One of the greatest home projectors in 2021 is an undervalued alternative when looking at a major screen. It’ll provide you screen size options that comfortably outnumber those available on TV, making it ideal for individuals who have always wanted to enjoy a home theater experience.
After all, as good as they are, the best gaming monitors and gaming TVs can only deliver so much before they become prohibitively pricey.
One of the greatest projectors will allow you to enjoy your favorite films and games in a size that allows you to fully immerse yourself in them.
As well as host unrivaled movie, sports, or gaming evenings where everyone can see.
If that sounds appealing to you, it’s time to dive into the realm of the best projectors for gaming, cinema, and television.
And if you’re used to squinting at a fuzzy projector in a work conference room.
You’ll be amazed at how much picture quality has improved on the greatest projectors in recent years.
Some projectors will even give the greatest 4K TVs under $500 a run for their money in terms of value.
There’s a lot of options these days, and even if you know what to look for in terms of monitor or screen specifications.
You could be forgiven for being intimidated by the additional factors to consider when purchasing a projector.
So, in this guide, we’ll go through some of the greatest projectors on the market right now, at a variety of pricing points.
While there are some nice projectors available at lower prices, you’ll need sturdy drapes to keep the sun out throughout the day.
You’ll also need to consider the surface you’re projecting onto; you might need a screen for the perfect picture.
But with high-end equipment, you won’t notice any issues if you’re projecting onto a white wall.
Lumens (basically brightness; the greater this number, the better the picture will be when the lights are turned on).
And throw distance (how far away from the surface you’re projecting on the unit must be to provide a large enough picture) are the two most important factors to consider.
So, whether you’re searching for your first projector or a top-of-the-line upgrade.
There’s something for everyone on our list of the finest projectors on the market. Here we go, in no particular order…
Traditional bulb versions have long been the kings of the hill when it comes to projectors in the $1,199 price bracket of the BenQ X1300i, owing to their value and light output.
However, when considering the long-term worth of lamp-based projectors, replacement bulbs are required to achieve the same number of hours as solid-state competitors—and the expense of replacement lamps cannot be overlooked.
Solid-state models have a longer lifespan and don’t require the use of expensive lights.
The issue has always been that even when considering the perceived vs measured brightness of an LED light source, LED projectors have always been on the lower end of light output when compared to lamps.
So, how does the X1300i outperform competing LED projectors in terms of brightness? It makes use of a 4LED light source (RGBB), which is essentially a 3LED configuration with a blue LED added on top.
The extra blue “pump” LED increases overall brightness and enhances the color accuracy of the projector.
To improve the brightness, the extra blue LED is turned to green using a phosphor (an increase of green is perceived as an increase of overall brightness to our eyes).
BenQ features an auto-calibration mechanism that adjusts colors as the projector ages and the LEDs decay at varying rates depending on color, with red typically failing faster than the others.
Even so, in Normal mode, the LED light source will last 20,000 hours, and in Eco mode, it will last 30,000 hours.
The rated 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness is the greatest of any 1080p (or 4K) LED projector meant for consumers, with only a few business-focused versions at 1080p or WUXGA resolution matching or exceeding it.
It has a decent level of light output and can withstand moderate ambient light.
The black level is also increased, a little more than I’ve seen on rival projectors in this price range, as you’d expect from brighter projectors in this price range.
LED projectors are no longer the only solid-state choice.
While laser technology is normally more expensive, there are a few models with better light output available, including our Highly Recommended pick, the Optoma GT1090HDR.
They employ the same 0.65-inch 1080p DLP chip as the X1300i, but they cost significantly more and none of them offer a streaming platform.
The $699 BenQ TH671ST projector is designed with gamers in mind, with a short-throw, 1080p resolution, a 3,000-ANSI brightness rating, mobility, and—most importantly for hardcore gamers—a fast 16.4 ms input lag.
It also has good color accuracy and adequate contrast for film and video, putting it on par with similarly priced home theater projectors when it comes to watching movies or TV.
It’s even capable of handling presentations.
All of this makes it an excellent choice for gamers as well as anyone looking for a portable projector for their home or workplace, even one they can set up in the backyard for a movie night.
One of the most notable aspects of the TH671ST is its 1.2x zoom, which is a unique feature for a short throw.
Any short-throw lens allows you to position the projector near to the screen for a large image in a tiny space, such as a dorm room or a small apartment.
A zoom lens, on the other hand, adds convenience and positioning flexibility by allowing you to adjust the zoom rather than moving the projector to adapt the image to the screen size.
This is especially useful for portable applications when moving from one location to another necessitates setting up the projector each time.
The audio is surprisingly powerful for such a small projector, which adds to its portability.
