Best ultra short throw projectors 2024: big, bright images from a box

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Hisense P1X Pro on a pink background
(Image credit: Hisense)

The best ultra short throw projectors, or UST for short, can beam an ultra-large picture from an ultra-short distance. They are designed as an alternative to standard 'long throw' projectors, which must be positioned at the back of a room to generate a large image – usually on a separate projection screen mounted on the opposite wall.

UST projectors also use a separate screen and some models are packaged with an ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen that uses a special material formulated for UST models. In a UST setup, the projector is positioned directly below the screen. The screen material filters out light coming from above, while reflecting light coming directly from the projector. This arrangement allows for UST projectors to deliver bright images even in a daylight environment or one with overhead lights.

We’ve rounded up the best UST projectors we’ve tested below. The models listed use different technologies, such as DLP and 3LCD to display pictures, but all have a laser-based light engine and a specified 4K on-screen resolution. We’re sure there’s a model here that suits your needs, whether it’s watching movies or sports, or gaming. And if you’re thinking that maybe a regular long-throw projector or even a portable model would be a better fit for your space, also check out our best 4K projectors guide.

Written by
Al Griffin
Written by
Al Griffin

Al Griffin is Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, US at TechRadar, and brings nearly three decades of journalism experience to the position. He is an ISF-trained video calibrator who specializes in TV and projector testing and has also written countless audio equipment reviews ranging from speakers and subwoofers to turntables. An avowed movie fanatic, he spends much of his free time holed up in his home theater, which is his preferred place.

The quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out which ultra short throw projectors are the best? Below, you’ll find a roundup of our choices. You can also jump to a more detailed review of every pick and our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

The best ultra short throw projector overall

The Hisense L9G in a living room setting.

(Image credit: Mark Knapp)
The best ultra short throw projector for most people

Specifications

Projection system: 3-laser DLP
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 3000 lumens
Projection size: 100 to 120 inches
Video inputs: 3 x HDMI (1 with eARC)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 24 x 6.1 x 13.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Astounding visuals
+
Punchy audio

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks setup flexibility
-
No built-in Netflix

The Hisense L9G is a revelation for the living room. This projector is packed with top-of-the-line projector features in an ultra short throw design, including a tri-color laser light engine, HDMI 2.1 ports with eARC, HDR support, an Android TV interface and powerful 40W speakers.

Hisense isn’t selling the L9G as a basic projector, but rather as a laser TV with an included ambient-light-rejecting projector screen that’s meant to be permanently installed on your wall. This 100- or 120-inch (varies depending on the model selected) screen will appeal to those who are fussy about image quality, as it will reduce the impact of ambient room lighting on the picture. 

As good as its picture performance is, the projector stumbles in a couple of places. Its attempts to adjust brightness on a shot-by-shot basis for some content can mean its overcorrecting in a way that makes the lighting quite jarring. Its motion smoothing can also be trouble as it helps reduce panning judder sometimes but introduces some glaring motion artifacts for everything else on screen. Fortunately, the Hisense L9G has a ton of available settings to adjust these features and many more, effectively letting users dial in the display however they like. 

There’s no denying the breathtaking quality of the Hisense L9G, but it’s a projector that takes a commitment to make sense for would-be buyers. It’s definitely less of a commitment than a 100-inch TV, though, as even the affordable models are multiple times the price of the L9G. 

Read our full Hisense L9G review

The best budget ultra short throw projector

Hisense PX2-Pro projector on stand

(Image credit: Future)
Best budget ultra short throw projector

Specifications

Projection system: 3-laser DLP
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 2,400 lumens
Projection size: 90 to 130 inches
Video inputs: 3 x HDMI (1 with eARC)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 20.5 x 6.3 x 12.8 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Strong color and contrast
+
Google TV for streaming
+
Attractive, compact design

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best built-in speakers
-
Brighter options available

The Hisense PX1-Pro that originally occupied the best budget spot in this buying guide wowed us with its strong contrast and rich color, and the new Hisense PX2-Pro steps up performance with a brighter 2,400 lumens picture and built-in support for the Dolby Vision high dynamic range format. Those qualities make the PX-2 Pro a great option for movie-watching, though you may want to pair it with one of the best soundbars via its HDMI eARC connection to get better sound than the Hisense’s 15-watt speakers can muster.

