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Best projectors 2020: the home cinema projectors worth buying

Best projectors 2020
(Image credit: LG)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Here's our selection of the best projectors you can buy to upgrade your home entertainment experience in 2020. At TechRadar, we’ve put in the hours to set-up, test and stare at the top projectors available right now – meaning we can help you decide which of the best projectors is really for you.

The biggest benefit of projectors is they’re a truly high impact workaround for those who don’t want a television screen to dominate their living room when it’s not in use.

What’s more, the best projectors in this guide all offer some level of portability. That means it’s fairly easy to project your favourite movies and TV shows onto a wall and get the true cinema experience, then hide it in a closet or tuck it away on a shelf when you’re not using it. Although it’s worth mentioning that many have great-looking designs, so there’s no problem with leaving them on display if you have room for one to take a permanent position in your living room.

If you're concerned about the hassle of setting up or installing a projector – over, say, one of the best TVs – we understand. But you needn’t worry. Setting up a projector is rarely more hassle than putting the projector up against a wall, and the benefits – truly massive, bright and beautiful images being the main one – make them well worth your time and effort.

The best projectors 2020

  1. Best projector: Samsung The Premiere LSP9T
  2. Best all-in-one projector: LG CineBeam HU80KSW
  3. Runner up: Vava 4K Laser Projector
  4. Best all-rounder: Epson EH-TW9400
  5. Best for brightness: BenQ TK850
  6. Best compact projector: Anker Nebula Capsule II
  7. Best for audio: Optoma CinemaX P2 
  8. Best high-end projector: LG CineBeam HU85LA
  9. Best for Alexa: Optoma UHD51A

samsung premiere

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Best projector: Samsung The Premiere

The next generation of living room projection

HDR10+ and 40W audio
Full TV-style smart system
Some rainbow effect
OS can be sluggish

After more than a decade since its last home cinema projector, Samsung has exploded back on the scene with The Premiere LSP9T projector.

This ultra short-throw beamer makes use of 4K HDR laser projection, with a three-color laser removing the need for a color filter and therefore allowing The Premiere's 2,800 lumens brightness to really shine. Pictures are punchy and colorful, and Samsung's world-first introduction of the HDR10+ format, which adds in scene-by-scene picture calibration in compatible films and TV shows.

This projector also benefits from full implementation of Samsung's smart TV operating system, which – if a bit sluggish at times – is incredible to have on a projector over the basic and poorly organized interfaces we're used to. The built-in 40W speakers are above par, too.

With a max 130-inch picture, a host of high-end and world-first technologies, and a TV operating system that fixes one of our main complaints about the best projectors available today, Samsung's The Premiere is a knockout choice for a new home cinema projector.

It is expensive, retailing at £6,999 / $6,490 / AU$10,999 – but is undeniable a good choice for those who can afford it. For everyone else, there's plenty of other great models in the guide below.

Read our full review: Samsung The Premiere projector

LG CineBeam HU80KSW 4K projector

(Image credit: LG)

2. Best all-in-one projector: LG CineBeam HU80KSW

A 4K HDR projector with a whole home cinema system thrown in

A true one-box system
4K HDR picture is more than capable
Still need speakers for optimum sound

After a five-star projector? The LG CineBeam HU80KSW offers a crisp 4K HDR picture, with the benefit of a truly all-in-one system you'll find a lot more compact than your average smart TV. It may have more of a neutral pallet than some more vivid projectors out there, but for the all-round package and quality, you can't do much better.

Everything from the speakers to the power plug is built into the projector itself, making for a tidy and well-designed product that's wonderfully easy to move around the room or house. While there are physical ports for external media players, too, the on-board LG smart platform can get you streaming from any of your catch-up apps with ease.

This CineBeam model boasts and impressive 2,500 lumens, and should last you 20,000 hours before the image starts to degrade – while the Harman Kardon speakers ensure you're getting a base quality for the audio (even if it will pale compared to a dedicated soundbar).

Prices hover around £2,000 / $2,400 / AU$3,600, depending which LG home cinema stockist you purchase it from, but this is a projector that's absolutely worth the price.

Read the full review: LG CineBeam HU80KSW 4K projector

Vava 4K laser projector (2020)

(Image credit: TechRadar)

3. Most stylish: Vava 4K laser projector (US)

A crowdfunded projector that won't disappoint

Projection system: Laser | Resolution: 4K | Brightness: 2,500 lumens | Video inputs: 3x HDMI, 1x SPDIF, 1x AUX In, 1x AUX Out, 1x USB | Dimensions: 533 x 368 x 107mm

Effortless style
Max 150-inch projection
Poor app layout
Only 8-bit HDR

The Vava 4K projector is something of a marvel, with a sharp 4K picture and impactful HDR despite its 8-bit color limitations. 

