budget Projector for Gaming
Another great projector with cinematic effect is ViewSonic PX700HD. It comes with unique Super Color technology which guarantees a wide range of colors. What is more, its brightness level reaches up to 3,500 lumens. ViewSonic PX700HD has Full HD 1080p resolution and a high contrast ratio which means accurate and bright image in absolutely different conditions.
This projector has a user-friendly and intuitive design, so you won’t face any difficulties during its setup or adjustment. Besides, it looks quite stylish thanks to its sleek white body. Note that ViewSonic PX700HD has great connectivity options which include dual HDMI and USB power inputs. It is also compatible with different devices such as media players, mobile devices, gaming consoles, Macs and, of course, PCs.
ViewSonic PX700HD is a long-lasting projector with 15,000-hour lamp life in Super Eco mode. Thanks to its low 16ms input latency this projector delivers fast-by-frame action and as a result is a great option for intense action-packing gaming.
- bright colors
- short throw
- solid built-in speaker
- quiet performance
- low input lag
- gaming mode
- Super Eco mode
- USB-C connection with power
- not backlit remote
- no horizontal keystone
- no USB type-A power
- a bit bulky
Nebula Mars II Pro
The Theater-Grade Portable Cinema Experience
If you’re looking for a device that will allow you and your loved ones to watch video content in high quality without being chained to a room or a TV, have a look at the Nebula Mars II Pro projector with Android 7.1.
The device is small and compact (which means it’s highly portable) and comes with a carry handle. It’s also equipped with powerful dual 100W speakers that fill the room in a 360-degree system. The picture quality is in high definition and there are vertical and horizontal keystrokes that let you project the perfect image at almost any angle.
The Nebula Mars II Pro generates a bright-enough image (500 ANSI Lumen), which enhances the details and provides more richness of color. It’s also compatible with a wide array of sources such as USB and HDMI devices or you can mirror content from your phone using Miracast.
Finally, the Nebula also supports Bluetooth connection, so you can control it from a distance using your phone as a remote.
- Easy to carry around
- Bright image and rich details
- Powerful audio system
- Compatible with a wide array of devices
- Bluetooth connectivity
- No settings for image adjustment
- The tripod mount is too shallow
- Setup needs some getting used to
The Best Lg Projector With Excellent Sounding
If you are ready to spend a fortune on a projector in order to get the cream of the crop, pay your attention to LG HU80KA. Though it’s an outrageously expensive projector it is designed with exceptional features to deliver an unforgettable experience for its users.
LG HU80KA comes with 4K Ultra HD resolution, impressive 8.3 million pixels and 2,500-lumen brightness what guarantees high image quality even on the largest screens. Keep in mind that is suitable for 150-inch screen size. This projector has a home theatre effect with all its accuracy and rich details. Note that this LG projector is also HDR10 compatible and supports a wide range of colors.
This powerful projector can be installed almost anywhere. What is more, it is portable and thus can change the placement easily. HU80KA also supports LG’s Smart TV. This streaming content platform is simple to setup and offers a variety of premium movies and TV shows. Besides, there is Magic Remote for easy navigation. You can also wirelessly screen-share videos using compatible devices such as smartphones or tablets.
- laser engine 20,000
- portable and adjustable
- top-notch image quality
- 4K Ultra HD resolution
- supports HDR10 and LG’s Smart TV
- Magic Remote
- extremely quiet performance
- excellent sound system
- wired and wireless connection
- a lot of preset modes
- very expensive
- poor black level performance
- no lens shift
- not the best option for gaming
Great Optoma Projector With Quiet Performance
Here’s another high-grade projector from Optoma. Unlike HD143X this one is much more sumptuous. It has vivid and lifelike colors due to HDR10 support and impressive contrast level which guarantees good black level performance. This projector supports 4K UHD and has 2,400 lumens of brightness.
Optoma UHD51A provides Blu-ray 3D compatibility. It also comes with a built-in media player and has Wi-Fi display support. Note that this projector includes HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 connectivity. Optoma UHD51A supports Amazon Alexa voice control which can be used to power on and off, switch sources, activate media player commands or adjust the volume. Besides, it works with Google Assistant. Thanks to the vertical lens and 1.3x zoom Optoma UHD51A is also easy to install and flexible to adjust.
