10 Cheapest 4K Projectors on the Market – Reviews and Buying Guide

4K projectors are now more affordable than ever. But what does 4K actually mean? Well, 4K resolution refers to a horizontal screen display resolution and the organic, bright, and clear picture which is 4,000 pixels of pure resolution. In digital cinematography, in tv and consumer media, 4K television and projectors are the dominant standard. They are the best, they’re what we compare all other media displays against, and in recent years, they have moved from being entirely unaffordable to just under $500 for a 4K television and under $3,000 for the cheapest 4K projectors.

In the following buying guide, we’ve reviewed ten of these top projectors, the first set of criteria being the price of each projector for your home. Other criteria which helped us narrow down this list was a projectors’ display technology, the type of chips and components used to refract and reflect and project light, and whether these chips created the true 3,820 x 2,160-pixel image associated with 4K. Brightness and contrast, the intensity and colors of the projected picture compared to its clarity and quality was also our consideration. Finally, each projector had to exhibit an excellent throw distance for small to standard sized rooms and lamp life sufficient to make the purchase outlive its initial expense.

10 Cheapest 4K Projectors Review 2018

Our research into the facets of these projector models included a hands-on investigation into the manufacturers of these products. Additionally, we talked to verified customers about their purchase and how it had been working, including any pro’s or con’s they’ve noticed since. In the following guide, these products and our research are organized into comprehensive charts listing their individual details as well as in-depth descriptions of each device. Following these charts in the buying guide providing general information and tips which will inform any buyer about 4k projectors and help you purchase not only the cheapest 4k projector on the market but also the best.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. Optoma UHD60 (Editor’s Choice)
Highly rated by CNET, it boasts the highest quality among the cheapest 4K projectors and is surprisingly quiet
Optoma UHD60
2. Optoma UHD51A (Most Compatible)
Voice-controlled projector with an excellent picture quality boosted by the UltraDetail Technology
Optoma-UHD51A
3. BenQ TK800 (Best Gaming Projector)
Enables greater light penetration with the advanced Color Rendition Technology and two HDMI ports
BenQ-TK800
4. Epson Home Cinema 4000 3LCD (Best for Amazing Color)
Features HDR10 compatibility and the Tri-Stimulus Motion Technology for vivid colors
Epson Home Cinema 4000 3LCD
5. LG HU80KA (Longest Lamp Life)
Outstanding 20,000-hour lamp life and auto keystone alignment for easy setup
LG-HU80KA
6. Epson Home Cinema 5040UB (The Quietest Projector)
Full HD projector supporting 4K imaging and applying the Epson Image Enhancing Technology for clearer image
Epson Home Cinema 5040UB
7. Acer V7850 (Enhanced Movie Playback)
Features the Acer’s AcuMotion Technology for better playback and dual built-in 5W speakers
Acer V7850
8. Optoma UHD50 (Easiest Installation)
Multiple remote control options and vibrant reproduction of color and shape
Optoma UHD50
9. Vivitek HK2288-WH (Ultra HD Resolution)
Great combination of quality and price, with Ultra HD 4K resolution and BrilliantColor technology included
Vivitek HK2288-WH
10. ViewSonic PX727-4K (Budget Pick)
Affordable projector, yet boasting lifelike colors and an amazing 3-year warranty
ViewSonic-PX727-4K

1

Optoma UHD60 – Best Overall Among the Cheapest 4K Projectors

Features
  • Brightness: 3,000 lumens
  • Contrast: 1,000,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw distance: 4.2’– 30.5′
  • Screen size: 26.45″– 302.2″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: REC.2020 wide color gamut, 1073.4 million displayable colors

OVERALL RATING: 9.8 out of 10

Optoma is guaranteed one of the best manufacturers for home theater HD projectors. With this model, in particular, they deliver a high-quality state-of-the-art 4K UHD display with a 2020-wide color gamut – meaning over 1,073.4 million rich life-like displayable colors. The image itself is equipped with a vertical lens shift and 1.6X zoom for virtually any sizing on a wall under 305 inches long.

Resolution is razor sharp 4K imaging with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, creating 8.3-million individual dynamic images on screen which all come together to make your one-of-a-kind presentation or movie.

