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Enjoy Larger-Than-Life Movies With These Top-Rated Projectors

If you want big-screen entertainment without having to upgrade the size of your TV, buying a projector is the way to go. These days, projectors have the technology to display large-scale, high-definition and 4K images that are bright and vibrant for a top-notch movie-viewing or gaming experience. Some even feature built-in smart platforms so you can stream media directly from Netflix and other popular streaming services.

There are a wide range of projectors on the market to consider, from battery-powered portable options to high-end models that cost upwards of $2,000. The best projector for your needs will depend on how and where you plan to use it, as well as how much you’re willing to spend.

What to Consider

There are a few key elements that set projectors apart, and one of the most important is brightness, measured in lumen. You will want to look for a projector with at least 1,500 lumens if you plan on using it in a room with ambient light. Brightness and picture quality increase the higher you go, capping off at roughly 3,000 lumens.

Projector image quality is also dependent on definition. Most projectors—specifically more expensive ones—will be either 4k (ultra-high definition) or 1080p (high definition). While 4k will definitely be higher quality, 1080p still produces a clear image.

Another aspect to consider is how you will be able to watch—namely, what inputs are available. Most will have HDMI and USB to allow you to connect to another device, and some add Bluetooth for wireless connection and voice control using a smart home speaker.

Projector Types

There are three main sources for projection, all of which have their advantages and drawbacks. Everything from budget to intended use will help you figure out which one to buy.

DLP (Digital Light Processor)

This type of projector uses mirrors to reflect light toward the screen. They have minimal motion blur and high color accuracy, but don’t do as well in ambient light because they aren’t super bright.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

This type of projector—often the most affordable—channels light through a prism or set of dichroic filters to create the colors in the picture. They’re also typically the most compact and quietest, and they project well onto any flat surface.

Laser

With incredibly bright, accurate colors and great contrast ratio, laser projectors are some of the most premium available. But be prepared to shell out more cash because they’re expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands or more.

How We Selected

We researched 10 expert sources, including Digital Trends, PC Mag, and Tech Radar, as well as 1,100 consumer reviews to make our selections. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least 4 out of 5 stars on manufacturers’ websites, along with Amazon, Walmart, and other retain sites.


—BEST COMPACT—

Nebula Capsule II

Consumer Score: 83% gave it 4 stars or more
Small and smart, this mini projector is great for movies and gaming.

Resolution: 720p HD |Technology: DLP | Max Screen Size: 100 in | Brightness: 200 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth

Nebula Capsule II

NEBULA
amazon.com

$579.99

Take a second to appreciate how cute this projector is. At roughly the size of a soda can, it is the paragon of portable projectors. PC Mag praises the speakers, attesting that its audio is high-quality and loud compared to most mini projectors. As for the image, it performs well in dark rooms—you get the best quality with a 60-inch screen—but if ambient light enters, it struggles to project images larger than 20 inches. The Nebula also comes with Android TV built in, which gives you access to YouTube, Google Apps, and a range of content from Google Play.


—EASY TO USE—

LG HU80KA

Consumer Score: 80% gave it 4 stars or more
Its easy setup and streaming are the epitome of convenience.

Resolution: 4k UHD | Technology: DLP | Max Screen Size: 150 in | Brightness: 2,500 lumens | Connectivity Options: USB, HDMI, Bluetooth

LG HU80KA

  • Portable and easy to setup
  • Decent speakers
  • Built-in smart TV

One of the biggest issues with projectors is figuring out where and how to mount them. With this LG model, however, you don’t have to commit to a permanent spot. It’s easy to set up and take down, and can sit directly on the floor. There’s even a handle to make it more portable, which is a nice extra considering its 18-pound weight and large size (roughly 18 by 6 inches).

The projector features LG’s smart platform, which allows you to directly stream content, and features 4K resolution and a 150-inch screen size. Another plus is its high-end Harman Kardon speakers, which are a step above the competition.


—BEST LASER—

LG HF85LA

Consumer Score: 74% gave it 4 stars or more
This laser projector can be placed right up against the streaming wall.

Resolution: 1080p HD | Technology: Laser | Max Screen Size: 120 in | Brightness: 1,500 lumens | Connectivity options: Bluetooth, USB, HDMI

LG HF85LA

  • Impressive laser technology
  • High-def resolution
  • Wireless screen sharing doesn’t work with iPhones

If image quality is your primary concern, you can’t go wrong with a laser projector, which offer the best light, color, and detail. While laser projectors are often significantly more expensive, this one from LG is a bit more manageable, priced well under $2,000 at the time of this writing. It features a max 120-inch screen and plenty of brightness with 1,500 lumens, keeping the picture sharp even in ambient light. There’s also a screen-share option and you can access all your streaming apps using your smartphone or tablet. And, as a bonus, the projector can be placed right up against the wall, which is super convenient.


