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The best projectors for 2024, all tried, tested and reviewed

Best projector featured image - XGIMI Horizon Ultra 4K projector on a hardwood floor

Looking for the ultimate big-screen thrills? We’ve picked out the best 1080p and 4K projectors, tried and tested by us

It seems everybody has a big-screen TV these days, but what if you want to go even bigger and bring the ultimate cinema or sports experience home? A projector might just be the box-office ticket.

Projectors are also great for immersive gaming, and 4K HDR projectors are no longer as expensive as you might expect.

But which projector should you buy? Over the past few years, I’ve tested a wide range of projectors from budget models to high-end cinema projectors from all the major brands. Below you’ll find the models I’d recommend for a selection of different users, types and budgets.

And if you need more detailed advice and info before you come to a decision, take a good look at the buying guide that follows the reviews. It will help you decide what you do and don’t need, so you can bag the best big-screen machine for you.

Best projectors: At a glance

Best budget projector for streamingEpson CO-FH02 (~£499)Check price at Amazon
Best affordable portable projector XGIMI Mogo 2 Pro (~£529)Check price at Amazon
Best budget 4K projector Epson EH-TW6150 (~£759)Check price at Amazon
Best mid-range 4K projector XGIMI Horizon Ultra (~£1,649)Check price at Amazon

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How we test projectors

I test all projectors by setting them up from scratch in a darkened room with an 80 to 100in screen. I’ll set up and configure the projector, ironing out any focus or geometry issues, and – where a projector has built-in streaming features, I’ll install a range of streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Disney+. Where projectors lack such features, I have a Roku 4K Streaming stick with the apps pre-installed.

I’ll then use the projector to watch a range of test material, including blockbuster movies, popular streaming series and drama or documentary shows. I’ll also use any built-in Chromecast or screen mirroring features to cast 1080p or 4K video direct from an Android tablet or smartphone. On premium 1080p and 4K projectors, I’ll also run additional tests using a 4K Blu-ray player and a PlayStation 5 console. This will reveal how the projector handles high-quality sources, not to mention high-refresh modes or 4K gaming.
I also test any built-in speakers at low, medium and high volume levels, and run portable projectors on battery power, where available, to see how long the battery lasts. Finally, I use a colorimeter, mounted on a tripod 30cm from the screen, to check brightness and contrast levels, colour accuracy and colour depth.

READ NEXT: Best portable projector

The best HD and 4K projectors you can buy in 2024

1. Sony VPL-XW5000ES: Best 4K Projector

Price when reviewed: £4,999 | Check price at Richer Sounds

  • Great for… 4K image quality that might put your local cinema to shame
  • Not so great for… anyone without a £5,000 budget

You will note that, at nearly £5,000, the VPL-XW5000ES is at least twice the price of most other 4K projectors on this list. The reason why is its superlative image quality and native 4K resolution. When other similarly-equipped projectors can cost north of £10,000, you could even see the Sony as a bargain.

The VPL-XW5000ES combines Sony’s 4K SXRD panel and a 2,000 Lumens laser phosphor light source, which, along with wide dynamic range optics and its Triluminos Pro colour processing, gives a 4K image so crisp and colour-rich that you could soon forget about the price tag. Throw in the X1 Ultimate Processor, with HDR Remaster and Dynamic HDR Enhancer processing, and you get the kind of picture quality that wouldn’t disgrace your local cinema.

In fact, there’s a good chance that it’s better. I found the 4K picture exceptionally clean and detailed, with accurate colours, deeper black level response and better contrast than you will find on any comparable DLP or LCD projector. Brighter HDR content looks particularly punchy, and it’s a fine choice for games as well as movies, with support for 120Hz frame rates at 1080p and impeccable motion handling. If you’re ready to step into the world of serious home cinema, this is the ideal way in.

