There are many factors that go into creating the perfect home theatre experience, including excellent sound, comfortable seating, and overall ambience. The first thing that most people think of, however, is stunning image quality, whether it comes from a giant TV or a projector. Finding the right home theatre projector may prove a bit daunting with the number of models available.
Before deciding upon the “best” projector, it is important to know what that means to you. Are you looking for the best among entry level projectors? Maybe you want the best 4K projector or the best for HDR. Of course, you may simply want the best all-around performance at a particular price point.
To help you decide about which is right for you, here are some of the top contenders.
Best 4K Projector
If you are looking for a top-performing 4K projector with excellent picture quality, you will want to check out the Optoma UHD60. Although it provides better contrast in darker rooms, it is bright enough to fill large screens even with moderately high ambient light. Colour balance is quite good and black levels give good depth. It is quite competitive with other models in this price range, though they are not as deep as more expensive models.
Image sharpness is exceptionally good in the middle two thirds but does soften somewhat at the sides and edges. This softening is subtle and won’t typically be noticed outside of still images such as test patterns.
Best HDR Projector
Another Optoma finds it way onto the list. This time it’s the Optoma HD28HDR.
The Optoma HD28HDR, as the name indicates, works with high dynamic range video at a reasonable price. HDR makes a significant different in picture quality with high-end televisions but lacks the same impact when dealing with projectors. Why?
TVs can make use of hardware such as OLEDs and LED local dimming, but projectors lack this. Accordingly, the Optoma does not offer the large jump in picture quality that some consumers might be expecting. Presently, standard non-HDR video is still the norm and when dealing with this type of content, the Optoma’s performance is quite average. This means that the Optoma could be a good choice for you if the majority of what you watch is HDR. But if that is not the case, there are other models of comparable price which perform better. Additionally, though it can accept and play 4K sources, it is not a true 4K projector, displaying only 1080p on-screen.
Best Projector at Its Price
If you are seeking something inexpensive that still offers reasonable performance, consider the BenQ HT2050A.
While most of the competition at this price point offers little to set them apart from one another, the BenQ has a larger and more aesthetically pleasing design that looks more like a home projector, rather than an industrial model.
The BenQ offers performance that surpasses other models in this price range. While it can be called inexpensive, that doesn’t mean it is cheap, with a better picture quality and contrast ratio than its direct competitors. Colour is accurate, whites are bright, and blacks have good depth. All said, the BenQ provides a surprisingly good viewing experience for the price. It even has a small amount of vertical lens shift (adjusting the range by about 10% according to BenQ), which is not often seen at this price point.
As a less expensive option, the BenQ lacks 4K and HDR, but is 3D capable and creates a bright image.
Not all projectors are used for movies and television. Some home theatres are geared toward other forms of entertainment, including gaming. Many projectors are less than ideal for gaming, however, due to input lag. This refers to the delay between the projector receiving input from the source (usually a gaming console) and the actual projection of the audio/video signal. This can cause the video to stutter and appear choppy. When it comes to gaming, which often relies on split-second responses from players, input lag can range from a mild annoyance to making certain games difficult to play.
The BenQ TH685 is a more specialized projector that reduces lag time and allows for a smoother gaming experience. This does come at a cost, however, with an image quality and contrast ratio that are no match for more generalized projectors.
The TH685 can provide a large image off 100+ inches even with some ambient lighting, and like the Optoma HD28HDR, it can accept 4K, but will only display 1080p. It is also 3D capable.
While the TH685 may not be your ideal projector for high-definition movie viewing, if you are interested in gaming with a massive image and little input lag, this might be the right choice for you.
Best Value LCD
The Epson Home Cinema 2150 may not be 4K capable, but is still offers a nice, bright image, even on a large, 100-inch screen, though the contrast ratio and colour don’t quite match the top performers in this price range.
The Epson does have the advantage of a wider zoom range than other projectors in its class, meaning it can be situated at a greater distance from the screen, offering more options for placement. It also has some vertical lens shift. As an LCD projector, it does not suffer from the DLP rainbow effect.
The Epson Home Cinema can be a great option for your movie nights at home, with solid performance at an affordable price.
With so many projectors to choose from, it can be a challenge to find the right one for you, though if you have particular needs or desires, such as gaming, 4K, or HDR viewing, that can narrow down your options.