Best projectors 2022: 4K, Full HD, portable, short throw

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 2022.

The smell of the popcorn, the hush of the theatre, the lights go down, and on goes the film; there's nothing quite like the cinema. Making your 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 300 inches, the best projectors are the only way to get that genuine big screen feeling.

We've rounded up our favorite 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 that 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!

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Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Laser home cinema projector: Sony VPL-XW5000ES

Sony changes the game with the cheapest truly native 4K laser projector ever made. (Image credit: Sony)
Sony’s new laser projector is a cut-price stunner.

Specifications

Display Technology: Laser SXRD
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Screen Size: Up to 200 inches
Ports: 2 x HDMI 2.0, USB A
Dimensions: 20 x 46 x 47cm

Reasons to buy

+
Stunningly detailed native 4K pictures
+
Impressive black levels and contrast
+
Excellent picture processing

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor manual lens controls
-
Dark HDR scenes can lose detail
-
No 4K/120Hz gaming support

The VPL-XW5000ES is a watershed moment for not just Sony’s projection business but the home cinema world in general. Why? Because it’s the cheapest truly native 4K laser projector the home cinema world has ever seen.

Prior to the XW5000ES, Sony’s entry-level SXRD 4K projectors – such as last year’s VW290ES (VW325ES in the US) – have relied on lamp rather than laser technology. Moving to laser, though, means no longer having to put up with either the inconvenience and ongoing costs associated with having to replace lamps every few thousand hours of use, or the relatively rapid degradation in brightness that lamps suffer. 

While you inevitably have to accept a compromise or two in return for Sony delivering a full 4K laser projector at this price, those compromises are ultimately crushed by the joyous impact the XW5000ES’s combination of laser lighting and exceptional X1 Ultimate processing has on both your immediate and long-term movie night thrills.

Read the full Sony VPL-XW5000ES review

Epson EH-TW7000

An affordable 4K projector that impresses (Image credit: Future)
For great 4K pictures at an affordable price, this is the best 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 color 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, the Epson Home Cinema 3800 (known as the EH-TW7100 in the UK) 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. Colors 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 Home Cinema 3800 (EH-TW7100)

Home cinema projector: Sony VLP-XW7000ES

(Image credit: Future)
A dazzlingly bright and brilliant projector.

Specifications

Bulb technology: Laser diode
Projection technology: SXRD (LCoS)
Fan noise: 26dB
HDMI: 2 x HDMI 2.0
Brightness: 3200 lumens

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning contrast and detail
+
Sharp picture
+
Comprehensive remote

Reasons to avoid

-
Some rivals have better motion

Sony is taking no prisoners with its pair of new native 4K laser projectors, with the VPL-XW7000ES being the higher-end of the two models. As we’ve already given the cheaper VPL-XW5000ES a five star review, it's now time to look at its beefed up counterpart. 

The Sony VPL-XW7000ES takes everything up a notch, pushing brightness up to 11 and featuring a more comprehensive set of motorized lens controls. Its native 4K resolution and notably, high lumen count should catch the eyes of those looking for a flashy projector that will have people talking about the device as much as the content that's being watched on it. 

The Sony VPL-XW7000ES consistently received involuntary verbal reactions of “wow” and “can you believe how good this looks?” throughout our testing. The brightness surpasses the gimmicky branding that many would expect, and the details are razor sharp.

Read the full Sony VPL-XW7000ES review

Best projectors 2022: 4K, Full HD, portable, short throw

4. Epson Home Cinema 4010

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 colors
+
Electronic lens shift

Reasons to avoid

-
Not full 4K
-
3D glasses aren't included

It might only have a Full HD chip, but the Epson Home Cinema 4010 still supports 4K and HDR content thanks to its clever '4K-enhancement' tech. True, it's not native 4K, so will look a little wanting compared to a 'proper' 4K model. But this model is a lot cheaper, and still delivers an exceptional picture for the money.

The image is pin sharp ad very colorful, while also popping with punch and dynamism. The Epson digs out plenty of detail in dark scenes too – useful if moody, moonlight-lit thrillers are your bag. Plus it's a cinch to operate thanks to the motorised lens and handy remote control.

If you're ready to take the step up from a big-screen TV, but don't want a native 4K projector (which tend to be prohibitively expensive), this is a great middle ground. Invite people round for a movie night, and you won't hear any complaints.

