The Best Projectors (and 2 Great Screens)

There’s nothing like watching your favorite films in a dark room on a massive screen. For that authentic movie theater experience at home, you’ll need a projector (and a popcorn maker).

You used to have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to get an excellent projected experience, but you can now get a massive, beautiful picture for less than the cost of a flagship TV. Projectors are also much more portable and easier to set up than they were before. And if you have space, there are excellent pocket-size and short-throw models that make lawn-side movie nights as easy as finding an extension cord and a level chair to set them on. Below are our favorite models, and a couple of screens to pair with them.

Working on a total home-theater overhaul? Be sure to check out our Best Soundbars and Best 4K Streaming Devices buying guides.

Updated September 2021: We’ve added the LG HU810PW and Kodak Luma 400, as well as a section with tips and tricks for newbies!

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  • projector

    Photograph: Optoma 

    Best Overall

    Optoma UHD50X

    The Optoma UHD50X (9/10, WIRED Recommends) offers one of the best pictures you’ll find at a reasonable price. The image quality and ease of setup are comparable to the BenQ model that follows it on this list, but with one special trick up its sleeve that makes it my favorite projector right now: low input lag. Plug in a gaming computer with a good enough video card and it will offer a 240-Hz refresh rate and low enough response time that you can play most online games. (If you play tons of fast-paced games, go for the UHD35 below.) The high refresh rate also makes the UHD50X better for sports, which often look weird on projectors.

  • Photograph: BenQ

    Also Great

    BenQ HT3550

    Factory-calibrated color, true 4K resolution, and the ability to optimize light output for better-than-usual contrast make the BenQ HT3550 one of the best projectors you can buy. It’s lightweight and super easy to set up, thanks to a short “throw”—the required distance between your screen and the projector—and built-in optical zoom, which gives you a good amount of room to find the perfect spot to set it up. Movies look bold and cinematic, but you’ll still probably want to watch the HT3550 in a dark room.

    ★ Another alternative: If you’re interested in a projector that looks very similar but works well in the daytime, try the TK800M. It boasts a higher overall brightness to compete with the sunlight.

  • Photograph: LG

    Smartest Projector

    LG HU810PW

    This gorgeous 4K laser projector from LG is also beautiful to look at when media is playing, and it’s just about the easiest to use when it comes to finding stuff to play. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LG’s TV operating system built in, which includes the awesome Wiimote-like LG Smart Remote. That means you can access everything from Netflix to Apple Airplay casting. 

    It’s a bit cumbersome to get mounted (you’ll want two people), but once you do, vertical and horizontal adjustments for the lens make lining it up with your screen a breeze. It even has HDMI eARC, which means connecting to soundbars and other modern receivers is a breeze. The projector’s remote can control them.

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