Best projector: bring cinema home with the best movie projectors

The best projectors for indoor and outdoor use, from Epson, LG, BenQ and more

Included in this guide:

best projector: Vankyo Performance V630 1080p Projector
(Image credit: Vankyo)

Have you ever wanted your very own home theater room - somewhere you can kick back and enjoy a movie, binge-watch, or gaming session without having to deal with sticky floors, off-putting food smells, and other people? Well, the best projectors allow you to create the ultimate at-home movie experience right in your living room.

Of course, TVs are getting larger, but you'll still have to spend thousands to get a 75-inch or 85-inch screen. On the other hand, projectors are far more affordable and can give you images up to about 300".

They can also often be used inside and outside and are useful for everything from work presentations to enjoying the big game with friends.

We've rounded up some of the best options for all of this below, from HD home cinema devices to portable projectors you can take with your anywhere. Keep reading to see what we thought.

The best projectors in 2021

Epson Home Cinema 1080 1080p 3LCD Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

1. Epson Home Cinema 1080 3LCD Projector

Best projector overall

Specifications
Brightness: 3,400 lumens
Resolution: 1080p
Contrast ratio: 16,000:1
Max screen size: 320"
Lamp life: 10-6,000 hours
Distance: 3-26.6ft
Reasons to buy
+Built-in speaker+Lightweight and portable
Reasons to avoid
-Short lamp life

The Epson projector is our top choice for those who want a lightweight, multi-purpose projector that you can use for movie watching, gaming, and more around the home. 

The Epson Home Cinema 1080, as the name suggests, offers 1080p HD resolution that's ideal for enjoying binge-watches, old Blu-ray discs, or video games on the big screen. There's an HDMI input for the latter, and you can also connect the projector to your PC or Mac via USB. 

The brightness and contrast ratio of the Epson offering is excellent and gives you much more freedom when deciding where to watch. Brightness is critical for viewing outside in the summer, for example. In addition, with a maximum screen size of 320", movie nights will get a serious upgrade.

BenQ HT2050A 1080p DLP Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

2. BenQ HT2050A 1080p DLP Projector

Best projector for brightness (runner up)

Specifications
Brightness: 2,200 lumens
Resolution: 1080p
Contrast ratio: 15,000:1
Max screen size: 300"
Lamp life: 3,500-7,000 hours
Distance: 2.5-25ft
Reasons to buy
+Good lamp life+Quiet+Built-in speaker
Reasons to avoid
-Short lamp life

Lacking slightly in brightness, the BenQ HT2050A DLP projector is still a fantastic choice for those who want to boost their home cinema experience.

Keystone correction and a lens shift feature reduce issues with getting the perfect alignment, and 1080p native resolution (with support for much more besides) with 15:000:1 contrast ratio means you're not compromising on image quality.

The projector comes with a 10W built-in speaker that will suit those who don't want to splash out on a surround sound system or soundbar, and we're also glad to note that BenQ promises the fan noise will reach no louder than 29dB. 

Vankyo Performance V630 1080p Projector

(Image credit: Vankyo)

3. Vankyo Performance V630 1080p Projector

Best value projector

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p
Contrast ratio: 5,000:1
Max screen size: 300"
Lamp life: 50,000 hours
Distance: 5.1-30.1ft
Reasons to buy
+Excellent lamp life+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Low contrast ratio

A great projector suitable for a wide range of uses for an affordable price, the Vankyo Performance V630 boasts an ultra-long lamp life, 1080p HD resolution, and more than enough ports (HDMI, AV, VGA, USB, SD Card, Audio Out) to view whatever you want from consoles, streaming sticks and more.

The brightness and contrast suffer a little due to the price but, with the projector able to produce good results from up to 30.8ft away, there's an added convenience for those who need to contend with crowded spaces. There's also an integrated speaker, though some reviewers claim this isn't up to much.

LG CineBeam PH550 720p DLP Portable Projector

(Image credit: LG)

4. LG CineBeam PH550 720p DLP Portable Projector

Best wireless movie projector

Specifications
Brightness: 550 lumens
Resolution: 720p
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Max screen size: 100"
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Distance: 2.5-10ft
Reasons to buy
+2.5 hours wireless battery life+Fantastic contrast ratio+Long lamp life
Reasons to avoid
-Brightness could be better-Needs to be placed near screen

Not just lightweight enough to carry around with you, the LG CineBeam PH550 projector also lets you enjoy without the usual tangle of wires with an in-built battery that will last for around 2.5 hours. With a native resolution of 720p, supporting everything up to 1080p, the fantastic contrast ratio ensures deep blacks and bright whites.

Unfortunately, the low brightness means it might not be the best option for use outside, but the portability still makes it ideal for taking with you on the go, like on a camping trip or to a friends' house. The image will stretch to 100", but you'll need to position the projector no further than 10ft from the screen for the best experience.

Miroir Surge Series SYNQ 720p DLP Mini Projector

(Image credit: Miroir)

5. Miroir Surge Series SYNQ 720p DLP Mini Projector

Best portable projector

Specifications
Brightness: 200 lumens
Resolution: 720p
Contrast ratio: 300:1
Lamp life: 20,000 hours
Reasons to buy
+In-built 5W speaker+3 hours battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Weak brightness and contrast ratio

A genuinely portable projector, the Miroir Surge SYNQ Mini is small enough to pop in a handbag or briefcase when using out and about and to place on a coffee or side table when you want to enjoy movies or games at home. Making things even easier, a single charge will get you 3 hours of wireless use.

The brightness and contrast ratio means it will only be useful in dark settings, but it will support resolutions up to 1080p and has a 5W speaker built-in. It also has a good lamp life at 20,000 hours, so it won't burn out in a hurry—ideal for using at work and at home without lugging a huge device around.

How to choose the best projector for your home

Vankyo Performance V630 1080p Projector

(Image credit: Vankyo)

Why should I care about lumens?

The number of lumens attributed to a projector is, put simply, the amount of brightness it will be capable of. The brighter the picture, the better, especially if you plan to take your viewing outside or want to be able to watch during sunny days. Generally speaking, the optimal brightness sits between 1-4000 lumens, but those who don't mind viewing in complete darkness (such as in a dedicated home cinema room) can get away with less.

Why should I care about contrast ratio? 

Like brightness, the contrast ratio of a projector is vital for the overall quality of the image. This ratio refers to the amount of difference between whites and blacks, so the higher the difference, the richer those colors (and the ones between) will appear. You don't really want to go lower than a 1500:1 ratio for watching movies or anything similar, and anything higher will look great in most cases. 

More affordable, portable projectors tend to dip below this, so it's up to you whether the other benefits outweigh the lack of color depth.

Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Caroline has been a part of the Livingetc team since 2021, offering expert advice on the best smart tech for your home. Passionate about interiors and how technology can be integrated into daily living without sacrificing aesthetics, in her spare time she can be found shopping for the latest accent pieces for her own space.