This model’s technology utilizes a single DLP chip to make setup easy with an alignment-free image. There are dual 4W stereo speakers built in to the unit which create loud and crisp audio and are additionally supported by a quiet fan unit to keep all components – including the adjustable lamp with a 10,000-hour dynamic lamp life – from overheating during any point during your movie, gameplay, vacation slide-show, or any other picture-viewing experiences.

For your home or even the office, this projector supports all devices – although, you may need to purchase additional connecting cords – from your laptop computer to your DVD-players and all gaming systems. It’s already very easy to install with comprehensive instructions and ceiling mounts, but can be purchased with the option of professional installment specific for your room.

PROS:
  • Easy installation without the need for keystone adjustment
  • 4K resolution with 8.3-million dynamic picture units
  • 3,000-lumen lamp
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • 48ms lag for gaming devices
  • Moderately-priced unit

Features
  • Brightness: 2,400 ANSI lumens
  • Contrast: 500,000:1
  • Resolution: 4,096 x 2,160 p
  • Throw distance: 2.9’– 34.89′
  • Screen size: 34.1″– 302.4″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features:  HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 connectivity, compatible with Google Assistant

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

Not only is this another fantastic unit from Optima, but it also allows you to control your multimedia content through an in-built Amazon Alexa voice control. Now you can ask your device to turn on and watch as the XPR technology warms up and projects UHD 4K images on screen through dynamic DMD mirrors shifting each frame of your movie or game within microseconds.

All aspects of the image are outputted with 2,400 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 500,000:1 for better detail in each image within 8.3-million pixels. Modes detailed into the device are: normal, bright, and film/picture mode – each compatible with UltraDetail technology with its enhanced image quality and augmented depth and clarity.

Alexa compatibility (also compatible with Google Assistant) allows the user to power projector on and off, adjust volume – with built-in dual 5W speakers, change input sources (TV to gaming system to computer, etc.), change playback settings, and change installation specifications.

Installation is easy and includes automatic alignment with a vertical lens shift and 1.3x zoom making for the more flexible screen and resolution control for any sized space (maximum screen size 302.4 inches). Additional features include a remote control, compatibility with all computers, support for PDF and other presentations, as well as an integrated web-browser.

PROS:
  • Alexa voice-controlled projector
  • Comes with an additional remote
  • UltraDetail Technology
  • Pure Motion setting
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • Lag time is 60ms and higher with Pure Motion turned off
  • Non-HDMI devices may require additional adapters for compatibility
  • Lagging warm-up time (especially between settings)

Features
  • Brightness: 3,000 ANSI lumens
  • Contrast: 10,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw ratio: 1.47 to 1.76:1
  • Screen size: 30″– 300″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 3-year limited

More features: HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compliant, 3D performance

OVERALL RATING: 9.4 out of 10

Combining image processing with the ability of DMD mirrors to shift between frames within microseconds while also creating two pixels per frame, this projector and its XPR technology take UHD 4K imaging and revolutionize its uses.

With two HDMI inputs this projector can connect to all your digital HD devices – satellite/cable boxes, Blue-ray players, and consoles – to bring you a transformed media experience in crisp organic HDR color. Reflected and enhanced through a 4K color wheel with 7-elements and 4-group lens array, this projector is capable of greater light penetration with advanced Color Rendition Technology – balancing color saturation and scale for more lifelike pictures in 8.3-million-pixel images.

Its built-in 5W speaker utilizes CineMaster Audio 2+ and produces a wide frequency range with deeper bass and clearer audio, all but eliminating the need for external speakers (where none are convenient). Additionally, the aluminum full-range components of the speaker produce purer vocals (for movie dialogue) and negate noise distortion from the projectors inner fan devices. Sound modes are also designed to encompass different media platforms, such as modes for sport television, music and concerts, and gameplay.

Installation is easy, and keystone adjustment is unnecessary with this devices’ auto alignment technology and 1.2x zoom flexibility.

