BEST PROJECTORS | JUNE 2017

Whether you're into movies or games (or both!) a projector can take your viewing or gaming experience to the next level. And with so many great projectors on the market today, there is a model out there that is a perfect fit for your needs and budget. To help you make an informed purchase decision, our team did in-depth research on projectors to find the best models for home theaters, gaming and mini projectors. For each of our recommended projectors, we provide detailed information about key features and considerations, such as picture quality, brightness, portability and more.

 

Our product selections are based on data analysis and independent research. We looked at more than 150 projectors from some 25 manufacturers to come up with our top picks featured below. Read more about our methodology.

Best Overall BenQ HT2050 Projector
93

The BenQ HT2050 provides a great viewing – or gaming – experience in both 2D and 3D. This projector provides a lot of bang for the buck with 1080p resolution, low lag time and noticeably fewer rainbow artifacts than other DLP models, making it an excellent anchor to any home theater.

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85

The LeFun Video Projector is a no-frills projector that provides solid performance, as well as easy portability. It supports 1080p HD, has a built-in speaker and weighs just 2.5 pounds, making it a great choice for shoppers on a budget.

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Best by Category

Best Home Theater Projector

92

One of the most affordable 1080p projectors on the market, the Epson Home Cinema 2040 uses 3-Chip LCD technology to deliver excellent picture quality in both 2D and 3D.

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Best Projector for Gaming

89

The Optoma GT1080 was designed for gaming on today's consoles. This full HD projector delivers a great picture and boasts exceptionally low lag times, 3D functionality and an extra bright 2,800 lumen light source.

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Best Mini Projector

85

If portability is a priority, the Crenova XPE460 is an excellent choice. This LED projector supports 1080p and weighs in at less than 3 pounds, making it easy to take your movies and games on the go.

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Projectors BUYING GUIDE

  • KEY CONSIDERATIONS

    Display Technology

    Most projectors on the market today use one of two imaging technologies: DLP or LCD.  DLP projectors use a chip (or sometimes three chips) with very small mirrors that reflect light toward the screen and away from it, as well as a rotating color wheel to create color. These projectors do not require filters and often have a better response time than LCD projectors. One common complaint with DLP projectors is "rainbow artifacts," which are flashes of red, blue and green. But this phenomenon is less pronounced in the DLP options included on this list. LCD projectors use liquid crystal display technology – which is used in many TVs – to create notably sharp images, often with lower energy consumption than DLP models. Also, they do not produce rainbow artifacts. However, LCD projectors use filters that need to be cleaned often so dust does not show up on the screen. Also, over time image quality worsens.

    Image Resolution

    A projector's native resolution refers to the maximum number of pixels the unit is able to project. Projectors with higher resolutions create higher quality images. Currently, the most popular image resolution for home theater use is 1080p, which generates full HD images when connected to a 1080p input source. If the input source's resolution is different than that of the projector – whether higher or lower – the projector must scale the image, which results in reduced image quality. So as a rule of thumb, the native resolution of your projector should match the resolution of your input source, such as a Blu-ray player, game console or DVR. Some projectors have a lower native resolution but still support 1080p, meaning they support HD viewing. While projectors that support 1080p create nice images, they still fall short of true full HD quality.

    Light Source

    Projectors use either a lamp or LED light source. Projectors that use a lamp typically are brighter than LED projectors. This means that the former can stand up to ambient light, whereas the latter is best used in darker spaces. However, where a lamp may need to replace after 2,000 to 5,000 hours, an LED light source can last in excess of 20,000 hours. That said, replacing a LED light source can be significantly more expansive than replacing a traditional lamp. Projector brightness is measures in lumens. More lumens means more brightness. If you're looking for a projector that can be used in a space with ambient light, look for higher lumens.

    3D Capability

    As more and more 3D media is becoming available, more home theater projectors are offering 3D functionality (in addition to 2D). If you do decide on a 3D projector, you'll likely need to purchase viewing glasses separately.