Read our full Sony VPL-XW5000ES review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K; Brightness: 2,000 lumens; Contrast ratio: Infinity:1 (dynamic); Throw ratio: 1.38:1–2.21:1; Zoom: 1.6x; Technology: 4K SXRD panel; Colour: N/S; Lamp type and life: Laser diode, 20,000 hours

Check price at Richer Sounds

2. XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Best mid-range 4K projector

Price when reviewed: £1,649 | Check price at Amazon

best projector - xgimi horizon ultra

  • Great for… cinematic 4K presentation and easy setup
  • Not so great for… advanced gaming features

By combining laser and LED light sources with pixel shifting and a 1080p DLP chip, the XGIMI Horizon Ultra delivers a level of picture quality that’s way above what you might expect from a sub-£2,000 projector. Watching blockbuster streaming shows and 4K movies, I found its images spectacularly crisp and detailed, revealing textures and nuances that other projectors miss.

Colours are rich and vibrant, without looking artificially bright and punchy. Even Dolby Vision HDR content looks fantastic, which isn’t a given on other more affordable 4K models. In testing I found the Horizon Ultra was able to reproduce 92.4% of the wider DCI-P3 space where some rivals can’t even cover 99% of sRGB.

And this projector’s talents don’t end there. It has built-in Android TV 11.0 streaming, plus a built-in 2 x 12W Harmon/Kardon speaker system that does a surprisingly good job of dishing out immersive sound. What’s more, XGIMI’s ISA 3.0 auto-setup system consistently gave me a good, well-focused, correctly aligned image in seconds; all I needed to do was set the projector up and point it at the screen.

There are other projectors, such as the Sony VPL-XW5000ES, that can provide even better, native 4K video but you won’t find anything else that delivers this kind of image quality, this easily, and for such a comparatively reasonable price.

Read our full XGIMI Horizon Ultra review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K; Brightness: 2,300 lumens; Contrast ratio: N/S; Throw ratio: 1.2:1–1.5:1; Zoom: 1.25x; Technology: 4K DLP panel; Lamp type and life: Dual Light LED + Laser, 25,000 hours

3. Epson CO-FH02: Best budget 1080p projector

Price when reviewed: £499 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… impressive 1080p image quality and built-in streaming
  • Not so great for… audio – the built-in speakers can sound thin and weedy

Priced under £600, the Epson CO-FH02 packs in a lot of specifications and features you wouldn’t normally find for this money, including native Full HD resolution and a traditional lamp that’s capable of putting out 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness.

This means bright, sharp images, even if the black level is more grey than inky. When watching movies, I felt this projector delivered a cinematic colour balance that makes streamed movies and shows look superb. It’s a thoroughly likeable watch.

What’s more, slide the bundled streaming stick into the HDMI socket in the projector’s concealed compartment, and you have everything you need for streaming in one neat unit, complete with genuine Google Android TV software, access to the Google Play store, and all your most-used streaming apps, including Disney+, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.

I wasn’t so keen on the built-in speaker; it isn’t brilliant, and you’ll need to connect to a Bluetooth speaker or soundbar if you want the audio to match the picture. Otherwise, though, it’s hard to grumble. The CO-FH02 is easy to set up and use and exceptional value for money.

Read our full Epson CO-FH02 review

Key specs – Resolution: 1080p; Brightness: 3,000 lumens; Contrast ratio: Not stated; Throw ratio: 1.19:1 – 1.61:1; Zoom: 1.35x (digital); Technology: 3 LCD; Colour: 8-bit LCD panel; Lamp type and life: Lamp, 6,000 to 12,000 hours

4. BenQ X500i: Best gaming projector

Price when reviewed: £1,499 | Check price at BenQ

Best projector - BenQ X500i positioned on a table in a living room

  • Great for… 4K gaming like you’ve never seen before
  • Not so great for… use in daylight hours, HDR format support

BenQ’s 4K LED projector has gamers firmly in its sights, combining its 4LED projection system with a set of game modes designed to help you get the best from your favourite titles. 4LED is designed to give you a wider range of more vibrant colours than in traditional projector setups, and I thought the results were spectacular in games.

