When you’re on the hunt for a projector for your home theater, there are a few things you should keep in mind to pick the right one. First up is resolution. Think of it like the TV’s picture quality. The higher the resolution, like 1080p or 4K, the clearer and more detailed your movies and shows will look.
Brightness is another big deal. Imagine it as how well the projector can shine its light. If your room is pretty dark, you won’t need super-bright projectors. But in a brighter room, you’ll want one with more lumens to keep the picture looking good.
Lastly, check what kinds of stuff you can plug into the projector. HDMI ports are super handy, and if you’re into streaming or have a gaming console, make sure it plays nice with those too. We’ve got a list of projectors that cover all these bases, so you can pick the best one for your home theater and enjoy movies and games like never before.
The best projectors for basement/home theatre
Home entertainment projectors like the BenQ TK860i are meant primarily for use in ambient light, which means they’re designed for high brightness even if it means some loss of image quality. True to form, the TK860i puts brightness first, but its image quality holds up nicely. In addition to 4K resolution (thanks to a DLP chip equipped with TI’s fast-switch pixel shifting), it offers BenQ’s new HDR-PRO technology, which works for SDR, HDR10, and HLG HDR input to deliver better shadow detail, contrast, and sense of three dimensionality than most of the competition. The projector also offers smart TV streaming features thanks to a bundled Android TV 11 dongle, and it supports full HD 3D. Gamers will also appreciate input lags that we measured at a little longer than the current state-of-the-art, but short enough for all but the most serious gaming.
- 4K resolution using TI’s XPR fast-switch pixel shifting
- Good shadow detail and contrast
- Short lag times
- 1.3x zoom and modest vertical lens shift
- Includes Android TV 11 dongle
- Initial physical setup is difficult
- Frequent rainbow artifacts in testing
The X3000i is unmistakably crafted with serious gamers in mind. While it is versatile enough for movies and video content, it stands out as a gaming-centric projector. Bundled with an Android TV 10.0 streaming stick for added convenience, it offers an effortless transition between various entertainment options. According to BenQ, the video settings are specifically fine-tuned to enhance the HDR experience when using game consoles, prioritizing this over other sources like Blu-ray players.
Highlighting its gamer-friendly design, the X3000i incorporates features for optimal gaming performance, including three dedicated game modes easily accessible via a remote control button. Opting for the X3000i without a focus on serious gaming would be akin to acquiring a private plane without intentions of taking to the skies.
- 4K (3,840 by 2,160) resolution
- Bright LED light source (rated 3,000 ANSI lumens)
- Very short input lag
- Three paired video and audio modes for three categories of gaming
- Includes Android TV 10 dongle, controlled by projector remote
- Wi-Fi is sole network connection option
- Prone to rainbow artifacts
- Some tricky assembly may be required
Epson Pro EX7280 3LCD WXGA Projector
- Bright enough for a large room with ambient light
- Vibrant, saturated color
- WXGA (1,280-by-800-pixel) resolution
- 1.2x zoom
- Three-chip LCD design guarantees no rainbow artifacts
- Only one HDMI port
- No 3D support
The BenQ LH730, boasting a brightness rating of 4,000 lumens, is well-suited for delivering a 1080p (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) image with ample size and brightness, making it ideal for well-lit conference rooms or classrooms. What sets it apart is its virtually maintenance-free operation, thanks to a four-LED light source (comprising red, green, and two blues) that is both sealed against dust and engineered to last the entire lifespan of the projector. Notably, the LH730 is designed for continuous operation 24/7/365, offering reliability when needed.
In terms of image quality, this projector excels in presentations with vibrant color in graphics and highly readable text. When it comes to movie and video clips, it rivals entry-level home theater projectors in color accuracy, contrast, and shadow detail. The LH730 supports HDR10 and HLG HDR, enhancing the visual experience. While there were occasional rainbow artifacts from the DLP imaging chip, particularly in extended viewing sessions, these are easily overlooked for short clips within a presentation, where it consistently delivers high quality.
