One of the greatest ways to experience the unbridled power of an immersive film is to watch the movie with a home theater projector. While many of today’s consumer-grade TVs are phenomenal when it comes to replicating the kind of images a movie’s director would want you to see, there’s a special kind of brilliance that only a projector can deliver.
That being said, most folks will opt for the best TV over a projector purely because of spacial requirements. Traditionally, projectors require a decent amount of throw-distance in order to throw up the largest image possible. Alas, this is no longer an issue though, as consumer-friendly, short-throw projectors are now widely available.
The best short-throw projectors are designed to be place only a few feet away from the wall you’re projecting onto — and sometimes just mere inches.
Even if you are working with a small apartment or small room, a short-throw projector can deliver that immersive experience in a painless and affordable manner. Gone are the days of having to mount a projector from the ceiling or finding a spot in the back of the room. With the best short-throw projectors from Samsung, Epson, Optoma, BenQ and more, you can place a projector within a couple of feet of the wall you want to project onto and its good to go.
If this sounds like music to your ears, keep reading for our list of the best short-throw projectors.
The Best Short-Throw Projectors of 2022
Ready to upgrade your home entertainment setup with a proper short-throw projector? These aren’t the only types of projectors available to consumers in 2022, but some of the biggest innovations are happening in the short-throw space. Below, you’ll find our guide to the best short-throw projectors. If you’d like to know more about what to look for in the bets short-throw projectors, how we picked our selections and the answers to a few FAQs, keep reading! We cover all of that and more below our top picks.
1. Hisense L9G TriChroma Laser TV with ALR Screen
When it comes to unparalleled performance, the Hisense L9G TriChroma Laser TV is our favorite short-throw projector, bar-none. Packing 3,000 ANSI Lumens and three Pure-Color lasers (red, blue and green), the L9G is able to achieve some of the richest and deepest colors of the BT.2020 color space — a high benchmark for any 4K projector.
Speaking of 4K: The L9G is capable of 4K/60Hz, along with MEMC technology that delivers lightning-fast response times for the most adrenaline-fueled gaming and cinema experiences. Picture and motion never looked and felt so good on a projector, never mind a short-throw model.
And while the L9G series is certainly one of the most expensive short-throw options on our list, it’s one of the only projectors that comes packaged with an ambient light-correcting screen (available in 100 and 120-inch sizes). Add in the 25,000 lamp life, the integrated Android TV smart platform for all your streaming needs, and the 40-watt Dolby Atmos speaker system, and you’ve got one of the very best short-throw projectors that money can buy.
2. Optoma GT1090HDR Short-Throw Projector
Rated for 4200 ANSI Lumens, this 1080p laser DLP projector is one of the brightest on the list, which means that you can place this in a brighter environment and still get image quality that isn’t totally dull or washed out — in addition to being able to project a 100-inch picture from 3.6 feet off the wall. And while the GT1090HDR is only a 1080p projector, it does support HDR10 and will downsample content from 4K video sources, which could offer improved picture quality over regular 1080p content in certain scenarios.
But there are a few considerations here. For one, the Optoma GT1090HDR only has a four-segment color wheel, which means that in a dark room, the colors may not pop as much as a projector with a six-segment color wheel. The laser-based projection lamp also means that it will last longer before it burns out, but you won’t be able to replace it like you would a standard lamp. It’s also a bit expensive, although not as pricey as the Hisense L9G. But as we said before, projectors are a game of tradeoffs.
3. Samsung ‘The Premiere’ 130-Inch 4K Ultra Short-Throw Projector
The Premiere is a full-featured ultra-short-throw projector that makes no compromises in performance, delivering true 4K resolution and HDR10+ support. While its 2800 ANSI Lumens rating falls just behind the Hisense L9G when it comes to brightness, it only requires 4.4 inches to project a 100-inch image, and comes with support for the emerging Filmmaker Mode standard. Samsung also says its triple RGB laser lamps will cover 147% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut.
Rounding out the features: a smart TV interface that provides access to services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, along with a 30-watt, 2.2 surround sound system built into the projector. All of this will come with a $6499.99 price tag, although it’s often possible to find this projector on sale. It’s not cheap, but it when it comes to performance, this is a luxury home entertainment product and one of the best short-throw projectors.
If money is no object and you’re simply looking for the best short-throw projector, our reviewers were deeply impressed by this device, and it was also recently selected for the SPY Smart Home Awards 2022.
