15 Best Projectors Under $1000 In 2019

After weeks of testing and more than 30 tested projectors, we have made a list of 15 best projectors under $1000. Our list is divided into 3 sections – best projectors under $100, best projectors under $500, and best projectors under $1000. So, even if your budget is very limited, you can be assured that you will find something nice. However, you should be aware that you will never get the same kind of performance from a $100 projector and $700 projector. If you are looking for a good home theater projector or a gaming projector, our advice is to spend at least $500.

Different Types of Projectors

We can make a difference between different types of projectors based on their designated purpose, lens type, projection technology, etc., but the most important criterion is probably the feature called throw ratio. Watching a movie or playing a game on a large 100in or 150in screen is definitely fun, but we are all limited by space. Based on the desired screen size and the size of your room you may or may not be able to use a certain projector. Throw ratio is the characteristic that can tell you the required distance (between the projection screen and projector) for certain screen size. This is the first thing you should check in the specs list, especially if you don’t have much space and you want a big screen. Based on a throw ratio we can divide projectors into 3 groups – standard, short throw, and ultra short throw projectors.

Different Types of Projectors

Standard projectors have a throw ratio of 1.5:1 or higher. The good thing about standard projectors is that they are the cheapest kind. The bad thing is that they require big rooms. In order to project a 100in image with a standard projector with 1.5:1 ratio, you need to place the projector 12.5ft (3.8m) away from the projection screen. If you don’t have that kind of space, you should be looking for a short throw or ultra short throw projector.

When it comes to short throw projectors, their throw ratio varies from 0.4:1 to 1.4:1, and it’s even shorter than 0.4:1 with ultra short projectors. In order to get a 100in screen with a short throw projector, you can place the projector less than 4ft (1.2m) away from the screen (if the throw ratio is 0.4:1). The required distance is even smaller if you are using some ultra short throw projector. Both, short throw and ultra short throw projectors can be used in much smaller rooms, which is an important advantage, but the problem is their price. If all the other characteristics and features are exactly the same, short throw projector will be at least $100-$200 pricier. The price difference can go up to $500 or $1000 if you are looking for a high-end projector.

Best Projector Under $1000

Some projectors (in fact, quite a few) are somewhere in between standard and short throw. For example, throw ratio of a certain projector can vary (depending on the zoom) between 1.2:1 and 1.5:1. They don’t have the shortest throw but they don’t require as long distance as standard projectors.

Based on the designated purpose, we can make a difference between home theater projectors, gaming projectors, and business projectors (projectors for presentations), but we are going to deal with these types later. For now, it’s important to remember the meaning and the significance of a throw ratio.

Product Overview

Best Under $100Best Under $500Best Under $1000
VANKYO LEISURE 3BenQ MH530FHDOptoma HD39Darbee
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Best for Home TheaterBest for GamingBest for Business/Education
BenQ HT3050Optoma GT1080DarbeeViewSonic PA503S
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Which Projector Type is Best for You?

First, you have to measure your room and check if you can buy a standard projector. It’s a great thing if you can since you will save some money. If your room is shorter than 12.5ft, you should be looking for a short throw projector or even ultra short throw projector. If you have already planned where you want to put the screen and where to put the projector, you can easily calculate the max throw ratio based on the desired screen size and screen and projector positions. All the reputable projector manufacturers like Optoma, BenQ, or Epson, have their own projection calculators. They can make your life much easier – the only thing you have to do is to enter the data (room dimensions, screen size, projector model, etc.). You don’t have to calculate anything because these calculators will do everything for you.

Throw ratio is not the only thing to think about. It’s the first thing, but you should consider some other features, too. First, there’s the purpose. If you are looking for a home theater projector, you should pay attention to different characteristics that affect the image quality. You can find a list of important characteristics at the end of this article. If you are going to use your projector for gaming, you should check the image quality parameters but you should also pay attention to some additional specs (input lag and refresh rates). Some manufacturers, like Optoma, put HT label on home theater projectors and GT label on gaming projectors. Gaming projectors are also great for home theater use, but home theater projectors are not always great for gaming. If you are going to use your projector for presentations, you should really pay attention to brightness ratings (especially if the presentations are taking place in rooms/classrooms/conference rooms with windows and great amount of ambient light). Also, if the presentations are your intended purpose, you might want something smaller and/or battery-operated.

Furthermore, you should pay attention to other features – inputs/outputs, zoom, vertical/horizontal keystone correction, vertical/horizontal lens shift, lens offset, etc. Depending on your budget, you can expect different features (or lack of some features) which means that you will have more or less flexibility when it comes to installation and you will or will not be able to use certain video sources.

Can You Find a Decent Projector for Less Than $1000?

Yes, you can. You can’t expect perfection or 4K picture at this price point, but you will get more than satisfying performance, especially with slightly pricier projectors ($500+). If you are looking for a home theater or gaming projector, you should be prepared to pay at least $500 or $600. Most of the projectors within the price range $500-$1000 have a native resolution of 1920×1080 and can project 1080p videos. Some projectors under $500 can also project 1080p videos but there’s always a catch. They usually don’t have lens shift (only keystone correction) and they are more difficult to install. Also, they don’t have as many inputs/outputs as pricier projectors and they may have larger throw ratios (require more space). If you are looking for a business projector, you can find more than decent projector for less than $400 or even less than $300. Some projectors, usually generic brands, are priced under $100. They offer more than decent performance for the price (‘’for the price’’ is the most important part of this sentence) If you can’t spend more than $100, you should at least keep your expectations low. They are usually suitable for home theater use and can project 1080p videos, but their brightness ratings, contrast ratios, and other parameters important for the image quality are not impressive.

This is our list of 15 best projectors under $1000.


Best Projectors Under $100

As we have said, don’t raise your expectations too high. These are very cheap projectors and they deliver decent performance for the price, but they are not comparable with $500 or $1000 projectors.


1. VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector

VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector

VANKYO LEISURE 3 is an inexpensive portable projector. It doesn’t offer impressive performance but it still does the job.

It comes in a simple cardboard box along with carrying case, remote, user manual, a set of cables (AV, HDMI, VGA, power cable), and 3-year warranty. You can buy a tripod separately.

The projector is compact and very easy to transport. It is less than 8in wide, 5.9in deep, 3.1in tall, and it weighs just 2 pounds.

The installation is easy, but you don’t have that much flexibility when it comes to positioning. There is no info on the lens offset but, based on our experience, it’s approximately 105%. This means that you have to place the projector slightly below or above the screen. The only image correction tool is vertical keystone correction (+/- 15°). The projector lacks lens shift and horizontal keystone correction. Also, there is no zoom. The max image size (diagonal) is 170in, but it’s not recommended to go over 100in. The picture will become blurry if the screen is bigger than that and you cannot make it better with a focus correction. The required distance for a 100in screen is approx. 9.8ft.

