After 350 hours of testing and 19 projectors later, the Optoma HD28DSE took first place on the list of this best home theater projector. This is perfect for movies, sports or the best games and can transform any living space into an epic entertainment center. The best part is that you do not need to have a massive budget, and many of our best spotlights in 2018 can be found for less than $ 1,000.
To reach this conclusion, we evaluated a variety of variables, including image quality, brightness, ease of use, number of features available, fan noise and game performance. And the Optoma HD28DSE touches all these respective brands, then a few, offering a high-level theater viewing experience at several hundred dollars less than you would expect from the rest of the competition. By striking this perfect balance between cost and quality, the HD28DSE should be a must-have item on any enthusiastic home theater checklist.
Table of Contents:
- Home Theater Projectors Compared
- Our Top Pick
- Budget Pick
- Best For Movies
- Best For Gaming
- How We Choose
- Why You Should Buy a New Home Theater Projectors
- Key Factors to Look for in a Home Theater Projector
- Mistakes to Avoid
- Features to Look For
- What Else to Think About
Top Home Theater Projectors Compared
Editor’s Choice & Best Projector: Optoma HD28DSE
The Optoma HD28DSE is the all around best performer in projectors for 2018.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The HD28SDE offers the best picture quality for the price.
Pound for pound, the Optoma HD28DSE only observes all competitors with its superior image quality, respectable response time and many additional features that make it necessary for owners of old projectors and beginners.
Optoma is already known as – leading projector manufacturers who are working today in the business, and with inputs like the HD28DSE on the market, it’s not hard to see why. Thanks in part to the inclusion of a DARBEEVision color specification option, the images, in my tests, almost literally amazed the screen with levels of detail and vitality that most other projectors could hope to achieve their best. Some moviegoers can be turned off by the quasi-rainbow quality, which gives them everything, even though we personally think it sounds great when you look at intentionally colored materials (think of the BBC’s utopia or seasons later Breaking Bad), others may only want to keep it activated during game sessions to give themselves that extra edge.
Pound for pound, the Optoma HD28DSE simply outclasses all comers with its superior picture quality, respectable response time, and bevy of extra features
But that’s not all. When you mount a projector in any space, one of the most precarious parts of the project can effectively lift the unit into its intended destination. Fortunately, the Optoma HD28SDE weighs only 5.7 lb., making it one of the lightest projectors on this list and, in turn, a perfect choice for anyone who wants to mount their projector to the ceiling, shelf or on a library.
Add to that a high-level brightness rating of 3,000, a Full HD capability and a 30,000: 1 contrast ratio and you have a winning combination that’s flexible enough for any home theater installation you can imagine.
Best Budget Projector: Optoma HD142X
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The HD142X appeals to the budget-set with an 8,000-hour lamp life and 3,000 lumens of brightness.
If you do not have the chance to go ahead, it’s hard to find a projector that combines all the features you need in a package that does not stop the bank. Enter the budget option: the Optoma HD142X, another in a long line, conscious projectors of enterprise costs that offer serious performance at a price that the average consumer can justify.
With 3,000 ANSI brightness lights to work with, the HD142X is perfect for anyone wishing to install their home theater in a less ideal space than a living room with lots of open windows or near a glass door. At these light levels, the HD142X is always capable of showing a sharp and clear image that will not be confused by ambient light during the day, and it will be even better when you watch it overnight.
The company’s cost-conscious projectors that deliver serious performance for a price that the average consumer can justify.
It never matches the immaculate image quality of the BenQ HT3050 or the general utility of its bigger brother, the HD28DSE, but that’s not what (or for whom) is made for. The HD142X is the home theater projector for beginners, for the consumer who may not be ready to integrate his first setup but still wants the kind of quality and consistency that one can expect from these well-respected brands like Optoma.
Best Home Theater Projector For Movies: BenQ HT3050
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Rec. 709 Cinematic spec gives the BenQ HT3050 unmatched color vibrancy on screen.
While some projectors are exceptionally bright and others are great for gaming with lightning quick response times – there are some that just look so good that they become impossible to ignore.
The BenQ HT3050 is one of these projectors, and much more. With the inclusion of Rec. 709 Cinematic Color Palette, the HT3050 reproduces movies and TV shows exactly how the developers intend to look, without conjectures to try to correct skin tones cleaned or gray black levels. Back up for the Epson PowerLite, the BenQ HT3050 is one of the most popular home theater projectors you’ll find on the shelves these days; but all this cost is supported by an equally impressive image quality that really needs to be considered as a debt.
Thanks to the inclusion of the Rec. 709 Cinematic Color palette, the HT3050 reproduces movies and TV shows exactly how directors intended them to look…
If there is one area, we had to mistreat the BenQ, it would be the inclusion of the non-essential loudspeaker on board. Sometimes we had problems with our faulty inputs for embedded audio rather than our stereo system, which resulted in a treble burst at our eardrums which was embarrassing, to say the least.
