The Best Home Projector for a Living Room of 2023
- Home theater
Photo: Michael Murtaugh
We tested the Dangbei Mars Pro 4K laser projector and added it to the Competition section. We also updated What to look forward to with new projectors we plan to test.
While the price of big-screen TVs has fallen, front projection is still the most cost-effective way to enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows on a huge screen (100 inches or more)—but few people have a dedicated room for a true home theater projector.
If you’re looking for a projector that will work great in your living room, the Epson Home Cinema 3800 has the best combination of brightness, picture quality, and features. It has more light output than most similarly priced projectors do, yet it still offers great contrast to deliver a punchy, beautiful image.
Who this is for
These are for people who want a big-screen movie experience at home, and plan to use the projector in a brighter room.
We focused on projectors with high brightness, a better-than-1080p resolution, and support for high dynamic range video.
We measured each projector’s contrast, brightness, and color accuracy using color and light meters and Calman software.
Epson Home Cinema 3800
This projector combines high brightness with accurate color, great contrast, and good setup tools to fit in a variety of rooms.
$1,600* from Walmart
$1,600 from Amazon
$1,600 from Dell
*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,700.
The extremely bright Epson Home Cinema 3800 projector offers a clear step up in picture quality over budget 1080p projectors, and its native contrast ratio—the difference between the darkest and brightest parts of an image—is much higher than that of most projectors around the same price. It can’t compete with the best 4K home theater projectors in overall performance, but its high brightness makes it a better choice for use in a living room or family room where you can’t block out all the light. The Home Cinema 3800 also has accurate colors, producing lifelike greens, blues, reds, and everything in between. The image isn’t technically 4K and doesn’t look quite as sharp as what you can see from some competitors, but it’s still highly detailed. And this projector’s higher zoom (1.6x) and better lens shifting give you increased placement flexibility, which may matter more in a living room than in a dedicated theater room.
- Why you should trust us
- Who this is for
- How we picked and tested
- Our pick: Epson Home Cinema 3800
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Other good living-room projectors
- What to look forward to
- The competition
Why you should trust us
I’ve written about and reviewed projectors and TVs for 20 years for a variety of publications, including CNET, Home Theater magazine, and Sound & Vision magazine. I also wrote most of the early projector reviews for Wirecutter. I’m ISF and NIST trained, and I have my own test gear (including a spectroradiometer, luminance and illuminance meters, and test-pattern generators) to measure the accuracy of a projector. I’ve also used a projector as my main “TV” for over 15 years, so I understand what makes a good all-purpose living-room projector.
Who this is for
If you have the space and you’re looking to upgrade your entertainment system to get a more cinematic big-screen experience at home, but you don’t want to completely darken your room, a bright, living-room projector might be exactly what you need. Today’s projectors can offer significantly more light output than those from just a few years ago, which means they are no longer confined to basements or other dedicated theater rooms where you can completely control the amount of light.
The projectors in this guide deliver a step up in performance over the 1080p picks in our guide to the best budget projector for a home theater. They all have a better-than-1080p resolution (their makers call them 4K, but that’s debatable—which we’ll discuss) and support high dynamic range (HDR) video playback, just like the best TVs—and they’re often brighter than budget projectors (especially the smaller portable and pico-style models). They’re ideal for a mixed-use room, where you’ll watch, say, a movie on Saturday night and a football game on Sunday morning.
For those who want the absolute best, most theater-worthy performance—and have a fully light-controlled room—we recommend one of the options in our guide to the best 4K projector instead. High-end home theater projectors usually aren’t as bright overall, but they produce much deeper black levels and higher contrast ratios, both of which are evident in a dark room.
As bright as today’s living-room projectors can be, they still look better if you can minimize stray ambient light falling on the screen. Our picks below are bright enough that you can still see what’s going on if you have some light in the room, but the ability to lower the lights, draw curtains, or close blinds will improve the image quality. For instance, if you have a Super Bowl party, you can leave the room lights on so people aren’t tripping over one another, but you should still close the curtains. If you prefer to have more light in the room, you might consider buying a special ambient-light-rejecting (ALR) screen to mate with your living-room projector.
Other great projectors
How we picked and tested
In deciding what models to call in and test, we first compiled a list of newer projectors that could input a 4K signal, had HDR compatibility, and supported at least HDMI 2.0. We focused on the $1,000 to $3,000 price range, which covers the gap between our budget projector guide and our premium 4K projector guide. In this price range, most projectors have at least a greater-than-1080p resolution (more on this later). Since we were looking for projectors that didn’t need to be used in a dedicated home theater, we wanted at least a claimed 1,500 lumens of brightness, ideally more.
Using the above criteria, we called in contenders that had the features we wanted for a reasonable price. After adjusting their basic picture settings so that they would look their best, we checked their color and color-temperature accuracy using a spectroradiometer and Calman software, and we measured their contrast ratio using light meters. We then placed them side by side and connected them to the same source using a Monoprice video splitter. We watched a variety of 4K and HDR content on a 102-inch, 1.0-gain screen, blocking off one or two projectors at a time to see how they compared.
Arguably the most important attribute in judging picture quality is contrast ratio, which refers to how dark the darkest parts of the image are compared with how bright the brightest parts are. “Native” contrast ratio is what the projector’s image-creating chips and light source can do on their own, while “dynamic” contrast ratio is what the projector can do with the aid of an iris or lamp that automatically darkens the entire image for dark video content and brightens it for bright video content. Native is what you see at any given moment; dynamic is what’s possible across different scenes. Generally, native contrast is far more important. Dynamic contrast can, for example, help make black letterbox bars seem less noticeable during a dark scene, but the projector achieves this effect by making the entire image darker.
There’s no government-mandated way to measure contrast ratio, so manufacturers can generally make up whatever number they want on a spec sheet. This is why the measured numbers you see in our discussions below are much, much lower than what the manufacturers claim, as they would be with any projector measured in the real world.