  • PRICE BREAKDOWN

    Projectors range in price from less than $100 to several thousands of dollars. There are some great choices on the lower end of the price spectrum. Most of these units will be mini projectors with lower native resolution (but often 1080p support) and less brightness, which means that work best in a dark space. In the $600 to $800 range, you'll find many outstanding options for home theater and gaming projectors that have 1080p full HD, high brightness, improved picture quality and other premium features.

Detailed product reviews

We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.

879 products
considered
76K RATINGS
ANALYZED
25 research
hours
Best Overall

BenQ HT2050 Projector

The BenQ HT2050 has contrast ratio, brightness and color accuracy that are on par with much more expensive DLP projectors. A versatile unit, this projector's combination of full HD 1080p resolution, low noise and excellent color management make for an outstanding user experience, whether you're screening a movie, watching live TV or gaming.

  • 93overall
  • 93quality
  • 96value
  • 92brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Great Picture Quality. Enjoy full 1080p resolution for both 2D and 3D uses, and the projector creates notably fewer rainbow artifacts – flashes of red, blue and green) than other DLP models. With a shorter-throw lens, the HT2050 can produce large images even in smaller spaces.
  • Energy Efficiency. The HT2050's SmartEco technology and auto standby mode help save energy and prolong the lamp life to up to 7,000 hours.
  • Built-in Speaker. The 10-watt speaker delivers higher quality (not to mention louder) audio than comparable units. If you want stereo sound or more volume, you can hook the projector up to an external audio source.
  • Low Lag Time. Anyone who enjoys fast-paced video games will appreciate the HT2010's short lag time.

Other Considerations

  • Glasses Not Included. If you're looking forward to using the projector's 3D functionality, plan on purchasing a pair of 3D viewing glasses.
  • It's a Heavyweight. Coming in at more than 10.5 pounds, the HT2050 is heavier than many comparable models.
Best Value

LeFun Video Projector

The LeFun Video Projector is a highly affordable, functional LCD projector that delivers quality images on screens of up to 130 inches. The 1080p HD supported projector is adequate for a home theater, as well as gaming, outdoor use and other applications. It's a great option for shoppers on a budget, or users who are looking for a small projector for on the go.

  • 85overall
  • 85quality
  • 85value
  • 84brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Very Portable. Coming in at 7.4 inches wide, 5.8 inches deep and 2.1 inches tall – and just over 2.5 pounds – moving the Lefun Video Projector from room to room, taking it outside, or bringing it to the office or a friend's house is a snap.
  • Easy Setup. Simply plug the projector in to a power source and connect your device via USB, HDMI or MHL.
  • Warranty. The LeFun Video Projector is protected by a 1-year warranty.

Other Considerations

  • Image Size. While the LeFun Video Projector is rated for an image size of up to 130 inches, the range for optimal image quality is between 40 and 60 inches. Also, the projector delivers the best picture in a space to little or no ambient light.
  • Sound Quality. The built-in speaker may deliver tinny audio, but the projector is compatible with external audio sources.

BEST BY CATEGORY

Best Home Theater Projector

why buy?

Home theater projectors serve as the centerpiece to a home theater set up. Projectors in this category generally are versatile and perform well for screening movies, watching live TV and playing games. Home theater projectors often provide a full HD viewing experience, have 3D capability and have a light source that is strong enough to stand up to at least some ambient light. In many cases, home theater projectors are larger and heavier than other models, making them less portable. They often have a dedicated location inside a home theater.

Top Pick

Epson 2040 Home Cinema

The Epson Home Cinema 2040 is the perfect anchor for any home theater. Despite being one of the most affordable 1080p, 3D projectors on the market, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with higher priced models. The unit delivers outstanding image quality in both 2D and 3D. And, thanks to 3-chip LCD technology, you won't be annoyed by rainbow artifacts – those flashes of red blue and green common to DLP projectors.

