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Best projectors 2022: the biggest screen in the home

A premium 4K TV bigger than 75-inches would cost you a fortune. For a true cinema experience, there’s no better way than a projector to bring the silver screen to your home.

Of course, you can spend a fortune of a projector if you want top-class performance but there is a projector for all types of experiences and uses – you just need to know which one suits your needs.

Which is why we’ve created this list of the best projectors, a list that features affordable, portable and higher-end projectors that cover everything from the budding cinema fan to the home cinema enthusiast. We’ve put these projectors through their paces by watching films at home, in dedicated cinema rooms and even in the garden to judge their performance.

We consider the size of projector and whether it requires a dedicated installation or not, what type of room it works best in and how much noise the fan makes in case it intrudes on the viewing experience. And then there’s the picture performance, how well it handles HDR content and motion, plus if it has speakers we’ll take that into consideration as to whether a sound system is needed or not.

The world of projectors can look difficult, but we’re here to make it easier with our selection of top picks. Whether your needs – whether it’s for a dedicated home cinema space or more casual use, our list has plenty of the best projectors to help you find the one that works best for you. If you’re interested in outdoor cinema, then have a look out our page of the best outdoor projectors.

Best projectors at a glance

How we test

How we test projectors

We test projectors by, well, watching lots of movies on them. But not just movies: we watch sports and TV programmes to get a sense of how they work in terms of motion, sharpness, detail and overall image fidelity.

Depending on the projector, we’ll test them in a bespoke home cinema room or in our own rooms and gardens to see if they live up to the manufacturer’s claims about their performance.

If it’s an HDR projector, we’ll watch plenty of HDR content to determine if colours are correct and whether the projector can do a decent approximation of HDR. If it’s a gaming projector we’ll test the latency to determine how responsive it is.

We’ll also assess the projector in terms of its size and whether it needs a dedicated installation, as well as how much noise it makes during operation and whether that can be a hindrance to watching content. Are they easy to use? And do they require more expert knowledge to operate are considerations we also take into account.

With our reviewers knowledge of previous projectors tested, they’ll be considered to what’s come before to determine whether they offer good value, regardless of how much or how little they cost.

JVC DLA-NZ8

Best home cinema projector
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Pros

  • Super-accurate images
  • Bright big-screen performance
  • Class-leading black levels
  • Flawless HDR tone mapping
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • It isn’t exactly small
  • You’ll need deep pockets

This JVC projector is among the most expensive we’ve tested, but its position at the top of this best list is reflective of just how good it is.

$15,000 / £15,000 is a lot to pay for any projector but in our opinion, there aren’t many projectors as well specified as the NZ8. The DLA-NZ8 is part of JVC’s new range of projectors that feature a BLU-Escent laser light source for increased brightness, more consistent image and a longer lifespan of 20,000 hours compared to lamp-based projectors.

While we couldn’t possibly ascertain whether the lifespan works out (we’d be here for years), our reviewer found that the NZ8 delivered awesome native 4K images with remarkable levels of detail, retaining the film-like-quality that JVC’s projectors are known for. Images are bright and clean, the black levels deep and rich, and when combined with the increased brightness, we found the JVC delivered images with a real sense of pop and highly accurate colours.

It has double the contrast ratio of the entry-level NZ7, but in our opinion you’d barely notice the difference between the two projectors’ contrast performance unless you’re in a blacked-out room.

The two HDMI 2.1 inputs can support refresh rates up to 120Hz, which would make this a premium option for high-end gaming. With an input lag of 38ms, it doesn’t compare well to the LG C2 TV, for a projector that’s a very good responsive time.

The NZ8 is able to accept 8K signal and put it on screen via its 8K/e-shiftX processing. Other features include HDR support, with HDR10+ to help optimise supported HDR content on 4K Blu-ray and Prime Video streaming. If you’re still into 3D, this projector has support for it, with a performance we found to be bright, accurate and free of any ghosting, although you will need to purchase the optional RF transmitter and glasses.

Reviewer: Steve Withers
Full Review: JVC DLA-NZ8

Samsung Premiere LSP9T

Best ultra short-throw projector
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Pros

  • Remarkably bright, colourful pictures
  • Compact, living-room friendly design
  • Built-in tuner and TV-like smart system

Cons

  • It’s not cheap for this sort of projector
  • Loss of colour finesse in very dark scenes with certain presets
  • Rainbow effect

In our review we referred to the Samsung LS9PT as the replacement for a TV, and that pretty much covers its ambitions. Its an ultra short-throw laser with smart features make it more accommodating and accessible to those looking to ditch the TV and get an even bigger screen experience.

When we first reviewed it, its $6499 / £6999 price was considerably more than a similarly sized TV but its now down to £2999, which makes it a more palatable option compared to, say, an 83-inch TV. As an ultra short throw projector it can be placed close to a wall for the space conscious, and while it’s large for a projector, aesthetically its soft rounded corners and white colour can see it disappear in the right room.

The TV comparisons keep coming with its Freeview HD tuner for receiving daytime TV broadcast and smart system that apes Samsung’s Tizen version (not its most recent, we should add), and much like the LG HU85LS projector, it comes with a selection of apps that includes the likes of Netflix, Prime Video and iPlayer.

With 2800 lumens of brightness, that’s actually more than the JVC at the top of this list, which helps the Samsung mitigate the impact of ambient light in brighter rooms.

