The 10 Best Projectors - May 2017
Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every projector on the market in the US to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 2,350 projectors, 15,600 reviews and 3,750 prices. Last updated 23 May 2017.
$1,545.00eBaySave $453.00 (23%)View Details
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- $1,798.00 B&H Photo
- $1,799.98 Best Buy
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- $499.00 Overstock
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- $529.00 B&H Photo
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- $369.99 Best Buy
- $369.99 B&H Photo
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$649.99AdoramaSave $97.00 (13%)View Details
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- $649.99 B&H Photo
- $890.41 Newegg US
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Find out how projector brands compare. The average rating for each brand is based on the rating of all of their projectors. Click on a link to compare all projectors made by your favourite brand.
|Logo||Brand||Number of Projectors||Price Range||Average Rating|
|Epson Projectors||124||$296 - $14,695||84%|
|Optoma Projectors||78||$225 - $4,471||83%|
|Sony Projectors||67||$380 - $24,998||92%|
|Benq Projectors||66||$275 - $3,999||86%|
|Panasonic Projectors||57||$449 - $19,999||92%|
|NEC Projectors||57||$425 - $13,499||87%|
|Acer Projectors||34||$170 - $1,480||79%|
|Viewsonic Projectors||33||$266 - $3,500||83%|
|Infocus Projectors||26||$299 - $2,199||81%|
|Other Projector Brands||125||$171 - $10,000|
Projectors Buying Guide
Projectors vs Large Screen TVs
Projectors a great option if you want to watch movies and TV shows on a large screen, very similar to a cinema. Projector technology is moving forward at a steady pace with 3D projectors and high resolution 4K projectors now available at affordable prices.
But is a projector a better choice than a large screen TV?
This depends on a number of factors, including where and how often you want to watch TV or movies. If you are after a huge picture at an decent price and have a room that can be blacked out almost completely, then a home cinema projector is a great choice. Multimedia projectors are very portable and can easily be taken to meetings and events.
If, however, screen size and mobility are not as important and you want to watch your favourite shows without having to dim the lights, then an large screen TV will be the more convenient option and deliver an better picture.
Large Screen TVs
These ultra-portable projectors are ideal to take with you when you travel a lot and have to give presentations in different locations. Pocket projectors and also sometimes referred to as ‘pico projectors’ and are the smallest projector type.
Still regarded as somewhat of a novelty, these small projectors have made quite and impact on the projector market due to their portability and practicality. Pocket projectors use LED lamps which are less bright (20-1,000 lumens compared to 2,500-4,000 lumens for multimedia projectors), limiting the size of the image.
They also don’t have a zoom lens, so the only way to control the size of the image is to adjust the distance between the projector and the screen.
If you are looking for an ultra-portable way to show your presentations to smaller group of people and don’t want to carry a monitor, a pocket projectors could just what you have been looking for.
True all-rounders, multimedia projectors can handle ant type of presentation - slide shows at wedding and parties, business PowerPoint presentations and video clips. They are the most popular type of projector. Their brightness typically lies between 2,500-4,000 lumens, allowing them to be used in rooms with some ambient light.
Multimedia projectors usually have a zoom range between 1.2x and 1.5x, so it is important to check the projector is compatible with your screen size and throw distance. Home cinema projectors tend to have a larger zoom range (around 2.0x) and might be a better choice depending on your set-up.
Almost all multimedia projectors are considered portable and can be taken to meetings and presentations. While pocket projectors are lighter, multimedia projectors are heavier, weighing in at 3 pounds for a light model. They strike a good balance between portability and brightness to allow for a large and vibrant image.
Short Throw Projectors
A sub-category of multimedia projectors, short throw projectors are designed to be very close to the screen, making them ideal for classrooms and pairing with digital whiteboards. Their throw ratio is usually less than 1:1 with 0.5 being most common and going down to an ultra-short-throw ration of just 0.3:1.
Short throw projectors don’t have a zoom lens and it need to be placed within the recommended distance from the screen, which is usually 1.5-2 feet away. Placing a short throw projectors further back than their recommended throw distance in order to project a larger image usually results in severe keystoning of the image.
Home Cinema Projectors
Multimedia projectors are designed to give you the best image possible. They tend to use DLP or LCOS imaging technology and their brightness usually tops out at around 2,500 lumens. They zoom ratio tends to be larger than that of multimedia projectors, usually 2.0x or more.
