There’s nothing quite like seeing a movie on the big screen. But you don’t have to spend $20 for the price of admission and $100 on marked-up popcorn and concessions (well, it certainly feels like it’s $100, anyway) to enjoy a movie. An investment in a good home theater projector can bring the movie-going experience to your home.
Home Theater Projectors 101
Home theater projectors are a pricey endeavor and can be a little overwhelming to a novice in the home theater world. One of the main distinctions between home theater projectors you’ll see is short-throw projectors vs long-throw projectors.
The big difference between a short and long-throw projector is the distance from the wall the projector needs to be to produce a clear picture. As you’d expect, a short-throw projector can be much closer to a wall than a long-throw projector. For example, many short-throw projectors only need to be three to five feet away from the wall to produce a 100-inch picture, while a long-throw projector often needs about 10 or more feet.
What To Look For In a Home Theater Projector
Just as you would with a TV, these are the specs you should consider when picking a projector:
Resolution – In theory, a 4K projector will look better than a 1080p projector, but don’t be scared of choosing the latter, especially with a short-throw projector. Most people won’t be in a pitch-black room where picture quality becomes more noticeable. Plus, you can save a few hundred dollars going with a 1080p model. And there still isn’t an abundance of 4K content available. Sure, you’re future proofing with a 4K projector, but you can save a lot of money going with the other option.
Brightness – When it comes to a projector the brightness (measured in lumens) can be a difference maker, especially if you are in a room that doesn’t get completely dark. Look for anything above 1,500 lumens, although many projectors are 2,000 lumens or brighter.
Connectivity – Every projector below will have the ports to connect a streaming device or gaming console. But a few set themselves apart with WiFi or an on-board streaming interface so you can stream your favorite shows from apps like Netflix without any connected devices.
What Else Do I Need For a Home Theater Projector
At the very minimum, you need wall space. You need a wall clear of pictures or art that is a bright enough color (preferably white) to have a picture cast onto it. If you are going to go with a short-throw option, you won’t need much space between the projector and the wall. But for long-throw options, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear path from the projector to the wall.
A clear wall will work, but a projector screen will provide you with a better viewing experience and enhanced picture quality. Beyond picture quality, you’ll also want to invest in a home theater speaker system or sound bar to get sound quality worthy of home cinema. Sure, some of the home theater projectors have speakers, but just like a new TV, the speakers aren’t great.
Finally, if the projector you select doesn’t have built-in WiFi or a streaming interface of some sort, you’ll want a streaming device or gaming console to plug into the projector.
What Are The Best Home Theater Projectors Available
If you’re ready to bring the theater experience to your home, or you just don’t ever see yourself going back to a movie theater for one reason or another, then a home theater projector is a great investment. Time to enjoy movies on the big screen in your home with your choice of not-overpriced popcorn and your favorite beer.
Here are our choices for the best home theater projectors available:
1. Epson Home Cinema 2040
A powerful three chip LCD brain powers the Epson Home Cinema 2040 and produces bright and clear picture quality without unwanted image artifacts. Gamers can even get down thanks to the short lag time, but the 1080p resolution and smooth motion is the true superstar. Considering what you get from this home theater projector, the price tag is extra incentive to dive in.
Epson Home Cinema 2040
2. Sony VW325ES
The same X1 image processing chip that is inside of this home theater projector is the one you’d find powering high-end Sony Bravia TVs. Not to mention, it sports 4K resolution, HDR and motion flow for smooth motion picture even in 4K. It has a throw distance anywhere from eight to 40 feet giving you a variety of placement options in your home. If you have the money, you’ll be pleased with the picture quality and performance.
3. Optoma UHD35 True 4K Projector
GREAT FOR GAMING
Not all projectors can sport the type of low lag and smoothness to satisfy gamers, but with a 240Hz refresh at 1080p, the Optoma is more than capable. The picture gets extra bright too, with 3,600 lumens of brightness. Combine that with 4K resolution and HDR compatibility, this is more than just a projector for gamers, it’s a strong choice for your home theater.
4. BenQ TK850 True 4K Projector
This is a great projector for rooms that can’t quite get all the way dark. The bright 3,000 lumens combat ambient light in the room and still produce a vivid and exceptional 4K picture. Beyond its brightness, this home theater projector also has smooth motion technology to make the picture as smooth as it is vibrant. It doesn’t have any streaming apps like some of the other projectors, but for the money and picture quality, this is an overall solid choice.
BenQ TK850 True 4K Projector
5. Samsung The Premiere
There’s a lot to be stoked about with The Premier. For starters, its bright 2,800 lumens casts a strong and vibrant picture using three-color laser technology for crisp picture detail. There’s also interface familiarity with Samsung’s smart TV platform on board, so you’ll be able to stream your favorite shows and movies. Included is decent set of 40W speakers onboard to top things off. If you can stomach the uber expensive price, this is one of the most impressive home theater projectors around.