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.
Last update on 2022-06-24 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
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.
Anker NEBULA Capsule Max
A Fun and Easy-to-Use Portable Home Projector
Anker NEBULA Capsule Max is a decent, good-quality projector that brings a sharp image, good connectivity, and an overall decent value package, which should be more than enough for most users.
With this device, you get a detailed 720p image, with a one-second AF and plenty of features. These features, among others, include touch controls at the top of the projector, as well as the ability to control the projector through the dedicated smartphone app. Moreover, there is an 8W speaker, a solid 9700mAh battery that delivers some five hours of playtime, and a lamp with an excellent expected lifespan of 30000 hours.
Furthermore, Anker NEBULA Capsule Max offers both table and tripod mounting and comes with great connectivity that involves Bluetooth 4.2, 5GHz, and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection, as well as the HDMI 1.4, USB, and 3.5mm audio out connection. In addition, there is also the Android 8.1 Operating System and support for YouTube and Netflix streaming, although the device itself doesn’t support Google Play.
All in all, Anker NEBULA Capsule Max weighs only 737 grams; it has a ton of features, and overall presents a very good home projector option, with a few downsides here and there.
- Long-lasting lens
- Good battery life
- Built-in Android
- Good-quality app
- Compact and portable
- Not the best brightness of 200 Lumens
- No Chromecast support
- No Google Play support
Epson Pro EX9240
An Ideal Projector for Presentations and Conference Sessions
If your job and activities require a reliable and good-quality projector for a presentation, either in classrooms or conference rooms, Epson Pro EX9240 is the choice for you. With this projector, you are getting very good 4000 Lumens brightness, 1080p resolution, and more importantly, crisp image and text.
Unfortunately, the contrast (dynamic contrast ratio is 16000:1) isn’t one of the better sides of this device. Therefore, don’t plan to use this projector for long movies, because that experience is rather disappointing and isn’t up to the standards of the best projectors available.
On the other hand, its colors are accurate, while the image offers good brightness. Moreover, there are the Wi-Fi and Miracast support, two HDMI ports, Composite and VGA connection, along with the RGB Pass-through that altogether make this projector a highly versatile one.
Epson Pro EX9240 comes with 16W built-in speakers, True 3-Chip 3LCD technology that is the main reason for good color accuracy, and 1.6x optical zoom that should be enough for most uses. Moreover, this projector features a built-in picture skew sensor and offers a one-year warranty, which should be more than enough for a good classroom or conference room projector.
- 4000 lumens of brightness
- Wi-Fi and Miracast present
- Three-chip LCD (3LCD) design
- Clear image and text
- No HDR support
- Not the best contrast
Big Screen TV Quality in a Compact Package
The HD146X proves that projectors are not just for the conference room – they’re also a real alternative to a TV screen for your living room.
With 3600 lumens and 16ms response time, this projector delivers cinematic image quality. The native 1080p (1920×1080) resolution is perfectly complemented by the RYGCWB color wheel (for color calibration according to your needs).
In addition, this projector is the perfect solution when you want a large TV but don’t want to sacrifice an entire wall in your living room. This DLP DMD single-chip design can create a 300” virtual TV screen with perfect image alignment and high brightness. It also has a Game Display Mode that automatically boosts shadows and dark scenes.
HD146X also comes equipped with Dynamic Black technology (for better image depth and a high contrast ratio (500, 000: 1) and HDMI-CEC technology (to control all the features and connected devices with one remote).
Lastly, the projector has a long lamp life (up to 15,000 hours and about 4h viewing time every day), which is usually a bit of a weak spot for this type of device.
- Easy to mount in every position you want
- Compact design with cool features
- It doesn’t strain the eye
- Impressive image quality
- Game Display Mode for a lag-free gaming experience
- DLP DMD single-chip design for perfect image alignment
- Long lamp life (about 10 years)
- Replacement lamps are difficult to find
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
Anker Nebula Cosmos
A Simple, yet Efficient Entertainment Tool
Anker Nebula Cosmos is an easy-to-use, feature-rich projector that offers excellent connectivity, and more importantly, great usability that will certainly be appreciated by many users. To be exact, this projector comes fitted with the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Chromecast connection, and features two HDMI ports and one USB port, which means you will have no trouble with the connectivity.
Also, there is a built-in AF that isn’t the fastest one; however, it does a great job in around three seconds. On top of that, there are the two built-in 10W speakers, with a Dolby Digital Plus support, as well as the Android TV 9.0 Operating System. In other words, you have easy access to more than 9000 apps on Google Play, including YouTube, Prime Video, Hulu, and other.
Anker Nebula Cosmos comes with 900 Lumens of brightness; it offers both HLG and HDR10 support and can project on screens that are up to 120” in size. Its LED life is projected at up to 30000 hours, while the overall quality of an image is more than pleasing and definitely up to the standards of the large majority of users.