I measured each projector in its most accurate picture mode, measuring its projection onto a 1.0-gain screen (luminance) as well as measuring directly at the lens itself (illuminance). I measured a full black image, and then with the same settings I measured a 100% white window (15% of the screen). I repeated these steps with different iris and lamp settings to get average native- and dynamic-contrast ratios.
I also tested each projector’s light output, aka brightness. I performed this test with each projector in its most accurate picture mode, since having a bright picture doesn’t mean much if it looks terrible. I also made note of how bright the projector could get for situations where maximum brightness is necessary. This typically meant using the projector’s Dynamic or Bright picture mode.
I also wanted to make sure the colors from each projector were accurate, per HDTV standards. We wanted reds looking red, greens looking green, and so on. A projector with accurate color looks far more realistic than one without. This aspect doesn’t have the top-line, headline-grabbing interest of brightness and contrast ratio, but it’s still very important. I measured each projector’s color with a spectroradiometer. All of our picks were quite good in this regard, at least in their accurate picture modes.
Additionally, I checked detail and noise using various test patterns and watching actual content. No projector in this price range is “true” 4K—as in, they don’t have imaging chips with 3840×2160 pixels. Instead, they rapidly shift the pixels they do have to produce multiple pixels on screen. This isn’t as big of a deal as it seems, and we’ll talk about it more in each pick’s discussion.
I also watched HDR content, though it’s important to note that projectors can’t display HDR as well as TVs can.
Lastly, I checked the projectors’ input lag, a test important to gamers as it determines how quickly pressing a button on a controller results in the action happening on screen. Any game that requires precise timing—be it a first-person shooter, a platformer, or a racing game—will be less annoying, and you’ll score better, on a display with low input lag.
One thing we didn’t factor into our decision was audio quality. Each projector we tested has built-in speakers, but they’re small and low powered. Since we assume these projectors are intended for a more elaborate setup than an occasional movie night, we think they’re best paired with a receiver and speakers or a soundbar.
Our pick: Epson Home Cinema 3800
Photo: Michael Murtaugh
Epson Home Cinema 3800
This projector combines high brightness with accurate color, great contrast, and good setup tools to fit in a variety of rooms.
$1,600* from Walmart
$1,600 from Amazon
$1,600 from Dell
*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,700.
The Epson Home Cinema 3800’s combination of high brightness, great image quality, and good placement flexibility make it the best living-room projector for most people. Its exceptional brightness allows you to enjoy a massive image, a tremendously bright image, or some compromise between the two. Although the Home Cinema 3800 didn’t deliver the sharpest-looking picture in our tests, the image was still quite detailed. The projector offers low input lag for gaming, and it supports the HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range formats. The Home Cinema 3800 also has better setup tools than similarly priced competitors, as well as a built-in speaker and Bluetooth support to wirelessly send audio to an external sound system.
One of the Home Cinema 3800’s biggest strengths—and the main reason it works so well in a variety of rooms, even those without absolute light control—is its extreme brightness. In its most accurate picture mode, Cinema mode, the Home Cinema 3800 put out 57.44 foot-lamberts (196.8 nits) on a 102-inch, 1.0-gain screen. That translates to roughly 1,772 lumens. If you’re willing to forgo color and color-temperature accuracy, the Dynamic picture mode puts out a remarkable 93.4 fL (roughly 2,882 lumens). This isn’t the mode you’re likely to use most of the time, but it’ll do for watching the occasional midday sporting event in a well-lit room. For comparison, movie theaters are often 15 fL, and TVs from just a few years ago would have been considered bright if they were more than 50 fL (though modern HDR TVs are far, far brighter).
So, yeah, the Home Cinema 3800 is exceptionally bright—the brightest projector we tested in this group, and sometimes almost too bright (like, for watching movies at night in the dark). However, you can always lower the brightness. The Eco lamp mode, which is not only quieter but also better for lamp longevity, is roughly 30% darker. In this mode, the Home Cinema 3800 is the same brightness as the BenQ TK850i in its brightest mode and only slightly dimmer than the Optoma UHD35.
The Home Cinema 3800 has two HDMI inputs, plus a USB port that can power a streaming stick. You also get custom-installation-friendly connections such as an RS-232 port and a 12-volt trigger. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
Different projector manufacturers use different technologies to produce an image. Pretty much all projectors priced under $2,000 use DLP or LCD technology. The Home Cinema 3800 was the only LCD projector in our test group; the others were all single-chip DLP designs. In this price range, LCD projectors generally have better contrast ratios than DLP projectors do, and the Home Cinema 3800 is no exception. (For further detail, read more about the difference between LCD and DLP technology.) Not only was the Home Cinema 3800’s contrast ratio the best of the projectors we tested for this guide, but it was better than that of nearly all the budget 1080p projectors I’ve tested, as well. I measured an average native contrast of 1456:1. That may not seem like a lot, but most less-expensive 1080p and 4K projectors have a contrast of less than 1000:1. This means the projector can produce deeper shadows while at the same time generating bright highlights, so the image has more depth and punch. Although none of the projectors we tested for this guide looked washed out, the other models’ images did look flatter than the Home Cinema 3800’s. Even the BenQ TK850i, which had the second-best contrast ratio in our test, measured about 30% lower in contrast ratio.
The Home Cinema 3800’s out-of-the-box color accuracy in its Cinema mode was also excellent, the best of the projectors we tested for this guide. The primary colors of blue and green were spot-on accurate, with red being only very slightly orange. The secondary colors of cyan, magenta, and orange were also accurate. The result was a very natural-looking image, whether I was looking at tomatoes, grass, or cloudless skies. According to our measurements, the Home Cinema 3800 also had an accurate color temperature, which indicates how cool (bluish) or warm (reddish) the overall image looks: Darker images were right on the D6500 standard, while brighter images were very slightly cool but not enough to be noticeable when we were watching actual content.