A main thing that differentiates the Hisense PX2-Pro from our overall pick, the Hisense L9G, is that it doesn’t come bundled with a projection screen. The PX2-Pro can project images from 90 to 130 inches on any screen or surface you want, and its 3-laser DLP light engine will take things from there. The PX2-Pro has the same compact, stylish case as the PX1-Pro, and it runs the Google TV smart system for streaming (VIDAA U7 Smart TV OS in the UK) with loads of available apps, Netflix included.

Hisense’s projector holds up well in a dim room, but the picture quality ramps up in a dark one. In our review, we said “the PX2-Pro puts on one hell of a show,” and easily trounces the color of other projectors including the Epson LS800 elsewhere in this guide. 

Although the Hisense PX2-Pro may seem pricey for a “budget” projector, its price is lower than most 4K projectors with an equivalent brightness level. It’s also an all-in-one solution, with picture, sound, and streaming capabilities. Just add a screen and you’re off to the movies.

Read our full Hisense PX2-Pro review

The best ultra short throw projector for picture

LG HU915QE projector on table with screen in background

(Image credit: Future)
Best ultra short throw projector for picture quality

Specifications

Projection system: Laser DLP
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: Up to 3700 ANSI lumens
Projection size: 90 to 120 inches
Video inputs: 3 x HDMI (1 with eARC)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 26.8 x 5 x 13.7 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent brightness
+
Fully featured

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Some tedious settings

The LG Cinebeam HU915QE is a relatively new addition to the world of UST projectors, and it’s a fabulous one. But at $5,999 / AU$9,999 (about £5,600), this is anything but a casual home theater purchase.

You get plenty for the money here, though. The HU915QE’s massive 90- to 120-inch picture is exceedingly bright and richly colorful. Even during daytime viewing, this projector is more than bright enough to create a pleasant picture, and just a little bit of ambient light control goes a long way in allowing it to display exceptional ones.

With potent speakers, LG’s handy webOS smart TV system, the convenience of a manual focus wheel, and an image that’s hard to find many faults with, you’d be getting quite a lot for your money with the LG Cinebeam HU915QE.

Read our full LG Cinebeam HU915QE review

The best ultra short throw projector for sound

Samsung Premiere projector

(Image credit: John Archer)
Best ultra short throw projector for sound quality

Specifications

Projection system: 3-laser DLP
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 2800 lumens
Projection size: 100 or 130 inches
Video inputs: 3 x HDMI, 1 x RF
Dimensions (W x H x D): 21.5 x 5.5 x 14.5 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Good in light and dark rooms
+
Full TV-style smart system

Reasons to avoid

-
Some rainbow effect
-
Some iffy presets for dark scenes

After more than a decade since its last home cinema projector, Samsung returned with an absolute cracker: the Premiere LSP9T projector. It's an ultra short-throw beamer that makes use of 4K HDR laser projection, and its three-color laser removes the need for a color filter. That enables the Premiere's 2800 lumens brightness to really shine, and it's capable of producing a very impressive 130-inch image. 

Pictures are punchy and colorful, and Samsung's support for the HDR10+ format adds scene-by-scene picture calibration in compatible films and TV shows. The projector also benefits from full implementation of Samsung's smart TV operating system, although we found it a bit sluggish at times.

The Premiere LSP9T’s built-in sound system impresses in a number of ways. Dialogue remains correctly placed at the heart of an elevated soundstage, while specific effects are accurately positioned in the audio wall to tally up with the onscreen action. Detailing in even very complex movie mixes is good, and treble effects are delivered without harshness or clipping. 

