While most of the world is oohing and ahhing over 4K TVs, many home theater enthusiasts are pushing the envelope even further by building their home entertainment centers with 4K home theater projectors.
These projectors display the crisp, astonishing picture of 4K content at sizes TVs can’t touch, so if you’ve ever dreamed of building your own home theater with a 100-inch screen, there’s never been a better time to get started.
During our testing, we tested specifically for image quality, HDR compatibility, color ranges and more. We watched countless movies and played our share of video games to find the best projector.
What to Look for in the 4k projectors
- Compatibility: One of the most important things to consider is how your projector will work with your gaming system and other equipment. Most modern gaming systems hook up via HDMI, which is available on all of the models below. Some will also offer a USB hook-up for peripherals and Wi-Fi dongles.
- Lag Time: Input lag is one of the most important considerations in a gaming projector. If it’s too high, there will be a noticeable delay between your actions and what you see—and that’s no good for fast-paced, modern games. Anything from around 50ms and lower is acceptable for most gamers. The faster the better, though, especially if you enjoy multi-player games that require quick reactions.
- Contrast Ratio: A higher contrast ratio gives better detail in dark parts of the screen. This is important for seeing all the details whether you’re playing games or watching movies. For gaming, you’ll want a contrast ratio of at least 10,000:1. The higher the ratio, the deeper and more detailed the black parts of the image will be.
- Brightness: You might turn the lights off when you play, but many gamers like being able to play in any lighting conditions. A brighter lamp will be better able to compete against the ambient light in the room, giving you a clearer, more visible image.
5 best 4k projectors of 2021:
|LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam||6.90 x 4.30 x 1.70 in||550 lumen|
|ViewSonic PX747-4K||5.31 x 13.07 x 10.28 in||3500 lumen|
|BenQ HT2550 4K UHD||13.90 x 10.71 x 5.31 in||2200 lumen|
|Optoma UHD60 4K||13 x 19.6 x 5.6 in||3000 lumen|
|Optoma UHD52ALV||15.4 x 11.1 x 5.1 in||3500 lumen|
The LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam projector wins for best portability, thanks to its Bluetooth sound, screen share and a built-in battery. Unfortunately, portability means no 4K quality, but that’s okay as you’ll receive Full HD (1280 x 720) and a wireless connection to any Android device.
With the built-in battery lasting up to 2.5 hours, you won’t get to watch Lord of the Rings, but you’ll be able to get through most movies before the LG dies out. Fortunately, the short battery life is offset by the 30,000 hours of LED life, which means you’ll get 10 years of life even if you’re watching up to eight hours of content every day.
Beyond battery, the PH550 offers a wireless mirroring function that connects to both a smartphone and tablet. Unfortunately, at the current moment, there’s only support for wireless connectivity through both Android and Windows operating systems (Apple has yet to fully support the technology). The display of movies, pictures, music and office documents is easy and can even be done connected to a USB drive.
Additionally, the PH550 supports wirelessly streaming sound directly from the projector to a Bluetooth-compatible sound system such as home audio speakers or headphones.
- Excellent image quality
- Sleek design
- A bit expensive
- Middling speakers
The ViewSonic 4K projector beats the lumen rating of the Optoma UHD60 at 3500, however in tests the blacks were shown to come off just a little bit lighter than we liked due to its weaker contrast ratio.
All that aside, when you consider it’s sub-$1000 price tag, it’s easy to forgive those slight missteps to make this the best budget 4K projector you’ll find on shelves.
The ViewSonic projector is the perfect entry point for the budding 4K projector enthusiast on a budget Sure, the ViewSonic may not have the best contrast ratios or deepest blacks, but when you consider the price all those minor sins are easily forgiven.
This ultra high definition projector is a solid all-arounder for the beginner in 4K projection, someone who isn’t sure that they’re ready to drop an arm and a leg but still want to become a part of the 4K projector elite.
- Super affordable price
- 3500 lumen rating
- HDR support
- Contrast ratios could be better
- Out of box color may need some tweaking
As with the previous projector, the Benq HT2550 4K projector provides you with a display resolution of 3840 x 2160p as well.
This projector makes use of the 0.47-inch single-DMP DLP technology, making it one of the smallest and lightest 4K projectors – 9.2 lbs, 13.9 x 5.3 x 10.7 inches. It’s easy to fit in one of your larger pockets, right?
Besides the HDR10 support, BenQ adds its own touch to this projector, supplying it with the exclusive Auto HDR colour Rendition and Cinema-Optimized technology. But what does this mean?
