An underrated option when looking at a main screen in 2021 is one of the best home projectors. It'll give you options on screen size that can safely eclipse those that TV offers and are perfect for those who have always fancied a home cinema experience. After all, and as good as they are, there's only so much the best gaming monitors and the best gaming TVs can offer - particularly before getting crazy expensive. One of the best projectors will get you enjoying your favorite films and games large enough to truly get immersed in them, while also offering the ability to host unparalleled movie, sports or game nights where everyone can actually see. If that sound's like it's for you, then it might be time to embrace the world of the best projectors for gaming, film, and TV.
And if you’re used to struggling with that ancient blurry projector in a work meeting room, you’ll be blown away by how far picture quality has come in recent years on the best projectors. And in terms of value, some projectors will even give the best 4K TVs under $500 a run for their money too. There’s a lot of choice out there now, and even if you’ve mastered what to look for in terms of monitor or screen specifications you could be forgiven for being daunted by the extra things you need to consider in a projector.
So this guide is going to walk through some of the best projectors out there at the moment, across a number of price points. While there are some decent projectors at lower price points, you’ll need to have some good curtains to keep the sun out during the day for these. You’ll also need to think about the surface you’re projecting onto, you might need a screen for the perfect picture but with high-end units, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any issues if you’re projecting onto a white wall.
The key things to keep an eye out are lumens (essentially brightness, the higher this is the better the picture will be when the lights are on) and throw distance (how far away from the surface you’re projecting on the unit needs to be to give a big enough picture). So whether you’re looking to get your first projector or are looking for a top of the line upgrade, there’s something for everyone here in our take on the best projectors going. In no particular order, here we go...
One of the first things which could put you off getting a projector is a room too narrow for it. But short throw projectors give wall-filling pictures even in tight spaces. The BenQ TH671ST can give you a 100-inch projection size at just 1.5 meters from the surface, so you can turn your cozy living room into a full cinema experience. It’s great for portability: you can take it to a new environment, place it on a table in the middle of the room and deliver huge images. The unit is also very quick to set up and even has modes which take into account some wall colors and adjust the picture accordingly. The built-in speakers are passable if there’s no option of plugging into a sound system.
The TH671ST has truly been designed with gamers in mind. While any of its picture modes offer great response times, the game mode not only gives stunning color but boasts a lag time of just 1.4ms, in line with the top gaming monitors. It’s not the best for placing further away from a projection surface, so if you are set on having your unit far from the image then you’re better off with a standard throw, but only because the image would be too big!
A solid entry-level projector from a recognized and trusted name, the EH-TW650 gives good HD quality pictures that are watchable even with ambient light. It’s simple to set up and gives good pre-set modes to give a great picture straight away. Its game mode will cut input lag to 25ms - fine for most but not the best even at this price. It will struggle slightly with darker images, but no more than other affordable projectors.
There are some minor niggles but easy enough to get past, especially at the price. Manual zoom and focus are standard here, but manual keystoning is a surprise - although it’s one of the few projectors which offers both manual and vertical keystoning. Once it’s been set up and behind your sofa you won’t notice this though. However, you might then get frustrated with the remote, which has small buttons (and too many of them) and no backlight - which might be an issue when you’re going to do most of your watching in the dark.
As a note: the double-header of a product name is due to two different product names in the UK and US; so it might vary depending on your location.
The Optoma HD143X is one of the cheaper units which can be used in a lighter room. It won’t give an impeccable gaming picture while the sun blazes in through a patio window, but if you do want to casually watch something mid-afternoon without drawing the curtains you’ll get by well enough if you use its bright mode. However, when it’s dark the unit gives great quality images in any configuration. It’s easy to set up with a spin of its manual zoom and focus dials, plus a good range of color and brightness settings out of the box. The backlit remote is easy to use in the dark too.
Lag times are slightly slower than some of the more expensive units but still perfectly usable and only the most detail-obsessed gamers will notice the difference, as the enhanced gaming mode can take this down to around 16ms. There are a few practical issues with the HD143 - the lack of a back adjustable leg and lens cap. But this is nothing insurmountable for a very solid unit which gives a great picture.
This is true portability. The cute Nebula Capsule is about the size of a soft drink can and just as welcome on a summer day in the park (remember doing that?). You can plonk it down anywhere and almost instantly turn any surface into a screen. It will display well even in the light as long as it’s close enough to the surface. You won’t get the truly huge or high definition pictures you’d see with dedicated home units, but this tiny unit still packs a punch. If you’re using it with a console or dedicated media player you can run from HDMI, but you can also use your smartphone to cast or screen mirror for truly wireless video for up to four hours on the battery.
The unit has a heavily modified Android operating system and runs a number of apps, although not the full range you might hope for. The sound is decent enough and truly 360. It isn’t a perfect unit, and the need it meets is quite a specific one. But if you want true portability, the Nebula can provide great fun anywhere.
There is a Nebula Capsule II which is a newer, flashier model, which is reflected in the price tag - around double that of the 'regular' Capsule. Until that price tumbles, we feel confident recommending the first one still given the value it offers still.
This is essentially the entry-level for ultra high definition images. It’s a fraction of the cost of a true 4K unit but can give excellent picture quality from a 4K input or if upscaling from lower-quality sources. It is easy to set up, but you may find you need to try out a few different settings if you’re upscaling to smooth out the image at first. Zoom and focus are done manually, but once you’ve got this set up you won’t need to think about it again and it helps to keep the price lower.
The unit gives stunning images with a great depth of color, although if you’re being picky you may still notice that darker games or scenes lack the detail of brighter colors - as is so often the case with HD projectors or even TV screens. But that’s not to say you’ll have to put away any Arkham game and only play Mario Kart, and for the picture quality it’s a quibble not a dealbreaker.
