Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Projectors of 2024

We put the best projectors from brands like Hisense, Epson, BenQ, ViewSonic, and more through rigorous tests to help you find the best option for your next movie night or business presentation
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Best Projector Review
Credit: Matt Lighthart

The Best Projectors for 2024


Looking for the best projector for your home, school, or office? Look no further! Our team has meticulously tested over 70 models since we started reviewing projectors in 2019. We are at it again this year, pitting 11 of the most compelling models against one another in a series of expertly developed metrics designed to find the best performance and value on the market. Whether planning a cozy movie night or a professional presentation, we've rigorously evaluated each projector's performance in various settings to help you find the one that suits you best. Our comprehensive testing has solved your lingering questions about contrast ratio and required brightness. Ultimately, we know it's hard to see how projectors stack up to one another, so we've done the hard work and compared our lineup side-by-side to get an accurate visual of the results.

If you're looking for something better for transportation and outdoor events, we have tested the best portable projectors on the market. If you need amplified sound to accompany your projector, we have tested the best bluetooth speakers and top wireless speakers to pair with it. Or, take a look at our favorite soundbars and the best universal remotes to round out your home theater setup.

Editor's Note: We updated our projector review on May 29, 2024, removing a discontinued model from our lineup.

Top 11 Projectors - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $1,898 List
$1,430 at Amazon
$1,300 List
$899.99 at Amazon
$428 List
$399.99 at Amazon
$850 List
Check Price at Amazon
$3,000 List
$2,500 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
84
82
79
73
73
Star Rating
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Pros Retro-premium aesthetic, great onboard sound, excellent clarity, auto keystoningExcellent video quality for the price, has smart features, nice color & clarityImpressive brightness, sharp edge-to-edge clarity, lots of portsImpressive brightness, high color accuracy, assortment of input types, built-in lens capFantastic movie quality, lens shift and zoom features, great edge-to-edge clarity, incredible color accuracy
Cons Unique color profile not universally liked, spreadsheet fonts look thin, slightly inconsistent colors can vary between too cool or too warmDark blacks aren't as deep as top performersSubpar color accuracy on spreadsheets and movies, loud fan, basic featuresConfusing interface, small buttons, blacks are washed outNo smart features, expensive, big and heavy
Bottom Line Combining superior aesthetics with unparalleled image clarity, this high-end projector sets the standard for premium home cinema panacheThis versatile projector stands out with its exceptional color, clarity, and features, all offered at a reasonable priceThis value projector is bright enough to excel in office environments and adequate for movie nights if your expectations aren't too highA portable projector built for the office with high brightness and a plethora of input optionsThis premium projector provides a superb home cinema viewing experience if you're feeling spendy
Rating Categories Hisense C1 Laser Epson Home Cinema 2... ViewSonic PA503W Epson Pro EX9240 Epson Home Cinema 5...
Entertainment (30%)
9.1
9.0
6.8
5.5
9.5
Business (30%)
8.1
7.5
7.8
8.6
6.3
Contrast Ratio (15%)
9.0
9.5
9.0
8.0
7.0
Brightness (15%)
6.7
7.5
9.5
8.7
5.8
Set up/Use (5%)
9.5
8.4
4.9
6.6
6.6
Input Lag (5%)
7.3
6.1
9.1
4.0
6.1
Specs Hisense C1 Laser Epson Home Cinema 2... ViewSonic PA503W Epson Pro EX9240 Epson Home Cinema 5...
Measured ANSI Lumens 1703 Lumens 2000 Lumens 2664 Lumens 2378 Lumens 1410 Lumens
Measured Fan Noise 48 dBA 41 dBA 41 dBA 43 dBA 38 dBA
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio 511:20 313:10 775:26 778:30 67:3
Measured Input Lag 60 ms 76 ms 48 ms 83 ms 76 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 7.1'' x 8.5" x 9.7" 13.1" x 10.8" x 4.8" 11.6" x 8.6" x 4.3" 12.2" x 11.2" x 4.1" 20" x 17.75" x 7.13"
Measured Weight 10 lbs 9 lbs 4.9 lbs 6.8 lbs 24.8 lbs
Projection Technology Trichroma Laser 3LCD DLP 3LCD 3LCD
Light Source Laser Lamp Lamp Lamp Lamp
Claimed Brightness 1600 Lumens 2800 Lumens 3600 Lumens 4000 Lumens 2600 Lumens
Carrying Case Included No No No Yes No
Native Resolution 4K 1920 x 1080 (With Additional 4K Enhancement Technology) 1280 x 800 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 (With Additional 4K Enhancement Technology)
Smart Streaming Capability? Yes Yes No No No
Contrast Ratio 2,000,000:1 35,000:1 22,000:1 16,000:1 1,000,000:1
Aspect Ratio Not Specified Native 16:9 Native 16:10 Native 16:9 Native 16:9
Zoom Ratio Not Specified 1.32 - 2.15 1.0 - 1.1 1.0 - 1.6 1.0 - 2.1
Throw Ratio (Wide to Zoom) 1.2:1 1.32 - 2.15 1.55 - 1.70 1.32 - 2.14 1.35 - 2.84
Backlit Remote Yes No No No Yes
Vertical Keystoning Correction Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Horizontal Keystoning Correction Yes Yes No Yes No
Lens Shift Yes Yes No No Yes
Lens Cover No Yes No Yes Yes
3D Capable No No Yes Yes Yes


