Short-throw projectors are perfect for anyone looking to simplify their quest to make a home theater. Regular projectors aren’t exactly user-friendly, and mounting them on walls or ceilings can be annoying at best, and dangerous at worst. And what if it falls? Say goodbye to that thousand-dollar investment. Short-throw projectors don’t require any second guessing or finicky setups. Simply put them in front of a wall or projection screen and power them on to enjoy theater-quality images at home. But which device is right for you? Here’s a selection of the best short-throw projectors available right now.
— Best Overall: Optoma CinemaX P2 Smart 4K UHD Laser Projector
— Best Ultra HD: LG CineBeam HU915QE Ultra Short-Throw 4K UHD
— Best for Gaming: BenQ TK700STi 4K HDR Short-Throw Gaming Projector
— Best 4K: Hisense PX1 4K UHD Triple-Laser UST Ultra Short-Throw Projector
— Best Budget: JMGO 01 Ultra Short-Throw Projector
How We Picked the Best Short-Throw Projectors
Home projectors are having a bit of a moment right now, especially considering how many of the big media companies are making it easier to watch big movies from the comfort of your couch mere weeks after they are released in theaters. Standard projectors and portable projectors come in various sizes, and have to be placed a distance away from a projection screen, usually several feet away. Short-throw projectors are just that: a projector shoots its picture up and out in front of the device, so it’s far easier to operate. Here are a few different things we considered when picking out the best short-throw projectors.
Picture Quality: This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when buying a short-throw projector. Does the picture quality look great? It should not only look fantastic once you power it on but from multiple angles in any given room. Screen resolution varies, and can go anywhere from the low end of 1080p to 4K and even 8K. The bump in resolution shouldn’t diminish when opting for a larger screen size.
Screen Size Options: A standard projector’s screen size wholly depends on how far away you place a device from a screen. This works similarly with short-throw projectors, granted the distance is far shorter. Bigger is usually better when it comes to screens, but positioning, straightening, and focusing the image from a short-throw projector should be easy.
User-Friendliness: Could you see yourself replacing your main living room television with a short-throw projector? These devices cost thousands of dollars, so using them shouldn’t be more annoying than a good quality HD TV. If a short-throw projector has a good OS, it is all the better, especially if it plans to provide options for 4K and 8K content.
Brightness: Picture quality is paramount, but no amount of detail will be worth watching if the brightness in a short-throw projector is lacking. Plenty of the higher-end models work fantastically, even in rooms with plenty of light, but a projector should at the very least provide stellar picture quality in pitch-black rooms.
Best Short-Throw Projectors: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Optoma CinemaX P2 Smart 4K UHD Laser Projector
Why It Made the Cut: Optomo CinemaX P2 has a built-in soundbar and some of the best picture quality on the market, along with an unbeatable price tag.
— Dimensions: 15 inches L x 22.1 inches W x 5.1 inches H
— Weight: 24 pounds
— Max Brightness: 3,000 lumens
— Max Screen Size: 120 inches
— Easy setup
— Compatible with smart home devices
— Premium sound bar out of the box
— Less than ideal apps
Optoma CinemaX P2 hides some seriously great projection tech inside its sleek housing, which is why it’s our overall best pick. A cinematic experience is almost assured anytime you power it on, whether you’re watching a theatrical release or your favorite YouTube channel. The picture is projected in true 4K UHD resolution, with full HDR10 compatibility, thanks to pure glass optics and a laser light source. An integrated 40-watt soundbar provides detailed sound to match the picture, for the sort of immersive experience you’re looking for out of a home projector. It only needs to be placed mere inches from a wall or screen to tap into a massive screen, anywhere from 85 to 120 inches.
Like any great short-throw projector, setting it up requires no special training or knowledge, and the user interface lets you customize your picture settings in a flash. It’s even fully compatible with smart home devices like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can integrate voice commands as well. The downside is that the apps built into the Optoma are less than ideal, but that’s not anything a good streaming box or stick can’t fix. For the price, the Optoma CinemaX P2 is a fantastic value, costing hundreds of dollars less than many other short-throw projectors in its class.
Best Ultra HD: LG CineBeam HU915QE Ultra Short Throw 4K UHD
Why It Made the Cut: The LG CinemaBeam blends into just about any room, and provides a picture that isn’t just immersive, but unfathomably bright.