No projector shines bright enough, nor has the dynamic range, to do HDR the way it’s meant to be done. However, the Home Cinema 3800 does a decent job of converting an HDR image to something it can display correctly, without overly clipping any highlights that are too bright. There isn’t really any performance benefit to this, but unlike many less-expensive “HDR-capable” projectors, the Home Cinema 3800 doesn’t add noticeable processing artifacts that make an HDR image difficult to watch.
Epson’s remote is backlit and offers lots of buttons to take you directly to different inputs and picture adjustments. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
The Home Cinema 3800 is small enough to set on a coffee table and light enough to move around easily (though you can also put it in a ceiling mount). Lens shift of any kind is rare in this price range, so the presence of both horizontal (±24 degrees) and vertical (±60 degrees) lens shifting makes the Home Cinema 3800 practically a unicorn. This functionality, combined with the 1.6x zoom lens, gives you a wider range of placement options in comparison with the other projectors we tested, including putting the projector on a shelf or stand behind a couch.
Unlike some competitors, the Home Cinema 3800 doesn’t have any built-in video-streaming services, but it does have two HDMI 2.0 inputs and a USB connection that can output 2 amps of power, so it can run a streaming stick if you want to connect one directly. It also includes dual 10-watt speakers, an analog audio output, and Bluetooth support (with aptX).
If you’re a gamer, note that the Home Cinema 3800 had a low input lag of 28.4 milliseconds in our measurements. This means there’s less of a delay between when you press a button on a controller and when that action appears on screen. As far as projectors go, this is one of the lowest input-lag figures you can find.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Like most “4K” projectors in this price range, the Epson Home Cinema 3800 doesn’t have a true 3840×2160 resolution. Instead, Epson uses what it calls “4K Enhancement (1920 x 1080 x 2)” technology, which “shifts each pixel to achieve double Full HD resolution on screen.” There’s a bit of wordplay in that claim, since true 4K is actually quadruple the resolution of Full HD, not double. On the Home Cinema 3800, the result is an image that is unquestionably detailed but, when viewed side by side with images from the DLP projectors we tested, less sharp. This isn’t as big of a deal as it may seem, since the Home Cinema 3800’s improved contrast and color make for a better-looking image overall.
The lamp life isn’t as long as that of the other projectors in this guide. Epson rates it at 3,500 hours in its brightest mode and 5,000 hours in its dimmest (though still very bright) mode, Eco mode. If you watch four hours of video per night, for example, the Eco mode will give you over three years of viewing before you’d need to replace the lamp, which as of this writing costs $100. It’s less expensive than most projector lamps, so the fact that it doesn’t last as long isn’t a big concern.
Other good living-room projectors
If you want a 4K laser projector (and are willing to pay more to get it): The Optoma UHZ50 is a step up in picture quality from our pick, along with the commensurate step up in price. With two times the resolution of the Epson Home Cinema 3800, plus the inherently sharper image you get from 4K DLP technology, the detail is excellent. The laser+phosphor light engine produces a bright, colorful image. It also means you’ll never need to replace a lamp, and it allows for fast power-on and -off, more like a TV. The UHZ50 has 1.3x zoom and a small amount of vertical lens shift—but the Epson is still more flexible in these areas. Overall the UHZ50’s image quality is better, but not as much as the price implies. You can read more about it in my CNET review.
What to look forward to
There are several new living-room projectors that we plan to test:
BenQ has announced the TK860i, which is a lamp-based 4K projector with a claimed brightness of 3,300 lumens. It uses BenQ’s new HDR-PRO technology to improve contrast and HDR tone mapping, and it supports the HDR10+ format. The projector comes with an Android TV dongle and will cost $1,800 when it starts selling in June.
Epson’s Home Cinema 2350 is a smart, gaming-oriented projector with built-in Android TV, a 120 Hz refresh rate, and low input lag under 20 milliseconds. This model is a step down from our current top pick, the 3800; it uses the same PRO-UHD pixel-shifting technology for a better-than-1080p resolution but has a lower claimed light output of 2,800 lumens.
Optoma has introduced the UHD35x and short-throw UHD35STx. (The UHD35x replaces our former pick, the now-discontinued UHD35.) Both versions are 4K DLP projectors with a claimed light output of 3,600 lumens, a 240 Hz refresh rate, and low input lag of 4 milliseconds for 1080p video.
ViewSonic’s X2-4K short-throw projector is a 4K DLP model with an LED light source and a claimed brightness of 2,900 ANSI lumens. ViewSonic heralds this projector as being “designed for Xbox,” with Xbox-exclusive resolution and refresh-rate combinations, plus 4.2 ms input lag and a 240 Hz refresh rate for smoother gameplay. It is due out in July with a selling price of $1,600.
The Dangbei Mars Pro is a value-oriented 4K laser projector with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and speakers and a supplied Android TV dongle. It’s a solid performer for the price: The image is sharp, bright, and clean; the form factor is smaller than average; and the fan noise is minimal. But in our tests, it was just average in its contrast ratio, black level, and color accuracy, and there are no advanced picture adjustments to fine-tune the image—not even color-temperature presets. While this model is highly affordable for a 4K laser projector, we’d still like to see more refinement for roughly $1,400.
We compared the LG HU70LA directly with our picks, and it was simply too dim and a little too expensive—but it’s still a very good projector. Like many other single-chip DLP projectors we’ve tested, the HU70LA has a contrast ratio that’s quite low. Its LEDs do let the HU70LA create far deeper, more vibrant colors than our picks can produce, so in our tests it almost held its own against the far brighter competition, especially with HDR content. It has streaming apps built in and even has an antenna connection (it’s the only projector we’ve seen with one). Overall, if you hate the idea of replacing a lamp or you want deeper colors than what’s possible with the other projectors we tested, you may want to check out the HU70LA.
