I don‘t know about you, but I love having movie theater-sized screens at home. And projectors are the way to go for ginormous immersive visuals! From state-of-the-art 4K models to portable projectors perfect for camping trips, today‘s options deliver outstanding cinema-quality images for any budget.
Choosing the right projector can be tricky with so many on the market. But don‘t worry! I‘ve got your back. I‘m going to break down the 5 best projectors you can buy today based on performance, features and value. I‘ll also give you pro tips for picking the perfect one to meet your needs.
Ready? Let‘s dive in!
A Quick Look at Projector Sales and Pricing
First, a little context. Over 8 million projectors were sold last year worldwide according to Futuresource Consulting. That‘s a 14% increase from 2020, showing rising demand.
Projector prices range wildly from $200 to over $10,000! But most decent 1080p models fall between $500 to $1,500. Expect to spend $3,000+ for premium 4K. Of course, more lumens and features will up the cost too.
My goal here is to give you excellent options across the spectrum. I‘ll also note best use cases for each pick. That way you can zero in on the right one based on your goals – whether you need it for gaming, outdoor movies, or projecting spreadsheets in conference rooms!
Let‘s jump in…
The 5 Best Projectors You Can Buy Today
After extensive research evaluating over 50 models on the market, I narrowed it down to the absolute best projectors you can buy right now in 5 key categories:
1. Best Overall: LG HU85LA CineBeam 4K UHD Laser Projector
For jaw-dropping 4K visuals and incredible convenience in a compact design, the LG HU85LA CineBeam is the best overall projector available today.
It uses advanced laser phosphor technology to deliver stunning cinematic 4K UHD resolution. We‘re talking over 8 million pixels for insanely sharp images. The 2,700 ANSI lumens brightness looks amazing even with some light in the room.
Now, here‘s where it gets really cool:
The LG has an ultra-short throw ratio of just 0.234. That means you can project a massive 130-inch image from just inches away. Huge screen real estate in tight spaces where long throw projectors won‘t fit. Just place it on a table or credenza right in front of the wall or screen.
Setup takes minutes. So convenient!
Built-in streaming is handled seamlessly through LG‘s user-friendly webOS platform. You get quick access to all the top apps like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and more. For gaming, there‘s auto low latency mode, 4K/120Hz passthrough and VRR making play silky smooth.
If you want the best overall mix of jaw-dropping 4K cinema visuals, smart streaming features, and flexible setup in a sleek compact form – the LG HU85LA CineBeam is as good as it gets!
- Cinematic 4K UHD resolution (over 8 million pixels)
- 2,700 lumens brightness
- Ultra short throw ratio (project 130" from inches away!)
- webOS smart platform with apps
- 120Hz, VRR, ALLM for flawless gaming
- Space-saving design
- $2,999 MSRP (worth every penny!)
2. Best Budget: Optoma HD146X 1080p Projector
If you‘re looking for awesome picture quality on a budget, the Optoma HD146X is the best affordable home theater projector out there.
It delivers superb full HD 1080p resolution, pushing over 2 million pixels for detailed, crisp images. 3,600 lumens gives you plenty of brightness for rooms with some ambient light. So you can enjoy the big screen experience without having to make the room pitch black.
Vivid colors and deep contrast come from advanced HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range support. Gaming mode provides sub-17ms input lag for super responsive play. Plus, the 1.1x zoom lens and vertical shift give flexibility to fine tune the picture.
For the price, the HD146X definitely punches above its weight. You‘d have to spend hundreds more to get better 1080p performance and brightness. It‘s by far the best home theater projector you can buy on a budget.
- Bright 3,600 lumens
- Full HD 1080p resolution
- HDR10 & HLG high dynamic range
- Under 17ms input lag for gaming
- Integrated 10W speaker
- Just $529!
3. Best Portable: Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector
When it comes to serious portability, nothing beats the Anker Nebula Capsule II. This mini LED projector is barely larger than a soda can, yet pumps out a 100-inch screen!
It may be tiny, but the Capsule II churns out 200 lumens enabling giant projections even in less than ideal lighting. The integrated Android TV platform gives you full smart streaming from apps like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube etc. You can even cast content from your phone or tablet via Chromecast.
An 8W speaker with enhanced bass fills larger rooms with quality audio without any external speakers needed. Plus, the built-in battery provides up to 2.5 hours of playback per charge. Take this little guy anywhere!
For powerhouse portability and performance in a pint-sized package, the Anker Nebula Capsule II mini projector brings serious entertainment anywhere. It‘s by far the most impressive compact projector available.
- 200 lumens (100" projection!)
- Android TV, Chromecast built-in
- 8W speaker with deep bass
- Rechargeable battery (2.5 hrs/charge)
- Just 5.9” tall! Crazy small.
- $579 MSRP (great value)
4. Best for Gaming: BenQ TK700STi 4K HDR Gaming Projector
For fast-twitch gamers who demand zero lag and instant response times, the BenQ TK700STi gaming projector is purpose-built for winning.
