8 Best Short Throw Projectors In 2019

After comprehensive research and days of testing, we have made a list of 8 best short throw projectors on the market. Depending on your needs and intended purpose, you will have to look for different specs, but you can definitely find at least one short throw projector for every purpose on this list. Whether you are looking for a short throw projector for your home theater, for gaming, or for business and educational use, you’ve come to the right place.

Short Throw Projector

When it comes to projectors, short throw projector market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry. People always want bigger screens and more immersive watching experience, but buying a bigger TV is not always the best solution. Huge 80-inch 4K TVs are quite expensive and they require a lot of space. Just imagine what happens if you want a 100-inch or 120-inch TV. In those cases, buying a projector and a projection screen (or making your own projection screen) can be much more cost-effective. They also occupy less space and they are easier to transport and install. Let’s assume that you want to bring your home theater to the backyard, gather your friends, and make a movie projection. Taking your 100-inch TV out is really difficult, especially if it’s mounted on a wall. Bringing a projector and a portable projection screen is a much better idea.

One of the biggest issues you might experience with standard projectors is related to the distance necessary to achieve the desired image size. Most of these standard projectors require at least 12ft in order to project a 100in image. The bigger the screen, the longer the distance – that’s the basic rule when it comes to projectors. If you want an even bigger screen, 150in for example, you will need to place a standard projector at least 18ft away from the screen. If your room is too small, that’s going to be absolutely impossible. In situations like these, the only viable solution is buying a short throw (or ultra short throw) projector. The basic purpose of short throw projectors is bringing big screens into small rooms, entertainment centers, and mini home theaters.

What is a Short Throw Projector?

Based on the distance required to achieve the desired image size, we can make a difference between long throw, standard, short throw, and ultra short throw projectors. The characteristic that describes the ratio between the required distance and the image size is called throw ratio. Based on the throw ratio, you can easily determine if the projector is short throw or not. Standard projectors have a throw ratio of 1.5:1 or bigger (this means that you have to place the projector 1.5ft away from the screen to get 1ft diagonal). Short throw projectors have much smaller throw ratios (0.40:1-1.4:1) and ultra short throw projectors have even smaller (0.39:1 or less).

Projector TypeThrow ratioDesired screen diag.Required distance
Standard1.5:1 (and larger)100in12.5ft +
Short throw0.4:1 - 1.4:1100in3.3ft – 11.6ft
Ultrashort throw0.39:1 (and smaller)100inLess than 3.2ft

So, depending on the available space in your room, you should determine what kind of projector is the best for you. The process of buying a short throw projector includes some measuring and comparing specs, but it’s not complicated. The first thing you should do is measure the available space and determine the screen size you want to get. Based on those two measurements, you can determine the max and min throw ratio and look for short throw projectors with the desired throw ratio.

Product Overview

BEST FOR HOME THEATERBEST FOR GAMINGBEST FOR BUSINESS/EDUCATIONBEST PORTABLE
BenQ HT3050 HDOptoma GT1080DarbeeViewSonic PX706HDASUS P3B
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Why Would You Need a Short Throw Projector?

In terms of performance, standard and short throw projectors are basically the same. The only difference is the throw ratio. Short throw projectors use a different kind of lenses which allows them to project larger images from a smaller distance. This advantage basically determines the usage of short throw projectors. Whenever you have to deal with limited space, short throw projectors (or even ultra short throw projectors) are the best option.

What About the Prices?

Short throw projectors are definitely more cost-effective option than large 80-inch or 100-inch TVs, but they are definitely not cheap. They are usually more expensive than the standard or long throw projectors with the same characteristics. So, even if all the other specs are the same, you can expect a short throw projector to be at least $200 pricier. Depending on the other specs, the price of short throw projectors varies from a few hundred (entry level) to a few thousand dollars (high-end). A bunch of short throw projectors is priced under $1000 and that’s the fastest-growing segment of the market. In this article, we will be dealing with these budget projectors under $1000.

This is our selection of 8 best short throw projectors


1. BenQ HT2050A 1080P DLP Home Theater Projector

BenQ HT2050A 1080P DLP Home Theater ProjectorBenQ is the bestselling brand when it comes to DLP projectors. BenQ’s HT2050A is a relatively affordable (priced under $650) high-performing multipurpose projector. It’s designed for home theater use but it is pretty good for gaming (it even has a gaming mode), and thanks to max brightness of 2,200 lumens, it’s not a bad choice for presentations (but you might want something brighter for that).

The package includes the projector with a lens cover, remote (batteries included), power cord, quick start guide, user manual (on a CD), and a 3-year warranty. A wireless kit is also available (FHD WDP02), but you have to buy it separately.

The projector is packed into a compact housing. It weighs 7lb, and it’s 15in wide, 4.8in high, and 11in deep.

The installation is relatively easy. You will have a lot of flexibility when it comes to positioning. Throw ratio varies between 1.15:1 (max zoom) and 1.5:1 (min zoom). Max. zoom is rated at 1.3x. You can get the 80-inch picture from a 6.6ft distance (with max zoom) or 100-inch picture from 8.3ft distance. Take these numbers into consideration before you make a decision. You should ask yourself if 100in diagonal is enough for you and do you have more than 8ft of space between the screen and the projector. Max screen size is 300in (diagonal), but it’s recommended not to go over 180in. If the screen is larger than 180in, the picture clarity and brightness are reduced.

The lens offset is rated at 105% (+/-2.5%) above the lens axis so you will have to place the projector slightly below the screen (if it’s placed on a table) or slightly above the screen edge (if it’s mounted on the ceiling). You don’t have to be perfectly precise since there is a 10% vertical lens shift and 2D keystone feature (horizontal and vertical adjustment +/-30°).