Best Overall Projector


Epson Home Cinema 2350 4K PRO-UHD


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 9.0
  • Business 7.5
  • Contrast Ratio 9.5
  • Brightness 7.5
  • Set up/Use 8.4
  • Input Lag 6.1
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent picture quality
Lens shift and easy front-end adjustments
Tremendous colors
Smart streaming features
REASONS TO AVOID
Black contrast not as deep as the premium projectors
No backlit remote
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  41 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  2000 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  313:10
Measured Input Lag  76 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 13.1" x 10.8" x 4.8"

The Epson Home Cinema 2350 impresses with its exceptional video quality, replete with vivid colors, sharp clarity, and convenient smart features for streaming content. With its user-friendly interface and seamless integration of smart features, including Android TV and built-in Chromecast, it ensures a hassle-free viewing experience for your home entertainment needs. As we mentioned, it has remarkable picture quality rivaling that of substantially more expensive projectors and offering a cinematic experience for less if you won't miss some of the fanciest features that come with the premium models. Whether for immersive home entertainment or business presentations, the 2350 does well, delivering solid brightness, clarity, and color accuracy. This projector landed our coveted Editor's Choice Award for bringing premium performance and versatility without breaking the bank.

However, despite its impressive characteristics, the 2350 falls short in achieving deep blacks, resulting in slightly greyish tones in darker scenes compared to top cinema projectors. This left us confused in some dark scenes because we couldn't see what was going on in the shadows. It also lacks some premium features found in higher-end models, such as backlit remote buttons and advanced eye protection technology when motion is detected in front of the lens. While suitable for office use, its portability and connectivity options are more limited than projectors that excel in business. This may be a drawback for users requiring frequent mobility or extensive device compatibility. If your projector needs are skewed more towards business use than entertainment, we highly recommend you have a look at the Epson Pro EX9240.

Read more: Epson 2350 review

During our testing, the Epson Home Cinema 2350 stood at the top other with premium projectors that cost three times its value.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Best Bang for the Buck


ViewSonic PA503W


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 6.8
  • Business 7.8
  • Contrast Ratio 9.0
  • Brightness 9.5
  • Set up/Use 4.9
  • Input Lag 9.1
REASONS TO BUY
Superb brightness
Great port selection
Sharp edge-to-edge clarity
Relatively short throw ratio
REASONS TO AVOID
Loud fan
Subpar color accuracy
Basic feature set
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  41 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  2664 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  775:26
Measured Input Lag  48 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 11.6" x 8.6" x 4.3"

The ViewSonic PA503W is a bit of a bargain jack-of-all-trades projector, proving its worth across different scenarios in our testing. It's a solid pick for business settings, with class-leading lumen output that ensures your presentations pop even in well-lit rooms. With its WXGA resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio, it steps up the game compared to the cheapest models, doling out sharper visuals and a wider display format, perfect for boardrooms, classrooms, or training sessions. For gamers, the PA503W also demonstrates some of the lowest input lag among the quality projectors outside the ultra-low-budget units that tend to excel in that one area. It does ok for movies, as well, as long as you aren't too sensitive to some of its shortcomings.

The colors aren't quite as accurate as more expensive cinema projectors, and you'll notice that loud fan buzzing away in the background during quiet movie scenes. Still, it's a reliable workhorse for business and education, and it will do movies in a pinch, even if it doesn't quite deliver that cinematic punch you might be wishing for. If you're after a solid projector for your office or classroom, the ViewSonic PA503W has got you covered at a phenomenal price point. If you want an even lower price, you'll have to step down to one of the ultra-low-budget projectors like the Happrun H1, but expect to temper your expectations and then some.