4. BenQ TK700 4K HDR Projector
BEST FOR CONTRAST
When it comes to cinema and gaming, you want your TV or projector to deliver as much color and contrast detail as possible, and with the fastest response times your hardware can muster. For the picture connoisseurs of our readership, the BenQ TK700 is a rock-solid short-throw projector that is optimized for resolution and clarity.
Featuring support for HDR10 and HLG standards, the TK700 includes a black detail enhancement that specifically targets the darkest parts of the image, without sacrificing the illuminated brilliance that the projector’s 3,200 ANSI Lumens brings to the table. Then, when you factor in the 16-millisecond at 4K/60Hz motion capabilities, you’ve got yourself a short-throw projector built for the most intense of action flicks and high-stakes gaming.
In terms of its short-throw abilities, the TK700 throws up a 100-inch screen with a throw distance of 8.2 feet. These aren’t the most impressive short-throw specs, but the TK700’s picture processing more than makes up for its distance hindrances.
5. Samsung ‘The Premiere’ 120-Inch 4K Ultra Short-Throw Projector
The 120-inch class version of Samsung’s Premiere sacrifices some of the brightness you get with the premium version, but this 4K Smart Laser Projector is hardly a lightweight. It’s capable of projecting a 120-inch screen with 2200 lumens of brightness, which isn’t that much of a step down considering how much money you’ll save. This projector is almost half the cost of its pricier sibling, and it still has all of the smart TV features you’d expect from a Samsung product. So while it’s not quite as bright, it’s still one of the best short-throw projectors for sale in 2022.
6. LG HU85LA 120-Inch 4K UHD Resolution Laser Smart Home Theater
BEST FOR GAMING
Looking for the best short-throw projector for gaming in particular? The LG HU85LA is now considered an OG luxury short-throw projector. In fact, LG recently released an upgraded HU915QE model, but after testing both units we recommend sticking with the earlier model and pocketing the substantial $2000 price difference, despite the improved sound and 1000 additional lumens the HU915QE provides.
So what makes the LG HU85LA our choice as the ideal short-throw gaming beast? Several things, starting with the majestic full-wall picture that turns your latest Super Smash Bros game into a cinematic experience. Gaming on a 120-inch screen with 4K resolution and a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio is something to behold, and with the LG HU85LA’s simple and easy plug-and-play pairing with any game console, it’s easy to achieve. Plus, the 50ms latency in Game Mode ensures optimal performance.
7. ViewSonic X10-4KE 4K Short-Throw Projector
Acquiring a short-throw projector that offers 4K resolution doesn’t need to drive you into bankruptcy. The ViewSonic X10-4KE is a relatively affordable projector for the features provided. In addition to 4K, this DLP LED unit offers HDR and Rec. 709 support, which means that you’ll get deep and accurate colors in the right setting. Because it’s only rated for 1000 LED Lumens, HDR content likely won’t pop with the X10-4KE, and most movie watching will be best in a dark environment. And it requires nearly six feet of space from the surface it’s projecting on for a 100-inch image.
But there are other perks to be had. The ViewSonic X10-4KE is a compact projector that has a painless setup process and is easy to stash away when you’re not using it, and it even comes with a handle to lug it around. It also has voice controls that are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. But if you want to use this as more than just a projector, the built-in Harmon Kardon audio can also serve as a Bluetooth speaker for your phone, tablet or laptop, something many of the best short-throw projectors don’t do. If true 4K on a budget is really what you’re after, this is the one.
8. LG CineBeam HF85LA Ultra Short-Throw Projector
BEST SMART FEATURES
If you’re looking for a projector that can replace your TV for day-to-day use and don’t want to bother with a separate streaming box, the LG CineBeam HF85LA is the best short-throw projector that’s capable of throwing a 100-inch image from 1.5 feet. With LG’s WebOS smart TV interface integrated into the projector, you’ll have access to most of the streaming services you know and love. It even has an integrated TV tuner for those who want to connect to cable or an antenna. Rated at 1500 ANSI Lumens, LG says that this will be comparable to non-laser projectors with higher brightness ratings. And like the Viewsonic X10-4KE, you can even use it as a Bluetooth speaker.
9. Optoma GT1080HDRx Short-Throw Projector
The Optoma GT1080HDRx may not have the same laser projection lamp or brightness rating of our runner-up, the Optoma GT1090HDR, but it does have one feature that makes it the best short-throw projector for gamers: an eye-poppingly low 8.4ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate, which will make any associated lag nearly imperceptible.