Most home cinema projectors feature Full HD resolution with an increasing number of 4K models with a native resolution of 4096x2160 pixels becoming available, making them the most expensive type of projector.
To achieve the best picture quality, you need to be able to control the ambient light in your room, a room that is completely dark would be ideal. Home cinema projectors work well for screen sizes up to around 100 inches.
Projector noise can be very disturbing and home cinema projectors usually have more sophisticated cooling systems and quieter fans than their multimedia counterparts.
Understanding Screen Size and Throw Distance
One of the most important things to consider when buying a projector is the screen size and distance between the projector and the screen. If your projector set-up is flexible it is usually best to mount the projector as close to the screen as possible.The image will loose brightness the further back you move the projector and being closer to the screen will ensure the picture looks crisp and vibrant. If your set-up is more constrained it is important to work out the throw ratio as this will limit your choice of projector.
Working out the throw ratio:
- Measure the distance between the projector and the screen. As an example, let’s assume a throw distance of 12 feet.
- Now, measure the width of your screen. Let’s assume your screen is 8 feet wide.
- Your throw ratio is therefore 12 feet / 8 feet = 1.5.
A projector with a throw ratio of 1.5:1, which is common for most multimedia projectors would meet your requirements perfectly.
If you have the flexibility the move the projector further back to 16 feet, you could also choose a home cinema projector with a throw ratio of 2:1. If you are unable to position the projector further back and your projector has a throw ration of 1.5:1, then the resulting image would be narrower and only be 6 feet wide.
If you don’t know what your throw ratio will be - maybe you are using the projector in a variety of settings to give business presentations, it is usually wise to go for a projector with a shorter throw, around the 1.3:1 or 1.5:1 mark. It is usually easier to place the projector closer to the screen than is is to place it further away.
Most home cinema and multimedia projectors can be ceiling-mounted or placed on a table or shelf. Ceiling mounting is the best option for a fixed installation. It will keep the projector out of the way and also give you the best picture quality.
Some home cinema projectors are quite bulky and cannot be installed inverted. Check the installation options and accessories that are available for your chosen projector as they differ between models.
Making sure you pick a projector with sufficient brightness is essential to ensure the image is clear with deep and vibrant colours. Ambient light plays an important factor here. The more ambient light you have in the room, the brighter the projector needs to be. You can always turn down the brightness if you are using a projector capable of producing 5,000 lumens in a completely blacked out room but there is no easy solution if you discover the conference room you are about to present in does not even have blinds and your projector only outputs 2,000 lumen. The image will simply look flat and washed out.
For the best results use a projector in a completely dark room. Even small amounts of ambient light will affect the darker tones and reduce their intensity.
Brightness is measured in ANSI lumens. The ideal projector brightness you need depends on the amount of ambient light in the room, the throw distance as well as the screen size. The easiest way to work it out is to use a projection calculator.
For completely dark rooms, a projector brightness of 1,300-2,000 lumens will be sufficient. Most home cinema projectors have a brightness of up to 2,500 lumens. For partially darkened rooms, such as classrooms, a brightness of around 3,000 lumens is required as the projector has to deal with a fair amount of ambient light.
Larger screens around 10 feet wide such as used in meetings or at weddings would require a brightness of around 5,000 lumens.
Make sure the projector you are looking to buy can be connected directly to your computer, set-top box or Blu-ray player. This should not be a problem for newer devices and projectors, but you might need an adaptor for older models. Here are the most common connection options:
The current standard for connecting high definition devices. HDMI also transmits digital audio through the same cable.
If your projector has a wireless connection, you can transmit images easily without needing a cable. There are different ways to connect a computer to a projector wirelessly including software, wireless USB keys as well as iOS and Android apps for smart phones and tablets.
You can also connect using Display Port or USB. A USB port also allows you to plug a digital camera or USB stick directly into the projector to show photos and videos to friends instantly.
Do you need a screen? That depends…
You can beam the image directly on to a flat, white wall. The picture quality will depend on the smoothness of the wall and you could consider using reflective paint to achieve a good picture quality.
If you don’t have a flat surface available you are buy a projection screen, which will give you the best picture quality. There are different types available - some have tripods while others are wall mounted.