Read more: ViewSonic PA503W review

The ViewSonic PA503W has the highest brightness and lowest input lag of the more conventional projectors.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Best Buy Under $100


Happrun H1


45
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 3.7
  • Business 6.2
  • Contrast Ratio 3.2
  • Brightness 2.4
  • Set up/Use 5.0
  • Input Lag 9.3
REASONS TO BUY
Cheap
Portable
Elegant looks
REASONS TO AVOID
Terrible picture quality
Dim
Ultrabasic
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  45 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  249 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  43:5
Measured Input Lag  46 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 9.3" x 8.1" x 3.5"

The Happrun H1 distinguishes itself from its ultra-low-budget counterparts by offering at least some level of usability under specific conditions. In environments where lighting conditions are favorable (total darkness) and expectations are incredibly modest, the H1 can serve as a functional projection solution if all you want to do is transpose an image to a screen. Its compact and portable design adds to its appeal, making it suitable for users who prioritize portability and convenience but want one of the cheapest projection solutions that money can buy.

Still, there is no escaping the reality that the Happrun H1 falls into the category of ultra-low-budget projectors, sharing their common trait of leaving much to be desired. The H1 struggles to deliver satisfactory image quality, producing subpar visuals with limited clarity and color accuracy. Additionally, it lacks features and settings that are standard in higher-priced projectors. While it may suffice for basic projection needs, users should temper their expectations and understand the compromises associated with its ultra-low-budget status. If you're okay with all of that, this is the projector to get for under $100. If you want to spend more and get a more serious projector, check out the excellent value of the Viewsonic PA503W.

Read more: Happrun H1 review

For those on a tighter budget, we believe the Happrun will suffice for basic needs.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Best Premium Projector


Hisense C1 Laser


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 9.1
  • Business 8.1
  • Contrast Ratio 9.0
  • Brightness 6.7
  • Set up/Use 9.5
  • Input Lag 7.3
REASONS TO BUY
High clarity
Advanced keystoning capability
Excellent built-in speaker for a projector
Tons of premium features
REASONS TO AVOID
Slightly overactive color processing
Thins fonts on spreadsheets
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  48 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  1703 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  511:20
Measured Input Lag  60 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 7.1'' x 8.5" x 9.7"

The Hisense C1 Laser was a standout projector throughout our testing, delivering exceptional performance and showcasing a beautiful design that blends retro charm with futuristic vibes. Its charms are many — from its stunning picture quality with sharp clarity and dynamic contrast to its impressive onboard sound courtesy of a high-quality JBL speaker. The C1's handsome looks even add a touch of elegance to any entertainment setup, making movie nights feel like an aesthetic home theater experience. Plus, it's easy to set up and use, with handy features like auto keystoning and obstacle avoidance and a user-friendly remote control that even responds to voice commands. If you're after a projector that looks great and delivers top-notch performance, the Hisense C1 Laser is worth considering.

Our criticisms of the Hisense C1 Laser projector are relatively few but worth noting. Some users may find its unique color profile less universally appealing, as it tends to lean towards a cooler or warmer tint, depending on the scene, which can be inconsistent with the source and may not suit everyone's tastes. Additionally, while this projector performs admirably in business presentations and spreadsheets, we noted that fonts in spreadsheets appear somewhat thin, detracting slightly from readability. And, although the C1 Laser is somewhat portable with a robust feature set, its blocky form factor and weight may pose challenges for those seeking a more portable option, particularly for travel or frequent relocation within a building. Having said all that, this is one of our absolute favorite projectors to hit the market in recent years, but if you want the creme de la creme of cinema projectors, be sure to read up on the visually astonishing Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD.