- HLG and HDR10 support
- Built-in dual speakers
- Android TV 9.0 Operating System
- Good connectivity
- 4K picture quality
- HDR may be a bit better
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
An Excellent Connectivity and Performance in One
GooDee 6800L is a well-designed, feature-rich projector that brings an accurate and vivid image and can project on screens that are between 44 and 230 inches in size. This device has a native 768p resolution; however, it supports 1080p projection; it features a Hi-Fi stereo with SRS sound and comes with two 3W speakers that bring a decent, but not impressive audio experience.
GooDee 6800L brightness is respectable 6800 Lux, while the lamp comes with the expected life span of 50000 hours, which is more than impressive for such a compact projector. Moreover, this projector allows for fast dissipation; it supports multi-directional projection and comes with great compatibility. In addition, it can be easily paired with Fire Stick TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PS3, PS4, and many other devices, adding to the great versatility of the device.
Also, with this projector, you are getting two HDMI ports, two USB ports, VGA, and AV connection. In other words, everything needed for a good experience is there.
Therefore, if you are after a solid, well-designed device that offers a good set of features and doesn’t cost too much at the same time, GooDee 6800L is more than a rational choice and certainly one of the best projectors you can find for your money.
- Reasonably priced
- Long-lasting lamp
- Good connectivity
- Very good compatibility
- Built-in SRS sound system
- It can project on a screen that is up to 230 inches in size
- Only average sound quality
The Best Gaming Projector at an Affordable Price
Compact and easy to control this BenQ projector is the perfect device for people who want a big screen but don’t want to commit to a big TV.
It has audio IN & OUT, two HDMI ports, one USB Type-A port, two VGA ports (PC in & Monitor out), and even one RS232-IN port (for older devices)! This means you can connect a wide range of devices to your projector, from Chromecast dongles to laptops & PCs, to a set-top box. The sky is truly the limit with this BenQ!
Besides a great connectivity configuration, the device can also deliver 1080p Full HD image quality, has 10,000:1 contrast ratio, low latency (16ms low input lag), and microsecond DMD fast response (for ultimate gaming experiences in well-lit environments). It comes equipped with a 3500 ANSI lumen lamp (guaranteed to work for 15,000h) and a built-in 10-watt speaker.
Lastly, the LampSave mode can be used to extend the lamp’s life and protect it during intense gaming sessions.
- Lots of connectivity possibilities
- Can produce a big screen of 100”
- Perfect for gaming sessions with your friends
- Good lamp life
- Image quality is impressive (1080p resolution)
- The lens can be shifted vertically
- Vertical keystone alignment for perfect positioning
- The built-in speaker is a bit weak
- There may be a rainbow effect on some images
Epson Home Cinema 5050UB
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 P2
Everything You Need from a Projector
Optoma CinemaX P2 Ultra Short Throw is expensive; nonetheless, it’s a highly capable projector that offers nothing but the best. The matter of fact is that this projector offers an amazing 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and HDR10 support. Moreover, there is a six-segment color wheel, and DCI-P3 color space support that are the key reasons for its great color accuracy and vivid colors.
On top of that, its lamp should give you some 30000 hours of work, while the brightness of 3000 Lumens should be enough for most people. Optoma CinemaX P2 Ultra Short Throw can project on screens up to 120” in size and it offers both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support.
More importantly, it comes with an exceptional sound experience that comes as the result of its 40W integrated soundbar and the Dolby Digital 2.0 support that are doing miracles for its audio performance.
Also, Optoma CinemaX P2 Ultra Short Throw comes with the SmartFIT app, for easier pairing with your smart devices; it features PureMotion Technology, and equally importantly, it is equipped with HDMI and USB connectivity, as well as Ethernet and Optical connection.
In other words, the full package is there, and the only question is: are you willing to pay its high price?
- HDR10 support
- Amazing contrast
- It supports voice commands
- 4K resolution
- Easy to use
- 40W soundbar
- A bit pricey
An Excellent Image Quality in an Expensive Package
Sony VW325ES is a highly expensive, feature-rich projector that delivers exceptional image quality and a great user experience. There is a full native 4K resolution, as well as HDR support, and multiple enhancing features such as the Advanced Reality Creation that upscale and sharpen the image, without making additional noise.
Also, there is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer that expands the contrast range, motorized lens shift, and very good connectivity that, among others, includes two HDMI ports, a LAN port, and USB connection.
Sony VW325ES is fitted with an X1 processor, has a not-that-great 1500 Lumens brightness, and an x2 zoom. Its lamp has 6000 hours of expected life span, while distance between the projector and the screen should be at least 2.5 meters, and the longest supported distance is 12 meters.
Sony VW325ES offers a very good native black and contrast ratio; it offers excellent image quality, and overall brings great performance, as should be the case with one of the best projectors out there.
- Native 4K resolution
- Advanced Reality Creation
- Excellent image quality
- Very good contrast ratio
- Deep native blacks
- Limited lamp life span
- Relatively low brightness
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.