Projectors are a great alternative to a proper TV or display, particularly if you're really looking to go big.
But it can be a bit daunting to look at the available models at retailers and try to find the best one. There are a lot out there, with loads of features and buzzwords. Fortunately, we're here to help you choose!
Everything on this list natively outputs at 1080p or higher.
The best value projector for most people
The BenQ MH530 is the least expensive projector we could find with a 1080P native output resolution. But "least expensive" definitely doesn't mean "cheap."
You get a full 1080P image, two HDMI ports, two VGA ports, a 3.5mm audio-out, and a super-bright image. This is a short-throw projector, meaning it can sit about 7 feet away from your screen. And at only 5 pounds, it's easy to mount or move around.
Who should buy this projector?
The BenQ MH530 is a great place to start if you want a good projector without worrying about it being the top of the line — or breaking the bank.
Is it a good time to buy this projector?
Yep. These aren't phones. There isn't a new one released every month. They're meant to be longer-term purchases.
3 reasons to buy
- Full 1080P image
- Short throw — it only needs about seven feet between it and the screen
2 reasons not to buy
- "Only" 1080P resolution
- Only 2 HDMI ports
A great compromise of features and price
The BenQ MH520FHD is the least expensive projector we could find that outputs at 1080P. Being inexpensive doesn't mean it's bad — you get a nice, bright image with a 60hz refresh rate. You get one built-in speaker, but also a 3.5mm audio jack for output. The major downside is there are only two HDMI ports, but that's true of more expensive models as well. And at only five pounds, it's very easy to mount or move around.
If you need something beyond the best value
Sometimes the best value isn't the driving factor in making a purchase. We get that. And there absolutely are options when it comes to projectors. If you just have to have something that does 4K resolution — and that's definitely a thing to consider when you're talking about images as large as what you'll get with a projector — then we'll point you toward the Optoma UHD50 . If you're a gamer looking to go big, then the BenQ HT2150ST might be right for you. Or if you need something with a little smarts on the inside, there's the LG PF1000UW .
The best 4K projector
Optoma makes projectors at almost all price points, and they've been offering solid 4K options for the past couple years. That continues with this year's model — the UHD50.
You get full HDMI 2.0 compatibility — allowing for 4K video at 60 frames per second. It also includes HDR 10 support — perfect for your Xbox One X games or UHD Blu-Rays. One downside is this only has 2 HDMI ports, but that's true of almost every projector in the price range. You can get an HDMI switch if you need more than that.. It also has 3.5mm and optical audio out for your speaker system.
The best gaming projector
Any projector will technically work for gaming, but some models specifically try to lower input lag so you're more responsive in your online combat. One such model is the BenQ HT2150ST — the "ST" in the product name refers to this being a short-throw projector, meaning it sits about seven feet from your screen. This is great for apartment dwellers, since you can just have the projector in the middle of your room without worrying about mounting anything and potentially losing your deposit. You get two HDMI ports, one VGA port, and 3.5mm audio out, in addition to built-in speakers.
The best smart projector
Unlike TVs, most projectors are just "dumb" displays. LG is pretty much the only manufacturer of smart projectors, and the projectors are compelling in their own right. The PF1000UW is powered by the latest version of webOS, meaning you have easy access to your favorite streaming services. You also get 2 HDMI ports for connecting computers or consoles, 2 USB ports for playing content off of thumb drives, and something really special — a built-in antenna jack for watching over-the-air TV stations. There's also Bluetooth support for your favorite headphones. And because this is an ultra-short-throw projector, you can just place it on a TV stand, instead of worrying about buying a mount and running cables through your ceiling.
Tom Westrick is the resident projector aficionado at CordCutters. You can find him on Twitter: @TomWestrick1.
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