We also tested the pricier LG HU810PW, which uses two lasers and a phosphor to create light. The result is a fairly quiet, bright projector with great color. However, the contrast ratio is well below average for a DLP projector. So with anything but fully bright scenes, the HU810PW looks washed out and flat. For a little less money, the Optoma UHZ50 4K laser projector (mentioned in the Other good living-room projectors section above) offers a better picture overall, though with slightly less zoom and lens-shift functionality. You can read more about it in my review at CNET.
The soon-to-be-discontinued BenQ TK850i was an above-average performer in our tests, but the Epson outperformed it in brightness, contrast, and color accuracy. The DLP-based TK850i looked far sharper than the Home Cinema 3800, especially with motion. The 850i is less convenient for most people, compared with the Epson, as it offers only ±30 degrees of vertical lens shift and 1.3x zoom.
The soon-to-be-discontinued BenQ HT3550i (which I tested independently from the work I did for this guide) is the home theater counterpart to the TK850i and has many similar features and specs. It offers excellent color (far deeper than that of the TK850i) but does so at the expense of light output, which makes it far dimmer. Color is great and important, but the other projectors here offer very good—and usually highly accurate—color while being much brighter for living-room use.
The Optoma UHD35 is a former pick that offered good brightness and detail, but had lower contrast and fewer setup tools than our top pick. It has been discontinued and replaced by the UHD35x, which we plan to test.
We did not test the Epson Home Cinema 3200, which is a cheaper sibling to the 3800 and has a similar design. It’s rated at 100 fewer lumens, which isn’t a big deal, but it has only 40% of the rated contrast ratio. Although manufacturer contrast-ratio numbers are never accurate, that much of a difference and the lower price imply that this projector doesn’t offer the image quality of the 3800. If you can’t afford the 3800 and don’t want a DLP projector, the 3200 is worth considering.
We also did not test the older and more expensive Epson Home Cinema 4010 because it uses HDMI 1.4 and is not as bright as the 3800 for living-room use.
We dismissed the ViewSonic X100-4K because its claimed brightness was below our minimum criterion of 1,500 ANSI lumens. Like the LG HU70LA, this DLP projector uses an LED light source instead of a traditional lamp, and it does not appear to be bright enough for living-room use. Plus, reviews we’ve seen say its overall performance is average at best.
This article was edited by Adrienne Maxwell and Grant Clauser.
Meet your guide
The Best Projectors
by Wirecutter Staff
We reviewed every type of projector to find the best projector to fit your needs, whether it’s for a home theater or a home office.
The Best Gear for Building Your Home Theater
by Grant Clauser
We researched and tested to find the best-looking and best-sounding home theater equipment that will take your personal setup from functional to enjoyable.
The Best 4K Projector
by Adrienne Maxwell
The Epson LS11000 4K laser projector delivers a big, beautiful image and has most of the features you need.
Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).
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AAXA P8 Portable Projector Review: Teeny Price, Tiny Size, Totally Bright
$225 at Walmart
$224 at Best Buy
$249 at B&H Photo-Video
- Not powered via USB
- 540p resolution
- A few bugs in the menus
The AAXA P8 is small and cheap even compared to other portable projectors I’ve reviewed. The Nebula Capsule is almost as minuscule but it’s a whopping 20% more expensive. Impressively, the P8 has a full-size HDMI input, Bluetooth and a headphone jack. Disappointingly, it’s not powered by USB, so you have to use the included power adapter, which adds bulk to an otherwise minuscule package. It also lacks a battery. The image quality is fine, given its price and size, but like its bigger brother, the P6X, light output is its main strength.
The P8 is a lot brighter than it has any right to be. I measured 230 lumens, which is around half what the P6X puts out but a huge 2.5x what I measured with the Capsule. Plus, there are a handful of streaming apps built in, which is definitely convenient. So overall, for the price, you get a big image from a tiny, tiny projector.
- Native resolution: 960×540 pixels
- HDR-compatible: No
- 4K-compatible: No
- 3D-compatible: No
- Lumens spec: 430
- Zoom: No
- Lens shift: No
- Lamp life (Normal mode): ~30,000 hours
The P8 is not an HD resolution projector. It’s barely more than standard definition with 960×540 pixels. As a result, the pixels can be quite obvious and visible with all but the smallest of projected images. Today the cheapest TVs have at least HD resolution but projectors are a different animal. Given the size and price of the P8 it’s neither unexpected nor a deal breaker.
AAXA claims 430 lumens of light output, and I measured approximately 230 on the P8. To put that in perspective, the similarly sized and priced Anker Nebula Capsule puts out 85, while the more expensive Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 only managed 162. The P8 is even brighter than the more expensive Samsung Freestyle, which puts out 197 lumens despite its $800 price tag. The bigger P6X puts out 437.
There’s no lens shift or zoom: Focus is achieved via a small wheel on the side.
The LEDs are rated for 30,000 hours. You’re far more likely to lose the P8 between the sofa cushions before the LEDs die out.
Ins and outs
The AAXA P8’s back panel, with an HDMI input and headphone output. On the side are the USB inputs.
- HDMI inputs: 1
- USB ports: 2 (A and C)
- Audio output: Headphone output/Bluetooth
- Internet: 2.4GHz/5GHz
- Remote: Not backlit
There’s a full-size HDMI input, which just makes the P8 easier to live with compared to some projectors that use micro- or mini-HDMI and require an adapter. Surprisingly, for the size and price, there are a handful of built-in streaming apps. Netflix and YouTube are the headliners, joined by Twitch, Vimeo, Haystack News and Tubi.
