When it comes to the best home theater projects in 2018, you would have to find a product that strikes a balance between quality and asking price. This is because projectors can be quite expensive, considering this is basically the same technology and gadgets used in large commercial theaters, but you’re likely to not need that kind of power for home indoor use. But what are home theater projectors after all, and what are the things you should look out for when buying yours?
What is a Home Theater Projector?
A home theater projector is, like the name suggests, a device which takes video input from your computer or other video rendering device and projects it onto a special screen or a surface. Depending on the build of the projector, it can project on different types of surfaces and in different environments – indoors and outdoors for example.
The image from your computer or whatever another source for the video you may be using will be processed by the projector and turned into another digital image that will be displayed on the surface of your choice after being passed through a system of lenses. Some projectors will require special inflatable screens, while others will work best on big open walls. In most cases, projectors rely on a very bright light being passed through them in order to project the video it is being fed. Most common types of projectors are the LCD ones which use LCD light gates. The simple concept makes this an affordable version of it’s bulkier, albeit expensive, commercial theater counterparts – the downside being a noticeable pixelation effect that can occur in older models. Recent developments, however, have reduced this effect significantly.
Home Theater Projectors Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to home theater projectors, the first thing and probably the most important one is the price. These are not cheap devices, and this sort of investment should be one that you’ve thought over thoroughly and know you really want in your home. With prices regularly surpassing $1,000, it’s good to be sure you’ll be using this product for a long time before committing to getting it. That being said, prices do vary significantly depending on a number of factors we’ll be exploring further along in this section.
And the first thing to tackle is the aspect ratio. You might’ve noticed that modern day computer screens or even TV sets come with a couple of numbers divided by a colon, such as 16:9, 4:3, 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. This is the aspect ratio, and it offers a proportional relationship between the width and length of an image. These numbers are not associated with any specific measurement, however, as they are, like the name suggest, just a ratio between two numbers. And it may just be the most important thing you’d want out of your projector. You can also determine aspect ratio by the resolution the projector offers, like for example, 1080p is a 16:9 aspect ratio. Which brings us to our second thing: the resolution. A higher resolution means that more pixels are being displayed, which in turn means that the image is more clear and better in overall quality.
Moving on from these, we’ll also need to look at brightness and contrast. These are immensely important in home theater projectors, as they rely on these two standards of lighting to provide you with clear images. The better the contrast ratio and brightness available, the better, less pixelated image it’ll be able to output for your home. If you’re planning on using your projector outdoors, then this will also be an important detail to keep an eye out, as outdoor ones need values in brightness and contrast which are higher than your regular indoor projectors.
Lastly, it’s the little things that make a good chunk of the difference between the following models. For example, you have connectivity options – some require newer systems to allow for good connectivity options, some work okay with older systems as well. It all depends on the ports and options you’d like to have for your projector. You may also want them to feature USB ports, which most of them too – but it’s the type of ports they feature which will probably make the difference. Aside from that, things to look out for is lamp life and whether or not any manual or automated settings are implemented to better manage the image output.
The 10 Best Home Theater Projectors in 2018
That being said, here are the 10 best home theater projectors in 2018:
#1 Epson Home Cinema 1440 1080p 4400
The first projector on our list, the Epson Home Cinema 1440 1080p 4400 is a great device which delivers both in terms of image quality and design. The screen size is 50-inches from 4.79 feet or 300-inches from 29.36 feet, making it quite a big one for home use. And with a lamp life of 4000 hours in ECO mode and up to 3000 hours in normal mode, it’s the perfect addition to your movie viewing gadgets.
As far as connectivity goes, this projector uses HDMI connectors, LAN, monitor out, VideoUSB, regular type B and A USB, audio ports and computer 1/2 ports. Basically every kind of connector you could want in a standard video projector, you’ll have it with this model. When it comes to contrast ratio, it’s 10,000:1, it features keystone correction, but no lens shift. With a color brightness of 4400 lumens and the same white brightness, the Epson features full 1080p in 16:9 aspect ratio video. This is all done through the 3 LCD projectors this home projector uses to display its images.