PROS:
  • Color Rendition Technology
  • CineMaster Audio 2+
  • Compatible with all HDMI devices
  • Possible 10,000-hour lamp life
  • 3-year warranty

CONS:
  • Not ideal for PowerPoint display
  • HDMI capable devices only, unless you purchase separate adapters
  • No Optical Audio Out

Features
  • Brightness: 2,200 Lumens
  • Contrast: 140,000:1
  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 px, 4k enhancement
  • Throw ratio: 1.35 to 2.84:1
  • Screen size: 50″– 300″
  • Lamp life: 3,500 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: 3-Chip, 3LCD Design – 3LCD technology, HDR10, 100% balanced color brightness

OVERALL RATING: 9.2 out of 10

Take advantage of the HDR and UHD content provided by the projector with its 4K enhancement technology and 2,200 lumens of color and white brightness for a range of different lighting conditions at a dynamic contrast ratio of 140,000:1.

Enhanced detail, quicker changes between images with little to no lag, and stark colors are delivered by this model in full HD 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution. This device will upscale all your cheaper 1,080p projectors and revolutionize each movie in 8.3-million individual pixels.

On top of its sharp picture and pixels, this home theater is designed with multiple options for correcting your image for ideal movie viewing or game-play; horizontal or vertical keystone correction allows for the best image at a throw ratio of 1.35 to 2.84.

Additional elements of a 2.1x zoom and a vertical lens shift make installation easy and any room convenient for a screen size of 50–300 inches. This model features VGA and two HDMI inputs for connecting standard definition and HD sources; the whole system comes with an IR remote control for optimal use of a ceiling mounted system or the projector at a distance.

The only downside to this projector is that, although boasting an outstanding image due to its 3LCD technology and having 4K enhancement, this projector is not actually 4K.

PROS:
  • HDR10 compatible for vivid color
  • Tri-Stimulus Motion Technology
  • Very simple installation
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • Not compatible with 3D imaging
  • No analog audio-out jack
  • Adapters may be needed for non-HDMI

Features
  • Brightness: 2,500 lumens
  • Contrast: 150,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw distance: 3.6– 14.1′
  • Screen size: 40″– 150″
  • Lamp life: 20,000 hours
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: LG Smart TV enabled, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

One of the smartest projection devices for your home theater and big screen, this model uses integrated Wi-Fi and Ethernet to connect to all your internet-capable devices and mirror content onto a screen of 40 to 150 inches, depending on the size of your wall and type of installation.

The projector has a maximum brightness of 2,500 lumens and uses advanced XPR technology to UHD images on your screen or wall with color HDR10 compatibility. You’ll get brighter more vibrant colors produced by imaging processing technology reflected of two DMD mirrors capable of shifting images at the microsecond level. Each frame will consist of 2 pixels for a truly UHD 4K experience with 8.3-million pixels per entire image and an advanced color spectrum with whiter whites, deeper blacks, and over 500 million other intense colors directors designed into their films, which you’d never noticed were there to begin with.

Using the webOS technology and a Smart TV platform, this projector is designed to offer fast discovery of premium movies and TV from a variety of media providers. The light source alone (on energy saver mode) can live up to 20,000 hours of continuous play; it is a unique laser lamp engineered to negate the need for changing a bulb.

With the added TruMotion technology, you can watch sports and fast-action movies with enhanced clarity and little to no lag between frames. Additional wireless screen share means any movie you play on your phone you can also share to the projector and play on your screen.

PROS:
  • Auto keystone alignment
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • USB connections
  • Wired analog outputs
  • 2 7W built-in speakers
  • Outstanding lamp life

CONS:
  • No HDMI connections (all wireless)
  • Complicated setup options (instructions included)
  • 1-year limited warranty

Features
  • Brightness: 2,500 lumens
  • Contrast: 1,000,000:1
  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080p, supports 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw distance: 4.9– 62.3′
  • Screen size: 50″– 300″
  • Lamp life: 3,500 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: 100% balanced color brightness, advanced, 3-chip, 3LCD design

OVERALL RATING: 8.8 out of 10

For your home cinema, you couldn’t find a projector with a faster or more dynamic process of switching between frames in an image while still retaining lifelike color and contrast.

With its advanced 3LCD chip design, this projector operates without the lag of color wheels and ensures all your images are without white segments and never experience the ‘rainbow effect’. The 3LCD projector delivers 2,500 lumens of white and color added to a low noise level of 20dB (combination of fan belt and built-in 4W speaker).

It also projects in full HD 1,920 x 1,080p native resolution with support for 4K imaging, and additionally supports HDCP 2.2 for enhanced detail in your movies and games.