Once you are done with the positioning, you can plug in all your video and audio inputs and outputs. You have two HDMI 1.4a ports (HDCP 1.4 compliant), one USB type-A port, one mini USB port (for updates), PC VGA input, component video inputs, RCA audio inputs, and AUX input and output. It also features RS 232 port and a 12V DC trigger. There are two IR sensors, one on the top and one on the front panel.

This little projector delivers impressive performance for the price. Max supported resolution is 1920×1080 (1080p videos). The native aspect ratio is 16:9. Brightness is rated at 2,200 lumens but it varies depending on the mode. There are three working modes – normal, economic, and SmartEco. Depending on the mode, the estimated lamp life is 3,500h (in normal mode), 5,000 (in economic mode), or 7,000 (in SmartEco mode). For a home theater use in a dedicated theater room with minimum ambient light, SmartEco mode is just perfect. The contrast ratio is rated at 15,000:1 which is not bad for an entry-level DLP projector. Thanks to 6x speed color wheel the projector can produce the picture that covers 96% of the Rec. 709 international color accuracy standard. The black levels are deep and very distinctive. If you want to adjust some settings or choose a different mode, you can use the controls on the projector itself, or you can use the remote and a user-friendly OSD menu.

HT2050A can also project 3D videos. The brightness is reduced in 3D mode, which is normal for all the short throw projectors, but it’s still better than other entry-level competitors. There are multiple picture modes including Bright, Vivid TV, Game/Fast, Cinema, 3D. The projector can be ISF calibrated (ISD day and ISF night), but you will have to pay a professional ISF engineer to do it for you. The projector also has a built-in 10W speaker so if you don’t have speakers or surround sound system, you don’t have to buy any additional equipment.

If you are a gamer, you should know that the input lag is rated at 16ms (in game/fast mode) and the refresh rate for 1080p video is 60Hz. So, it’s not bad for gaming and it delivers an impressive performance when it comes to video processing.

With BenQ HT2050A, you get a great value at an affordable price.

ADVANTAGES
Great price + 3-year warranty
Easy installation (2D keystone, 10% vertical lens shift)
Numerous inputs and outputs
Bright and sharp picture
Pretty good contrast
Accurate color reproduction
Impressive 16ms input lag in Fast/Game mode
Quiet fan
DISADVANTAGES
Replacement lamp is quite expensive ($249 on BenQ’s website)
Mounting on a high shelf behind your seating position can be problematic due to fixed lens offset
HDMI ports are not MHL-enabled
Check Price

2. Best for Gaming – Optoma GT1080Darbee 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP Short Throw Gaming Projector

Optoma GT1080Darbee 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP Short Throw Gaming ProjectorOptoma is another reputable video equipment manufacturer. Their projectors and Blu-ray players are very popular among the customers. GT1080Darbee is an upgraded version of Optoma projector GT1080 (higher brightness and contrast ratio, longer lamp life) and it’s designed for gaming but it is also great for home theater use. Brightness is also quite impressive and it enables you to use the projector even in rooms with ambient light and windows.

The package includes projector, remote (batteries included), user manual, power cord, and 1-year warranty. Depending on the region, the package may also include some additional equipment (carrying bag, HDMI cable, MHL cable).

GT1080Darbee is practically portable although it’s not battery-operated. It weighs 5.5lb, it’s 12.4 inches wide, 3.5 inches high, and 8.8 inches deep.

This projector is not as easy for installation as the previous one, but you still have some freedom. The throw ratio is fixed (no zoom) and it’s rated at 0.49:1 which means that you have to calculate the distance before the installation. If you want a 100-inch screen, the projector is supposed to be placed 4.08ft away from the screen. The maximum screen diagonal is 303 inches, but anything over 150 or 180 inches will reduce brightness and picture clarity. Lens offset is 116% which means that you should place the projector below the bottom edge of the screen (if placed on a table, next or in front of your seating position), or above the upper edge of the screen (if mounted on the ceiling). Because of the offset, placing the projector behind you, on a high shelf, would require some tilting and you would have to use the keystone correction which reduces the image quality. There’s no lens shift feature, but you can perform vertical keystone correction of +/- 40° (horizontal keystone correction is not possible).

GT1080Darbee doesn’t have as many inputs as BenQ HT2050A so if you need more versatility, you won’t be happy. There are 2 HDMI 1.4a inputs (one of them is MHL enabled), mini USB port (firmware updates), AUX output port, 12V DC trigger, and a 3D sync output connector.

There’s a simple and nicely designed control panel on the top panel of the projector. All the basic features are there (source, keystone correction, power, menu). You can also use the included remote (all the buttons are backlit). The remote offers even more control over the playback and picture. The OSD menu looks nice and it’s user-friendly.

The performance is more than satisfying. The max supported resolution is 1920×1200 while the native resolution is 1920×1080 (1080p) and the native aspect ratio is 16:9 (it also supports 4:3). Brightness is rated at 3,000 lumens which is more than enough even for rooms with windows and ambient light. Depending on the selected mode (bright, ECO, dynamic) the expected life of the lamp varies from 5,000h (in bright mode) to 8,000h (in dynamic mode).

There are multiple display presets. You can choose between cinema, vivid, game, reference, bright, 3D, ISF day/night, ISF 3D. In our opinion, you will get the best results (most accurate colors, best contrast, and deepest black levels) with the reference and game modes (and with the dynamic black feature turned on). They are even better for movies than cinema mode. Vivid mode is the best for bright rooms. The maximum contrast ratio is rated at 28,000:1. Thanks to DarbeeVision Image Processing and sRGB color wheel, the picture is extremely detailed and clear, and the colors are perfectly accurate.

GT1080Darbee can also project 3D content. The picture is a little bit dimmed in the 3D mode (compared to 2D projection), but that’s perfectly normal.

Due to low input lag of 16ms, this projector is very good for gaming.

