Best Projector 2017: 9 Best Projectors You Can Buy

The trend for TVs may be for bigger and cheaper designs, but you still can’t rival a quality projector for that real cinematic experience.

With prices starting at less than a decent LCD TV, you needn’t necessarily spend a fortune to get that big-screen experience. Here’s a brief guide on what to look out for, but skip ahead to our list if you already know what your needs are.

When buying a projector, there are three main technologies to choose from: LCD, LCoS and DLP. LCD projectors use the oldest technology around. A light source is split into three wavelengths: red, green and blue. Each light wavelength passes through an LCD screen, before being combined in a prism and projected. Colour saturation and brightness is decent with these projectors, and pricing is keen. However, black levels aren’t always the best and you can sometimes see the “screen door” effect, where individual pixels stand out.

Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) projectors work in a similar way to LCD projectors. The difference is that the LCDs used by LCoS projectors are mounted onto a reflective, rather than transmissive, surface. These projectors offer better black levels, higher contrast and less-visible pixel structures. This is the best projector technology you can buy, but expect to pay a lot more. Some companies have their own names for LCoS. In Sony’s projectors – the 4K Sony VPL-VW550ES, for example – it calls this technology Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD).

Most DLP projectors use a single digital micromirror device, or DMD, inside. These have one mirror per pixel, and the projector can angle the mirror to turn light on or off; shades of grey are achieved by turning a pixel on and off in rapid succession.

Colour is made by shining a completed frame through a colour wheel that spins at the front; a colour image is formed by layering red, green and blue images. DLP projectors can be super-small and offer great black performance. The downside is that contrast ratios haven’t improved significantly, and the colour wheel can create the “rainbow effect”, where you can see flashes of colour in each frame.

Three-chip DLP projectors eliminate the rainbow effect, but are exceptionally expensive. On the flip side, an entry-level DLP projector can be bought for very little – the Optoma H183X, for example.

Top projectors have dynamic irises that automatically adjust the amount of light that’s emitted. This lets the projector make adjustments for the image being broadcast, lowering light to bring out detail in dark scenes, and pushing brightness and detail in light scenes.

It isn’t easy to line up a projector with a wall and get a square picture, so the level of image control on offer is important. All projectors are capable of digital keystone adjustment to help you get a square image, but this lowers resolution. Lens-shift is a superior technology; here you line up the projector to get a square image, and then physically move the image using the lens.

The throw ratio is an important stat, since it indicates the size of screen you can project at what distance. Short-throw projectors, which can project big images close-up, are a good choice if you want a projector that that you’ll only occasionally set up on a table. The BenQ TH530 is a good example. For permanently installed, ceiling-mounted models, throw ratio is less of a problem. Nevertheless, check that your chosen screen size can be filled from the installation distance.

The final consideration is resolution, and we recommend buying a minimum of a 1080p projector. If you want the latest in home entertainment, you’ll want a 4K projector, but expect to pay significantly for one.

Finally, do you need HDR support? The latest projector models support it, although it’s hard to find a model that’s bright enough to really take advantage.

Score

Key features:

  • 4K (4096 x 2160) SXRD (LCOS) projector
  • HDR compatible, including HLG
  • Horizontal/vertical lens-shift
  • 60-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • 1,800 lumens brightness
  • 350,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • 496 x 195 x 646mm, 14kg

Sony has a long history of producing 4K projectors, and the VPL-VW550ES is the company’s third generation projector. It’s also Sony’s best projector to date. It produced the most impactful pictures from a projector that we’ve ever seen, and UHD Blu-rays were presented on a 100-inch screen that was dripping with detail and showcased amazing crispness.

As with the company’s previous models, the VPL-VW550ES is a LCoS projector, with Sony calling the technology SXRD. As a result, image quality is excellent across the board, including HDR.

There are a couple of caveats. First, in high lamp mode with the HDR contrast setting pushed up, some silhouetting is evident. Second, at this brightness the projector’s fans run much more loudly.

There are no such complaints with the 4K and Full HD performance. Watching on our reference 100-inch screen, the VPL-VW550ES startled with its contrast and brightness. Black levels were a revelation, looking incredibly deep and natural. Colours were stunning and detail was amazing.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the VPL-VW550ES is a sizeable investment. But nothing else comes close to it, particularly if you want a big-screen HDR experience. Ultimately, the VPL-VW550ES makes £9,000 feel like good value.

At the time of the review, the Sony VPL-VW550ES was available for £9,972.

Read the full Sony VPL-VW550ES review

Score

Key features:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) SXRD (LCOS) projector
  • Horizontal/vertical lens-shift
  • 40-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • 1,800 lumens brightness
  • 120,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • Low-latency gaming mode
  • 407 x 179 x 464mm, 9kg

The Sony VPL-HW45ES is the successor to the classic Sony VPL-HW40ES. It may seem rather expensive for a Full HD projector, but the VPL-HW45ES is really rather impressive. As with Sony’s other high-end projectors, the VPL-HW45ES uses the company’s SXRD technology (LCoS by any other name).