Setup is easy with simple setup features such as a +30-degree vertical keystone with the lens shift technology and a 2.1x zoom for increased flexibility.

It supports VGA and has two HDMI inputs for compatible gaming consoles, TV boxes, and DVD-players – all connected devices and projector are controllable via RS-232 or the included IR remote; this makes for a simplified media experience for a ceiling mounted projector.

An amazing model for your home, this will transform all your media experiences.

PROS:
  • Epson Image Enhancing Technology
  • Bright 3D projection
  • Digital Cinema Mode
  • 1,000,000:1 dynamic ratio
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • Short lamp life (5,000 hours)
  • May need adapters for non-HDMI
  • 48ms lag time for gaming


7

Acer V7850 – Best Overall Among the Cheapest 4K Projectors

Features
  • Brightness: 2,200 lumens
  • Contrast: 1,200,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw ratio: 65″@78.74″
  • Screen size: 26″– 302″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: 2*5W speakers, High Dynamic Range (HDR) compatible and Rec. 2020 compatible

OVERALL RATING: 8.7 out of 10

The images will come to life on your screen when you use this projector with its HDR compatibility and capability to display everything in the REC-2020 color space.

It’s built with a 3LCD chip design which reflects vibrant color onto your screen without the lag, rainbow effect, or other hassle of projecting through a color wheel. Though it can also be purchased as a ‘color wheel’ device with a RGBRGB wheel.

Other elements of the breathtaking image quality are its 4K Ultra HD resolution (3,840 x 2,160p) and razor-sharp images produced by a 2,200-lumen lamp with 8.3-million pixels at up to a 120-inch screen. Playback is enhanced with Acer’s AcuMotion Technology which generates intermediate frames and prevents flickering during action movies and video games. With media motion this accurate, you’ll never want to visit the cinema again.

This projector is compatible with all HDMI capable devices – gaming systems such as Xbox and PS, as well as Blue-ray and Satellite TV.

Users loved the phenomenal sound from two built-in 5W speakers which can eliminate the need for external speakers (where inconvenient) and are isolated from the internal fan for a quieter experience with crisper dialogue and deeper bass.

This is truly a one-of-a-kind projector for your home, and is available with different settings and lamp lives. It has simple installation instructions for table installation or ceiling mounts, and has a flexible adjustment with a 1.6x zoom ratio.

PROS:
  • DLP 4K UHD resolution
  • Dual built-in 5W speakers
  • Compatible with all HDMI devices

CONS:
  • Projector does not support 3D imaging
  • Adapters needed for non-HDMI
  • 1-year limited warranty

Features
  • Brightness: 2,400 ANSI lumens
  • Contrast: 500,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 px
  • Throw distance: 2.9– 34.89′
  • Screen size: 34.1– 302″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: HDR technology with HDR10 and DCI-P3 wide color gamut support

OVERALL RATING: 8.6 out of 10

One of the best projectors for gaming on the market, this machine creates 2,400 lumens of brightness and couples them with an amazing dynamic resolution of 500,000: 1 – meaning all image details are enhanced, including dark areas of an image, and the latency of your image will only drag less than 40ms. Where human reaction time is 250ms, this means your game in 4K resolution with HDR10 color capability will only lag 10% of what other projectors would.

Unlike cheaper projector units, all game and video text will be clear and precise with vibrant reproduction of color and shape created by XPR technology – DMD mirrors which shift at the microsecond level through a comprehensive color wheel for an extraordinary UHD 4K experience and wide-range color gamut (brighter whites, deeper blacks, and intense colors).

Gaming aside, movies watched on this projector will be fully realized in all their unique frames with enhanced detail and colors the directors meant for an audience to see. Additionally, this model’s installation is easy and allows for ceiling mounting as well as a non-keystone automatic alignment system with a flexible 1.3x zoom and vertical shifting lens.

It’s compatible with all your HDMI devices with available analog audio input as well as MHL compatibility for connecting all your mobile devices such as iPads and smartphones.

