Best Projector

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Projectors are used for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from high-end home theaters to business presentations and classroom applications. Depending on their intended use, projectors can vary in their technology, style, and price. We’ve compiled lists of some of the best projectors currently available while considering different budgets and performance needs. Although we’ve included several high-end models, we’ve kept ultra-expensive projectors off the list in favor of one’s which are more realistic for use in the average home or business. If you’re new to projectors and need some pointers on what to look for, be sure to also check out our buyer’s guide below.

Best Home Theater Projector:

Home theaters are gaining popularity with consumers due to the increasing availability and affordability of the required components. The type of projector you choose is just as important as the type of screen you buy.

Some home theater projectors are designed for use in living rooms and dens where ambient light isn't fully controllable, while others are meant for a dedicated home theater room. Many of these projectors tend to be brighter and come with shifting lenses and/or adjustable levelers for use on any type of surface that wasn't necessarily meant for a theater projector.

Prices of the projectors we've selected are roughly from just under $1,000 and up, but we've ensured that the majority are accessible to the average consumer. These projectors provide excellent picture quality whether you're watching 2D or 3D playback, and can be calibrated to meet your needs and tastes.

The home theater projectors we've chosen for this list all display an ideal blend of image quality and performance suited for home entertainment. Although price and features vary, all of the following projectors are simple to set up and use.

Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector

This projector from Epson is one of the best high end home theater projectors currently available. The 6030UB is part of Epson's PowerLite Pro Cinema line, with availability limited primarily to stores offering high-end home theater equipment. This excellent projector is ideally suited for a dedicated home theater environment. Read Full Review

Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector

Panasonic PT-AE8000U 1080p Full HD Projector

The PT-AE8000U from Panasonic offers outstanding image quality, making it one of the best options for a home theater projector. This projector has good connectivity and supports 3D playback, along with including multiple features to make setup easier and enhance user experience. Read Full Review

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    Panasonic PT-AE8000U 1080p Full HD Projector

    Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector

    This projector is on the lower end of the price spectrum for Epson, but manages to offer very good image quality and features for the money. The Epson 8350 might be slightly older and lacking 3D support, but its vertical and horizontal lens shift is not commonly found at this price point. Read Full Review

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      Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector

      BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

      The BenQ W1080ST projector is ideal for home entertainment thanks to its good image quality and high-quality video. Although this projector is less well-suited for a dedicated home theater room, it is an excellent budget-friendly option for a more casual media consumption setup. Read Full Review

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        BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

        Optoma HD91 DLP Projector

        This DLP projector is a good choice for a home entertainment setup thanks to its excellent image quality for the money. Though not as well suited for gamers, the Optoma HD91 is a well-rounded option for a casual home theater. Read Full Review

        Optoma HD91 DLP Projector

        Best Budget Projector:

        Projectors are expensive pieces of equipment, making them a considerable investment whether for home, education, or business use. Although the trend of dropping prices has allowed more and more consumers to opt for a projector setup for their home theater, the initial cost of purchasing these devices is still quite high.

        While you can easily find and purchase projectors for well under $500, the majority of the options in this price range remain relatively poor in terms of quality and performance. We have included a couple of standout options in this price range, but the majority of our picks fall somewhere just under $1,000.

        The following projectors include some models suited for home theater use, and some best for business use. However, they all offer good overall image and video quality with sufficient brightness levels. These projectors are user friendly and offer at least basic connectivity, making them suitable for a variety of applications.

        BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

        The BenQ W1080ST offers convenient setup options and good overall performance. This DLP projector is excellent for home entertainment use, including for playing video games. Read Full Review

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          BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

          InFocus IN8606HD 3D Ready DLP Projector

          This affordable projector offers solid image and video quality even in environments with bright ambient light, and its HD resolution and good connectivity make it suited for home entertainment use. The InFocus IN8606HD is not without imperfections, but for the price it offers good quality and performance. Read Full Review

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            InFocus IN8606HD 3D Ready DLP Projector

            ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector

            This projector is an ideal choice for business and classroom use, thanks to its long lamp life, solid image quality, and all-around ease of use. However, the ViewSonic PJD5132 lacks an HDMI input which might make this affordable projector unsuitable for some purposes. Read Full Review

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              ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector

              C205 DLP LED Projector

              This basic and affordable projector might not offer top resolution or image quality, but it offers solid performance for those wanting to make presentations on a budget. The Acer C205 is best for business presentations in a small space, and also when audio quality is more important than text clarity at smaller sizes. Read Full Review

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                C205 DLP LED Projector

                Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector

                Although a bit of a stretch as a budget-friendly choice, the Epson 8350 is nonetheless excellent value for money. This projector is a slightly older model, but still offers good features and overall performance. Read Full Review

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                  Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector

                  Best LCD Projector:

                  Projectors currently consist primarily of the choice between LCD or DLP technology; this list focuses on liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors. LCD projectors tend to use less energy and produce less heat than DLP projectors, while also doing away with the rainbow effect that often plagues DLP models. These projectors often perform better in brighter ambient light environments, while also retaining better image clarity at low brightness levels.