— Dimensions: 12.4 inches L x 21 inches W x 6 inches H
— Weight: 26.4 pounds
— Max Brightness: 3,700 ANSI Lumens
— Max Screen Size: 120 inches
— Cinematic quality picture
— Gorgeous aesthetics
— Incredibly user-friendly
— Massive price tag
If you’re going for broke with your home theater, the top-of-the-line LG CineBeam Ultra Short-Throw Projector is the one to splurge on. While many short-throw projectors look expensive, LG CineBeam looks more pricey than most, but its gorgeous aesthetics aren’t dolling up lackluster tech. This short-throw projector is powerful and bright. Go on, operate LG CineBeam during the day. The picture will come in with a fantastic level of clarity that truly has to be seen to be believed. Once the lights are off, the experience is as immersive as watching a movie in a theater, without the pricey popcorn. Even the 40-watt sound is optimized for immersion, so you don’t need to splurge any further on a soundbar.
It’s ready to stream right out of the box and sets up in minutes. Point it at the nearest wall, fire up a theatrical release, and soak in the Hollywood magic. The magic remote makes picture adjustments quick and easy, but you can even control the device using Apple Airplay. The only obvious flaw is that this thing is incredibly expensive. Granted, paired with a projection screen it could easily replace your main living room television. For more information, check out our full LG CineBeam review here.
Best for Gaming: BenQ TK700STi 4K HDR Short-Throw Gaming Projector
Why It Made the Cut: For live sports and hardcore gaming, BenQ 4K Short-Throw Gaming Projector stays one step ahead of the action.
— Dimensions: 13 inches L x 18 inches W x 7 inches H
— Weight: 6.83 pounds
— Max Brightness: 3,000 Lumens
— Max Screen Size: 150 inches
— Ultra-low latency
— Big, bright picture
— Required distance longer than average
Is the BenQ TK700STi 4K truly a short-throw projector? It calls itself one, but “short” in this case is extremely relative. Still, it’s a very impressive projector. It’s made with gaming in mind and has the refresh rates to keep up with modern hardcore gaming on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo systems. Even gritty titles that are heavy on dark, shadowy areas, will come in crisp, clear, and maybe even give you an extra edge because of it. It’s also incredibly bright and will provide perfectly serviceable pictures in dimly lit rooms. In dark rooms, the picture quality will be pristine, in full 4K no less. This short-throw projector comes with its own streaming stick, with an incredibly easy-to-use interface. No need to get an extra power source, the streaming stick gets its power from the device itself.
The only qualm one may have with this device is that it still resembles a regular home projector. For a 120-inch screen, you’ll need to mount the projector 7.8 feet away. That’s not exactly short, compared with the mere inches that other short-throw projectors require to operate. Of course, it’s a fair bit more affordable than the other projectors in its class, and it’s no slouch when it comes to picture quality.
Best 4K: Hisense PX1 4K UHD Triple-Laser UST Ultra Short-Throw Projector
Why It Made the Cut: Hisense PX1 offers some of the best 4K with intense color clarity and contrast.
— Dimensions: 15 inches L x 24 inches W x 11 inches H
— Weight: 25.5 pounds
— Max Brightness: 2,000 Lumens
— Max Screen Size: 120 inches
— Filmmaker Mode
— Razor-sharp 4K focus
— Dolby Atmos sound
— Less than stellar black levels
Hisense is making waves in the tech world with its surprisingly affordable televisions, but its PX1 4K Ultra is one of the best short-throw projectors available right now. Its triple-layer laser uses the purest reds, blues, and greens to capture every color on the spectrum. This means that no matter what you watch with this projector, you can bet on some of the best colors and contrast, not to mention depth, detail, and vibrancy. It does occasionally struggle on black levels though, especially around the corners of the screen. Most of the time, you won’t notice this, but when you do, it can be quite jarring.
At its best, the 4K is razor sharp, almost like you’re watching an OLED TV, if you invest in a good projection screen. Its Filmmaker Mode disables all unnecessary motion processing, so you can watch the film the way the artists behind it intended. Eat your heart out, Coppola. The Dolby Atmos 30W speaker gives this device an edge in the sound department, and crisp highs, booming lows, and some of the clearest speech out of any device in its class. With a built-in Android TV, streaming out of the box is a breeze, especially if you’ve got a bunch of apps already tied to your Google account.
