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Best 4K projectors for your home theater in 2021

Best 4K projectors 2021
(Image credit: Samsung)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

If you're after the best 4K projectors you can buy to upgrade your home theater in 2021, then look no further. We've put in the house to test out the top projectors out there, whether it's an ultra short-throw beamer or more compact HD model that you're after.

The biggest benefit of projectors is they’re a truly high impact workaround for those who don’t want a massive 75-inch 4K TV to dominate their living room when it’s not in use, but still want the benefits of a big picture. 100-inch images are the norm, while some models can offer projection as large as 300 inches – or as small as 40 inches, if that's all the space you have on your wall.

What’s more, the best projectors in this guide all offer some level of portability. That means it’s fairly easy to project your favorite 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.

Most of the options in this guide are native 4K projectors, but you will find the odd HD model for those with smaller budgets, or a beamer that can only upscale to 4K resolution rather than supporting it natively.

Keep an eye out for updates to this guide, with the LG CineBeam HU810P 4K laser projector having launched – and more projector competitors likely to follow throughout 2021.

The best 4K projectors in 2021

samsung premiere

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Best projector: Samsung The Premiere

The next generation of living room projection

Reasons to buy
+HDR10+ and 40W audio+Full TV-style smart system
Reasons to avoid
-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

Vava 4K laser projector

(Image credit: TechRadar)

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

A crowdfunded projector that won't disappoint

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Effortless style+Max 150-inch projection
Reasons to avoid
-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)

3. Best all-rounder: Epson EH-TW9400

A superb home cinema projector for the price

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Excellent color reproduction+Motorized lens controls
Reasons to avoid
-Blacks could be deeper-Motion not its strong point

The Epson EH-TW9400 is an excellent home theater 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)

4. Best for brightness: BenQ TK850

An incredibly bright HDR projector

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Support for 4K and HDR+Incredibly bright picture
Reasons to avoid
-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

Anker Nebula Capsule II Mini

(Image credit: Future)

5. Best compact projector: Anker Nebula Capsule II Mini

A tiny, quality home cinema projector

Reasons to buy
+Android TV built-in+Full-size HDMI port
Reasons to avoid
-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)

6. Best for audio: Optoma CinemaX P2

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

Specifications
Projection system: Laser
Resolutions: 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 3,000 lumens
Video inputs: HDMI x 3
Dimensions: 576 x 383 x 130mm
Reasons to buy
+Up to 120-inch projection+Brilliant sound
Reasons to avoid
-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)

7. Best high-end projector: LG HU85LA CineBeam

An ultra short-throw projector that knows its worth

Reasons to buy
+Excellent image quality+Sleek design
Reasons to avoid
-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

8. Best for Alexa: Optoma UHD51A (US)

An Alexa-compatible beamer that does decent 4K

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Rich, sharp image+A rare 3D option
Reasons to avoid
-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