Best home theater projector for 2021 – CNET

Even if you have a good TV or two, you can take your entertainment room to the next level with a home theater projector. With a home theater projector, you can get a huge screen size for a fraction of the price of a big TV
, which may be the best part. These days, you can find a model with good picture quality, high brightness in ambient light, excellent color and a top-notch contrast ratio for $1,000 or less. And when you want to take movie night outside, there are portable and outdoor projector options to consider.

Whether you’re looking to go the whole hog with a 4K projector, want something that’ll make HD sources look great, or need something you can use on the go, you’re going to find the best home theater projector on this list.

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The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is the best all-around home projector we’ve reviewed. Take an excellent contrast ratio, paired with impressive brightness and accurate color, all with better detail than what’s possible with a 1080p native resolution projector, and you’ve got all the pieces for a fantastic image. It’s not cheap, but it offers a significant step up in image quality over other projectors on this list (aside from the Sony, which is nearly double the price). It comes with HDMI 2.0 which allows you to do 4k60p. Extensive lens shift and a motorized zoom are the icing on the cake.

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We wouldn’t put this in the “cheap projector” bucket, but the BenQ HT2050A is definitely the best video projector you can get for the money. This modern projector produces a bright picture with great contrast and lifelike colors. It’s also one of the only comparable models with vertical lens shift, which makes setup a little easier. It supports most media players, gaming consoles, PCs, Macs, and mobile devices with input options such as HDMI, USB, and more. Plus, the projector offers low input lag of 16ms for immersive gaming.

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The Sony VPL-VW325ES is a thoroughbred among ponies, a Porsche among Volkswagens, an absolute stunner with a price tag to match. The contrast ratio, easily the most important aspect of overall picture quality, is better than the Epson 5050 and significantly better than any projector that doesn’t cost significantly more. And that’s saying something, since the Sony itself costs significantly more than any other projector on this list. It checks the box for gaming with the input lag reduction feature. And with brightness than can go up to 1500 Lumens, it works well in a bright room as well. If price is no object, the picture quality is incredible.

Read our Sony VPL-VW325ES review.

 

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The Optoma UHD35 is a modern projector that packs a lot into its tiny case and low price. It can throw a ton of light, its color wheel produces accurate colors and has great detail. The contrast ratio isn’t great, but it’s pretty average among 4K resolution projectors in this price range. And that price really is the UHD35’s biggest selling point. This 4K UHD projector offers great picture quality for only a few hundred dollars over the best 1080p projectors. It doesn’t offer lens shift or much in the way of a zoom, but if it fits in your room it’s a great way to get a 4K projector on a budget.

Read our Optoma UHD35 review.

 

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It’s smaller than a six-pack of Coke and equipped with Wi-Fi streaming, a surprisingly loud Bluetooth speaker and even a handle. It offers auto vertical and manual horizontal keystone correction. This portable mini projector powerhouse also has one thing many compact projectors lack: a built-in battery. It’s an all-in-one entertainment machine that’s darn cute, too.

Read our Anker Nebula Mars II Pro review.

 

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If you’re susceptible to the “rainbow effect” of moving edges on a DLP projector, then an LCD projector is for you. The Epson Home Cinema 2250 modern projector is perhaps the most flexible home theater projector on this list, touting enhanced setup capabilities like a wider zoom and lens shift. It’s also brighter than any other projector here and offers built-in Android TV streaming.

Read our Epson Home Cinema 2250 review.

 

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The LG HU810PW uses two lasers and a green phosphor to create some incredibly bright, ultracolorful images. This LG projector is one of the brightest projectors we’ve ever reviewed, producing 2,700 ANSI lumens, while at the same time offering some of the most impressively deep colors we’ve seen in a projector. The contrast ratio is quite poor, unfortunately, but the overall image is still good. That it’s relatively quiet and comes in a stylish case with ample lens shift is the icing on top.

Read our LG HU810PW review.

 

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The BenQ HT2050A above is a superior-all around performer, but if you’re a gamer looking for a specialized tool for the job, the TH685 gaming projector is worth a look. If you don’t mind sacrificing color accuracy, it can get a lot brighter than the HT2050A, ideal ambient light of brighter rooms, and gaming input lag is comparable.

Read our BenQ TH685 review.

 

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The M2 is about the size of a cake, and like the Anker above, it includes onboard streaming and a (less-powerful) speaker. Unlike the Anker, you’ll have to supply your own external battery, like a portable charger or power bank. We didn’t like its picture as much as the Anker’s either, but it does have one advantage: 1080p native resolution, which is important if you want a big image with no visible pixels on your projector screen.

Read our Viewsonic M2 review.

 

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The EF-12 is a small, highly portable projector in the same vein as the ViewSonic M2. It fits a slightly different niche, however. It requires AC power and has better sound — it even doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. The coolest part is that the EF-12’s light is created by Epson’s “MicroLaser Array Projection Technology.” Yep, laser beams. That means no lamps to replace or worry about lamp life.

Read our Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 review.

 

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