The Premiere LSP9T is expensive, but we think it's a knockout choice for those who can afford it.

Read our full Samsung The Premiere projector review

The best ultra short throw projector for sports

Epson LS800 UST projector on table with screen in background

(Image credit: Future)
Best ultra short throw projector for sports

Specifications

Projection system: 3LCD with laser light source
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 4000 lumens
Projection size: Up to 150 inches
Video inputs: 3x HDMI (1 with ARC)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 27.4 x 6.2 x 13.4 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally bright, high-contrast picture
+
Runs quietly

Reasons to avoid

-
Some connectivity disappointments
-
Color could be better for the price

There’s no shortage of UST projectors turning up to stake their claim as some of the best projectors on the market right now. Epson has shown solid performance with its laser-lit 3LCD technology in various formats, and the Epson LS800 incorporates it in a powerful UST package. 

At $3,499 / £3,199 (about AU$5,240), it’s amazing that this Epson can deliver 4000 lumens of brightness, which proves more than enough for viewing in the daytime without covering every window with blackout curtains. Epson could have gone further with eARC support and a wider color gamut, but for what it lacks in those departments, it does a solid job making up for it by simply being usable around the clock with little fuss. 

The LS800’s built-in Yamaha-designed speaker setup provides a strong complement to its image. It can pack a punch, and is plenty for 200 or 300 square foot rooms. The virtual sound mode is surprisingly compelling, mixing voices, sound effects, and music with great balance while lending an impression of surround sound.

The LS800 has claimed a place for anyone who wants a simple, powerful projector that lets them beam a huge image they can view at any time of day they want.

Read our full Epson EpiQVision Ultra LS800 review

The best ultra short throw projector for streaming

LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector

(Image credit: LG)
The best ultra short throw projector for streaming

Specifications

Projection system: Laser DLP
Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 2700 lumens
Projection size: 90-120 inches
Video inputs: 3 x HDMI
Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.7 x 5 x 6.8 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
WebOS is great

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling speakers for the price
-
Expensive

 LG's CineBeam can create a massive display from only inches away. The projector's design is as sharp as its picture, with a sleek rectangular profile.

Picture quality is good, as we found during our review. However, we think you'll want to use external speakers for the soundtrack, as there's a lack of detail in the high frequencies and we'd prefer a bit more low-end thump too.

The projector itself uses LG’s WebOS, which is the same smart interface the company uses in its TVs, and it also uses the same Magic Remote for control. WebOS is easy to navigate and, as with many other smart platforms, you can choose from a wide range of streaming services and access other features from the gallery. If you’re into voice controls, you can use the remote's built-in mic to jump to different apps, change the volume, and more. 

LG’s projector makes use of Google Assistant too – so if you’re set up in the Google ecosystem, you’ll be able to control not only the projector, but also your smart home devices and so on. It’s a handy touch, and helps make the already smart WebOS even smarter.  

Read our full LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector review

How to choose the best ultra short throw projector

Are UST projectors good for watching TV?

The flexibility that UST projectors provide when it comes to room lighting makes them a great option for watching daytime sports. And their compact installation, with the projector positioned close to the wall where a screen is mounted, also means there will be no shadows cast by family members and friends as they walk around during commercial breaks as they would with a standard projector. That’s not to say UST projectors won’t look good when lights are dimmed and it’s movie time. For that scenario, many models can perform equally well as their long-throw projector counterparts. Some even have the added benefit of Dolby Vision high dynamic range support, which is especially useful for movie viewing.

Are UST projectors good value?

UST projectors also work out to be great value when compared to the largest examples of the best 4K TVs, which are now sold in screen sizes up to 98-inches. While TVs that large are priced anywhere from $8,000 for a new Samsung QLED model up to $25,000 for an LG OLED, a UST projector typically sells for $2,500 to $3,500. Many UST projectors also have relatively powerful built-in speakers, and that feature adds to their value by eliminating the need – in some cases – for an external audio system.