Otherwise, the inclusion of Rec. 709 is really what sells this projector beyond anything else. The films look exactly like they would do it in your local theater, and whether it’s the Godfather or the latest Michael Bay boom-a-thon, every movie and television show gets the exact color treatment it deserves shine at its best. Launch a short jet lens and a quiet fan operation, and you have an easy competitor for one of the best spotlights for 2017.
Best Projector for Gaming: Epson Home Cinema 1440
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Epson 1440 is brighter than the surface of the sun.
As anyone possessed a projector can tell you; trying to look at something during the day can be a practice of patience as a monk. Whether the sun sets or it’s high in the sky, the amount of ambient light that can flood your home theater space allows you to watch for anytime, but at night in absolute darkness is unnecessary.
So, what is a projector enthusiast to do? Well, the lumens of course. With an overall rating of 4,400 lumens, the Epson Home Cinema 1440 is bright at retina, enough to project movies or games in any imaginable lighting condition. Add to that a solid set of four-corner locking features that match your image to any screen in any configuration, and you have a projector that’s right for the service, no matter what the sun (or the moon) until this day.
With an out-of-the-box rating of 4,400 lumens, the Epson Home Cinema 1440 is retina-burningly bright…
The Epson PowerLite also offers the most sharp and crisp images I’ve seen on a projector to date. Its brightness and vitality of colors are enough to make this model the obvious choice for anyone who installs his home theater in a room that has a lot of ambient light but the sharpness is really what helps to separate the image from the rest of the light around it. Whether in a few Destiny rounds or just trying to watch a day game, the Epson was the best choice for well-lit theater spaces.
\Best Portable Projector: Optoma HD25-LV-WHD
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Optoma HD25-LV is a great choice for home theater beginners.
If you are looking for a home theater projector capable of delivering a massive picture, the Optoma HD25-LV is the choice for you. In its maximum setting, you can get a screen size of 101 inches, which is perfect for a wider audience, and if the HD25-LV may not be able to combine Epson PowerLite only on the quality of the offers an almost bright image with 3500 lumens and a contrast ratio of 20,000: 1.
In its maximum setting, you can get a screen size of 101 inches …
The HD25-LV is a nice midfield between the Epson and the HD142X, providing a slightly higher level of picture quality and light output without going into the $ 1,500 range as what is available on the PowerLite .
Another excellent feature is the addition of PureMotion image processing, which keeps everything soft and prevents the shuddering. It also has 3D capabilities and works great for games.
How We Choose the Best Home Theater Projector
Collectively, the Gadget Review team spent over 350 hours configuring, adjusting and playing with the 19 projectors on our site. Among those who have gone through the proverbial ring, we have reduced the results to the top five performers in their respective categories: whether it is the best aspect, the best performance or the best for buyers on a budget.
Real World Testing That Matters
With so many factors that can affect the quality of the final image you get from a projector, it was important that during our tests we made sure to run each model through a series of real scenarios that the user average would encounter in their own room life. These included running the projector for more than eight hours at a time to see if there was a risk of degradation or overheating of the image (perfect for a Lazy-Sunday Battlefield Battlefield Galactica marathon) , increasing color and saturation points to try to push as many rainbow artefacts as possible, as well as running a LH1330B Digital Illuminance laser light around the edges and center of the image to test the brightness hotspots on our 100 “EliteScreens Manual B projector screen.
Testing With Video Games, TV, Movies and More
Then we run the projectors in three of the general use cases that consumers are looking for: computer use, television, movies and games. Whether using your projector as a massive computer monitor or trying to get the best possible response time in a Halo 5 match: Online Guardians, different projectors perform better than others in certain situations , that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on Specifications so you know you’re getting the best choice for how you plan to use your projector the most.
How easy is it to mount
After that, we evaluate the actual physical characteristics of the projector itself: how important it is, how heavy it is and where it could be mounted optimally given the placement of the fan. An error, some home theater geeks may be wrong: mounting the projector directly behind the heads of people sitting on the sofa, not realizing that when a projector lights up, it makes a lot of noise and heat because it tries to keep its large bulb cool.
Probe for measuring the fan
Speaking of noise there is no way to find that even the quietest projectors we tested still need an important stereo system to dispel their constant whirr. We use a specialized decibel meter during the tests and will run the projector within one hour before reading to ensure that the fan is operating at full capacity.
Why You Should Buy a (New) Home Theater Projector
Like any technology, the chips and lenses that make projector technology are always changing, evolving, and getting cheaper to manufacture with each product cycle that turns over. Home theater setups that would easily cost you over $3,000 just a few years ago can be had for $800 (or even less in the case of the Optoma HD28DSE).
