Skip to main content

Best projectors 2021 with Full HD, 4K, portable and short throw

Included in this guide:

Best projectors Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best projectors - Full HD, 4K, portable and short throw - that you can buy in 2021.

The smell of the popcorn, the hush of the auditorium, the lights go down and on goes the film; there's nothing quite like the cinema. Making one's own private movie house can be a lot easier than you think. Spend the right kind of money on the best set of products and you could even make something better than your local theatre. The key to the experience, of course, is choosing one of the best projectors that money can buy and that's what we have for you right here.

With picture sizes often up to 300in, the best projectors are the only way to get that genuine big screen feeling. Whether 4K HDR, HD or portable all you need then is a decent AV amp and surround speaker package, and you've got yourself a bonafide home movie night.

We've rounded up our favourite projectors, including Full HD and native 4K models, which also support HDR, and some short throw projectors too for those with smaller spaces. There are even one or two portables that would make an excellent bring-along addition to a garden party for an outdoor cinema experience. The only question is how much do you have to spend?

Naturally, a great 4K projector will cost more than a Full HD one, and real, actual native 4K costs even more than those which use pixel shifting to spoof that top-end resolution. Fear not, though, we've got something for all budgets in our best projector list below. Just remember to save some money for the projector screen and the popcorn!

Black Friday projector deals UK

Nebula Capsule projector £400 £230 at Amazon (save £170)

Nebula Solar Portable projector £420 £600 at Amazon (save £180)

Optoma UHD30 4K projector £1099 £849 at PRC Direct (save £200)

BenQ V6050 4K UST projector £3999 £2999 at Richer Sounds (save £1000)

Sony VPL-VW290ES 4K projector £5499 £4399 at Amazon (save £800)

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Future)

1. Epson EH-TW7100

A brilliantly well-judged and affordable 4K projector

Specifications
Type: 3LCD
Resolution: 4K pixel shift
HDR: Yes
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Inputs: HDMI 2.0 (x2), USB 2.0 (x2)
3D: Yes
Lamp: 3000 lumens
Lamp life: 5,000/3,000 hours (eco/normal)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent contrast handling+Balanced, nuanced colour palette+Good connectivity options
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K motion processing

It's a shade pricey for an entry-level device but, make no mistake, this is the king of affordable 4K projectors. It’s easy to set up and install, and produces a picture that’s reminiscent of what you'll get at the cinema.

You'll get a great image right out of the box without needing to be any kind of expert at tinkering with the settings. All the preset modes are very well judged and it gives an excellent level of black depth and dark detail for a projector at this price. Colours are balanced and motion is naturally smooth.

That said, it's as much the convenience of this machine that makes it so good. Bluetooth allows for direct connection with a wireless speaker or soundbar, and the high luminance means that it's usable in moderately lit rooms. In other words, an AVR, speaker package and home cinema room are not entirely necessary. How's that for a superb family projector?

Read the full review: Epson EH-TW7100

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Future)

2. JVC DLA-N5

Yet another high performing premium projector from JVC

Specifications
Type: D-ILA
Resolution: native 4K
HDR: Yes
Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 / 400,000:1 (native/dynamic)
Inputs: HDMI 2.0 (x2)
3D: Yes
Lamp: 1800 lumens
Lamp life: 4500 hours (eco)
Reasons to buy
+Deep blacks+Excellent HDR handling+Brilliant colour control
Reasons to avoid
-Add-on required for 3D-No full-screen SD upscaling

JVC's D-ILA devices are some of the best home cinema projectors in the business. They offer exceptionally good contrast handling, effortless smooth colour blending and the best black levels around. The N5 may be the baby of this famed native 4K family but it's still an absolute belter.

Its bigger, pricier siblings are better and blacker but there's easily enough shading skill and depth of darkness even here to produce an incredibly involving and three-dimensional feel whether at 4K or Full HD. What's more, JVCs ongoing upgrades to its HDR capabilities just make that picture better and better as time goes on.

The motorised lens, simple menu system and excellent choice of usable preset picture modes make it surprisingly easy to set up. It might not compete with the others here for value but it's the best performing projector on this list.

Read the full review: JVC DLA-N5

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Future)

3. Epson EH-TW9400

A powerful 4K projector with a bold picture to match.

Specifications
Type: 3LCD
Resolution: 4K pixel shift
HDR: Yes
Contrast ratio: 1,200,000:1
Inputs: HDMI 2.0 (x2), USB 2.0 (x2)
3D: Yes
Lamp: 2600 lumens
Lamp life: 5,000/3,000 hours (eco/normal)
Reasons to buy
+Motorised and adaptable lens+Handles HDR well+Vibrant colours+Excellent sense of depth
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy at full power

This big, brassy projector is as good as you'll get before forking out for the beauty of native 4K projection. The detail may not be as stunning as its brethren in those upper echelons but for colour accuracy, subtlety of contrast and HDR handling, its a real corker.

