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The 5 Best Projectors for Home Theater - Spring 2024 Reviews

Best Projectors For Home Theater

If you're looking for the best home projector, you're in luck, as many good options are available. While the cheap projector market is dire, especially regarding image quality, the number of options increases greatly once your budget ramps up. Mid-range projectors and up have many capabilities; are you shopping for a projector solely for home theater use, or are you interested in a versatile projector equally good at watching the latest movies or playing the latest games? While this article focuses on more expensive models, we still consider some budget-friendly projectors, as they can deliver an adequate viewing experience. Most smaller models also have great smart features, eliminating the need to spend more on an external streaming device, while some of the bigger units require you to buy an external streaming dongle if you need smart features.

We've bought and tested more than 35 models, and below, you'll find the best projectors to buy for a home theater. You can also check out our recommendations for the best TVs for watching movies or look at the best cheap projectors available. If you're only interested in the sharpest image possible, look at our best 4k projectors list instead. You can also vote on which projectors you want us to purchase and test.

  1. Best Home Theater Projector

    If you're looking for the best home theater projector, check out the BenQ X3000i. This projector is versatile, as it boasts advanced home theater capabilities, but it's also excellent for playing video games or streaming content through its included Android TV 10 QS01 dongle. It projects a sharp image with its pixel-shifting technology, and the very good brightness and great contrast provide deep and punchy images when the lights are off, like in a dark home theater setup. Even more impressive about this model is its out-of-the-box accuracy; even color purists will be satisfied with this unit without calibrating it. It's also HDR10/HLG compatible, and while projectors don't excel in HDR, this unit is decent in that color space, truly making it a versatile product.

    While you'll want to have this projector connected to a Blu-ray player for the best possible image quality, it's also quite capable when streaming content, as its bundled QS01 dongle is fully cast-capable through Google Cast and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. It has two HDMI 2.0b ports, each capable of accepting 4k @ 60Hz or 1080p @ 240Hz signals. Its second HDMI port also doubles as an eARC port, so it can passthrough advanced audio formats to your soundbar or sound system. It also has a 12V trigger out port, so you can automate your home projection screen with the projector. The BenQ has a third HDMI port; it's hidden behind the unit's top cover and is meant for use with the included dongle, although you can use it with any HDMI device. Ultimately, if you're looking for a home cinema projector that can do everything, the X3000i is the best choice.

    See our review

  2. Best Premium Projector For Home Theater

    If you're a home theater enthusiast looking for the best, no matter the cost, consider the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. Unlike the BenQ X3000i, this model has no fancy features. It's focused on only one thing: watching movies. It has a small edge over the top pick in image quality; the Epson is a bit brighter and has slightly better contrast, so it looks punchier when watching movies in a dark home theater setup. The Epson's pre-calibration accuracy is excellent, and for purists, you can improve it even more with the projector's vast array of calibration features. Its color gamut is very wide, and the projector is bright enough to project a vibrant, colorful image. It's also fully HDR compatible and does a good job of portraying the HDR color space. Like the top pick, it projects a sharp image through its pixel-shifting technology.

    If you're looking for other features, you won't find them here. The projector doesn't have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and it doesn't have any smart OS built-in. That's easily remedied with an external streaming dongle, and the unit comes with a 2.0A USB port for power delivery only, like for a dongle. It has two HDMI ports to which you can connect external devices and a 12V trigger out port if you want to automate your projector screen. This unit doesn't have an ARC/eARC port, so for the best sound, you'll need to connect the projector to a receiver through HDMI. Overall, this projector will provide the best possible image quality and is the best pick for enthusiasts wanting to build a cinema room in their basement.

    See our review

  3. Best Value Home Theater Projector

    If you're looking for the best value overall, look up the Epson Home Cinema 1080, which delivers surprisingly good performance for the price. It projects a sharp 1080p image and looks bright and relatively punchy in dark rooms due to its great brightness and okay contrast. Its color gamut is alright; good enough to project pleasant colors, but certainly nothing approaching what the top two picks can do. You can't improve the unit's color accuracy with calibration, but that's fine, as it's already great out-of-the-box. It doesn't support HDR, which isn't a great loss at this price point, but if HDR matters to you, you'll need to consider the top two picks instead.