Read more: Hisense C1 Laser review

The Hisense was a favorite of our testers with its high clarity and stunning visuals.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Best Home Cinema Projector


Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 9.5
  • Business 6.3
  • Contrast Ratio 7.0
  • Brightness 5.8
  • Set up/Use 6.6
  • Input Lag 6.1
REASONS TO BUY
Unparalleled movie quality
Advanced lens shift and zoom
Incredible colors
Great clarity
REASONS TO AVOID
No smart streaming features
Expensive
Low portability
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  38 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  1410 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  67:3
Measured Input Lag  76 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 20" x 17.75" x 7.13"

The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD stands out for its exceptional picture quality, setting a high standard with its stunning color accuracy, edge-to-edge clarity, and impressive contrast ratio. Movie enthusiasts will appreciate its ability to deliver sharp, vivid images with true-to-life colors, creating an immersive viewing experience that rivals the cinema. The 5050's advanced lens shift and zoom features further enhance image precision, allowing users to fine-tune the picture to their preferences and to fit their viewing space. With its remarkable performance in reproducing subtle nuances and vibrant hues, the Epson 5050UB ensures that every detail is displayed with breathtaking clarity, making it a top choice for those who prioritize picture quality above all else. However, while its superior visual capabilities make it ideal for dedicated home theater setups, its premium price and lack of smart features may limit its appeal to casual users seeking a more versatile and budget-friendly option.

The Home Cinema 5050UB's main drawback is its high cost — it's certainly an investment. Its lack of smart features also means users miss out on built-in streaming apps and mobile device mirroring capabilities, requiring them to purchase additional equipment for that functionality that is standard in other premium units. Additionally, the 5050UB is large and heavy, limiting its flexibility for setting up in different viewing environments. Ultimately, while the Epson 5050UB offers unparalleled image quality and advanced features, its premium price and limited versatility may deter budget-conscious home entertainment users and the business crowd. If you're looking for a more palatable price tag and many of the same great home cinema qualities of the 5050UB on a budget, check out the fantastic Epson Home Cinema 2350.

Read more: Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K Pro-UHD review

The 5050UB challenges movie theaters with its superb imagery quality leaving us to wonder if we ever need to leave our home again for a cinematic experience.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Best Business Projector


Epson Pro EX9240


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Entertainment 5.5
  • Business 8.6
  • Contrast Ratio 8.0
  • Brightness 8.7
  • Set up/Use 6.6
  • Input Lag 4.0
REASONS TO BUY
Good brightness
Color accurate
Lots of ports
Built-in lens cap
REASONS TO AVOID
Small buttons
Washed out blacks
SPECIFICATIONS
Measured Fan Noise  43 dBA
Measured ANSI Lumens  2378 Lumens
Measured ANSI Contrast Ratio  778:30
Measured Input Lag  83 ms
Measured Dimensions (L x D x H) 12.2" x 11.2" x 4.1"

The Epson Pro EX9240 was built for business with its remarkable brightness, making it perfect for well-lit office environments where maintaining visibility is crucial. Its high color accuracy ensures that presentations and visuals are rendered with clarity and precision, contributing to a professional and polished display that matches the source document. Additionally, this projector offers a variety of input options, catering to diverse connectivity needs in a shared-use scenario, and we like the convenient built-in lens cap for added protection and convenience. We also gave it points for being highly portable, and kudos to Epson for throwing in a convenient carrying case to make the EX9240 easy to travel with.

On the downside, navigating the EX9240 interface can be confusing due to small buttons, especially under duress of a stressful meeting, and the projector's blacks tend to appear washed out, detracting somewhat from the overall image quality. Despite these few drawbacks, the Epson Pro EX9240 remains our top choice for business use, thanks to its portability, feature-rich design, and exceptional brightness. If you can live with something a little less optimized for business but still need high brightness at a lower price, check out the bargain Viewsonic PA503W.

Read more: Epson Pro EX9240 review

The Epson Pro EX9240 shined in our brightness testing.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
84
Hisense C1 Laser
Best Premium Projector
$1,898
Top Pick Award
82
Epson Home Cinema 2350 4K PRO-UHD
Best Overall Projector
$1,300
Editors' Choice Award
79
ViewSonic PA503W
Best Bang for the Buck
$428
Best Buy Award
73
Epson Pro EX9240
Best Business Projector
$850
Top Pick Award
73
Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD
Best Home Cinema Projector
$3,000
Top Pick Award
70
BenQ Home Cinema HT2060
$999
69
Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-FH02
$630
68
Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01
$430
45
Happrun H1
Best Buy Under $100
$80
Best Buy Award
39
TMY Mini
$100
39
AuKing Mini 1080p
$130

projector - we broke out all our meters to take accurate measurements during our...
We broke out all our meters to take accurate measurements during our comprehensive testing.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

How We Test Projectors


We've purchased and hands-on tested more than 70 projectors over the last five years. Our reviews are based on extensive research, meticulously measured data, and careful observations from multiple testers. Our testing process puts each model through a multi-point performance analysis. Each projector is subjected to over two dozen individual tests to analyze its performance across each metric.