At first, images don’t look great, with blacks looking a little grey. Once we’d switched the lamp to low mode, pictures moved to being gorgeous. Superlative contrast performance, rich colours and amazing shadow detailing set the VPL-HW45ES apart from its competition. This stunning mix brings films to life and makes watching anything an absolute pleasure. Gamers will be happy with the low-latency gaming mode, too.

The VPL-HW45ES is a serious home projector for those who want the best Full HD performance they can get. If you can black-out your projector room to run it in low-lamp mode, then it’s a brilliant choice.

At the time of the review, the Sony VPL-HW45ES was available for £2,499.

Read the full Sony VPL-HW45ES review

Score

Key features:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) single-chip DLP projector
  • Vertical lens-shift
  • 30-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • 2,200 lumens brightness
  • 22,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 316 x 228 x 104mm, 2.6kg

The ViewSonic LightStream Pro7827HD is a remarkably flexible single-chip DLP projector, designed to bring out the best in all content from sports to films. It even offers a flexible range of inputs, including an optional WPG-300 dongle (around £100) that enables you to stream content from a tablet.

Lens-shift makes setting up the image surprisingly easy, and it’s nice to see it on a projector that costs less than £800. Image quality from the LightStream Pro7827HD manages to outstrip all of the major competition at this price. The black-level response is assured, with great detail in shadows.

Colour performance is excellent, too, with tones looking natural and well balanced. That’s impressive performance from a projector at this price. Sound quality, too, is pretty good – for a projector, that is. Volume is impressive without distortion, but bass is a little weak. Still, for occasional use, built-in audio adds to the LightStream Pro7827HD’s flexibility.

Adaptable enough to handle most situations, the LightStream Pro7827HD is a good choice for anyone that needs a projector for more than one job.

At the time of the review, the LightStream Pro7827HD was available for £741.

Read the full ViewSonic LightStream Pro7827HD review

JVC DLA-X7000

4 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Non-native 4K (3840 x 2160) e-shift LCOS (D-ILA) projector
  • HDR
  • Horizontal/vertical lens-shift
  • 60-inch to 200-inch screen size
  • 1,800 lumens brightness
  • 1,200,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • 455 x 179 x 472mm, 15.6kg

The JVC DLA-X7000 is the first of the company’s new range of D-ILA projectors. Although it can take a full Ultra HD image, the output isn’t actually 4K. Instead, JVC’s e-shift 4K system pushes the image through two 1080p chipsets, offset diagonally from one another by half a pixel. The result is a pixel density that matches that of a native 4K projector.

Not having native 4K may be disappointing, but the result is a projector that costs a few thousand pounds less. Image quality is excellent. Black parts of an image did indeed look black, which is incredible to see on a projector. The result on cinematic images can’t be overstated, and the level of detail is impressive. Add in punchy colours and whites, and this projector makes all content look fantastic.

HDR support is built in. Quality is variable and, at times, the projector felt stretched by the demands of HDR. In particular, we got the feeling that JVC was sacrificing overall brightness to deliver HDR’s wider luminance range.

With non-HDR material, the JVC DLA-X7000 is nothing short of sensational. While it can’t quite match the detail of a 4K projector, e-shift produces more detail than a regular Full HD model. At this price, the JVC DLA-X7000 makes us question if 4K and HDR are worth worrying about on a half-way affordable projector.

At the time of the review, the JVC DLA-X7000 was available for £5,695.

Read the full JVC DLA-X7000 review

BenQ W1210ST

5 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) single-chip DLP projector
  • 60-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • Short-throw lens (100-inch image from 1.5m)
  • 2200 lumens brightness
  • 15,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 381 x 122 x 277mm, 3.6kg

The BenQ W1210ST is a single-chip DLP projector with a short-throw lens, so you can place it close to a wall or screen and still get a huge picture. BenQ wants this projector to be flexible in other ways, too, and has built the W1210ST to deliver excellent image quality, while its low-lag input is great for gaming.

Although comparatively expensive, it’s a shame there’s no lens-shift on this model, since you’ll most likely have to result to digital keystone correction to achieve a square image.

Gaming is where the W1210ST shines. This projector’s low input lag is fantastic, letting us game properly on the big screen; there was no sign of the “running through treacle” effect from which some projectors suffer.

Blu-rays look great, too, with excellent contrast and vibrant and realistic colours. In fact, it’s fair to say that films look superior on this projector when compared against many competing low-cost models. The picture can on occasion suffer from the rainbow effect, but it isn’t too pronounced.

There’s an integrated speaker, although it’s a disappointment; you’ll have to use speakers. If you want a flexible and affordable projector that’s a good all-rounder, but particularly for games, the W1210ST is the model for you.

At the time of the review, the W1210ST was available for £877.

Read the full BenQ W1210ST review

BenQ TH530

6 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) single-chip DLP projector
  • 70-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • 3200 lumens brightness
  • 10,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 283 x 95 x 222mm, 1.96kg

Who said that quality projectors also had to be eye-wateringly expensive? Certainly not BenQ, with its TH530 single-chip DLP projector.