The game modes give you specific HDR and audio settings designed to give you more clarity in FPS games, brighter, faster images in sports games and more cinematic visuals and immersive sound in RPGs. The difference isn’t night and day, but I found that switching modes could accentuate the atmosphere or help me survive slightly longer when switching between Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, Diablo 4 and Elden Ring.

Even outside gaming, the punchy presentation often works well for movies and TV, while the bundled streaming stick, which fits inside a compartment on the rear of the projector, means you have 4K streaming apps built-in. What’s more, I found the sound far richer and more powerful than I’d normally expect from a projector, with impressive stereo positioning in games and movies.

The X500i even has all the connectivity you’d need for multiple consoles or Blu-ray players and a desktop or laptop PC. Rivals can give you slightly brighter, crisper images and offer wider HDR format support, while the X500i doesn’t go quite bright enough for serious use without drawing the curtains. But if you do most of your gaming after dark, you’ll get an amazing, immersive experience.

Read our full BenQ X500i review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K (1080p native); Brightness: 2,200 lumens; Contrast ratio: 600,000:1 (dynamic); Throw ratio: 0.69:1–0.83:1; Zoom: 1.2x; Technology: 4K DLP; Colour: four-colour LED light source; Lamp type and life: LED, 20,000 to 30,000 hours

Check price at BenQ

5. XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro: Best portable home cinema projector

Price when reviewed: £529 | Check price at Amazon

best projector XGIMI MoGo Pro 2

  • Great for… portability, foolproof setup and good 1080p video and sound
  • Not so great for… use in daylight hours, brightness overall

The XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro is a little more expensive than some portable projectors, but it’s one of the cheapest you’ll find with the performance to cut it for entry-level home cinema. It’s incredibly easy to set up: just stick it on a flat surface and point it at a screen or blank wall, and it will handle pretty much everything else on its own.

I found that, even if someone bumps the table where it’s sitting, it will reconfigure itself almost instantly to get the picture back in shape, and with its built-in speakers and streaming features, you can have movies up and running in minutes. Just be aware that there’s no onboard battery; it will happily run for a few hours from a 28,000mAh USB power bank, though, provided it supports 65W USB-PD.

Crucially, both picture and sound are excellent, you need to be realistic about the 400 ISO lumens brightness level, though, which won’t give you a watchable image during daylight hours. After dark, I consistently had a crisp 1080p picture with punchy colours and even a hint of HDR. In fact, my colorimeter tests measured 79% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, which is better than some full-sized projectors.

Meanwhile, the sound is the best we’ve heard from such a small projector, with plenty of weight at the low end and crystal-clear highs. More conventional home cinema projectors like the Epson CO-FH02 will give you brighter images to work with, but the MoGo 2 Pro gives you great picture and sound quality for the living room, in a package you can use anywhere either in or around the house.

Read our full XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro review

Key specs – Brightness: 400 ISO lumens; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Contrast ratio: Not stated; Throw ratio: 1.2:1; Zoom: N/A; Technology: DLP; Colour: Not stated; Lamp type and life: LED, up to 25,500 hours

6. Anker Nebula Mars 3: Best outdoor home cinema projector

Price when reviewed: £899 | Check price at Amazon

best projector - Nebula Mars 3

  • Great for… use indoors and outdoors, auto-adjustments and meaty sound
  • Not so great for… daytime viewing, watching Netflix without a streaming stick

The Anker Nebula Mars 3 might be the most practical portable projector I’ve ever seen. Thanks to a chunky form factor that makes it look a little like an old-fashioned, high-powered torch, a massive 185Wh built-in battery and weatherproofing, it’s good for movie shows both indoors and outdoors.

Smart auto-adjustment features get you a sharp, well-focused image in just about any situation, and it even has integrated streaming and impressive, meaty sound. You can head off-grid and still watch movies for a little over five hours, although you’ll have to wait until the sun goes down to get a picture worth enjoying.

