I think everyone has dreamed about having a movie theater at home at some point in their life. Bigger television sets are one thing, but even the nicest plasma screen doesn’t quite capture the experience of going to the movies.
But in the last few years, home theaters are becoming more and more of a reality. And they’re not just limited to celebrities and movie stars anymore.
In fact, you can buy a home theater system for less than $500, and there are plenty of options that are cheaper than the latest television set.
Isn’t that exciting?
Buying a $500 projector is not going to give you the same quality as a $5000 projector, of course. We all have different preferences and requirements for our entertainment technology. Some people just want a simple projector to display outdoor movies. Others want something that will project their next-gen video games in all their high-definition glory. There is a home theater projector for every budget.
But what if you don’t know what to look for in a projector?
Have no fear! Not only will this guide tell you what to look for in your technology, but it will also point you towards some of the best home theater projectors on the market. Read on for more information!
Things to Look For
I’m going to give you a tip.
No matter your budget or your needs, there are certain things you’re going to need to keep in mind when picking out a projector. Are you going to use the projector indoors or outdoors? Do you need a projector that displays clearly with the lights on? Will you use the projector for business or pleasure?
And most importantly:
Do you want to spend two hours trying to figure out how to get the confounded thing to work?
We’ve all rushed into an expensive purchase, assuring ourselves the installation will be a cinch, or the electronic is going to work like a charm.
Don’t be that guy. Doing your research before committing to a purchase of hundreds or thousands of dollars will save you a lot of headache, protect your pocket book and prevent the inevitable nervous breakdown when, six hours later, you still can’t find the ‘on’ button.
Below, I’ve listed five different things you’re going to want to pay attention to when considering your purchase.
Simply put, resolution means how clear and detailed everything on the screen looks like. The standard resolution for high-definition television is 1080p, or 1920×1080 resolution. This is the same resolution as a 2.1 megapixel camera, and is also known as Full Definition. Most high-end projectors use 1080p, but it’s important to consider what you want to use the projector for.
Most people these days know about resolution. But do you know how what unit we use to measure brightness? Light is measured in lumens, which is admittedly difficult to quantify. The right brightness of your projector will depend on how you plan to use it. Indoor use in a dark room won’t require nearly as many lumens as using your projector outdoors or during the day.
Most projectors will be compatible with DVD and Blu-Ray technology, but some are not compatible with PlayStation, Xbox or other gaming consoles. If you plan on projecting from your console, make sure you pay attention to the projector’s specifications.
4. Ease of Use
All right, you got me: this category is a bit esoteric, because being easy to figure out is subjective. However, some projectors do come with a remote controller for easy access, so that is definitely one thing to keep in mind.
5. Other Accessories
While most projectors come with built-in speakers, they are a long way from surround sound. For a true home theater experience, you’re going to want to invest in an independent stereo system. I’m not writing about speaker systems, but it is a good thing to keep in mind when budgeting your purchase.
The Best Home Theater Projectors
- A long-lasting lamp rated for up to 6,000 hours
- Fully compatible with the industry-standard RF 3D technology
- PRICE RANGE: Under $2000
- A long-lasting lamp rated for up to 6,000 hours
- Fully compatible with the industry-standard RF 3D technology
- PRICE RANGE: Under $2000
Best Home Theater Projector Under $300
If you’re looking for a great deal on a budget projector, you can’t go wrong with ViewSonic PA503S. The projector supports a native SVGA resolution of 800×600. While it is certainly not high-definition, it has an incredible range. It can project up to 32 feet away, which makes it excellent for projecting movies outdoors for a home drive-in experience.
With up to 3600 lumens of light, it is also plenty bright, so your movie will show up bright and clear even if there’s a lot of background light. Even better, there are five different brightness settings, so you can comfortably use it in a dark room without blinding everyone.
Looking at the back of the machine, you will notice that it has several input options, from standard VGA cables to USB, HDMI and video. This allows you to project movies not only from your DVD or Blu-Ray player, but also from your desktop, laptop or even your cell phone.
