4K is here to stay, and you’re likely looking to update your current home theater setup with one of the best 4k projectors on the market today. However, buying a new 4K projector can be a little intimidating, especially considering the average price tag, but here at GadgetReview, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. For something a bit more budget friendly, consider the best cheap projector. We purchased the top 15 4K ultra HD projectors to put them through the movie and gaming test to see which one is the best for you and your home theater. During our testing, we tested specifically for image quality, HDR compatibility, color ranges and more. We watched countless movies and played our share of video games to find the best projector. Plus, one of these projectors will completely eliminate the need for a big screen in your home.
After over 100 hours of testing and eliminating the 5 projectors that didn’t meet our expectations, we can confidently say that the Optoma UHD60 is the best 4K projector of 2020. With its ultra-high contrast ratio, brightness and long-lasting bulb, this 4K projector will run strong in any kind of lighting and entertainment scenario. Keep reading to learn more about the UHD60 and the other 9 4K projectors on our list. By the end of this list of best projectors on the market, you’ll have the perfect fit for your home.
Top 3 Best 4K Projector Compared
#1 Optoma UHD60 Projector
Award: Best 4K Projector
Features: Native 4K resolution, 15,000-hour lamp life, HDR10 compatible
WHY WE LIKE IT: When writing this list, we were on the lookout for the best 4K projector that struck a nice balance between cost, features, portability and performance.
Even though the UHD60 may not have all the bells and whistles of super high-end projectors, it’s able to pack in most of what we love all while coming in at around $1,600 at the time of this review. This is definitely one of the best home theater projectors on our list.
The Optoma UHD60 packs in all the features you could want out of a 4K projector. This 4K ultra HD projector features an awesome 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which keeps bright scenes clear and dark scenes detailed, all while boasting an impressive 3000 lumen brightness rating. This is plenty of brightness for both dark and light viewing environments, which ensures you’ll have the best experience no matter what time of day it is. Set this projector up in your living room, or set it up in your bedroom. Either way, you’ll have a high-quality image.
For these reasons and so many more, we’re naming this our best 4K projector of 2020. Your living room will rival any movie theater in no time.
#2 ViewSonic PX747-4K 4K Projector
Award: Best 4K Projector for the Money
Features: Native 4K resolution, HDR content support, 3500 lumens
WHY WE LIKE IT: The ViewSonic 4K projector beats the lumen rating of the Optoma UHD60 at 3500, however in tests the blacks were shown to come off just a little bit lighter than we liked due to its weaker contrast ratio.
All that aside, when you consider it’s sub-$1000 price tag, it’s easy to forgive those slight missteps to make this the best budget 4K projector you’ll find on shelves. The ViewSonic projector is the perfect entry point for the budding 4K projector enthusiast on a budget. This could also make a fairly good portable projector as well.
Sure, the ViewSonic may not have the best contrast ratios or deepest blacks, but when you consider the price all those minor sins are easily forgiven. This ultra high definition projector is a solid all-arounder for the beginner in 4K projection, someone who isn’t sure that they’re ready to drop an arm and a leg but still want to become a part of the 4K projector elite.
#3 BenQ HT3550 4k Ultra HD Projector
Features: 2200 lumen rating, 30,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a 2200 lumen rating, HDR-compatibility for true color representation, and a 30,000:1 contrast ratio, the BenQ HT3550 is a great choice for gamers and home theater enthusiasts alike.
The HT3550 is a sleek-looking projector with the performance to match. With a super-wide color gamut, native 4K resolution and a high contrast ratio, this projector is perfect for playing video games.
Unfortunately, the projector isn’t as bright as others on our list, which is why the HT3550 takes the third spot on this list. However, you’ll likely be playing games in the dark anyway, which eliminates this problem for you. The fan also gets quite noisy during intense gaming sessions, but if you’re rocking your gaming headset, you won’t even hear it. For all these reasons, the BenQ HT3550 takes the #3 spot for the best performing 4K projector.
So Which 4K Projector Is Right For You?
While we wished there were more models out there that we could use to crown the best 4K projector, there’s no denying that everything Sony is offering today can still project an image that’s off the charts in terms of quality, color richness, and the overall experience of seeing 4K blown up to real home theater proportions.
Whatever projector you choose on this list, you’re guaranteed to have a movie watching experience unlike anything else out there today. If you’re on a budget the ViewSonic 4K projector will get the job done, and if you want to splurge on the best of the best, the Sony VPLVW385ES is lying in wait. No matter what, the 4K revolution is here, and these are the projectors that will keep you prepared no matter what movies, games, or TV shows you throw their way. If none of the projectors on this list look right for you, take a look at the LG Cinebeam to compare.
