The Best Premium Projectors – November 2018
The rise of on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have all but done away with traditional cable connections. With thousands of movies and TV shows available at the click of a button, more and more people are finding it hard to justify the hefty cable fees that bring a relatively tiny selection of media.
Thus the computer has largely taken over for the humbled cable box. But even users who once connected their computers to their TV’s in order to enjoy their on-demand streaming content on a wider and more versatile screen are ditching their TVs all together—thanks to a rising number of high-quality projectors that can turn virtually any surface in your home into a full-fledged, theatre-sized display.
As with all things tech, these projectors vary when it comes to both quality and price, and while we’ll be releasing a list of more moderately priced projectors in the near future, this list is dedicated to the high-end models that deliver stunning quality in compact packages.
There are several important variables that need to be taken into consideration when you shop for a projector. You should take into account things like your overall budget, the size of the space in which you want to store the console, the size of the wall onto which the image will be projected, etc.
But of course the most important variable is image quality, and when you buy a truly premium projector, it should work just as well with games as it does with the latest HD movies.
This Epson Home Cinema is one such projector. Featuring a color brightness of 2300 lumens, seamless 2D to 3D conversion, and a contrast ratio of up to 40,000:1, there’s practically nothing this projector can’t pull off.
Whether you’re primarily interested in playing movies, streaming shows on Netflix, or engaging in epic multiplayer gaming battles, this projector delivers full HD 1080p clarity and rich, vibrant colors that manage to stay true to the original tones of what you’re viewing—thanks to 3-chip 3LCD technology.
Unlike a surprisingly large number of other premium projectors, this unit also delivers exceptional sound from the console itself, from two built-in 10W stern speakers that bring the low rumbles and high-end sonics of even the most demanding action movies to life.
You have the option of connecting via HDMI, USB, or DisplayPort, and you’ll be able to quickly and easily swap out connections depending on your input (meaning you won’t have to waste time transitioning between different media formats and employing an endless number of obnoxious adapters).
The console is incredibly easy to setup, and even comes with two pairs of RF 3D glasses.
The decision to bump this unit down to our runner-up spot wasn’t easy, because in many ways this projector is similar in both style and function to the Epson projector above. And since it’s available at a much more reasonable price point, we’re aware that many users will prefer this over our number-one choice.
With a screen size range of up to 71 inches from a distance of eight feet, and 107 inches from 12 feet, this projector is nothing to scoff at. It’s surprisingly bright with a ANSI lumens output of 3200, and features a contrast ratio of 25,000:1.
There are two HDMI inputs along with a 3.5mm audio-out and a USB connection, and a 6500-hour lamp life ensures that you won’t be scrambling to find a replacement bulb any time soon. We were also impressed with the Dynamic Black feature that provides far more depth to certain types of images by adjusting the lamp output automatically.
The only area in which this projector seemed to slightly underperform was in the richness of its color delivery. Unlike the Epson Home Cinema, this projector’s colors at a distance of roughly eight feet seem slightly less pronounced and vivid. Again, this may not be an issue for most potential buyers, and with such a significant difference in price we wouldn’t recommend looking the other way too soon.
The sound on this unit is also impressive, thanks to an integrated 10W speaker that provides truly wonderful, crystal-clear sonics. This projector also comes equipped with MHL v1.2 technology—meaning you’ll be able to transform your projector into a smart display by connecting it to a smartphone or tablet in order to play games, stream videos, and share photos on the big screen.
Yes, our third-spot premium projector goes to a unit once again made by Optoma, but there are subtle differences between the projector and the one that occupies our runner-up spot.
This projector features a screen size of up to 67 inches from a distance of eight feet, and 101 inches from 12 feet. Its brightness clocks in at 3500 ANSI lumens, and there’s a more-than-respectable contrast ratio of 20,000:1.
The primary reason why this projector was bumped to the number-three spot as opposed to claiming the coveted runner-up position is that it’s significantly more expensive, and only offers a modest number of added benefits.
Still, this projector crucially brings rich color and vivid imagery back into the equation, which may make the added cost worth it for viewers who are consistently watching HD media and playing graphics-intense games, in which robust color spectrums and fast processing is paramount.
This projector also features two HDMI ports along with VGA connections and dual audio-in and audio-outs—an added plus for those who may want to enjoy their movies or games through both speakers and headphones, or perhaps two different types of speakers simultaneously.
You can’t be around technology for long without coming across the famed Acer brand. Known largely for budget gadgets that still manage to deliver great quality, Acer has recently reached out into a wide range of tech subfields that have largely gone unnoticed.
This projector should be gaining far more notice than it has been, since it delivers a truly impressive number of features in a compact and stylish package. Featuring a native 1080P widescreen resolution that offers a true cinematic experience for the latest high-definition content, this projector is able to project HD images and video even when it’s placed relatively close to the projection surface.
It features a cutting-edge Dust Shield screen that protects against the all-too-common damage that comes from dust and other small air particles, and offers exceptional contrast even in well-lit environments.
This projector is also incredibly easy to set up and offers the perfect aspect ratios for everything from Blu-Ray discs to HDTV connections.
Users can also view any 120 Hz 3D frame sequential content from a PC with appropriate 120 Hz graphic card and 3D stereoscopic player by wearing DLP 3D glasses.
Eco-conscious users will also be happy to know that this projector is powered by leading ExtremeECO technology, which enables its lamp to operate using up to 30% less power. This technology also means that the lifespan of the bulb is extended—meaning you’ll spend much less money on replacements over the years.
With this undeniably cool-looking projector we find ourselves back at a higher price point, and since this unit is only slightly better than most of the others on this list, it got bumped down to a lower spot.
If, however, money isn’t an issue in your projector-buying decisions, we highly recommend giving this unit an in-depth examination.
With a brightness level of 3,200 lumens and a 13,000:1 contrast ratio, this short-throw projector is able to work with an impressive number of leading media formats, and delivers truly rich and vibrant colors.
The only downside to this projector putting such a heavy emphasis on color depth, however, is that tones can occasionally become exaggerated. Most movie-watchers or gamers won’t find this to be much of an issue, but those who like their screenings to perfectly emulate the tones and contrasts of the original film may have their qualms.
Last but not necessarily least, we have the Vivitek H1180HD 1080p DLP projector, which comes with one of the most compact consoles we’ve seen so far. This projector is fine-tuned for Blu-Ray viewing but is equally suitable for a multitude of media—including HD video and fast-paced gaming.
You’ll enjoy 2000 lumens of brightness for dazzling image recreation, a DLP DarkChip3 that delivers brilliant-yet-realistic tones, and a 10W mono speaker that’s more than suitable for basic audio tasks.
This unit lets you connect to any device that features an HDMI out, and you’ll be able to improve the playback quality of audio for select 3D entertainment thanks to integrated SRS WOW technology.
We were also happy with the top-sided lamp cover on this unit, which makes it uniquely easy to swap out the bulb.