                  We've chosen projectors showcasing some of the best LCD technology has to offer, with units offering excellent picture and video quality, provide plentiful connectivity and placement options, all while being relatively simple to set up and use. Although these featured models don’t tend to be budget friendly, we’ve mostly avoided the extremely expensive models in favor of more financially accessible options.

                  Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector

                  The Epson 6030UB 3LCD projector is easily one of the better home theater projectors available. As part of the company's PowerLite Pro Cinema line, it’s only available from select dealers selling high-end home theater equipment. The feature-rich 6030UB offers outstanding image quality in both 2D and 3D and very flexible installation options. Read Full Review

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                    Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector

                    Panasonic PT-AE8000U 1080p Full HD Projector

                    The Panasonic PT-AE8000U is one of the best home theater projectors available. This fact makes its relatively reasonable price quite surprising. Though not cheap, this projector offers tremendous value for your money. Excellent connectivity and outstanding image quality make this projector an easy choice if you're willing to spend more. Read Full Review

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                      Panasonic PT-AE8000U 1080p Full HD Projector

                      Sony VPL-FHZ55 LCD Projector

                      Sony's VPL-FHZ55 projector combines a blue laser fired through a spinning phosphor wheel and 3LCD technology to project high quality images with excellent detail clarity and brilliant color reproduction. Setup is relatively easy, with versatile placement options and a load of connectivity choices. Read Full Review

                      Sony VPL-FHZ55 LCD Projector

                      Epson PowerLite 4855WU WUXGA 3LCD Projector

                      Projectors in Epson's Powerlite line offer excellent quality and performance for the money. The 4855WU 3LCD projector is no exception, providing bright high-resolution image quality for both data and video playback. Read Full Review

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                        Epson PowerLite 4855WU WUXGA 3LCD Projector

                        Boxlight Boston X30N LCD Projector

                        This LCD projector has been geared towards classroom and business use. The Boxlight Boston X30N offers solid image and video quality even in rooms with high amounts of ambient light, while its extensive connectivity options allow versatile setup options. Read Full Review

                        Boxlight Boston X30N LCD Projector

                        Best DLP Projector:

                        For home theater owners and office managers looking to outfit the conference room with high-quality presentation gear, choosing an HD projector boils down to two options: LCD or DLP. The case for the latter is made by those who prefer images that replicate the kind of movie screen quality they're already accustomed to. DLP projectors also boast high contrast and improved black levels, as well as less degradation of image quality over time.

                        One drawback to DLP projectors is the possibility of rainbow effects; these red-blue-green spots can sometimes shine through in the image, creating a distracting effect. Not everyone tends to be able to see it, but those who do notice it may find it irritating.

                        We've chosen some of the best overall DLP projectors currently available, each offering a good balance between performance, features, and price. This means good image quality and brightness, with plenty of connectivity options and easy setup. Although there are projectors available that objectively perform better than many of our picks, we've opted to stick with ones that won't break the bank.

                        BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

                        This DLP projector offers a long list of convenient features for a modest price. The short throw lens means that you can position the projector near your screen without losing image size, helping with setup in close-quarter situations. Whether for watching movies or playing video games, the BenQ W1080ST is an excellent home entertainment projector. Read Full Review

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                          BenQ W1080ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector

                          Optoma HD91 DLP Projector

                          The Optoma HD91 projector stands out for its combination of balance and relatively low price. Color accuracy is excellent, there's 3D support, and plenty of included connectivity options. This DLP projector makes a good choice for a home entertainment setup. Read Full Review

                          Optoma HD91 DLP Projector

                          NEC Display NP-PE401H 3D Ready DLP Projector

                          NEC is calling this an entry-level projector, built for those consumers who are willing to forgo some features in the interest of affordability. The NP-PE401H is best suited for educational or business use, with its high brightness levels and native 1080p resolution resulting in excellent image quality overall. Read Full Review

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                            NEC Display NP-PE401H 3D Ready DLP Projector