You won’t be impressed by the number of connections, but the good thing is that you have one HDMI input which is recommended connection type. The manufacturer doesn’t claim that the HDMI input is MHL-enabled, but does claim that you can connect your phone to the projector via HDMI to micro USB (or HDMI to lightning cable). We were able to connect iPhone 8 to the projector but the connection was finicky. There is also one USB port, VGA port, AUX output, video input, and one micro SD card slot. You can use your micro SD card (up to 32GB), USB flash drive, or portable hard drive (up to 250GB) and project movies or pictures on the go. The projector can play all the popular video formats but it can’t open PowerPoint or PDF presentations.

Controls are simple and intuitive. You will get the remote and you can also use 7 control buttons on the projector. The remote is not backlit which is a small but irritating inconvenience.

The performance is mediocre. The native resolution is 800×480, but you can play 1080p videos. The image clarity is satisfying (not on par with more expensive projectors and TVs). Brightness is rated at 1,800 lumens and the contrast is 2,000:1, which is simply not enough for bright rooms and rooms with ambient light. You will get the best results in a completely dark room.

The projector features small 2W built-in speaker which doesn’t really offer impressive performance and it’s definitely smarter to use something louder.

ADVANTAGES
Very cheap
Small, compact, and portable + included carrying case
Supports 1080p projections
Remote and cables included
Relatively simple installation
Can play movies directly from a USB or micro SD card (all common video formats are supported)
Long-lasting lamp (40,000 hours)
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of horizontal keystone correction
Lack of lens shift
Poor brightness and contrast - can’t be used in bright rooms
Mediocre image quality
The built-in speaker is too weak to create an immersive listening experience
Check Price

2. RAGU Z400 Mini Projector

RAGU Z400 Mini ProjectorRAGU Z400 is another small and portable projector. It’s similarly priced as VANKYO LEISURE 3 and it delivers slightly better performance.

The package includes the projector, a set of cables (HDMI, AV cable, power cable), user manual, remote, and 1-year warranty. Carrying case and other additional equipment is not included.

The projector is 8in wide, 5.7in deep, 3in tall, and it weighs less than 3 pounds.

The installation is not difficult, but you don’t really have too many options when it comes to positioning. The throw ratio is 1.4:1 (no zoom) and you will have to place the projector 282m (9.25ft) away from the screen to get a 100in image. The maximum image size (screen diagonal) is 130in but you will get the best results with 50in – 72in screen. When it comes to useful setup/installation tools, you can use focus and vertical keystone correction (+/- 15°). The lack of horizontal keystone correction and lens shift is expected considering the price.

The number of connections is satisfying. You have one HDMI input (it’s MHL enabled but the cables are not included), two USB ports (one for playing video files and connecting streaming sticks, and the other for charging devices like phones, tablets, etc.), one micro SD card slot (for playing video files from a micro SD card), one AUX output, one VGA input, and one AV input. Like always, you will get the best results with the HDMI. It’s a little bit disappointing that you cannot open PowerPoint or PDF documents from a USB flash drive (only videos, images, music, and TXT files).

The performance is more than satisfying for the price. RAGU Z400 delivers a slightly better image than VANKYO LEISURE 3. The brightness is rated at 1,800 lumens and the contrast ratio is 3,000:1. The native resolution is 800×480, but the projector can play 1080p videos. The image looks washed out when there is too much ambient light. Even one or two windows could be a problem. You will get the much better results in a completely dark room. The image starts to lose sharpness if the screen size is larger than 72in. It’s noticeable but tolerable with a 100in screen, but anything beyond 100in is problematic.

The remote, as well as the controls on the projector itself, are very simple and easy to use. The OSD menu offers some basic settings.

The projector features a small built-in speaker. It’s not going to blow you away, but it can be useful and it’s better than nothing. Still, you will significantly improve your listening experience if you add two average external speakers to your setup.

ADVANTAGES
Cheap and portable
Can play 1080p videos
Simple installation (vertical keystone correction + focus)
MHL-enabled HDMI input
2 USB inputs (one for charging other devices and the other for playing video files)
Long-lasting lamp (up to 50,000 hours)
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of horizontal keystone correction and lens shift
Not bright enough for rooms with ambient light
The picture loses sharpness if the screen is larger than 72in
The built-in speaker is not loud enough
Check Price

3. QKK AK-80 Mini Projector (2019 Upgrade)

QKK AK-80 Mini ProjectorQKK AK-80 looks like an upgraded version of VANKYO LEISURE 3 mini projector and it’s even cheaper. The performance is not noticeably better, but there are more connections available. That’s actually the only significant difference between AK-80 and LEISURE 3.

QKK AK-80 comes in a simple cardboard box along with the remote, a set of cables (HDMI cable, AV cable, and power cable), user manual, and 3-year warranty.

The projector weighs approx. 3 pounds, it’s 9.6in wide, 9.2in deep, and 4.4in tall. So, it’s slightly larger than the previous two cheap projectors but it’s still portable.

The installation is relatively simple, but not too flexible when it comes to positioning. There are only vertical keystone correction and focus. The lack of horizontal keystone and lens shift means that you have to be accurate, especially if you are going to mount it on a ceiling. In order to get 120in, you have to place the projector 11.5ft (3.5m) away from the screen. The max screen size (diagonal) is 170in, but it’s probably smarter not to go over 100in (in order to achieve better clarity).

The number of connections is more than satisfying for the price. You have one MHL-enabled HDMI input (HDMI to micro USB cable with MHL functionality and HDMI to lightning cable with MHL functionality are not included). There are also 2 USB ports and they can both be used for playing video files (none of them can be used for charging other devices). You can use USB ports to play all common video/audio formats, but you can’t open Microsoft Office or PDF files. There is also one micro SD card slot, VGA port, AUX output, and one AV input.

The performance is not impressive but it’s on par with the price. This projector features 2,200 lumens of brightness. The contrast ratio is 2,000:1. The native resolution is 800×480, and the max supported resolution is 1920×1080 (1080p). You won’t get the best results if your screen size is larger than 100in (the advertised max size is 170in). The brightness and contrast ratings are simply not high enough for bright rooms and rooms with ambient light. You really need a dark room to get the best results. The picture sharpness is satisfying up until 100in screen size and if you want a bigger screen and perfectly clear picture, you should invest more.

The remote and the controls on the top panel of the projector are simple and easy to use. The OSD menu offers some basic adjustments.

AK-80 has a larger and louder speaker than the previous two projectors (5W compared to 2W), but that’s still not enough for some really immersive experience.

ADVANTAGES
Inexpensive
Small and compact
Simple installation (vertical keystone correction + focus)
MHL-enabled HDMI port
2 USB ports (both for playing video files)
Long-lasting light source (up to 50,000 hours)
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of horizontal keystone correction and horizontal/vertical lens shift
Not bright enough for bright rooms and rooms with windows
The picture loses sharpness if the screen is larger than 100in
The built-in speaker is better than on the previous two models, but it’s still not good enough
Check Price

Best Under $500

Within this price range, you can find much better projectors. Some great business projectors are priced under $500 as well as some home theater projectors.


