Short throw projectors have made lack of space much less of an issue to the home theater experience. As costs have come down, a lot of tech options have emerged. Which short-throw 4k projectors are worth buying? Read our review to learn more about our top picks.
What to Consider When Buying a Short Throw Projector?
Short throw projectors vary widely in price, capability, and ideal use. This leaves a lot to consider, and sorting through the variables requires a little consideration on just what the jargon means.
Lumens vs. Contrast
When comparing lumens, consider both color brightness and white brightness. White brightness works great if you need to fill a bigger space, but color brightness improves the contrast and detail. Specifications like contrast ratio inform how crisp an image you can expect: higher ratios mean a better picture.
Short throw projectors get their name from the fact that they can produce large images in a limited space. Throw ratio refers to the distance between the projector and the image. A shorter throw means less distance between the projection and where it lands.
The ratio is defined as projector distance/image width. In other words, a projector with a 1/1 throw ratio would produce one square foot of picture for every foot from the viewing surface. A lower throw ratio means you can position the projector closer to the screen or wall.
Some models even offer an “ultra” short throw. For the space conscientious, projecting a 100” image from just a few inches away certainly has its appeal. These models may go above and beyond the needs of the home cinema, but for presentations or interactive screen experiences, they keep the user from blocking parts of the image.
Throw ratio matters for more than just the sheer size of the room; consider the length and placement of cables, especially if you intend to connect your projector to other things like speakers, gaming systems, or video players.
Trying to find short-throw 4k projectors worth buying means deciding what kind of experience you need, and how often. Short throw projectors come in two types: lamp and laser.
Bulbs usually enjoy around 2500 hours of lifespan – about 7 hours per day, every day, for a year. You can replace the lamp, and while it’s not cheap, they generally cost less than a new projector.
Laser projectors last significantly longer. They also typically come with a higher price tag, but if you plan to use your projector a lot, they might represent a better investment. Moreover, laser projectors typically have a wider range of colors and better contrast. But beware: when a laser projector dies, you will need to replace the whole unit.
Sound and Screen
Rough surfaces like walls can distort the image. Regular matte-white screens or pull-down screens can work well to provide a smooth surface, but ambient light rejecting screens make a projection pop by blocking out everything but the projected image.
While TV sound has come a long way, projectors have a little catching up to do. Some models boast impressive wattage, but you may need to supplement the audio setup to complete the experience.
Make sure your device has all the necessary connections to accommodate the rest of your setup. Most units feature some mix of bluetooth, wireless transmission, RGA, HDMI, or USB connectivity. Some even have smart technology allowing integrated apps or streaming services.
Read also: 5 Great Projectors For Under $1000
Our Picks for The Best Short Throw 4K projectors
With those parameters in mind, let’s dive into the five short throw 4k projectors worth buying.
The BenQ HT3550 offers an authentic cinema experience for film lovers, even using much of the same technology seen in actual movie and IMAX theaters.
This includes a .47″ DLP chip in a 4K UHD resolution. Along with this, the color is fantastic because it utilizes a six-segment RGBRGB color wheel and has a wide color gamut. It is outfitted with a 2000 ANSI lumen rating and has a high contrast ratio.
With dynamic iris settings and a ten-element, 8-group all-glass zoom lens, it comes with a color management system as well as a silent mode and five-position brightness control. Even better is that it comes with an onboard stereo sound system with two built-in 5W speakers.
When it comes to controlling the unit, you get a full-size backlit remote with an easy-to-use control system, including one-button access to help adjust your picture.
The BenQ comes out of the box calibrated at the factory, so you don’t have to worry about fixing the color setting before you use the projector. Various preset modes are perfect for customizing to suit your viewing needs and the projector comes with a three year warranty.
The Optoma GT1080 manages to strike a fantastic balance between picture quality, throw ratio, and affordability. 3800 lumens, combined with an impressively high contrast ratio, the Optoma GT1080 creates a quality image without breaking the bank. This higher output lumen lamp allows for a brighter picture and the ability to handle larger images.