ADVANTAGES
Great price/performance ratio
Clear picture
Accurate colors
Great brightness (3,000 lumens)
0.49 throw ratio
Pretty good connectivity (MHL-enabled)
Low input lag time (great for gaming)
Quiet fan
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of lens shift and zoom (harder installation)
Lens offset makes it difficult to install the projector on a high shelf behind your seating position
Check Price

3. Optoma ML1050ST+ Palm-Sized Short Throw DLP Projector

Optoma ML1050ST+ Palm-Sized Short Throw DLP ProjectorML1050ST+ is a super-small and portable (but not battery-operated) projector. A lot of useful features is packed inside this mini projector that can be easily used on the go. It’s great for all kinds of presentations, but it can also be used in mini home theaters and it can deliver pretty amazing image quality. Still, if you only need a projector for your home theater and you don’t care about portability, you should consider adding a few bucks and buying something more capable. If you need something similar to ML1050ST but cheaper, you can try ML750ST. The only difference between these two models is the brightness (1,000 lumens VS 700 lumens).

The package includes projector, lens cap, power cord, one VGA cable, user manual, small carrying case, and a remote. You can also buy a bunch of additional accessories separately. Some of the available accessories are WHD200 wireless transmitter/receiver, wireless USB adapter, DLP Link 3D glasses, HDCast Pro MHL-enabled stick, etc.

As we’ve said, this projector is really small. It weighs 14 ounces, it’s 4.4 inches wide, 4.1 inches deep, and 1.6 inches high.

The projector is supposed to be placed on a table or mounted on a tripod. The throw ratio is 0.8:1. The optimal screen diagonal is 60in and the required distance between the projector and the screen for that screen size is 3.4ft. The maximum image size is 100in (at a 5.65ft distance). The projector features +/- 40 degrees vertical keystone correction (horizontal correction is not available) and has an autofocus feature which is a nice idea but it doesn’t always work in practice. Lens shift feature is not available which is a minus. The offset is 100% (+/- 5%) which means that the center of the lens needs to be lined up with the bottom edge of the projection screen.

The projector has only one HDMI port and it’s MHL-enabled (it features MHL 2.0). There is also one universal I/O port, USB port (you can use it for firmware upgrades but you can also play all kinds of media files including Microsoft Office files, pdf files, videos, etc. directly from your USB flash drive), micro SD card slot (also for playing media), and AUX output. The control panel is located on the top, but you can also use the remote and OSD menu to adjust the settings. Unfortunately, the remote looks cheap, it’s not perfectly responsive, and it really needs to be upgraded.

For what it is, this projector delivers decent performance, but not on par with some home theater and gaming projectors. The native resolution is 1280×800 while the maximum is 1920×1200. Native aspect ratio is 16:10, but it can also project an image in 16:9 or 4:3. The contrast is rated at 20,000:1 and the color accuracy is pretty good. The only thing that’s not so great is the brightness (1,000 lumens). So, if you want to use it for movies, you need to keep the ambient light to a minimum (if you don’t, the image will be washed out). This projector is best-suited for presentations and for use on the go. If you want something for your home theater, you can check out the first projector on this list. It delivers better performance and better image, and it’s even cheaper than the ML1050ST+.

The projector also features a built-in speaker. It’s not the greatest, but it can be useful in certain situation.

ADVANTAGES
Very small/super-portable
Decent brightness for such a small and portable device
Autofocus feature
Pretty good connectivity
Long-lasting LED light source (up to 30,000h in ECO mode)
DISADVANTAGES
Not battery-operated
Lack of lens shift feature
Awful remote
Some people might find 1,000 lumens of brightness insufficient
Poor built-in speaker
Check Price

4. Best for Home Theater – BenQ HT3050 HD 1080p 3D Home Theater Projector

BenQ HT3050 HD 1080p 3D Home Theater ProjectorIn many ways, HT3050 is very similar to the previously mentioned HT2050. After all, they are both from the same series of projectors. Compared to HT2050A, there are some small cosmetic changes, but we are going to concentrate on more important stuff like the installation and performance. HT3050 is almost $200 pricier than the HT2050A and we are not really sure if it’s worth the extra money, but you can make your own conclusion based on our review. And, you can also check out the latest version HT4050 (which is even more expensive).

Both projectors come in the same package and both packages include power cord, quick start guide, user manual (on a CD), and a warranty card (HT2050A came with a 3-year warranty while there is only 1-year warranty for HT3050). A wireless kit is also available (FHD WDP02), but you have to buy it separately.

HT3050 is a bit heavier (8.1lb compared to 7lb). The projector is 15 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 4.8 inches high.

The installation is even easier than the installation of HT2050A. The throw ratio varies between 1.15:1 and 1.5:1 depending on the zoom. The maximum zoom is 1.3x. For a 100in screen, you need to place the projector at least 8.3ft away (with the max zoom). The maximum screen size is 300in but it’s recommended not to go over 180in.  You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to positioning. It’s recommended to place it perpendicularly to the screen, but you can also place it on your left or right side. The projector features 2D keystone (automatic vertical and manual horizontal alignment +/- 30°). You can also use the vertical lens shift to adjust the image (+/- 10%). Lens offset is 105% so you should place the projector slightly above (when mounted on a ceiling) or below the screen.

HT3050 features basically the same inputs and outputs as HT2050A. There are 2 HDMI 1.4a ports, but the big difference is that one of them is MHL-enabled (HT2050A doesn’t have MHL-enabled HDMI ports). All the other ports are the same on both versions. So, you have one USB type-A port, one mini USB port (for updates), PC VGA input, component video inputs, RCA audio inputs, AUX input and output, RS 232 port, and a 12V DC trigger. There are two IR sensors, one on the top and one on the front panel. One thing we should also mention is the third HDMI port (also MHL-enabled) inside the case. This port is used for adding the wireless module.

When it comes to performance, the first difference is the brightness. HT2050A delivers 2,200 ANSI lumens while HT3050 delivers 2,000. The difference is not huge and it’s not really noticeable, especially when watching movies.

