Everyone dreams of having a home theater setup — and in most people’s dreams, that experience requires shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars. If you live in an apartment, having a home theater may seem like a pipe dream altogether. But with so many options on the market, there’s a projector that’s right for any setup. Even small apartments can get the full home theater experience.
This is particularly true as 4K projectors become more relevant and affordable. With 4K and HDR projectors, everyday people can get huge cinema experiences from their couch. We’ve compiled some of the best 4K projectors you can get today, and there’s one for every type of need.
For more options, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best home theater projectors and best short-throw projectors, as well as how to convert your living room into a home theater on the cheap. You can also read our picks for the best portable projectors if you are on the go a lot.
The best 4K projectors at a glance:
Best 4K projector overall: BenQ TK850 4K HDR-Pro Projector
Best home theater 4K projector: Optoma CinemaX P2
Best 4K short-throw projector: VAVA 4K Projector
Best smart 4K projector: Optoma UHD52ALV
Best portable 4K projector: AAXA 4K1 Portable Projector
Best budget 4K projector: ViewSonic PX747 4K Projector
Why you should buy this: The BenQ TK850 is a well-rounded projector that will do well for most people.
Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a projector for movies and games alike.
Why we picked the BenQ TK850:
If you are looking for a 4K projector that just works and looks great, it’s hard to beat the BenQ TK850. For one thing, the TK850 looks great. It’s simple, elegant, and will blend into any room. As a short-throw projector, it can also work in any space, whether you live in a spacious house or tiny apartment.
The BenQ TK850 sports a native 4K resolution and HDR10. That means colors will be bright and details will be sharp, making it great for games and movies alike. The TK850 particularly excels at projecting sports, thanks to the way it handles motion and color, creating an image perfect for moment-to-moment action.
The TK850 comes with two HDMI 2.0 ports, which means you can connect two 4K input devices (such as an Xbox One X and a 4K Apple TV). Combined with its stellar image, this makes the TK850 the most well-rounded device for everyday users, and the overall best 4K projector you can get.
Why you should buy this: Hands down the best experience for home theaters.
Who it’s for: Serious cinephiles who want the movie theater experience at home.
Why we picked the Optoma CinemaX P2:
If you want a true cinema experience in your home, it doesn’t get much better than the Optoma CinemaX P2. This is a truly no-compromises 4K projector that offers bright and vivid images, impressive contrast, and decent sound in a compact package. The P2 also supports voice commands through Google Assistant and Alexa.
The CinemaX P2 has the sharpest 4K image around, and it doesn’t suffer from the image artifacts that are common in lesser projectors. It also supports HDR10, making the colors in films really pop. It’s particularly noticeable in landscape shots.
The P2 also comes packed with a 40-watt soundbar that sounds pretty good; sure, it isn’t as robust as a dedicated speaker system, but it’s more than competent for an all-in-one solution.
For a stylish ultra-short throw projector that delivers the best of the best, the CinemaX P2 is unrivaled.
Why you should buy this: VAVA’s projector casts a great image without taking up a lot of space. Solid built-in soundbar is a bonus.
Who it’s for: People living in apartments that want the home theater experience.
Why we picked the VAVA:
Not everyone has a spare room or a spacious living area to convert into a home theater. Apartment living is more common than ever, and with apartment living comes limited space. Most apartments also won’t let you mount a home theater projector in the ceiling. That’s where short-throw projectors like the VAVA find their niche. The VAVA 4K projector creates a large 100-inch image that beats any 4K TV, and it only needs 7 inches of clearance to do it.
The VAVA also supports HDR, so images are on par with other name brand projectors. The VAVA also stands out in the sound department. With a 60-watt Harman Kardon soundbar built-in, the VAVA delivers an excellent sound that should be more than enough for compact spaces.
The form factor is appealing for people living in apartments as well. At just 21 inches wide, it is considerably smaller than the CinemaX P2. The VAVA can fit on any shelf or countertop.
Why you should buy this: You want a bright projector with convenient voice control.
Who it’s for: People who want to use their projector in brighter environments.
