Nothing beats a trip to the cinema but you can’t lounge around in PJs eating curry in front of the big screen at your local Odeon. With a top-notch projector, you can bring the magic of the movies to your front room without having to sit through endless ads or fork out for pricey popcorn. And a quality projector can really enhance a box set binge or a gaming marathon. All you need is a dark room, a white wall (or a projector screen) and something good to watch.
For ultimate big-screen thrills, you’ll want a Full HD projector (with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080) or better still, a 4K projector (although you’ll need to splash the cash for one of those). Most modern home projectors operate using either DLP (digital light processing) or LCD (liquid crystal display) technology. DLP projectors are the most common, most compact and tend to deliver the most bang per buck whereas LCD projectors typically offer a brighter, smoother picture but can be bulkier and pricier.
If your lounge space is tight you should consider a short throw (or an ultra-short throw) projector which allows you to project large images from very short distances. Investing in a projector with an optical zoom and lens shift capabilities also makes sense as you’ll be able to enlarge and reduce the screen size without moving the unit and shift the lens up and down without losing quality.
Here’s our rundown of the best projectors to spend your money on
The best projector under £1,000: BenQ W2000
Price when reviewed: £699 | Buy from Amazon
For sharp cinematic images, realistic colours and a crisp 1080p resolution, the BenQ really delivers. It also runs quietly with a soft whooshing rather than an annoying buzz and the sound quality from the 20W stereo speakers is surprisingly good for the price. It’s easy to set up with a 1.3x zoom and vertical lens shift and the short throw feature means you can project a mighty 100-inch image from 2.5 metres so it’s a top pick for a smallish space.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: DLP; Resolution: 1080p; Contrast Ratio: 15000:1; Brightness: 2,000 lumens; Weight: 3.6kg
The best projector under £500: ViewSonic PJD7720HD
Price when reviewed: £399 | Buy from Amazon
For the money, this sub-£500 unit offers amazingly good image quality with a sharp 1080p resolution. It’s really bright too (3,200 lumens) which means you can use it without having to completely black out your room (although you’ll get an even better image if you do). So what’s the catch? Well, the fan is a little noisy and the set up can be tricky with limited optical zoom, but for the price, this is a solid buy.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: DLP; Resolution: 1080p; Contrast Ratio: 22000:1; Brightness: 3,200 lumens; Weight: 2.4kg
The best projector under £100: VANKYO Leisure 410 Projector
Price when reviewed: £70 | Buy now from Amazon
If you really want to go down the budget projector root, perhaps to test out the tech before investing in something more expensive, then you could certainly do worse than the VANKYO Leisure 410 projector. It’s an impressive bit of kit for the price, with 3800 lumens, full HD 1080p and 170-inch display support, and compatibility with PS4, Xbox, Amazon Firestick and more. The contrast levels look great, and the user-friendly options allow you to easily switch between modes such as outdoor, home, sports and games. It’s not as fancy as some of the other entries on this list, but for the price it’s a steal.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: LCD; Resolution: 1080p; Contrast Ratio: 2000:1; Brightness: 3,800 lumens
The best projector for gaming: Optoma GT1080
Price when reviewed: £799 | Buy from Currys
Designed with gamers in mind, the Optoma has a specific game mode that keeps the input lag to a minimum and provides a more responsive gaming display than most TVs in the same price range. It’s also an ultra-short throw projector which means that from a distance of just over a meter you can project a 100-inch image. And with its 3,000-lumen maximum brightness, it performs well even in a bright living room.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: DLP; Resolution: 1080p; Contrast Ratio: 25000:1; Brightness: 3,000 lumens; Weight: 2.66k
The best projector for small spaces: LG MiniBeam PF1000U
Price when reviewed: £787 | Buy from Amazon
You may well consider permanently replacing your TV with this compact piece of kit. It can project a 100-inch image from only 38cm away and it’s equipped with a couple of HDMI inputs, Bluetooth and an optical S/PDIF output so you can fully integrate it with your home cinema set up without having to install it from the ceiling. It might not be as bright as some of our other picks (you’ll definitely need to draw the curtains) but this ultra-portable projector offers exceptional value for money.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: LED; Resolution: 1080p; Contrast Ratio: 150000:1; Brightness: 1,000 lumens; Weight: 2.2kg
The best budget 4K projector: Optoma UHD550X
Price when reviewed: £1769 | Buy from Amazon
For the ultimate home cinema, it pays to splurge on a 4K projector for super-sharp images and amazing detail. While native 4K projectors can set you back around £5,000, this model combines microscopic mirrors and fast-spinning colour wheels rather than a 4K imaging chip which means that it’s much cheaper to buy, making the sub-£2,000 price seem vaguely affordable. And it’s a lot smaller than most 4K projectors too. Bear in mind that you’ll need to project onto a pretty big space at a considerable distance to fully appreciate its wide-screen wizardry.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: DLP; Resolution: 2160p; Contrast Ratio: 500,000:1; Brightness: 2,800 lumens; Weight: 7.8kg
The best projector for 3D movies: Epson EH-TW9300
Price when reviewed: £2948 | Buy from Amazon
Combining LCD technology and pixel shift upscaling, this Epson projector delivers a cracking picture, intense colours and sharp details for around half the price of a native 4K projector. The 3D imaging is superb and the motorised zoom and lens shift capabilities mean that it’s a doddle to set up. You’ll need to buy 3D glasses separately but you’re not tied to purchasing Epson branded models; there are plenty of compatible alternatives that are just as good.
Handy stuff to know – Display type: LCD; Resolution: 4K enhanced; Contrast Ratio: 1,000,000:1; Brightness: 2,500 lumens; Weight: 11.2kg