HT3050 projector has a native resolution of 1920×1080 and can project 1080p videos. Its native aspect ratio is 16:9 and it can also project the picture in 4:3. Just like HT2050A, HT3050 features three brightness modes (normal, economic, and SmartEco) and depending on the mode, the estimated lamp life varies between 3,500h (normal mode) to 7,000h (SmartEco mode). Contrast ratio for both models is rated at 15,000:1 which is not bad. Thanks to 6x speed RGBRGB color wheel the projector can produce the picture that fully covers the international Rec. 709 color standard. Compared to HT2050A, HT3050 deliver more accurate colors. If you want to adjust some settings or choose a different mode, you can use the controls on the projector itself, or you can use the remote and a user-friendly OSD menu.

Just like HT2050A, HT3050 can project 3D videos. The brightness is reduced in 3D mode, but it’s still better than other entry-level competitors. The picture modes we’ve had with the HT2050A are present here, too. There are Bright, Vivid TV, Game/Fast, Cinema, and 3D modes. The projector can be ISF calibrated (ISF day and ISF night), but you will have to pay a professional to do it for you. HT3050 has a stronger built-in speaker than the HT2050A (20W VS 10W) so if you don’t have speakers or surround sound system, you don’t have to buy any additional equipment. It’s particularly useful if you want to make a projection in your backyard or on the go.

If you need a gaming projector, you should know that the HT3050 is not a great choice. HT2050A has the input lag of 16ms (in game/fast mode) which makes it pretty good for gaming while HT3050 has a significantly greater input lag (50ms+).

ADVANTAGES
Pretty good price/performance ratio
Easy installation (2D keystone, 10% vertical lens shift)
Numerous inputs and outputs
MHL-enabled HDMI port
Bright and sharp picture
Pretty good contrast (15,000:1)
Perfectly accurate color reproduction
Quiet fan
DISADVANTAGES
Replacement lamp is quite expensive ($249 on BenQ’s website)
Mounting on a high shelf behind your seating position can be problematic due to fixed lens offset
Not a good choice for gaming
Check Price

5. Best for Business and Education – ViewSonic PX706HD Short Throw Projector

ViewSonic PX706HD Short Throw ProjectorViewSonic may seem not as reliable or not as reputable as Optoma, BenQ, or Epson, but don’t be afraid to try their projectors. They actually offer quite an impressive performance for the price and they are usually cheaper than more popular Optoma or BenQ projectors. If you need a budget-friendly projector, ViewSonic is a great choice.

PX706HD comes in a simple package along with a power cable, VGA cable, user manual, and a 3-year warranty. The manufacturer also offers an extended 4 and 5-year warranty.

The projector weighs 6 pounds, it is 11.5 inches wide, 8.7 inches deep, and 4.5 inches high. It’s quite portable, but not super-small.

The installation of the projector is not as easy as the installation of the previously mentioned HT2050A or HT3050 but it’s not that hard. The throw ratio varies from 0.69:1 (max zoom) to 0.83:1 (min zoom). The max zoom is 1.2x. This basically means that your projector has to be 5ft away from the projection screen to get a 100in picture. Lens offset is approx. 100% which means that the lens axis has to be lined up with the bottom of the screen (or top of the screen if you are going to mount the projector on the ceiling). The image can be adjusted through the vertical keystone (+/-20°). There is no horizontal keystone and there is no lens shift.

PX706HD features 2 HDMI 1.4 inputs (HDCP 1.4 compliant), one VGA port, one mini USB (for updates), one RS 232 port, one composite video input, one AUX input, and one AUX output. What makes it really interesting is the additional USB Type-C port which can be used for charging or for data transfer (for projections). You can even charge the projector while playing video via USB-C connection.

PX706HD can project 1080p HD videos (1920×1080) in 16:9 aspect ratio. Contrast ratio is 22,000:1. All these characteristics imply that PX706HD is a good choice for home theater use, but that’s not the only thing this projector is good for. Thanks to high brightness of 3,000 lumens (this is very high for a short throw projector), this projector is great for presentations/projections in bright rooms, and due to short input lag (less than 16ms), it’s also great for gaming.

The estimated lamp life depends on the selected working/brightness mode. You will get up to 4,000 hours in Normal mode, up to 10,000h in Eco mode, and up 15,000h in Dynamic Eco mode.

There are 6 picture modes – brightest (which is good only if there’s a lot of ambient light), sports, gaming, standard, movie, and 3D mode. For home theater use (in a dark room without ambient lights), we recommend choosing movie mode and Eco mode. If you select movie mode and normal working mode, the image will be too bright and the colors will be washed out. Once you find the right combination for each set of conditions, you will be able to enjoy a perfectly clear picture with vivid and accurate colors.

The projector supports 3D. The picture is a little bit darker during the 3D projections, but it will still more than bright enough for 100 or 120in screen.

If you want to adjust some settings, there are control buttons on top of the unit. The projector also comes with a remote which looks really cheap and plasticky. You can use it to access the OSD menu and make basic and advanced adjustments.

PX706HD features a small built-in 5W speaker. It’s nothing special and you will probably have to use some more powerful speakers if you want more immersive experience, but it can be useful in some situations.

ADVANTAGES
Relatively simple installation
100in screen from a 5ft distance
2 HDMI inputs + 1 USB Type-C input
1080p Full HD projections
Supports 3D
Suitable for gaming (less than 16ms input lag)
Suitable for business presentations in bright rooms (3,000 lumens)
3-year warranty on parts and labor + 1-year warranty on lamp
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of lens shift
Lack of horizontal keystone
Cheap-looking remote
Crappy built-in speaker
Check Price

6. BenQ HT2150ST 1080p Home Theater Projector Short Throw for Gaming Movies and Sports

BenQ HT2150ST 1080p Home Theater Projector Short Throw for Gaming Movies and SportsBenQ HT2150ST is, in many ways, similar to the previously reviewed HT2050A, but the important difference is that HT2150ST has a significantly shorter throw. So, if you don’t have enough space for a cheaper HT2050A, you might want to check out HT2150ST.