Crucially, it also nails image quality, making the most of the 1,000 ANSI lumens its LED optical system can put out. The DLP chip only has a 1080p resolution, but I still saw dark black level response and vibrant colours while bingeing TV or watching movies, with only the occasional murkiness and some weird fringing to spoil the picture. I measured colour coverage at 84.5% sRGB and 70.9% DCI-P3, so it’s capable of reproducing a wider range of tones than most LED-based portable projectors, handling everything from the gritty hues of The Batman to the exuberant palette of Disney’s Encanto.

For the same money you could buy a budget 4K projector, and the lack of a proper Netflix app is a mild annoyance, leaving you with what feels like a workaround. Still, if you want a projector that’s versatile, mobile and convenient, then the Anker Mars 3 is the perfect choice.

Read our full Nebula Mars 3 review

Key specs – Resolution: 1080p; Brightness: 1,000 ANSI lumens; Contrast ratio: N/S; Throw ratio: 1.2:1; Zoom: N/A; Technology: 1080p DLP panel; Lamp type and life: LED, 25,000 hours

7. Epson EH-TW6150: Best 4K home cinema projector under £1,000

Price when reviewed: £759 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… sharp, cinematic home movie images
  • Not so great for… gamers who prefer more vibrant colours

The Epson EH-TW6150 is Epson’s answer to the budget 4K DLP projectors from Viewsonic, Optoma and BenQ, combining three LCD panels and pixel-shifting techniques to create 4K pictures from a 1080p optical system.

As with the DLP versions, it works a treat. In terms of clarity and resolution, the Epson’s images could have come from a native 4K system, while Epson’s superb colour tech gives you rich, cinematic tones. I found Marvel and Disney blockbusters looked spectacular, but more gritty dramas didn’t lose out on detail or look too punchy. If you’re a gamer or like your colours more vibrant, then you might want more contrast, deeper blacks and brighter HDR effects, but if your priority is home cinema, the Epson’s more natural presentation wins.

It’s a flexible projector, too, with excellent manual and automatic keystone correction features plus a manual vertical shift, which helped me get a good, distortion-free image even when I had the projector sitting on a coffee table beaming a picture higher up on the wall. Sometimes I had to spend a little while tuning to get the best possible image, but the upside is that I always had plenty of control.

Spend more and you might get more connectivity – you’re limited to two HDMI ports, a USB Type-A connection and a 3.5mm audio out. The built-in audio is too timid at low volumes and too harsh when you turn things up. Pricier models also deliver better gaming modes, with higher refresh rates and contrast-boosting features. But if you’re most interested in movies and looking for the best 4K home cinema projector on a sub-£1,000 budget, the Epson EH-TW6150 is a real contender.

Read our full Epson EH-TW6150 review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K; Brightness: 2,800 lumens; Contrast ratio: 35,000:1; Throw ratio: 1.32–2.15:1; Zoom: 1.6x (digital); Technology: 3 LCD; Colour: 3x 10-bit LCD panels; Lamp type and life: Lamp, 4,500 to 7,500 hours

8. Optoma UHD38x: Best gaming projector under £1,000

Price when reviewed: £979 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… HDR Effects, high refresh rates and 4K gaming
  • Not so great for… dark blacks and shadow detail

If you’ve bought yourself an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, you’re going to want a display that can handle high-refresh rates and 4K resolutions. That’s exactly what the Optoma UHD38x delivers. Not only can it project your games at huge screen sizes, but it can do so at high refresh rates: up to an incredible 240Hz at 1080p and 120Hz at 4K resolution.

Take it from me: games look epic on this thing, with silky-smooth frame rates on games that can output at 120Hz on PS5, and even higher frame rates available if you have a high-end gaming PC. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal looking so spectacular – with the added size, the depths of Hell are something to behold.

It’s also an accomplished home cinema projector, with support for HDR10 and HLG and a bright image of 4,000 lumens to make sure that bright colours and highlights are presented with a zing. It’s even watchable in ambient lighting or during daylight hours.

The downside is that the black level isn’t particularly dark or deep, and you can lose some detail in gloomy shadow areas. Focus is manual and, as it isn’t a short-throw projector, you’ll also need a fair amount of space to maximise your screen size. There’s also no built-in streaming; still, if you’re a gamer or a movie buff, who cares? The UHD38x will take your favourites to a whole new level.

