Getting a projector instead of a massive 4K TV to place in the center of your entertainment space has plenty of benefits. For starters, projectors are way more compact so they’re not going to take up too much shelf or wall space. They also tend to be cheaper than TVs. Finally, you get a projector for the simple fact that you get a bigger screen to enjoy your favorite movies on. Right now, the ViewSonic PA503S, Epson Home Cinema 1060, and BenQ TK800M home theater projectors are on sale at Amazon and Best Buy starting from just $300. Read on to find out which one suits your needs and budget best.
If you need a cheap entry-level projector for classroom or office use, the ViewSonic PA503S would be a solid option. With a standard SVGA resolution (800 x 600 pixels, 4:3 aspect ratio), this projector’s picture is unlikely to blow anyone away (if you want high-resolution projectors, take a look at the two options below) but if you’re just going to use it for presentations and basic images, it would more than suffice.
This projector is unbelievably bright at 3,600 lumens, which means you can use it even with the lights on and blinds open during daytime. And with an HDMI and two VGA inputs, you can connect up to two sources or laptops simultaneously without having to swap cables around. To extend the lamp’s lifespan, you can turn the Power Saving setting on so that the PA503S will automatically switch to Eco Mode and SuperEco Mode when idle. Eco Mode is activated whenever it has been left idle for 5 minutes, while SuperEco Mode is activated when the projector has not received an input signal for 20 minutes. This makes the projected image dim to 70%, extending the lamp’s lifespan to 15,000 hours on average. Finally, the PA503S’s 2W speaker delivers serviceable audio that’s clear and loud enough for a small audience. Get the ViewSonic PA503S projector for just $300 instead of $459 at Amazon today – a huge $159 off.
For high-resolution movies on the largest possible screen at home, you can pop for the Epson Home Cinema 1060. This home projector over-delivers with a whopping 3,100 lumens, which means it can easily compete with the brightest ambient light, making it an ideal backyard projector. And for the relatively affordable price of $550 (down from $700 at Best Buy), we’re surprised that this projector can read files through USB. It even has built-in Wi-Fi for easy connection to a phone or tablet.
The HC 1060’s throw distance is up to 10.7 feet, which is over four times farther than a 60-inch TV. It also has a 1.2x optical zoom, which gives you a lot of room for error if you want to place it on a permanent mount. Aside from USB (including Plug ‘n Play) and Wi-Fi connections, you also get two HDMI ports (one with MHL), VGA (computer or component video), composite video, and stereo audio in (RCA connectors). As mentioned, this projector is extremely bright but to the detriment of its dark and black levels. That means shadow detail, contrast, color vibrancy, and sense of depth are a bit lacking. Its extra brightness also contributes to a higher than average fan noise that’s very noticeable during quieter moments. At least its 10W speakers deliver quality audio that’s suitable even for large rooms. For an impressively bright picture at 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) native resolution, get the Epson Home Cinema 1060 today at Best Buy for a massive $150 off.
The BenQ TK800M might be the most expensive projector on this list, but it’s also easily the most impressive. If you want nothing but the best equipment in your home entertainment system, this is definitely what you should get. It offers full 4K UHD resolution using Texas Instruments’ latest 0.47-inch DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) imaging chip, which has a native resolution of 3,840 x 2,160. This powerful processor analyzes the picture in real time frame-by-frame, and makes each of the 8.3 million pixels it projects quickly shift between four different positions. This minimizes picture blurring, which is essential for smooth image movement, making this projector ideal for watching fast-paced sports matches.
With a peak light output of 3,000 lumens and a new RGBW color wheel, brightness and color reproduction are phenomenal – to the expense of black level. Still, this projector can easily combat ambient light, so you can place it in a well-lit room and even the backyard. And like all single-chip DLP projectors, you won’t encounter any alignment issues with the TK800M, thanks to an optical system that uses a new 7-element, 4-group, all-glass lens with low-dispersion coatings to minimize chromatic aberration. Expect this projector to produce razor-sharp images at all times. This projector supports a wide variety of input signals and automatically shifts to whatever it is, including 480p, 720p, 1,080i, 1,080p, 480i, 576i, 576p, and 2,160p. It even supports 3D which has woefully been missing in the majority of flat-screen TVs. Ports include two HDMI inputs, PC (VGA) input, Type-A and Type-B USB ports, RS-232 port, and a 3.5mm stereo-audio input and output. Finally, while most projectors’ onboard audio systems are absolute garbage, the TK800M’s speaker incorporates an aluminum diaphragm with neodymium magnet inside a resonant chamber which all work together to deliver an impressive sonic experience with plenty of bass power. For breathtaking home-viewing experience, get the BenQ TK800M projector for $1,299 instead of $1,449 at Best Buy – a huge $150 off.
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