If you dig into the P8’s menus you can find the much-dreaded Aptoide store. This is a semi-offshoot of the Google Play Store: There are some apps you’ll recognize and a lot that you won’t. Worse, the majority of them don’t work as you’d expect. Aptoide is common among lower-priced projectors.
Like all inexpensive projectors it uses a mobile version of Netflix, more like what you’d find on your phone. This means the interface is less user-friendly using a remote, which you have to use since there’s no AAXA app. It also means you can’t cast to the projector from your phone since Netflix thinks the projector itself is a source. So, oddly, you could theoretically cast FROM the projector TO another display. I didn’t test this, but that’s what it says on screen. It says a lot of things on screen, like other error messages, pop-ups that are difficult to get rid of, and more. I did, eventually, get it running, so it’s in there. Just don’t expect the smooth experience like you get on most other devices.
YouTube works as you’d hope, though, letting you pick what you want on your phone and cast it over to the projector (oddly, labeled “ATV_229” not P8 or AAXA).
Action shot of me moving projectors around my lab. Which is yellow.
There’s a single 2-watt driver. I didn’t expect much deep bass and room-filling sound out of something the size of a tweeter but this speaker is pretty quiet. Fortunately there’s Bluetooth or a headphone jack if you prefer analog, so you can add an external speaker (which I highly recommend).
Another disappointment is the inability to power the projector using USB. Instead, it comes with a standard power adapter wall wart. There’s a USB-C input on the side, but it doesn’t power the unit. A projector this small, powered off a USB battery pack, would be amazing. I’m sure we’ll get something like that eventually but in the meantime you’ll need to lug the adapter around to use the P8..
The tiny remote is as long as one of my fingers and squeezes in all the necessary buttons, but hard to use in the dark as they’re all the same size and shape.
Picture quality comparisons
I pitted the P8 against the AAXA P6X and the Anker Nebula Capsule. The Capsule is a likely competitor for the P8, at roughly the same price and more or less a similar size. One’s a cube, the other’s a cylinder, but both are “pocket sized.” The P6X is both a little larger and a little more expensive. It’s in the price ballpark, though, and really it’s only slightly larger. I connected them to a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and compared them side-by-side-by-side on a 102-inch 1.0-gain screen.
The P6X is so much brighter than the other two it almost seems like a different class of projector. It has 437 lumens vs the P8’s 230. The Capsule is barely visible in comparison, with only 85 lumens. In fairness, the P6X is more expensive and larger. Larger being relative when we’re talking tiny projectors. Picture quality isn’t that much different between the AAXAs, other than the brightness. Which is to say, it’s not great, but given the price and size, not unacceptable.
Focusing, pun intended, on the P8 and Capsule, the comparison is closer… eventually. The P8’s picture quality out of the box is abysmal. It’s so over-sharpened it looks like the “before” image in an exposé about the evils of edge enhancement. Thankfully, there’s a modicum of picture adjustments, something that can’t be said of the Capsule. Switching to the User picture mode and dialing the Sharpness down from “cartoon” to “this is as good as SD looks” does wonders for the overall image.
With that done, and the color temp in the warm mode, it gives the Capsule a run for its money. While the Capsule doesn’t have any picture adjustments, it looks fine out of the box. It could look better, I’m sure, with some tweaking, but we’ll never know. Does the inclusion of picture settings mean the P8 can look better than the Capsule? Sort of. More that it brings them in line and they’re both equally “off” just in different ways. Colors aren’t accurate. Color temperature isn’t either. It’s not quite cartoonish, but neither look particularly realistic either.
One unexpected aspect of the P8’s performance is its contrast ratio. I measured an average contrast ratio of 558:1, which is significantly better than anything under $1000 that I’ve measured in recent memory. So it looks far less washed out than the Capsule, which averages just 192:1. So that, combined with the added brightness, does push the P8 in front in terms of overall image quality.
Do these videophile particulars matter for sub-$300 projectors? Probably not. I’d say other aspects are more important, which brings us to what I think are the two most important differences between the Capsule and the P8: brightness and batteries.
The P8’s brightness is borderline remarkable for its size and price. It puts far more expensive projectors to shame. At ~50-inches this is bright enough to see with some lights on. Even at 100 inches, it’s a usable image. Other than the P6X I don’t know of another projector this size that can do that. I’m not saying you should use an inaccurate, 540p projector as your main TV… but for $250 you could do worse.
The Capsule can’t compete on brightness, but it does have a battery. The P8 does not. That’s a game changer, or maybe a different product category. You can put the Capsule in a backpack and watch a movie on the side of a tent. I think, for a lot of people, that’s the main use for a projector this small. The P8 just can’t do that — not without a very long extension cord. The P6X sure can, though, for a bit more money and a larger unit.
Tiniest of the tiny
The P8 is literally a pocket projector. You can fit it in your pocket. But it’s far brighter than other projectors this size. It even has built-in Netflix and YouTube as an added bonus. I wish it recharged via USB-C, making it truly off-the-grid portable. But if off-the-grid portable is what you want, the P6X is only a little bit more expensive (and larger), or the Capsule is just as small but far dimmer than both.
It’s a pretty specific niche the P8 fits into: tiny size, tiny price, huge brightness and no battery. An anomalous amalgam of attributes that somehow works. It’s hard not to like 230 lumens for less than $250.
rating of projectors in 2023 [TOP 10]
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Many fans of high-quality pictures while watching a movie often face the problem when a standard TV screen is not enough to get the most out of the movie. A TV with a larger diagonal can save, but only for a while. It is possible that you should pay attention to a device such as a projector. With it, you can achieve a pretty good effect.
A fairly large number of these products are presented in household appliances stores. Models differ significantly from each other in their performance characteristics and a number of other parameters. Let’s first deal with what you should pay attention to when purchasing such a device, and then we will turn to specific models.
