Some of us have a strange fear of projectors. That they’re some unknowable quantity that only AV students and master electricians can understand. But trust us, they’re not. Projectors are just as easy to set up as a new flatscreen and, guess what, they usually have a larger max screen size, too.
Summarized, the benefits of a projector include a more cinematic experience in your home with a massive image, great resolution and cost, often, less than the 65 or 75-inch screen you had in mind. There are some downsides here, too, including caring for a lamp and some input delay in some cases, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
But you knew all that already, right? That’s why you’re here looking for a the best cheap projector and not, I don’t know, perusing cheap TVs. Good for you.
So what makes a good deal on projectors?
Look we’re not going to tell you how you should spend your money. That’s not our style. But, what we will say, is that the best projectors are almost always Full HD and come with built-in speakers. If you get both those features and aren’t looking to break the bank, don’t spend more than $650 or £500. You can do better for less.
That being said, we’ve found a few great deals this month that we wanted to bring to your attention – hopefully ending your long hunt for the perfect addition to your home theater setup.
1. BenQ TH670
This is the best cheap projector we could find
You can probably stop reading right here. This is the best cheap projector you're going to find. Sure, the BenQ TH670 might be a bit more than you were looking to spend, but it's almost impossible to find a better projector in terms of quality versus price. The TH670 has a Full 1080p (1920x1080) resolution, 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness, 10,000:1 high contrast ratio and built-in speakers. Those speakers could be a hair bit more powerful, but for the price it's hard to complain too much. The projector is capable of images spanning from 60 to 120 inches across and its lamp is rated for 4,000 - 10,000 hours depending on which modes you primarily use. Input-wise it offers Computer in (D-sub 15pin) x 2 (Share with component), Composite Video in (RCA) x 1 and HDMI. Win!
2. Optoma HD142X
Optoma's HD142X from 2016 is a solid runner-up
In a very solid second place is Optoma's excellent HD142X projector. It has a full
1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness, 23,000:1 high contrast ratio and built-in 10-watt speakers. It even supports 3D video to boot. Optoma says that the lamp life for the HD142X is somewhere in the ballpark of 8,000 hours – and claims that it would last around 10 years if you watched a two-hour movie every single day. Input-wise the HD141X offers 2 x HDMI (1.4a 3D support) + MHL v1.2, perfect for hooking up a PS4 or 3D Blu-ray player.
3. BenQ W1070
Another BenQ projector? You better believe it
Yes, we're really including two BenQ projectors on this list. While the TH670 is still king of the proverbial projector castle, the W1070 isn't a bad third choice. We say that because it makes a fair amount of trade-offs. Yes, you're still getting the awesome 1080p resolution, but you're also getting the poor 10,000:1 contrast ratio. Worse, though, you're losing a bit of light output (the W1070 only outputs 2,000 ANSI lumens). At least there's still plenty of inputs should you need them – 2 x HDMI, component and VGA inputs are all here. That being said, if a good deal pops up on one of these, this shouldn't be overlooked.
4. Acer H5380BD
In last place is Acer's entry-level H5380BD
At one time, Acer's H5380BD was king of the world with its 1280 x 720 resolution and 2-watt speakers. But now there's a new king in town rocking 10-watts of audio prowess and Full HD. That doesn't mean you need to relegate Acer's entry-level home theater projector to the dustbin, however, it's still plenty capable for most folks looking for something cheap. So where did it go wrong? The H5380BD only has a 720p (1280 x 720) resolution, but at least puts out 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness. It has a 17,000:1 contrast ratio, but only 3-watt built-in speakers. That said, the projector is capable of images spanning from 300 inches across and its lamp is rated for 4,000 - 10,000 hours depending on which modes you primarily use. Input-wise it offers HDMI, Composite Video, S-Video and two VGA ports.