The entry-level projectors here give great HD picture quality, but there’s a huge gulf in price between these and full 4K picture. The Optoma UHD65 starts to bridge that gap, but the Epson EH-TW9400 is as close to 4K quality as you can get without a native 4K chip. Running a 4K source will give astonishing picture quality, which will stand up in a room with natural light. The lens can move the image vertically and horizontally, making it more flexible in where it can be positioned than cheaper units, which will simply project at wherever they’re pointed.
It’s an incredibly solid unit, with a stronger build than the cheaper units and a very elegant design. It will need a solid base or bracket, as it weighs in at 11kg (nearly four times many of these other units), and does run loud if using its modes for prime video quality. It’s expensive, but you would struggle to get a sharper picture without going for a full 4K price tag.
This too has a different name depending on where you are so it'll pay to check for both names wherever you are.
The BenQ TK850 is a brilliant projector that finds the middle ground of the spectrum: a bit more expensive than the more budget models - though very worthy of the extra investment -but much more affordable than the premium 4K beasts.
This is a projector that even has great audio, and with a brightness level of 3,000 lumens, excellent HDR and it's massive screen size, there's no wonder this is a particularly excellent model for sports. Its dedicated sports mode is testament to that, and when you throw in motion-smoothing and enhancements, the TK850 makes a strong argument as the best BenQ projector going too. It's colors, 4K resolution, and HDR support - as well as the motion enhancement - will also make this a fin contender for gaming, even if you're playing fast shooters.
There's some video noise in gray shadows or dark scenes, and the lack of streaming apps seems a bit of an oversight for a projector of this price tag in the year 2020, but overall the TK850 is a great projector and worthy of its place on this list.
A solid unit in the mid-range of projectors, the EB-S41 is bright and reliable. Epson is a brand pitched a little more towards business rather than pleasure, and there is something about the unit which looks more at home in the office than home or garden, but that’s not something to worry about when you’re watching its great picture. It offers WiFi connectivity and casting, although you need an additional accessory for this.
The carry case helps you to easily take it out into the garden and store it safely when not in use, or for if you’re sick of being the host and want to make someone else’s back yard a cinema. One of the few models in this price range to offer horizontal and vertical keystoning make it easier to set up in new places too. However, the native 4:3 aspect ratio shoes this may be more of an office projector you can use for outdoor viewing rather than a genuine video specialist.
If you;re looking for a budget projector to enjoy outdoors in the last few weeks of the (northern hemisphere) summer, then this is a great shout.
When putting a projector indoors, there’s a reasonable chance of having a white wall that the image will look great on. Outside, this is less likely. So not only is the TMY V08 great value in itself, but it includes a free 100-inch screen sheet, saving you having to buy one separately. It’s a small touch, but a very useful one that few brands provide.
It’s a bright outdoor projector which will give as good an image and clear sound as you’ll find in this price range. Some users have reported issues having all areas of the screen in focus but this is only noticeable if you’re using it as a secondary monitor with lots of text, and not something which interferes with your home drive-in watching pleasure. It’s well worth the low price.
We are living in a horrible dystopian future, so why not get the fun side of sci-fi and have a projector which has full Alexa capability?
The UHD51 has a fantastic 4K UHD picture and for watching anything from bright Pixar movies to darker films like Bladerunner 2049 or Nolan's Batmans, with incredible depth of blacks, often a weak spot of home projectors.
This projector isn't without minor flaws though: the 5W speaker is weak, especially given that this unit is noisy. It can be hard to hear over its own fan at times, let alone a child (or adult) singing along to Frozen 2. The range of modes it offers isn’t the most useful either, and it can be hard to tell what the difference between them is. What does make this stand out is the 3D capability, a trick Optoma always does very well, if only in 1080p here. These slight negatives do not take away from the whole package though, as the UHD51A is still a seriously quality Optoma projector.
A final note: The UHD51A model is different from the UHD51 by virtue of that Alexa compatibility. The former is more prevalent in the US and the latter in the UK.
The Vamvo is particularly stylish for the price, with a smart-looking case to make carrying around the light unit even easier. The visuals on screen are the most important thing to look at of course, but it delivers here too, at up to 200 inches of great picture in good conditions. The LEDs are suitably bright without too much heat, so this is a projector that can come out at dusk rather than once night has fully set in.
The digital keystoning tool on the back is a nice touch, and the ability to alter this horizontally as well as vertically makes it easier to set up in locations others might struggle with, very useful as many gardens don’t have that perfect spot for a projector! The speaker is more than passable if you don’t want to lug out a sound system every time you use it. The only drawback is that the controls on top of the unit can be a little fiddly, so don’t lose the remote.
The Benq GV1 is a robust portable unit that gives decent picture for a projector the size of a pint glass. It’s not a home cinema experience or even full HD but this is about portability rather than perfect picture. The most impressive thing is the brightness when plugged in – excellent for any unit let alone one this size. Solid three-hour battery life gives plenty of viewing time when out and about – but you’ll need to have media downloaded to the device you cast from if you’re not on a wifi connection.
It’s built solidly and will stand up to transportation, plus the solid plastic looks the part and is neat and clean in design to boot. It runs Android OS and most streaming apps are readily available for download with good casting from phones, tablets, and wifi. The downsides: the sound is good but doesn’t offer quite enough volume. It’s frustratingly fiddly to set up, with very sensitive zoom control and D-pad keyboard input, but it’s easy to cast to it to once set up, and auto-keystoning is helpful. There is notable input lag when playing games which require precise timing, although for a casual play of a slower-paced game it’ll be adequate.
If you're hosting and enjoying life outside right now, you'll need to check out the best outdoor projectors going too, to round off your research. We also have guides on the best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X, best 120Hz 4K TV, and best OLED TV.