4. ViewSonic PA503S

ViewSonic PA503SPA503S is a great projector for business and educational purposes. It can project 1080p videos and has a low input lag (which means that it can be used for gaming or home theater), but you are going to need a lot of space to place the projector properly and get the desired screen size due to long throw.

The projector comes in a simple box along with user manual, power cable, VGA cable, remote, 3-year warranty on parts and labor, and 1-year lamp warranty.

The projector is 11.6in wide, 8.6in deep, 4.3in tall, and it weighs 5.1 pounds.

The installation process is not difficult but requires space. The throw ratio varies between 1.96 and 2.15:1 depending on the zoom (the max zoom is 1.1x). Assuming that you are using max zoom, you will need to place the projector 16.3ft away from the screen to get a 100in screen. This is not a good projector for small rooms. The projector can be mounted on a tripod, on a ceiling, or you can simply place it on a table. The lens offset is 120% (+/- 5%), which means that you have to place the projector above or below the screen (10in above/below the screen if the screen height is 50in). The projector features vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°). Horizontal keystone correction and lens shift are not available. So, you don’t really have that much flexibility when it comes to projector placement.

All the inputs/outputs are on the back side. You have one HDMI input (it’s not MHL-enabled). 2 VGA inputs, one RS 232 port, one composite video input, AUX input and output, and one monitor output.

The brightness is rated at 3,600 ANSI lumens and the contrast ratio is 22,000:1, which is good enough for conference rooms and classrooms with windows and/or ambient light. There are two working modes – normal and Super Eco. Super Eco is appropriate for dark rooms. Depending on the mode, the estimated lamp life varies between 5,000 hours (normal mode) and 15,000 hours (Super Eco mode). The native resolution is 800×600, while the max supported resolution is 1920×1080 (1080p). The projector is 3D-ready and can play 3D videos (through HDMI connection). The max screen diagonal is 300in, but it’s not recommended to go over 180in. The most appropriate screen size would be 100in to 130in. The colors are quite accurate and bright, even if there is a small amount of ambient light. The picture is watchable even during the day, but it’s not great. Sharpness is satisfying if your screen size doesn’t surpass 130in. At 180in, it’s not that great (especially for movies).

If you want to adjust the settings you can use the remote (it’s small, plasticky, and it’s not backlit), or you can use the control buttons on the top panel of the projector. The OSD menu is simple and easy to use. Most of the settings are basic.

The projector has a small built-in speaker (2W). It’s definitely better to use something louder for movies and gaming.

ADVANTAGES
Affordable – priced under $300
Relatively simple installation (if you have enough space)
It features vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°), 1.1x zoom, and focus
Pretty good brightness (2,600 lumens) and contrast (22,000:1)
Can play 1080p and 3D videos
Decent color accuracy and image sharpness
Impressive lamp life (up to 15,000 hours in Super Eco mode)
DISADVANTAGES
Long throw – requires a lot of space (16.3ft for a 100in screen)
Lack of horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift
Poor speaker quality
The replacement lamp is quite expensive ($150)
Check Price

5. BenQ MS524AE SVGA Business Projector

BenQ MS524AE SVGAYou can’t go wrong with BenQ when it comes to projectors. It is definitely one of the most reputable manufacturers and MS524AE is one of the cheapest BenQ projectors on the market. This a business projector with SVGA (800×600) native resolution, high brightness output, and decent contrast ratio. It’s not a great choice for home theater use or for gaming.

The package includes the projector, power and VGA cables, remote (with batteries), user manual, and 1-year warranty.

The projector weighs 5.2 pounds, it is 13in wide, 9.5in deep, and 3.9in tall.

MS524AE has a long throw which means that you really need space to achieve the desired screen size. The throw ration varies from 1.94:1 (max zoom) to 2.32:1 (no zoom). The max zoom is 1.2x. In order to achieve 100in screen, the projector has to be at least 13ft away from the screen. The max screen size is 300in, but you will get the best results if the screen diagonal is not larger than 150in. The projector can be placed on a table or mounted on a ceiling. The lens offset is 106% (+/- 5%) so you will have to place the projector a few inches above/below the screen depending on the position (you can find the exact offset values for the given screen size in the distance chart). If you have to adjust the image geometry, you can use vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°). You can’t really expect horizontal keystone and lens shift tools at this price point.

The projector features 2 HDMI inputs (none of them is MHL-enabled), two VGA inputs, one monitor output, RS 232 port, one S-video input, one composite video input, AUX input, AUX output, and one micro USB port for updates.  

The brightness rating is pretty high (3,300 lumens) and the contrast ratio is 15,000:1. This is more than good enough for business and educational use, even if you have to use it in bright rooms. You will certainly get better results in darker rooms. There are three working modes – normal, eco, and SmartEco. Depending on the mode, the lamp life expectancy varies between 4,000 hours (normal) and 10,000 hours (SuperEco). The native resolution is SVGA (800×600) while the max supported resolution is WUXGA (1920×1200). The projector can play 1080p videos. You won’t be amazed by the image quality but it’s more than satisfying considering the price.

You can use the remote or the control buttons on top of the unit to adjust the settings. The OSD menu is simple and intuitive.

Inside the projector, there’s a small 2W speaker. It’s not impressive and it’s probably smarter to use something more powerful.

ADVANTAGES
Affordable – priced under $300
Simple installation
It features vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°), 1.3x zoom, focus
High brightness (3300 lumens) and satisfying contrast (15,000:1)
Can play 1080p videos
Pretty good sharpness and color accuracy
Satisfying lamp life (up to 10,000 hours in SmartEco mode)
DISADVANTAGES
Long throw (1.96:1) – requires a lot of space
It lacks horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift
Poor built-in speaker
Considering the price of the projector, the replacement lamp is quite expensive
Check Price

6. WOWOTO T8E Full HD Mini Portable Projector

WOWOTO T8EWOWOTO T8E is a very small and lightweight portable projector with a built-in battery. It delivers satisfying performance for the price, but it’s not really the best in this price range. Our biggest complaints are related to its brightness and contrast.

The projector comes in a simple cardboard box. You will also get a power cable, HDMI cable, remote, user manual, and a warranty card. Accessories like tripods, 3D glasses, projection screens, etc., are sold separately.

The projector is very compact. It is 7.8in wide, 4.8in deep, 1.6in tall, and it weighs 1.2 pounds.

The installation and setup are simple. The throw ratio is 1.6:1, which means that you have to place the projector 8.2ft away from the screen to achieve 97in screen size (diagonal). The projector features manual and auto vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°) as well as autofocus. Horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift are not available. The projector is supposed to be mounted on a tripod or simply placed on a table. Max image size is 300in, but anything larger than 100in or 130in doesn’t look great. It’s smarter not to go over 130in.