More goodies for you – greater brightness, higher contrast range as well as image optimization. Even more, because of the single-DMP DLP technology and BenQ’s personal touch, you won’t have to worry about a blurry display, shadowing or any interference patterns.
I don’t know about you, but we’d choose this instead of a cinema. Rounding up your friends to your house, stepping inside your cozy cinema room – popcorn at your leisure, of course – and enjoying your favorite movie among loved ones is something you definitely want.
- Very affordable
- 4K + 3D projection capabilities
- Modern DLP chipset
- Brightness adaptable to indoor and outdoor use
- Poor focus
- 3D projection feature can be a pain to set up
As the name suggests, optoma 4 k HD projector is designed to optimize the viewing experience of movies, games and other video graphics.
It features a true 4k UHD resolution which delivers an exceptional 8.3 million pixels which allows you to see amazing details of what you’re watching.
And with its wide color gamut, this projector delivers every detail in REC2020 colors space which delivers rich black levels. It provides bigger pictures proving an optimal viewing even if you sit 6 feet away.
Some even prefer to sit as far as 10 feet away. Also, it provides a perfect alignment, thanks to the single DLP chip system which are inherently aligned for incredible convergence as well as easy installation.
It is HDR-compatible so that it delivers darker blacks, brilliant whites and incredibly great color depth. This feature delivers an elevated home viewing experience to allow you enjoy great picture quality.
- Super bright picture/3000 lumens
- Native 4K resolution
- Quiet operation
- Struggles with HDR image quality
- Input lag is high
Finally, let’s look at the Optoma UHD52ALV. Like others on this list, it has a high image quality and is flexible in regards to room placement and installation.
In addition, it has the lowest input lag of any projector we’ve seen in the price range. At only 8.4ms, it’s as close to instantaneous as you get, giving you a competitive advantage in your gaming sessions.
The image from the Optoma UHD52ALV is sharp and bright. With 3,500 lumens, it will stay clear and colorful in all lighting conditions. It also as a high contrast ratio and extended color reel—you’ll see every moment the way it’s meant to be seen.
You get a variety of installation options with the Optoma UHD52ALV, too. Vertical lens shift allows for ceiling mounting, and it has a relatively short throw ratio.
It also has nice extra features you might not expect for the price, like built-in voice control compatibility. It’s not the cheapest option, but the cost is worth it for what you get.
- Ultra-low input lag
- Built in compatibility with Alexa and Google voice command
- Bright lamp can compete with ambient light
- Flexible installation
- A bit pricier than other options
About 4K Projectors
2K Pixel shifting projectors using 1080p or other 2 megapixel devices (panels/chips). The pixel structure is far larger – that is, each pixel is 4X the size of a true 4K. The each pixel fires twice, after shifting diagonally by half a pixel, so it can resolve a bit more detail from 4K content that without pixel shifting, but due to the pixel size, I don’t see them as true 4K devices. They can market it that way, but with 4K content if you have fine lines in your image – big difference.
3K Pixel Shifting Projectors: Next – this third class is higher resolution than the “2K pixel shifters”. I’m talking about those using TI’s new 4 megapixel DLP chip. Read that carefully – we’re talking 4 megapixels, not 4K resolution. 4K resolution is 8 megapixels (3840×2160 or similar). The resolution is I don’t have the spec yet – which works out to really being a 3K projector.
Why you should trust us
I’ve reviewed projectors for nearly a decade, and I’m an ISF Level II–certified calibrator. I have the test equipment to provide all the measurements necessary to objectively evaluate a projector’s performance, as well as a light-controlled environment in which to perform the testing. I’ve performed hands-on evaluation of dozens of projectors from $300 to $65,000 in price, and I’ve calibrated projectors professionally.
How we tested 4k projectors
I set up all the projectors in my home theater room using a 92-inch Stewart StudioTek 100 screen with a 1.0 gain. I measured all of them with CalMAN 2018 software, an i1Pro2 spectrometer, and a SpectraCal C6 HDR colorimeter using test patterns from a Murideo Six-G to find the most accurate picture mode and adjust it so that the HDR content was tone-mapped as accurately as possible.
Whatever projector you choose on this list, you’re guaranteed to have a movie watching experience unlike anything else out there today.
If you’re on a budget the ViewSonic 4K projector will get the job done, and if you want to splurge on the best of the best, the LG PH550 is lying in wait. No matter what, the 4K revolution is here, and these are the projectors that will keep you prepared no matter what movies, games, or TV shows you throw their way.