Our testing process involves spending hours projecting everything from movies to text-heavy PowerPoint presentations with every one of these projectors. We projected the same thing on multiple devices in all of our image tests, side-by-side in the same room. This design ensures that both lighting and projection conditions are entirely controlled. We took measurements on the coveted ANSI contrast ratio to accurately convey the limitations of each projector. We also pushed the projectors to the max by forcing them to project a bright white screen for extended periods, allowing us to take accurate brightness measurements and see how loud the fans get after each machine heats up. We installed and broke down every projector multiple times through out testing, giving us ample amount of time to jot down notes on the ease of both setting up and using these machines. We didn't forget about you gamers out there, either. We know that merely a millisecond of lag time can result in you either winning your intensive escapades or succumbing to your online nemesis. So, we recorded the time it takes for each projector to cast its picture onto the screen by use of a video signal input lag tester. For more on our projector testing, see our full How We Test article.

Our projector test scores are split across six rating metrics:
  • Entertainment (30% weighting)
  • Business (30% weighting)
  • Contrast Ratio (15% weighting)
  • Brightness (15% weighting)
  • Setup & Use (5% weighting)
  • Input Lag (5% weighting)

We studied numerous spreadsheets in our Business metric.
We studied numerous spreadsheets in our Business metric.
We took three input lag location readings to give you an average of...
We took three input lag location readings to give you an average of what these devices produced in response time.
We scrolled through the color wheel to fully assess the color...
We scrolled through the color wheel to fully assess the color accuracy of each product.

Why Trust GearLab


Sentry Kelly, Jessica Riconscente, Michelle Powell and Hale Milano have been leading projector testing since 2019, and in that time, they've had their hands on over 60 models. To fine-tune their testing process, they consulted with media professionals on such topics as color accuracy, contrast ratio, and resolution. The team also brings their own audio-visual expertise to the review, including multiple years spent testing teach items like top-rated camera drones, the best security cameras, and the best instant cameras. Lead projector tester Sentry Kelly double majored in applied manufacturing engineering and occupational safety and health management from Jacksonville State University, lending his expertise to our stringent test plan. Not only has his technical background aided in assessing these complicated machines, but his passion for photography has become invaluable when studying the picture and video quality of each product.

Increased brightness is important in rooms with high ambient light.
Increased brightness is important in rooms with high ambient light.
The best way to assess projectors is to pit them against each other...
The best way to assess projectors is to pit them against each other to see the differences in picture quality.
Projector noise can be off-putting when you&#039;re watching a quiet...
Projector noise can be off-putting when you're watching a quiet scene in a movie, so we took decibel readings of each product in our lineup.

How to Pick the Best Projector


We have tested a wide variety of projectors, from dinky handhelds that cost no more than a few tickets to the movie theater to multiple thousand-dollar behemoths that can rival cinema standards. As you might expect, there is a vast difference in performance across this range that is on the market today. We're here to show you the path to what projector is right for you.

What is the Primary Purpose of Your Projector?


Projector use usually boils down to three categories: home theater, business, and gaming. We suggest you first identify your main purpose to help steer your way through the selection process. Each application has specific requirements, so read further to make sure you have the correct list for your needs. A home theater projector must have a harmonious combination of color accuracy, contrast ratio, and crisp clarity. If either one of these components lacks in any way, then the result is an image quality that leaves us wanting more. If you're researching for a business, then you'll want to focus on projectors that shine bright to counteract the ambient light in the room. And for gamers, we know milliseconds matter. Take a look at our Input Lag metric to find which machine has the lowest recorded time to help you to battle victories.

Where Will You Use Your Projector?


After dialing in your intended use, you want to seek the location where you would like to set up. If you plan to move your projector from office to office, then you'll want to have adaptable features like keystoning and adjustable feet or post. Auto keystoning and digital zoom are an even bigger plus as it alleviates those pesky micro-adjustments that tend to take up a lot of time during setup. As mentioned above, brightness is often a big concern for well-lit areas that compete with the projector's output. This would be the case for offices, but can also be applied to an open living room that tends to allow in considerable light during the day. Tight spaces may require a shorter throw ratio to fit. Throw ratio is simply the distance where the projector is stationed to the width of the image you're trying to achieve. Generally speaking, if the ratio is smaller, then the projector can shift closer to the screen. A larger range of throw ratios can help with a diverse number of room settings.

What is Contrast Ratio?