- High brightness, rated at 4,000 ANSI lumens
- Native 1080p resolution, accepts up to 4K/60Hz input
- Vibrant color for graphics
- Supports HDR10 and HLG HDR
- Maintenance-free, 24/7/365 operation
- Frequent red/green/blue flashes while viewing movies and video
- Brightest mode adds an obvious green bias
Epson EX3280 3LCD XGA Projector
The Epson EX3280 combines an affordable price with sufficient brightness, making it well-suited for projecting a large image in a medium-sized conference room or classroom with ambient light. Its three-LCD chip design eliminates the possibility of rainbow artifacts, a concern with some single-chip projectors that can be distracting. With a 3,600-lumen white brightness rating, the three-chip configuration ensures that color images are as bright as expected.
Additional strengths of the EX3280 include a sharp image that enhances text readability and reveals intricate details in photorealistic images. The projector delivers vibrant colors for graphics and achieves good color accuracy and saturation for photorealistic images, a feature not always guaranteed in many business projectors.
- 3,600 lumens; suitable for a midsize to large room with lights on
- Vibrant, eye-catching color
- No rainbow artifacts, thanks to three-chip LCD design
- Light, compact, and easy to set up
- Relatively low 1,024-by-768 native resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio
- No optical zoom
- Only one HDMI port
Epson Pro EX11000 3LCD Full HD 1080p Wireless Laser Projector
Epson categorizes the Epson Pro EX11000 as a portable projector, complete with a provided carrying case. However, it proves to be a robust 1080p business and education workhorse suitable for permanent installations or mobile setups on carts. Its laser-phosphor light source, boasting a 4,600-lumen rating and designed to last the projector’s entire lifespan, eliminates the need for costly lamp replacements. The three-LCD chip design ensures the absence of rainbow artifacts—undesirable flashes of red, green, and blue.
In our evaluations, the EX11000 exhibited ample brightness to contend with ambient light, accommodating image sizes suitable for conference rooms or classrooms. Moreover, it delivered top-notch image quality for presentations. While movies and videos were considered watchable, they didn’t match the performance of entry-level home theater projectors. Nevertheless, the “watchable” quality surpasses the capabilities of many business models. The projector includes notable features like a built-in option for two-way and four-way splits, allowing simultaneous display from up to four sources. Additionally, for those on the move, the provided carrying case makes it feasible to utilize the projector on the go.
- Bright; rated at 4,600 ISO lumens
- Laser-phosphor light source
- Native 1080p resolution; accepts up to 4K input
- Three-chip LCD design guarantees no annoying rainbow artifacts
- No HDR support
- Middling contrast
- Not suitable for 24/7/365 operation
Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS800 3-Chip 3LCD Smart Streaming Laser Projector
Ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors are designed to project large images from a close distance to the screen, eliminating the need for running cables through walls and ceilings. The Epson LS800 takes this advantage a step further by offering an even shorter throw than most UST projectors. Remarkably, it can fill a 120-inch wall-mounted screen without requiring the furniture it rests on to be pulled away from the wall.
The LS800 features a laser light source with 4,000 ANSI lumens brightness, delivering a high-quality image with impressive color accuracy and contrast. Its three-LCD design ensures the absence of rainbow artifacts, enhancing the overall visual experience. Notably, it boasts an exceptionally short input lag for a 4K UST projector. According to measurements, the lag is only a few milliseconds longer than that of the best gaming projectors available today, with figures of 20.4 milliseconds for 4K/60Hz input, 21.4 milliseconds for 1080p/60Hz, and 11.7 milliseconds for 1080p/120Hz. Additionally, the LS800 includes a stereo audio system functioning as a built-in soundbar, featuring two 5-watt speakers and a 10-watt subwoofer.
- Bright laser-phosphor light source
- Three-chip LCD design means no rainbow artifacts
- Fully integrated Android TV
- Short input lag for gaming
- Good sound quality
- No Ethernet port; streaming requires Wi-Fi
- No 3D support