If you want your home entertainment super-sized – and trust us, you do – you're going to need a great projector. Whether you want to splash Blu-ray movies across a large white wall, magnify your gaming experience, or want to throw photographs or slides from a mobile device onto a 100-inch plus screen, a home cinema projector should be your first choice of display.
(Update: The year isn't over yet folks, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, now is the best time to be thinking about a new projector. We've recently added a full review for the Optoma HD142X, one of our favorite - and most affordable - projectors of the last few years.)
To help bring the big-screen home we've tested some of the top models of home cinema projector. They range from budget-oriented HD beamers right up to cinema-grade 4K Ultra HD models; the surprisingly affordable to reassuringly expensive. The days of fuzzy old school projectors are thankfully long gone.
With HD now ubiquitous, you can get great results from 1080p source material. And as more Ultra HD content becomes available from media streamers like the new Amazon Fire TV and the Nvidia Shield, as well as the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray revolution, the future's looking great.
1. Sony VPL-VW300ES
"This 4K SXRD projector just refuses to put a foot wrong."
Projection system: SXRD | Resolutions: 4096 x 2160 | Brightness: 1,500 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI 2.0 (1x HDCP 2.2), 1x S-Video, 1x VGA | Dimensions: 496 x 195 x 464mm
For that proper cinematic feel it's hard to beat a big screen projector, especially one that's capable of filling a wall with 4K images.
First, there's great colour and black levels, whatever the ambient light levels. Secondly, awesome Reality Creation tech that brings out Maximum detail from native 4K sources, Blu-ray and even DVD. Thirdly, the exemplary Bright Cinema and Cinema Film 1 & 2 presets and, finally, the hugely flexible optical zoom/lens shift options that make set-up a cinch.
If you've got the money, the space and the 4K source, the VPL-VW300ES is a shoe-in to become the centrepiece of your next home cinema.
Read the full review: Sony VPL-VW300ES
2. BenQ W1070+
"Full HD images that impress even in ambient light make BenQ's latest a bargain beamer for all seasons."
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 2,200 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI (1x MHL), 1x RCA, 1x Component, 1x VGA | Dimensions: 312 x 104 x 244mm
There was a time when a decent home cinema-grade projection system would have cost well north of £1,000, and take-up a considerable amount of space too.
Edging ever closer to the plummeting price of a decent flatscreen TV, the BenQ W1070+ DLP projector offers enough brightness to be used in daylight as well as the all-important Full HD resolution.
If you're wondering whether to take the plunge and make a projector your go-to display for films and games, the W1070+ is a certainly bold and bright enough – and easily one of the best value entry-level projectors around.
Read the full review: BenQ W1070+
3. Optoma UHD60
"Rewriting the 4K HDR projector rule book."
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 4096 x 2160 | Brightness: 1,800 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI | Dimensions: 495.6 x 195.3 x 463.6 mm
They may have taken their own sweet time getting here, but 4K projectors using DLP technology are finally starting to arrive. Colours, in particular, look much more vibrant and rich in saturation, immediately making the image look more solid, three dimensional and natural, as well as more flat-out beautiful. Plus, while it’s becoming easier almost daily to find native 4K content to feed the UHD60, if you do find yourself having to revert to HD Blu-ray on occasion again the UHD60’s got your back. Its HD to 4K upscaling, for starters, is pretty much exemplary, adding plenty of detail and crispness without excessively exaggerating noise or introducing overt colour errors.
Read the full review: Optoma UHD60
4. Epson EH-LS10000
"4K Enhancement, a mathematical fudge or remarkable innovation? Definitely the latter."
Projection system: 3LCD laser | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 1,500 lumens | Video inputs: 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), 1x Composite, 1x Component, 1x VGA | Dimensions: 550 x 225 x 553mm
The Epson EH-LS10000 is an excellent home cinema projector. Blistering black levels, great colours, a huge amount of convenience features and some nifty frame interpolation help produce some of the most fluid, colourful and realistic Full HD images from any projector out there.
However, there's no getting away from the fact that even with the awesome power of Epson's 4K Enhancement feature – which really does work – the native 4K trickery of the Sony VPL-VW300ES, available for exactly the same price, means that the slightly less detailed Epson EH-LS10000 must take a back seat, at least for now.
Read the full review: Epson EH-LS10000
5. Optoma HD142X
Optoma's HD142X from 2016 is a solid runner-up
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 3,000 lumens | Video inputs: 1x HDMI 1.4a, 1x S-Video, 2x VGA, 1x Composite, 1x DVI-D | Dimensions: 386 x 162 x 280mm
For those who think that home cinema is an occasional luxury that is just not affordable or practical, the ultra-affordable HD142X is serious food for thought.
Despite its lean price tag, 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.
Read the full review: Optoma HD142X
6. BenQ TH670
This is the best cheap projector we could find.
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 2,000 lumens | Video inputs: Composite Video In x 1, Component Video In x 1, HDMI x 3 | Dimensions: 380.5 x 121.7 x 277 mm
We're pretty big fans of the affordable BenQ TH670. It might not be the top of the line from the highly lauded projector manufacturer, but it strikes the perfect balance of price to performance to be worth an audition in your living room.
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!
7. Acer H5380BD
"Bringing up the rear is Acer's entry-level H5380BD"
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 3,200 ANSI Lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI 1.4, 1x Composite, 1x RGB input, 1x Video out | Dimensions: 362 x 109 x 231mm
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.
The H5380BD has a 720p (1280 x 720) resolution and puts out 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness. It has a 17,000:1 contrast ratio, and 2-watt 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.
8. Optoma HD26
"Fresh-looking, Full HD detail with strong colour and black levels."
Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 | Brightness: 3,200 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI (1x MHL) | Dimensions: 315 x 114 x 224mm
It says something about the advancements in home cinema projectors that this great value HD beamer isn't our favourite entry-level projector around.
Odd, because it's got everything going for it; excellent images, a compact size, quiet operation, and a superbly low price. It's great for gaming, and at its best when watched in dimly-lit, traditional home cinema conditions (and it even has a backlit remote control).
However, with brighter projectors around that can offer all of this and more detail during the day as well as in a blackout, and with both a bigger choice of ins and outs and optical image shift options for maximum versatility, the HD26 struggles to hold up against the competition.
Read the full review: Optoma HD26