The package includes projector, remote (with batteries), lens cover, carrying bag, quick start guide, user manual (on a CD), and a 1-year warranty. You can also buy a wireless kit (FHD WDP02) separately.

The projector weighs 7.27 pounds, it’s 15in wide, 11in deep, and 4.8in high.

The installation of HT2150ST is a little bit harder than the installation of HT2050A or HT3050 due to lack of the horizontal keystone and lens shift. This means that you have to be precise, especially if you are going to mount it on your ceiling. The only tool at your disposal is the vertical keystone (+/- 20°). Depending on the zoom, the throw ratio varies between 0.69 (with the max zoom of 1.2x) and 0.83 (with min zoom). In order to get a 100in image, you have to place the projector 5ft away (max zoom) from the screen. For a 120in screen, the min distance is 6ft. The max recommended screen size is 180in. Lens offset is 102.5% (+/- 2.5%) which means that you have to position the projector slightly above (when mounted on a ceiling) or slightly below the screen.

The projector has 2 HDMI inputs (one of them is MHL-enabled), 12V DC trigger, USB port (you can use it to connect wireless kit), mini USB port (for firmware updates), VGA PC input, RS 232 port, AUX input, and AUX output.

In terms of performance, HT2150ST is very similar to HT2050A. HT3050 is more of a home theater projector, while HT2150ST and HT2050 are multipurpose projectors and can be used for gaming, too. What makes HT2150ST different from HT2050 is the shorter throw. It can project 1080p full HD videos in 16:9 aspect ratio (native resolution and aspect ratio). It also supports 4:3 aspect ratio. The brightness is rated at 2,200 lumens (same as HT2050A) but it varies depending on the working mode. There are three modes – normal, economic, and SmartEco (the same as the previous two BenQ projectors). Depending on the mode, the estimated lamp life is 3,500h (in normal mode), 5,000 (in economic mode), or 7,000 (in SmartEco mode).

SmartEco mode is suitable for home theater use. The contrast ratio is rated at 15,000:1 which is not bad for an entry-level projector. Just like HT2050A, HT2150ST features 6x speed color wheel and can produce the picture that covers 96% of the Rec. 709 international color accuracy standard. The black levels are deep and very distinctive.

In case you want to adjust some settings, there are control buttons on the projector itself or you can use the remote and a user-friendly OSD menu. There are two OSD modes – basic and advanced.

You can select one of the following picture modes – Bright, Game/Fast, Cinema, 3D, and Vivid TV. The projector can be ISF calibrated (ISD day and ISF night), but you will have to pay a certified ISF engineer to do it for you.

HT2150ST can project 3D videos. The brightness is reduced in 3D mode (compared to 2D), but it’s very much watchable. You will have to buy some DLP LINK 3D glasses since they are not included in the package.

Just like HT2050A, HT2150ST has a low input lag (approx. 16ms in game/fast mode) which makes it great for gaming.

Another interesting feature is a built-in 20W (2x10W) speaker. It’s not the best, but it can be useful.

ADVANTAGES
Short throw (0.69-0.83)
Relatively simple installation
MHL-enabled HDMI port
1080p video reproduction
Bright and sharp picture
Pretty good contrast
Accurate color reproduction
Impressive 16.67ms input lag in Fast/Game mode
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of horizontal keystone
Lack of lens shift
Replacement lamp is quite expensive ($249 on BenQ’s website)
Mounting on a high shelf behind your seating position can be problematic due to fixed lens offset
Check Price

7. Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2045

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2045Epson is one of the pioneers on the projector market. Unlike Optoma and BenQ projectors, their projectors use 3-chip 3LCD technology which delivers much better contrast, but has some flaws, too (there’s a short comparison between these two technologies at the end of this article). With the throw ratio of 1.22 – 1.47, this projector is somewhere in between short throw and standard.

Along with the projector, you will get a power cable, remote control (with batteries), user guide, and a 2-year warranty.

The projector is compact, but not the smallest out there. It is 11.7in wide, 9.8in deep, 4.7in tall, and it weighs less than 7 pounds.

You don’t have that much flexibility when it comes to installation and positioning. The projector lacks lens shifting but features automatic vertical keystone correction and manual keystone correction (+/-30°). As you probably know, it’s not recommended to use too much keystone as it tends to reduce the image quality. The smartest thing is to calibrate everything and determine the exact position of the projector relative to your screen so you don’t have to use the keystone correction. The throw ratio varies between 1.22 and 1.47 depending on the zoom (the max zoom is 1.2x). Based on the distance chart for projections in 16:9 ratio, if you want a 100in image, you have to place the projector at least 9ft away from the screen (with the maximum zoom). The max recommended screen size is 150in.

There are multiple connections on the back panel. You have 2 HDMI inputs (one of them is MHL compatible), VGA PC input, USB port (supports slideshow projections but cannot be used for movie projections), mini USB port (firmware updates), AUX and RCA audio outputs, and a component video input.

The performance is on par with the price and with other competitors within the same price range. Depending on the working mode (normal or Eco), the estimated lamp life varies between 4,000 hours (in normal mode) and 7,500 hours (Eco mode). The replacement lamp is also quite cheap which is another plus.

The native screen resolution is 1920×1080 and the native aspect ratio is 16:9 (it can also project 4:3 and 16:10).

The maximum brightness is 2,200 lumens and it varies depending on the selected color mode. This kind of brightness is good enough for projections in rooms with moderate ambient lights, but it’s not good enough for really bright rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, etc. There are multiple color modes available – dynamic (brightest), dynamic cinema (for movie projections in bright rooms), natural; cinema, and 2 3D modes (3D dynamic and 3D cinema). In our opinion, you will get the best results (especially if the projections are taking place in dedicated theater rooms) with natural and cinema modes.