Why we picked the Optoma UHD52ALV:
Projectors are great alternatives to TVs, but they come with one major downside. While they may offer a larger picture than any television on the market, most of them can be viewed only in dim or near dark rooms. That isn’t ideal for most people, especially if you want to watch sports or any TV shows before the sun goes down.
A bright projector like the UHD52ALV can be seen in rooms with moderate lighting, and its support for HDR10+ makes colors more vibrant and visible. That’s what makes it the perfect projector for those who want to use it at any time of day.
The UHD52ALV also supports Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can use your voice to change the volume, turn the projector on and off, and even change the input source.
Why you should buy this: It’s a 4K projector that’s roughly the size of your hand.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to take a 4K projector on the go.
Why we picked the AAXA 4K1:
Everyone loves a good home theater experience, but why should that strictly stay in your home? Portable projectors have been around for a long time, but they rarely pack the same quality as a dedicated home theater projector. That’s what makes something like the AAXA 4K1 so interesting. AAXA has always packed a lot of features into portable projectors, and the 4K1 is no different.
For one thing, it’s native resolution is 4K, which is nearly unheard of in this size and price range. It can also cast an image of 200 inches, which means you can get a full cinema experience from anywhere. It sports two HDMI 2.0 ports, so you can connect multiple 4K media devices. Its dual watt speakers won’t blow you away, but they are serviceable for this tiny little projector.
Whether you want to impress business clients or have an outdoor movie night, the AAXA 4K1 provides an impressive and large image in a projector that fits in your hands.
Why you should buy this: You get a 4K projector for just over a grand.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a 4K projector without spending at least $2,000.
Why we picked ViewSonic PX747:
If you’re are on a budget and looking for an entry-level 4K projector, then the ViewSonic PX747 is the best option for you. A few years ago, finding a 4K projector at this price range would be nigh impossible. But today you can get a 4K projector that is surprisingly bright at 3,500 lumens, supports HDR, and doesn’t break the bank.
It comes with a few compromises, however. The PX747 isn’t as color accurate as some of the other projectors on this list, and the keystone adjustments leave a lot to be desired — but at the end of the day, you’re getting a 4K HDR projector for barely $1,000. That’s a win in our book.
How you should choose
Picking out the best 4K projector isn’t as simple as it seems. There are a lot of technical things to consider when choosing a projector. Here are just a few things you should look at when shopping.
For starters, make sure you find out the native resolution of any projector. Plenty of cheap projectors will tout support for 4K, but they are actually referring to the input. That means you could play a 4K Blu-ray though these projectors, but the actual resolution of the image is lower. The native resolution is the actual resolution of the image the projector emits.
Next, consider lumens, a loose term for how bright a projector is usually displayed as ANSI lumens. There is no hard and fast science to measure lumens, and manufacturers usually have their own standards. So a 2,500-lumen projector from one company could be 3,000 lumens at another. Generally, you will want to find something between 2,500 and 3,000 lumens. This is ideal for dark room conditions. If you want to watch a projector in moderate lighting, you will want to find something at least 3,500 lumens or higher.
You will also see projectors promoting DLP, laser, or LED lighting fixtures. DLP and LED are almost used interchangeably, since all LED projectors are DLP (though not all DLP projectors are LED). A DLP projector uses thousands of tiny mirrors to build an image, which makes for sharp and vibrant images. LED refers to the light source, and these are usually brighter and last longer than their incandescent counterparts.
Laser projectors are relatively new and costly, but they have incredible image quality and get very bright. If you have the money for one, they are definitely the best projectors you can buy.
You will also want to consider inputs. On 4K projectors, they will promote either HDMI 1.4 or 2.0. The difference between these for most consumers is HDR. HDMI 2.0 supports HDR whereas 1.4 does not. You’ll want to get a projector that has at least one HDMI 2.0 port.
Lastly, consider whether you want a short- or long-throw projector. Short-throw projectors can cast large images from only a few feet away. In some cases, they only need to be a few inches away. Long-throw projectors are more like traditional home theater projectors, and require several feet to create a large image. If you are short on space, make sure you opt for a short-throw projector to get the most out of your living area.
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