The best projectors for movies and TV in 2021

We often spend our weekends trying to recreate the cinema experience by dimming the lights, grabbing some popcorn, and wearing the best headphones for TV and movies, but traditional televisions just don’t cut it compared to the best projectors.

Home theatre projectors bring the silver screen to you, with images that range from as little as 40 inches all the way to a behemoth 500 inches, if you have the wall space. Better yet, they’re not as cumbersome as the comparatively meagre 85-inch smart TVs out there, meaning you can move most of our suggestions from one room to another without issue. They’re no more difficult to set up, either.

The main things you’ll need to consider before purchasing a projector are its resolution, throw distance, and brightness in lumens. Most of our suggestions take space into consideration with a short throw distance, but some will work better in sunlight flooded rooms than others – although it’s highly recommended you use any projector in a darkened room to preserve the intended image quality. So here are the best projectors for movies and TV shows.

What are the best projectors for movies and TV in 2021?

  • Sony VPL-VW270ES
  • Epson EH-TW7000
  • Epson EH-TW7100
  • Anker Nebula Mars 2 Pro
  • Optoma UHD35
  • BenQ HT2150ST
  • Viewsonic M2

Sony-VPL-VW270ES

best 4K projector for movies and TV – Sony VPL-VW270ES

Sony’s VPL-VW270ES projector is the best money can buy if you chuck budget out of the window, with the single best contrast ratio in its price range. You won’t find any upscaling or magic tricks here, as the brand’s three proprietary 4K SXRD panels push a native 4K resolution up to 60 frames per second, letting you go from the best films of 2020, to TV shows or videogames without missing a beat.

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It’s slightly on the dimmer side at 1,500 lumens, making it better suited to dedicated home theatres and nighttime viewing, but it more than makes up for this with support for high dynamic range (HDR) and hybrid log gamma (HLG). It costs up to five times more than some of the other entries on this list, but it certainly shows in its picture quality.

What we like

  • Brilliant contrast
  • Incredibly sharp native 4K resolution
  • HDR and HLG support
Sony VPL-VW270ES
Resolution Native 4K / 60fps
Projection system High-pressure mercury lamp
Brightness 1,500 ANSI lumens
Projection size 60 – 300 inches
Lamp life 6,000 hours
Dimensions (H x W x D) 20.5 x 49.6 x 46.4cm
Buy now

 

best cheap 4K projector for movies and TV – Epson EH-TW7000

4K resolution doesn’t have to cost as much as a used car, with the Epson EH-TW7000 sitting pretty under $1,000. It’s not quite native by any means, but it still handles HDR and dark details well with its bright 3,000 lumens and can project an image as large as 500 inches if you have a wall big enough.

Getting to this price point sees some sacrifices, though, as there’s no 4K motion processing, and its contrast ratio takes a hit. Still, it’s pound for pound better than many other devices, showcasing features that would otherwise be locked behind a lofty paywall.

What we like

  • Affordable 4K resolution
  • Bright
  • Capable of projecting a huge screen
Epson EH-TW7000
Resolution  4K
Projection system  DLP
Brightness  3,000 ANSI lumens
Projection size 40 – 500 inches
Lamp life Up to 5,000 hours
Dimensions (H x W x D) 15.7 x 41 x 31cm
Buy now

best home theatre movie projector – Epson EH-TW7100

Looking almost identical to the Epson EH-TW7000, the Epson EH-TW7100 costs $500 more and produces a much better picture as a result. It’s still classed as entry-level in the world of 4K resolution, but its default colours and contrast go toe-to-toe with projectors at twice the price.

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The high luminance helps to pronounce the depth of darker details so you don’t miss a thing during the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It also has a range of connectivity options, including two HDMI ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio out, and built-in Bluetooth – allowing you to connect to speakers and soundbars with or without wires.

What we like

  • A range of connectivity options
  • Great picture quality with default colours and contrast
  • Still affordable in the 4K category
Epson EH-TW7100
Resolution 4K
Projection system DLP
Brightness 3,000 ANSI lumens
Projection size 40 – 500 inches
Lamp life  Up to 5,000 hours
Dimensions (H x W x D) 15.7 x 41 x 31cm
Buy now

best cheap HD projector for movies and TV – Anker Nebula Mars 2 Pro

The Anker Nebula Mars 2 Pro very nearly found its way into the portable category as one of the best mini projectors, but it’s much more than its built-in rechargeable battery. It’s powered by a stripped-down version of Android, which packs a bunch of apps, and it has a range of ports to play media from external sources. Keystone correction is also welcome, adjusting the image automatically when you place the projector off-centre – although we recommend manually tweaking this for the best result as it can cause distortion.

While its colours leave something to be desired, the Mars 2 Pro hits HD resolution and has a surprisingly solid built-in set of speakers that fill the room nicely. You’ll need to place it in a dark room, though, as its 500 lumens won’t contend with sunlight very well.

