Our two picks for best home projector for a living room, side by side with a vertical stack of DVDs in between.Photo: Michael Murtaugh
Different projectors are designed for different uses, and they can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to well into the five-figure range. Choosing the right model for your needs can be a daunting task, and we're here to help.

Below is an overview of the top picks from our various projector guides. We have recommendations for premium 4K movie projectors, bright living-room projectors, budget home theater projectors, and more.

What you need to know

  • When shopping for projectors, don't rely on the specs---especially the claimed brightness, which is often exaggerated.
  • If you want a big screen, you need a bright projector. Tiny projectors are not bright enough to deliver a big-screen, cinema-like experience.
  • Projectors, like TVs, are rarely set up to look their best right out of the box. Look for a picture mode called Cinema, Movie, or Natural.
  • We have projector recommendations for home theaters, living rooms, small spaces, outdoors, and portable use.

If you're not sure where to begin your projector search, we recommend reading about how to pick the right projector for your viewing needs. In summary, you have three important questions to ask at the start: What do you plan to use the projector for? What type of room will you use it in? How big of a screen do you want?

There's a huge difference in price and performance between a 4K projector designed for a big-screen home theater and a portable mini projector designed to be an everyday TV replacement. Some projectors excel with movies in a completely dark room, while others are better for sports or gaming in a room with some ambient light.

Generally, the bigger the screen you want, the brighter your projector must be to produce a satisfyingly rich image. Once you have a general idea of the projector's intended use, it's easier to zero in on a specific choice.

The research

Best 4K projector for a home theater

If you want to set up a high-performance home theater in a basement or spare room and need a 4K projector that can handle high dynamic range video and wide-color-gamut material, choose the Epson Home Cinema LS11000. This LCD laser projector offers a combination of performance and features that you won't find in any other projector priced lower than $5,000. It's an excellent 4K movie projector, but it also looks great with games, sports, and HDTV when some room lights are on.

Why we like it

  • The LS11000 has great detail, is bright enough to produce satisfying high dynamic range (HDR) video, and has wonderfully accurate color in the Natural picture mode.
  • This LCD projector uses a laser light source that should see you through the next decade (or longer), with no need to pay for replacement bulbs.
  • It's one of only a few 120-hertz projectors right now that has high-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 inputs to work with the most advanced 4K gaming consoles and any future 8K sources that might emerge.
  • A motorized lens with generous zoom and lens-shifting capabilities makes this projector easier to set up than many others.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The LS11000 doesn't support 3D video playback, so people who have a large collection of 3D discs may want to look elsewhere.
  • Projectors aren't bright enough to show HDR video at its full brightness, so they have to adjust the HDR signal to show it in the brightness range they're capable of. The LS11000 does not do this automatically; you have to manually adjust the HDR brightness setting.

Best budget projector for a home theater

If you want to create a big-screen movie experience at home on a modest budget, the BenQ HT2060 is the best performer in the $1,000-and-under price range.

Why we like it

  • It offers great image contrast and color accuracy.
  • It's bright enough to pair it with a large screen for a more immersive home theater experience.
  • Out of the box this projector can produce a good image with very little adjustment, which means it's good for people new to projectors.
  • It's easy to set up and quiet in operation.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The HT2060 produced some digital noise in mid to dark grays during our tests.
  • It lacks features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and built-in streaming apps.
  • Because it uses DLP projection technology, some people might see the rainbow effect.

Best living-room projector

The Epson Home Cinema 3800 projector offers a clear step up in picture quality over budget 1080p projectors, and its native contrast ratio---the difference between the darkest and brightest parts of an image---is much higher than that of most projectors around the same price. It can't compete with the best 4K home theater projector in overall performance, but its high brightness makes it a better choice for use in a living room or family room where you can't block out all the light.

Why we like it

  • The Home Cinema 3800 is extremely bright, so the image will pop even in a room with a good amount of light.
  • The Home Cinema 3800 also has accurate colors, producing lifelike greens, blues, reds, and everything in between.
  • The high zoom (1.6x) and good lens shifting give you increased placement flexibility, which may matter more in a living room than in a dedicated theater room.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The image isn't technically 4K and doesn't look quite as sharp as what you can see from some competitors, but it's still highly detailed.
  • The lamp life isn't as long as that of some projectors we tested, but a replacement bulb costs less.
    You can read more about this projector and other bright-room options in our full guide to 4K projectors.

Best portable mini projector

If you need a small, compact projector you can easily put away, or even carry around with you in a backpack, the Xgimi MoGo 2 Series offers almost everything we could ask for in this type of projector. The series includes two models (standard and pro versions) that share the same core features and design: Both are LED projectors with a compact form, built-in streaming services and speakers, support for Bluetooth audio, and a USB-C charging port.
The 720p MoGo 2 is best for most people because it gives you all of those features---and surprisingly good performance---for around $400. The pricier MoGo 2 Pro ups the resolution to full HD (1080p)---which does produce a slightly cleaner, sharper image---and has a few more advanced setup tools.

Why we like it

  • The MoGo 2 Series is brighter than many portable projectors and has respectably accurate color.
  • Its internal speaker system delivers good sound. You can also connect an external speaker via Bluetooth.
  • The projector automatically focuses and shapes the image so that it's always optimized for your desired throw distance and angle, no matter where you place it.
  • It includes HDMI and USB ports and its Android TV operating system gives you direct access to streaming apps such as those for Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Spotify. Netflix can be sideloaded, too.
    The MoGo 2 mini projector in silver.
    Photo: Michael Hession

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • We wish the black level were better so movies looked richer in a dark room.
  • The MoGo 2 has a 720p resolution, and its pixel structure is more visible. The MoGo 2 Pro's 1080p image looks sharper and crisper, but we're not sure it'll be worth the $200 price increase for many people.
  • There's no built-in battery, but you can power the projector off a USB-C power bank.

