I have spent the better part of a month reading countless item descriptions, perusing forums, and watching videos to find the top home projectors that would meet my needs. I need to know every technical detail of my electronics. My experience with electronics has made me realize that just because an item is expensive doesn’t actually mean it’s the best. I truly want other consumers to have the same knowledge, so they can choose what’s best for them without breaking the bank.
Considerations When Selecting the Best Home Projectors
If you have a short room, you’ll need a short throw or even an ultra-short throw projector, which means you can get a larger picture with the best clarity with the projector being at a much shorter distance away than a projector that has a long throw.
The power behind the lens is measured in lumens, which means how much light power is being projected. At say, 3500 lumens, any home projector is going to work very well in just about any light conditions. Anything lower than 2500, and you run into the trouble of needing super dark environments for the projector to be effective.
Color and contrast also extremely important. If the color is washed out, or if the blacks aren’t dark enough, then the picture looks like an old drive-in theater screen from the 1970’s. No one wants that.
With those items in mind, here are my top three home projectors available today.
Top Home Projectors Winner – Optoma HD39 Darbee Home Projector
There are several reasons why I love this home projector and why it stands in the top spot. The most profound is that it is the most versatile home projector on the market. The technology built into the newest of the Optoma Darbee HD39 model of home projectors is incredibly impressive. The price is another huge factor in this decision. It is very reasonably priced compared to other home projectors. Plus, it has features that I will elaborate on below.
The quality of the projector itself is nice and sturdy. Just about everything on the unit is made of plastic, albeit a tough plastic. It is quite strong but of course, can still break with a little clumsiness. I always shake my electronics a little, just to see if anything rattles around inside the housing. This product was completely silent.
There’s a lot to go over here. The Optoma HD39 Darbee home projector uses a tech-advanced piece of hardware called ‘DarbeeVision’. This is a video processor that uses the most advanced algorithms to enhance the quality of the image or video, no matter how light or dark it is. The HDMI input and output on this projector goes directly through the DarbeeVision video processor. This enhances the home projector experience automatically.
To blow your mind just a little more, the processor uses other algorithms in neuro-biologic technology. This technology enhances textures, skin tones and detail, depth, reflective surfaces, object separation, and removes anything that would ruin the video or image. If you’ve ever watched a film on a bad screen, you know how distracting a poor image can be.
The black levels are incredible when compared to other home projectors that are even more expensive. Having the lights down when you turn on the projector is always a good thing. But you can still have them on, just dimmed, and see every bit of color and detail on the screen. Sometimes we just don’t get to sit in complete darkness. There are also times when we don’t want to such as when we are playing video games while someone else is reading.
Another bit of tech the manufacturers put into the product is a Reference Display Mode, which further enhances the vibrancy of the colors. You can bet that standard definition media becomes high definition media when projected through this device. Is it as good as running HD media through it? No. But even if you do have some subpar media, you can rest assured you’re still getting the best picture possible.
- DLP 3500 lumen display with 32,000: 1 contrast ratio in full 1080p
- Dimensions – 4.48” x 12.36” x 8.81”
- Weight – 6.17 lbs
- 4 – 2.24 Throw Ratio
- 1.6x Zoom / Max. Image Size – 51” – 370”
- Speaker Size – 10w
- 5mm audio output
- 3D Sync compatibility
- 12V Trigger for power screens
- USB-A Power Cable Input
The Optoma HD39 Darbee home projector uses ‘BrilliantColor’, which is another way for the device to enhance the colors of the picture and provide deeper blacks for contrast.
The lamp life is impressive, even with the technology flowing through it. Home projectors are only as good as their bulb, or lamp, in this case. Options are available on the projector that allows the user to select different energy saving features. There are also options for the highest performance possible. Note that each setting will affect the lamp’s life differently. However, the lamp is guaranteed to last for 15,000 hours.
The 3D picture on this device is amazing. It is a true 3D experience. It will play the 3D media from any source, including Blu-ray players, computers, broadcast, and game consoles. So, get glasses for the whole family because it is worth it!