The projectors are smaller and easier to place. You no longer need to devote an entire shelf to the back of your living room to properly maintain one of these things, and extremely compact options like the Optoma HD142X are just like at home on your coffee table as they would be suspended to your ceiling.
Over the past few years, projectors have also come with a long list of additional features that make them easier to use, more flexible in mounting positions (using four-corner locks), and are equipped with additional bonus features like 3D capability and USB multimedia server options.
Another smaller consideration we made when choosing the best home theater projectors was the lifetime of the nominal bulb of a given model. Although it is not possible for us to actually run the number of projectors we tested for 1000 to 2000 hours that some of these bulbs can last, if you use your own projector for a long time or longer, have the choice to either: either buy another bulb for anywhere between $ 80- $ 350 in some cases, or reduce your losses and have a chance to upgrade your entire system to the latest and greatest technology home theater.
Key Factors to a Good Projector
When you’re on the market for your first projector, you’re going to want to monitor three main features: the bulb’s longevity, the different resolutions the projector is able to display and a high brightness index.
The first is measured in what are called “bulb hours.” These are important because the bulbs will only last a short time before they start to lose a little of their luster, and the longer a bulb is likely to last, the more you can enjoy your content please . better. On average, a good bulb life is between 1 and 10,000 hours, depending on the type of technology your projector uses to display an image. Replacing a bulb can cost $ 60 to $ 250 depending on the model of the projector you choose.
Then there’s the light note. Lumen’s notes measure the absolute maximum brightness you can expect from the projector, a key element for anyone who is considering making the bulk of their gaze during the day when it may be more difficult to see darker movies or all details you need in your Games. Even 1000 lumens should be just enough to handle the work during the night observation you will want something a little closer to 4000 lumens if your projector screen is near a window or a lot of wonder while the sun is still in the sky.
Read: Best projector under $ 1000
Finally, always make sure that your projector is able to handle a resolution of at least 1080p, because 720p does not fit well with the types of image formats that standard projectors are capable of turning off. 4K projectors have begun to splash on the stage late, but they are way beyond what you should pay for a 1080p, it is already obvious what is the best choice for 95% of home theater consumers who buy today.
Errors to avoid
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t Buy for Day-Watching: Even though I’ve listed a number of projectors here that still look somewhat decent in ambient day lighting, the fact remains that if you don’t have your projector set up in a room with blackout curtains, you and your guests will be straining your eyes to see all the detail of your favorite movies, television shows, and games no matter what the lumen rating is.
Don’t Get Sticker Shocked: If you can, do your best not to think about price as the end-all be-all factor in which projector you ultimately decide to go with. Projectors are a hefty investment upfront, but their utility, portability, and longevity is simply unmatched by any other display technology on the market today.
Measure Twice, Mount Once: Last, always remember to carefully measure out the space you plan to project in before buying your next projector. If you need to project in a space that’s less than six-feet from where the projector will be mounted to where the screen sits, you’ll have to invest in a short-throw model over a regular long-throw. Calculating the exact distance you’ll need to get the picture size you want out of your projector is easy if you use the tool provided here.
Features to Look For
Features to Look For
- All the projectors in this list have the ability to display in full 1080p HD, but when you’re buying for yourself, be wary of any prices that seem a little too good to be true.
- Whenever a lower price is attached to a nicer model, this usually means it tops out at 720p, a resolution that can look downright pixelated at image sizes any greater than 60″ across.
- Technically 4K projectors are on the market, but I didn’t include any of them on this list because at least in the case of the true 4K projectors (rather than those which simply upscale a 1080p image), costs are prohibitively high for anyone except the most enthusiastic home theater nuts among us.
- That said, if you’re someone for whom money is no concern, I recommend any of the three projectors showcased in our best 4K projector list for 2017!
- The four different display technologies to look for on your projector are LED, LCD, DLP, and LCoS.
- LED is one of the most common lighting solutions you’ll find on this list, which uses three separate diodes (red, green, and blue) to project a complete image. LED is preferred for its clarity, as well as contrast ratios which provide deeper blacks unlike anything else out there.
- Liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS for short, combines both mirrors and an RGB color wheel display element to create the final picture. LCoS is commonly considered to be the superior display technology of them all, but that first-class picture quality comes with a corresponding price.
- Last, there’s DLP, which is the most ancient of the bunch. DLP uses standard mirrors and light to reflect the image through the lens, which makes it far and away the cheapest option, but also the one that suffers the most when there is ambient light or the room is naturally lit during the day.
- Color accuracy is another factor to consider when discussing the level of image quality that a projector is capable of putting out.
- Many lower-end projectors can suffer from an issue known as “rainbow artifacting”, which happens when the color wheel lets a little too much of one primary color bleed into another.