- great 4K UHD picture
- different display options
- quiet performance
- Alexa and Google Home support
- built-in media player
- excellent contrast in HDR mode
- Blu-ray 3D compatibility
- great choice for gaming
- needs a dongle for wireless casting and Alexa/Google Home support
- fingerprint magnet
- difficult to setup
The Perfect Entertainment at a Movie Party
Due to its compact size and ease of setup, this BenQ projector is easy to install and carry around. Furthermore, you can install it both indoors and outdoors, and the image quality will remain the same. Not to mention that it will be like having access to a 100-inch flat-screen TV whenever and wherever you want, without breaking your back during the installation!
The projector delivers 3600 Lumens brightness, FHD content in 1080p quality, and a high contrast ratio of 15000:1. This means it will work with Blu-ray content and HD broadcasting without taking anything away from the experience.
BenQ made sure their projector will last longer than other similar devices by optimizing their project lamp life for up to 15,000 hours using SmartEco technology. You also get two HDMI ports and a dedicated Quick Install button that takes care of most adjustments.
- Delivers 1080p content
- High contrast ratio
- 3600 Lumens brightness
- Supports a wide array of content formats
- Easy to transport
- Easy access to a big screen TV-like experience
- Audio output is a bit low (2W for the integrated speaker)
- Keystone correction interferes with image quality
- Fan is a bit noisy
- The interface is cluttered and a bit difficult
A Professional Solution for your Home Cinema
Awesome Projector for the Money
The 5050UB Epson projector was designed for those who want to enjoy the 4K image experience without investing in a flat screen TV. The projector is equipped with 4K resolution enhancement and HDR image processing to deliver a clear, crisp image without adding noise.
It also comes with Epson UltraBlack Technology which allows the projector to create an outstanding dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. It’s also one of the few projectors on the market that can display full three-dimensional DCI-P3 color space with an impressive gamut of colors.
Finally, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB projector can generate bright images (2600 Lumens), which allows viewers to observe a larger array of details (even in the shadow).
- Impressive gamut of colors
- Decent 4K image delivery
- Ideal for a wide array of applications
- Dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1
- Can support 2600 Lumens
- Autodetect the source
- It’s rather big and bulky
- Lens memory is not completely accurate
- Screen goes black when shifting between resolutions
Optoma CinemaX P1
The True 4K UHD Experience in your Home
With the CinemaX P1, you get a modern projector, a sleek design, and access to impressive video technology!
The device is designed to deliver 4K UHD resolution using pure glass optics and a laser light source. The light source helps deliver high brightness settings (3,000 Lumens) and increases the life expectancy of the projector to around 30,000 hours.
It is also compatible with HDR and uses technologies like PureMotion Image Processing and NuForce Premium Sound (built-in 40W soundbar with Dolby 2.0) to create the best possible cinematic experience.
It’s also a wonderful alternative to a huge TV set, since it is compact and doesn’t need any special accommodation. The device can deliver the same image as a 120-inch flat screen TV without occupying too much space on the furniture.
Furthermore, it supports 1,500,000:1 contrast ratio and can generate a wide color gamut (with HDR10 integration).
In terms of connectivity, the projector supports both Alexa and Google Assistant, but also has IFTTT support for connectivity with other smart devices around the house.
- Compact and sleek design
- Impressive colors and richness of details
- True 4K UHD experience
- Can generate an image for 120-inch
- High contrast ratio
- Integrated with voice assistants and smart home devices
- 3,000 Lumens brightness
- A bit on the expensive side
The Best Projector Overall
Last but not least projector on our list is Sony VPLVW295ES. It comes with exceptional features which are worth the money. What really makes it stand out from the other models is its image quality. Despite its comparably low brightness level of 1,500 lumens this projector delivers sharp and clear picture due to the range of the other not less important characteristics.
This Sony 4K HDR home theatre video projector comes with Full 4K resolution and 8.8 pixels. Thanks to three SXRD imagers (Red, Green and Blue channels) it provides full color brightness which results in lifelike picture. There is also a decent contrast level which guarantees deep blacks.
Its Motionflow is responsible for smooth picture even in 4K. Note that this Sony projector is compatible with IMAX enhanced content known for its unparalleled visuals. Besides, it comes with super-resolution Reality Creation which takes care of image sharpness. Sony VPLVW295ES is also 4K HDR 60p 10bit compatible. Its long-lasting lamp provides 6000 hours of watch time.
- excellent image quality
- decent black levels
- quiet performance
- great amounts of vertical and horizontal lens shift
- good backlit control
- 4K HDR 60p 10bit compatible
- long-lasting lamp
- no wireless connection
- no lens memory
- a bit slow for 180p games
- very expensive
In a word, there is a nice range of best projectors to choose from. Just remember to pay attention to the pre-cited features and options in order to make the right choice.