Home Cinema 2045 projector features a greater contrast ratio than similarly priced DLP projectors which is one of the advantages of 3LCD projectors. The colors are quite natural and vivid, especially in natural and cinema modes and without any ambient light.

Unlike some other budget projectors, this one features auto iris which optimizes the image and improves the black levels. The projector also features  CFI smoothening tool which is supposed to improve the sharpness of the image.

3D video formats are also supported. Depending on the brightness of the room, you can choose between 3D dynamic (brighter) and 3D cinema. 3D glasses are not included in the price and you will have to pay extra for them.

Another interesting thing you won’t find on other budget projectors is wi-fi capability. The projector features built-in Miracast and Intel’s Wi-Di technology. You can stream any content from any Miracast-enabled phone or laptop.

The projector also has a built-in 5W speaker. You can’t expect an immersive listening experience from such a small speaker and it’s definitely smarter to use a dedicated home theater speaker system, but it’s better than nothing and can be useful in some situations.

The fan is louder than average. In normal working/brightness mode, the noise goes up to 37dB and can be distracting, especially if you don’t crank up the volume.

Video processing is not impressive when something other than 1080p videos is being played. There are some noticeable hiccups with 1080i videos. It’s a good idea to connect the projector to some capable DVD or Blu-ray player and use it to convert videos to 1080p before sending it to the projector.

The projector has a relatively low input lag (under 50ms) but it’s not the best choice for gaming.

ADVANTAGES
Great performance at an affordable price
2-year warranty + great customer support
Relatively cheap lamp replacement
Automatic vertical keystone + horizontal keystone (+/- 30°)
It can play 1080p Full HD videos
3D-compatible
Wi-fi enabled (Miracast and Wi-Di)
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of lens shift
Crappy built-in speaker (5W mono)
The fan is quite loud, especially in Normal mode (up to 37dB)
Not appropriate for gaming (the input lag is not low enough)
The USB port can be used for slideshow projections, but can’t be used for movies
Check Price

8. Best Portable – ASUS P3B Short-Throw Portable DLP Projector

ASUS P3B Short-Throw Portable DLP ProjectorIf you are looking for a highly portable battery-operated short throw projector under $500, you should check out ASUS P3B. This is one of the cheapest short throw projectors on the market. In terms of performance, this tiny device doesn’t come close to all the previously mentioned projectors, but after all, this is not the same kind of projector. The projector has a lot of useful features including a built-in battery (it can be used on the go), it can play 720p videos, and it has multiple connections including MHL-compatible HDMI input.

The package includes P3B projector with a lens cover, remote (batteries included), soft carrying bag, power/charging cable with a power adapter, HDMI cable, user manual, and a warranty card.

The projector is really tiny. It weighs only 1.65lb, it is 6in wide, 5.2in deep, and 1.7in high.

P3B is supposed to be placed on a table or mounted on a tripod. As you would assume, it doesn’t feature lens shift and the zoom is fixed. The lens offset is 100% (+/-5%) which means that the lens axis should be in line with the bottom of the screen. Throw ratio is 0.8:1 which means that you have to place the projector 5.64ft away from the screen to get a 100in image. In case you need to align the picture, there’s an auto keystone feature (+/- 40°). If you need to perform some vertical alignment, you should try using the built-in stand to adjust the position.

P3B features multiple connections including one HDMI port (MHL enabled), micro USB port (used for transferring data to the projector’s internal 2GB storage), 2 USB 2.0 ports (one for media reproduction and the other for charging other devices like phones, tablets, etc.), micro SD card port (for media reproduction), VGA input, and AUX output.

P3B’s native resolution is 1280×800 (WXGA) and its native aspect ratio is 16:10, but it can also play videos in 4:3 and 16:9. You can project 720p videos (1080p playback is not possible).

The maximum brightness is 800 lumens, which is not good enough for bright rooms. The estimated lifespan of the lamp is 30,000 hours. You don’t get to choose between different working modes (brightness modes) when the projector is plugged in, but you can choose between 3 modes when using the battery. Depending on the selected mode, the battery will last up to 3 hours. Choosing the brightest mode (approx. 500 lumens) shortens the battery life to 1 hour. This projector is good for rooms with a small amount of ambient light (it’s not good for bright rooms).

There are 5 picture modes – Standard, Dynamic, sRGB, Theater, and Scenery. Depending on the ambient light and purpose, you can choose one of them. Theater and standard modes are suitable for home theater use. The projector’s contrast ratio is 100,000:1 and the colors are quite accurate but not vivid and bright enough.

You will get the best results and sharpest picture with HDMI and VGA inputs, but you can also play media files (videos, pictures, music files) directly from a micro SD card or a USB stick. The projector can also be used as a powerbank so you can charge your phone or tablet.

The remote is also included in the package. It’s kind of cheap-looking and it’s not backlit, but the buttons are responsive and functional. Still, it’s not very user-friendly.

The projector can also play 3D video files in 1024×768 resolution at 120Hz refresh rate (you’ll need some 3D glasses). We were not impressed by the 3D reproduction.

You can also use some wireless dongle to enable wireless connectivity and stream media from your phone, laptop, and other devices.

The projector has a small built-in 2W speaker. It’s kind of crappy, buy it might come in handy when you don’t have any other set of speakers to connect.

ADVANTAGES
Affordable
Small, portable, battery-operated
Thanks to 12,000mAh battery, it can be used as a powerbank
Great connectivity (including one MHL-enabled HDMI input)
Decent picture clarity and sharpness (up to 80in)
DISADVANTAGES
Lack of lens shift
Poor brightness (800 lumens)
Poor quality speaker
Not suitable for gaming
Check Price

This is the end of our list of 8 best short throw projectors, but it’s not the end of this article. In case you haven’t found anything interesting on this list, we have prepared a few pieces of advice on what to pay attention to when buying a short throw projector.


What to Look for When Buying a Short Throw Projector?