Contrast ratio has been a popular topic since manufacturers have been boasting crazy big ratios that have exponentially expanded into the millions. Through testing, we found the best way to rate contrast is from a side-by-side comparison. We were able to stress test these machines by watching dark scenes where top performers shined. The ability to view different shades of black and white is one of the most beneficial variables for video quality.

What Resolution Do I Need?


Resolution is another term that has long been promoted by manufacturers as a selling point. With technological advances in this market, competitors are making higher-resolution projectors more accessible to the common consumer. With these improvements, we see more availability of 4k projectors. However, we do want to profess that we were surprised that we didn't see a big improvement in clarity between the top 4k and 1080p projectors. You could hardly tell the difference even when they're on the same screen. Again, where they stood out was their contrast range that could handle the subtle differences in a white cloud or a shaded area. On the other end of the spectrum we did see a reduction in performance once you travel south of 800p devices. We think you can get away with a projector that only has 800p in certain scenarios where your audience isn't close to the screen, like presentations at the office, but with so much advancement, a bump up in resolution doesn't necessarily correlate to a big increase in price. We believe it's worth it to set your sights on nothing lower than the new standard, 1080p.

To dive into more of the subtle nuances of projectors, read our projector buying advice article that can answer more of your lingering questions.

One of our testers enjoying the digital lens shift and zoom for easy setup.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Analysis and Test Results


Projectors range from inexpensive models that cost under a hundred dollars to multi-thousand dollar 4K behemoths that rival the image quality in a real cinema. For this review, we focused on projectors spanning the whole price gamut and evaluated each on their performance in entertainment and business use scenarios.


Value


There is a close relationship between price and quality with most projectors, but a few outliers give more than they take from your wallet. The Epson 2350 is a quality projector that is on the high end of most rating metrics; however, it is closer to average in price, giving you a lot of bang for the buck. Another Epson in the lineup, the Epson 5050UB, offers a superior home theater and presentation quality but comes with a steep price tag to match. We only recommend this projector for dedicated, advanced home theaters. The Viewsonic PA503W is great on a budget but falls short on nice-to-have extra features and top-tier picture quality. Depending on your plans for it, you may not have to spend big bucks to get a good enough projector to fit your needs, but you can if you want. And in many cases, the more you spend, the more premium the picture.

We blacked out our testing room to create an even field for all our testing that commenced in our GearLab facility.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Entertainment


In our assessment of the Entertainment metric, we thoroughly scrutinized the visual quality of movies and video games. We evaluated factors like color accuracy, image clarity, and contrast to gauge overall picture quality. Extra points were awarded to projectors with smart features like native streaming apps and screen mirroring capabilities. Having the ability to test four units at a time with an HDMI splitter really lets us see the differences between the projectors. You'll notice screenshots from the film The Martian and Inception. These were the two films we heavily watched in our comparison testing in addition to other high-definition short films on YouTube.


The premium Epson Home Cinema 5050UB outperformed all others as an entertainment projector and truly impressed us with its top-notch quality. As soon as the movie started, it was clear that this projector was in a league of its own. The color reproduction, contrast, and overall picture quality were fantastic, reminiscent of a true movie theater experience. In fact, we used this projector as the benchmark to grade the others, highlighting its exceptional performance and setting a high standard for comparison. The only thing holding the 5050UB from a perfect score in this metric was its lack of built-in smart features, but at this price, buyers are probably serious enough about their home theater setup to have a preferred standalone media streaming device to pipe in the content.

projector - we tested each projector by comparing them side-by-side to see where...
We tested each projector by comparing them side-by-side to see where they stood.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Another excellent entertainment projector was the Hisense C1 Laser. Not only is this unit beautifully designed, with its retro-premium aesthetic, but it packs some serious image quality and features to match. We admired its remarkable clarity and contrast for an immersive cinematic experience, although it was occasionally prone to oversaturation. The C1's user-friendly Vidaa OS interface manages native streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube, and it's complemented by compatibility with Apple Airplay and Apple Home. We also appreciated that all smart apps and media controls were conveniently consolidated into the same backlit remote used for projector settings. Most projectors with streaming apps have two remotes to keep up with, one for settings and one for media.

Projectors with built-in smart features like streaming apps and screen mirroring picked up extra points.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Not far from what we've mentioned, the Epson 2350 stands amongst these powerhouses with its great color accuracy. We enjoyed the fact that this projector didn't severely alter any one color. We noted that in some scenes, especially with lighter colors, it tends to register a warmer tone. We had similar findings for the BenQ Home Cinema HT2060. Although, we believe if it weren't for our comparison testing, you wouldn't notice much of a difference, having a negligible effect on your viewing experience.

