Best projectors 2019: The trend for TVs may be for bigger and higher resolution screens, but you still can’t rival the best projectors for that cinematic experience
We’ve been testing the best and latest projectors on the market, and have selected our favourites for a variety of budgets and needs.
There are several things you’ll likely have to factor in before you begin your search. Are you looking for a HD effort or want to make the leap to 4k? Projectors range from being somewhat compact to hefty units that require permanent installation, so size and how much space you have to play with will affect your purchasing decision. Are you looking for a unit that does HDR? Several do, but finding one bright enough to do HDR justice can be difficult.
With prices starting at less than a decent LCD TV, you needn’t spend a fortune to get that big-screen experience. Here are the best projectors to help you on the path to your new one.
1. Optoma UHD40
Enjoyable 4K performance without breaking the bank
- Pictures look surprisingly 4K
- Surprisingly and consistently enjoyable HDR pictures
- Remarkably good value
- Black levels are average
- Occasional rainbow effect
- No real support for wide colour technologies
If you’re after a 4K projector that doesn’t break the bank, the Optoma UHD40 fits the bill.
You could go for Optoma’s own UH60, which is a better performer but costs £2,000. At half the price, the UHD40 is a more palatable compromise.
The UHD40’s design is rather workmanlike, but that disguises some eye-catching features. Lumens is 2400, brighter than some more expensive projectors, while contrast is 500,000:1. It only supports the Rec 709 colour standard though, so it can’t extract the most out of wide colour gamut (WCG) content.
While it’s not strictly 4K – it renders a virtual 4K image – it produces an picture full of detail, rich in texture and clarity. Projectors struggle to produce excellent HDR pictures in the manner a TV can, but the UH40 at least makes HDR images bright and intense.
For an affordable 4K projector, the UHD40 is a catch.
2. Sony VPL-VW270ES
A true 4K performer with a punchy, flexible picture
- Fantastic 4K sharpness
- Impressive HDR flexibility
- Excellent lens control
- Not bright enough for true HDR
- Requires regular input for optimised HDR pictures
- Black levels weaker than step-up Sony models
The VPL-VW260ES is Sony’s most affordable 4K projector. If you can call £5000 affordable.
That puts it out of the reach of most, but for those who take home cinema seriously, the VPL-VW270ES offers a great native 4K presentation.
It supports HDR, but at 1500 lumens it’s not as bright as others on this list. If you’re a gamer, there’s Sony’s Input Lag Reduction, which measures around 30ms. The picture is outstanding – razor sharp and detailed, it offers plenty of clarity, rich, punchy colours with little to no noise.
While it’s a hefty investment, you won’t get as sharp an image from cheaper efforts.
3. ViewSonic PX727-4K
A very good all-rounder
- Cheap for a 4K projector
- Decent all-round picture quality
- Compact design
- Black levels aren’t the best
- Requires careful set-up
- Input lag too high for competitive gaming
One of the first batch of projectors to offer 4K picture (just) below £1000, the Viewsonic PX727-4K puts in an effective performance.
Strictly speaking the issue of native 4K is a slight grey area. It achieves 4K resolution through ‘pixel shifting’, shifting or reflashing a 1920 x 1080 pixel frame three times to create a 4K picture.
It’s not as sharp as the entry-level Sony, but it’s not as dear in terms of price either. At a claimed 2200 lumens of brightness it’s bright, if not bright enough to fully do justice to HDR, but this is something all projectors struggle with.
Regardless, it’s a natural, detailed and balanced effort, with rich colours and a surprisingly dynamic performance. A good all-round projector that’s well worth considering for watching your 4K library.
4. Optoma H116ST
Impressive movie and gaming picture quality
- Great picture quality for the money
- Short-throw lens works well
- Living room-friendly design
- Slight detail crushing in dark areas
- Mild rainbow effect
- Only one HDMI
If you’re after a projector for films and gaming, Optoma’s H116ST is just the ticket.
It’s a short-throw lens projector that produces a big image from just over a metre, making it a suitable choice if you’re short on space.
And despite its budget aspirations, the H116ST has some impressive specs. Brightness is 3600 lumens, higher than you’d expect for a ‘casual’ projector, with contrast at 30,000:1, allowing for deep blacks. Its budget leanings become apparent though with its HD-Ready resolution and sole HDMI input. If you’re a 3D fan, glasses are only available to buy separately.
The H116ST proves to be a good showcase for contrast and strong colours. Black levels look natural, colours are rich and natural, looking good with films and games alike. If you choose the Game picture preset, input lag drops to a very low and super-fast 16ms.
Budget projectors arguably flatter to deceive, but the Optoma puts in a fine showing.
5. Vivitek HK2288
Impressively watchable HDR pictures
- Impressively consistent and watchable HDR images
- Manageable size and attractive design
- Good value for what it offers
- Clipping with very bright picture areas
- Per-movie adjustment for best results
- Runs noisily in HDR mode
Another 4K projector that stretches the meaning of affordable, the Vivitek HK2288 puts in an entertaining performance.
While big, its compact enough to not be too distracting. Again it’s a projector that claims to produce 4K images. In fact its two 2716 x 1528 array of mirrors are switched at the speed of 9000 times a second, creating the impression of a 4K picture.
Getting the most out of the HDR picture is a cumbersome process, with a less than intuitive menu interface. The HK2288 is able to produce a very pleasant looking image with its brightness of 2000 lumens and contrast of 1,000,00:1. HDR images are delivered with impact and punch, producing an enjoyable viewing experience.
6. BenQ W1210ST
An affordable projector for gamers and film fans
- Superbly low input lag
- Good contrast and colour
- Strong movie performance
- Slight noise in dark movie scenes
- Some black crush in the best all-round lamp setting
- Minor DLP rainbowing
It’s a older than a few models on this list, but the BenQ W1210ST still offers value. Similar to the H116ST, it boasts Full HD picture and that means it comes with a higher price tag.
It’s 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. It’s also delivers excellent image quality, while its low-lag input is great for gaming sessions.
Gaming is where the W1210ST shines. This projector’s low input lag is fantastic; there was no sign of the “running through treacle” effect 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.
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.
7. Nebula Capsule
A pico projector with Android support
- Effective Android OS
- Great remote app
- Excellent build quality
- Attractive design
- Decent battery life
- Limited resolution
- Not very bright
- No Google Play Store
- Noisy fan
While the Nebula Capsule has a few flaws, it’s a different proposition to the other entries on this list.
Picture quality is just 848 x 480, while brightness is low at 500 lumens. What it lacks in picture quality, it makes up for in features and convenience.
Android 7.1 is supported, offering a limited number of apps such as Amazon, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube. There’s also support for AirPlay, limited Chromecast connectivity and Miracast for Microsoft devices.
For those looking for a projector that offers portability and smart features at a cheap price, it’s a decent effort.