Best short-throw projector (for small spaces)

In order to create a large image most projectors need to be positioned far from the screen. This distance is called the throw distance, and can be anywhere from 8 to 15 feet, depending on the projector and desired image size. Short-throw projectors are convenient for small rooms or other situations where space is limited. The BenQ HT2150ST can sit much closer to the screen than a standard projector, and is bright enough to use in a room with some ambient light.

Why we like it

  • It works in spaces other projectors can't, producing a 100-inch image with only a couple feet of space.
  • It produces a bright image that can work in a room that gets some ambient light.
  • Its integrated speaker and small size make it easy to store when not being used.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The short-throw lens can cause some fringing artifacts that you might notice.
  • It's bright, but the colors aren't as accurate as those of the non-short-throw HT2060.

Best outdoor projector

If you're looking for something more rugged to use outside, the BenQ GS50 is battery-powered and both splash and drop resistant, so it's a good choice for camping or enjoying a backyard movie night when mated with a modest-size screen. It's not as bright as a traditional, non-battery-powered home theater projector, but the picture is certainly good enough for casual TV watching or the occasional outdoor viewing session.

Why we like it

  • This outdoor, portable projector has solid brightness and good color accuracy.
  • The sound quality is better than average, and it can double as a Bluetooth speaker.
  • You can connect mobile devices to it in a variety of ways: HDMI, USB-A, or USB-C.
  • It comes with a nice carrying case.
    The GS50 is designed for outdoor use. It's both splashproof and drop-resistant. There's a leather carrying strap on the side and a tripod mount on the bottom. Photo: Adrienne Maxwell

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The black level is mediocre, so movies don't look as rich and saturated in a dark room.
  • This projector is larger than most other "mini" projectors we've tested, but it's still smaller than a traditional indoor projector.
  • The supplied Android TV dongle was sluggish.

Why we don't recommend ultra-short-throw projectors for most people

Ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors are often marketed as TV replacements because they can deliver a massive image from a very short distance and have a footprint smaller than any TV. But the truth is, these are still projectors, and expensive ones at that. We tested four UST projectors at varying prices and performance levels and concluded that the vast majority of people are better off getting either a large TV or a traditional projector. You'll either get better performance or spend less---oftentimes both. You can read more about this in our piece Is an Ultra-Short-Throw Projector a Good Substitute for a Big-Screen TV?

What you'll need to complete your projector setup

A great screen

If you have a projector, you should get a screen. Most modern projectors are bright enough to throw a decent image on just about any close-enough-to-white surface, but you won't get accurate colors without a proper screen. A screen has less texture than a wall, plus it will add pop to the image, because paint almost always has less gain (that is, it reflects less light) than a screen, meaning the image will appear dimmer than is ideal. The Silver Ticket STR Series performs as well as screens costing thousands of dollars. You can read about screen materials and our testing methods in our full guide to the best projector screen.

A projector mount

If you want to get your projector up and out of the way, you need a mount. The Peerless-AV PRGS-UNV Projector Mount is one of our favorites due to its flexibility and how easy it is to set up correctly. The mounting arms are highly adjustable and removable, so it can handle anything from a tiny DLP projector to the gigantic JVC D-ILA projectors that most mounts cannot fit. The dials let you easily make small adjustments to the projector to get it level with the screen and produce the best-quality image without much work. After years of using this mount and going through dozens of tested projectors, we have yet to find one that the Peerless-AV cannot handle.

Other AV gear

Frequently asked questions

How many lumens is good for a projector?

For a home theater projector that you will use mostly in a dark room, we recommend at least 1,000 ANSI lumens for a 100-inch screen. If you plan to use the projector in a room with more ambient light, you'll want to go brighter: at least 1,500 ANSI lumens (ideally 2,000 or more). The larger the screen size you want, the brighter the projector needs to be to produce a satisfying image. Manufacturers' claimed brightness specifications are usually exaggerated, so it's best to rely on actual measured results from trusted reviewers. Some manufacturers use LEDs instead of traditional bulbs as the light source in their projectors, and they list the brightness rating in "LED lumens" instead of ANSI lumens to give a higher number.

How far away should you sit from a projection screen?

This depends on how much you want the projected image to fill your field of view. Some people like to sit closer in the movie theater so it feels more immersive, while others prefer to sit farther back. It's the same at home. Experts generally recommend a viewing distance that fills between 30 and 36 degrees of your field of view, and you can use this calculator to help find a good seating distance for your screen size.

Is a 4K projector worth it?

If you watch a lot of 4K content and want the most detailed image you can get, a 4K projector is the way to go. The step up in resolution from 1080p to 4K can be more obvious on a projector than it is on most TVs, due to the larger screen size. However, native 4K projectors are very expensive and usually reserved for the most ardent home theater fans. Most affordable "4K" projectors use some type of pixel-shifting technology to reproduce a 4K image, which can be very effective and really is good enough for most people. Also, once you get past a certain seating distance, your eyes may not be able to see the difference between 4K and 1080p. You can use this 4K viewing-distance calculator as a guide. Most 4K projectors also support high dynamic range video, but we think this feature is less important on projectors, since none of them are bright enough to do HDR properly.



上一篇 9月 11, 2023
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