Home theater projectors offer a fairly affordable way to view content on a screen, and their size easily trumps that of even the largest mass-market TVs. Please note that in addition to a big enough room, projectors require the purchase of a dedicated screen for an optimal viewing experience.
Frequency of use is another important consideration when shopping for a home theater projector. The devices' lamps diminish in brightness over time, and they can be pricey to replace.
When shopping for a projector, consider its brightness as one of its key selling points — the feature is measured in lumens. The higher the brightness, the more vivid an image the device will be able to deliver.
The Sony VPLHW45ES is a solid premium proposition that can display 1080p content, as well as 3-D footage. It has an excellent brightness and contrast ratio, a long-lasting lamp (up to 6,000 hours), and a built-in fan that's incredibly quiet. Handy image calibration features are also on board. Sony backs its creation with a robust three-year warranty.
The S341 projector by Optoma is an excellent affordable option whose lamp can last up to 10,000 hours. Unsurprisingly, considering its price tag, the device's resolution tops out at WVGA (800 by 600 pixels). However, Optoma makes up for the lower resolution by offering a sweet 3,500 lumens' worth of brightness, coupled with a top-notch contrast ratio.
The BenQ HT2050 is a highly rated home theater projector that delivers Full HD content at a reasonable price. It offers an easy setup, and it has 3-D support, two HDMI ports, and MHL compatibility for an easy connection to all your devices. The HT2050 can display images with a diagonal of up to 100 inches by being only 8 feet away from the screen. A fine option with little fan noise, dark blacks, and impressive colors that perfectly balances value and available features.
Although Epson offers a couple of projectors that are below $500, they only support a 720p or lower resolution. We think you should spend the extra $200 and get the Epson Home Cinema 1040 instead. It offers a much stronger picture quality — at full 1080p resolution — and it can project images at up to 300 inches in size. The projector works well for gaming or movies because it's bright and has two HDMI ports. Affordable and feature-rich, the Epson Home Cinema 1040 is one of the most attractive options in its price range.
The HD142X by Optoma is one of the most affordable home theater projectors with native Full HD resolution. It features stellar contracts and can deliver a screen size of up to a whopping 305 inches. The projector displays 3-D content and has a lamp which lasts for 8,000 hours. Equipped with two HDMI ports, a built in 10W speaker, and a bundled backlit remote control, the HD142X is an excellent bargain.
This projector is the predecessor to the Sony VPLHW45ES, and it's still a decidedly high-end home theater projector that's capable of delivering 1080p content with superb quality. It can display images with a diagonal of up to 300 inches, as well as 3-D content (via optional active 3-D glasses by Sony). The device's lamp is not among the longest-lasting, but the projector's excellent image quality makes more frequent changes well worth the hassle.
The Epson Powerlite 3500 is a capable home theater projector with native 1080p resolution and support for 3-D content. One of its HDMI ports offers MHL support, so users can connect a mobile device to the projector. Older electronics such as VCRs and VGA-equipped PCs can also connect to the device. Excellent image quality and compact measures make the Epson Powerlite 3500 a safe buy for watching movies, shows, or gaming if you have the budget for it.
The Sony VPLVW285ES is one of the few home theater projectors on the market capable of delivering 4K content. It can display images up to a whopping 200 inches in size, and it offers an impressive color range and motionflow technology, which reduces blur and maintains brightness during fast-moving scenes. The device's 225-watt lamp can last up to a stellar 6,000 hours if used in Eco mode. The price of Sony's VPLVW285ES may be jarring, but know that you're getting one of the best home theater projectors available on the market. Not to mention that Sony sells additional projectors that cost $3K-$20,000 more than this one.
The Pyle Pro PRJLE55 is one of the most affordable home theater projectors around. It has a native resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, but it does offer support for 1080p content. With a maximum screen size of 100 inches, the PRJLE55 will probably trump your TV in size, but don't expect the device to wow you with image quality.
An excellent mid-range option from one of the market's leaders, the Epson PowerLite 2040 has native 1080p resolution, as well as support for 3-D content. It can project images with a diagonal of up to a massive 332 inches, and it has a lamp that can last up to an impressive 7,500 hours in Eco mode. The PowerLite 2040 has excellent contrast ratio, a wide range of connectivity options, and a compact footprint.
The Optoma EH416 offers 1080p resolution and playback of 3-D content. It has top-notch brightness (4,200 lumens) coupled with stellar contrast ratio and color reproduction. Connectivity features of the Optoma EH416 include HDMI and a duo of audio inputs, among others.