Which home theater projectors are the best?
Even though the price of large-screen TVs has plummeted over the years, if you truly crave a theatrical experience in your home, the best bang for your buck is getting a home theater projector. Not only does a projector offer the possibility of an immense picture, but it takes up surprisingly little space.
That being said, the best home theater projector is the one that fits your home. The best projector for a small room with a significant amount of ambient light will be different from the best projector for a home entertainment center located in a large, finished basement.
What to know before you buy a home theater projector
When you shine a flashlight in the dark, it’s easy to see the beam. During the day, however, you might have a hard time telling if that same flashlight is on or off. A projector functions similar to a flashlight. If you will be using your home theater projector in your living room and you have a large bay window, you might have trouble viewing the image. However, even the image of a lower-end projector will look better in a darker environment.
If you’re serious enough about your home entertainment to want the best home theater projector, you will also want the best projector screen as well. While projecting onto a wall is convenient and free, no wall is void of imperfections, and most will not be a uniform black, gray or white. As an added bonus, if you purchase a screen with a stand, you will not be limited to viewing in one location. In other words, movie night can be outside.
What to look for in a quality home theater projector
The brightness of a home theater projector is expressed in lumens. This is important because it lets you know at a glance the general brightness of a projector. Ideally, the highest lumen projector that fits in your budget is the one to get because you can dim a projector that is too bright, but you can’t make a dim projector any brighter. Aim for a minimum of 2,000 lumens. While less may be fine in certain conditions, 2,000 will give you a good image in a dark room. If you will be using the projector for presentations where there will be more ambient light, you will want to look at 3,000-lumen projectors and up.
While many individuals think higher is better, you want to match the resolution of your home theater projector to the resolution of the content. The best 4K home theater projector won’t make a low-resolution video look any crisper. However, if the majority of what you will be watching will be 4K, then the higher resolution projector will be worth it.
The throw ratio becomes important for individuals who do not have a lot of space. A short throw projector will allow you to position the projector close to the screen and still enjoy a large picture. If, however, you will be showing movies in a large room where the projector will be further away from the screen, a long throw projector will produce the best images.
If you have a situation where the projector cannot be placed directly in front of the screen, you will need a model with keystone correction. This feature digitally manipulates the image, so it looks square on the screen when the projector is off to the side. If you prefer to make the adjustment manually, you will want a model with a lens shift. Since lens shift does not manipulate the image, it will produce sharper results.
How much you can expect to spend on a home theater projector
Although you can find home theater projectors for less than $500, the price range with the best value for the average individual will run from roughly $1,000-$3,000.
Home theater projectors FAQ
Is a lamp, LED or laser better?
A. Each method of lighting has its own pros and cons. A lamp projector is the most affordable, and it is a time-proven option, but it has the shortest lifespan. An LED projector offers better color control than a lamp, and the bulbs last five times longer and run cooler, but some feel the brightness of the image doesn’t hold up to a lamp or a laser projector. A laser projector offers the best performance, the longest life and the widest color range. Unfortunately, the cost can be prohibitive.
Can I use a home theater projector outside?
A. The short answer is “of course!” However, there are two important factors to consider. First, you will want to use a screen — the side of your house is not ideal. Second, while a home projector can be used outside, it is not designed for it. In other words, precipitation and dust may damage your projector, so be careful when using it outside.
What’s the best home theater projector to buy?
Top home theater projector
What you need to know: This is a solid all-in-one home theater projector with a 4K UHD image and 3D audio.
What you’ll love: This model is packed with features to deliver an exceptional home theater experience. It offers built-in digital zoom, Dolby Digital Plus, a 150-inch max image size and access to over 5,000 apps.
What you should consider: While the price may be high for some, this model is a quality home theater projector.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top home theater projector for the money
What you need to know: If you are looking for a capable model at an affordable price, this home theater projector should be at the top of your list.
What you’ll love: This projector offers 3,300 lumens, a high contrast ratio and 1080p resolution. It also features a quick setup, a built-in speaker and keystone correction.
What you should consider: While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of higher-end models, it offers decent performance.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is an affordable, low-latency projector that is designed for the gamer.
What you’ll love: While this model is made to satisfy gaming needs, it also excels in streaming movies. The BenQ home theater projector has a wide array of inputs so you can connect virtually any device and it comes with a three-year warranty.
What you should consider: While most users said there was no noticeable rainbow effect, a few claimed it was still present.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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