When searching for a new short throw projector, there are 4 basic things to consider. The first one is, obviously, the throw ratio. Besides the throw ratio, you should consider image quality, ease of use, and reliability.

The Obvious – Throw Ratio

Depending on your room size, different throw ratios will be considered appropriate. If you have a really small room, you have to plan everything before you start searching. You are supposed to determine the maximum distance between the projection screen and your new projector and, of course, you should determine the size (diagonal) of your screen. Depending on these two values (screen size and max possible distance between the screen and projector), you should be looking for a specific throw ratio. If min throw ratio for your room is 0.7, anything above 0.7:1 won’t give the best results. Anything below 0.7 can be considered appropriate. In the table below, you can see how the required distance (between the projector and the screen) changes depending on the throw ratio and desired image size (diagonal).

Screen diagonal     
Throw ratio80-inch100-inch120-inch150-inch200-inch
0.4:12.7ft3.3ft4ft5ft6.7ft
0.5:13.3ft4.2ft5ft6.25ft8.3ft
0.6:14ft5ft6ft7.5ft10ft
0.7:14.7ft5.8ft7ft8.75ft11.7ft
0.8:15.3ft6.7ft8ft10ft13.3ft
0.9:16ft7.5ft9ft11.25ft15ft
1:16.7ft8.3ft10ft12.5ft16.7ft
1.1:17.3ft9.2ft11ft13.75ft18.3ft
1.2:18ft10ft12ft15ft20ft
1.3:18.7ft10.8ft13ft16.25ft21.7ft
1.4:19.3ft11.7ft14ft17.5ft23.3ft

Required distance between the projector and the screen for different throw ratios and image sizes

Image Quality

Image quality is determined by multiple factors. The most important factors are:

  • Resolution and aspect ratio,
  • Contrast ratio,
  • Brightness and color light output,
  • Short throw technology – DLP, LCD, LCoS

Resolution and aspect ratio

Resolution is the number of pixels that some projector can render. Each pixel is a dot, and all the dots combined give a full picture. The resolution is given as the number of vertical pixels VS the number of horizontal pixels (for example 1920×1080). It describes the sharpness and clarity of the picture. Aspect ratio is similar to resolution and gives you the info on the dimensions of the picture (width x height).

SVGA resolution (800×600) is the first and smallest resolution used by projectors.  It creates images in 4:3 aspect ratio and it delivers enough detail for basic applications. You can find this resolution on some old business projectors, but if you want a projector for gaming or for your home theater, you should be looking for some 1080p or even 4K projector.

XGA resolution (1024×768) also creates images in 4:3 aspect ratio but it gives a sharper and clearer image. Still, it’s not good enough for movie projections. It’s more than good enough for business and educational use.

WXGA resolution (1280×800) is an improved (wide) XGA. This resolution results in a 16:10 aspect ratio. Most of today’s cheaper (entry-level) projectors support this resolution and can project 720p HD image.

WUXGA resolution (1900×1200) is an improved WXGA. The aspect ratio is still 16:10 but the projectors that support this resolution can project 1080p Full HD image.

1920×1080 is the most common for today’s projectors and it’s preferable for home theaters and gaming projectors. If you are looking for that kind of projector, don’t go lower than that. In fact, 192×1080 is today’s standard for every purpose (business and education, too). Higher resolution is certainly desirable but you will have to pay more if you want a 4K projector.

ResolutionAbbreviationAspect RatioApplication
800x600SVGA4:3Business/Education
1024x768XGA4:3Business/Education
1280x1080WXGA16:10720p HD Movies/Gaming
1900x1200WUXGA16:101080p HD Movies/Gaming
1920x1080HD108016:9Home Theater/Gaming
3840x21604K UHD16:94K TV
4096x2160DCI 4K16:10Movie projections

Projector resolutions and aspect ratios

Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio represents the measurement of blacks to whites. The higher the number, the deeper the black levels are. This is important for home theaters, especially when watching SF movies and you want nice and deep black levels. For business use, it’s not that important since your lights will be on.

Brightness (lumens or ANSI lumens)

The brightness is determined by the room in which you are projecting the image. For rooms with windows (classrooms, conference rooms), you will need a projector with higher brightness. The bare minimum is 2,500 lumens. Higher brightness (4,000 lumens, for example) is certainly desirable.

When it comes to home theater use and use in other rooms with a minimal amount of ambient light, you don’t need that much brightness. A projector with 1,500-2,000 lumens will be just fine.

Brightness is usually the measurement of white light and doesn’t really tell you anything about the brightness of the colors but there is also something called color light output. It describes the projector’s ability to deliver bright colors. You should be looking for as higher numbers as possible, but not all the manufacturers publish these numbers.

Short throw technology– 1-chip DLP VS 3-chip 3LCD VS LCoS

The image quality also depends on the quality of different components and technology used to make the projector work. We can basically make a difference between three types of short throw projectors –1-chip DLP projectors, 3-chip 3LCD projectors, and LCoS projectors. There are also some high-end 3-chip DLP projectors, but they are way too expensive.

DLP technology (digital light processing) uses a spinning color wheel with color filters to render colors. It is probably the most popular technology and it can be found on projectors made by Optoma, BenQ, etc.

3-chip 3LCD technology (Liquid Crystal Display) uses 3 LCD panels, one for each primary color (RGB). 3-chip LCD projectors are a little bit cheaper than DLP projectors and you can find it in Epson and Panasonic projectors.

LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) projectors represent the combination of the previous two models. Sony and JVC use this technology for their projectors.

It’s really hard to say which technology is the best. They all have some advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to contrast ratios and black levels, LCoS technology delivers the best results. Some LCD projectors are quite good, while DLP projectors offer the worst results, which doesn’t really mean they are bad. They just don’t offer as good performance as LCoS and LCD projectors when compared side by side.

When it comes to brightness and color output, DLP and LCD projectors offer better performance than LCoS projectors.