- Multi-compatible projector, useable with consoles, TVs, streaming devices, PCs, etc.;
- Bright colors, high-intensity white brightness which allows perfect images in both dark and bright environments;
- HD video output;
- Plenty of available connectors for your every need;
- High contrast ratio and keystone correction;
- 2-year limited warranty, 4000 hours lamp life in ECO mode, 3000 hours in normal mode;
- Flexible positioning due to various available screen sizes.
- Some rare instances where customer support wasn’t up to par.
#2 Optoma HD20, HD (1080p)
On the more affordable spectrum, we have the Optoma HD20, HD (1080p) projector, which is great for people who want to see whether or not a more expensive, more capable model would do the trick for them. This model, however, is nothing to scoff at when considering its asking price – it’s still a pretty capable machine which will surely make the amateur projector users very happy with their purchase.
First off, it sports a 1080p resolution, which his amazingly great for such a small device. With a total brightness of 1700 lumens and a 4000:1 contrast ratio, along with the maximum 300-inch screen size, this projector is, as mentioned before, rather capable on its own. As far as connectivity goes, it offers HDI component, VGA, video and composite connections. Not much, but still enough to get the job done with some pretty basic devices like your PC.
Where this specific home projector shines is the eco-friendly approach the manufacturer took to its design. It’s built to last, with 4000 hours in standard mode and 3000 hours in bright mode. All of this while consuming less than 1 watt. With a built-in shutdown feature, a lead-free design and no polystyrene in packing materials, the Optoma HD20, HD (1080p) is definitely worth a look for newcomers who are also eco-conscious.
- ECO-build, with several power saving and environmentally-friendly features;
- Full 1080p HD resolution;
- Portable due to lightweight design;
- Low ownership cost with high lamp life;
- Affordable price.
- Limited connectivity options;
- Short lifespan in some cases.
#3 Sony VPLHW65ES 1080p 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector
Jumping over to the other side of the spectrum in terms of price, the Sony VPLHW65ES 1080p 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector is definitely a device which will likely please even the most demanding moviegoers who want to relive the experience inside their own homes.
With a full HD resolution of 1920×1080, a white brightness of 1800 lumens and a color brightness of the same value, along with a 1315 lumen calibrated brightness, this device sports a contrast ratio of 120,000:1, with a lens shift vertical of +/- 71% and a +/-25% horizontal. For the user, this translates in high customization of image output which allows great output quality.
With a lamp life of about 6000 hours and a 3-year limited warranty, along with 2 HDMI ports for connectivity, the Sony 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector offers a screen size range or 51-82 inches from 8 feet, 77-122 inches from 12 feet and 102-162 inches from 16 feet. It also boasts USB connectivity for firmware updates.
This device is also 3D compatible and comes with rechargeable 3D glasses, so you can enjoy your favorite 3D movies from home without the need of an additional transmitter. The quiet fan will keep the machine at a low temperature without interfering with your movie sound.
- 3D compatible;
- Full HD 1920×1080 resolution;
- Great brightness and contrast ratio;
- Lens shift vertical and horizontal;
- Plenty of connectivity options;
- Huge screen size;
- Silent fan.
- A bit pricey for your regular home user.
#4 Vivitek 1800 Lumen 1080p Home Theater Projector
If you’re looking for a low-end home theater projector at an affordable price, but which does not rip you off and still does what it’s supposed to, the Vivitek 1800 Lumen 1080p Home Theater Projector. The main selling point of this projector is the high lumen count for brightness, along with clear color technology which makes it a great starter projector that still offers great images.
The contrast ratio is 5000:1 and it offers a staggering 3000 hours of lamp life. The lamp is pretty quiet at 26dB. The built-in 5-watt mono speaker is a great addition, and the device comes with 1-year warranty on parts and 90 days on the lamp. In terms of connectivity, this device is very flexible, offering everything from HDMI, to an RS-232c port, USB connections, audio, and VGA – basically everything you’d need a projector to feature.
- Compact, lightweight design, great for portable use;
- Rather high brightness and color technology for clear images;
- Mono speaker built-in, silent lamp, 3000-hour lamp life;
- 1080p resolution;
- Ample connectivity options.
- Reports of poor customer service and short lifespan of some machines – easily replaceable.