Product Image 1
$549.99
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What we like

  • Range of connectivity
  • Runs Android with plenty of apps
  • Dual 10W speakers exceed expectations
The Nebula Mars 2 Pro
Resolution 720p
Projection system  DLP
Brightness 500 ANSI lumens
Projection size  30 – 150 inches
Lamp life 30,000
Dimensions (H x W x D) 13.8 x 12.2 x 17.8cm
Buy now

best gaming projector – Optoma UHD35

If you intersperse your movies and TV shows with videogames and the best gaming monitor doesn’t sing to you, few projectors offer as much value as the Optoma UHD35. It has an impressively low 4.2ms response time, up to 4K resolution, and a high 240Hz refresh rate – which is as good for watching fast-paced sports as it is when you boost fps in shooters. You’ll need to crank it down to 1080p resolution to get the most out of the refresh rate, and 4K is capped at 60Hz with its two HDMI ports, leaving the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X’s 4K / 120fps out of reach.

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The UHD35’s 3,600 lumens is already plenty bright enough, but you can pay an extra $100 for the Optoma UHD38 if you want more. One thing to note about both is their longer throw distance, requiring around ten feet for a 100-inch, which might be a squeeze if you don’t have a lot of space. And, finally, you don’t even have to lift a finger, as you can control it with your voice by connecting one of the best smart speakers.

Product Image 1
$1,299.00
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What we like

  • Super high 240Hz refresh rate
  • Low 4.2ms response time
  • 4K quality for just a few hundred more than HD
Optoma UHD35
Resolution  4K / 60Hz or 1080p / 240Hz
Projection system  DLP
Brightness 3,600 ANSI lumens
Projection size  80 – 300 inches
Lamp life 15,000
Dimensions (H x W x D)  11.8 x 31.5 x 27cm
Buy now

best short throw projector – BenQ HT2150ST

Brands recognise that not everyone has the space for an over-the-shoulder projector, which is where short throw lenses come in. You can shove the BenQ HT2150ST as close as four feet to the wall you want to project onto and still get around 90-inches, letting you create your own cinema from your coffee table.

The BenQ HT2150ST has great colours straight out of the box, although there’s room to tweak it to your liking with colour wheels. It also has the hidden talent of low input lag for gamers, although it’s not quite the lowest we’ve seen at 16ms. The real draw, however, is that all of this is packed into a device that’s priced around the three-figure mark, making it an absolute steal.

Product Image 1
$899.00
$790.00
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What we like

  • Ultra-short throw for a large image at close range
  • Great default colours
  • Value for money at a sub-$1,000 price point
BenQ HT2150ST
Resolution 1080p
Projection system DLP
Brightness 2,200 ANSI lumens
Projection size 60 – 120 inches
Lamp life Up to 7,000 hours
Dimensions (H x W x D)  12.2 x  38.1 x 27.7cm
Buy now

best portable projector for outdoors use – Viewsonic M2

The Viewsonic M2 is a tiny projector that’s smaller than most of the best gaming mouse pads, making it perfect to take on the go. You don’t even have to worry about finding an outlet for it, as it can run off a power bank if you’ve got one with a large capacity handy – all while packing full HD resolution, HDR, and sRGB colour reproduction.

While you can download apps from the marketplace onto its 10GB internal storage, we recommend pairing it with an Amazon Fire TV stick or Google Chromecast for a superior experience. Overall, there are better choices on this list if you’re setting up a dedicated home theatre, but none balance quality and portability quite like the Viewsonic M2.

Product Image 1
$659.99
$524.99
View

What we like

  • Small and portable
  • Default colour is great without tweaking
Viewsonic M2
Resolution 1920 x 1080p
Projection system LED laser with DLP chip
Brightness 1,200 LED lumens
Projection size 100 inches
Lamp life 30,000
Dimensions (H x W x D)  5.1 x 22.4 x 22.4cm

How much should a projector cost?

Projectors have a wider price range than most other technologies, costing upwards of $50 to $5,000 and beyond. We don’t usually recommend projectors that cost less than $500 because they often sacrifice visual quality, at which point you’re probably better off with a larger smart TV.

What does short throw mean?

The rule of thumb is that you’ll get a bigger picture when you move the projector further back, but short throw projectors can give you around 100+ inches from anywhere between three to eight feet away. These are much more suited to the home theatre experience.

How many lumens does a projector need?

Lumens are a measurement of brightness, and more often means better because projectors don’t have the luxury of backlighting like TVs do. It’s always best to control the environment you’re in with blackout curtains, but a higher lumen count means your projector is more likely to work in rooms that aren’t entirely dark. It depends on the conditions of your room, but a good average is between 1,500 and 2,500 lumens.

Is a projector better than a TV?

Smart TVs are becoming more affordable each year and will suit most people, but projectors are a luxury that can bring the cinema experience to you with screen sizes that far exceed the confines of bezels. Only by choosing the right one and using it under the right conditions can a projector outperform a TV, however, such as using it in a dark room.

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Damien Mason

Updated: Jun 06, 2021


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