It outputs true 4K UHD resolution with over 8 million pixels for incredibly detailed visuals. 3,000 lumens brightness immerses you in the action. High dynamic range support takes contrast and colors to another level.
Dual HDMI ports allow you to hook up a console and gaming PC at the same time. Input lag is an insanely fast 16ms at 4K. And 120Hz refresh rate at 1080p ensures lighting quick frame pacing. This thing is made for speed!
Navigating menus and accessing game libraries is easy with the integrated Android TV interface and wireless casting.
If you want the smoothest, most responsive, high-res big screen gaming experience money can buy, the BenQ TK700STi has you covered. It‘s the best gaming projector out there today, period.
- True 4K UHD resolution
- 3,000 lumens brightness
- Just 16ms input lag at 4K!
- 120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
- HDR10 & HLG high dynamic range
- Dual HDMI ports
- Built-in Android TV
5. Best for Outdoors: Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500
Let‘s say you want to set up a giant screen in the backyard for outdoor movie nights. Maybe at camp? The Epson EpiqVision LS500 is designed specifically to handle the elements.
It uses an advanced laser/LCD hybrid system to dish out a phenomenally bright 4,000 lumens. Vivid 1080p resolution and spot-on color accuracy ensure images pop even when competing with sunlight.
Here‘s where it really stands apart – the LS500 has an IP54 rating meaning it‘s both dust and splash proof. Rain, humidity and drizzle won‘t faze it. Plus, handy auto power sensors put it in standby when not in use to conserve energy.
Built-in Android TV with WiFi and streaming apps makes play backyard projections seamless. For power plus resilience, the Epson LS500 is the best outdoor projector you can buy!
- 4,000 lumens brightness
- Full HD 1080p resolution
- IP54 dust/splash resistant
- Advanced laser/LCD hybrid technology
- Auto power sensors to save energy
- Built-in Android TV with apps
- Designed for outdoor entertainment!
And there you have it – the 5 best projectors available today that deliver maximum value and performance based on your needs. Let‘s recap:
- Best Overall: LG HU85LA CineBeam 4K Laser Projector
- Best Budget: Optoma HD146X 1080p Home Theater Projector
- Best Portable: Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector
- Best for Gaming: BenQ TK700STi 4K HDR Gaming Projector
- Best for Outdoors: Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 1080p Outdoor Projector
Make sense? Awesome! Now let‘s cover a few key points to consider while shopping so you can zero in on the perfect projector for your needs…
Buying a Projector? Here are 7 Key Tips:
1. Pick the Right Resolution
Resolution determines how much detail a projector can display. For most, 1080p HD is just fine, especially on smaller 100-120" screens. It keeps costs down while still looking great.
Go 4K if you want crazy realism on larger projections. But keep in mind 4K models are pricier and you need a true 4K signal source. For lots of text, 4K is excellent for optimal clarity.
2. Factor in Room Lighting
Brighter projectors (2,000+ lumens) let you watch comfortably without having to make the room pitch black. Check model brightness if you expect ambient light. Aim for at least 1,500 lumens for a nice picture in dim (but not completely dark) rooms.
3. Get the Right Throw Distance
The throw distance determines how far back the projector must be placed from the screen to achieve a desired image size. Normal throw is 8-15 feet, while short throw cuts that nearly in half.
Make sure to get a projector rated for your screen size and available space. An ultra short throw option lets you position the projector just inches away – very handy!
4. Built-in Audio vs Sound System
While built-in speakers work for basic use, connecting to a surround sound system or soundbar dramatically improves audio immersion. Most projectors have audio outputs to hook up an external sound system.
For portable use, quality built-in sound may be the simplest option. But don‘t expect room-shaking bass – that comes from a dedicated home theater audio setup.
5. Get the Biggest Screen That Fits
Projected image size is extremely flexible…the bigger the better! A 120-150" screen really gives you that cinematic feel. Check projector specs and your room to see what size screen it can accommodate based on available space and seating distance.
Fixed frame screens optimize viewing quality while collapsible types offer portability. Floor-to-ceiling screens can utilize all available wall space for maximum immersion.
6. Consider a Solid Warranty
Projectors range from $200 up above $10,000. With an expensive A/V purchase like this, an extended warranty provides peace of mind. Most come with 1-2 years coverage, but 3-5 years is even better for such a vital entertainment device.
7. Read Lots of Reviews!
Before hitting checkout, be sure to read reviews from both experts and other owners. This gives you the best idea of real-world performance and potential issues to be aware of.
I like RTings.com for in-depth projector reviews. And forums like AVSForum.com let you tap into owner experiences.
And that‘s a wrap! See, picking the perfect projector isn‘t so tough.
You‘re now an expert on cutting through specs to find the right model. I‘m positive the options above will deliver maximum big screen thrills for any budget.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help a friend get the best gear. Enjoy your new cinematic wonder machine!