#5 Acer H5380BD 720p Home Theater Projector
Still, on the low-end spectrum of home theater projectors, we have the affordable Acer H5380BD 720p Home Theater Projector. With a native 720p widescreen resolution, it offers high definition content like you’d expect from a modern machine right out of the box. Watch your favorite Blu-Ray and HDTV movies through this projector which is amazingly capable for the low asking price.
It also features a Dust Shield Solution which increases your projector’s lifespan due to its ability to protect it from dust and other particles in the air, like sand. It runs on a DLP projection system and offers a 16:9 aspect ratio with 4:3 compatibility as well. A contrast ratio of 17000:1 is amazing for this price, while the 3000 ANSI lumens and 2400 ANSI lumens in ECO mode offer great brightness for your movies even in lighted environments. Lamp life is 5000 hours in standard mode and 6000 hours in ECO, while it can get up to 10,000 in Extreme ECO. It features vertical keystone correction, along with manual and auto settings. As far as connectivity goes, it comes with two analog RGB/Component video, RCA, S-Video, HDMI/MHL and two PC Audio stereo mini jack, while the control interface is done through a mini-B USB port.
- High native resolution and contrast ratio;
- Affordable price;
- High lumens count for brightness;
- Huge lamp life in extreme ECO mode (10,000 hours);
- Plenty and diverse connectivity options;
- 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios;
- Dust Shield Solution for protection against airborne particles.
- Some devices had short lifespans.
#6 Optoma HD28DSE 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector
Taking it up a notch in terms of price, we have the Optoma HD28DSE 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector. With 3000 ANSI lumens, a contrast ratio at a staggering 30,000:1 and with keystone correction but no lens shift, this Optoma projector is great for those looking for more power from their basic home theater projector.
The screen size range is 71-inches from 8 feet and 107-inches from 12 feet, and it comes with a 1-year warranty on limited parts and labor, and the 90-day warranty on the lamp. As far as connectivity goes, it offers 2 HDMI ports, 3D Sync port, 12V trigger, mini USB and USB-A port for power. The manufacturer asks that you please refer to the user manual before setting it up. It also comes with a remote which is equipped with batteries out the box.
This device also has 3D compatibility, brilliant color technology and a 144Hz refresh rate which limits screen flickering. The green by design staple allows this projector to run on low power and the materials and components are lead-free, no polystyrene in the packaging.
- 3000 ANSI lumens, 30,000:1 contrast ratio;
- Full 3D compatibility;
- DLP technology for high refresh rate;
- Plenty of connectivity options;
- 1080p native resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio;
- Remote control with batteries included.
- Lamp quality is questionable according to some users.
#7 Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP Home Theater Projector
The Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP Home Theater Projector is, like its predecessor from the same manufacturer, still in the low to mid-range price projectors. And as such, it doesn’t differ a lot from its predecessor.
With two HDMI 1.4a 3D support ports, MHL v1.2, audio out port, USB service, 3D Sync and 12V trigger, it basically runs the same connectivity options as the previous model. This one, however, offers a lower contrast ratio at 23,000:1 and keystone correct, but again offers no lens shift options. The 3000 ANSI lumens of brightness offers great image quality for the 1920×1080 full HD resolution this device sports. The lamp life can go up to 8000 hours, and the reference display mode and sRGB enable 99% accuracy to REC.709. The built-in 10W speaker offers great sound quality directly out of the box. With a 144Hz refresh rate, this device offers full 3D support from your favorite 3D video sources, such as consoles, 3D broadcasting, and even 3D Blu-ray players. The image size is 27.88″ – 305.5″.
The MHL connectivity option offers a great way for those looking to use their projector with their smartphone or tablets. This is done through a single simple cable connection, allowing you to share your favorite videos and photos directly from your personal mobile device of preference.
- Full 3D compatibility, HD resolution;
- High dynamic contrast, 23,000:1 ratio;
- 3000 ANSI lumens for bright, powerful colors;
- 8000-hour lamp life;
- Integrated 10W speaker for great sound;
- MHL connectivity;
- Plenty of additional connectivity options.
- The machine can get pretty hot running on battery and some users experience bothersome noise while running it.