Read the full review: Epson Home Cinema 4010

UST projector: LG CineBeam HU715Q

An ultra short throw that blends style and substance (Image credit: LG)
Could this projector replace your TV?

Specifications

Native resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)
HDR: HDR10, HLG
Light source: Laser
Operating system: webOS
Picture size: 80-120 inches
Contrast: 2,000,000 : 1
Brightness: 2500 ANSI lumens
HDMIs: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x HDMI 2.0

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed and balanced image
+
Pleasing design
+
Comprehensive feature set

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't sound as good as it should

Ultra short throw projectors, or USTs for short, are becoming an increasingly popular option for those who want the big screen theatrics of a projector with the convenience of a TV. Space saving is the game here, without the need for mounts or dedicated home cinema rooms to house bulky traditional projectors, the UST’s main advantage is that it can be placed against a wall but it can still produce a huge image.

The LG Cinebeam HU715Q is about as close as a projector can get to being a TV, with a sleek design, sharp picture and built-in webOS operating system. But while it may be close, could it really replace your TV?

The LG HU715Q is the most convincing case yet for swapping out your TV for an ultra-short throw projector. Naturally, it doesn't offer the inky blacks, striking contrast or next-gen gaming specs of a 77-inch LG C2 OLED, but it does offer a vastly bigger and more cinematic picture – and for a lower price.

You should also consider a traditional home cinema projector, of course, but for those who don't have the space and/or patience, a UST will make all sorts of sense. And if that's the case for you, this is the UST projector that we most heartily recommend.

Read the full LG CineBeam HU715Q review

Home cinema projector: JVC DLA-NZ7

The DLA-N27 is natural, crisp and effortlessly enjoyable. (Image credit: Future)
JVC brings the cinema home.

Specifications

Native resolution: 4096 x 2160
Light source: Laser
Bulb lifespan: 20,000 hours
Brightness: 2200 lumens
Native contrast: 40,000:1
HDMI: 2 x HDMI 2.1

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly natural image
+
Highly detailed
+
Great with motion

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic remote
-
Up against tough competition

JVC has set the standard for high-end projectors with its D-ILA designs since 1997, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. The DLA-NZ7 is here to carry the torch on for this long line of prestigious projectors. It's fully featured, capable of producing a gorgeous image and is just an all-round showstopper. 

Over the years, practically every JVC DLA projector has performed well in our reviews, so the NZ7 has a lot to live up to. Thankfully this projector, much like those before it, steps up to the challenge.

This projector never brags to you about how capable it truly is, instead letting the crisp, natural and cinematic picture wash over you. It's home cinema projection taken seriously, and while there are other options at this price with punchier pictures, the JVC is here for people who want to be immersed in the image rather than what the projector itself is doing.

Read the full JVC DLA-NZ7 review

Home cinema projector: JVC DLA-NP5

Bulb-based D-ILA magic from JVC proves that lasers aren't always needed. (Image credit: Future)
JVC’s latest projector doesn’t need lasers to be brilliant.

Specifications

Dimensions: (hwd) 234 x 500 x 495mm
Processing: Clear Motion Drive, Frame Adapt HDR, Theater Optimizer
Screen size: up to 200 inches
Native resolution: 4096 x 2160
Input with 60Hz in game mode: 36ms
Projector type: D-ILA with lamp lighting

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding contrast
+
Excellent HDR playback
+
4K/120Hz support

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a lamp projector
-
No VRR support

The DLA-NP5 is JVC’s most affordable D-ILA projector for 2022 – and with JVC’s cheapest laser D-ILA models setting you back well into five figures, we have a funny feeling that interest in the lamp-based NP5 could be seriously high. Especially now that the ‘Covid years’ have given us all a whole new appreciation of the value of a high-quality home entertainment system.

Don’t be put off by the DLA-NP5’s lack of laser lighting. Yes, you will likely have to change a bulb or two during your time with it, but the rewards for this occasional bit of maintenance are consistently gorgeous all-round picture quality at a fraction of the price you’d need to pay for one of JVC’s laser models.

Read the full JVC DLA-NP5 review

Sony VPL-VW290ES

(Image credit: Future)

8. Sony VPL-VW325ES

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 VW295ES. 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 325ES 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 color. 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-VW325ES

Best projectors

(Image credit: Future)

9. Epson Home Cinema 3200

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.2 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 Home Cinema 3200

UST projector: Samsung The Premiere LSP9T

Ultra short throw doesn't compromise on the big picture. (Image credit: Future)
Surprisingly like a TV, only bigger.

