What Is A Short Throw Video Projector?

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

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

The vast majority of households have a TV as the centerpiece of their home entertainment setup. However, a TV isn't the only way to watch movies, TV shows, and streaming content at home. Another option is a video projector and screen.

The Video Projector, Screen, and Room Relationship

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

This arrangement has both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage is that a projector can display images of varying sizes depending on projector-screen placement, whereas once you buy a TV, you are stuck with a single screen size.

However, the disadvantage is not all projectors and rooms are created equal. For example, if you have a 100-inch screen (or enough wall space to display a 100-inch size image), then 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 is where, 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

The throw distance is how much space is required between the projector and a screen to display a specific size (or range of sizes if the projector has an adjustable zoom lens) image. Some projectors require a lot of space, some a medium amount of space, and others require very little space. Taking these factors into account makes it easier to set up your video projector.

Video Projector Throw Distance Categories

For video projectors, there are three throw distance categories: Long Throw (or standard throw), Short Throw, and Ultra Short Throw. So, when shopping for a video projector, keep these three projector categories in mind.

In non-technical terms, the lens and mirror assembly built into a projector determine the throw distance capability of the projector. What is interesting is that while Long Throw and Short Throw projectors throw light onto the screen directly out the lens, the light coming out from the lens from an Ultra Short Throw projector is actually directed away from the screen reflecting off of a mirror of a specific size and angle attached to the projector that directs the image on the screen.

Another characteristic of Ultra Short Throw projectors is that they often don't have any zoom capability, the projector must be physically positioned to match the screen size.

Short Throw and Ultra Short Throw projectors are most commonly used in education, business, and gaming, but they can be a practical option for home entertainment setups as well.

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

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.

It is a good idea to download the user guide ahead of time in order to find out if the projector will be able to project the size image you desire given your room size and projector placement.

Also, some projector companies also provide online video projector distance calculators that are very useful. Check out ones from Epson, Optoma, and Benq.

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

The Bottom Line

When shopping for a video projector, one of the things to keep in mind is the size of the room and where the projector will be placed in relation to the screen.

Also, take note where your projector will be located in relation to the rest of your home theater gear. If your projector is placed in front of you and your video sources are behind you, you may need longer cable runs. Likewise, if your video sources are in front of you and your projector is behind you will face the same situation.

Another factor, whether the projector is in front of you or in the back, is how close or far your seating position actually is to the projector, with reference to any fan noise the projector might generate that may be distracting to your viewing experience.

Taking the above into consideration, 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.

However, whether 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, then consider a Short Throw or Ultra Short Throw projector.

With a short throw projector, not only can you get that big screen experience in a smaller room, but you eliminate problems such as people walking between the projector light and screen to get that soda or popcorn refill or using the restroom.

Another option, especially if you have a small room to work with, 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.