    The projector has more features than the much more expensive Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. It has two 1080p @ 60Hz HDMI ports, although it again lacks ARC/eARC capability. Unlike the more expensive Epson, this unit has an audio out port, so you can use that for audio if you're not willing to invest in a receiver. You can also use its USB-B port to connect it to an external audio interface. Unfortunately, the unit doesn't come with a smart OS, but it does have Wi-Fi 5 and Miracast for screen mirroring, so all it is missing for full streaming functionality is an external streaming dongle, which you can power through the unit's USB-A port. Overall, it's the best value home theater projector available and is good enough for most people outside of enthusiasts.

    See our review

  4. Best Portable Home Theater Projector

    If you want a model you can easily carry without plugging it into an outlet, the best portable home cinema projector we've tested is the XGIMI Halo+. It's a very small unit and weighs only 3.7 pounds, so you can easily throw it into a backpack. Plus, it has an integrated battery promising up to 2.5 hours of uninterrupted playback. This is long enough to watch most movies, so if your friend's basement lacks power outlets, this unit will do nicely. It has many image correction features: full auto keystone, autofocus, intelligent screen alignment, and obstacle avoidance, so this projector is truly easy to carry with you as it corrects its image geometry automatically as you move it. To round up the package, it comes with the Android TV smart interface, Chromecast and AirScreen support, and Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities.

    Like most portable models, it's slightly dim but significantly brighter than most direct competitors, and it has great contrast, so it'll project a pleasant image when all lights are off. It also has a very wide color gamut and HDR support but isn't bright enough to take advantage of them. Its color accuracy is quite poor, and while you can improve it somewhat through calibration, this isn't a product for color purists. It has one HDMI port, which also doubles as an eARC port, which is great for connecting a soundbar if you want the best sound possible, or you could use the projector's 3.5mm audio jack. Finally, it has one USB port through which you can play video files directly on the projector.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Home Theater Projector

    If you want something cheaper, consider the Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01. While it lacks HDR support, it projects an extremely bright 1280 x 800 resolution image. Its bright image makes content pop, and this model looks great when watching content in a moderately lit room. Unfortunately, its contrast is inadequate; blacks are raised and look gray. This means it'll look its best when a few lights are on, which isn't optimal for a dark room home cinema setup. Its out-of-the-box color accuracy is decent, certainly good enough for most people, but color purists can greatly improve it through the projector's 2-point white balance calibration.

    This projector lacks a smart OS and doesn't even have Wi-Fi, so an external streaming dongle is necessary to watch content from Netflix or similar apps. It only has one HDMI port and lacks ARC/eARC support. The unit has no other audio out ports, so you'll have to buy an HDMI receiver to get better sound out of this projector or use its USB-B port to connect it to a supported external audio interface. You can play a few file formats through the unit's USB-A port, but overall, it's rather barebones regarding ports. Still, it's a very cheap projector for the performance, so if you want to save a buck, consider this model.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12: The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 is a decent small projector. It has more smart features and better contrast than the Epson Home Cinema 1080, but the 1080 is vastly brighter than the Mini EF12, so it looks more vibrant than the Mini in every viewing condition. See our review
  • XGIMI Elfin: The XGIMI Elfin is a very small and light projector, even smaller than the XGIMI Halo+. However, the Elfin doesn't have an integrated battery, and the Halo+ is the brighter unit, with better contrast, although the Elfin is the vastly more accurate product. Still, the Halo+ is a better buy for most. See our review
  • BenQ HT4550i: The BenQ HT4550i is a great projector, but it's very expensive and outshined by its cheaper sibling, the BenQ X3000i. Both projectors have similar brightness and contrast levels, but the X3000i is much more accurate out of the box, making it easier to set up and watch. It's also much cheaper, to boot. See our review
  • Epson Home Cinema 3800: The Epson Home Cinema 3800 is a great product and is especially good for those who only want to watch movies and don't care about smart or gaming features. It's noticeably brighter than the BenQ X3000i, although the BenQ is more accurate out-of-the-box and has a wider color gamut. The BenQ also has way more features, giving it the edge over the Epson. See our review
  • XGIMI HORIZON Ultra: The XGIMI HORIZON Ultra has more modern features than the BenQ X3000i, as the XGIMI has Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and Android TV 11. It's also brighter than the BenQ. However, the BenQ has better contrast, is much more accurate, and has vastly better gaming features, making it a more versatile product overall. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Apr 10, 2024: Verified that our picks are still readily available to purchase and updated the text of some projectors to emphasize some of their features, like the presence or absence of ARC/eARC and dark room performance.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best home cinema projectors for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper projector wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no models that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our home cinema projectors. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no projector is perfect, many are good enough for most uses; however, avoid the worst models to ensure adequate quality.