The result is a picture more involving than you'll find anywhere else at this price point with a sense of depth so absorbing that you'll pick up detail from your favourite films that you'll have always missed on smaller screens.

It's also a dream in terms of practicality. Its 50-300in image size can be thrown from a good range of distances and the motorised lens means you can set it all up from the comfort of your sofa using its superb, backlit remote. Just sit back and enjoy some cinematic greats.

Read the full review: Epson EH-TW9400

Sony VPL-VW290ES

(Image credit: Future)

4. Sony VPL-VW290ES

The entry-level standard for native 4K projectors.

Specifications
Resolution: Native 4K
Panel: SXRD
Brightness: 1500 ANSI-lumens
HDR10: Yes
HLG support: Yes
Inputs: HDMI (x2)
Lamp life: 6000 hours
HDCP 2.2: Yes
3D: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Glossy HDR picture+Excellent HD upscaling+Insightful, cinematic image
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing at this price

This is Sony's replacement for the excellent VW270ES. Now armed with the X1 for Projector picture processor, and features like Super Resolution Reality Creation and Dynamic HDR Enhancer, it resets the standard for the entry-level native 4K projector.

Like the rest of the native 4K Sony series, the 290ES uses Sony's SXRD, 4096 x 2160 resolution, D-ILA panels which combine the best of LCD and DLP technology. The results in this case are sharp picture which draws an excellent balance between HDR punch and tonal details.

As with most native 4K machines, there's no Dolby Vision support, but Sony's own dynamic HDR technology can still provide a frame-by-frame HDR analysis for the best possible picture at all times.

Even with SDR material, the results are quite astonishing. There's little want for detail when upscaling from HD and there are bags of carefully shaded nuance with both contrast and colour. The only thing that stands in its way is that the even better JVC DLA-N5 isn't a whole lot more expensive.

Read the full review: Sony VPL-VW290ES

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Future)

5. Epson EH-TW7000

An entry-level 4K projector done right

Specifications
Type: 3LCD
Resolution: 4K pixel shift
HDR: Yes
Contrast ratio: 40,000:1
Inputs: HDMI 2.0 (x2), USB 2.0 (x2)
3D: Yes
Lamp: 3000 lumens
Lamp life: 5,000/3,000 hours (eco/normal)
Reasons to buy
+Strong 4K and HD detail+Excellent use of HDR+Flexible for positioning
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K motion processing-SDR settings can vary

This entry-level 4K projector is the baby brother of the Epson at No.1 in the list. The chassis and most of the features are the same apart from the missing internal speakers on this model which are a bit of waste of money anyway.

There are differences on the inside, though. It's still a 3LCD machine but the projection technology will only allow for a picture with a stated contrast ratio of 40,000:1 compared to the 100,000:1 on the TW7100. That said the picture performance is still excellent and very fair for the money.

HDR handling and dark detail are very good and, considering the price point, this projector is capable of some brilliant detail. Black depth and motion processing isn't a patch on more expensive models but the results are very appealing nonetheless and give a wonderfully naturally cinematic feel for very little outlay – a masterclass in budget projection.

Read the full review: Epson EH-TW7000

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony VPL-VW590ES

A native 4K projector that majors on cinematic excitement.

Specifications
Resolution: Native 4K
Panel: SXRD
HDR: Yes
Max image size: 300in
Connectivity: HDMI 2.0 (x2), LAN, PC, USB
HDCP 2.2: Yes
Brightness: 1800 lumens
Lamp life: 6000 hours
Contrast ratio: : 350,000:1
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic 4K detail+Excellent motion processing+Solid contrast control
Reasons to avoid
-Image can lack subtlety

Sony has supplied the market with a fair few native 4K projectors over the last few years – all high-end, all highly commendable.

In many ways this particular Sony is an irrefutable showboat. Its colour palette is more focused on vibrancy and eye-catching saturation, and it's shading favours the dramatic to the subtle, but there's a definite appeal in that approach too.

Detail at 4K is outstanding and there's a very good texture and realism to every part of the on-screen image. Tonal detail in light and dark areas is excellent, even in scenes of mixed lighting, thanks to some pinpoint contrast control with help from the Dynamic Iris. There's also the very hard to beat bonus of Sony's superb motion processing.

Set up is relatively straightforward, and once you have it up and running you'll be rewarded with pictures that will keep your eyes glued to the screen.

Read the full review: Sony VPL-VW590ES

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

7. Epson EH-TW7400

Epson's '4K' projector is a talented all-rounder for the money.

