The 9 Best 4K and 1080P Projectors to Buy in 2018

It's time to bring the movie theater into your home

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Let’s face it: Everything looks better on a big screen. But the only way to truly replicate that movie theater experience is by installing a home projector. The good news? In the past few years, projectors have gotten brighter and even have support for 4K resolution — plus, compared to big-screen TVs, they’re still the most cost-effective way to get a big picture at home. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to help you pick the best projector for your home theater setup. We also had our testers try them out and give their most candid feedback.

Our Top Picks

Best 4K Overall: Optoma UHD60 4K Ultra HD Home Theater Projector

4.6

Offering stunning true 4K ultra high definition with a bright 3000 lumens and cinematic color, the Optoma UHD60 is by far the best 4K projector on the market today. Its HDR10 technology produces the brightest whites and deepest blacks, giving a true hue of color with its color gamut compatibility.

The Optoma includes a contrast ration of 1,000,000:1, giving razor sharp images with its 8.3 million-pixel image on screen. You can be as far away as 10 feet to experience and see all the detail of the Optoma’s 4K resolution. It has a 1.6x zoom and 1.30 to 2.22 throw ratio with its vertical lens, which allows for various spaces and screen sizes 140 inches and up. The easy-to-install device includes an 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 port and aligns perfectly with your screen with its single DLP chip system for easy set up.

Best for Video Games: BenQ HT2150ST

BenQ
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.9

While plenty of projectors offer a superb gaming experience, few do it as well as the BenQ HT2150ST gaming video projector. It features a native Full HD 1080p image experience with 2,200 ANSI lumens, a 15,000:1 contrast ratio and 6x RGBRGB color wheel for pictures that are truly lifelike. The BenQ offers an excellent short-throw projector experience requiring just 1.5 meters of distance from a screen up to 100 inches. Additionally, the BenQ offers two 10W built-in speakers with their Cinema Master Audio+ technology for a heightened audio experience.

Whether it’s Halo, Grand Theft Auto or Overwatch, the BenQ’s slow input lag helps ensure a high level of responsiveness on-screen, so you won't miss a second of the action. The two BenQ modes adjust according to available ambient light to help deliver a visual experience that’s not impeded by the time of day. Game Mode brings out blacker blacks and brighter highlights if you’re in a dark room while Game (Bright) mode offers no loss of image details regardless of how well lit the external environment is.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best gaming projectors can help you find what you're looking for.

Best for Small Spaces: LG PF1000UW Ultra Short Throw Projector

LG PF1000UW Ultra Short Throw Smart Home Theater Projector
Courtesy of Walmart.com
4.7

If you have a small space but want a big picture, invest in this high-quality LG PF1000UW Ultra Short Throw Projector. Featuring a Full HD 1080P picture and full smart functionality, this small device can transform even a humble studio apartment into a bastion of entertainment. The projector is about the size of a shoebox and can project a 100-inch screen from just 15 inches away. Bluetooth lets you connect your devices to it and Wireless connection powers the award-winning LG Smart TV with WebOS 3.0. Setup is a breeze as well, with 4 corner Keystone allowing you to align your picture.

Best 4K Budget: Vivitek HK2288-WH 2000 lm Bright Ultra HD 4K DLP

4K projectors have only been available on the consumer market for a couple of years, which means what’s out there comes with a high price tag. While this Vivitek HK2288 projector still costs more than most 4K TVs, it is simply the best picture you will find in a projector at this price point. Expect a bright and colorful picture from the 2,000-lumen bulb and razor sharpness from a 50000:1 contrast ratio. The projector also includes a remote with keypad for easy control and advanced HDMI 2.0 connectors for media.

Best 1080P Budget: Viewsonic PRO7827HD

Viewsonic PRO7827HD
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Viewsonic’s PRO7827HD 2200 Lumen 1080p home theater projector may lack 4K support, but it offers 1080p images for 96 inches of viewing space up to eight feet and up to 144 inches from up to 12 feet away. In addition to a whisper-quiet fan, the included 10W speaker delivers a clear and vibrant sound (but you may find it worth it to invest in a surround-sound system).

A choice of five unique viewing modes will help you discover your favorite viewing experience regardless of whether you’re in a dark room or watching at high noon. The short throw lens doesn’t require a lot of room space, as it can handle modest-sized rooms with aplomb. The 2,200 lumens of brightness offer excellent image quality in any environment, ambient light notwithstanding. 

Best 1080P Splurge: Hitachi CP-WU8440

Hitachi projectors are more commonly known as A/V solutions for conference rooms, museums, and presentations. They tend to be more expensive in an effort to give you a high-quality product. Don’t overlook them for at-home use, though, because that high-quality means that the build caliber of these devices is top-notch — ensuring you won’t have to replace it for a while. This 1080p option offers a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200, meaning you’ll have all the crispness you’ll need for a great movie screening room. There’s a 2x manual zoom factor, and, according to Hitachi, the single built-in lamp lasts up to 2,500 hours. There’s a motorized lens shift function that allows you to move the picture (and the keystone layout) at the touch of a button — no awkward adjustment wheels here. The other great thing about Hitachi projectors is that you can swap incompatible lenses to make sure that your projector will work, whatever the application. It’s all built in an effort to give you a user-friendly device that just works. 