                            InFocus IN8606HD 3D Ready DLP Projector

                            The InFocus IN8606HD projector is an ideal choice for replacing the HDTV in your home entertainment setup. This projector offers very good image and video quality even in bright rooms, with full 1080p resolution and ample connectivity. Read Full Review

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                              InFocus IN8606HD 3D Ready DLP Projector

                              ViewSonic PRO8300 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector

                              The Viewsonic Pro8300 is a workhorse that excels as a business projector, but is also effective in a home entertainment environment. It offers enough brightness to be usable even in bright rooms, while the dual ten-watt speakers deliver decent sound quality for a small space. Read Full Review

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                                ViewSonic PRO8300 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector

                                Best Business Projector:

                                Office projectors are best suited for educational or business use, providing good picture resolution for data and text imaging, with video playback quality good enough for shorter clips. These projectors have high brightness levels allowing them to perform well in bright, ambient light. Since these projectors are used in classrooms and conference rooms, we've ensured that most of them are compact and lightweight enough to be portable.

                                Each of the following projectors has been chosen for their good performance in terms of image quality and brightness, as well as their wide range of connectivity options and ease of use. Although there are more expensive projectors available (many of which might objectively perform better), we've chosen projectors that won't blow your budget while still performing very well for business use.

                                NEC Display NP-PE401H 3D Ready DLP Projector

                                The NEC NP-PE401H is ideal for business applications, with NEC marketing it as an entry-level projector for business professionals. This projector focuses on getting the basics right, forgoing some features in the name of preserving quality at an affordable price. Read Full Review

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                                  NEC Display NP-PE401H 3D Ready DLP Projector

                                  ViewSonic PRO8300 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector

                                  The ViewSonic Pro8300 is ideal for use in business environments, although it can also be used as a home entertainment projector. With brightness levels suitable for use in ambient light as well as decent built-in speakers, this projector can be used in a variety of situations. Read Full Review

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                                    ViewSonic PRO8300 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector

                                    Dell M115HD Mobile LED Projector

                                    The Dell M115HD is a good choice for the business traveler, with its excellent connectivity, compact size, and solid overall picture quality making it well-suited to giving presentations. While projected text clarity isn’t the best you can get, this pocket projector is nonetheless a good choice for someone who needs a portable yet capable projector. Read Full Review

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                                      Dell M115HD Mobile LED Projector

                                      ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector

                                      The ViewSonic PJD5132 offers long lamp life, good image quality overall, and user friendliness that make it a well-rounded choice for both business and classroom applications. This projector is 3D ready, but the lack of an HDMI input might limit connectivity for some. Read Full Review

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                                        ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector

                                        Vivitek Qumi Q5 500 Lumen WXGA HD 720p HDMI 3D-Ready Pocket DLP Projector

                                        The Qumi Q5 from Vivitek offers a stylish design and good overall performance in a convenient, portable package. This projector is suited for business presentations on the go, although it's best kept to smaller rooms due in part to its poor built-in speaker. Read Full Review

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                                          Vivitek Qumi Q5 500 Lumen WXGA HD 720p HDMI 3D-Ready Pocket DLP Projector

                                          Best Pocket Projector:

                                          Pocket projectors are smaller and lighter than other home theater or office projectors. These are built for projecting images and video on the go, in a portable unit that is slightly bigger and sometimes brighter than the pico projector. They're also an economical choice because these projectors use LEDs as their light source, which are meant to last the life of the projector.

                                          Although picture quality can be quite good with the compact projectors, they are generally not the ideal choice for a home theater environment. Instead, they are best for spontaneous movies, video games with friends, business presentations, or uses where there's likely to be a fair bit of ambient light.

                                          Most of the best pocket projectors are capable of connecting to devices such as smartphone, allowing for presentations and media consumption while on the go. We've chosen models that offer good overall picture quality for both video and data, while being very compact and portable. They must also be easy to use, with decent connectivity and a reasonable price.

                                          Optoma ML550 WXGA 500 Lumen 3D Ready Portable DLP LED Projector with HDMI

                                          The ML550 from Optoma is an ideal size for home use or business travel, offering excellent overall brightness and image quality. Although not ideal for video, this projector is among the brightest for its size, and is one of the better portable options out there. Read Full Review

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                                            Optoma ML550 WXGA 500 Lumen 3D Ready Portable DLP LED Projector with HDMI

                                            Vivitek Qumi Q5 500 Lumen WXGA HD 720p HDMI 3D-Ready Pocket DLP Projector

                                            Vivitek's Qumi Q5 offers bright, solid picture quality with HD support, and plenty of convenient connectivity options. Best suited for business presentations limited to smaller rooms, the Q5 is also one of the most stylish pocket projectors available. Read Full Review

