Best 4K Projectors
As more and more people are finding out the advantages of having a projector, a lot of manufacturers are also tapping into this growing market. This is why it is becoming difficult to select one out of the numerous projectors available on the market.
What is a 4K projector?
The operation of a 4K projector is still the same as a regular projector. The only difference is that 4K projectors are capable of producing output in 4K resolution.
This article explains in simple terms everything you need to know about a projector. You will know how a projector works and its feature. What are the different types of projectors. A comprehensive buyers guide along with the list of top 10 best 4K projectors and FAQs is provided here. This will help you make the right choice when making your purchase.
Our Pick for the Best 4K Projectors
Our pick from the Expensive range
Our pick for best built-in speakers
Our pick for versatility
Our pick from the middle range
Best battery life
Our pick for portability
Best new entry
Our pick from the low-range
How do projectors work?
The way a projector works depends on the type of display it uses.
A DLP projector is a Digital Light Processing projector. These projectors use a number of tiny mirrors to produce dark or light pixels by tilting away from the light source or towards it. The DLP projectors are available as either a Single-chip DLP or a three-chip DLP. The single-chip DLP is the more affordable of the two.
The Single-chip DLP projectors produce an image on the screen through the use of a color wheel. This color-wheel rotates between the primary colors very quickly. Although this type of projector provides the sharpest image on consumer projectors, there is often a rainbow effect on the image it produces. The rainbow effect occurs when a single image is split into red, blue, and green images.
A Three-chip DLP projector does not make use of a color wheel. In place of the color wheel, each color has a dedicated DLP chip. These projectors are not very common due to the high costs. The complex designs which result from the difficulty in aligning each panel usually make it quite expensive. A lot of movie-theaters use this type of projectors.
The LCoS projectors or Liquid Crystal on Silicon projectors uses silicone-backed LCD panels instead of the DLP chips present in three-chip DLP projectors. In this case, the image is formed by combining the light reflected from three separate silicone-backed LCD panels. A unique feature of this type of projector is the elimination of the rainbow effect. This is because it uses LCD.
Although LCoS projectors can produce very high contrast ratios with the deepest blacks, they lack in brightness. To produce high-quality images, it is best to use this type of projectors with screens of about 130 inches in a dark environment. When producing fast-motion scenes, the LCoS projectors usually have more motion blur issues.
In the case of LCD projectors, they stand on the fine line between the LCoS projectors and the DLP projectors. While they are brighter than the LCoS projectors, they are not as bright as the DLP projectors. They also have a lower contrast ratio than LCoS projectors but offer deeper blacks than you get on the DLP projectors.
Features to look out for
Like we discussed above, there are different types of projectors based on the type of display they use. Depending on the type of display, the prices of projectors will vary. Carry out extensive Research on the best display type within your budget when you intend to make a purchase.
An important feature of projectors is the zoom feature on the lens. With this feature, you don’t need to set up the projector at a particular distance to get the best picture quality.
Instead, you can set it up at a convenient location and then use the zoom in or zoom out function to adjust the output of the image. As a result, it is possible to make the image large enough for very large projections, or just small enough to fit a TV-sized projection.
This feature on a projector is similar to that which is available on smartphones, computer monitors, and Televisions. Since the image display by projectors is in pixels, having more pixels always offers a much better output. Most of the popular projectors available on the market usually offer an HD resolution.
With the recent increase in the availability of 4K content, there are also some projectors available which offer a 4K resolution. Although they cost a bit more than HD projectors, the image output is usually of excellent quality.
The brightness of a projector is an important feature to consider if you intend to use the projector from a far distance or in a place with a large amount of ambient light. In projectors, the unit for measuring brightness is lumens. A projector with a very high number of lumens will be very bright.
Any projector that will be used to display on a wall or screen in a dark area doesn’t require too much brightness. In such situation, about 1,000 lumens will perform excellently. On the other hand, an area with high ambient light will require projectors with about 2,000 lumens or more.
Wired and wireless connections
The type of connections which a projector will feature usually varies. Some of the connections which you will find on most projectors include VGA, HDMI, Component, Display Port, and USB. By connecting an adapter, you can use a backward or cross compatibility function which is available on most of these ports. There are also wireless connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi available on most projectors.