Electric screens automatically open and close with a click on the remote control. Mobile projection screens are compact and lighter and ideal if you are planning to take your projector to meetings.
Projector bulbs (‘lamps’) have an average lifetime of around 1,500 hours. Although this may sound a lot, the average projector lamp will only last for about a year when used for 4 hours a day. You will notice when the projector bulb needs replacing as the picture will become significantly dimmer.
A replacement bulb can be rather expensive so it is worth checking the cost of lamps before buying a projector and factoring the addition maintenance cost into your decision.
There are ways to increase the life of projector lamps: allowing the projector to cool down after use, changing dust filters regularly and using special operating (economy) modes aimed at prolonging bulb life. Eventually, though, a new lamp is the only way to ensure a high image quality.
Powerful projector lamps generate a lot of heat. A built-in fan is constantly running while the projector is switched on in order to maintain a safe temperature. It is also important the make sure the projector is set up correctly to allow plenty of air flowing around the projector.
Projector fans can be noisy, particularly on cheaper models, so it is important the check a projector’s noise level and compare it to other models before buying.
The adverse effect of projector noise will be particularly important in a home cinema setting. A slightly higher noise level might be acceptable in meetings where there will be more ambient sound in general.
The Rainbow Effect
Some people can experience the rainbow effect when using certain types of DLP projectors. DPL projectors break each fame down into its red, green and blue parts. Light is shone through a fast spinning colour wheel inside the projector, displaying each colour in turn.
In older projectors, the colour wheel sometimes did not spinning fast enough to keep up with fast moving scenes and bright objects appeared to have a tail consisting of multiple colours following them. The colour wheel in newer projectors spins so fast that each colour is displayed up to 10 times per frame to avoid the rainbow effect.
Similar to TVs, projectors tend to use the HDTV standard, with 720p HD-ready or 1080p Full HD resolutions being most common. Older and business projector models tend to refer to pixel resolutions similar to computer monitors, for example VGA and WXGA. Simply put, higher resolution projectors will produce a more detailed picture but they are also more expensive.
4K projectors have become increasingly popular and more widely available. Ultra high definition projectors the highest resolution available and can produce a stunningly detailed picture.
Home Theater Projector Resolutions
- 720p HD ready (1280x720 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio)
- 1080p Full HD (1920x1080 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio)
- 4K Ultra HD (4096x2160 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio)
Multimedia / Business Projector Resolutions
- SVGA (800x600 pixels, 4:3 aspect ratio)
- XGA (1024x768 pixels, 4:3 aspect ratio)
- WXGA (1280x800 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio)
- WUXGA (1920x1200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio)
Keystone Correction & Lens Shift
Keystoning occurs when the central axis of the projector is not positioned directly perpendicular to the wall. In vertical keystoning, the top and bottom edges of the pictures need to be aligned, while in horizontal keystoning the left and right edges appear distorted. Most projectors can detect keystoning and correct it automatically.
In projectors with lens shift, the lens can physically move inside the projector to correct distortions and ensure a consistent focus of the image. Lens shift has the advantage that the image does not need to be altered and highest possible image quality is retained. This allows for more flexibility in the installation of the projector and guarantees a perfectly straight-edged image.
An optical zoom allows you to enlarge the image without having to move the projector closer of further away from the screen. An optical zoom maintains the quality of the image and avoids unwanted distortion.
A digital zoom enlarges a portion of the image without changing the overall image displayed.
Mostly used in pocket and pico projectors, LED lamps usually produce no more than 1,000 lumens. This is not a lot but sufficient for a small image. The advantage is that projectors with LED lamps are relatively cheap and the lamps do not need to be replaced.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology tended to be used for cheaper projector models but has improved significantly in the last few years and picture quality is now similar to DLP projectors.
LCOS is a hybrid between DLP and LCD projectors and most LCOS projectors are made by Sony, JVC and Hitachi. Here is how they compare to both DLP and LCD projectors:
Projector Retailers, Prices and Features
Data Projector Prices
In total we found 634 multimedia projectors ranging from $136 to $24,998. A new multimedia projector costs on average $1,686 and 80% of multimedia projectors are priced between $397 and $3,899. The most expensive data projector that we found is the Sony VPL-VZ1000ES at $24,998, and the cheapest is the Gigabyte BRIX at only $136.