PROS:
  • HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 for UHD bandwidth
  • HDMI compatible with an HDR mode for all your devices
  • Built-in dual 5W speakers
  • Controllable via Ethernet, universal remote, or the included IR remote control

CONS:
  • Weak cover can make for some light bleed out the unit’s back
  • Louder internal fan system than most competitors
  • Slower 4x pixel shift
  • 1-year warranty

Features
  • Brightness: 2,000 lumens
  • Contrast: 100,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw ratio: 1.39:1– 2.09:1
  • Screen size: 25 – 324″
  • Lamp life: 3,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 3-year limited

More features: DLP DarkChip3 and BrilliantColor technologies, High Dynamic Range (HDR10)

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

If you want a 4K projector which will revolutionize your media watching experience but not break the bank, this is one of the best options on our list.

With a brightness of 2,000 lumens and an amazing throw ratio coupled to a screen size of 25 to 324 inches, the images from your project with still show in Ultra HD 4K resolution no matter the specifications of your room or screen. With 8.3-million pixels images will already be detailed and stunning before adding in DLP DarkChip3 and BrilliantColor technologies.

On screen, all your pictures, movies, and games will utilize HDR10 color reproduction to make pictures show up as vibrant and colorful with an extremely high contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 and adjustable settings for dimmer ANSI lumens and extended lamp life.

The advanced video processing technology will also maintain streaming stability for all images and color adjustments, as well as keeping the speaker and fan components (in addition to the powerful lamp) from overheating and doing damage to your device.

Compatibility for all HDMI capable devices is designed into the model, along with analog inputs for additional audio or headphones.

Vertical keystone alignment makes for a more complicated installation, but instructions and included elements for ceiling mounting are simple to figure out.

PROS:
  • BrilliantColor Technology
  • Advanced video processor
  • Amazing 3-year warranty

CONS:
  • Short lamp life on high mode (3,000 hours)
  • Does not support 3D imaging
  • Poor 50ms lag for gaming

Features
  • Brightness: 2,200 lumens
  • Contrast: 12,000:1
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160p
  • Throw ratio: 1.50:1– 1.80:1
  • Screen size: 29 – 300″
  • Lamp life: 4,000 hours (high mode)
  • Warranty: 3-year limited

More features: Rec. 709, and Rec. 2020 compatibility, SuperEco mode

OVERALL RATING: 8.4 out of 10

Despite being one of the bulkier projectors – making installation somewhat harder – the heavy components and figure of this projector are necessary for creating a media experience which will even rival the movies you watch in immersive theaters.

Projecting in 4K UHD (3,440 x 2,160) resolution and with 4X Full HD clarity, all images will be crisp, colorful, and organic with a very little lag and next to no blurriness per individual pixel image. This projector can be blown up to a screen size of up to 300 inches, brightened by 2,200 lumens, and the lamp life (on high mode) will last up to 4,000 hours of play time (15,000 hours on power-saver mode).

For a cinematic color design, this projector utilizes a RGBRGB color wheel equipped with REC 709 and 2020 HDR compatibility. All colors are lifelike and bright with whiter whites and deeper blacks at 2x the speed for less lag and no fear of ‘rainbow effect’ on screen.

The flexible connectivity of this device supports almost all media elements – from your desktop computer and laptop to your gaming consoles and USB’s – and any other media players or DVD-player which support HDMI1.4. The entire system is controlled with an included remote, which makes for ease of use for ceiling mounted devices. Installation is easy with a wider optical zoom over a standard 1.2x optical zoom, and with included automatic adjustment settings.

PROS:
  • Lifelike and bright colors
  • Rec 709 & Rec. 2020 compatibility
  • Remote control included
  • Straightforward installation with wider optical zoom and vertical lens shift
  • Amazing 3-year warranty

CONS:
  • Not compatible with 3D imaging
  • Ceiling mount is suggested for optimal use of the design
  • Louder fan noises
  • 10W speaker (higher power consumption)

Buying Guide

The remaining elements of this buying guide are brief explanations of common features mentioned with each projector and some example of which projectors best exhibit a certain feature. Additionally, this segment discusses frequently asked questions and gives answers and advice on the different scenarios of each question. It’s our hope you use this guide to help you purchase the cheapest and best 4K projector for your budget as well as your home.

What to expect from the cheapest 4K projector you can get?