Specifications
Type: LCD
Resolution: Full HD with '4K enhancement'
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Contrast ratio: 200,000:1
Inputs: HDMI (x2), VGA, USB
3D: Yes
Lamp life: 5000 hours
Reasons to buy
+Punchy, dynamic picture+Rich, refined colours+Electronic lens shift
Reasons to avoid
-Not full 4K-3D glasses aren't included

Despite only having a Full HD chip, the Epson still supports 4K and HDR content thanks to its clever '4K-enhancement' tech. It can't quite match the best native 4K projectors, but they tend to cost a lot more and it still delivers an exceptional picture for the money.

There's sharpness and colour in spades and the Epson also does a great job delivering punch and dynamism. It digs out plenty of detail in dark scenes too, and it's also easy to operate thanks to the motorised lens and handy remote control.

If you want something bigger than a flatscreen TV but more affordable than a native 4K projector, this is a great middle-ground solution.

Read the full review: Epson EH-TW7400

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

8. Optoma UHD65

This Award-winning 4K HDR model performs brilliantly, and comes in at a very competitive price.

Specifications
4K capability: Yes
HDR: Yes
Connectivity: HDMI (x2), VGA, USB, Ethernet, 3.5mm analogue, optical
Speakers: 2 x 4W
Reasons to buy
+Impressive level of detail+Good range of colours+Upscales HD and SD films well
Reasons to avoid
-Dark scenes could be more detailed-SDR to HDR conversion best avoided

This is a sophisticated, 4K-capable, HDR projector is competitively priced. Considering there are more expensive models on the market that are neither 4K nor HDR-compatible, those looking for a top-notch home cinema projector should give the Optoma UHD65 serious consideration.

It may not have all the bells and whistles of a high-end 4K projector, and, indeed, it may not be native 4K, but the picture is superb with brilliant motion handling, colour production and excellent upscaling abilities.

It's also future-proofed enough to keep you happy for years. At this price, the Optoma is the one to beat, and if you find it at a discount, then you'd better not blink.

Read the full review: Optoma UHD65

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Future)

9. LG CineBeam HU80KSW

An all-in-one, do-it-all portable projector that has it all and does it all well.

Specifications
4K capability: Yes
HDR: Yes
Speakers: 2 x 7W
Brightness: 2500 lumens
Lamp life: 20,000 hours
Contrast ratio: 150,000:1
Max image size: 150in
HDCP 2.2: Yes
Connectivity: HDMI (x2), USB (x2), 3.5mm, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Miracast
Streaming apps: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer
Reasons to buy
+One-box, truly portable system+Impressive 4K HDR picture+Easy to build a system around
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a little detail-Motion could be better-Built-in speakers only adequate

One of the most feature-complete projectors you'll ever find, the LG CineBeam is a fascinating box of tricks. It may not be the finest on this list for pure performance but it presents a very decent 4K HDR image from a larger array of sources - both smart and local - than any other here. 

It's blessed with the excellent webOS platform, which means direct access to all your video apps over Wi-Fi, and its Miracasting and Bluetooth abilities make for easy and intuitive ad-hoc connections to whatever mobile device you'd like to play back from, and external sound too.

Expensive? Maybe, but for those who want the flexibility to throw a film up on their wall whenever and however they choose, it's just the ticket; decent sound and a very solid picture to boot. One of the best outdoor projectors you can buy.

Read the full review: LG CineBeam HU80KSW

Best outdoor projectors

(Image credit: Future)

10. Epson EF-12

A smart, small and seriously punchy projector

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p HDR
Type: 3LCD
Speakers: 2 x 5W
Brightness: 1000 lumens
Inputs: HDMI (x2), USB
Audio out: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
Smart platform: Yes
Battery: No
Storage: 10GB
Reasons to buy
+Tidy build+Strong black depth and dark detail+Decent sound system
Reasons to avoid
-Colours lack complexity-Mains power only-Some key missing apps

Epson's 3LCD projection system is squished down here and housed in a very tidy 14‎ x 18 x 18cm, 2kg box. While not quite as serious for brightness and picture quality as the company's more traditional home cinema machines, it still has a way with contrast and shading that's beyond the reach of most portable projectors.

What's more, its sound system is streets ahead of almost all others on this list. It's a 2 x 5W set-up that's been tuned by Yamaha. It's remarkably expressive with just enough precision to hold its own even in scenes with heavy action.

There's no iPlayer, Netflix or All 4 apps on the smart platform and we'd like Epson to have fitted an internal battery too but these are relatively minor gripes and nothing that neither a media streamer nor an extension cable can't solve. Definitely one for your portable projector shortlist.

Read the full Epson EF-12 review.

