While the price of big-screen TVs has dropped a lot in recent years, a front cheap projector is still the best value for someone who wants to enjoy their favorite movies and TV shows on a really large screen. But choosing the best projector from a crowded field of models that range in price from a couple hundred bucks to thousands of dollars can be a daunting task.
Different projectors are designed for different uses. And, even more so than for a TV, a projector’s performance is impacted by the room environment and the size and type of screen you pair with it. So before you shop, here are some key questions to ask yourself to help find the best projector for you.
What do you plan to use the Cheap Projector for?
Are you looking for a Cheap projector primarily for watching movies or sports, playing games, or displaying business presentations? Many of the lowest-priced projectors are best suited for business uses such as PowerPoint or whiteboard presentations and company video chats. They can offer a decent amount of brightness and a variety of options for connecting to a computer, but their resolution may not be full HD (1920×1080 pixels) or be in the correct shape (16:9) for movie and TV watching. Most important, Cheap projectors designed for business use often have highly exaggerated colors that are meant to pop in a brightly lit conference room but don’t look natural with movies in a darker room, and they lack the video adjustments to make the image more accurate.
For Movies :
For movies, you should get at least a full HD projector that can reproduce all or most of the Rec 709 color gamut that’s used for HDTV and home video releases. Ideally, it includes a Cinema or Movie mode that comes close to reference standards, plus the controls you need to fine-tune the image for the best performance. If you’ve invested in a 4K Blu-ray player or other 4K source, be prepared to pay more for a projector with a 4K resolution and support for high dynamic range video, such as the JVC DLA-NX5.
For Sports and Gaming:
For sports and gaming, ideally you should get a full or 4K HD model that’s very bright (2,500 lumens or more) and has a 120 Hz refresh rate, which results in less motion blur in fast-moving images. Gamers should look for a cheap projector that offers very low input lag, which means less time between when something happens in the game and when you see it on your screen. Many home entertainment projectors now include a game mode with lower input lag; we recommend that the lag amount be 16 ms or less. We like the Viewsonic PX701-4K for sports and gaming.
For Personal use :
If you’re less concerned about picture quality and just want a simple option for watching the occasional YouTube video or TV show, a portable mini projector like the YG530 can serve as a replacement for a modestly sized TV. Such projectors often have features that you won’t find in a traditional projector—like built-in streaming apps, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth—but they can’t deliver the brightness, contrast, or color accuracy of their larger siblings (more on this below). Plus, they’re small, so you can move them around or take them to a friend’s house.
What type of room will you use the Cheap projector in?
This question is particularly important for movie enthusiasts because it affects how much you should spend on a cheap projector. Do you have a dedicated theater room in which you can fully block out extraneous light, or do you watch movies only at night with the lights off? Do you want to have a truly cinematic big-screen experience and see all the finest details in your favorite dark, moody thriller? If so, it may be worth paying more to get a higher-end home theater projector that can deliver an image with truly deep, dark black levels and an especially high contrast ratio that results in a richer, more engaging picture. These projectors often use higher-quality lens systems that allow for better contrast and crisper images, but they’re also bigger and heavier—so you’ll likely want to place them permanently in a projector mount attached to the wall or ceiling, as opposed to setting them on a table or shelf.
Size Of Room:
Another thing to consider is the size of your room. Traditional projectors need a lot of space to cast a large image. Generally speaking, to cast a 100-inch image, you need at least 100 inches between the projector and screen. For a small room, you may need a projector with a short-throw lens, which allows it to cast a larger image from a shorter distance.
How big of a screen do you want?
The bigger the screen size, the more light output your projector needs to produce a well-saturated image. A Cheap projector’s brightness capability is usually listed in ANSI lumens, but keep in mind that manufacturers' stated light specs can be misleading; in real-world use, projectors usually put out a lot less light, at least in the more accurate picture modes. We recommend at least 1,000 ANSI lumens for a 100-inch screen, which means to be safe you should look for a projector with a stated light output of around 2,000 lumens. (If we’re talking about a dedicated theater room projector, you can get away with a slightly lower number because you’ll probably be keeping the room completely dark.)
What special features do you need?
The final question to ask yourself: Are there any special features you need that may not come standard? Pretty much all home entertainment projectors now include at least one HDMI input to connect easily to media players, cable or satellite DVRs, and gaming consoles. If you plan to stream all your content, you can connect a streaming stick from Roku or Amazon via HDMI and not have to deal with connecting an extra set-top box.
Many projectors still include an RGB computer input, but analog connectors like component and composite inputs are becoming rare—so if you wish to connect an older, analog-only source device, make sure to specifically search for a model that has them.
If you need to supply power to a connected device such as a wireless HDMI receiver, many projectors now include a powered USB port for just such a purpose. And if you have a motorized screen, a 12-volt trigger allows you to automatically send raise or lower commands when the projector is turned off or on. This feature is common in higher-end projectors but less so in budget models.
As I mentioned above, dedicated home theater projectors seldom have a built-in speaker, as the expectation is that you’ll add a home-theater-worthy sound system, too. Many lower-priced projectors, including all of the picks in our budget home theater projector guide, have internal speakers that sound mediocre at best; you’ll probably want to incorporate some type of external speaker. Sadly, few traditional projectors offer built-in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to send audio to a tabletop speaker, but most of them have a 3.5 mm audio output—so you can connect a tabletop speaker via a cable, or you could buy a cheap Bluetooth transmitter to send the audio wirelessly to a better sound system.
How Much Do Projectors Cost?
The price of a quality projector can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, Some can even cost over $100,000.
This large price range is the result of the wide variety of technologies, power and features that go into a given projector. The more lumens it has, the higher the resolution, the light source, the chipset can all increase the cost of a projector.
How Much Does A 4K Projector Cost?
Naturally because of the state of the art technology that goes into it, a 4K projector is going to be more expensive than a 1080p projector. An entry level 4k projector will start at around $1,300. For a mid range home theater 4K projector you should look for one between $2,500 to $5,000. If you want the absolute best picture quality you’re likely looking to spend between $6,000 to $25,000 on your projector.
Is It Worth Getting A Projector?
If you want to have the cinematic big screen experience in your home then it is 100% worth getting a video projector. Commercially available flat screen TVs top out at about 80 inches. Beyond that size TV’s lose any price advantage they may have over a comparable projection system. In order to achieve a display that’s 100+ inches you would definitely want to get a projector.
Are Cheap Projectors Worth It?
Cheap projectors you find on Amazon are almost never worth it. They don’t have the capability to project a quality image in any kind of usable way. Many of these low priced projector makers advertise misleading or straight up untrue specs. If you care at all about how your film and videos look, save your money and invest in a better projector.