Rating summary: (hide/show)
Highlights of home theater projectors
Thanks to the projector, you can get a picture of a truly huge diagonal and excellent clarity. In addition, it is much safer to use such a product compared to a television panel, since it will be much more problematic to drop it purely physically. The main element of the projector is the lamp. In any case, it should be remembered that it has a limited period of operation, so after some time it will have to be replaced.
Today, most often you can find models with gas discharge lamps of the UHP (Ultra High Performance) type. It functions quite simply – gas is pumped into the flask under significant pressure (usually xenon or mercury is used), and there are also electrodes that, when voltage is applied to them, make the gas glow. Such products produce high-intensity light and provide excellent color reproduction. However, during operation, the brightness will begin to gradually decrease – this becomes noticeable after about 2 thousand hours of operation.
There are projectors equipped with LED or laser light sources. Their service life is much longer – about 20 thousand hours. However, their brightness is lower compared to HID products, they may start to flicker, and projectors based on such lamps are much more noisy. Be sure to pay attention to the resolution of the products. The minimum for a small room should be about 720p, but it is optimal to give preference to Full HD format – such projectors will not cost very much, but at the same time they will give a quite decent picture.
When choosing models to be included in our ranking of the best projectors in 2023 for home cinema, we were guided by these basic requirements, and also paid attention to the value of products, and did not bypass user reviews. For each model, we tried to collect as much information as possible so that you can accurately determine which product is best for you.
Best Home Theater Projectors
10. Acer H6517ST
This product is a short throw product that can capture a hundred inch diagonal image from just 120 cm away. Overall dimensions are very compact – 314x223x93 mm. The case is made of high-quality plastic, which is equipped with stiffeners, the corners are rounded, the weight of the projector is only 2.5, so if necessary, you can easily move from one room to another. The lens is quite large. A single-chip DLP projector is used as the central processing unit, which provides Full HD resolution. The lamp has a brightness of 3,200 lumens and achieves a very high contrast ratio of 10,000:1.
The interface is quite wide – there are two sockets for connecting HDMI cables, a USB connector, a traditional composite video input and an audio output with a standard 3. 5 mm jack. Thanks to this, you can get rid of searching for an external audio system. The product supports 3D video playback, but the corresponding glasses are not included, so they must be purchased separately. The three-dimensional picture has a high level of realism, excellent reproduction of colors and detailing of objects. All dynamic scenes are reproduced very clearly. The built-in audio system itself is not too loud, so it is best to purchase additional speakers. The bass line in it is rather weak. The image output delay is only 20ms, which allows you to use the projector as a gaming monitor.
- Reasonably priced;
- Good image size;
- High brightness level;
- Rich connector interface;
- Low time delay.
- No optical zoom.
9. Canon LV-WX320
Very bright, compact and light weight product. At the same time, according to the manufacturer, the products are designed not only for home use, but also in educational or office institutions. With this projector it is possible to provide a picture of very high quality. This projector will be an excellent solution for people who are looking for affordable and portable products. The base resolution is 1280×800 pixels, aspect ratio is 16:10. Brightness and saturation are provided by a lamp with a luminous flux of 3200 lumens, a contrast ratio of 10,000: 1. In the manufacture of this device, DLP panel technology was used, due to which it was possible to almost completely get rid of the so-called “lattice effect” that often occurs on devices belonging to this price range.
The picture that appears on the wall is characterized by a high level of geometric accuracy due to the possibility of correcting distortions both in the vertical and horizontal planes in the range of up to 30 degrees. There is a 1.1x manual optical zoom system. This function performs accurate and clear projection even in a rather limited space. Color correction is provided, due to which it is possible to provide a bright and clear image and good naturalness of color. There are quite a lot of connectors, and the projector can even be connected to a computer network at home or office. There is a wireless control module, due to which it has become even more convenient to adjust the settings – through a special application for a smartphone or tablet.
- Compact dimensions and light weight;
- Pretty decent built-in speaker;
- Optical zoom available;
- Distortion adjustable.
- Not easy to find on sale.
8. LG HF80JS
This is the first model in our list of the best home theater projectors to feature a light source based on laser phosphor technology. This approach provides instant inclusion of the product, besides, it turned out to be quite economical in terms of power consumption. The lamp is designed for a guaranteed life of about 20,000 hours. The lighting energy reserve is decent – 2 thousand lumens. This indicator will be quite enough even to play movies in high quality in conditions of intense electric or natural light. The shape of the case is quite original and implies a desktop installation rather than a ceiling mount. The model is compact – 14×11 cm. In its category, the design is considered the lightest in terms of weight.
This was achieved through the use of an external power supply, which has a decent weight. The picture is formed due to the installed DLP matrix, an optical zoom of 1.1x is provided. At the bottom of the case there is a socket for mounting on a tripod. All the necessary connectors are present here, and the device is also equipped with a Wi-Fi wireless module, so it will be possible to transfer an image from a computer directly via this channel, bypassing unnecessary wires. Setting up and managing the model is quite simple. The kit also comes with a remote control, which is more like a spatial mouse. The projector runs on the WebOS operating system, which is used in Smart TVs.
- High brightness level;
- Low energy consumption;
- Wireless module included;
- Small dimensions;
- Long service life.
- Quite expensive.
7. Epson EH-TW7300
A very stylish unit: the case is made of reliable matte white plastic, on which various kinds of pollution, including dust, are practically invisible. The lens niche is equipped with a golden matte finish. The device is characterized by a symmetrical design. Ventilation grilles are located on the front side, some users find that such a solution worsens the appearance of the product. Close to the two physical buttons is a cover that houses a few more buttons that allow you to quickly set up the product without resorting to the remote control. On the back side there are all the necessary connectors for connecting external devices, including an Ethernet cable jack. The projector does not have to be hung from the ceiling at all – there are rubberized height-adjustable legs on the bottom.