It’s almost impossible to tell which one is the winner in terms of color accuracy and it all depends on the individual projector. One DLP projector can deliver great accuracy while the other (also DLP projector) can be awful. The same thing applies to LCD and LCoS projectors.

DLP projectors deliver better image sharpness than the LCD and LCoS projectors. With DLP projectors, the image will remain sharp even during the action scenes with lots of movement. On the other hand, LCD and LCoS projectors tend to soften and blur the image when there is too much movement.

Ease of Use

In terms of ease of use, you should consider three things – connectivity, controls, and installation.

Most of today’s projectors have a bunch of different inputs and outputs including HDMI (up to three), USB ports, AUX and RCA audio inputs and outputs, component video inputs, RS 232 input, PC VGA inputs, etc. Some even have USB inputs for wi-fi dongles, and some are already wi-fi enabled. It’s not a brainer what to look for when it comes to connections. Having multiple inputs/outputs is always a plus.

When it comes to controls, you should basically look for a simple control panel, easy-to-use remote, and a user-friendly OSD menu. All the latest projectors feature simple and easy-to-use control panels and come with a remote which allows you to switch between different inputs in a second.

In terms of installation, it’s really important to find something that’s easily mountable on a ceiling and something with simple alignment tools. Some projectors can perform the setup and alignment automatically. Some of them even have AUTOSIZING feature (screen fit button) which recognizes the edges of the screen and creates perfectly aligned images. You just need to press the button. This is a great thing, especially if you are not that experienced when it comes to projectors. The bad thing is that projectors with ‘’auto setup’’ are always pricier.

If you are on a budget, you can buy a projector with manual adjustment tools. One of the most common tools is the vertical and horizontal alignment tool (aka keystone correction). This tool allows you to transform the picture and get a distortion-free image, but keystone feature can also cause the drops in brightness and resolution.

Along with the keystone feature, some projectors may have lens shift feature. This tool is also used for transforming the picture. The lens shift feature allows you to move the lens itself, either vertically (up/down) or horizontally (left/right). So, if the projector features this tool, you don’t have to move or tilt the whole projector and you don’t have to use the keystone correction. Lens shift is a less intrusive tool (compared to keystone correction) and it doesn’t affect the brightness or picture sharpness. If you can choose between lens shift and keystone correction, you should always choose lens shift.

Lens offset is another thing you should pay attention to. It describes the position of the projected picture relative to the axis of the lens. If the advertised offset is 0%, the center of the projected image is lined up with the lens axis. If the offset is 100%, it means that the projector projects the image upwards. In this case, the bottom of the projected image will be lined up with the lens axis. 100 or 150% vertical offset will allow you to position the projector on a small table next to your couch or sofa, without mounting it on a ceiling. However, if you decide to mount it on your ceiling, you will have to flip it upside down so that controls are located on the bottom. The only thing you can’t do is placing the speaker on a high shelf behind you. Since it projects the picture upwards, you won’t be able to hit the screen. You won’t be able to make the appropriate corrections using lens shift (usually allows 10% vertical shift) or keystone correction and the only way to make things work will be tilting the projector downwards and using keystone correction after you hit the screen.

Reliability

Term reliability mainly refers to lamp durability and maintenance. The lamp is the source of the light and it’s essential for the proper functioning of the projector. Unfortunately, the lamp doesn’t last forever and the manufacturers will usually give you some info on the lifespan of the lamp (or different life expectancies for different working/brightness modes). It’s important to look for the longest lasting lamp. 3,000 hours lifespan is a minimum. You should also check the prices of the replacement lamps. All the manufacturers offer replacement lamps, but some of them (especially BenQ replacement lamps) are quite expensive.

Additional Features You Should Take in Consideration Depending on the Main Purpose of a Projector

Depending on the future purpose of your projector, you should be paying attention to some additional features while some other things won’t be that important.

Gaming Projectors

Gaming ProjectorWhen some projector is good for gaming, it’s definitely good for any other purpose, especially for home theater use.

Depending on the ambient light, you will need a projector with greater or lower brightness, but it’s safe to say that 2-3,000 lumens is good for any ambient light. If you are going to use it in rooms with less ambient light or in a dedicated home theater room, you don’t need some high brightness rating. 1,500-2,000 lumens will be more than enough.

When it comes to contrast ratio, a greater ratio is always better. 100,000:1 (or higher) is considered great, but you will be just fine even with 15,000:1.

There are two things that are not so important for other usages but are crucial when it comes to gaming projectors – input lag and refresh rates.

The input lag refers to the time that a projector needs to produce the image. Long input lag could cause some serious sync issues and can destroy your gaming experience. You should be looking for the lowest possible input lag (under 40ms is desirable). Unfortunately, you won’t always find this info in the specs list and you will probably have to google some review and see if someone already measured the input lag. Or, you can read our reviews and see our suggestions (like Optoma GT1080Darbee).

Refresh rate basically describes the projector’s capacity to process the image. The higher the number, the smoother the image. You should be looking for 120Hz refresh rate or higher. It’s not a disaster if it’s 60Hz, but higher is definitely better.

Some projectors even have a dedicated gaming mode which reduces the image quality just a little bit, but significantly decreases the input lag.

Home Theater Projector

Home Theater Projectors

Anything that’s good for gaming will be more than good enough for home theater use. Depending on the brightness of the room, you will need a projector with a different brightness. If you have a dedicated home theater with minimal ambient light, you don’t really need anything brighter than 1,500-2,000 lumens. All the suggestions regarding light color output, resolution (1920×1080 or higher), contrast ratio, etc. can be applied here. Projectors with some additional features and certificates like Rec.709 cinematic color reproduction certificate are highly desirable.

Business and Education Projectors

Projectors used for business/education don’t have to be as capable as gaming and home theatre projectors, but they really need high brightness ratings (preferably higher than 3,000 lumens) and high color light outputs.

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