First you should know that the cheapest 4K projectors don’t technically use 4K technology – where the pixels are small enough to create their own separate image – instead these models (usually any under $4,000) use lower-resolution imaging chips and sometimes additional methods to create 4K on screen. Typically, the method is to use three LCD chips (1,920 x 1,080p), one for each primary color (red, green, blue) and then offset the projected pixels slightly so they appear as different unique ‘4K’ pixels per individual frame that makes up your entire image. This technology is often referred to as “4K enchantment”.

All your cheap 4K projectors will use ‘4K enhancement’.

Therefore, what you can expect from these are separate pixels which make a clearer, more vibrant image – just like 4K – but a shorter lamp life due to the technology to mimic actual 4K. The quality will be better than in theaters (or at least equal to that level), but most of these projectors will only last you under 5,000 hours at high-energy modes. For the price and quality of each model, you’ll usually get projectors which are fully HDMI compatible, have great in-built speakers (for a projector), and which exhibit intense yet organic colors that are true-to-life.

Features to consider before buying a 4K projector

4k projectorFrom its particular technology utilized by the manufacturer to the information of its installation, and whether mounting is easy or hard, you’ll want to consider every facet of the product before making a purchase this expensive. Other features are listed and discussed below, and examples are even given for projectors which best match what to look for in these features.

Display technology

These are the types, and number, of chips used to refract, reflect, and project light and create that 4K resolution and intense color imaging. The first type of technology is 4K DLP, because it’s listed so frequently above – this technology uses three single-chip DMDs at either 0.66 or 0.47 inches to create two pixels at the same time per frame. On these chips, the physical discreet pixels are actually tiny mirrors (smaller than the human eye can even tell), and together two reflecting DLP chips can create 8.3-million pixels onscreen (also known as 4K resolution). One of the best models for DLP technology is the Optoma UHD51A because the faster the DLP chips can shift the colors on screen, the quicker frames will change (within microseconds). This display technology is especially great for gamers and for watching action movies.

Technology DLP

4K LCD, on the other hand, utilizes LCD chips and often a color wheel to produce its offset pixels and 4K enhanced projections. The light passes through either the chips or the chips and wheel is offset by the machine, and depending the lumens (brightness) of the lamp, your 4K resolution will be clearer.

In the case of 4K technology, most projectors had 2–3 LCD chips which light passes through at the same time to create two pixels at once. These tend to have a longer lag time between frames, and its possible for your projector to sometimes experience a rainbow effect where you see multiple colors rather than the singular color a picture (perhaps of an apple) should be.

Acer V7850 is one of the best 4K LCD projectors, mostly because it can be bought with or without a color wheel (although color wheels are ideal for still images, such as a picture slideshow or business presentation).

Other similar systems are LCOS and SXRD, though no projectors on our list use these display technologies.

Brightness, contrast, and resolution

Brightness and contrast

The two important things to consider about brightness are: brightness of room you’re projecting in and the brightness of your projector. If light output from the projector is too low, or your room lighting is too high, the overall image on screen might appear foggy and soft. For the most optimal brightness in regards to a 4K resolution projector, check each models ANSI lumens rating (how much light a projector can put out) and only consider models which output 1,500+ ANSI lumens.

In addition to the brightness, your contrast ratio should compliment your lumens by improving the white and black.

The best contrast ratios are anything higher than 10,000:1, making your whites whiter and your blacks deeper.

Any contrast ratio too low will wash out your picture and defeat the purpose of 4K resolution. The resolution, being the combination between brightness and contrast, is the final picture. For true 4K resolution, it will take a combination of elements, plus your own specifications when you install a projector.

Two great examples which mix brightness and contrast to improve 4K resolution are the Optoma UHD60 and the Optoma UHD51A. You’ll notice when checking these models that they have extraordinarily high contrast ratios. They’re designed this way to compensate for the brightness of color and to compensate for the intense light needed to project a 4K image.

Throw distance

A projector’s throw distance is the distance between the projector and the image on the screen (i.e. the distance that the image is “thrown”). 4K projectors are no different, except you’ll often see the ‘throw distance’ listed as a ‘throw ratio’. A throw ratio can be understood as multiplication, where if the throw ratio were 2:1 and the screen were 14 feet away, then the display width should be 7 feet (7 x 2 =14, which is the number of feet the projector is from the screen). For an ideal 4K home-theater experience you’ll want a device which offers a ‘short-throw’, meaning it projects from 10 to 30 feet away. Not only will a short-throw provide a larger image, but it will also reduce shadows and eye glare from your projector and screen.