The control panel is made of matt black plastic. It has ergonomic dimensions, fits easily into any hand, the buttons are backlit, so it is comfortable to use even in total darkness. The menu is quite strict, decorated in black and gray tones. All lens controls have electromechanical drives. The picture is quite clear, it does not even have to be adjusted. Despite the support for 4K resolution, the projector is almost silent. The manufacturer recommends placing this structure at a distance from the surface where the image will be projected, in the range of three to six meters.
- Supports the highest definition image format;
- Wi-Fi wireless adapter can be connected;
- Very quiet in all modes;
- Excellent image brightness;
- The remote control is equipped with an LED light for easy use in the dark.
- Not very good location of the ventilation grilles.
6. Sony VPL-VW550ES
Despite the fact that this model has been on the market for about 3 years, it continues to enjoy wide popularity largely due to the use of the latest technologies and the support of the most advanced content. The projector has a small overall dimensions, can be placed in a black or white case. These moments make it almost completely invisible in a residential environment. The noise level is very low. The lamp is capable of operating for about 6,000 hours in Low Mode. Brightness figures are quite decent – 1800 lumens with a dynamic contrast ratio of 350,000: 1. Most of the technologies used in this projector are unique, especially in relation to 4K resolution. The projector is compatible with the well-known HDR standard used in content formats such as Ultra HD Blu-Ray or Over The-Top.
The optical zoom factor is 2.1x, so the device can be placed in almost any room, regardless of its size and ceiling height. With this projector, you can achieve the feeling of a real cinema. In total, there are immediately nine options for image modes and over 10 color modes. The lens is equipped with an electric motor that allows you to move it in the desired direction.
- Very quiet operation;
- Calibrates the picture in automatic mode;
- Strict enough looks;
- The menu is carefully thought out – convenient and fully Russified.
- Very high cost;
- There is a noticeable delay in the output of the projected picture.
5. Everycom X7
Very compact and not too expensive product. The case is made of glossy plastic, can be painted in white or black. All control buttons are on top. There is also a manual rotating type mechanism that allows you to adjust the picture. The interface for connecting external devices is standard, supplemented with a slot for SD cards, there is a TV tuner. From below there are legs that allow you to install the structure on almost any surface, there are two mounts for tripods. There is also a loudspeaker grille at the bottom, capable of producing a fairly high-quality and balanced sound. The remote control is made of black matte plastic, the buttons are rubberized, they do not have backlighting, but they are located at a decent distance from each other.
The projector can be used in a completely stand-alone mode – as the most ordinary TV, it is permissible to connect it to a personal computer. The image output delay is small – it is quite suitable for gamers. The design is based on the Android platform, which allows you to download various applications from the Play Market store. There is a zoom function, the user can connect a smartphone or tablet through the built-in Bluetooth module. Support for playing 3D movies is also available, but you still have to purchase glasses. It works very quietly, does not interfere with viewing content at all. The user interface is completely Russified. Overall dimensions are small, weight is also small. The LED lamp has a lifespan of approximately 20,000 hours. The brightness of the light flux reaches about 1800 lumens with a contrast ratio of 10,000 : 1.
- Pretty good built-in speakers;
- Support for connecting devices wirelessly;
- Significant stock of working resources;
- Acceptable cost;
- Supports almost all existing audio and video formats.
- After a while, the cooler may start to make a little noise, but this can be easily solved by lubricating it.
4. Vivitek Qumi Q6
One of the most compact projectors in our review today – its dimensions allow you to install it almost anywhere: it is absolutely not necessary to hang it from the ceiling or mount it to the wall, it is enough to put it on the table. The product is characterized by an attractive and very stylish appearance. The body is made of plastic. The top panel is mirror-smooth and has an embossed pattern. Ventilation grilles are located at the ends of the model, which does not spoil its appearance at all. The lens is protected from damage by a small sliding cover. The control buttons located on the top panel are touch-sensitive, the response is instant. Behind is a sufficient number of connectors and a power button. The remote control has small overall dimensions, is made of high-quality plastic, the buttons are physical, made of dense rubber, they are pressed until a characteristic click.
The focal length of this projector is fixed and cannot be changed. The product is based on the Android platform. The interface is friendly, intelligent, it will not be difficult to deal with it. To work with multimedia content, you can use both regular players, but it’s best to download the player that the user is most used to. The projector supports not only the connection of standard flash drives, but also hard drives of various sizes. The device is capable of operating with FAT32, exFAT, NTFS file systems, folder names made in the Cyrillic layout are not distorted. There is a built-in office, so you can view a variety of documents without connecting to a computer.
- Very long lamp life;
- Stylish and neat appearance;
- Sufficient number of interfaces of various kinds;
- Sound can be output via Bluetooth.
- Fixed focal length;
- The device’s cooling system is rather noisy.
Vivitek Qumi Q6
3. BenQ MW571
Closes the top three in our review of the best projectors for home theater products from a Taiwanese company, which has the most powerful luminous flux in this rating, amounting to as much as 3200 lumens. Unlike some models, the product operates quite quietly. Another important point is a very powerful acoustic system for this product, the power of which is 10 watts. Of course, it will not be able to compete with specialized equipment, but it provides sound quality at a quite decent level. The detail of shadows and dark shades is very high. The contrast ratio is 13,000 : 1. This makes the design versatile – it can be used not only in a home theater environment, but also for installation in an office for presentations and meetings.
The case is made of plastic, has a rough coating like a soft touch. Fingerprints and all sorts of dirt are completely invisible on it. There are a decent number of interfaces, there is even an Ethernet connector, RS-232, audio and video inputs, USB jacks. This equipment has an optical image zoom function that allows you to change the image size without touching the projector itself or moving it closer or farther.
- General purpose;
- There are all necessary interfaces for comfortable work;
- Long service life;
- Original appearance;
- High brightness lamp.