Color accuracy is a big concern between our top contenders and poor performers.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Business


When testing business projectors, our main criteria include examining color accuracy and clarity relative to source documents displayed on our laptop. Given the typical setting of business meetings in well-lit environments, we emphasize projectors with the ability to deliver bright images. Additionally, we take into consideration factors such as portability and available port selection, which are crucial aspects for business use.


With one of the most impressive ANSI-measured lumen outputs we've seen, the Epson Pro EX9240 shines bright in environments with ample ambient lighting. While its contrast ratio may not rival top contenders, and its color accuracy and resolution are merely satisfactory compared to cinema projectors, the unit excels at presenting clear, legible text, charts, and graphs, making it a reliable choice for office settings. We particularly appreciate its full complement of onboard controls, ensuring ease of use even without the remote. Moreover, its generous port selection accommodates a variety of devices, adding to its versatility and convenience in professional environments.

projector - we examine multiple graphs, charts, and fonts to make notes on all...
We examine multiple graphs, charts, and fonts to make notes on all the differences between projectors in business presentations.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Another honorable mention for business use is the ViewSonic PA503W. As the brightest projector we tested, it can cut through the office lights with ease, and it's bargain-priced to boot. The PA503W has WXGA resolution and high luminance, ideal for office presentations. Its portable design, with low weight, facilitates easy movement between rooms. While it delivers good edge-to-edge clarity in spreadsheets, small text may appear pixelated, and its color accuracy is far from the best. However, we appreciated its accessible zoom and focus ring controls and generous port selection to enhance usability and compatibility with external devices. If you're looking for a decent business projector for a fantastic price, the PA503W is a great fit.

projector - multiple factors went into our business testing metric, including...
Multiple factors went into our business testing metric, including what was seen on the screen, as well as how easy it is to transport each projector from office to office.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Contrast Ratio


Contrast ratio is the cornerstone of beautiful imaging, encompassing the spectrum from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows. This interplay breathes life and depth into photo compositions and movie scenes, from brilliant skies to impenetrable shadows. Our testing methodology for this crucial metric involved using a light meter and adhering to ANSI contrast testing standards. ANSI contrast, or “checkerboard contrast,” provides a more precise evaluation by measuring the extreme ends of brightness and darkness within a context that simulates real-world viewing conditions. This approach challenges any attempts at artificial enhancement by using a 4x4 checkerboard pattern made up of eight white and eight black squares.


In addition to the scientific ANSI testing method, we also sit together in a room with four projectors up at once via an HDMI splitter and take careful notes about the contrast of each unit while we watch scenes from The Martian and Inception.

projector - one of our testers taking measurements to calculate the ansi...
One of our testers taking measurements to calculate the ANSI contrast ratio.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

The top scorer in our ANSI contrast testing was the Epson Home Cinema 2350 with a 313:10 contrast ratio. It showcased notable contrast quality, as seen in its effective color separation between shades of black, gray, and white in the ANSI “Bulls Eye” test, and it exceeded expectations in the “Gradient” test, outperforming some premium models with smoother transitions in both dark and light gradients. However, direct visual comparison in our test movies reveals that its blacks appear slightly greyer compared to the leading cinema projector we tested, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD.

projector - dark scenes can diminish the viewing experience if the projector...
Dark scenes can diminish the viewing experience if the projector cannot properly display different shades of black and white.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

The Home Cinema 5050UB projected incredibly crisp and bright whites. We did note in our high-contrast test images, the whites tended to wash out surrounding colors. Dark black colors were also phenomenal; we felt like we were looking into a black hole, though there was some loss in the transition from dark greys to blacks.

Having a high contrast ratio can significantly improve your viewing experience.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Brightness


Brighter is generally better in the world of projectors. You can always make an overly bright image softer, but if a lamp's full capacity produces an image that's too dim, it can't be made any brighter. Top-end brightness usually isn't an issue in a dark home cinema setting. In fact, most models have a cinema mode that dims the lamp to provide more vivid colors and truer blacks. Top-end brightness becomes a bigger issue when projecting in well-lit rooms, the most common scenario being a business presentation in a conference room. In this situation, you want to be sure text and graphs are crisp, easy to read, and not washed out. To do this, the lamp must be bright enough to ward off miscreant photons from ambient light that like to bounce around rooms at random, fading colors and washing out text. Accordingly, most of our brightness testing involves viewing Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations in a bright room. We also measure brightness using a light meter and compare our measurements to the manufacturers' claims. Across the board, the brightness we measured is roughly 30% lower than the manufacturers' claim.