Specifications

Resolution : 3840x2160
Type: DLP
Connectivity: HDMI x 3, USB x 1, Optical audio, LAN, Freeview TV tuner
Built in streaming apps: Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ (same as Samsung TVs)
OS: Tizen
Lamp life: 20,000 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Bright, colorful pictures
+
Comprehensive smart system
+
Good sound quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly to set up
-
‘Rainbow’ effect

Anyone who’s into home cinema appreciates the value of a really big TV screen. But they’ll also be all too aware of how much really big TV screens cost. As soon as you step up to screen sizes above 80 inches the cost of TVs explodes, leaving the vast majority of households having to limit their home theatre dreams to 75 inches at the very largest. 

Unless, that is, they go for a projector. But then, of course, projectors aren’t usually a convenient fit for living rooms. Cue Samsung’s The Premiere LSP9T: a projector designed from the ground up to deliver an epic TV-like experience for a fraction of the cost.

Thanks to its uniquely (by projector standards) potent audio and the remarkable color range and brightness made possible by its tri-laser lighting system, the Premiere LSP9T really does get closer than any other projector to date to making you believe you’re watching a king-sized TV. Which is pretty handy considering that it’s going to be many, many years (if ever) before you’ll be able to get a 130-inch TV for anywhere near its asking price.

Read the full Samsung The Premiere LSP9T review

Home cinema projector: Samsung The Freestyle

A versatile projector to take on your travels. (Image credit: Future)
And now for something completely different.

Specifications

Resolution : 1080p
HDR: Yes
Type: LED
Connectivity: Mini HDMI x 1
OS: Tizen
Streaming apps: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Apple TV+

Reasons to buy

+
Cute but practical design
+
Bright, sharp, colorful pictures
+
Impressive auto keystone/focus

Reasons to avoid

-
Below-par black levels
-
Auto keystone system isn’t perfect
-
A bit expensive

The Freestyle, Samsung’s diddy new LED-based projector lives up to its name by enabling you to take projection to places it’s never really been able to go before. Literally. Even the usual power cable ‘tether’ doesn’t have to hold The Freestyle back from doing its thing in even the most inaccessible corners of your home.  

The sheer extent of its flexibility actually makes its performance feel better than we arguably have any right to expect, though. So if you’re prepared to show it the sort of love it needs, the Freestyle has the potential to be your home’s new best friend. Right up until the point where you end up squabbling over whose turn it is to use it, anyway.

Read the full review: Samsung The Freestyle

How we test projectors

Testing projectors involves taking the time to explore their capabilities fully through lots of options-tweaking and content-watching. This includes checking every item in the settings menu, and individually tweaking picture features to ensure the projector is giving us the best visual performance it can. 

We conduct these tests in our state of the art testing room in Bath, which is outfitted with a 100-inch screen and a plethora of external sources to hook the projectors up to, including 4K Blu-ray players, video streamers and games consoles. This is also where each of these projectors meets its rivals, as every product is tested side-by-side with the competition to ensure it meets expectations and so that its place in the market is considered as a whole – no product exists in a vacuum after all.

We test using a wide range of content from 4K Blu-rays, to streaming services, video games and standard definition DVDs to make sure all kinds of content are put through these projectors. This helps us find the strengths and weaknesses of each projector.

At the end of this process, a verdict is reached by a team of reviewers who work closely together in order to ensure that each projector is tested fairly, and to avoid the possibility of any personal preferences creeping in. This is also to make sure our reviews are consistent and thorough, and so that no feature or flaw is missed within our testing process.

MORE:

These are the best outdoor projectors 2022

Take a look at the best home cinema deals

Lewis Empson
Staff Writer

Staff Writer Lewis is the newest addition to the What Hi-Fi? editorial team. Previously Gaming and Digital editor for Cardiff University's 'Quench Magazine', Lewis graduated in 2021 and has since worked on a selection of lifestyle magazines and regional newspapers. In his down time he enjoys gaming and regular cinema trips.

  • 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
  • Johnnyringo
    So this is an article from 2019, with the date changed to 2022? Where are the short throws? Many of these models are outdated, the same as others in the list, or or just very poor. I love me some what hi-fi, but this is egregious.
    Reply