The projector is not the best when it comes to connectivity, but it has a satisfying number of inputs. There is one HDMI input, 2 USB ports (one for charging and the other USB 3.0 port for video playback), one AV input, one AUX output, micro SD card slot, and Ethernet port. There are no VGA ports and HDMI ports are not MHL enabled. On the other hand, T8e is wi-fi compatible, it has an ethernet port, and it’s powered by Android 4.4 which means that you can install a bunch of apps (including YouTube and Netflix) and stream content directly from the projector. You can also mirror your phone screen (Android or iPhone) via Ushare app or Airplay. Android 4.4 is a bit older Android version and it can be slow.

The performance is satisfying but it’s definitely not the best in the class. It’s definitely not a great option for bright rooms and rooms with ambient light due to low brightness and contrast. The data about brightness is a little bit contradictory. The product description on Amazon says 3,500 lumens (which cannot be the truth), while you can find the brightness rating of 2,000 lumens on other websites. It’s probably closer to 2,000 lumens. The contrast ratio is 10,000:1 which is satisfying for a portable projector. The native resolution is 1,280×800 but it supports 1080p projection as well as 3D projections (you will have to buy 3D glasses). You will get the best results with a 100in screen in a dark room.

The projector features large 7,800mAh battery, which makes it great for use on the go. The only problem is that you can only get 3 hours of video playback per one charge.

If you want to adjust some settings, you can use the remote or the touch-sensitive control buttons on the top panel of the projector. These buttons are not very responsive and it’s probably smarter to use the remote.

There’s a small built-in speaker at the bottom of the projector. It’s nothing special, but it can be useful. If you can, you should definitely use some nice external speakers.

ADVANTAGES
Affordable – priced under $400
Small, lightweight, portable
Built-in 7,800mAh battery
Simple installation
Manual and auto vertical keystone (+/- 40°) and autofocus
It can play 1080p and 3D videos
Pretty good image clarity and color accuracy
Wi-fi and Bluetooth-enabled
Powered by Android 4.4
It can mirror your phone screen via Ushare app or Airplay
Long-lasting light source (more than 20,000 hours)
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift
Not bright enough for rooms with ambient light and/or windows
No VGA inputs
Android 4.4 is a bit slow
Touch-sensitive control panel is unresponsive
The built-in speaker is not loud enough
The fan is louder than average
Check Price

7. Epson VS250

Epson VS250VS250 is another SVGA business projector, but it can be used for movie projections as well. It can play HD videos and the picture clarity is satisfying but not impressive. The projector is priced under $400.

VS250 comes in a simple box along with the remote (2 AAA batteries included), a set of cables (VGA cable, power cable, and a USB cable), soft carrying bag, user manual, and 1-year warranty. You can buy other accessories separately.

The projector is 11.9in wide, 9.2in deep, 3.2in tall, and it weighs 5.3 pounds.

The installation is not difficult. You can mount it on a tripod, on a ceiling, or simply place it on a table. Depending on the zoom (max zoom is 1.35x), the throw ratio varies between 1.45:1 and 1.96:1. In order to project a 100in image, you have to place it 10ft away from the screen. You can use auto and manual vertical keystone correction (+/- 30°) and manual horizontal keystone correction to adjust the image geometry. There are also autofocus and zoom features. Lens shift correction is not available.

The inputs are on the back side. There is one HDMI input (it’s not MHL-enabled), one VGA input, one composite video input, USB Type-A (plug-n-play USB port – supports the most common video, audio, and image files), USB Type-B (for updates), and two RCA audio outputs.

The native screen resolution is 800×600 (SVGA), while the max supported resolution is 1400×1050 (SXGA+). The brightness is rated at 3,200 lumens (normal working mode) which is more than bright enough for business presentations, even in bright rooms and rooms with windows. The contrast ratio is 15,000:1 which is decent considering the price. The image is quite clear, even with the 100in screen. The max screen size is 350in but it’s not recommended to go over 130in (that’s the moment when the pixelization becomes noticeable). Colors are accurate and vivid.

If you want to perform the initial setup or adjust the image, you can use the included remote or the control buttons on the top panel. The remote is not backlit.

Depending on the mode (normal or Eco) the lamp life varies between 6,000 hours (normal) and 10,000 hours (Eco mode).

The projector also features a small built-in speaker. You won’t be amazed by the sound and it’s definitely recommended to use external speakers, but it can be useful for outdoor projections.

ADVANTAGES
Affordable – priced under $400
Simple installation
It features auto vertical keystone and manual horizontal keystone correction (+/- 30°)
Pretty good brightness (3,200 lumens) and contrast ratio (15,000:1)
1400x1050 max supported resolution
Great image clarity and very good color accuracy
Long-lasting light source (up to 10,000 hours)
Cheap replacement lamp
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal/vertical lens shift
Poor built-in speaker
The fan is quite loud in normal mode
Check Price

8. BenQ MH530FHD

BenQ MH530FHDThe best projector under $500 is BenQ MH530FD. This one can be used for business purposes but it’s much more versatile than any of the previously mentioned projectors. MH530FD is also a great choice if you are looking for a home theater projector under $500.

Inside the box, you will find your projector, power cable, VGA cable, remote (with batteries), user manual, and 3-year warranty card.

BenQ MH530FD is 13.1in wide, 8.4in deep, 3.9in tall, and weighs 5.3 pounds.

The installation is relatively simple. The projector doesn’t require that much space due to shorter throw. The throw ratio varies from 1.37:1 (with max zoom) to 1.64:1 (no zoom). The max zoom is 1.2x. In order to get a 100in screen, you have to place the projector at least 10ft away from the screen (max zoom). Lens offset is 107% (+/- 2.5%), which means that the lens axis has to be slightly below or above the screen. The projector can be mounted on a ceiling, on a tripod, or placed on a table next to your watching position. If you have to adjust the geometry of the picture, you can use vertical keystone correction. Horizontal keystone correction and horizontal/vertical lens shift are not available. Placing the projector on a high shelf behind the watching position can be tricky and it will require some tilting.

The number of connections is more than satisfying. You have two HDMI ports (not MHL-enabled), 2 VGA ports, 1 composite video input, 1 S-video input, 1 AUX output, monitor output, RS 232 port, and USB mini type-B port.

You can hardly get better performance for less than $500. The native resolution is 1920×1080 and it can project 1080p videos with an amazing sharpness and color accuracy. The brightness is rated at 3,300 lumens, and the contrast ratio is 15,000:1. This is not the best projector ever, but it’s excellent for the price. The color accuracy is 86% compliant with the HDTV Rec. 709 color standard. The projector is great for home theater use, and it’s more than bright enough, for projections in bright rooms. You will definitely get better results in a dark room. You have 5 different picture modes at your disposal – bright, presentation mode, sRGB mode, Cinema mode, and User mode (customized settings).