Anker Nebula Solar Portable

(Image credit: Future)

11. Anker Nebula Solar Portable

The best Nebula portable projector so far

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p HDR
Type: DLP
Speakers: 2 x 3W
Lamp: 400 lumens
Inputs: HDMI, USB
Audio-out: Bluetooth
Smart platform: Android TV OS
Battery: Yes
Storage: 8GB
Reasons to buy
+Vivid but balanced picture+Great portable size and features+Decent spread of sound
Reasons to avoid
-Sound system lacks impact-Blacks could be deeper

This is Anker's best Nebula projector to date and also a very, very good portable in its own right. Feature-wise, it's got almost everything one could need in an outdoor projector. There's an excellent smart platform, a three-hour battery life, a good degree of brightness and plenty of source material options.

What tops it off, though, is some really rather impressive picture quality. There are brighter machines out there but, for this price, there's a great blend of both punch and subtlety to the image. In the right setting, it's just the ticket.

The onboard speakers are a touch weedy but the quality and spread of sound from them is good.

Do be warned that the app platform is missing a few of the UK catch-up services, iPlayer included, but otherwise, this feels like one of the best projectors out there for taking on your travels. It's small, convenient and very well appointed.

Read the full Anker Nebula Solar Portable review.

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

(Image credit: Nebula)

12. Nebula Mars 2

More fun than the average portable projector.

Specifications
Resolution: 720p
Brightness: 300 lumens
Streaming apps: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer
Connectivity: AirPlay, Chromecast, Miracast, HDMI, USB, Bluetooth speaker mode
Operating system: Android 7.1
Reasons to buy
+Fun, quick and easy to use+Solid image quality in darker rooms+Useful built-in speaker
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat crude colour-Requires careful light control-Not the sharpest lens

Like the LG above and the other Nebula below, the Mars 2 is a smartbox style portable projector which offers both convenience and a good dollop of fun. It's an excellent pick up and put down mini-movie night in which ever room in the house you happen to be.

It offers a picture size of up to 150in (you'll need very low lighting to appreciate it) and it'll run for four hours on its internal battery before it needs plugging in again - not bad for a summer evening's outdoor cinema, then. It also has a 2 x 10W speaker system built in.

Obviously, it's not the last word in picture quality but it delivers enough of the goods to be worth your while.

Read the full review: Nebula Mars 2

Best projectors 2021: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw

13. Nebula Capsule

A hugely convenient and fun way to get your portable big-screen kicks.

Specifications
Resolution: 854 x 480
Brightness: 100 lumens
Streaming apps: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer
Connectivity: AirPlay, Chromecast, Miracast, HDMI, microUSB, Bluetooth speaker mode
Operating system: Android 7.1
Reasons to buy
+Neat design+Solid sound+Passable pictures
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't like dark scenes or lit rooms -Needs fuller range of apps-Short of connections

Don't be put off by the star rating: this tiny, tin-shaped projector has a big picture and bigger ambitions. It's an ingenious piece of tech - a portable projector with built-in Android-esque app store. The Capsule can also be used as a dedicated Bluetooth speaker.

Whether streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube, the Capsule presents a decent picture that rivals other pico projectors. It's not perfect, but those looking for something a little bit different, portable and easy to use, and who don’t mind missing out in absolute picture quality terms, will enjoy it very much.

Read the full review: Nebula Capsule

MORE:

These are the best outdoor projectors 2021

Take a look at the best home cinema deals

Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.

  • nnorton00
    This article has been updated to "Best projectors 2020: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw". The problem is the #1 projector, the UHD40, has been discontinued since May 2019, over a year! Any other suggestions to replace that top spot?
    Reply
  • abacus
    The Optoma UHD51 is probably the best bet or jump up a bit further to the Benq W2700.

    Bill
    Reply
  • nnorton00
    The UHD51 was also discontinued in May 2019!
    Reply
  • abacus
    nnorton00 said:
    The UHD51 was also discontinued in May 2019!

    The UHD 51 is still on the Optoma website and can be bought from many dealers (As well as the Optoma online shop) so not discontinued.

    Richer Sounds currently do it for £1299

    Bill
    Reply
  • abacus said:
    The UHD 51 is still on the Optoma website and can be bought from many dealers (As well as the Optoma online shop) so not discontinued.

    Richer Sounds currently do it for £1299

    Bill
    Richer Sounds one got £50 off too:

    https://www.richersounds.com/tv-projectors/projectors/4-k-projectors/optoma-uhd51.html
    Reply
  • Dan Sung
    The UHD40 is also still available with certain vendors too, here at Bax, for example - https://www.bax-shop.co.uk/projection/optoma-uhd40-4k-ultra-hd-projector
    We're also getting in the UHD42 shortly. Hopefully Optoma has done a good job there.
    Reply
  • Dan Sung
    nnorton00 said:
    This article has been updated to "Best projectors 2020: Full HD, 4K, portable, short throw". The problem is the #1 projector, the UHD40, has been discontinued since May 2019, over a year! Any other suggestions to replace that top spot?

    New No.1.
    Reply