As an ultra-short throw laser projector, you’re getting a massive picture (up to 150 inches) while only having to place it a few inches away from a wall or screen. The 2,500 lumens brightness is more than enough to make its images look vibrant, too – while a sleek design and soft fabric covering ensure the projector is aesthetically satisfying even when it's turned off.

The smart platform is somewhat secondary here, with an old iteration of Android TV and a couple of big-name apps (Netflix, Hulu) nowhere to be seen. But with Vava’s mix of bright 4K images, impactful color, and ultra short-throw picture – all packaged in a gorgeously sleek design – it's a brilliant choice for a new home projector.

This Vava UST projector retails at $2,799 in the US, making it decently cheaper than our top pick in this guide, even if there are other, more budget models to consider too. 

As a crowdfunded model, the odds may have been against this laser projector, but the result is certainly one of the best projectors on the market today.

Read more: Vava 4K projector review

(Image credit: Epson)

4. Best all-rounder: Epson EH-TW9400

A superb home cinema projector for the price

Projection system: Lamp | Resolution: 4K (upscaled) | Brightness: 2,600 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI, 1x VGA, 2x USB, 1x 12V, 1x LAN, 1x RS232C | Dimensions: 520 x 450 x 193mm

Excellent color reproduction
Motorized lens controls
Blacks could be deeper
Motion not its strong point

The Epson EH-TW9400 is an excellent home cinema projector. You're not getting the laser projection of the some of the models above, but as lamp models go, it's a stunner.

We have this beamer five stars for its impressive color reproduction, HDR support, and 2,600 lumens brightness, making for bright and impactful images. While this isn't a native 4K projector (something you just don't get at this price), even upscaled images are detailed and come across well, with highly natural skin stones and an impressive amount of shadow detail. Blacks could be deeper, and motion could be smoother, but there's really little to complain about here.

The EH-TW9400 boasts advanced capability all around, from its 3D compatibility to motorized lens controls – the latter point allowing for real precision and an easy setup. There's even a lens cover to prevent dust from creeping in!

Having launched in 2019, the Epson EH-TW9400 is widely available in the UK, India and elsewhere, and currently retails for £2,549. In the United States, it goes by the name Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB, and comes in at $3,999.

That cost isn't a drop in the ocean, for sure, but all in all this is great value for what you're getting.

Read the full review: Epson EH-TW9400

BenQ TK850 (2020)

(Image credit: TechRadar)

5. Best for brightness: BenQ TK850

An incredibly bright HDR projector

Projection system: DLP | Resolution: 4K | Brightness: 3,000 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI, 1x SPDIF, 1x AUX In, 2x USB | Dimensions: 380 x 127 x 263mm

Support for 4K and HDR
Incredibly bright picture
No streaming apps
Some fan noise

The BenQ TK850 is a 4K projector for your living room, with boosted audio, intense 3,000 lumens brightness, and a focus on sports broadcasts to help it stand out from the piles of other projectors out there.

It’s not the first BenQ projector that’s caught our eye: we gave a glowing review to the BenQ HT3550 last year, even if that model is more angled towards die-hard cinephiles than the TK850.

But with its similar pricing, exceptional HDR, and the addition of a motion-smoothing and contrast-heightening Sports mode for those wanting to watch the football on a large projection, the TK850 make a strong argument as the best BenQ projector we've seen – especially as it amends HT3550's biggest flaws by drastically upping the brightness, and adding a lens shift tool to elevate or lower the height of the projection

The BenQ TK850 can output 3,000 lumens of brightness, making for vividly-realized colors and immediately visible detail, even in daytime or with some level of ambient light in the room. For that, it get a thumbs up from us.

There's some video noise in gray shadows or dark scenes, and the lack of streaming apps may disappoint some, but overall the TK850 is a fantastic projector for your home.

Read the full review: BenQ TK850 projector

(Image credit: Future)

6. Best compact projector: Anker Nebula Capsule II Mini

A tiny, quality home cinema projector

Android TV built-in
Full-size HDMI port
Could be brighter
Netflix must be sideloaded

Some projector were meant to be portable – and few do it better than the Anker Nebula Capsule II Mini Projector.