—BEST VALUE—

AuKing Mini Projector

Resolution: 800p | Technology: LCD | Max Screen Size: 170 in | Brightness: 2,600 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, VGA

M8-F Mini Projector

  • Good value
  • Compact and portable
  • Bright display

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly projector, this mini option from AuKing is well-priced and still offers a variety of useful features. It projects screen sizes ranging from 30 to 170 inches, and it can be hooked up to a computer, PC, or streaming device, thanks to its HDMI, VGA, and USB inputs.

The projector is compact and lightweight, measuring just 7.7 by 6 by 2.7 inches, which makes it easy to store. Its 800p resolution isn’t anything to write home about, but it offers better contrast than many similarly sized portable options, resulting in a clearer, more vivid image.


—SMART FEATURES—

LG HU70LA

Resolution: 4k UHD | Technology: DLP | Max Screen Size: 140 in | Brightness: 1,500 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth

LG HU70LA

  • Smart TV platform
  • Built-in Alexa and Google Assistant
  • 4k resolution

This LG projector saves you the hassle of connecting your computer to a projector to stream content from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other services, thanks to the brand’s WebOS smart TV platform.

It offers 4k ultra-high-definition resolution for unbeatable clear images and projects a screen up to 140 inches, plus it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The projector comes with an easy-to-use remote, and you can also mount it to the ceiling in addition to setting it up in front of the screen. Mediocre contrast is a definite drawback, especially considering the price point.


—BUILT-IN AUDIO—

XGIMI Horizon Pro

Resolution: 4k UHD | Technology: DLP | Max Screen Size: 300 in | Brightness: 2,200 lumens| Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

XGIMI Horizon Pro

XGIMI
amazon.com

$1,699.00

  • Extremely large screen
  • 2,200 lumens
  • Superior audio quality
  • Doesn’t support Netflix

One common complaint about projectors is that their built-in speakers are mediocre, at best. Most projectors are designed to be used with external speakers, but if that’s not in the budget, the XGIMI Horizon Pro has two built-in Harman Kardon speakers that deliver loud, clear audio that’s more than sufficient for average-sized rooms.

Other major highlights include 4k ultra-high-definition resolution, an impressive 300-inch max screen size, and 2,200 lumens of brightness. There’s also Android TV 10 built in, as well as Google Assistant for voice control and Chromecast for wireless casting. The only downside is that the built-in smart platform doesn’t support Netflix, so you’ll have to use another device to access the streaming service.


—BEST FOR GAMING—

Optoma UHD50X

Resolution: 4k UHD | Technology: DLP | Max Screen Size: 120 in | Brightness: 3,400 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, VGA

Optoma UHD50X

Optoma
amazon.com

$1,599.00

  • 240Hz refresh rate
  • Enhanced gaming mode
  • 3,400 lumens

If you’re a gamer, this model from Optoma is the best midrange option for performance and features. It has HDMI, USB, and VGA inputs that allow you to connect virtually any gaming system or computer, and boasts the lowest input lag of any 4k projector, with a 240Hz refresh rate. Plus, with the unit’s Enhanced Gaming Mode, the projector has a 16-millisecond response time, so you never miss a thing.

The projector features a 120-inch max screen size, and it delivers a whopping 3,400 lumens of brightness. It can be placed on a table or mounted to the ceiling, and its vertical lens shift and 1.3x zoom make it easy to adjust the picture, though you’ll need to do it manually.


—BEST FOR BUSINESS—

Epson VS260

Resolution: XGA | Technology: 3LCD | Max Screen Size: 150 in | Brightness: 3,300 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB

Epson VS260

  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable
  • Works well in bright rooms

The Epson VS260 is a portable projector that’s designed for business applications. It’s quick and easy to set up, thanks to a built-in speaker, and with 3,300 lumens, it provides crisp images and videos, even in well-lit spaces. The projector offers XGA resolution—or 1024 by 768 pixels—which is the same resolution as most computers, making it easy to pair your laptop to the device.

Other notable features include HDMI and USB inputs, allowing you to set up a big-screen Zoom conference or connect to a streaming device, and a 150-inch max screen size. However, keep in mind that this model doesn’t have an audio jack, so you can’t plug in an external speaker.


—CEILING PROJECTION—

BenQ GV30

Resolution: 720p | Technology: Not listed | Max Screen Size: 100 in | Brightness: 300 lumens | Connectivity Options: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth

BenQ GV30

  • Doesn’t support Netflix

If you’ve ever wanted to project a movie on the ceiling, the BenQ GV30 is up for the task. This unique projector has a circular design that rotates on its mount, allowing you to change its projection angle by up to 135 degrees. You can use it to create a screen up to 100 inches, but keep in mind that the resolution is fairly low at just 720 pixels.

Because it’s designed to be portable, the BenQ projector comes with a carrying bag, and it’s even drop-resistant. It has Android TV built in, so you can watch shows via Prime Video or Google Play, and also cast to it via AirPlay or Chromecast. Plus, it can even be used wirelessly on the go, with a battery life of 2.5 hours per charge.

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