Another important feature is brightness. In moderately intense ambient light, we measured the TH671ST at just over 2,600 ANSI lumens, which is adequate to light up a 130-inch 1.0-gain screen.
Even its video optimum setting, with a measured 1,887 lumens, is bright enough for a 110-inch 1.0-gain screen or a 120-inch 1.2-gain screen at the same light level.
With a 100 percent white or light-colored display, the brightness difference is clear to discern, as it is with practically all affordable home theater projectors we’ve tried.
When the projector is placed on a table, the image’s brightness is strongest in the bottom center and progressively decreases as it moves up and to either side, with the upper left and right corners being the darkest.
This may be unpleasant to those who are especially sensitive to brightness changes.
With an image that breaks up the field of view, however, the distinction is difficult to see.
Both the Cinema and Sport modes are ideal places to start when it comes to customizing video settings.
Both produce color that is well within a realistic range and close enough to accurate that you wouldn’t notice any color differences without a reference image to compare it to.
Sport mode, on the other hand, provides a higher ANSI lumen measurement and brighter yellow hues, which are more accurate when compared to a reference image.
Sport mode has a tiny yellow-green tilt by default, but it’s simple to adjust for a more neutral color without reducing ANSI brightness or the brighter shades of yellow.
All six main (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, yellow magenta) colors can have their hue, saturation, and gain adjusted separately under BenQ’s Color Management settings.
XGIMI Horizon Pro
Over the last few years, there’s been an avalanche of affordable 4K projectors that fall into the lifestyle category.
That is projectors that don’t have to be positioned in a fixed position on a table or mount all of the time and maybe put up quickly in a variety of settings.
XGIMI offers some 1080p alternatives, most notably the H2, but they’ve just announced the Horizon Pro, their first 4K projector, for $1,699 (there’s also a 1080p version for $1,099).
The Horizon Pro has a brighter screen than any of XGIMI’s previous projectors, accepts HDR10 and HLG signals, runs on the Android TV 10.0 operating system, has a built-in Harman/Kardon stereo speaker system, and includes some pretty interesting and sophisticated keystone correction and other settings to get you through set up quickly and easily.
The Horizon Pro, like many other modern lifestyle projectors, has an LED light source that requires little, if any, maintenance and never needs to be replaced.
XGIMI claims it can last 25,000 hours and produces 2,200 ANSI lumens, though it’s unclear at what brightness setting the light source was tested.
This saves money over the projector’s lifetime, while a standard lamp-based projector would require many lamp replacements to achieve the same amount of hours.
So, while the UHD35 is initially a few hundred dollars cheaper, the long-term costs result in a higher overall cost.
To generate a 4K (3840×2160) image, the projector uses a single 0.47-inch DLP chip with XPR fast pixel-switching technology.
It will be capable of a resolution of up to 4096×2160 pixels. The fixed zoom lens has a 1.2:1 throw ratio and can project an image from 30 inches to 300 inches.
The Horizon Pro was created by XGIMI to be simple to set up and consume material as quickly as possible.
The Horizon Pro can boot up and display a home screen in as little as six seconds after initial setup (entering Wi-Fi passwords, installing apps, linking your Google account, and so on).
There are four automatic keystone functions (off by default) that help with setup in novel and creative ways, but they add six seconds to the projector’s startup time (the horror).
The first is to have auto keystone turned on at all times during startup. The second option is to have the projector’s auto keystone feature activated whenever the projector is moved.
On the surface, this seems great, but in my family (with a lively five-year-old), it was far too sensitive, and merely a knock to the table would trigger it to engage.
The last two are the most fascinating.
Adaptive Projection Area detects objects that might block your vision during keystone setting and scales the image so that a stray lamp or plant, or even an electrical outlet, does not end up inside the picture and disrupt your viewing.
If you’re projecting on a screen, the Adaptive Screen Projection option detects the edges and adjusts the image to fit within the screen’s borders.
According to XGIMI, a white screen with a black frame works best.
After the image has been established, the camera uses autofocus to ensure that the image is clear.
The Horizon Pro has Android TV 10.0 as its operating system. It’s a relatively smooth interface that’s simple to use with the remote (there were a few times that the button response could be slightly sluggish, although not overly so).
The Google Play Store is featured for downloading a variety of apps, like Google Assistant, which can be accessed via the remote, as it is an Android-based platform.
Optoma HD143X (Optima HD143X)
The Optoma HD143X is one of the least costly of the eight projectors in our group test, costing only $549.
And at that price, it’s a great deal for the amount of contrast, three-dimensionality, low input lag for gaming, and outstanding 3D performance it offers.
It also has the advantage of presenting nearly no rainbow artifacts, as do many Optoma projectors.
With our video optimized settings, the HD143X produces significantly lower brightness than its competition, as you might anticipate given its slightly lower than average lumen rating.