About the size and shape of a can of Coca Cola, the tiny projector looks more like a battery pack for a piece of AV equipment than an all-out projector, but those looks are deceiving. The Capsule II is very capable for its size, offering a 720p (HD) resolution and strong audio output – and a noticeable improvement on 2018's Anker Nebula Mars II – even if it can't compete with the more premium 4K HDR models listed in this guide.

Given its size, we were pleasantly surprised to find a fully-sized HMDI port, too, rather than the mini-HDMI alternative – as well as a USB port and USB-C charging port, allowing you to power the projector while connecting to a streaming stick like the Roku Express or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

There's also 3,600 apps to make use of, all pre-built into the Android TV smart platform. However, given some tricky certification issues around Netflix, you won't get the biggest TV streaming service on there unless you connect an external device to do it for you.

Read the full review: Anker Nebula Capsule II Mini Projector

Optoma CinemaX P2

(Image credit: Optoma)

7. Best for audio: Optoma CinemaX P2

A super-bright 4K/HDR projector with great audio credentials

Projection system: Laser | Resolutions: 3840 x 2160 | Brightness: 3,000 lumens | Video inputs: HDMI x 3 | Dimensions: 576 x 383 x 130mm

Up to 120-inch projection
Brilliant sound
Basic, dated software
Less bright than its predecessor

The Optoma CinemaX P2 is clearly a cool looking piece of kit, and it’s not often you can say that about a projector. Stylishly finished in matte white, with complementary grey fabric grille and peekaboo lens up top, it looks suitably trendy.

It's built around a single chip DLP 4K device allied to a laser light engine, which translates to pin-sharp pictures (no chance of any panel alignment issues here) and excellent color vibrancy - though it is a bit less vibrant than its predecessor

The tradeoff there is the the P2’s audio performance is top notch. Each driver has its own 10W digital amp module, so that’s a cumulative output of 40W. With the sonic chops of a large Bluetooth speaker, it’s more than loud enough to disguise its operating noise, which is a low 26dB.

This isn’t quite a cinephile grade projector, but for most of us the convenient form factor and fantastic audio performance should be ample compensation.

Read the full review: Optoma CinemaX P2

LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector

(Image credit: LG)

8. Best high-end projector: LG HU85LA CineBeam

An ultra short-throw projector that knows its worth

Excellent image quality
Sleek design
A bit expensive
Middling speakers

Really need a projector that can sit right up to the wall? This ultra short-throw CineBeam projector from LG is able to project a massive display from only inches away.

You're paying a lot, with a $6,000 (around £4,860, AU$8,750) price tag befitting the increased convenience and advance technology required to project at such a short distance.

The projector itself is also brilliantly sharp in its construction, with a sleek rectangular profile that can hub your living room carpet or coffee table without obstructing any of the image it's throwing up on the wall – and you can install it from the ceiling as well if preferred.

At 2.2 inches away, the projector will deliver a 90-inch screen size, while at 7.2 inches, you’ll get a 120-inch projection. The sound quality maybe isn't as impressive as the projection, though, with a lack of detail in high frequencies, and not much power on the low end either.

Read our full review: LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector

Optoma UHD51A

9. Best for Alexa: Optoma UHD51A (US)

An Alexa-compatible beamer that does decent 4K

Projection system: DLP | Resolutions: 1920x1080 (x4) | Brightness: 3,500 lumens | Video inputs: 2x HDMI (1x MHL) | Dimensions: 498(w) x 141(h) x 331(d)mm

Rich, sharp image
A rare 3D option
No digital keystone
Alexa set up issues

Smart, voice activated controls for a home cinema projector may sound like the kitchen-sink approach to feature lists at first glance, jumping on the buzz-word (or should that be ‘wake word’?) bandwagon of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google’s Assistant. But think about the environment and scenario that your average projector viewing session takes place in, and it starts to make a lot of sense – you’re in a dark room where seeing buttons isn’t always easy, possibly with your hands loaded up with popcorn and other treats. 

Being able to shout “play the movie!” at a voice activated projector, potentially installed in a bracket high above your head, seems like a sound move. 

Ultimately, while the Alexa features are fun (if a little perfunctory) everything about this the Optoma UHD51A performs exceptionally. At this price you’re going to be hard pressed to find a projector that can deliver this level of picture quality and this feature set more confidently.

The Optoma UHD51A represents a great shift in 4K projecting quality if you find yourself on a tighter budget. What’s on offer here allows even those with smaller living spaces and more modest bank balances a taste of the home cinema high life.

Read the full review: Optoma UHD51A