And like the JVC, the LS9PT also has a laser light source, which we found helped the Premiere deliver remarkably vibrant images with a wide range of colours that have more in common with a Samsung TV. With excellently sharp and detailed pictures with native 4K content, the LS9PT gives Sony’s highly regarded SXRD projectors a run for their money.

The sound is something of a revelation for a projector, avoiding sounding harsh or too bright, with plenty of detail to be heard and decent dynamism, though bass is a little restrained and lacking in depth.

Whether you’re looking to replace a TV with a big (projected) screen or are a home cinema fan, the Premiere LS9PT works to appeal to both segments – and it’s now available at a more affordable price.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Samsung Premiere LSP9T

Samsung Freestyle

Best portable projector
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Pros

  • Easy-to-setup big screen images
  • Surprisingly good sound
  • Built-in streaming apps

Cons

  • Limited to Full HD resolution
  • Colour gamut could be wider

If the JVC and Samsung above in this list are too big to accommodate, as well as too pricey, then a projector that’s more down to earth is the Freestyle from Samsung.

It looks not unlike Luxor Jr. of Pixar fame, with its cylindrical shape and adjustable stand. We found the stand helped in both a decorative and practical manner, as it allowed the angle of projector to be moved from 90 to 180 degrees, and it can be used to cart the Freestyle around, emphasising its portable and compact design.

Its connectivity reflects its mobile nature with a micro-HDMI input that can accept HDR signals and supports eARC in case you wanted to add a soundbar. With the USB-C port (for the power adapter) and Micro-HDMI close together there’s limited space, so we feel that you’re better off using a dedicated HDMI to Micro-HDMI cable rather than an adapter.

Its wireless support expands it range of options with Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi Direct, plus Bluetooth 5.2 and Apple AirPlay 2. With Wi-Fi onboard you get the Tizen-powered smart platform, built-in Bixby and Alexa voice assistance along with SmartThings support, which our reviewer found helped make set-up much easier. Also making things easier is the Smart Calibration feature that allows images to be calibrated using a smartphone, compensating for colours if you’re watching on a wall that isn’t white.

The size of the image the Freestyle projects ranges from 30- to 100-incges by moving the projector closer or farther from a wall, and the projector allows for beaming images at any angle, so it could be pointed upwards to the ceiling if you want to watch in bed. It doesn’t make much noise at only 25dB from two feet away, so it shouldn’t cause much distraction when in use.

We found that the picture was very good, with 1080p images that appeared clean and detailed with HDR content offering more punch compared to SDR images. It could be brighter as with 500 lumens at its disposal, its not as bright as the XGIMI Halo+. The built-in speaker system is one we found to be surprisingly good for its size, producing a sound larger than the Freestyle’s dimensions. With an input lag of 44ms, it’s too high for serious gamers but fine for most people.

Reviewer: Steve Withers
Full Review: Samsung Freestyle

Optoma UHD38

Best affordable projector
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Pros

  • Seriously bright, crisp images
  • Super-fast response time in Enhanced Gaming mode
  • Bold colour and HDR performance

Cons

  • Black levels are very average in HDR
  • Some clipping with HDR
  • Long-throw lens seems an odd choice for a gaming projector

The JVC and Samsung ultra-short throw projector are both capable of 4K resolution, but they’re also both expensive. If you’re after a 4K beamer for around $1000 / £1000, our current choice would be the UHD38 from Optoma.

It’s capable of 4000 lumens of brightness, which makes this an option for not only brightly-lit rooms but also garden use with its ability to fend off ambient light. We found the UHD38 is capable of seriously bright-looking images, with the brightness feeding the projectors wide colour range to produce rich red and blues for a colourful image.

It’s not without its constraints, however. While it supports HDR10 and HLG, it’s not a native 4K beamer though it can accept 4K signals. Black levels are shallow, which affects its ability to convey dark scenes well and restricts its HDR performance in a manner that doesn’t affect more expensive projectors. Its sound is clear and detailed and avoids feeling dislocated from the image on screen, faring better than most projectors, though to our ears it lacked much bass or dynamism.

First and foremost this is a gaming projector, and in its Enhanced Gaming mode we found it proved to be very responsive especially with high frame rates. Motion and pans are rendered well with no judder or noise perceptible, while our reviewer measured the input lag at 16.7ms, which is outstanding for a projector and can be reduced to 4.2ms when the projector is fed 240Hz images which is comparable to gaming TVs with VRR enabled.

This projector is made for the more casual home cinema fan rather than the enthusiast who watches in dark rooms. If that sounds like you and you’re also big into gaming, then the UHD38 warrants a closer look.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Optoma UHD38

FAQs

Is a projector better than a TV?

In some ways a projector is better than a TV, but it depends on what you want. If you’re after a big viewing experience then projectors are deliver an image much bigger than any TV can. However, TVs can go brighter, have a wider range of features and can operate in both bright and dark living room conditions. Not all projectors are bright enough to handle ambient light in bright rooms.

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Specs compared

UK RRP
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AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
Model Number
Model Variants
Resolution
Projector Type
Brightness Lumens
Lamp Life
Contrast Ratio
Max Image Size
HDR
Types of HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Audio (Power output)
Colours
Display Technology
Projector Display Technology
Throw Ratio
3D

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