Key specs – Resolution: 4K (1,920 x 1,080 native) HDR10/HLG at 120Hz, 1080p at 240Hz; Brightness: 4,000 lumens; Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1; Throw ratio: 1.5-1.66:1; Zoom: 1.1x; Technology: Single-chip DLP; Lamp life: 4,000-15,000 hours

9. BenQ W4000i: Best mid-priced 4K projector for image quality

Price when reviewed: £2,699 | Check price at Amazon

BenQ W4000i angle

  • Great for… 4K movies and accurate colours
  • Not so great for… gaming features and built-in audio

Looking for the very best image quality but can’t quite stretch to a native 4K projector? The BenQ W4000i is the next best thing. Yes, it’s still expensive but it can reproduce the whole of the DCI-P3 colour gamut and its image quality is beyond reproach.

In my tests, 4K material looked incredibly crisp and detailed but never strayed into artificially sharpened territory. What’s more, there’s space for enthusiasts to tweak away to their hearts’ content using the W4000i’s comprehensive image settings, while those who just want to set and forget can opt to use the projector’s Filmmaker mode, ensuring what you see is what the director intended … as long as the streaming app supports it.

I do have a couple of small complaints. One is that the projector’s brightness takes a hit when you use Wide Colour mode. This nets you close to 100% DCI-P3 coverage for best-in-class colour reproduction in films and TV, but at the cost of brightness and punchy HDR effects. There’s no specific gaming mode either, making this more a projector for watching movies than big-screen console thrills. You’ll also need a soundbar or surround sound system to avoid using the boxy built-in speaker, but it’s hard to imagine anyone spending this much on a projector not having one in place already. For anyone setting up a small cinema at home with a sub-£3,000 budget, the BenQ W4000i is a brilliant choice.

Read our full BenQ W4000i review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K; Brightness: 3,200 lumens; Contrast ratio: 2 million:1 (dynamic); Throw ratio: 1.15:1–1.5:1; Zoom: 1.3x; Technology: 4K DLP; Colour: Four-colour LED light source; Lamp type and life: LED, 20,000 to 30,000 hours

10. HiSense PL1: Best projector to replace your big-screen TV

Price when reviewed: £1,350 | Check price at Amazon

Best projector - Hisense PL1

  • Great for… hassle-free, big screen thrills with impressive HDR and 4K clarity
  • Not so great for… convincing Dolby Atmos audio

Pair it with a decent, wall-mounted screen, and this ultra-short throw projector becomes a viable alternative to a big-screen TV. It’s capable of projecting images of up to 120in in size from a distance of just a few inches, and with its built-in speakers it can also double as a Dolby Atmos soundbar; it even comes with built-in streaming.

Like many cheaper 4K projectors, it uses pixel-shifting technology to create its 4K picture, but I found that the dynamic animation of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and the neon-lit action scenes of John Wick 4 were rendered with fantastic clarity and plenty of pop. And while no projector can give you the same experience of HDR as a high-end OLED or mini-LED TV, the PL1 does its damnedest. Even games look impressive, with no hint of lag in Game mode.

It isn’t all good news. You’ll want an expensive Ambient Light Rejecting screen for the absolute best performance; there are only two HDMI inputs onboard; and while the audio creates convincing stereo and pseudo-surround soundscapes, it still lacks the finesse of a dedicated soundbar, let alone a 7.1 speaker system. But if you want big-screen thrills without bank balance chills, this is an extremely convenient way to get them.

Read our full Hisense PL1 review

Key specs – Resolution: 4K (1,920 x 1,080 native); Brightness: 2,100 ANSI lumens; Contrast ratio: Not stated; Throw ratio: 0.25:1; Zoom: 1.4x (digital); Technology: Laser; Colour: Single RGB laser; Lamp type and life: Laser, up to 25,000 hours

How to choose the best projector for you

To the untrained eye, one projector usually looks much like another. However, there’s a whole world of technology inside these often plain-looking boxes.