Do I need to a screen with a UST projector?

As with any projector, a projection screen isn’t required for UST projectors to work. You can also project onto a white-painted wall, preferably a smooth one that’s free from cracks or other inconsistencies. Use of a dedicated screen will result in the best performance, however, and will affect important picture parameters like brightness, contrast, color accuracy, and detail. 

While you can use a regular matte white screen with a UST projector, especially if you’re viewing in a room with proper light-control, you’ll generally get better results by using an ALR screen. An ALR screen is designed to filter out light emanating from undraped windows and lamps that would otherwise reflect off the screen’s surface and reduce picture contrast. A special type of ALR screen is normally used with UST projectors that takes the additional picture-improving step of filtering out light coming from above while directly reflecting light coming from the projector positioned below. Some UST projectors such as the Hisense LG9 are even sold as a package with an ALR screen, which is typically available in a 100-inch or 120-inch size option.

Do UST projectors look as good as TVs?

For the most part, no. Even when using a screen with special material optimized for UST projectors, the image won’t be as bright or have the same contrast level as what you can expect to see with the best TVs. One area of picture quality where certain UST projectors can beat TVs is color rendition. Models that use three separate lasers to transmit the red, green, and blue components of video images are generally capable of covering 100% of BT.2020 color space, which is the recommended color space standard for ultra high-definition television. The best TVs, in contrast, generally max out at 75% BT.2020 color space coverage.

Should I get a UST projector with a fixed or variable image size?

That will depend on whether or not you plan to buy a UST screen as part of a package with the projector. Models with a fixed image size – typically 100- or 120-inches – come with a matched screen, which in some ways eases setup. A projector with a variable image size will have a zoom lens that allows you to vary the size of the image. This feature will be helpful if you plan to use a screen smaller than 100-inches, or plan to use the projector in multiple locations.

Are UST projectors compatible with streaming services?

Most UST projectors feature a built-in smart TV interface, or come with a USB stick that’s used for streaming. In the first case, it will typically be the same smart interface found on the manufacturer’s TV lineup – LG’s webOS or Samsung’s Tizen, for instance. In the second, it will be Android TV. Most Android TV implementations don’t support Netflix, however, so if that’s one of your regular streaming apps, you’ll need to connect one of the best streaming devices (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV 4K, etc.).

Do UST projectors need regular lamp replacements?

UST projectors typically use a laser light source instead of the lamps found in most long throw projectors, so there is no need for lamp replacements. Lifetime specifications for laser light sources are generally 20-25,000 hours, which should provide 10-20 years of use depending on the number of hours spent viewing per day.

Do I need a soundbar with a UST projector?

Most UST projectors are designed to be all-in-one audio and video systems and have reasonably high-quality built-in speakers. They all also feature both optical digital and HDMI eARC or ARC ports audio output to a soundbar, so you’ll have that option if you find the sound quality to be insufficient.

How we tested the best ultra short throw projectors

At TechRadar, we evaluate UST projectors in both bright and dark room environments, the same as you would when using the projector at home. We also pair the projector with a projection screen – typically an ambient light-rejecting type specifically designed for use with UST models.

Using both test patterns and reference movie clips, we test the projector’s ability to display bright, uniform images with fully saturated colors. We also test for image sharpness and both noise and motion handling. Audio also gets tested, as we evaluate the projector’s ability to convey both basic TV show dialogue and complex movie soundtracks with clarity and dynamic finesse.

Streaming and gaming is another part of our testing regimen. In the first case, we check the projector’s smart TV interface to see the range of streaming apps on offer and how easy it is to navigate through them. In the second, we connect a next-generation gaming console and test both motion handling and input lag.

The latest updates to this best ultra short throw projectors guide

June 14 2024
Replaced the Hisense PX1-Pro with Hisense PX2-Pro, a newer model with improved brightness.

August 3 2023
Ultra short throw projectors buyer's guide launched.

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.