One more thing: the projector comes with an industry-leading warranty, including a 3-year warranty on parts and a 1-year warranty on the bulb. When you couple an awesome warranty with the projector’s low price, this is an excellent choice for a video projector on a budget.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $750
Epson Home Cinema 760HD
If 800×600 resolution just isn’t good enough for you, consider the Epson Home Cinema 760HD. Projecting at 720p resolution (1280×720). The 760HD not only boasts 3300 lumens of white light, but also 3300 lumens of colored light. As a result, the Epson 760HD is able to project rich, vivid, lifelike colors onto your wall or other surface.
Their trademark technology allows for three times more color than their competitors, truly bringing your movie to life. In addition, four different color settings allows you to richly experience a variety of media, including video games that often have dramatically different color settings than movies.
Part of the appeal of going to the movies is the massive screen that carries the action. The 760HD helps to recreate that appeal by projecting up to 300 inches (25 feet) long! That is roughly the same size as a smaller movie screen at the local cinema, providing you with a truly authentic home movie experience.
Not only does the Optoma HD 143X support full HD, but it is also fully compatible with state-of-the-art 3D technology, including 3D support for Blu-Ray and next-gen gaming technology. With 3000 lumens, the projector is more than bright enough to handle any situation or beat out ambient lighting.
Looking at the back of the projector, you will find the necessary ports to hook up to any system you could possibly want, from computers to DVD players to your PlayStation 4. What I really liked about this projector was the remote control.
There are a lot of buttons on it, so you have to read the manual to know what everything does, but the controller lets you change everything from brightness to the aspect ratio, volume and more. Best of all, the projector is about as environmentally friendly as they come, minimizing your environmental footprint.
Epson Home Cinema 2040
The Epson Home Cinema 2040 is a great choice for anyone on a budget. This is the first home theater projector on this list to make the jump to 1080p resolution. Like the previous Epson projector, it offers superior color quality by providing, in this case, 2200 lumens of both white and colored light. The 2040 uses a variety of image-enhancing technologies to provide you with clear, crisp images of up to 134 inches.
The 2040 comes with a limited two-year warranty, and the lamp can be set to both standard or eco mode. Setting the lamp to run on economy settings can improve its lifespan by up to 3,500 hours! A large variety of input options round the Epson 2040 out as an excellent budget machine.
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB
With the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB, you have everything you need to create an exciting home theater system. As with all Epson home theater systems, the 2400 lumens of luminosity are channeled into both white and colored light for vivid colors every time, combined with an intense 600,000:1 contrast ratio that helps every color stand out.
Dual HDMI connectivity and easy setup makes it easy to get things going straight from the box, and a throw of up to 25 feet brings the experience of the cinema to your living room.
You will also enjoy the advanced 3D imagery, and appreciate the two rechargeable 3D glasses that ship with this projector. Coupled with advanced technology and a two-year warranty, this projector has a lot going for it. This may be an expensive purchase, but you will love every minute of it.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $1000
BenQ HT3050 1080p Home Theater Projector
If you’re looking for an authentic Hollywood experience, this home theater system might be your ticket. The BenQ DLP HD 1080p projector uses the exact same color palette used in Hollywood movies, meaning your movie-going experience will be just as colorful, vibrant and exciting as at the local cinema.
The high-definition resolution and authentic colors are not the only things that recommend this projector. It is the quietest projector in its class, and it is also energy efficient, saving the consumer money. It can project up to 2000 lumens of luminosity and can throw from 5 feet up to 15 feet. The projector also comes with a 1-year warranty, which is valuable for an investment such as this.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $1500
Epson Home Cinema 1440
If you want the biggest and brightest projector around, you can’t go wrong with the Epson Home Cinema 1440. There are a lot of reasons to recommend this projector. With 4400 lumens of both white and colored light, this is simply one of the brightest projectors on the market, as well as one of the richest in terms of color quality.
The throw size can be variable, anywhere from 50 inches to 15 feet. A variety of color modes are present to cycle between televised sports, video games or rustic black-and-white westerns.
