Buy Home Projector
To give you a sneak peek at some of our picks for the best projector 2023 has to offer, we like the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB as the best overall home theater projector. The best projector for the money is the BenQ HT2050A. And the best 1080p portable projector is the Xgimi Halo Plus.
buy home projector
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. This home entertainment projector is 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.
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 color accuracy. 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 a low input lag of 16ms for immersive gaming.
The Optoma UHD35 is a modern projector that packs a lot into its tiny case and low price. This budget projector 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.
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 like the Vimgo P10 lack: a built-in battery. This budget projector is an all-in-one entertainment machine that's darn cute, too.
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 that can go up to 1,500 Lumens, it works well in a bright room as well. If price is no object, the picture quality is incredible.
The Epson Home Cinema LS11000 is similar to the Epson 5050 but instead of a lamp it uses a laser and phosphor combo to create light. This means even better color, no lamp replacements, faster turn on/off and a more usable dynamic contrast ratio. A more advanced different pixel shifter means better resolution than the 5050 as well. It's more expensive to start, but over the life of the projector they should be about the same. So better picture quality for roughly the same total cost of ownership makes this well worth considering over the 5050. Read our Epson Home Cinema LS11000 review.
The EF-12 is a small, highly portable projector that looks a lot like the Anker Nebula Pro and the BenQ GS50, but it fits a slightly different niche. It's easy to tote and doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, but unlike those two it can't run off of a battery -- it requires AC power. The EF-12's light is created by Epson's "MicroLaser Array Projection Technology." Yep, laser beams, which deliver a brighter picture than LED-based models like the Nebula and GS50.
The Optoma UHZ50 uses a blue laser and a yellow phosphor to create some incredibly bright, ultracolorful images. It's bright and has the second-best contrast ratio we've measured from a DLP projector. Also, because it's DLP, it has excellent detail. The zoom range and lens shift are fairly limited, so it won't fit in as many rooms as the Epson 5050 or LS11000, but otherwise it's very good. Read our Optoma UHZ50 Projector review.
The Xgimi Halo Plus is a relatively small 1080p projector with a 2.5-hour battery and surprisingly powerful speakers. It has Android TV built-in, so streaming is far easier than with many other portables. It performs well for a portable projector, but costs about the same as the BenQ HT2050A, which performs far better. But for regular movie nights far from an outlet, it works great. Also note that you can save $100 at Amazon right now by activating the instant coupon on the product page. Read our Xgimi Halo Plus review.
The Vimgo P10's price fluctuates between $170 and $270, in the same ballpark as our favorite cheap projector, the AAXA P8. It's a lot larger than the P8, the largest cheap projector we've tested actually, making it far less portable. It's still "small" compared to full-size and more expensive projectors, however.
BenQ GS50: The GS50 is a lunchbox-size 1080p projector with a built-in battery. You can even use it as a Bluetooth speaker. However, it's dimmer than the Xgimi Halo Plus for similar money, so we recommend that one instead.
Samsung Freestyle: The small, cylindrical Freestyle is an interesting idea, but it comes up short. About the size of a Bluetooth speaker, and in fact can double as one, the Freestyle can pivot on its stand to project an image at any height on walls and even the ceiling. Its built-in streaming is far better implemented than most portable projectors. However, it lacks a battery and its performance is average, at best. Worse, its price is a good 50% higher than it should be based on how it looks and performs. Read our Samsung Freestyle review.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2: Another relatively expensive projector we didn't love, the Xiaomi at least has a gorgeous, Apple-like design going for it. We appreciated the compact size, 1080p resolution and built-in Android TV streaming, but the cons outweigh the pros. It's relatively dim, especially for the price, and it lacks both a built-in battery and compatibility with a USB power source, so it's not truly portable. Read our Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 review.
Epson Home Cinema 880: The 880 is one of Epson's less expensive home projectors, but it still puts out a remarkable amount of light. That, and the price, make it tempting. The contrast ratio is terrible, however, so the overall image quality is weak. Read our Epson Home Cinema 880 review.
LG HU810PW: The HU810PW is a higher-end, laser-powered projector with 4K resolution that's able to create some lovely, colorful images. It's also quiet and sports an attractive, boxy case. The contrast ratio is quite poor, so it doesn't look nearly as good overall as other projectors in its overall price range. Read our LG HU810PW review.
Anker Nebula Solar Portable: The Solar Portable is a portable projector with a built-in battery that lasts 3 hours. It sports 1080p resolution, but it's not very bright and the contrast isn't great. While the Anker Mars II Pro has its own issues, overall it's the better option for the same money. Read our Anker Nebula Solar Portable review.
Every projector we review goes through elaborate objective and subjective testing. CNET editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Mini projectors are projectors small enough to hold easily in one hand. They're incredibly portable, but they're not as bright nor do they look as good as their larger counterparts. Overall, we like the AAXA P8 for its low size and high performance for its category.
If you want to move movie night outdoors, you have a few options. We generally recommend, when possible, to use a regular home projector and run an extension cord. Home projectors will offer far better, brighter images, for the same or less money than portable projectors.
LCD and Digital Light Processing projectors are the most common technologies. Higher-end projectors often use LCOS, or liquid crystal on silicon, designs. These are marketed as SXRD and DILA. LCOS is superior to LCD and DLP in almost every way, but is significantly more expensive.
LCD (used almost exclusively by Epson) and DLP both have their strengths and weaknesses. DLP is typically sharper, LCD often brighter. However, both technologies offer bright, sharp images. It's more down to the specific model of projector than specific technologies.
You can use any flat surface to project your image. However, don't expect it to be the best surface for a projector. Any and all tiny bumps in a wall, for example, will be visible as extra "noise" in the image. This can be distracting. If you want the best image quality from your projector, even an inexpensive screen is a far better option. This is because projector screens tend to brighten the image noticeably and create a smooth surface that just shows your TV, movie or game.
Portable models are expensive for their performance, but can work where there's no outlet. If you don't plan on ever using the projector away from your house, a traditional projector will be far brighter and can be used outside. Just remember to bring it in when you're done.
In this article, we'll teach you everything you need to know. You'll learn about the different parts of a projector and about screens. Then we'll take you step by step through the process of buying a projector: determining throw distance, screen size, and brightness requirements; understanding projector features; and utilizing ProjectorCentral's extensive projector database and resources to zero in on your short list of models. So let's get on with it! 041b061a72