Interestingly, the single brightest projector in our review is one that we feel is a budget-oriented projector, the ViewSonic PA503W. The manufacturer lists a massive 3800 lumens, but through our brightness testing, we measured a more realistic and still impressive 2,664 lumens. As we mentioned, extremely high brightness is not as crucial in cinema projectors destined for dark theater rooms as it is for office projectors bound for the boardroom, which is why it isn't surprising that our top business projector, the Epson Pro EX9240 handily outclasses our top home cinema pick, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB when it comes to lumens.

We use a light meter to conduct ANSI luminance tests, providing precise measurements of brightness for every projector.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Setup & Use


The hardest part of using a projector is getting its picture square on the screen and focused. This either involves fine adjustments of a few moving parts (like focus rings or leveling legs) or some digital sorcery (like automatic keystoning or obstacle avoidance). When assessing the Setup & Use metric, we prioritize features such as auto keystoning, manual horizontal and vertical keystoning, autofocus, lens shift, screen zoom, adjustable front post, adjustable rear feet, and tripod or ceiling mountability. These elements collectively enhance adaptability and simplify the setup process for users. Additionally, we consider usability features like built-in eye protection, remote control functionalities, voice commands, and quality built-in speakers. Projectors designed with additional features and effective implementation received higher scores.


The heavy hitters here were the Hisense C1 Laser and the Epson Home Cinema 2350, two projectors that have been standouts throughout all of our testing.

The C1 knocks it out of the park when it comes to features, offering auto keystoning and autofocus, along with obstacle avoidance and built-in eye protection when it senses motion in front of the lense. Its backlit and voice command-capable remote combines smart app controls and essential functions all in the same device, whereas most projectors with smart features would require one remote for media and another for settings. With four adjustable feet and compatibility with tripods or ceiling mounts, the C1 is easily adaptable to its environment too. Plus, it boasts an integrated JBL 20-watt speaker for enhanced audio quality in semi-portable cinema scenarios that far exceeds any built-in projector speaker we've ever heard.

projector - tripod mount-ability is just one of the many perks a well-designed...
Tripod mount-ability is just one of the many perks a well-designed product can provide to help alleviate the frustration of installation in your home or on the road.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Likewise, the Epson Home Cinema 2350 has nearly every conceivable projector feature, though it lacks some desirable extras that the C1 provides. While it supports voice commands, a backlit remote for dark scenes would have been beneficial. Additionally, the absence of eye protection when motion is detected and the subpar onboard speaker performance had it playing second fiddle. However, it's still no slouch compared to the rest of the field.

Little design considerations like an adjustable front post go a long way to reducing your setup time.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Input Lag


Input lag, or the amount of time that lapses between pressing a button on a controller and seeing the result on the screen, is an important factor for video game aficionados, as even a millisecond of hesitation can mean digital life or death online. We measured every single projector in our review with a video signal input lag tester, and the results were surprising.


We repeatedly found that ultra-low-budget projectors like the Auking Mini 1080p had substantially lower input lag (45 millisecond response time) than top-tier units. We assume this is because, unlike the premium models, the operating systems on the cheapest projectors do not overburden themselves with image processing, making for a much faster trip from source to processor to projection. That's a bit unfortunate, as it would be much nicer to play AAA games with stunning graphics on higher-quality projectors.


If you don't need an extremely competitive response time for your gaming and you want to play in 4k, we exclusively recommend the Hisense C1 Laser. It's the only 4k-capable projector with a gaming mode that can average 60-millisecond response times. If you're not set on 4k but want something better and brighter than the ultra-cheap projectors, the ViewSonic PA503W has a speedy 48-millisecond response time.

We used a video input lag tester to precisely gauge the response time of each projector, averaging readings taken from the top, middle, and bottom sections of the screen.
Credit: Matt Lighthart

Conclusion


Home theaters are becoming more and more affordable and, thus, more common. Despite becoming more accessible, projectors are still rife with arcane specifications and confusing marketing claims, making for an overwhelming purchasing process. We hope that our objective side-by-side tests have helped you cut through all the noise and find the perfect projector to enhance your home or office environment.

Sentry Kelly, Jessica Riconscente, Michelle Powell, and Hale Milano