First, resolution. If you’re looking for a projector to watch movies, then make sure the model you buy is Full HD (with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080). You will come across plenty of cheaper office or portable projectors, but they’ll have limited resolutions of 800 x 600, 800 x 480, 1,280 x 720 or 1,024 x 768. As such, they might be fine for showing PowerPoint slides or streaming Netflix in the garden, but for sports, games and home cinema use, you really need to be able to watch 1080p content at the native resolution. Make Full HD your minimum spec.

If you want a 4K projector, then expect to pay more. True 4K projectors with a native 4K resolution still carry a high price premium, with even the cheaper options coming in somewhere north of £3,000. However, there’s a growing number of “4K-enhanced” projectors, such as the BenQ W2700 or the Optoma UHD38m, which simulate 4K by using pixel-shifting techniques with a 1080p resolution panel. Purists will tell you that these aren’t really 4K, but the technology has reached a point where it’s near impossible to make a distinction – unless you have native and 4K enhanced models running side by side. Even then, you might find it a challenge.

What’s the difference between DLP and LCD projectors?

Most modern home-theatre projectors are based on one of two technologies: DLP and LCD. Of these, DLP projectors are the most common, the most compact and tend to deliver the most bang per buck, while LCD projectors tend to be bulky and slightly more expensive.

DLP projectors do have a downside, though. As most display colours sequentially use a spinning, segmented colour wheel (there’s the odd exception to this rule), they suffer from what’s called the “rainbow effect”, where small areas of the image appear to splinter into small rainbows when you shift your gaze from one side of the screen to the other. Some people are less sensitive to this than others, though, so if you haven’t experienced a DLP projector, make sure you get a demo before spending your money.

If you want the very best quality, however, a laser light source projector is what you want. Laser light source projectors – typically combined with a three-LCD image engine – deliver the best contrast and brightness but cost anywhere upwards of £2,000 and often significantly more.

Do I need optical zoom and lens shift?

After resolution and technology, the most important consideration is your room and how you’re going to set up and connect the projector. Here, you need to consider throw distance (how far you place the projector from the screen for a given screen size), optical zoom and lens shift capabilities, all of which will have an impact on projector placement.

Optical zoom allows you to enlarge or reduce the screen without moving the projector, while lens shift lets you move it up, down, left and right without losing quality – or moving the projector physically. The cheaper the projector, the more limited these options will be.

If space is tight, you might want to consider a short-throw or ultra-short-throw projector, which can create big images on your screen or wall from incredibly short distances – as little as 10cm for a 50in image in some cases. The downside is the projected image tends to suffer more from geometric distortion.

What else should I consider?

Lamp life: Most cheaper projectors rely on UHP or metal halide lamps. These have a limited lifespan and their brightness deteriorates over time, so need to be replaced. LED light sources last the whole lifespan of the projector, but projectors that use them often can’t deliver the same brightness levels as projectors with traditional lamps. Laser projectors give you the best of both worlds, with high brightness levels, excellent contrast and LED-like lifespans.

Brightness: This is rated in ANSI lumens, with typical home cinema projectors hitting between 2,000 and 4,000 lumens. Projectors are now increasing brightness levels to do a better job of covering the wider colour gamuts used in 4K HDR content and produce more convincing HDR effects. Bear in mind, however, that boosting brightness levels often comes at the expense of black-level response and darker tones, increases energy consumption and decreases lamp lifespan.

Noise: Most projectors have fans inside and not all are particularly quiet. How quiet a projector is should be a major consideration, especially if you’re going to position it near to where you sit.

Streaming features: Lots of projectors now ship with built-in media streaming features, allowing you to watch content from the likes of Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon without connecting up a streaming stick or box. However, the hardware and software aren’t always as powerful or up-to-date.

Gaming features: Projectors are embracing the latest gaming consoles in a big way, with support for 4K resolutions, high 120fps or 240fps refresh rates, low latency gaming modes and more. If you’re massively into gaming, playing through a projector can make the experience incredibly immersive.

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