Along with this, there is versatility when it comes to connectivity. The unit is outfitted with multiple HDMI ports as well as several other options to ensure that playback can be done no matter what device you are using. For those not looking for a 4K experience but rather a full HD, this model’s ability to utilize 1080p is excellent. Plus, the car’s lack of 4K capability is also reflected in the car, so this is a more budget-friendly option.
The unit is fitted with a 3 LCD and has a throw ratio of .49. The 120 Hz refresh rate beats out many other projectors on this list, making the Optoma GT1080 ideal for gamers.
Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe comes with a lot of bells and whistles, and most of them function well. A larger and bulkier unit than others, the Epson Home Cinema does not travel well, but it does make a wonderful home theater unit.
This portable projector is outfitted with a 3LCD design, making it free from rainbow artifacts. On top of this, it utilizes a high-quality imaging chip that allows for 4K capabilities. In order to have the perfect focus, it is also built with a 15 glass 16 total element lens. This helps get rid of those chromatic aberrations. The projector is also designed with multiple saved lens settings capabilities to ensure that you have a limited need for calibrating with each use.
This unit is also a fantastic option when it comes to brightness and color quality. Having a high white brightness as well as color brightness attached with the ability to turn the high dynamic range allows this unit to give the user high-quality visuals from a wide range of sources.
Excellent color brightness and contrast ratio provide a beautiful image, and the wireless transmitter allows you to set the projector up without cluttering your space with cords.
With this model being LG’s first foray into the 4K projector field, it’s bound to get a little attention. The unit itself uses a .47″ 4K UHD DLP chipset. But all of this is lamp-based and driven by a laser phosphor light engine. Because of this, it allows for the black levels and contrast performance to be enhanced over other models on the market. That, coupled with the 20000 hours of life when it comes to the lamp, means that it is quite the investment.
Like many other options, this is outfitted with the ability to be hooked up to a smart TV platform. Unlike traditional projectors, you can utilize this projector to stream wireless content from your favorite service. It is also compatible with other sources because of the HDMI and HDCP ports that it is built with. All of these features are encompassed in a highly compact and lightweight option which means that you have a high level of portability when it comes to this unit.
The LG HU80KA sports laser technology, and a carry handle for increased portability. A built-in mirror mechanism allows the LG HU80KA to operate either ceiling mounted – but further away – or closer, using the mirror to increase the throw ratio. The mirror, however, sacrifices some of the image quality.
WeMax Nova 4K
This unit is designed with a .47″ DMD display that utilizes a DLP chipset. This gives it both a 2K and 4K compatibility and a standard resolution that utilizes a standard contrast label. The projector is outfitted with a lamp that offers 2100 ANSI lumens of brightness when it comes to the light source.
In order to adjust the angles, it is designed with an 8-point manual correction keystone and outfitted with up to 32 GB of storage. The unit itself is wireless, compatible with both Wi-fi and Bluetooth, and has multiple inputs and outputs, giving versatility of connectivity and use. Several speakers are built into the system that allows for high-quality audio support for a full 360-degree experience. When we say 360-degrees, we don’t only mean sound but also projection. The unit is designed to be able to project in three different directions front, rear, and ceiling.
With an ultra-short throw, laser light source, and a wide range of connectivity options, the WeMax Nova 4K has a lot going for it. On top of the excellent color, brightness, and contrast, the WeMax Nova 4K has an unparalleled sound quality for a projecting unit. However, some of the more high-tech features seem a little underdeveloped, leading to buggy behavior with some units.
Considering all the variables, the Epson 5050 UBE tops our list of short-throw 4k projectors worth buying. Other models boast lower prices specs, but they also generally inferior technology. For those looking to build out an excellent home theater, the Epson is a solid addition that delivers outstanding pictures.