March 4, 2021
Best projector for home theater in 2020: BenQ, Epson, Optoma, Anker and more

Best projector for home theater in 2021: BenQ, Epson, Optoma, Anker and more

So you probably have a TV (or even two or three), but for your next entertainment upgrade have you thought about getting a home theater projector? The latest models have excellent color, high brightness, keystone correction and a top-notch contrast ratio, and you don’t need to spend over a grand to get one with good picture quality (though if you want to, who’s to stop you from getting an HD projector?). The best part? With a home theater projector, you can get a huge image for a fraction of the price of a big TV. There are even portable and outdoor projectors for when you want to take movie night outside!

Whether you’re looking to go the whole hog with a 4K projector and HDR compatibility, want something that will make HD sources look great, or need something you can use in the backyard or further afield, you’re going to find the best home theater projector for you on this list. We’ve considered contrast ratio, color brightness, color accuracy, how visible the projector is in ambient light, screen size, regular brightness, whether you need a projector screen and other factors (low input lag is a must!). We didn’t get hung up on 4K resolution and HDR, but if that’s a must-have for you, we’ve got something that will scratch your itch. We also update this list periodically with home theater projectors as we review new products.

And if you’re interested in a home projector, you’re also probably curious about how to set it up correctly, including placement, settings and more. We’ve got you covered there too, with eight tips for setup, placement and picture settings on home theater projectors.

Read more: What size of TV do I need?

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We wouldn’t put this in the “cheap projector” bucket, but the BenQ HT2050A is definitely the best video projector you can get for the money. It produces a bright picture with great contrast and lifelike colors. It’s also one of the only comparable models with vertical lens shift, which makes setup a little easier.

Read our BenQ CineHome HT2050A review.

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Unless you’re in the high end of the market, we don’t necessarily think it’s worth spending up to get 4K resolution on a projector. But if you want that extra detail and want to keep it relatively affordable, the UHD30 is our pick. It’s super bright and in our side-by-side comparisons looked sharper than the BenQ HT2050A with 4K material, although its overall picture quality wasn’t quite as good.

Read our Optoma UHD30 review.

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The Optoma HD28HDR is one of the cheapest HDR-compatible projectors. It offers a bright image perfect for gaming (if you’re in the market for a gaming projector) or the latest movies. Unlike its more expensive Optoma stablemate above it’s only 1080p, not 4K, but with HDR it actually performed better. Go figure!

Read our Optoma HD28HDR review.

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The BenQ HT2050A above is a superior-all around performer, but if you’re a gamer looking for a specialized tool for the job, the TH685 is worth a look. If you don’t mind sacrificing color accuracy it can get a lot brighter than the HT2050A, ideal for brighter rooms, and gaming input lag is comparable.

Read our BenQ TH685 review.

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It’s smaller than a six-pack of Coke and equipped with Wi-Fi streaming, a surprisingly loud Bluetooth speaker and even a handle. This portable mini projector powerhouse also has one thing many compact projectors lack: a built-in battery. It’s an all-in-one entertainment machine that’s darn cute too.

Read our Anker Nebula Mars II Pro review.

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If you’re susceptible to the “rainbow effect” on moving edges on a DLP projector, then an LCD projector is for you. The Epson Home Cinema 2150 is perhaps the most flexible home theater projector we’ve seen with a bright, colorful image and enhanced setup capabilities like a wider zoom and lens shift.

Read our Epson Home Cinema 2150 review.

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The M2 is about the size of a cake and like the Anker above includes onboard streaming and a (less-powerful) speaker. Unlike the Anker you’ll have to supply your own external battery like a portable charger or power bank. We didn’t like its picture as much as the Anker either but it does have one advantage: 1080p resolution, which is important if you want a big image with no visible pixels on your projector screen.

Read our Viewsonic M2 review.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The EF-100 is a small, highly portable projector in the same vein as the ViewSonic M2. It fits a slightly different niche, however. It requires AC power and it’s significantly brighter, roughly 1,500 lumens to the M2’s 350. The coolest part is the EF-100’s light is created by Epson’s “MicroLaser Array Projection Technology.” Yep, laser beams. That means no lamps to replace.

Read our Epson EF-100 review.

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