Screen size

Screen size

Even for 4K projectors where the screen size can go up 300 inches in length, you’ll want to keep a screen at around 120–150 inches for the ideal ratio of pixels per inch of your screen. The clarity and color of your image will look best this way, and the ideal throw distance will be around 20–30 feet away from your screen. Any projectors which will balance between 50 to 200-inch screens are going to be best for your household.

Lamp life

Because cheaper 4K projectors need to create the impression of two pixels per frame in an image and then offset them, often the necessary technologies utilize a lot of lumens to project the enhancement. Due to the intense amount of energy and lumens used in the process, lamp life for cheaper 4k projectors tends to be lower than 10,000 hours. However, there are a few systems on our list which utilize innovative technologies to prolong their models’ lamp life and provide you with more movie watching hours before needing to change an expensive bulb.

Consider the LG HU80KA as having one of the best lamps (with its unique laser lamp design). Others (with settings to make the lamp life last much longer) are the ViewSonic PX727-4K and Optoma UHD60.

Lamp LG HU80KA

Noise level

For speakers, you’ll get the best level with systems that have built-in dual speakers 5W or less. Additionally, if you’re wondering about the noise of fans and how it will affect the listening experience of your movie, some systems are louder than others. You’ll especially hear projectors if they’re close beside you, your mounted ceiling unit is low, or as the unit ages.

If you don’t properly mount your projector and make sure its sides and middle are level, the fan components might tend to rattle – otherwise with good speakers, you’ll never notice a difference.

Warranty

For your ideal warranty (on the off-chance of a dud burning out early, or other damaged components during shipping) it’s best not to purchase any product with a warranty shorter than a year. It would be even better to aim for 2 to 3-year warranties. Especially since these units tend to run so high and you’ll want money protection for any purchase this large.

How to set up a projector

Once you’ve ceiling mounted your projector, or even if you’re not mounting it and decide to put it on a tall shelf, adjust the keystone alignment (most items on our list have an auto-alignment option) as well as the resolution (focus dial) for a clearer picture with a brighter image and crisper colors.

Line up the center of your lens to the center of your screen before adjusting, and then keep in mind that larger pictures will be dimmer.

All ceiling mounts come with instructions, and universal mounts are easy to purchase at your local department store or from the manufacturer. Keep in mind that you’ll need room near the back or sides of a projector to plug in cords for speakers and HDMI devices etc.

FAQ

Take a look at each projector ‘screen size’ and ‘throw distance’ and then measure how many inches long your wall is. With the throw distance, it will usually be a ratio (2:1) where the first number is distance times width and the second number is just width. If your projector were 7 feet away, you’d need a space at least 14 feet wide.

HDR is an abbreviation for the high dynamic range. Meaning the range between the darkest and the lightest parts of an image, and an ability to control that range for the best details of a picture or video.

Yes, 4K projectors may not outlast HD projectors with their lamp life, but they do create amazing pictures with no lag time and intense (almost perfect) colors. On a 4K screen, a bird is not just ‘a bird’ – it’s the actual flying creature, and it feels like its flapping around your house.

4k projectors with a lag time of less than 40ms are going to be the best projectors (at this level) for your gaming needs. It’ll be such a quick lag that no regular person would notice it with the human eye, However it may be the difference between using television and using a projector for a professional competition gamer.

Our Verdict

If you’re having a hard time deciding, no one could go wrong with these highly-rated devices; the top three projectors on our list:

Optoma UHD60. Not only is this a dynamic 4K projector with a long lamp life, but it operates with over 1,073.4-million colors, offers an excellent picture with the highest lumens and contrast ratio available in this price range, and is surprisingly quiet.

Optoma UHD51A. The most compatible device on this list, it can play any online movies and shows from wireless platforms – such as Netflix – and can also link to any of your devices which can connect to Wi-Fi. Additionally, it can pair with all your devices and mirror them on screen as you use them.

ViewSonic PX727-4K. Our budget pick for this list, this is the cheapest option which is not only a fantastic 4K projector but also won’t break your budget. It is one of the easiest to install and is compatible with almost all your devices including regular to Blue-ray DVD players.

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