Best projector: Go big and go home with a winning widescreen experience
Make movie night magical with the best projectors for indoors and out.
Maybe it’s the fact that many of us weren’t able to go see any blockbusters in theaters throughout most of 2020, but suddenly the idea of basically having your own home cinema seems like a great one. Thankfully, gone are the days when having your own projector for home entertainment involved a giant, expensive machine and required painstakingly installing a ceiling bracket to mount it in. Technology has moved swiftly on, meaning you can get a decent movie projector even on a budget; some are even available for less than the price of a standard flatscreen TV. And many of the best home projectors are also very portable, totally show and stow. Just imagine putting on your comfiest PJs, whipping up your favorite snacks, and enjoying a big-screen experience from your couch. Your only regret will be that you didn’t pick up one of our selections for best projectors earlier.
- Best 4K projector: Anker Nebula Cosmos Max 4K UHD Home Theater Projector
- Best projector for the conference room: BenQ MH760 1080p Business Projector
- Best projector for gamers: Optoma HD28HDR 1080p Home Theater Projector
- Best portable projector: Anker Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector
- Best budget projector: PVO Portable Projector
Big thrills, compact home entertainment equipment
What’s great about a modern, digital movie projector is that your image can go big—truly big—without your hardware having to take up a lot of real estate. Without the restraints of a frame you can project a beautiful HD, even 4K movie onto any clear, lightly colored wall or projector screen, whether it’s the side of a compact car or a barn. Playing games with a projector can be a thrill if you get one that refreshes fast enough to keep up with the speed of your console. Projectors will also save space that a television—and its stand or cabinet, cable box and wires, etc.—takes up in your living room. Simply plug in a compatible portable projector and connect a wireless device and you can start watching pretty much anywhere inside or outside. When the family has gathered around for a movie night under the stars, you’ll be thankful you decided to pick the very best projector you could get. Stock up on the popcorn, because the excitement and an audience will come to you.
Of course, it’s important to figure out the right one for your use, which is why we’re here. Just look through our pick of the best projector models, match up the key features you need, and let your informed decision quickly transform into joyful entertainment and/or illuminating education.
Things to consider when picking the best projector
Now that you know you want to outfit a home cinema, you need to find the right projector for your space and use case. If you are looking to create a substitute for IMAX cinema, be prepared to shell out for a seriously gorgeous 4K picture that can be scaled to an expansive size. If you simply want the kids to watch some TV in their room but don’t want a television to sit precariously in a play zone, maybe a more basic HD model will be just what you need. A colorful, clear image can also help sell a presentation, so consider a portable projector that might work for your business needs, when you’re not heading to family or a friend’s house to bring the movies or take the big game on the go. Consider the lamp: a UHP (ultra-high pressure) bulb will be brighter, but last half the length of an LED or laser bulb (15,000 hours vs. 30,000 hours, give or take). And one of the most important specs to consider no matter what your setting or feature set are would be lumens, which tell you how much light the machine can produce. For example, 2,000 Lumens will be fine if the room is completely dark, while higher numbers will be able to compete with unavoidable ambient light. If you’re upping your viewing game, look for a bigger L to get the W.
Best 4K projector: Anker Nebula Cosmos Max 4K UHD Home Theater Projector
A Star-Studded Cast
Get the highest picture quality projector with stunning 4K projection. Walmart
This 4K projector is truly a cinema-quality experience brought to your very own home. It natively runs Android TV 9.0, and therefore plenty of streaming apps once you add WiFi. The latest nature documentary will look awe-inspiring with HDR10 support and absolutely stunning 4K UHD image. With immersive 360-degree Dolby Digital Plus sound (courtesy of built-in speakers), this is the kind of best home projector that means you may never want to go to the movie theater again. Because it uses an LED lamp with DLP chipset the motion blur will be minimal, so imagine the Super Bowl parties you’ll have with this front-row experience. You can upgrade old DVDs and live TV with Hybrid Log Gamma technology that boosts picture quality no matter what the original source was. Simply as good as it gets for a home cinema, this home theater projector can display a whopping 150-inch screen size.