Now available for a little over £500, the BenQ TH530 has a Full HD resolution and delivers some rather amazing quality. Particularly impressive is the TH530’s combination of brightness and contrast. Dark areas contain plenty of detail, while the overall image is sharp and detailed.

At this price, there are some negative points. First, and most noticeable, is the dreaded rainbow effect. We found that this effect was particularly noticeable, which can get in the way of enjoying films. And, while blacks are deeper than we’d expect, they’re still a little grey. In truth, you have to spend a little more to get proper shadow performance.

The TH530 has built-in audio, but it’s so weedy that we’d recommend using dedicated speakers instead. All that said, if you’re looking for an occasional-use projector and don’t want to spend a fortune, you can’t get better than the TH530.

At the time of the review, the BenQ TH530 was available for £520.

Read the full BenQ TH530 review

Optoma H183X

7 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • HD Ready (1280 x 800) single-chip DLP projector
  • 27-inch to 317-inch screen size
  • 3200 lumens brightness
  • 25,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 298 x 97 x 230mm, 2.17kg

For the most part, we recommend buying a Full HD projector, but if you want an occasional-use model then you can save a lot of money with an HD Ready projector. Nothing demonstrates this as well as the Optoma H183X. This 1280 x 800 model costs well under £400.

What the H183X lacks in resolution, it more than makes up for with image quality. Cheap projectors often suffer poor black levels, but the H183X produces surprisingly deep blacks. This leads to subtle details appearing in dark scenes.

The H183X also impresses in light scenes, with the relatively high brightness of 3200 lumens. Rather than simply being bright, the projector delivers colours and contrast that work for video.

The main problem with picture quality is the H183X’s strange glowing look to bright peaks, although you can adjust for that. Also note that the image was a little noisy. With a lower resolution, the H183X’s picture doesn’t quite deliver the detail of Full HD projectors, but it’s a close-run thing.

You’ll have to spend substantially more to beat the H183X’s performance. Whether that’s worth it, depends on what you want a projector for. If you’re after an occasional-use model and don’t want to spend much, this projector is a great choice.

At the time of the review, the Optoma H183X was available for £350.

Read the full Optoma H183X review

Acer V7500

8 of 9

Score

Key features

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) single-chip DLP projector
  • 30-inch to 285-inch screen size
  • 2500 lumens brightness
  • 20,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 373 x 101 x 223mm, 3.1kg
  • Anti-rainbow effect technology

Acer might be best known for its PC products, but the V7500 is built from the ground up to be a home cinema projector. It’s fair to say that this single-chip DLP Full HD projector is one of the best value models around.

Our test Blu-rays were delivered with plenty of fine detail. Even with a 150-inch screen, there was little noise, and the V7500 presented a natural-looking picture. The V7500 is also surprisingly adept at delivering colours and smooth motion.

At this price, we couldn’t expect perfect pictures from the V7500. Although blacks are dark, there’s a slight green tinge to them that we couldn’t correct. Your brain will naturally tune these out, but it does reduce the naturalism of the images.

It’s also possible to see the rainbow effect in dark scenes, despite Acer’s attempts to counter it. To be fair, it was less of a problem here than on other DLP projectors at this price.

Audio isn’t bad, either. You wouldn’t want to watch an entire film, but loud, distortion-free sound means you can use the projector in some situations.

With a feature set and image quality that you could reasonably expect on a projector costing a few hundred pounds more, the V7500 is something of a bargain.

At the time of the review, the Acer V7500 was available for £698.

Read the full Acer V7500 review

Score

Key features:

  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) LCD projector
  • “4K Enhanced”
  • HDR
  • Horizontal/vertical lens-shift
  • 50-inch to 300-inch screen size
  • 2300 lumens brightness
  • 160,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • 520 x 170 x 450mm, 11kg

Although the Epson EH-TW7300 has a Full HD resolution, the projector is more than just another plain model. It falls under Epson’s “4K Enhanced” range, which means it supports both HDR and Ultra HD inputs.

The EH-TW7300 has two 1080p chips offset from each other by half a pixel. The result is double the pixel density of a regular Full HD projector – although 4K images have to be down-sampled to 1080p before the pixel count is increased. The result is a projector that delivers greater detail than most other Full HD models, but not quite as much as a native 4K model.

HDR is an excellent inclusion, although the implementation is a little off; clipping made it look as though holes had been torn in the image. Still, you have to spend thousands more to get proper HDR on a projector.

Don’t let the HDR quality put you off this projector, since SDR images look fantastic. The projector’s native brightness propels images off the screen with a real dynamism. The depth of black is impressive, delivering excellent detail. Wonderful colours help bring films to life. There’s even a decent gaming mode, with little input lag.

HDR performance aside, the EH-TW7300 delivers a fantastic picture. You’ll have to spend a lot more to get better image quality than this projector can provide.

At the time of the review, the Epson EH-TW7300 was available for £2,149.

Read the full Epson EH-TW7300 review