Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: May 25, 2021
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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 – we’ve found the best quality models at the most resonable prices. However, if you’re looking to spend less than $1000, then take a look at our guide to the best projectors under $1000. 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.
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.
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.
What are our favorite features?
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
What could be better?
Weak cover can make for some light bleed out the unit’s back
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.
Why are we impressed?
Alexa voice-controlled projector
Comes with an additional remote
Pure Motion setting
What negatives must you be aware of?
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)
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.
Why are we impressed?
Easy installation without the need for keystone adjustment
4K resolution with 8.3-million dynamic picture units
The BenQ HT3550 offers extra-high resolution. 10-element lens array is structured into eight groups with metal barrel and cell framework, for long-lasting 4K intensity with high-quality color performance, clarity, and sharpness across the entire screen.
The projector’s profile is minimized thanks to the new generation 0.47” single-DMD DLP technology, while still producing 4K UHD 3840×2160 resolution with 8.3 million distinct pixels for each frame. With 4-times the resolution of Full HD 1080p, 4K UHD reduces pixel blur for impressive clarity and crisply defined fine details. And it also provides the highest dynamic contrast based on 95% DCI-P3 color gamut, ideal for 4K HDR Blu-rays and streaming HLG content in convenient AV room settings. Plus, the Cinema Mode allows you to enjoy heightened brightness to reproduce Rec. 709 color accuracy for enjoying 1080p movies in higher ambient brightness.
The manufacturer announces a brightness of 2,000 lumens, a contrast of 30,000: 1 and a lamp life of 15,000 hours in eco mode (4,000 hours in standard).
BenQ CinemaMaster Audio+ 2 audio-enhancing technology, upgraded with a wider frequency range from stereo 10-watt audio housed in a resonant sound chamber for deep bass and soaring highs, it also provides EQ algorithms for better clarity and sensual sound quality as used in Hollywood.
But unfortunately this model has limited placement flexibility and can appear to be a bit noisy when at full power. But probably the most inconvenient is the absence of the wired or wireless networking. But if you don’t mind these downsides, the unforgettable experience is guaranteed.
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.
What makes it stand out?
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
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Not compatible with 3D imaging
Ceiling mount is suggested for optimal use of the design
The Bomaker Parrot 1 is a full HD family video projector for those who love to enjoy multimedia content. Films, games, presentations: it can project everything while being very affordable. An excellent projector for simple and versatile use, it is one of the most complete Chinese projectors to date.
The Bomaker model is a video projector offering different options to provide optimal user comfort. Although the quality is not at the same level as the models of the big brands like Epson, BenQ, etc. Still, It has serious advantages for a video projector offered at under 500 price. The Bomaker HD projector has an innovative 6D ± 50 ° keystone correction. It is more advanced than most 1080p projectors. Even while suspended from above, it is easily adjustable with its remote control. A real feeling of freedom; it helps avoid the hassle of placing the projector right in front of the flat surface.
This 1080P projector offers a brightness of 6000 lux and brighter than ever on four edges. The large 300” screen gives you a true home theater experience at home. Bomaker has stepped up its efforts to offer good services at this level. Indeed the video projector is equipped with LCD technology coupled with an LED light. This allows it to be very bright and provide correct contrast. In addition, it is 4K compatible and offers a display resolution of 1920 * 1080 pixels. Full HD to enjoy maximum detail and we can actually say that the Bomaker Parrot 1 is doing very well for a video projector of this range.
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.
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.
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.
The Epson 1060 stands out in many ways among its contenders. It offers excellent value for money with its wonderful features. I is a fantastic option for anyone looking to build a home cinema or upgrade from an old school TV set to larger images. It has a projection size going up to 300 inches.
The Epson 1060’s picture quality is pretty insane for a projector its size. It has 1080p High Definition resolution which gives lifelike images without any blocks. Its brightness (3100 lumens of color) also contributes to the great picture quality.
The projector has built-in speakers with amazing sound quality. The speakers can be much louder compared to many other models and still be able to give crisp clear sounds without any fuzziness or distortions.
What’s more the projector can show over 1 billion colors. This combines with its remarkable brightness explain the high-quality colorful images it produces. It also uses the 3LCD technology that prevents the rainbow effect that occurs due to distortion of colors. With older projectors, this would be an issue, especially when watching action scenes.
Another praiseworthy feature is the lamp that can last a whole 7500 hours. This is an incredible amount of time considering new lamps aren’t so cheap. Older projectors had lamps with a lifespan of 1500hours. The difference is unbelievable.
What stands out?
The projector offers wonderful image quality and can project images up to 300 inches. This makes it the perfect choice for building your home cinema as you will be able to enjoy real, bright and crisp clear images.
What cons did we manage to find?
The projector is not the best lightweight projector that you can move around with. Plus, it is a bit on the pricey end compared to others within its range.
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
From 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 UHD50. With this model all game and video text will be clear and precise with vibrant reproduction of color and shape created by XPR technology, offering an extraordinary UHD 4K experience and wide-range color gamut (brighter whites, deeper blacks, and intense colors).
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.