The GT1080HDRx will still provide plenty of brightness (it’s rated for 3800 ANSI Lumens), which will allow it to perform well outside of a dark room, and is also well-equipped for movie watching, even if you aren’t likely to get the same depth of color as our top pick. Like the GT1090HDRx, it can throw a 100-inch image from 3.6 feet and downscale content from 4K sources, which can provide a bump in image quality. It also supports the Rec. 709 standard for color accuracy. Those wanting to pair this with a nice set of speakers should take note that this projector only has analog audio out.
10. ViewSonic LightStream PJD7828HDL ‘Shorter-Throw’ Projector
If you’re trying to walk out of this having spent as little money as possible and have some extra space in your living room to play around with, the ViewSonic LightStream PJD7828HDL is the best short-throw projector for you. Coming in at under $650, this DLP projector is the most affordable option you will find on this list as long as you can deal with the fact that it needs 9.5 feet to throw a 100-inch image up on the wall.
Rated for 3200 ANSI Lumens, there’s enough brightness here to work in most viewing environments, though like most of these projectors, a dark room is still optimal. With a 16.4ms response time, the ViewSonic Lightstream is more than suitable for gaming and it has a full array of legacy inputs to handle nearly any video source you could ever want to throw at it. (One thing it does lack, however, is digital audio out.) While this isn’t quite “short-throw,” it still beats most long-throw projectors, and given the price and versatility, we think this is a solid pick.
11. Optoma CinemaX P2 4K Ultra Short-Throw Projector
NEW PRICE DROP
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is a 4K DLP projector that can throw a 100-inch image from 10 inches away and has a brightness rating of 3000 ANSI Lumens, which, being a laser projector, means that you can use this day or night without issue. A six-segment RGBRGB color wheel, along with support for the DCI-P3 wide color gamut means that HDR10 content will leap off the screen with detail once you dial in the settings.
To sweeten the deal, the Optoma CinemaX P2 is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for controlling playback with your voice and houses a 40-watt, Dolby Digital 2.0 NuForce soundbar. About the only thing missing from this is proper versions of your favorite streaming apps that can display in 4K HDR. This thing is not for the financially faint of heart, but if you’re serious about your movie nights and want no compromises, this short-throw projector is one of the best.
How We Chose the Best Short-Throw Projectors
There are a number of criteria that go into a solid short-throw projector, and like most consumer tech investments, not all models are created equal. Some folks are going to want a projector that is optimized for gaming, while others will care more about just how big of a picture they can get up on the wall.
This summer, the SPY team has tested dozens of projectors, from portable projectors and iPhone projectors to the latest cutting-edge short-throw projectors. We’ve been particularly impressed by Samsung, Anker and ViewSonic projectors, and you can also check out our guide to the best projectors overall.
In choosing our list of the best short-throw projectors, we paid attention to the following specifications and features. We also did our best to ensure our roundup included a wide range of options, complete with flagship projectors and more basic models for those shopping on a budget.
Here’s how we chose the best short-throw projector for every type of home theater:
- Resolution: While 4K can provide noticeably more detail than 1080p, the difference between a good 1080p projector and an entry-level 4K projector is a little less noticeable, especially if you’re not in a pitch-black room. For most people, a 1080p short-throw projector will be more than suitable, and there are even 1080p projectors that can provide a modest bump in picture quality by downscaling 4K content, depending on the source material. Most of the projectors on our list are 1080p.
- HDR Support: This is less important in a sub-$1000 projector since most of them don’t get bright enough to take advantage of HDR’s benefits. But if you’re eyeing a more premium projector, HDR is a “nice to have” feature.
- Connectivity: All of these projectors have all the ports you need to connect a streaming box, Blu-ray player, video game console or cable box, which will be the only thing most people will need. But some have the ability to connect to the internet via WiFi or Ethernet to download streaming apps directly to the projector. A few even have ports to connect older, non-HDMI gear.
- Sound: While most of these projectors have built-in speakers, in the majority of cases, you’re going to want to opt for a separate audio solution, especially if you want surround sound. But it’s worth noting many of these projectors lack any sort of digital audio out. If you’re planning to use a streaming device that lacks its own audio out, and you don’t want to bother with a receiver or HDMI audio extractor, this may be something to consider.