- Color accuracy on projectors in the cost tiers listed above will probably never be able to match up to what you’d get out of an equally-priced LED TV, but you also won’t be able to buy a 150″ LED TV anytime soon so many still think the tradeoff is worth it!
- Earlier in this article, I mentioned the three major user experiences where you find projector manufacturers focusing most of their resources trying to perfect: data, video, and gaming.
- Each type of content demands different features and refinements from the projector, and no one model fulfills all three perfectly.
- This is why it’s crucial to carefully comb through the specs to ensure that your prospective projector has exactly what you want to give you the best picture for the content you plan to watch most.
- Response times for gaming, Rec.709 or DARBEEVision for movie watching, etc.
- Always, always, always measure your throw distance before buying a projector.
- For example: a standard HD projector without a “short-throw” lens will need about 6 feet of distance at least to display a picture larger than 80″ wide, although how these numbers match up will inevitably depend on the model of projector you go with.
- Even at their largest, almost all consumer projectors can only reach a max screen distance of about 300″ before things start to get too blurry to see; short throw lens or otherwise.
- Make sure to use a calculator like the one found here before deciding which throw distance is right for you.
- In almost all seating scenarios, whether it be your living room or the garage, you’re going to want to be sure you have a space to mount the projector in a way that the light isn’t obstructed when people get up to grab a drink or answer the door.
- The best possible configuration for this is to mount the projector somewhere high up, either from the ceiling or on the wall behind your couch. This way, the light from the projector won’t shine in anyone’s face when they’re passing through, and the view of the content won’t be ruined in case someone has to walk in front of the picture.
- Most projectors come with the option to do what’s called “keystoning”, where the picture can be pinched up or down to account for the angling of your projector’s mounting scheme. This way the projector always fills up your screen completely, with no black edges left on the side.
- One thing that not many potential projector buyers think about before making their final decision is the amount of noise you can expect the unit’s fan to make.
- The bulbs in projectors run very hot, which means they need a hefty cooling system to keep them from frying out. The fan noise on any projector is measured in decibels (dB), and you should always make sure to find out if the db rating is quiet enough that your stereo system will be able to effectively drown it out.
Business vs. Home Theater
- Although all the projectors I’ve listed here are made for home theater applications through and through, some people can get confused on the differences between projectors made for regular media content, and those made to display presentations from your laptop down at the office.
- Whenever you buy a projector, always remember to check whether or not it’s rated for home theater or business use first.
What Else Should You Think About?
Whether you’re setting up your first home theater or your fifteenth, there are always a number of extra things you should check off the list before you call the project finished. Because the speakers you’ll find on a projector are almost always for show (they lack any sort of distinct bass and should only be turned on in emergency situations), you might want to head on over and take a look at our list of the Best Soundbars for 2017 to make sure you always get the best movie watching or gaming experience possible for all your senses, instead of just sight alone.
Next there’s the projector screen. Sure, technically you can display your projected image on almost any surface imaginable (including pure-white walls), but why waste all that money on a new projector if you’re going to cut corners when it comes to what you’re watching it on, right? Projector screens are printed on special materials that can help add subtle amounts of brightness and vibrancy to your images that plain white walls can’t match, which is why I went through the trouble of testing them all for you to come up with our list of the Best Projector Screens for this year.
If you’re a stickler for 4K resolution and can’t accept anything less, you have two options: spend upwards of the same amount as you would on a small car to get a 4K projector, or simply bite the bullet and go with a standard 4K TV instead. We will always recommend this route over a projector if you don’t have a dedicated home theater space, because even when you’re strictly looking for as much brightness as you can get for the best day-watching experience, the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1440’s lumen rating still may not be enough to counter the ambient light if your projector screen is facing any kind of open window.
If a 70″ flatscreen still isn’t big enough for your next big Super Bowl party or you just want to be blown away every time you watch a new movie though, the best projectors for 2017 are sure to make anyone feel like they’re getting the full movie theater experience right from the comfort of their own home.
Last Year’s Home Theater Projector Winner
Price: $739.00 | Features: Wireless streaming protocols, flexible zoom technology
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The BenQ HT1075 comes with tons of a features at a low price.
The BenQ HT1075 may not have the best brightness or contrast ratio of the pack, but what it lacks in raw specifications, it compensates more than the cost.
At just $ 745.48, the HT1075 delivers the perfect balance of performance and cost for home theater enthusiasts on a budget. Perhaps the best part of the whole package is its unique wireless features, which allow you to stream media directly to the projector no matter where you are in your home.
This means that there is no longer any wire bulk that leads to the spot where the projector is mounted, as well as free and clear operation which facilitates the elimination of your projector and the diffusion of all your media preferred in a few minutes.