Lastly, the screen sync feature is great to have. The projector has a trigger system feature that allows the projector to sync with your power screen, so powering on the projector in turn powers on the screen at the same time.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The only thing I wish this projector had was some sort of wireless technology. Devices are now available that can stream videos, movies, and other media wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and this device doesn’t have any of that supported. It would be nice to be able to wirelessly hook up your phone or even your computer for presentations or even watching movies.
Also, this model is the newest one with DarbeeVision, but it doesn’t support 4K. Although, the picture is still incredible and is the best out of all 1080p projectors (and even some 4K home projectors).
The Top Home Projectors Runner-Up – Epson Home Cinema 5040UB Home Projector
Epson makes some great electronics, and the Epson Home Cinema 5040 UB projector doesn’t disappoint. This model is for the people with the need to get the most expensive brands and models with all the features, even if they don’t use them. I say this because it is on the higher-end price wise, but it has just about every feature a projector can have.
You can trust Epson to use their decades of experience in the electronics industry to make products that won’t break easily. They are known for making some of the best printers on the market. Like our top home projector, this one is also made of plastic, but it feels tough in your hands. Just be sure to secure it to wherever you intend to put it.
This is where this projector makes its money. It utilizes UHD 4K technology to deliver the best picture possible among 4K projectors in the industry. It’ll even upscale media to 4K for you.
Epson created a unique 3-chip / 3LCD design that enhances the picture to a point where it blocks out rainbow effects, color wheels, white segments, and other undesirable effects that sometimes happen with home projectors. Furthermore, it will enhance that part of the image so that the picture gains instead of loses.
The color cannot be beaten. The contrast ration is 1mil: 1! The darks are very dark, the colors are extremely vivid, and the whites aren’t just light, they are enhanced in a way that exceeds anything ever done before. Along with a ridiculous contrast ratio, the projector uses a full 10-bit color output. Needless to say, this projector wins the color category, hands down.
- Wireless HD signal connectivity (finally!)
- HDR compatible
- 10-position presets for lens memory
- 1x zoom
- Full RGB color gamut
- Digital Cinema Mode
- 3D compatible
- 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio
- 2500 Lumens
- Horizontal and vertical powered lens shift
- Weight – 24.3 lbs.
- Dimensions – 20.5” x 17.7” x 7.6”
- Connectivity – USB, LAN, HDMI, Mini USB, Wirelessly
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The biggest problem that Epson has faced with this model is that there is an alarming number of units that have died after just a few months of normal use. This has something to do with the quality of the circuit boards inside the unit. Not every model is going to die out sooner than later, and Epson has been known to make it right within the first five minutes of letting them know. However, some people don’t want to deal with all that until they engineer solutions to permanently fix the problem.
Compared to other projectors in the same class, this one is a little higher in price. Prices vary from time to time, especially during a gift-giving holiday. If this goes for a deal somewhere, don’t hesitate to snatch it up. Or if you have the money and want one of the best high-quality home projectors available, make the purchase.
The Honorable Mention – ViewSonic PX747-4K 4K Home Projector
This is another fantastic machine that gives users the bright colors, darker blacks, and the picture quality of some of the best projectors out there. It is truly a 4K quality projector, which is up to 5x better than HD.
ViewSonic makes some really expensive products, but those products are very well built and have the features to back up the price point. They are considered high-end in the projector world. This model’s price tag is somewhere on the lower end of their prices, but the quality isn’t substandard. It was made by the same experts that make incredible projectors that go for $3,000 or more. The housing feels solid, the internals are professional and high-quality, and everything works as it should with minimal maintenance.
This part can be debated. You can compare the picture quality of some movies and pictures to others, but the standard technology is there that every other 4K projector has. The feature that makes this particular model stand out is that it will produce a bright, vivid image in almost full sunlight.
Yes, you don’t have to even turn down your lights when you turn this home projector on. It is certainly much better if you do, but it’s akin to watching a regular TV with a bright ambiance. It’s quite amazing, actually. The 3500 lumens help it do this, along with a very high contrast ratio that enhances the quality of the picture and color.
