If you want a cinema-like viewing experience at home without buying an enormous and expensive 85-inch TV, a home theater projector is the way to go. Prices have fallen in recent years while image quality has drastically improved, allowing home projectors to deliver stunning 100+ inch screens right in your living room. Pair one with a soundbar for immersive surround sound, and you’ll feel like you have a movie theater in your own house.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll review the top home theater projectors across various categories and budgets to help you find the perfect model for your needs and space in 2024.
Best Overall Home Theater Projector
When it comes to the best all-around home theater projector that delivers exceptional image quality without breaking the bank, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB stands above the rest. It offers a winning combination of deep black levels, ample brightness, vivid and accurate colors, and sharper 4K detail than 1080p projectors can match.
While it doesn’t come cheap, this Epson model represents a significant upgrade over less expensive options when it comes to overall image quality and immersion (aside from the pricier Sony model mentioned later). It also provides extensive lens shift and zoom capabilities for flexible setups and comes equipped with HDMI 2.0 for full 4K 60fps playback. For home theater enthusiasts who want a balance of affordability and top-notch performance, the 5050UB is extremely hard to beat.
- 1920 x 1080 native resolution but accepts 4K input
- Impressive 3000 lumens brightness and 1,500,000:1 contrast ratio
- HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) high dynamic range support
- Lens shift and 2.1x zoom for flexible positioning
- HDMI 2.0, USB port, LAN port
Best 1080p Home Theater Projector
When shopping for home theater projectors, 1080p resolution is still the most common and affordable choice for vivid image quality. Our top pick for 1080p home projectors is the BenQ HT2060, which replaces the venerable HT2050A model with some key improvements.
Like its predecessor, the HT2060 delivers accurate colors, 15,000:1 contrast thanks to proprietary DLP technology, and convenient vertical lens shift for simplified setups. However, it switches to long-lasting LED light engine instead of lamps and boosts color accuracy to Rec. 709 coverage for rich, natural images straight of the box.
The LED lighting increases cost about 25% over the HT2050A but pays off over time by eliminating lamp replacements. When comparing image quality side-by-side, the HT2060 looks a tad sharper and more vibrant to justify the price premium. For home cinema rooms where you can control ambient light, the BenQ HT2060 gives you exceptional 1080p quality that should satisfy for years to come.
- 1920 x 1080 native resolution
- RGB LED lighting system (20,000 hours lifespan)
- Lens shift for flexible placement
- Rec. 709 color space coverage out of box
- 16ms input lag ideal for gaming
Best Budget 4K Home Theater Projector
4K resolution is no longer reserved only for expensive projector models. Case in point: the Epson Home Cinema 2350 delivers genuine 4K playback at a mid-range price by utilizing LCD projection technology. It also stands out for its exceptionally high brightness rating of 3000 lumens, making it versatile for rooms where you can’t fully eliminate ambient light.
For the cost, you get true 3840 x 2160 4K resolution instead of lower pixel-shifting or “faux K” found in more affordable 4K projectors. The image pops with vivid color but doesn’t have as much contrast punch due to LCD technology limitations. It also exhibits more motion blur than DLP projectors. But if your priority is maximizing brightness for daytime viewing rather than ultimate black level depth, the HC2350 gives you excellent 4K quality that outshines other models.
- 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 native resolution
- 3000 lumen brightness (very bright for price)
- Motorized zoom and lens shift
- HDR10 high dynamic range support
- Built-in 10W speaker
Best Home Theater Projector
Spending less doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a immersive cinematic experience at home. Our top pick is the BenQ HT2050A, which produces a bright, high-contrast picture with superb color accuracy. It’s one of the only projectors in this price tier to offer vertical lens shift, making positioning and setup more flexible.
Whether you’re watching movies, TV shows, playing games or projecting presentations, the HT2050A has you covered with support for the latest media players, laptops, and mobile devices. Gamers will also appreciate its extremely fast 16ms input lag. While the successor HT2060 now replaces it, the HT2050A still delivers tremendous value during clearance sales before disappearing for good.
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- High 3000 ANSI lumen brightness
- 15,000:1 contrast ratio
- Vertical lens shift
- Low input lag ideal for gaming
- Interfaces: HDMI, VGA, USB, audio in/out
Best Portable Projector for Entertainment On the Go
When portability and streaming capabilities are top concerns alongside image quality, the pint-sized Anker Nebula Mars II Pro comes prepared to entertain at home or on the road. Weighing under 3 pounds with a built-in carry handle and compact design that’s smaller than a six pack of soda, it’s easy to pack up and take anywhere.
Despite its miniature size, the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro pumps out a bright 500 ANSI lumen image at 720p resolution while its Android OS and Wi-Fi connectivity give you access to all your streaming apps. It also lasts for 2.5 hours on a charge when unplugged thanks to the integrated battery. With convenient auto vertical/horizontal keystone correction and even powerful twin 10W speakers for audio, this portable projector punches way above its weight.
- LED DLP projection (720p resolution)
- 500 ANSI lumens brightness
- Built-in streaming software (Android OS)
- Integrated battery for cordless use
- Auto keystone adjustment
- High-quality sound with 10W stereo speakers
Best Cheap Budget Projector
Home theater projectors don’t have to demolish your wallet, as proven by tiny-yet-mighty AAXA P8. Measuring 6 x 6 x 2 inches and weighing around 2 pounds, this palm-sized model lets you enjoy a cinema-sized experience anywhere. Output peaks at 600 LED lumens paired with 38,000 hours of expected lamp life.
Keep in mind the AAXA P8 lacks streaming features or integrated audio. It focuses on projecting a decently bright image from HDMI-connected media players, laptops, tablets, and more with automatic keystone adjustment to square off the picture. For those seeking a starter HD projector on a tight budget, the P8 packs an outsized punch. Add speakers or a streaming stick, and you’ll be projecting over 100 inches of entertainment.
- Up to 120″ image size
- LED DLP projection (1080p max input)
- 600 LED lumens
- 38,000 hour lamp life
- Automatic keystone adjustment
- Interfaces: HDMI, USB, VGA, AV in
How to Choose the Best Home Theater Projector
Ready to transform any wall into a cinema screen with a home theater projector? Here are some key factors to consider while picking the right model:
Brightness: Projector brightness directly impacts how visible and vibrant images appear. Measurements are done in lumens, with regular home models ranging from 1500 to 4500 lumens today. Brightness needs depend on room size, ambient light, and projection surface. Darker spaces allow lower lumen models.
Resolution: Entry-level 1080p remains popular but 4K models are taking over, quadrupling the detail over 1080p resolutions. Support for 4K and even 8K input sources varies so check your projector specs. Many 4K models use pixel-shifting techniques and compression instead of native 4K chips which can reduce sharpness.
Contrast Ratio: High contrast produces richer colors, deeper blacks, and dynamic picture quality. But manufacturers use different measurement methods, so compare models directly rather than just checking specs. Aim for at least 15,000:1 or higher dynamic contrast ratios.
Projection Technology: Most home theater projectors utilize DLP (reflective micro-mirror chips) or 3LCD projectors (transmissive LCD panes) today. DLP projectors often excel at faster response times for gaming and sports while also offering smaller footprints. Meanwhile, LCD projectors can achieve higher brightness ratings with less motion artifacts but are usually larger and heavier overall.