What Is A Short Throw Video Projector?

Short and Ultra Short Throw projectors are very practical for small spaces

Most often a TV is the centerpiece of a home entertainment setup, but It isn't the only way to watch movies, TV shows, and streaming content. Another option is a video projector and screen.

Hisense Laser TV - Ultra Short Throw Projector
Image provided by Hisense

The Video Projector, Screen, and Room Relationship

Unlike a TV, where everything required to view it is encased within a single frame, a video projector requires two pieces, a projector, and a screen. This means that the projector and screen need to be placed at a specific distance from each other to produce a specific size image.

  • The advantage of a projector is the ability to display images of varying sizes depending on projector-screen placement, whereas once you buy a TV, you are stuck with its screen size.
  • The disadvantage is not all projectors and rooms are the same. If you have a 100-inch screen (or enough wall space to display a 100-inch image), you not only need a projector that can display images up to that size but a room that allows enough distance between the projector and the screen to display that size image.

This means that along with core technologies (DLP or LCD) projector light output and resolution (720p, 1080p, 4K) you need to know what the video projector's throw distance capability is.

Throw Distance Defined

Throw distance is how much space is needed between a projector and screen to display an image of specific size (or range of sizes if the projector has an adjustable zoom lens). Some projectors require a lot of space, some a medium amount, and others require very little space.

Video Projector Throw Distance Categories

For video projectors, there are three throw distance categories:

  • Long Throw (aka standard throw)
  • Short Throw
  • Ultra Short Throw

In non-technical terms, the lens and mirror assembly built into a projector determine its throw distance.

Long and Short Throw projectors send light to a screen directly out the lens, but the light coming from the lens of an Ultra Short Throw projector is reflected off of a mirror that directs the image to the screen. Ultra Short Throw projectors often don't have zoom capability, so the projector must be physically positioned to match the screen size.

Here are how video projector throw categories fall out in terms of projector-to-screen distance:

  • Standard/Long Throw projectors require six or more feet of space between the projector and the screen in order to project images of 80-inches or larger. Examples of Standard/Long Throw projectors include the Epson Home Cinema 3100 and Optoma HD29Darbee.
  • Short throw projectors incorporate lenses that can display much larger images from shorter distances, sometimes as large as 100-inches at a distance of about 4-5 feet. Examples of Short Throw projectors: Benq HT2150ST and Optoma GT1080Darbee
  • Ultra Short Throw projectors can display an image of up to 100-inches from about 2 feet or less. Examples of Ultra Short Throw projectors: LG HF85JA, Epson Home Cinema LS100, Sony VPL-VZ1000ES, and Hisense Laser TV.

To supplement these guidelines, most video projector user manuals provide a chart that illustrates or lists the distance required for the specific projector to display (or throw) an image on a specific size screen.

Download the user guide ahead of time to find out if the projector will be able to project the size image you desire given your room size and projector placement.

Some projector companies provide online video projector distance calculators. Epson, Optoma, and Benq are examples.

In addition to proper distance and screen size, tools such as Lens Shift and/or Keystone Correction are included in most video projectors to aid in positioning the image properly on the screen.

Projector Room Setup Tips

  • When shopping for a video projector, note the size of the room and where the projector will be placed in relation to the screen.
  • Determine where the projector will be located in relation to the rest of your home theater gear.
  • If the projector is placed in front of you and your video sources are behind you, longer cable runs may be needed. This also applies If your video sources are in front of you and the projector is behind you.
  • Note how close or far your seating position is to the projector, with reference to projector fan noise that may be distracting.
  • If you have a mid-size or large room and don't mind placing the projector on a stand or on the ceiling behind your seating position on in the back of the room, a long throw projector may be right for you.
  • If you have a small, medium, or large size room, and want to place the projector on a stand or ceiling in front of your seating position, consider a Short Throw or Ultra Short Throw projector.
  • If you have a small room, or you just want to get the projector as close to the screen as possible and still get that large-screen viewing experience, then an Ultra Short Throw projector might be the solution for you.

A Short, or Ultra-Short Throw projector not only provides a big-screen experience in a smaller room but viewers don't have to pass between the projector light and screen to get that soda or popcorn refill or using the restroom.