Depending on the working mode, the estimated lamp life is 4,500 (in normal mode), 6000 (in eco mode), or even 10,000 (in SmartEco mode).

If you want to adjust some settings, you can use the remote (it’s not backlit) or the control buttons on the top panel of the unit. The OSD menu is very simple, intuitive, and user-friendly.

The projector also features small 2W speaker which is not something you will be delighted with. Some nice external speakers are definitely recommended.

ADVANTAGES
Great value for the price
3-year warranty
Simple setup
Vertical keystone correction, 1.2x zoom, focus
1080p native resolution
Great image quality, sharpness, and color accuracy
5 picture modes
User-friendly OSD menu
Long-lasting lamp (up to 10,000 hours in SmartEco mode)
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal keystone correction and horizontal/vertical lens shift
The replacement lamp is expensive
Poor built-in speaker
Check Price

Best Under $1000

Most of the projectors priced between $500 and $1000 have 1080p native resolutions of and deliver pretty good performance. You won’t make a mistake if you choose any of the projectors below. Performance differences are not huge but, depending on the price, you will get more or less flexibility when it comes to installation, higher or lower brightness, 3D support, shorter or longer throw, lower or higher contrast, etc.


9. BenQ HT2050A 1080P DLP Home Theater Projector

BenQ HT2050ABenQ HT2050A is a great multipurpose projector. It’s primarily designed for home theater use, but it’s also great for gaming due to low input latency.

The projector comes along with the remote, power cable, user manual, and 3-year warranty.

The projector is not actually portable. It is 15 inches wide, 11 inches deep, 4.8 inches tall, and weighs 7.7lb.

The installation should not be an issue. The throw ratio varies between 1.15:1 (with the max zoom) and 1.5:1 (no zoom). The max zoom is 1.3x. The required distance for 100in screen is 8.2ft which is relatively short. You have both horizontal (+/- 30°) and vertical (+/- 30°) keystone correction at your disposal. You can also use vertical lens shift (+/- 10%). Lens offset is 105% (+/- 2.5%). The projector can be mounted on a ceiling, on a tripod, or placed on a table in front of you. Placing the projector behind your watching position can be tricky and requires some tilting and keystone correction.

There are numerous inputs/outputs on the back panel – you have 2 HDMI inputs (not MHL-enabled), one USB 2.0 port (plug-n-play), one mini USB port (for updates), one VGA input, video component input, one RCA audio input, one AUX in, one AUX out, RS 232 port, and 12V DC trigger.

The native resolution of the projector is 1920×1080 and it can play 1080p videos. Brightness is rated at 2,200 lumens which is probably not good enough for bright rooms and rooms with windows but it’s great for dedicated home theater rooms and dark rooms in general. Contrast ratio is 15,000:1. The picture is very sharp, even with the 150in screen. The max screen size is 300in. The colors are very accurate and vivid. The image is 96% compliant with the Rec. 709 color accuracy standard. There are multiple picture modes including bright, vivid TV, gaming, cinema, custom, as well as ISF day/night (ISF modes require calibration).

The lamp life depends on the working mode. It can go up to 7,000 hours in SmarEco mode.

You can use the remote or the control panel on the top panel of the unit to adjust settings. The OSD menu is user-friendly.

There’s a 10W speaker built into the projector. It’s definitely better than any of the previously mentioned projectors, but it’s not on par with a huge screen. If you want to match watching and listening experience, you should use some stronger external speakers.

ADVANTAGES
Great value for the price
3-year warranty
Simple setup
Horizontal/vertical keystone (+/- 30°), vertical lens shift (+/- 10%), 1.3x zoom, focus
1080p native resolution
Decent brightness (2,200 lumens) and contrast ratio (15,000:1)
Great sharpness and color accuracy
Low input latency (less than 16ms) makes it great for gaming
10W built-in speaker
The fan is quiet
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal lens shift
The replacement lamp is very expensive ($250 on BenQ website)
Check Price

10. Optoma GT1080Darbee Short Throw Gaming Projector

Optoma GT1080DarbeeOptoma GT1080Darbee is an excellent and affordable short throw projector. Due to very short throw, it can be used in small rooms. It’s primarily designed for gaming, but as you probably know, anything that’s good for gaming, it’s also good for home theater use.

Along with the projector, you will get the remote (2 AAA batteries included), power cable, and 1-year warranty. Other accessories, like carrying bag, ceiling/wall mount, and MHL cable, are sold separately.

The projector is relatively small – it’s less than 13in wide, 8.8 inches deep, 3.5in tall, and weighs less than 6 pounds.

The installation and setup are simple but you won’t get that much flexibility when it comes to placement. The throw ratio is 0.49:1 which means that the required distance for 100in screen is approx. 4ft.  The projector features vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°). Horizontal keystone correction and lens shift tools are not available. The zoom is fixed. The lens offset is 116% (+/- 5%). GT1080Darbee can be mounted on a ceiling/wall, on a tripod, or placed on a table. Placing the projector behind your watching position is a bit tricky as it requires some tilting.

This projector is not as impressive as some others when it comes to connectivity. There are two HDMI ports (one HDMI port is MHL-enabled), mini USB for updates, audio output, 3D SYNC out, and 12V DC trigger. This is more than enough for home use, but some additional VGA or component video input would be an improvement.

Optoma GT1080Darbee delivers impressive performance for the price. The native resolution is 1920×1080 (16:9 aspect ratio) while the max resolution is 1920×1200 (WUXGA). 28,000:1 contrast ratio and 3,000 lumens of brightness are more than enough even for projections in bright rooms and rooms with ambient light. Understandably, you will get the best results in dark rooms. Depending on the conditions and use, you can select one of 9 display modes – game, vivid, reference, cinema, bright, 3D, bright, ISF day/night (requires professional calibration). GT1080Darbee can also project 3D videos (top to bottom, side-by-side, frame pack). The image is sharp even with 150in and 180in screens. The colors are very accurate and lifelike (compliant with HDTV Rec. 709 in reference display mode).

The lamp can last up to 8,000 hours (in dynamic mode). The estimated life is shorter in eco (6,000 hours) and bright mode (5,000 hours).

In order to adjust the settings, you can use the included remote (it’s backlit) or the control panel on the projector. The OSD menu is simple and easy to use.

GT1080Darbee projector features two built-in 10W speakers. Compared to other projectors and their speakers, these speakers are not bad. The built-in speakers can be quite useful for outdoor projections.