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                                              Vivitek Qumi Q5 500 Lumen WXGA HD 720p HDMI 3D-Ready Pocket DLP Projector

                                              Dell M115HD Mobile LED Projector

                                              This pocket projector from Dell is a good overall package for doing business presentations on the go. Although the M115HD has some problems with tinting and text clarity, it offers excellent connectivity and a compact size. Read Full Review

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                                                Dell M115HD Mobile LED Projector

                                                Brookstone Pocket Projector ProGCo200 Lumens

                                                This portable and lightweight pocket projector is ideal for personal use, whether for watching a movie with friends or playing video games. The Brookstone Pocket Projector isn’t the brightest nor does it have the best image quality for its size or price, but it offers solid overall performance that makes it a worth contender. Read Full Review

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                                                  Brookstone Pocket Projector ProGCo200 Lumens

                                                  View Sonic PLED-W200 WXGA Front Projector

                                                  Viewsonic's PLED-W200 brings strong image quality and a unique set of connection options in a small size projector. Brightness is decent, with support for high-resolution video and high-quality data imaging. Two speakers provide slightly better audio than the single speaker typically found in projectors of this size. Read Full Review

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                                                    View Sonic PLED-W200 WXGA Front Projector

                                                    Best Pico Projector:

                                                    What exactly is a pico projector? It's like one of those large-scale projectors you'd find in the back of a dark theatre or lecture hall, reduced to a lightweight unit that can fit in your backpack, your coat pocket, or the palm of your hand. It's a projector about the size of a digital camera and it can project data and video images at high resolution. These miniature projectors aren't cheap, but they do offer an inexpensive alternative to high-priced projection systems with comparable picture clarity.

                                                    Their portable functionality makes them well-suited for movie buffs who want to recreate the cinema experience at home, or businessmen and/or students who need to display fixed image and Powerpoint presentations. But with all of the convenience these units offer, there are some common drawbacks. These can include a lack of zoom ability, subpar speakers, and limited control navigation.

                                                    We've selected projectors combining ultra-compact size with powerful performance in terms of brightness and picture quality. All of these portable projectors offer good connectivity options and ease of use that makes them suitable for various applications, whether a business presentation or watching a movie. They also deliver a good balance of performance and price.

                                                    AAXA P4X Pico Projector

                                                    The AAXA P4-X can fit in the palm of your hand, making this pico projector easy to take with you almost anywhere. This compact projector offers excellent image quality, both for business presentations and for video. Because of its good connectivity and ease of use, the P4-X is a good overall choice. Read Full Review

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                                                      AAXA P4X Pico Projector

                                                      ASUS S1 LED Projector

                                                      If HDMI will be suitable for everything you're planning on connecting to, the ASUS S1 offers a good combination of image quality, portability, and price. Although brightness and image quality are not outstanding, they are suitable for home use, and more forgivable in light of the built-in rechargeable battery included at such a relatively affordable price. Read Full Review

                                                      ASUS S1 LED Projector

                                                      AAXA P2 Jr Pico Projector

                                                      This projector can slip easily into a jacket pocket, thanks to its small size and lightweight. The AAXA P2 Jr isn't especially bright and has poor built-in audio, but it delivers exceptional data image and video quality for its size. Read Full Review

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                                                        AAXA P2 Jr Pico Projector

                                                        Optoma PK320 Pico Pocket Projector

                                                        A solid all-around pico projector that does everything well, the Optoma PK320 has only a few drawbacks. Although image focusing and audio quality aren't the best, this compact projector offers good brightness, image quality, and connectivity for the size. Read Full Review

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                                                          Optoma PK320 Pico Pocket Projector

                                                          Brookstone Mobile Pocket Projector

                                                          Weighing very little and small enough to slip into a pocket, the Brookstone Mobile Pocket Projector is a good all-around portable projector. This projector offers excellent picture quality for the size and has good battery life, making it suitable for both presentations and watching movies alike. Read Full Review

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                                                            Brookstone Mobile Pocket Projector
                                                             

                                                            Finding the Best Projector: Buyer’s Guide

                                                            Whether it’s for home or business use, buying a new projector can be a frustrating experience. With the amount of options available and technology going into them, these products can seem confusing to the average buyer. Fortunately, we’ve compiled this projector buyer’s guide to make the process much easier. We’re focusing primarily on projectors for home theater use, but most of the following information applies just as well to any projector type.

                                                            Projectors are typically used for displaying data, video, photos, and games. While a projector can technically show any kind of content, some models are better suited for one purpose over another.
                                                            Business projectors tend to excel at showing data such as text, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, while home theater projectors are more suited for HD video.

