Best projector: the best movie projectors for that cinematic feel at home

The best projectors for a home theater, indoor and outdoor use, and more from Samsung, Sony and more

Best projector: Samsung The Premiere 4K Smart Projector
(Image credit: Samsung)

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

Of course, TVs are only getting larger and the latest technology more affordable, but you'll still need to spend thousands of dollars to get a cinema-sized screen at home. On the other hand, projectors are far more affordable and can give you huge images up to 300" on a screen or blank wall.

Many can also be used inside or outside, opening you up to outdoor movie nights in the summer and cozy winter evenings on the couch alike. If you're more interested in the former, you can learn more in our guide to the best outdoor projectors. And why not repurpose it for a work presentation or enjoying the big game with friends.

We've rounded up the best of the best in this list, ranking projectors on things like price, resolution, sound quality, and smart features. Keep reading to see what we thought, and for more advice on how to choose the best projector.

The best projectors in 2022

Samsung The Premiere 4K Smart Projector

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung The Premiere 4K Smart Projector

Best projector overall

Specifications

Resolution: 4K
Brightness: 2200 lumens
Contrast ratio: 1,500:1
HDR: HDR 10+
Smart?: Yes (Alexa, Google, Bixby)
Max screen size: 130"
Distance: Ultra short throw
Dimensions: 5 x 21.7 x 14.4in
Weight: 25.4lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent 4K resolution and HDR10+
+
In-built Alexa and support for Google Assistant
+
Good sound quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Other projectors offer larger maximum screen sizes
Can projectors be 4K?

Projectors offering 4K resolution were once out of the price range of ordinary people, but now that more people are considering projectors as their main entertainment source over traditional TVs, more brands are bringing out models offering 4K (or even 8K!) resolution. They're still pretty pricey, but much more within reach.

The Samsung Premiere is an excellent all-around projector, with impressive in-built 40W speakers, 4K resolution with HDR10+, and voice control from Alexa and Google Assistant. It's also a great alternative to a traditional television set, with a TV tuner and Samsung's Tizen platform offering all of the streaming apps you'll need.

The Premiere is available with triple laser or single laser technology, with the latter being slightly less expensive. The downside is that the single laser will lack the color and brightness that the triple laser can offer, but that's really the only difference. 

Otherwise, Samsung's projector is clearly designed to be an all-in-one entertainment solution, rather than something you take out of the cupboard on movie night. With 2800 lumens' brightness it will be fine to use in lit rooms (though still much better in dark conditions), and the ultra-short throw means it can work in smaller spaces positioned closer to the wall. 

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Full HD Smart Portable Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

2. Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Full HD Smart Portable Projector

Best portable projector

Specifications

Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 1000 lumens
Contrast ratio: 200,000:1
HDR: HDR10; HLG
Smart?: Yes (Google Assistant)
Noise: 27dB
Max screen size: 150"
Distance: 2.1-11.1ft
Dimensions: 5 x 6.9 x 6.9in
Weight: 4.7lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Full HD 1080p resolution and HDR
+
Built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast
+
Yamaha speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
Brightness could be better
-
Other projectors offer larger maximum screen sizes

A portable option that can be used indoors or outdoors, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Full HD Smart Projector is a compact, versatile projector perfect for those who want to use it for multiple purposes.

The device has built-in Android TV on board to make streaming as easy as it would be on a TV and, while the native resolution is Full HD, images up to 4K are supported. You also benefit from Google Assistant and Chromecast, so this is definitely one for those already tied into the Google ecosystem rather than Alexa households.

Epson claims that the projector's sound - for which it has partnered with Yamaha - that the EpiqVision Mini EF12 can be used as a standalone speaker. No matter what, the built-in sound is always a good thing for those who don't want to contend with additional speakers or soundbars.