  • 92overall
  • 93quality
  • 93value
  • 91brand

Why We Recommend It

  • High-Quality Picture. Project a nearly perfect full HD image of up to 300 inches in both 2D and 3D. The color quality is excellent. And automatic vertical keystone correction helps ensure the picture is displaying properly.
  • Super Bright. With white brightness of 2200 lumens and  color brightness of 2200 lumens, images projected by the Home Cinema 2040 can stand up to rooms with ambient light, where other models require dark rooms for optimal performance.
  • Portability. Relatively compact (4.7 x 11.7 x 9.7 inches) and lightweight (about 6 pounds) and outfitted with a built-in speaker, it's easy enough to take the Home Cinema 2040 outside, to the office or to a friend's house.

Other Considerations

  • Speaker Quality. The built-in 5-watt mono speaker may leave something to be desired. But it's common to pair a projector with an external stereo audio source. 
  • Glasses Not Included. If you're planning on watching 3D entertainment, you'll need to pick up a pair of glasses first.

Best Projector for Gaming

why buy?

Gaming projectors provide a truly immersive gameplay experience. They are compatible with the latest gaming consoles and have specific design features that make them great for gaming. Among these are full 1080p HD, reduced lag time (especially important for fast-action games) and a bright light source that can stand up to ambient light. In addition to being great for gaming, projectors in this category also perform well for other projector applications, such as watching movies and live TV.

Top Pick

Optoma GT1080

Optoma was thinking of gamers when it designed the GT1080. Boasting full HD, 3D functionality and a powerful 2,800-lumen lamp, this DLP projector is ready to take on whatever today's gaming consoles can throw at it. And the short throw lens makes it a great option for smaller spaces. The GT1080 doubles as a home theater system.

  • 89overall
  • 89quality
  • 87value
  • 88brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Designed for Gaming. Lag time for this projector is exceptionally low – which is crucial when playing games that have quick action. Also, the 2,800-lumen lamp stands up to ambient light. If you're in a darker space, you can switch the unit into eco mode.
  • Excellent Picture Quality. The 1080p resolution produced beautiful images n both 2D and 3D. And rainbow artifacts – the flashes of red, blue and green associated with DLP projectors – are infrequent enough not to be a major annoyance.
  • Good Speaker. The 10-watt mono speaker performs well and can produce enough volume for a larger room. The projector can also be connected to an external audio system.

Other Considerations

  • No Backlight. The projector's remote is not backlit, so it may be more difficult to use in darker spaces.
  • Glasses Not Included. Like many 3D capable projectors, the GT1080 does not come with 3D glasses.

Best Mini Projector

why buy?

Mini projectors are compact, portable and – often – less expensive than larger models. Nonetheless, projectors in this category can still deliver a great viewing or gaming experience. Most mini projectors weigh less than 3 pounds with smaller dimensions to match. These projectors often support 1080p devices to deliver quality images when used with devices, such as a Blu-ray player or gaming console. It's important to note that mini projectors often have a lower light output than larger models, which means they are best used in darker spaces.

Top Pick

Crenova XPE460 Projector

The Crenova XPE460 packs a lot of performance into a small, affordable unit. This 1080p supported LED projector boasts a respectable 1,200 lumens and is solid choice for gaming or watching movies and television, and it projects an image of up to 130 inches.

  • 85overall
  • 85quality
  • 87value
  • 84brand

Why We Recommend It

  • Supports HD. While the XPE460 has an 800x480 native resolution, it does support 1080p HD devices, such as a Blu-ray player, and delivers crisp, clear images with square pixels technology. The unit comes with an HDMI cable.
  • LED Lamp. The long-lasting (up to 30,000 hours) LED lamp provides bright, yet soft, light and uses less energy than other light sources.
  • Highly Portable. Small (4.21 x 12.4 x 7.48 inches) and coming in at under three pounds, moving this projector to another location is no problem.

Other Considerations

  • Image Quality on Large Screens. While the XPE460 is rated for screens up to 130 inches, image quality may suffer on screens larger than 100 inches.
  • Best for Movies and Games. This projector does not perform well for PowerPoint presentations or displaying data, such as PDFs, Excel files or text files.