Data Projector Brands - Price Range
The average price of JVC data projectors is $7,000 which is the highest average price of all projector brands. JVC data projectors range in price from $4,000 to $10,000.
The %8highest average multimedia projector price out of all brands is Christie data projectors with an average price of $6,645. Christie data projectors start at $6,645 and the most expensive Christie multimedia projector costs $6,645.
The %8highest average multimedia projector price out of all brands is Canon projectors with an average price of $4,348. Canon projectors start at $330 and the most expensive Canon multimedia projector costs $5,869.
Projector Brands - Average Ratings
We have analysed 1,519 expert reviews and 8,468 user reviews for data projectors from across the internet and used this data to calculate the average rating for each brand of projector. Panasonic is the top rated projector brand with an average rating of 91%. Sony is the second best brand with 89% and Viewsonic is the third best brand with 89%.
Biggest Multimedia Projector Retailers
We found 472 current offers for projectors from eBay making it the biggest data projector retailer. That is over 4 times bigger than the second biggest retailer, B&H Photo for whom we found 108 current offers for projectors. The third biggest retailer is Factory Outlet Store with 105 current data projector offers.
When Are Most New Projectors Released?
May to July is the most common period for new projectors to be released in. That means that most of the latest multimedia projector technology was released in within the last 3 months, and now is good time to buy. The biggest month last year for new projector releases was May, with 67 new multimedia projectors released that month. In 2015 most new multimedia projectors were released in September, with 77 new multimedia projectors released that month. In July 2014 63 new data projectors were released making it the biggest month that year for new projector releases.
How Fast Do Projector Prices Drop After Release?
In the first 6 months after release, projectors drop in price by 7% on average. That means a saving of $115 on a typical $1,686 new projector if you wait 6 months before buying.
Contrast Ratio (typical)
The contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightness of the brightest white and the brightness of darkest black that the projector can produce.
Amongst new multimedia projectors, the most common contrast ratio (typical) is 10000:1. We found 379 multimedia projectors that are projectors that have a 10000:1 contrast ratio. We found 170 data projectors that are data projectors that have a 15000:1 contrast ratio, making this the second most common contrast ratio (typical) amongst new data projectors.
A higher contrast ratio means that the projector can produce images with greater contrast so that they will appear more vivid.
Projector Native Resolutions
The projector native resolution is the resolution of image that the projector is able to produce. The resolution is expressed as the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels.
The most frequently found projector native resolution amongst new projectors is WXGA (1280x800). We found 698 projectors that are projectors that have a resolution of WXGA (1280x800). We found 562 projectors that are projectors that have a resolution of XGA (1024x768), making XGA (1024x768) the second most popular projector native resolution amongst new projectors.
A projector with a higher native resolution will be able to display more detailed images such as HD content.
3D compatible projectors are able to display 3D content. Most projectors will require you to wear special glasses in order to view the 3D effect.
A 3D projector allows you to view the huge range of 3D films and content that is now available.
The noise level of the projector is the amount of noise that the projector makes (caused by the cooling fan inside the projector) when it is running.
Across the range of projectors, the noise levels range from 10dB to 93dB. The noise levels of most multimedia projectors range from 34dB to 38dB. The data projector with the loudest noise level is the EpsonV11H794120, which is a 93dB noise level multimedia projector and can be purchased for $699.99. The EpsonV11H794120 has the quietest noise level. This projector is a 21dB noise level projector and is priced at $9,999.98.
A lower noise level means that the projector will be quieter when it is running. This means that you will be able to appreciate the quieter parts of films better without the background noise of the projector running.
Biggest Multimedia Projector Retailers
We found 472 current offers for multimedia projectors from eBay making it the biggest multimedia projector retailer. That is over 4 times bigger than the second biggest retailer, B&H Photo for whom we found 108 current offers for multimedia projectors. The third biggest retailer is Factory Outlet Store with 105 current multimedia projector offers.
Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Projectors?
eBay most frequently has the cheapest multimedia projector prices (found to be cheapest for 365 projectors).
Proportion of Multimedia Projectors for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?
The retailer that most frequently offered the cheapest price on data projectors is eBay and offers the cheapest price on 77.3% of its data projectors.