#8 Optoma HD25-LV-WHD 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector
Ending the Optoma series of projectors with a bundle this time, still, at an affordable price, this Optoma HD25-LV-WHD 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector offers a screen size range of 67-inches from 8 feet; 101-inches from 12 feet. With a total of 3500 ANSI lumens, and a contrast ratio of 20,000:1, including keystone correction but no lens shift, this device comes with a 1-year warranty on limited parts and labor, and a 90-day warranty on the lamp.
It offers a total of two HDMI ports, USB-B, audio-out port, RS-232C, VGA in/out, 3D VESA port and composite video along with two audio-in 3.5mm ports. The bundle includes the theater projector, the Optoma WHD200 Wireless HDMI 1.4a transmitter and receiver solution, and the Wirelessly Stream Full 1080p HD Video with 5.1 Channel Digital Audio and No Compression device. This all to make your wireless streaming as easy as possible to work with your projector.
Again, this projector is 3D ready to work with DLP Link or RF 3D glasses and plays 3D content from your consoles or media platforms of choice. It also comes with a remote equipped with batteries as previous models do, and the lamp life can go up to 6000 hours in Smart Eco mode. DLP technology is included as with other Optoma models, which offers great, crisp colors indifferently lighted environments. And last but not least, the design and build of this model is done with eco-friendly in mind, with no lead in the circuitry and no polystyrene in the packaging.
- Bundle pack, including the WHD200 wireless HDMI system;
- 20,000:1 contrast ratio;
- 3500 ANSI lumens and DLP technology;
- Fully HD and 3D Compatible;
- Plenty of connectivity options;
- Affordable price;
- 6000-hour lamp life in Smart Eco mode.
- Overall a good projector, although some devices seem to break fairly soon after being received.
#9 ViewSonic PJD7720HD 3200 Lumens 1080p
Nearing the end of our list, we still revolve around the entry level devices, but now with one from ViewSonic. The ViewSonic PJD7720HD 3200 Lumens 1080p sports an amazingly modern design, with a big 1080p picture, with a total size of 74 inches from 8 feet and 111 inches from 12 feet. The 3200 total lumens offers visibility even in bright living rooms.
With the Darkchip3 Super Contrast Technology, colors and black will stand out better and will offer even a better-quality image. The Super color IPS Match is marketed as rivaling the best IPS LED panels available. This projector even features a Sonic experts 2x10W stereo speaker and a quiet fan to avoid noise from disturbing you during the movie. Total noise output is 35dB in normal mode and 30dB in Eco mode. It also sports dual 3D Blu-ray ready HDMI inputs. It is also MHL ready, so you can use your favorite mobile devices in conjunction with the projector and stream your home videos or vacation pictures whenever you want through a simple cable connection. Optical zoom is included up to 1.1x.
- SuperColor IPS Match which can stand toe to toe with modern LCD monitors in terms of color fidelity;
- High brightness for bright viewing and huge screen size;
- 3D Compatible;
- Wireless streaming;
- Full HD 1080p resolution;
- Great price.
- Limited connectivity;
- Customer service could be improved.
#10 BenQ DLP HD 1080p Projector (W1070)
Last, on our list, we have yet another affordable home projector, which offers full 3D compatibility and an image projection of up to 200 inches depending on where you place the projector. If you’re concerned about power consumption, you’ll be happy to learn that this model offers SmartEco technology which allows the lamp to function for up to 6000 hours.
This is also probably the most user-friendly, plug and play device on this list. Simply connect the video cables and with its built-in speakers, it’s ready to go in an instant! The 2000 ANSI lumens of brightness offer good colors, and coupled with the 10,000:1 contrast ratio, you can expect a pretty picture out of this affordable device right out of the box in full 1080p HD. It also features 3D support and has ample connectivity options available.
- Varied connectivity options;
- Plug and play device with no intricate setups needed;
- 3D compatible;
- 2000 ANSI lumens, 10,000:1 contrast ratio;
- Up to 6000-hour lamp life in Smart Eco mode;
- Large 200-inch image size;
- Affordable price.
- Problems with overheating and auto shutdown in some cases.