If you want big-screen entertainment without having to upgrade the size of your TV, buying a projector is the way to go. These days, projectors have the technology to display large-scale, high-definition and 4K images that are bright and vibrant for a top-notch movie-viewing or gaming experience. Some even feature built-in smart platforms so you can stream media directly from Netflix and other popular streaming services.
There are a wide range of projectors on the market to consider, from battery-powered portable options to high-end models that cost upwards of $2,000. The best projector for your needs will depend on how and where you plan to use it, as well as how much you’re willing to spend.
What to Consider
There are a few key elements that set projectors apart, and one of the most important is brightness, measured in lumen. You will want to look for a projector with at least 1,500 lumens if you plan on using it in a room with ambient light. Brightness and picture quality increase the higher you go, capping off at roughly 3,000 lumens.
Projector image quality is also dependent on definition. Most projectors—specifically more expensive ones—will be either 4k (ultra-high definition) or 1080p (high definition). While 4k will definitely be higher quality, 1080p still produces a clear image.
Another aspect to consider is how you will be able to watch—namely, what inputs are available. Most will have HDMI and USB to allow you to connect to another device, and some add Bluetooth for wireless connection and voice control using a smart home speaker.
There are three main sources for projection, all of which have their advantages and drawbacks. Everything from budget to intended use will help you figure out which one to buy.
DLP (Digital Light Processor)
This type of projector uses mirrors to reflect light toward the screen. They have minimal motion blur and high color accuracy, but don't do as well in ambient light because they aren't super bright.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
This type of projector—often the most affordable—channels light through a prism or set of dichroic filters to create the colors in the picture. They're also typically the most compact and quietest, and they project well onto any flat surface.
With incredibly bright, accurate colors and great contrast ratio, laser projectors are some of the most premium available. But be prepared to shell out more cash because they're expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands or more.
How We Selected
We researched 10 expert sources, including Digital Trends, PC Mag, and Tech Radar, as well as 1,100 consumer reviews to make our selections. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least 4 out of 5 stars on manufacturers’ websites, along with Amazon, Walmart, and other retain sites.
Nebula Capsule II
Consumer Score: 83% gave it 4 stars or more
Small and smart, this mini projector is great for movies and gaming.