Features to Look For
- Display Size
With standard 4K TVs, it can be difficult to appreciate the increased pixel count when a screen is any smaller than at least 60″ across. With 4K projectors however, the average screen size will often hover anywhere between 80″ – 140″ across, meaning every pixel has the opportunity to shine in its ultra-high resolution glory. Make sure to check the screen size-to-distance ratios on your projector before settling on your final pick. Having this aspect wrong could severely limit the picture quality, so keep this in mind.
Look, there’s no getting around it so we’re not going to mince words here: 4K projectors are a serious investment, reserved for only the most home entertainment-obsessed individuals out there. So think again if you’re looking for a best 4k projector under $5000. And keep dreaming if you’re looking for a best 4k projector under $2000. It’s just not gonna happen, at least not any time soon. On average a 4K projector will cost a whole heck of a lot more than its 1080p counterpart, averaging anywhere from $8,000 on the low side up to $15,000 for the premium option.
- Throw Distance
Just as you would with a standard 1080p projector, one of the first moves you need to make before even considering a 4K projector is to measure the throw distance to be sure there’s enough space between where you plan to mount your projector and where the screen will eventually sit. The market for 4K projectors isn’t big enough for short-throw models to be a thing yet, so all the models we’ve listed here only use standard lenses to get the image from the unit onto the screen wherever it is in the room. To make things easier, you can use a calculator like the one found here to decide which throw distance is right for you.
- Mounting Position
This should be a big concern for prospective 4K projector buyers, because unlike their 1080p cousins, 4K projectors can often be extremely heavy, bulky, and hard to mount. If you do intend on mounting it, be sure you’re putting it on a wall-mounted arm or shelf that’s rated to hold the poundage of the projector you want to buy. Some of the projectors we’ve listed here are just over 30lbs at stock, which means that unless you’re confident in your construction abilities it’s probably smarter to find a stable surface to place the projector on rather than hanging it from the ceiling or a wall like you would in classical setups.
- Fan Noise
If you thought regular 1080p projectors were loud, just wait until you hear what kind of noise a 4K projector puts out.With more four times the amount of pixels to push out, 4K projectors need heavy duty fans to cool off their bulbs and internals.
- Screen Quality
Last, there’s the quality of the screen you’re going to use to project the image onto. If you’re going to splurge on a 4K projector, the last thing you want is for that beautiful, crisp image to be ruined by a sub-par wavy screen made out of budget materials. So be willing to spend and get what will hopefully be the best 4k projector screen for your home theater setup. The basis of a quality 4k image comes from pixel shifting, so make sure to read further into the quality of your projector’s image before purchasing. If you can afford it, try and get an electronic tensioned screen. These screens last longer because you’re not constantly pulling them up and down every time you’re done watching a movie, and are able to stay flatter over time thanks to the tensioned wire wrapped around the edges.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
What about 4K Content and 4K devices?
One of the biggest problems that many 4K consumers run into is jumping the gun on buying their projector (or flatscreen) before finding out whether or not they actually have a system that’s capable of displaying 4K in the first place. The more pixels an image has, the more processing power it takes to get it playing smoothly, which means that you’ll need either a 4K media player or a high-powered PC/laptop with a beefy GPU to handle anything you want to pipe into the projector itself.
There are a few ways to watch 4K content right now: Netflix and Amazon streaming, YouTube (any video with the “4K” option under resolution settings), DirecTV or DISH, and UHD 4K Blu-Ray players. Before you get a 4K projector, be sure you have at least one of the devices mentioned above that can be hooked up to the projector so you can enjoy your content at its absolute best.
What about Throw Distance?
As we mention in the next section, currently there are no 4K projectors on the market that use a short-throw lens. This means that if you want to project your image larger than at least 80″ across, be certain to double-check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the amount of space you’ll need between where you plan to mount or house your device and the placement of the screen in your home theater.
Key Factors to a Good 4K Projector
With 4K every little detail of your media that might otherwise be obscured by 1080p resolution becomes a lot more vivid when you up the ante. Which means you’ll want a device that’s at least capable of displaying at 30fps (frames per second), but optimally you’ll want to shoot for 60fps if you can get it.
This is measured in a metric known as “lumens”, and it’s important to note that most 4K projectors are still struggling in this department (the brightest we have currently is 1800 lumens). If you plan on putting your 4K projector in a room that has a lot of ambient light coming in through the windows during the day, you’d be better off sticking with a 1080p option (like the Epson Home Cinema 1440) that can handle it. But if you plan to watch at night only, this point is moot.
Last, there are now a handful of “true” 4K projectors – it was just Sony for years. JVC and Epson 4K projectors used to be“psuedo” 4K projectors, which is to say they could not accept 4K content, and the signal has to jump through a lot of hoops to be upscaled, and even then what you get isn’t an actual 4K image like you’d see on a similar flatscreen. But now that’s changed in the last few years with a number of the big brands (and small) offering affordable 4k capable projectors.
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