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
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
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 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.