ADVANTAGES
Great value for the price
Simple installation and setup
Very short throw (0.49:1)
Vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°)
Great brightness (3,000 lumens) and very good contrast (28,000:1)
Multiple display modes, accurate colors, very sharp picture
Low input latency – great choice for gaming
Long-lasting light source (up to 8,000 hours)
Backlit remote
Two built-in speakers (2x10W)
DISADVANTAGES
The projector lacks horizontal keystone, vertical/horizontal lens shift, and has a fixed zoom
Check Price

11. Epson Home Cinema 2150

Epson Home Cinema 2150Epson Home Cinema 2150 is one of the most expensive and one of the best home theater projectors on this list.

The package includes projector, power cable, user manual, remote (with batteries), and 2-year warranty. All the other equipment (3D glasses, cables, wall/ceiling mounts, etc.) is sold separately

The projector is not too large – it is 12.1in wide, 11in deep, 4.2in tall, and weighs 7.7 pounds.

The installation and setup are simple. You will have a lot of flexibility when it comes to placement/positioning. The throw ratio varies from 1.33:1 (max zoom) to 2.16:1 (no zoom). The max zoom is 1.6x and it’s manual. The focus is also manual. If you want to get a 100in screen, the min required distance is 9.7ft. The max screen size is 300ft, but you shouldn’t go over 150 or 180in. The projector features manual and auto vertical keystone correction (+/- 30°) and manual horizontal keystone correction (also +/- 30°). You can also use vertical lens shift (+/- 15%) which is a better way of correcting the image than the keystone.

The number of inputs is not huge but it’s more than satisfying for home use and it covers all the common devices (video sources). There are two HDMI ports (one of which is MHL-enabled), one VGA port, USB 2.0 port (for playing videos or connecting streaming sticks like Roku, Amazon Fire TV stick, Chromecast), mini USB port for updates, and one AUX audio output.

The performance is quite impressive. The native resolution is 1920×1080 (16:9 aspect ratio) while the max resolution is 1920×1200 (WUXGA). The projector can process 1080p videos as well as 3D videos. The brightness is 2,500 lumens while the contrast ratio is 60,000:1 (you cannot get this kind of contrast from a DLP projector within this price range). The image is crisp and clear and the colors are vivid and bright. EPSON 2150 can even be used in rooms with ambient light, but you will naturally get the best results in a dark room.

There are multiple 2D (natural, dynamic, cinema, bright cinema) and 3D (dynamic and cinema) display modes.

Depending on the working mode (normal or eco), the lamp can last up to 7,500 hours.

The projector is Miracast-enabled and you can mirror the screen of your Android or Windows (8.1 and 10) device wirelessly.

In order to adjust the settings, you can use the control panel on the projector. You can also use the included remote with backlit buttons. The OSD menu is simple and easy to use.

The projector features one 10W speaker. It’s doesn’t really deliver great performance and you should definitely use external speakers if you want better listening experience, but can be useful in certain situations.

The manufacturer doesn’t offer any info on the input latency, but the lag is not noticeable which means that you can use this projector for gaming.

ADVANTAGES
2-year warranty
Easy installation – manual and auto vertical keystone, manual horizontal keystone, 15% vertical lens shift, 1.6x zoom, focus
2 HDMI inputs (one of them is MHL-enabled)
It can play 1080p and 3D videos
Pretty good brightness (2,500 lumens) and excellent contrast ratio (60,000:1)
Bright and accurate color reproduction
Perfectly sharp image
Miracast screen mirroring
Built-in 10W speaker
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal lens shift
The USB port can be used for playing slideshows, but we were not able to play common video files
The fan is loud (especially in normal working mode)
Check Price

12. ViewSonic PJD7828HDL

ViewSonic PJD7828HDLIf the previous BenQ, Optoma, and Epson projectors are too expensive for you, here is something more budget-friendly. PJD7828HDL is a home theater projector with a shorter throw and with 1080p native resolution.

Inside the package, you will find your projector, remote (batteries included), power cable, VGA cable, user manual, and 3-year warranty.

The projector is 12.4in wide, 9in deep, 4.1in tall, and it weighs 5.3 pounds.

The installation and setup are quite flexible. You can mount it on a wall/ceiling, on a tripod, or place it on a table next to (in front of) your sitting position. The throw ratio spans from 1.15 to 1.5 depending on the zoom. The max zoom is 1.3x. If you want to get a 100in screen, you have to place the projector at least 8.5ft away from the screen (with max zoom). If you need to adjust picture geometry, you can use vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°). The lens offset is 110% (+/- 5%). Horizontal keystone correction and horizontal/vertical lens shift are not available.

You have all the inputs you could possibly need – one HDMI port at the back, one MHL-enabled HDMI port on the front side (inside enclosed compartment), one VGA input, one monitor output, RS 232 port, AUX in/out ports, one USB Type-A (for charging, not for playing videos), one mini USB (for firmware updates), S-video input, and composite video input.

The performance is more than satisfying for the price. With the 1080p native resolution, 3,200 lumens of brightness, and 22,000:1 contrast ratio, this projector can deliver incredibly sharp picture and vivid lifelike colors (even in rooms with windows or ambient light). This projector can even be used for business/educational presentations. The projector also supports 3D videos. 3D projections are a little bit darker, but still very much watchable. You can select one of 5 color modes (brightest, dynamic, standard, sRGB, and movie) depending on the conditions (lighted or dark room) and your preferences.

There are two working modes – normal and dynamic eco. The estimated lamp life in dynamic eco mode is 10,000 hours. You will get up to 4,000 hours in normal mode.

Input latency is not low enough for gaming – this projector is designed for home theater use.

You can use the included remote (not backlit) or the control buttons on the top panel of the unit to adjust settings.

There is one 10W built-in speaker inside the projector. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s useful, especially if you don’t have external speakers.

ADVANTAGES
Great price/quality ratio
3-year warranty
Simple installation – shorter throw (1.15-1.5), vertical keystone correction, 1.3x zoom, focus, 110% lens offset
Great connectivity (including 2 HDMI ports)
Great brightness (3,200 lumens) and very good contrast ratio (22,000:1)
1080p native resolution
It can play 3D videos
Great picture clarity and color accuracy
Built-in 10W speaker
DISADVANTAGES
It lacks horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift
USB port can be used for charging but not for video playback
The fan is louder than average, especially in normal working mode
Check Price

13. Optoma HD27e 1080p Home Theater Projector

Optoma HD27eOptoma HD27e is another very affordable projector with 1080p native resolution and high brightness rating. This is a great budget option for home theater use or for gaming.

The package includes the projector, remote (batteries included), user manual, and a warranty card.

The projector is small and lightweight. It’s 12.5 inches wide, 9.8 inches deep, 4.3 inches tall, and weighs less than 7 pounds.

The installation is not as flexible as it would be with some more expensive projectors since horizontal keystone correction and horizontal/vertical lens shift are not available. Still, it’s not that hard to set everything up. HD27e features 1.1x zoom and manual focus. The throw ratio varies between 1.47:1 (max zoom) and 1.62:1, and the min required distance for 100in screen is 12ft. You can use vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°) to adjust image geometry. The lens offset is 116% (+/- 5%).