Best Features: Sony VPL-HW45ES

Sony’s a brand people know and love for home entertainment, from PlayStation gaming all the way to flat panel TVs, and they shouldn’t be overlooked on the projector front, either, as you get a lot of features for the price. The brand's VPLHW45ES offers 1920 x 1080, full HD resolution, as well as bolstered pixel count thanks to SXRD technology and Advanced Reality Creation. Both of these are Sony’s way of processing pictures to “fill in the gaps” to make the picture seem closer to lifelike 4K without the need for that actual resolution level. The device also delivers a smooth refresh rate and 3D capability for extra special movie nights. To further refine your picture, there are 9 different modes to help quickly tailor your video levels to whatever you’re watching. Finally, there’s a super-quiet, front-facing fan to keep the lamp cooler and lengthen its lifetime. Overall, it’s a projector that leaves very little to be desired on the feature front. 

Best for Portability: LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam

LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam projector wins for best portability, thanks to its Bluetooth sound, screen share and a built-in battery. Unfortunately, portability means no 4K quality, but that’s okay as you’ll receive Full HD (1280 x 720) and a wireless connection to any Android device. With the built-in battery lasting up to 2.5 hours, you won’t get to watch Lord of the Rings, but you’ll be able to get through most movies before the LG dies out. Fortunately, the short battery life is offset by the 30,000 hours of LED life, which means you’ll get 10 years of life even if you’re watching up to eight hours of content every day.

Beyond battery, the PH550 offers a wireless mirroring function that connects to both a smartphone and tablet. Unfortunately, at the current moment, there’s only support for wireless connectivity through both Android and Windows operating systems (Apple has yet to fully support the technology). The display of movies, pictures, music and office documents is easy and can even be done connected to a USB drive. Additionally, the PH550 supports wirelessly streaming sound directly from the projector to a Bluetooth-compatible sound system such as home audio speakers or headphones.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best mini projectors.

Best for Sports: BenQ WXGA

There are a few considerations you’ll have to make if you’re shopping for a sports-centric projector. First, you need a strong resolution —especially if you’re aiming to project bigger screens (because if you can’t’ see the ball clearly, then what's the point). The second is you’ll want a bright projector to offer comparable performance during night games as well as football Sundays. This option from BenQ gives you a ton of brightness (to the tune of 4,000 lumens) for a surprisingly low price. Normally at the $500 price point, you’re looking at a max of 1,000 lumens, but this option will be plenty bright no matter what sport you’re watching. There are plenty of ports from HDMI to USB, and a resolution of 1280 x 800. It’s easily installed with a simple-to-adjust keystone set up, and the lamp is warrantied up to 2,000 hours. But again, what this projector lacks in features, it makes up for in size and brightness. 

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 86 hours testing three of the most popular high-end projectors on the market. To really get the full picture, they used them for all sorts of things, from streaming movies to playing video games. We asked them to consider the most important features when using these projectors and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a High-End Projector

Brightness - Perhaps the biggest consideration when shopping for a projector, brightness is measured by lumens. While this feature can drive up the price quickly, you should look for a projector that produces somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 lumens, though your actual need will depend on how dark the room is.

Contrast - Contrast is determined by a combination of black levels and brightness. The higher the contrast ratio, the better the picture quality.

Resolution - 4K projectors produce amazing picture quality, magnifying details much better than a 1080p projector will. You’ll be able to notice details like strands of hair and blades of grass, and the image will come through much more smoothly too.

Test Results: Optoma UHD60 4K Ultra HD Home Theater Projector (Best 4K Overall)

4.6

What We Like

  • Excellent picture quality

  • Bright projection with great contrast

What We Don’t Like

  • Need to purchase a high-quality HDMI cable separately for best performance

One tester, who mounted his projector 10 feet from a wall in his basement, commented, “The visual quality is much better than my 1080p projector.” The setup took him just 45 minutes and he’s been consistently happy with the results since. Our reviewers did note, however, that you’ll also have to purchase a high-end HDMI cable to drive the system.

Test Results: BenQ HT2150ST (Best for Video Games)

4.9

What We Like

  • Above average picture quality

  • Great brightness and color

  • Low input lag

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit bulky

Our testers really enjoyed the experience of playing games and watching movies with this projector. One reviewer, who tested this model by playing God of War 4 and Horizon, said that it offered “stunning visuals.” Another tester, who has used multiple projectors for the sole purpose of playing video games, tried it out with FIFA 18, Mario Kart, GTA V, and more: “I have always had major problems with the brightness,” he said. “This projector was brighter than any TV or projector I've played on — and certainly better quality than any projector I've used.”

Test Results: LG PF1000UW Ultra Short Throw Projector (Best for Small Spaces)

LG PF1000UW Ultra Short Throw Smart Home Theater Projector
Courtesy of Walmart.com
4.7

What We Like

  • Easy setup process

  • High-quality picture

  • Minimum 4-inch projection distance

What We Don’t Like

  • Screen size can’t be less than 60 inches

Overall, our testers couldn’t stop raving about this projector and had very few criticisms. One reviewer said it transformed her bedroom into a theater: “The HD quality is awesome,” she said, “I can see literally every pore of a person's face — and this is on my bedroom wall, not even a smooth white screen.” However, take note: While you can place this projector just four inches from the wall, you’ll still need a wall big enough to accommodate a 60-inch projection.