- Backlit Remote
- HDMI (x2) connectivity
- 10w speaker output
- HDR compatible
- 15,000-hour lamp life
- 2x Optical Zoom
- 12,000: 1 contrast ratio
- Dimensions – 10.28” x 13.07” x 5.31”
- Weight – 9.26 lbs.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
First off, the ViewSonic PX747-4K 4K home projector isn’t the biggest and best 4K home projector out there, but it comes at a much lower price than the ones that are. Don’t get me wrong, the picture quality is still superb. But, it could be better.
Next is the amount of ports this device has. Most projectors only have one or two HDMI input/outputs, which I suppose is an industry flaw, instead of a flaw that is solely the fault of this particular model. But, the connectivity is just more difficult without more ports.
There is no wireless connectivity. If I can connect to my light switch through the home Wi-Fi using Alexa or another device, then I should be able to stream HD media to my projector.
This model has a very loud fan and gets hot, hotter than other home projectors do. The fan is good on it, but maybe somehow installing a secondary fan next to the projector wouldn’t be a bad idea, depending on how you install it.
The Bottom Line Regarding Home Projectors
Finding the right projector for your purposes means that you first have to know what it is that you want or need. Home projectors are quite simple, honestly. They are just like TV’s but have a lens system attached to all the other components that a TV would have instead.
Obviously, a 4K projector is going to give you a better-quality picture. But to be completely honest, there are some 1080p projectors out there that have a better-quality picture than some 4K projectors do. If the quality of the lens system is bad, or the color isn’t being enhanced the way it should, then even the most expensive, high-end projectors are going to fail in bringing the best picture.
Most home projectors have the same features. These include:
- backlit remotes
- numerous capabilities within the settings menu
- different display options, settings, and features
- the ability to connect to certain devices
But, researching which features work better for your application is going to be the best thing for you to do. The top home projectors for your money and surroundings are available with a little bit of research.
How long will a projector last?
This is relative. The lifespan of your projector will depend on the make and model. However, in a ballpark figure, most projectors will last several years with normal use. If the projector is used much more frequently, then the lifespan will dwindle, but the hours of use that is expected will stay the same.
What is a ‘contrast ratio’?
This ratio is determined by measuring the difference between the blacks and whites in the color of the picture. A projector with a very large contrast ratio, for example, 1,000,000: 1, is going to have an incredible picture. The projector is able to contrast colors far better than a projector that has, for example, a 10,000: 1 contrast ratio. However, there are many factors involved to determine which picture would be better, but a larger contrast ratio usually means the picture will be generally better.
How long will a projector bulb or lamp last?
Again, this is something that will be specific to the make and model of your projector, but most newer projectors claim a 15,000-hour life. The number of hours you get out of a single lamp or bulb will vary depending on the usage and environment the projector is subjected to.
Do more lumens mean the projector is better?
Not necessarily. If you have a dedicated home theater that you plan to use in the dark, then a projector with lower lumens like 1,200 will be perfectly fine. Projectors that go up into the 4,000-lumen range can actually be counterproductive in a dark environment because it will be too bright, and will strain the eyes. If you plan on using your projector as one would a regular television in a bright environment, a projector with 3,000 or more lumens will be able to project a bright, vivid picture regardless of the ambient light.
Can I watch cable TV through my projector?
Absolutely. Your projector should have multiple inputs available, some of which will be compatible with your cable box. Hooking up through HDMI is going to be the best and easiest option. Not many projectors will have a coax input/output on them, so plan for that. But, new cable boxes have HDMI ports for viewing HD programming. If your cable box doesn’t have it, call your cable provider and see if they have a new box they can give you with an HDMI port.
Can I connect Apple devices to my projector?
Some projectors have a wireless capability that will connect any device that is able to, like phones, tablets, and computers. Most projectors do not have a wireless option though, so one must use a special cable that connects an iOS device to the projector via the charging port on the iOS device and to the VGA or HDMI port on the projector. This cable will need to be bought from an electronics dealer or somewhere similar.
Does Apple TV connect to projectors?
Yes. There are several ways to hook up Apple TV to a projector, but the best way is to use AirPlay from an iOS device that will mirror the media on the device, which you will then hook into the projector using the same way in the FAQ above.