Dual HDMI inputs, in addition to a plethora of other input options, ensure that you won’t have to constantly swap out one input for another to change what you’re doing. Top-of-the-line 1080p resolution ensures high-definition fidelity no matter the size of the throw. To top it off, the Epson 1440 is made with innovative 3LCD technology and award-winning DCDi technology that enhance the picture quality and resolution for flawless viewing performance.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $2000
Sony Home Theater Projector VPL-HW45ES
Despite a name that fails to draw attention to itself, this Sony VPL-HW45ES projector offers all the features you expect at this price. Full definition 1080p, flexible zoom, full 3D compatibility (including 3D glasses), 9 preset calibration features, an extremely quiet fan, free USB updates and a three-year limited warranty are just some of the features of this projector. Advanced technology and the Motionflow feature work together to minimize blurring for constant crystal-clear images.
In addition, this projector ships with a limited three-year warranty on par with the best home theater warranties, and far surpassing most of them. A high-contrast ratio keeps images looking brighter and clearer, and Sony’s dynamic lamp control helps your 3D images to look better than ever.
Because this projector isn’t as bright as some others, it’s not as well-suited for projecting movies outside where you might need a greater throw distance or where there is a lot of ambient light. But to create a true home movie experience, the Sony VPL-HW45ES is as good as it gets.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $3000
Sony VPLHW65ES 1080p 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector
The next step up from the Sony 45ES, the VPL-HW65ES improves upon the cheaper model with some added new features. In addition to 1080p full HD resolution, 1800 lumen brightness, and state-of-the-art 3D technology, the VPL-HW65ES adds 120,000:1 dynamic contrast that greatly enhances the fidelity of the image. In addition, SXRD technology combines with
In addition, SXRD technology combines with patented Reality Creation super resolution to bring out incredible details in every face and environment, helping every detail to leap off the screen. Another innovation is the inclusion of home automation technology, giving you greater control over your technology than ever before.
Like the HW45ES, the bulb in this projector is rated for 6000 hours, ships with a three-year warranty on parts, and includes 3D glasses to enhance your viewing experience. That said, this model is roughly twice the cost of the VPL-HW45ES. While you’re sure to be thrilled with the quality of the projector, your bank account may not be. I recommend thinking long and hard about whether the extra features are worth $2000 over the Sony 45ES.
Best Home Theater Projector Under $10000
Sony VPLVW675ES Native 4K HDR 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector
4K technology (4096×2160) is brand new. Top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, what have you. Unfortunately, as with all new technologies, this comes at a very high price. On the one hand, at the time of my writing this, the Sony VPL-VW3675ES is just under $10,000. On the other hand, this is the most affordable 4K home theater/gaming projector on the market.
Now that we have that out of the way, I just want to say….wow. If you have never seen a movie in native 4K resolution before, your mind will be blown. The video quality is astounding, and the features are so advanced I can barely believe them.
Th projector works best with a 150” screen (120” if you’re using 3D), so it’s not as big as some of the other projectors, but the quality is outstanding. There are several different proprietary Sony advancements in place that help to streamline the quality of the picture or video game.
Motionflow technology; Dark Frame Insertion; Super Resolution upscaling; a 2D-3D upconversion algorithm; ‘Mastered’ in 4K: these are just some of the advanced technologies that will transform your gaming and movie-going experience. Experience traditional 2D movies in 3D for the first time; explore open-world video game environments with more detail than you thought possible; engross yourself in rich and colorful worlds.
This is a very advanced projector, definitely the best 4K projector you’ll get for the money. But if you haven’t invested in next-gen consoles or the latest technology, you’ll probably want to take a cheaper route for your home theater experience.
There is no right or wrong choice here. Home theater projectors can vary in cost from a couple hundred bucks to almost $30,000. Obviously, most of us pick something somewhere in the middle. Be honest with yourself about what you need.
I thought the Sony VPL-HW45ES is a fantastic model, and the advanced technology really helped to bring new life to movies. Whichever option you choose, I have little doubt you will find the perfect home theater system, and I hope this list has guided you in your decisions!