But there are some other specs that you’ll only come across with projectors, and they are just as important. These include:
- Brightness: When it comes to projectors, brightness ratings are subjective at best, and arbitrary at worst. But the spec you generally want to look for when it comes to brightness is the rating for ANSI Lumens. This will give you a ballpark sense of how bright the entire picture gets, and not just the white light. For a traditional lamp-based projector, you’ll want something with at least 1500 ANSI Lumens, but if you want to use the projector during the day at all, you’ll want a short-throw projector rated for at least 2000 ANSI Lumens if not 3000. It’s also worth noting that for short-throw projectors with Laser or LED-based lighting, they can often deliver a brighter perceived image.
- Throw Ratio/Distance: A projector’s throw ratio will indicate the distance range needed for projecting an image up on the wall. For the sake of this piece, we used the throw ratio to calculate how much space you’d need to project a 100-inch image on the wall. But all of these projectors can throw smaller picture sizes (and many can go bigger). For the most part, you’ll want a short-throw projector with a throw ratio that is less than 0.83:1 (which means that you need six feet to project a 100-inch image). Anything higher than that undermines any benefit to having a short-throw projector.
- Light Source: While all of the projectors on our list used a DLP-based processor, there are differences in the light sources they use. It’s still more common for short-throw projectors to use a metal halide or mercury vapor lamp, but more and more premium models are turning to LED and Laser light sources which can provide extra brightness and color depth. They also last longer than a traditional lamp (~20,000 hours compared to 5,000 hours), but unlike a traditional lamp, you cant replace a Laser or LED light source once it burns out. Replacing a traditional lamp can be slightly expensive depending on the projector (~$50-$300), but even replacing a couple of bulbs will still be cheaper than replacing an entire projector. That said, most people will probably move on to another short-throw projector before this becomes a factor.
Ultimately, finding the best short-throw projector can be tricky because needs and priorities will differ between people, and the feature tradeoffs between projectors are really pronounced. One projector might have excellent brightness, but display colors that aren’t accurate. Another might throw a 100-inch image from three inches away but will cost twice as much as other projectors while not offering dramatically better picture quality.
But that didn’t deter us from figuring out which projectors are worthy, and which one will provide the best overall experience at a decent price. For the most part, our picks are under $2000, and many are under $1000. But for those considering going all-in, we have a few options for you as well.
UPDATE: This article was updated on September 26, 2022. At that time, we added the LG HU85LA 4K Laser Smart Home Theater as our “Best for Gaming” pick. We also updated pricing and availability throughout the article.
Frequently Asked Questions About Short-Throw Projectors
You might hear the term “short-throw projector” and think that it would be used in a radically different context than a standard projector. But at the end of the day, a short-throw projector provides all the same functionality. The big difference is that it doesn't have to be as far away from the wall you're projecting onto.
But don’t mistake this as a gimmick, or a luxury lacking utility. If you have a smaller space, such as an apartment, or a smaller room that you want to use for movies, a short-throw projector can be great for recreating that home-theater experience with minimal fuss.
Your average short-throw projector can give you a 100-inch picture when placed three to five feet away from the wall. Compare this to a standard projector, which often needs 10-13 feet, and you can immediately see the benefit of having a short-throw projector.
But there is also the class of ultra-short-throw projectors, which can give you a 100-inch picture when placed just inches from a wall. These projectors are considerably more expensive than their peers, but if you have the money to spend, you can get the big-screen experience without having to reconfigure your living room.
Well, you have options in this regard, but the main thing is just making sure that you have anywhere between 10 inches and 8 feet, depending on the short-throw projector you’re using.
If you want to get really slick with it, you can mount a short-throw projector from the ceiling, which offers the benefit of not having your gear eat up floor space in front of your TV. But the installation process is a fairly involved one and may require the services of a home theater pro.
At a bare minimum, you need a blank, light-colored wall that is big enough to display the picture size you desire. You also need a video source, such as a streaming box, a cable box, a Blu-ray player or a gaming console. And finally, you’ll probably want surround sound to complete the experience, so if you don’t have speakers or a soundbar, you may want to consider grabbing something.
That said, most short-throw projectors have built-in speakers and some have smart software that will let you download your favorite streaming TV and Movie apps directly to the projector.
But if you want to get as close to a movie theater as possible, consider hanging a screen for your short-throw projector to beam onto. Unless your wall is perfectly smooth and white, you’re not going to get the brightest, sharpest and most vibrant image possible, especially if you’re not in a totally dark room. A dedicated screen, however, will provide a reflective surface that will give your video a little extra pop. And in the scheme of things, they’re not overly expensive, typically costing $100-$300 depending on what you're looking for. The biggest hassle will come in the form of having to hang it up and configuring the short-throw projector to stay within its boundaries.