As usual, Optoma home projectors have fewer inputs than other projectors – they usually lack VGA inputs. The good thing is that there are 2 HDMI inputs (one of them is MHL enabled – MHL cable is not included), one USB port (for charging, not for playback), 12V DC trigger, 3D SYNC, and AUX output.

The projector’s native resolution is 1920×1080. It can project videos in 1080p as well as 3D videos. The brightness rating of 3,400 lumens is quite impressive and it’s more than good enough, even for rooms with ambient light. You don’t need this kind of brightness for movie projections in dark rooms, but you can easily change the brightness by selecting one of the working modes (bright, eco, and dynamic) and/or one of the picture modes (Reference, Cinema, Vivid, Bright, Game, 3D, ISF Day/Night/3D). The contrast ratio of 25,000:1 is pretty good for a DLP projector. The image is perfectly clear. The max screen size is 300in, but you will get the best results with 100in-180in screens.

The lamp is very durable. The estimated lamp life is 3,500 hours in bright mode, 10,000 hours in eco mode, and 12,000 hours in dynamic mode. For movie projections in dark rooms, you don’t have to use brighter modes – dynamic mode will be just fine.

You can use the remote or the control panel on top of the projector to adjust settings. The remote is really great – there’s a bunch of buttons (not only basic settings) and all the buttons are backlit.

There is one small 10W speaker inside the projector. You won’t be blown away by the sound, but it’s a useful thing to have in some situations. External speakers are definitely recommended.

The fan is very quiet and not distracting at all. The noise level is lower than 27dB.

ADVANTAGES
Great price/quality ratio
Relatively simple installation and setup – manual 1.1x zoom, manual focus, vertical keystone correction
2 HDMI inputs (one MHL-enabled HDMI port)
Impressive brightness (3,400 lumens) and pretty good contrast ratio (25,000:1)
1080p native resolution and 3D projections
Long-lasting lamp (up to 12,000 hours in dynamic mode)
Built-in 10W speaker
Very quiet fan
Backlit remote buttons
DISADVANTAGES
The projector lacks horizontal keystone and horizontal/vertical lens shift
Expensive replacement lamp
Check Price

14. BenQ HT3050 HD 1080p 3D Home Theater Projector

BenQ HT3050BenQ HT3050 is one of the best-performing home theater projectors under $1000.

The projector comes in a nice cardboard box along with power cable, remote (with batteries), user manual, and 1-year warranty. All the other equipment (FHD wireless module, 3D glasses, carrying bag, etc.) is sold separately.

HT3050 is 13.8in wide, 10.9in deep, 4.8in tall, and weighs 8.1 pounds.

The installation is very flexible. As always, you will get more flexibility (additional alignment tools) if you pay more. The projector has a relatively short throw (1.15:1 (with max zoom)-1.5:1). The max zoom is 1.3x. If you want to adjust the geometry of the picture, you can use auto vertical keystone correction (+/- 30°) and manual horizontal keystone (+/- 30). Thanks to horizontal keystone, you don’t have to place the projector directly in front of the screen – you can place it on the left or right side. Still, using keystone correction affects the image quality and you should avoid using it if you can.  Also, there’s a vertical lens shift tool (+/- 10%). The only thing you won’t get is horizontal lens shift. You can mount the projector on a wall/ceiling or you can put it on a table. Lens offset is 105% (this is important for placing the projector – 105% vertical offset means that the lens axis has to be slightly below the bottom edge of the screen).

HT3050 is very impressive when it comes to connectivity. You have all the connections you could possibly need including 3 HDMI ports (two of them are MHL-enabled), one charging USB port, one USB mini-B port, VGA port, RS 232 port, component video inputs, RCA audio inputs, AUX input, AUX output, and 12V DC trigger.

The projector features a modest brightness rating of 2,000 lumens which is probably not good enough for bright rooms, but it will amaze you in a dedicated home theater room. 15,000:1 contrast ratio is not as high as you might expect, but what makes this projector special is the perfect color reproduction accuracy. The image is 100% compliant with the Rec. 709 color accuracy standard. All the colors are incredibly vivid and lifelike. With the 1080p native resolution, HT3050 can project perfectly sharp images. It can also project 3D videos (720p frame sequential, 1080p frame packing, 1080p/1080i side by side, 1080p/1080i top to bottom). 3D projections are a little bit darker compared to 2D projections. There are multiple picture modes – bright, game, vivid, Rec. 709, custom, 3D. You can also have three additional ISF modes (ISF day/night/3D), but you will have to pay a licensed ISF engineer to calibrate the projector for you.

The lamp life is not impressive. It’s expected to last up to 6,000 hours in SmartEco mode, 5,000 hours in Eco mode, or up to 3,500 hours in normal mode. The worst thing is that the replacement lamp is quite expensive (approx. $250).

Inside the projector, there are 2 10W speakers. Compared to some other speakers, this is quite impressive, but it’s still not enough for an immersive listening experience. On the other hand, it can be useful for outdoor projections, especially if you don’t want to disturb your neighbors with larger speakers.

ADVANTAGES
Very flexible installation – 1.3x zoom, focus, auto vertical keystone, manual horizontal keystone, vertical lens shift, relatively shorter throw ratio
Great connectivity
Good brightness for home theater use (2,000 lumens) and decent contrast ratio (15,000:1)
Great color accuracy – 100% coverage of the Rec 709 color accuracy standard
1080p native resolution and 3D projections
Built-in speakers
Quiet fan
DISADVANTAGES
The projector lacks horizontal lens shift correction
The lamp life is not on par with similarly priced projectors
Very expensive replacement lamp
Check Price

15. Optoma HD39Darbee 1080p Home Theater Projector

Optoma HD39DarbeeOptoma HD39Darbee is the latest Optoma projector from the HD series with Darbee image enhancement. Along with HT3050, HD39Darbee is our favorite when it comes to projectors under $1000. This could easily be the best multipurpose home projector under $1000.

The packaging includes the projector, carrying bag, remote (with batteries), power cable, user manual, and 1-year warranty. You will have to buy additional equipment (3D glasses, wall/ceiling mounts, etc.) separately.

The projector is 12.36in wide, 8.8in deep, 4.5in tall, and it weighs 6.17 pounds.

The installation is very simple and flexible. Depending on the zoom (max optical zoom is 1.6x), throw ratio varies from 1.4 to 2.24:1. The min required distance for 100in screen is 10.2ft. If you have to correct the geometry of the image, you can use vertical keystone correction (+/- 40°) and vertical lens shift (+/- 17%).  Lens offset is 116% (+/- 5%). You can place the projector on a table, or mount it on a wall/ceiling. Placing it on a high shelf behind your sitting position could be problematic since you will have to tilt it and then use the vertical keystone or lens shift to adjust the image. The max screen size is 300in (max recommended size is 180in).