                                                            Once you determine the kind of content you’re looking to project, it’ll narrow down your choices considerably. If you also need something that’s portable, you may want to prioritize looking at small and lightweight projectors such as those on our Pocket Projector and Pico Projector lists.

                                                            Projector Types

                                                            Digital Light Processing (DLP)
                                                            These projectors are usually compact and tend to offer deep blacks, detailed image quality, and smooth visuals, making them a popular choice for home theater use. Prices range widely, from entry-level models at just a few hundred dollars to those up in the thousands.

                                                            DLP projectors are known for sometimes producing a rainbow effect which can appear on the screen when there’s movement. Though most people don’t notice, these colors can be very irritating to those able to see it.

                                                            Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
                                                            These models tend to offer better color saturation, project sharper images, use less energy than DLP projectors, and avoid the dreaded rainbow effect which plagues some DLP projectors. Although they perform better in rooms with bright light, these projectors are still excellent all-around performers.

                                                            Features

                                                            Many projectors now include features such as zoom lenses and lens shift in order to accommodate different screen sizes and room layouts.

                                                            Zoom Lens
                                                            This allows for making the projected image larger or smaller. A zoom lens offers flexibility but it somewhat lowers the projectors overall light output.

                                                            Lens Shift
                                                            This is the ability to move the projected image up, down, left, or right while the projector itself remains stationary. This allows you to adjust the image to fit the screen perfectly without needing to move the projector or the screen.

                                                            Connectivity
                                                            You’ll want to check the connections your primary devices use to ensure the connectivity of your equipment and the projectors you’re considering match up.

                                                            Most projectors have an analog VGA connector for linking to a computer as well as a composite video connection for video equipment. Some models have an HDMI connector for connecting to compatible video sources as well as other projectors with MHL-enabled ports for linking to Android devices.

                                                            While wireless connections aren’t the best for home theater, some projectors have WiFi connectivity through the use of a wireless dongle which fits in a USB port; this also opens up the possibility of connecting a thumb drive to access content.

                                                            Lamp Maintenance
                                                            The majority of projectors regularly used in home theaters, business conference rooms, and classrooms use lamps bulbs with a performance life ranging from 2000 to 4000 hours. While modern bulbs can last a very long time, it’s wise to set aside the $200-500 for replacing it at some point. New laser projectors have also been gaining popularity, replacing the traditional lamp with a laser to create light necessary for image projection. Despite their high cost, these new laser projectors offer obvious benefits.

                                                            Terminology

                                                            Aspect Ratio
                                                            Aspect ratio refers to the rectangular shape of the projected image; for example, the HDTV standard is 16:9 so there are 16 units of width for every nine units of height. Most people choose a 16:9 projector for home theater, while some choose 4:3 if they primarily enjoy watching classic films and TV shows or for use in business applications. Since no single projector can fit every format, it’s best to pick a projector which will work with the majority of content you’re watching.

                                                            Resolution
                                                            Native resolution refers to the number of pixels the projector has to create an image; the more it has, the higher the resolution; the higher the resolution, the more expensive the projector will typically be. Resolutions are typically written as 720p or 1080p; alternately you may see it written as 1280x720.

                                                            Some newer projectors are able to handle 4K or UHD content but a projector with 1080p resolution will fit the needs of most buyers thank to their affordability and compatibility with most forms of media content.

                                                            Brightness
                                                            Along with the reflectivity (gain) of your screen, projector light output will have significant influence on the resulting image quality. Most projectors are measured in lumens which is the light energy produced by the projector.

                                                            Although the brightness of a projector is important, the actual lumens rating is less so; these ratings aren’t reliable for determining actual performance, and most modern projectors have sufficient brightness levels for your average applications.

                                                            Also take the time to consider the ambient light of the space you’re most likely to use the projector in. For example, a brighter projector will be needed for particularly bright rooms or spaces.

                                                            Contrast
                                                            Contrast refers to the difference between the brightest and the darkest parts of the projected image. The greater this difference is, the higher the contrast. A home theater projector requires a decent screen and excellent contrast since deep black levels and image details are crucial to good picture quality in dark rooms.

                                                            Leave a Question or Comment
                                                            1 comments
                                                            • danny danny

                                                            We can't complain about not having options for home theatres, the latest technologies are extremely competitive and it's almost impossible to make the best decision because there always something newer and better to show up on the market. Nevertheless I also found some interesting products on this site: http://www.dallashometheater.biz and this makes it even harder for me to make a choice.

                                                            Posted on 7/23/2009 1:43 pm | Reply