Best Budget: JMGO 01 Ultra Short-Throw Projector
Why It Made the Cut: It’s not as bright as the competition, but it’s a fraction of the cost, and still packs stellar image quality.
— Dimensions: 13.5 inches L x 17.4 inches W x 8 inches H
— Weight: 5.07 pounds
— Max Brightness: 800 Lumens
— Max Screen Size: 100 inches
— Works great, even on walls
— Art gallery mode
— Great value
— Dim picture quality
The JMGO 01 Ultra Short-Throw Projector will project a massive 100-inch screen from a very short distance away, and the picture is pretty impressive, especially for the price. But the dollar savings will come with a few caveats.
The obvious flaw with this budget short-throw projector is its brightness. At only 800 lumens, this projector will only work in extremely low light conditions and rooms. If you plan on operating it during the day, ensure that not an ounce of sunlight is pouring into the room it's placed in. Even in dark rooms, the brightness may leave you cold. That said, the picture quality is surprisingly stellar, and it works well even when it’s simply projected onto a plain white wall. There’s a gallery mode that’s perfect for displaying photos, slideshows, and all manner of professional presentations. You can even operate it directly from your phone using a handy app (available on Google Play and App Store). Aside from the app, the JMGO 01 is incredibly user-friendly, and its Luna OS is a fairly solid streaming pal. Its price is a mere fraction of every other device in this roundup, and depending on your needs, may be more than you need for your home theater.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Short-Throw Projector
Investing in a Good Projection Screen
Short-throw projectors are one of the most expensive entertainment devices, with price tags that make even the flashiest OLED televisions look cheap by comparison. Even our budget offering, the JMGO 01 Ultra Short-Throw Projector, is still hundreds of dollars. These devices don’t require a dedicated screen to use. All you really need is a light-colored wall and a nearby power supply. But spending thousands of dollars on a projector of any kind without a projection screen simply isn’t prudent in the long run. A projection screen takes full advantage of the big, expensive tech in these versatile projectors, providing an experience that practically feels like your living room is your own private movie house.
Luckily, good projection screens don’t cost anywhere near as much as a short-throw projector. Our favorite is the Akia Screens Retractable Projector Screen. It tops out at 110 inches, which is just shy of the 120-inch max screen size many of these projectors provide. If you remember your teacher doing PowerPoint presentations during your school days, this screen works similarly and mounts easily to a wall or ceiling. For those who want a glitzier, electronic option, the Akia Motorized Electric Remote Controlled Drop Down Screen is also a great choice.
Q: Are short-throw projectors better than standard projectors?
It depends on your needs. Short-throw projectors are a good bit more versatile than regular projectors, but they are way more pricey.
Q: Are short-throw projectors worth it?
If you’re willing to spend extra, a short-throw projector provides theater-quality picture without the need to mount a device to a wall or ceiling.
Q: What should I look for in a short-throw projector?
The two main things you should look for in a short-throw projector are great picture quality and brightness.
Q: Is a short-throw projector better than a TV?
You could replace your television with a short-throw projector, as long as the device you use is bright, so it can be used during the day and in rooms with lots of light.
Q: Do ultra short-throw projectors need a special screen?
No, you can use an ultra short-throw projector on any light-colored wall. However, we suggest you use a projection screen to make the most out of your expensive projector.
Q: What is the difference between short-throw and ultra short-throw projectors?
The main difference between short-throw projectors and ultra short-throw projectors is distance. Ultra short-throw projectors only need to be placed mere inches away from a screen to operate.
Final Thoughts on the Best Short-Throw Projectors
Projectors are perfect for capturing the magic of going out to the movie theaters in the comfort of your living room. Short-throw projectors are the sleekest ones available, not to mention, the easiest to use, like our overall best pick, the Optoma CinemaX P2 Smart 4K UHD Laser Projector. For gaming, the BenQ TK700STi 4K HDR Short-Throw Gaming Projector is perfect, even if it plays a little fast and loose with the definition of “short throw.” For a short-throw projector available at a fraction of the cost of the competition, the JMGO 01 Ultra Short-Throw Projector is a great option, although it runs a little dim.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.