In terms of connectivity, HD39Darbee is inferior compared to BenQ HT3050, but you still have more than enough inputs/outputs. There are 2 HDMI ports (one of them is MHL-enabled), one S-video input, one AUX output, one USB 2.0 (for charging), USB mini Type B port, and 12V DC trigger.

When it comes to performance, HD39Darbee could even be considered better than HT3050 and it’s definitely more versatile. Since it has low input latency, it can be used for both gaming and home theater (HT3050 has greater input lag). HD39Darbee has a very good brightness rating (3,500 lumens) and contrast ratio (32,000:1). The projector delivers perfectly clear 1080p picture and can also project videos in full 3D. Thanks to Darbee enhanced image processing, the projector covers 100% of the Rec. 709 color accuracy standard (in reference display mode). There are multiple display modes including vivid, game, cinema, reference, bright, user (custom), 3D. The projector can also be ISF calibrated, but you will have to pay a professional to perform the calibration.

There are three working (brightness) modes – bright, eco, and dynamic. Depending on the mode, the lamp life varies between 4,000 hours (bright mode) and 15,000 hours (dynamic mode).

The projector comes with a remote that you can use for all the adjustments (you don’t have to use the control panel on the unit at all). All the buttons are backlit.

There’s one 10W speaker inside the projector. It’s not going to make your listening experience great and it’s definitely recommended to use external speakers, but it’s not a completely unnecessary thing. In fact, it can be quite useful for outdoor projections.

ADVANTAGES
Simple and flexible installation – 1.6x optical zoom, focus, vertical keystone correction, vertical lens shift, 1.4-2.24:1 throw ratio
Satisfying connectivity (2 HDMI ports)
Great brightness (3,500 lumens) and very good contrast ratio (32,000:1)
1080p native resolution and full 3D projections
Perfectly clear picture with impressive color accuracy
Impressive lamp life (up to 15,000 hours in dynamic mode)
Great for gaming (low input latency)
Backlit remote
Built-in speaker
Quiet fan
DISADVANTAGES
The projector lacks horizontal keystone correction and horizontal lens shift
Check Price

This is the end of our list of 15 best projectors under $1000, but don’t go away, yet. If you haven’t found anything that suits your needs and you want to keep on looking, you may want to check out our short buyers’ guide. We have tried to mention all the important features you should consider when looking for a projector.


Things to Pay Attention to When Buying a Projector

In order to keep things simple, we are going to divide all the important things you should pay attention to, into five groups – available space/throw ratio, picture quality, functionality and ease of use, reliability/durability/maintenance, and additional features important for different types of projectors.

Available Space VS Throw Ratio

We have already discussed throw ratios at the beginning of this article so there is no need to repeat all the details, but you must not forget or neglect this feature. If you do, you may end up with a projector that cannot project the desired image size from the planned distance. Before you buy the projector, make sure that you have everything calculated.

Picture Quality

Picture quality is, obviously, the most important thing when it comes to projectors. After all, they are part of the video equipment. There are many characteristics describing the picture quality and all those characteristics combined will give you the idea of what to expect when it comes to picture quality. The most important features you should be considering are resolution, aspect ratio, contrast ratio, brightness/light color output, and projection technology.

Picture Quality

Most of the $500+ projectors have a native resolution of 1920×1080 and can project 1080p videos. Even some much cheaper projectors support 1080p videos. So, it’s safe to say that 1920×1080 is a standard resolution for projectors under $1000. You can’t really expect 4K resolution at this price point – that’s reserved for high-end projectors. Still, 1080p is more than enough for home theater use and for gaming.

Cheaper projectors under $500 may have a smaller native resolution (SVGA, XGA, WXGA) and they are probably better for business and educational use (for presentations) than for home theater use or gaming.

Most of the pricier projectors have a 16:9 native aspect ratio, but they can all play videos in 4:3 and 16:10.

Brightness is usually described in ANSI lumens (or simply lumens), but you may also find in some specs lists this value expressed in lux (cheap projectors). Both units are closely related to light, but lumens measure the total amount of light output, while lux measure light intensity. All the reputable projector manufacturers express brightness in lumens. Depending on the purpose (and on the type of the projector), different values will be considered good. If you need a home theater projector or gaming projector and if you are going to use it in a dedicated home theater room or room with a minimal amount of ambient light, you don’t really need more than 2000 lumens, especially if you are buying a short throw projector (due to shorter distance, they don’t need to have as high light output as standard projectors). If you are going to use your projector in brighter rooms (more ambient light, windows), you are going to need higher brightness (3000+ lumens).

Some manufacturers will give you two values in lumens – brightness and color light output. Brightness describes the white light while the color light output describes the intensity of bright colors.

Image quality depends a lot on the projection technology (DLP, LCD, LCoS) and type of lenses, but it’s impossible to say which projection technology is the best. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.

Functionality and Ease of Use

There are three important aspects when it comes to functionality and ease of use – installation, connectivity, and controls.

The installation may be the most difficult part of the setup, especially if you don’t have some useful alignment tools at your disposal. After determining the required distance, you have to consider the lens offset and calculate the position of the projector (above or below the screen). Lens shift (vertical and horizontal) can be very useful and it’s used to shift the picture above/below or left/right without affecting the resolution and clarity. Unfortunately, you won’t find this feature on cheaper projectors. You can find keystone correction feature on most projectors (even cheap ones) and you can use it to align the image, but this correction can affect the image quality and clarity.

Connectivity is an important thing for every projector and there’s one simple rule – more connections is always better. Some projectors feature 2 or 3 HDMI port, some of them also feature MHL-enabled HDMI ports, USB-C ports, USB charging ports, etc.

Reliability/Durability/Maintenance

In every specs list, you can find some info on the life expectancy of the lamp (light source). It’s not a brainer what to look for. The life expectancy should be as long as possible. Some lamps can last up to 40,000 hours. No matter how long-lasting the lamp is, it will stop working eventually so it’s probably smart to check the price of the replacement lamp. Depending on the manufacturer and model, the price can go up to $250 or $300, which is not something you should neglect.

Additional Important Features for Gaming, Home Theater, and Business Projectors

If you are looking for a gaming projector, you should also pay attention to input lag and refresh rates. The input lag should be shorter than 40ms. 120Hz refresh rate is desirable, but even 60Hz (at 1080p) is good. Some multipurpose projectors have a dedicated game mode which reduces the input lag.

Home theater projectors should support 1080p video projections as well as 3D projections. Their brightness doesn’t have to be greater than 2000 lumens, but all the other numbers related to image quality should be as high as possible.  

If you are going to use your projector for business and educational presentations, you should pay closer attention to the brightness and contrast ratings. Brightness ratings should be higher, especially if the projector is going to be used in bright rooms (lots of ambient light, windows). Higher contrast is important for graphs and other visual data. 

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