- After some time, the speakers may start to emit a little noise.
2. XGIMI h3
Despite the fact that the product was released by a not very well-known company, users speak very favorably about its performance, so we decided to give it the second place in the rating. The design of the product is quite strict. All panels are made of black plastic with a matte finish. There is a lattice casing, which is made of aluminum alloy, it gives the product extra strength. From the front side, you can find not only a niche with a lens installed in it, but also the eye of a video camera. The decorative grill hides the ventilation holes. On the top panel you can find a touch strip responsible for adjusting the volume of the speakers and a few more control buttons. The passive radiator is located at the bottom and acts as a subwoofer that increases the purity of the bass lines. The projector can be mounted on a tripod.
External power supply, without it the device weighs within 2.5 kg with overall dimensions of 21.5x21x13.5 cm. Connection interfaces are all digital, except for the headphone output. Each of them is signed, a Bluetooth channel is provided through which you can connect an external audio system, keyboard, mouse and other equipment. The remote control is small, ergonomic, its body is plastic, there are not too many buttons, but they all have excellent functionality. The focal length here is also fixed, but there is a digital image reduction function.
- Very long life LED lamp;
- Stylish and very beautiful appearance;
- Excellent sound quality;
- Virtually silent operation;
- Handy remote control.
- Decent display delay time.
1. LG PF1000U
The leader in the rating of the best home theater projectors is a fairly original model. The case is made of plastic, the coating is silvery matte, the coating of the product is not easily soiled, it resists scratches and other physical damage well. Each speaker is located in its own box, so the sound is directional, which improves its quality. It is balanced, none of the frequencies are pronounced, but they are heard clearly. The operation indicator does not glow too brightly, so this projector is quite suitable for installation in the bedroom. The image produced by the lens first falls on a curvilinear mirror, which will transmit the image to the screen. This section is made of plastic with a silver color. The mirror is durable, resistant to scratches, but it is still recommended to clean it as carefully as possible.
The set of connectors is the most ordinary, there are even RCA connectors, with which you can even connect a traditional VCR that works with VHS cassettes to the projector. The menu is Russified, the font is not too large, but quite readable. The image can be adjusted depending on your requests and needs. If no signal is being input to the projector, it will turn off automatically after a while. There is a built-in TV tuner that can work with both analog and digital signals. The multimedia player is very convenient not only in terms of actual use, but also due to the fact that it is equipped with an advanced codec package, so it is able to work with almost any file format.
- High brightness LED lamp;
- Easy to install and use;
- Geometric distortion of the projected surface is virtually undistorted when displayed on a wall;
- Small overall dimensions and weight;
- Built-in TV tuner;
- Full menu in Russian;
- Can receive images and other signals wirelessly.
- The buttons on the remote control do not have a backlight.
In conclusion, a useful video
Well, our review is over. If you still have some questions in 2023 on a particular model, then you can always ask us in the comments to this article. We will try to promptly respond to them and provide you with all the information you need.
【Best Projectors for a Bright Room】
One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Projector Reviews is “Which projector should I choose for my bright room?” While the answer will ultimately depend on your needs beyond brightness, we’ve compiled a list of five priced home entertainment projectors that will beat ambient light out of the water for 2018. But first, what is “ambient light”?
Ambient light is a term that refers to the light that hits your screen from sources within your viewing space. This could be overhead lighting, such as a recessed or ceiling light, a bedside table lamp, or light streaming in from another room or through the sides of your blinds or curtains. There are several ways to deal with ambient light, which we will discuss in the next section.
1How to deal with stray light
2Best light room designs
How to deal with stray light
When light hits the screen, the projector the image being imaged becomes less saturated, dimmer, and generally more difficult to comprehend. At worst, dark scenes become impossible to see, and bright scenes don’t have the sheen they would normally have in a completely dark room. Nothing good! Fortunately, there are many ways to solve this problem.
Perhaps the first and most obvious way to overcome the effect of ambient light is to purchase a super-bright projector. In most cases, 1,500 – 2,500 lumens will be enough for a bright room if you have at least moderate control over the ambient light – that is, the ability to draw curtains or blinds and turn off the lights.
However, the higher the lumens, the brighter the projector, and the easier it will cut through ambient light. In some cases, you don’t even have to install blackout curtains. If you want to go that route, they are very affordable on Amazon.
Another option, perhaps the most expensive of the three, aside from buying a new projector, is to install an ALR screen. ALR stands for Ambient Light Rejecting and it works like a charm. We’ve been looking at Elite Screen’s CineGrey 3D material since we first started looking at projectors and found it to be quite effective. If it worked well with ultra-short throw projectors, which are the most common type of projectors I review here – alas, it doesn’t. There are other ALR screens specially designed for UST projectors if you have one.
An ALR screen paired with a really bright home entertainment projector would be fantastic for rooms with lots of uncontrolled ambient light. Art has such a room in his house – the living room has large glass doors and windows overlooking the ocean, so most of the day the room is awfully light for projectors. It does a great job of dealing with this ambient light using a setup like the one I just described – a bright projector and an ALR screen. So let’s take a look at five home entertainment projectors Art and I think are up to the task.
Best Light Room Design Ranking
1080P Lamp Projector
Projection System: DLP
Resolution: 9 0369 1920×1080 (Full HD)
Brightness: 3500 lumens
Video inputs: USB Type-A, HDMI input x 2, Built-in 10W stereo speaker
Dimensions: 312 x 110 x 225 mm (WxDxD)
90 011 Has a full screen size range from 66″ to 107″
Stunning 3500 ANSI lumens of brightness
Runs reasonably quiet in eco mode
Good visibility in daylight, no blackout required 9040 0 One year warranty
Excellent juicy picture
Not bad seen in daylight, blackout is not necessary
The width of the displayed image can be adjusted only by the distance at which the projector is installed.