Sony VPLHW45ES Full HD Projector

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony VPL-HW45ES Full HD Projector

Best projector for large screen size

Specifications

Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 1800 lumens
Contrast ratio: 120,000:1
Smart?: No
Noise: 22dB
Max screen size: 300"
Dimensions: 7.1 x 16.1 x 18.4in
Weight: 19.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Screen size up to 300"
+
Good brightness and contrast ratio
+
1080p Full HD resolution

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in speakers
-
No smart home integration
-
No HDR

Boasting Full HD resolution and a ton of additional picture-enhancing tech from Sony, the  VPL-HW45ES makes up for its lack of smart features and speakers with its commitment to offering the best image possible.

Now, the device won't give you the 4K resolution you're used to on a normal TV, but it will project your TV, movies, and games up to 300-inches and with nine calibration modes to give you the choice over how they look. You will also benefit from Motionflow technology using Sony's Film Projector and Motion Enhancer, adding frames for overall smoother scenes.

Unfortunately, the VPL-HW45ES doesn't include built-in speakers so you will need to hook it up to an external soundbar or surround sound system. 

BenQ HT2050A Full HD Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

4. BenQ HT2050A Full HD Projector

Best high lumen projector (runner up)

Specifications

Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 2200 lumens
Contrast ratio: 15,000:1
Smart?: No
Noise: 29dB
HDR: No
Max screen size: 300"
Distance: 2.5-25ft
Dimensions: 4.8 x 15 x 10.9in
Weight: 7.3lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good brightness
+
Full HD 1080p resolution

Reasons to avoid

-
No smart home integration
-
No HDR

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. 

Performance V630 Full HD Projector

(Image credit: Vankyo)

5. Vankyo Performance V630 Full HD Projector

Best projector on a budget

Specifications

Resolution: Full HD
Contrast ratio: 5.000:1
Max screen size: 300"
Distance: 5.1-30.1ft
Dimensions: 4.3 x 9.3 x 12.4in
Weight: 8.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Full HD 1080p resolution
+
Good value
+
Screen size up to 300"

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively low contrast ratio
-
No smart home integration
-
No HDR

A great projector suitable for a wide range of uses at an affordable price point, 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.

Miroir Surge Series SYNQ HD Portable Projector

(Image credit: Miroir)

6. Miroir Surge Series SYNQ HD Portable Projector

Best mini projector

Specifications

Resolution: HD
Brightness: 200 lumens
Contrast ratio: 300:1
Smart?: No
Dimensions: 4.3 x 6.4 x 3.4in
Weight: 2lbs

Reasons to buy

+
In-built 5W speaker
+
3 hours of battery life
+
Lightweight and portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak brightness and contrast ratio
-
No smart home integration
-
No HDR

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.

LG CineBeam PH510P HD Portable Projector

(Image credit: LG)

7. LG CineBeam PH510P HD Portable Projector

Specifications

Resolution: HD
Brightness: 550 lumens
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Smart?: No
Max screen size: 100"
Distance: 2.5-10ft
Noise: 30dB
Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.9 x 4.3in
Weight: 1.4lbs

Reasons to buy

+
2.5 hours wireless battery life
+
Fantastic contrast ratio
+
Long lamp life

Reasons to avoid

-
Brightness could be better
-
No smart home integration
-
No HDR

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.

How to choose the best projector for your home

Vankyo Performance V630 1080p Projector

(Image credit: Vankyo)

Are projectors better than TVs?

If you're reading this article then you're probably weighing up the pros and cons of purchasing a projector rather than upgrading to a larger TV. While most people opt for the latter, there are certainly compelling points for the other side.

If you value the size of your image, for example, it's true that projectors can achieve anything up to 300", while TVs are only commercially available between 80"-90" right now. And it's also good to note that projectors will set you back a fraction of the price of an 85-inch television set.

Picture quality has traditionally been lacking with projectors, however, and while there are now projectors that can offer 4K HDR resolution and very bright images, TVs are still the best way to get clear, deep visuals for your content.

Portability is another differentiator, as projectors can easily be unplugged and stored away, or moved from room to room (or outside), while TVs are very much stuck in one location once set up.

Will a projector work in daylight?

Why should you 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 is the smart homes ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.