Best for the conference room: BenQ MH760 1080p Business Projector
All About Business
With 5,000 Lumens, this projector is bright enough to look great for a presentation to a packed room. BenQ
For your next big presentation, consider the BenQ Business Projector. Pitching that next great idea is so much easier when everyone can see clearly. With a stunning 5,000 Lumens, you will get the picture you want no matter how brightly lit the room might be (and, let’s be honest, plenty of conference rooms have banks of windows and glass walls to compensate for). Network controls—Crestron, AMX, and PJ-Link for network control via LAN, and RS-232 for up to 49-foot installations—mean you can manage documents to project from anywhere within an organization (and there’s HDMI and wireless connectivity if someone brought something in on an outside device). But the all-glass lenses and 30,000:1 contrast ratio mean this BenQ projector is just as well-suited for private, personal occasions like wedding, anniversary, or memorial presentations as it is training videos.
Best for gamers: Optoma HD28HDR 1080p Home Theater Projector
Accelerate Your Image
With this HD projector, you can get fully immersed in open-world, first-person, rocket-powered games. Optoma
Looking for a model with incredibly impressive response time? This home theater projector’s enhanced gaming mode enables a lightning-fast 16ms with a 120Hz refresh rate. You’ll be able to properly play games without any annoying lag. Incredibly long lamp life means you can use it for over four hours a day for 10 years without changing the UHP bulb. And 3600 Lumens plus a beautiful 1080p native resolution with 50,000:1 contrast and HDR10 support gives the projections such a fantastic theater-quality look (it’s even 3-D compatible).
Best portable projector: Anker Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector
The To-Go Go-To
A mini projector that packs a big punch. Nebula
A cost-effective DLP portable projector that can display 1080p with HDR10, the Nebula Solar Portable is lightweight and truly goes and shows anywhere thanks to Android TV 9.0 software’s thousands of apps and a built-in rechargeable battery. It will run Full HD for three hours on a single charge, just add a wireless signal, HDMI-connected device or USB drive with content. The image can scale up to 120 inches, it has a retractable, adjustable stand in its base and it sounds great, too, with Dolby Digital Plus and dual 3W speakers.
Best budget projector: PVO Portable Projector
Amazing Features, Fantastic Value
This colorful mini projector can fit in your pocket and bring entertainment pretty much anywhere. PVO
This ultra-portable projector may have a low price, but it offers plenty of versatility for under $100. With multiple ports, you can hook up HDMI, USB, microSD, and AV interfaces, so it can easily project what’s on your TV, computer, flash drives, digital cameras, and smart devices. Power is via any power bank and/or mobile charger that supports microSD. It’s light and easy to use, great for kids, and can even give a presentation in a pinch.
Best projector FAQ: people also ask
What is a 4K projector?
When it comes to the best home projectors, 4K projectors have the highest image quality around. With a 4K model, you will get a horizontal display resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels, which translates to an image that will look sharp, vivid, and brilliantly colored. This is what you would expect to see in a movie theater, but can now have at home.
Can cheaper projectors show HD quality?
The short answer is yes. Cheaper projectors can still display a nice HD quality. What you will lose in some of the cheaper options is the ability to expand the image to a large size without losing quality. The best models will stay sharp at 150’ inches and larger.
Are all projectors portable?
While you can pick up pretty much any projector, if you are looking for one you can conveniently bring around town then you will want one that is specifically made to be portable. Larger designs will be fairly heavy and delicate, and not something you want to be thrown in a bag. If you plan to visit family and friends, or lead presentations in various satellite offices and convention halls, etc., definitely consider the size (some mini mini projectors, known as pico projectors, even fit in the palm of your hand).
Related: Sit in a chair worthy of your entertainment investment with the best recliners.
The final word on the best projector
The best home projectors offer the experience of a multiplex, but at home. Whether it’s outdoor BBQs with family videos playing, a big game (or gaming) with friends in the garage, or a replacement to a TV for home entertainment use, the best projector will offer incredible image quality at a larger size than most televisions (and the benefit of being compact, portable, and easy to pack away). With so many streaming options now, it’s a great time to get a projected screen worthy of a theater.