However, for any given light level, the brightness is not low enough to create a substantial difference in acceptable image size.
It is bright enough for a 145″ 16:9 display in a dark room or a 90″ image with moderate ambient light when using the video optimized settings and a 1.3-gain screen.
Lumens that are optimized for video. The Cinema setting, which may be readily modified for film and video, provides neutral color with minimal loss of brightness.
The image quality is also near the top of the sub-$700 class in terms of contrast and sense of depth, though it falls short of the best.
Cinema mode will light up a 145-inch screen with 758 ANSI lumens “In a dark room, a diagonal 1.3 gain screen.
We recommend keeping the screen size to 90 pixels if you want to run in an environment with moderate ambient light “.
Performance on video. The Cinema and Reference modes give natural-looking color, high contrast, and a sense of depth even without modifying color control settings.
Bright mode is fully useful if you require more brightness, with only a small green bias in most settings.
On close inspection of the flesh tones, though, the green bias and some posterization become more apparent.
Vivid is similar, although neither the posterization nor the green bias is as dramatic.
The Game mode is the brightest and produces the most accurate color.
Although it lacks the image three-dimensionality and contrast of Cinema mode, the picture quality is adequate for casual daytime use when extra brightness is required to compensate for ambient light.
The lens offset of the HD143X is suited for installing upside down in a ceiling mount or below the seating area on a low table or bookshelf.
Because the entire image would be over the lens’s centerline, a high shelf is best avoided.
Tilting the projector down and then squaring it up with keystone adjustment would be required for setup.
We strive to avoid this with 1080p projectors because it necessitates the compression of 1080p video signals, limits lumen output to some extent, and can cause artifacts in fine intricate patterns in a picture.
The bottom of the image is around 14 percent of the image height above the centerline of the lens when the projector is on a table.
For $549, the Optoma HD143X provides more than enough to be considered a good value.
It has good image quality for the price, can display 3D, and is bright enough to display a 145″ 16:9 image in a dark room or a 90″ image in a family room with standard nighttime ambient light levels.
If you’re serious about gaming, the HD143X’s 16.4 ms input lag makes it an excellent pick for titles that need quick reactions, however, it would be even better if the onboard audio had a greater volume.
The HD143X offers sufficiently neutral color, strong contrast, and a good sense of depth thanks to its video-optimized settings for 2D.
It also shows rainbow artifacts so infrequently that even those who are accustomed to seeing them may not notice them, let alone find them bothersome.
It supports both DLP-Link and VESA RF glasses for 3D; its 3D mode only exhibits a slight brightness reduction when compared to its 2D modes; and, unlike many projectors, you may personalize the 3D mode settings.
The lens does, however, provide precise, edge-to-edge focus. It held the lines over the full screen from top to bottom and left to right on both our horizontal and vertical test photos, with alternating one-pixel wide light and dark lines.
Images with recurring patterns had the same crispness across the full screen.
The Optoma HD143X isn’t nearly as bright as its closest rival, but the difference isn’t significant.
In exchange, it is less expensive than others, provides natural-looking color with good contrast and depth for the price, has a short lag time, and performs better in 3D than most.
This combination allows it to perform well in games or as a television replacement.
However, both the audio loudness and the brightness of the video optimized picture are lower than rival devices.
These two limitations keep it from being a top choice for gaming or as a TV replacement.
However, if you have an external sound system and will not be dependent on the projector’s soundtrack, the HD143X is an excellent pick for video gaming.
-How should I go about selecting a gaming projector?
Look for a gaming projector with a high refresh rate and minimal latency if you want to undertake online competitive gaming.
As a result, the information you require will reach your eyes faster, and you will not feel as though your character is traveling through the muck when reacting.
If competitive games aren’t your thing, you can live with higher latency—for the ordinary gamer, it’s barely noticeable over 60ms.
A higher refresh rate is only useful if your gear can output more than 60 frames per second; otherwise, a 60Hz projector will suffice.
The gaming projectors on our list have a response time of 40ms or less. Many gaming projectors come with powerful sound systems, bright color ranges, high resolution, and long lamp life—all of which should be carefully evaluated when selecting a gaming projector, depending on which aspects are most important to you.
Make sure you have enough room for your projector where it will be used.
A long throw projector will be best if you want it behind you or overhead.
If you want something to put on the coffee table, a short-throw projector is ideal.
You’ll also need an extremely short throw projector if you want to mount it against a wall.
Do projectors make sense for gaming?
Yes, nowadays. There are numerous gaming projectors with fast frame rates and minimal latency, including 4K projectors, so you can examine the small details up close.
A projector is an excellent choice if you want to play your games on a larger screen than you could ever imagine.
Of course, before you get rid of your TV and replace it with a gaming projector, think about your space and what functions are important to you.
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