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 jewel in the crown of your home theater set-up should be one of the best 4K projectors around. You want epic scale for movie nights and you should have it with some top notch quality too. You deserve it. Take a look at more of what we love on Home Cinema Week on What Hi-Fi?.
With picture sizes greater than 100in, not to mention the requisite 'lights off' setting, a projector can bring the movie theatre experience right to your den. And you don't need a huge room to benefit – today's short throw models can turn even a modest-sized lounge into a movie theatre.
Add in an AV amp and surround sound speakers, and you're good to go.
We've rounded up the very best projectors out there to give you a big screen whatever your budget. There are even portable models that make great bring-along additions to a pool party for an outdoor movie experience.
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 create that top-end resolution. Just remember to save some money for the projector screen and the popcorn!
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 Home Cinema 3800
If you want the best projector picture possible, but don't want to pay the extra for native 4K projection, this is the projector for you. It might not offer quite the same level of detail as a native 4K model, but in terms of color accuracy, contrast subtlety and HDR handling, it certainly delivers.
The picture is stunning, more involving than any rivals at this price, and so absorbing you'll pick up details you never noticed before.
It's eminently practical, too. The picture goes from 50-300in, which should suit most house sizes, and it can be thrown from a good variety of distances, so it will work in your lounge regardless of your setup. It has a motorized lens too, so you can set it up from there comfort of your couch using the fantastic, backlit remote. Kick back and enjoy.
Read the full review: Epson Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB
JVC's D-ILA devices are some of the best 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-NX5
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 Home Cinema 3200
Projectors at the lower end of the market vary wildly in merit – some are Adam Driver quality, some are more Adam Sandler. But this small, talented Epson model shows that budget models can still provide plenty of thrills.
This LCD panel model has short throw capabilities of between 1.35-1.64m, so it's perfect for those with small movie rooms and even tighter budgets. It skilfully handles brightness, color and detail, showing an even-handedness and level of restraint we wish that similarly-priced rivals would display.
True, it's Full HD rather than 4K, but at this price, we're not complaining. And neither will you once you've seen it in action. (That's especially true if you're running standard DVDs and Blu-rays rather than 4K discs or streaming 4K-capable services like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.)
Is it the most capable projector around? No. But if you want movie nights without the cost, look no further.
Read the full review: Epson Home Cinema 1060
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
Here we go – a true, native 4K projector, meaning the best picture quality outside of a proper movie theatre. In fact, this image actually looks better than some movie theatres we've visited in our time. Its color palette is more about realism and accuracy than pure, eye-catching saturation. There are no candy-bright hues here, thankfully. Just realistic skin tones and impressive shading.
In other ways, though, the VPL-VW550ES is a bit of a showboat. But then it is made by Sony, who has plenty to showboat about – its native 4K projectors are some of the best money can buy, and this model wears its heritage proudly on its sleeve. Justifiably so, we say.
Unlike some high-end models, it's simple to set up and work, too, so you won't need any rocket science qualifications to get it up and running. And once it's on, you won't want to shut it off.
Read the full review: Sony VPL-VW550ES
One of the most feature-complete projectors you'll ever find, the LG CineBeam is a really fascinating box of tricks. It may not be the finest on this list in terms of pure picture quality, but it presents a very decent 4K HDR image from a larger array of sources – both smart and local – than any other here. And for that, we commend it.
It's blessed with LG's 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. These can provide external sound, too.
So is it expensive? Maybe. But for those who want the flexibility to throw a movie up on their wall whenever and however they choose, it's just the ticket, with decent sound and a very solid picture as well. One of the best outdoor projectors you can buy.
Read the full review: LG CineBeam HU80KSW
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.
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.
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
Three stars!? In a Best Buy? What's going on? Let us explain.
This is a bit of an odd one. It's a tiny, tin-shaped projector with a big picture and even bigger ambitions. It's ingenious, really – a portable projector with built-in Android-esque app store. And when you want to discuss the movie after? The Capsule can also be used as a dedicated Bluetooth speaker. So stick on some tunes and have yourself a (socially distanced) party.
Its picture is surprisingly impressive, given the size and price. Admittedly it's not going to rival a native 4K model, but at this money, we wouldn't expect it to. It's great for streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or YouTube (all of which are very easy to access using the built-in app store).
If you're looking for something a bit different from your projector, and you want a model to carry round to other people's houses, or just move around the garden, and you don't mind a picture that's a bit rough around the edges, you'll find plenty to like about the Nebula Capsule.
Read the full review: Nebula Capsule