Below are some details on each connection
- USB: The hot swapping functionality of a USB is a significant reason why it is very popular. It is possible to connect a device while in operation and also disconnect it when using a USB. Another reason for their popularity is that most USBs are Plug-and-Play compliant. This means that any USB device you connect will perform its installation and configuration very quickly without the need for a CD.
- HDMI: On most of the latest projectors as well as TVs, HDMI input is always included. It has become the more preferred means of connecting most devices. The main reason for this preference is its ability to project audio and video in high-definition using a single cable. HDMI connectivity can be used with laptops, gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and more.
- 3.5mm Audio Jack: As the name suggests, this form of connector is solely for audio. Since not all projectors have a built-in speaker and others may be of low quality, you need a connector to hook up a sound system or a set of speakers. This is where the 3.5mm becomes important.
- Composite: Although it is not as common as it used to be, it is still possible to find a few projectors with a composite. This form of connection separates the input signal into a left channel, right channel, and a video connector.
- VGA: This connector is also on a steady decline regarding its use. A noticeable feature of VGA connectors is how large they usually appear. Having a VGA connection on a projector is very helpful if a computer which you make use of still operates on this form of connection.
- Wi-Fi: This is a form of wireless connection which is very important. It has become a necessity if you intend to stream content without the use of an Ethernet cable. Depending on the type of projector, you may need to use this feature with an app. This is unless you have a smart projector.
- Bluetooth: This is quite common even on smartphones and smart TVs. To use Bluetooth connection, the two devices you intend to connect should support Bluetooth connectivity. This connection doesn’t require cables and allows data transfer within a particular range.
This is a feature which a projector should possess. In most cases, it is common to find a vertical keystone while a horizontal keystone can be sometimes difficult to find. Keystone correction counters the keystone effect on a projector. This is to a particular percentage.
When using a projector, it is common to notice a wider image at the top of the projector is set up too low. If the projector is off the center of the screen horizontally, the image may appear wider on a particular side.
Vertical keystone correction counters the keystone effect due to the height. Some projectors perform the keystone correction automatically while others require manual correction.
Using the keystone correction in excess will usually reduce the resolution of the projector.
There are some projectors that now include a built-in speaker. These projectors save any additional cost that you may have to spend after making the purchase.
To ensure that you get to save this money, you need to read the specifications and reviews on the projector. Although some projectors come with built-in speakers, these speakers are often of low-quality.
Types of projectors based on the size
These are very portable projectors which can sometimes have a size which is smaller than a Smartphone. In most situations where such projectors are used, they often serve as a substitute for small televisions and computer monitors. The common pocket projectors make use of LED lamps which have a low power consumption rating.
This also eliminates the need for a large cooling system on in the projector. Since they offer a very small, portable size, the image size which these projectors produce are usually quite small. These projectors may also be missing some key features like optical zoom.
As a result, they require a lot of flexibility concerning set up placement. Regarding brightness, these projectors usually range from 25 to 1500 ANSI lumens.
These are the more popular types of projectors. The brightness which these projectors offer range from 2500 to 4500 lumens or more. Although it may not be as wide as the home theater projectors, the multimedia projectors usually offer a zoom function. These are the common projectors used in regular PowerPoint presentations and in some wedding venues.
The input options available on these projectors include digital inputs like SDI, DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI while VGA is also available. It is also common to find a number of these projectors which are usable for presentations without connection to a computer. Wireless presentations are also supported by these projectors.
Short Throw Projectors
Any projector with a throw ratio which is lower than 1:1 falls within the category of a short throw projector. Ultrashort throw projectors include those having a specification of 0.3:1 as the throw ratio.
It is difficult to find a short throw projector which has a zoom lens. They are commonly found in classrooms and are usually paired with a digital whiteboard. Setting up short throw projectors at a distance beyond the specification will often not yield a wider image.
The maximum brightness of short throw projectors is usually 3000 lumens since they are designed for small screen sizes. In ultra-short throw projectors, before the image appears on the screen, it is first projected onto a mirror.
Home Theater Projectors
A home theater projector offers a very high image quality in comparison to other types of projectors. The zoom on these projectors is also more than any other type while the brightness is usually lower. The average brightness of these projectors is about 1800 lumens.
A lot of home theater projectors offer 4K and Full HD resolutions. It is easy to mistake a multimedia projector for a home theater projector especially when companies place them in the same category. An easy way to identify a multimedia projector from such list is the high lumen rating. They also have a zoom which is below 2x with a VESA native resolution.
An efficient cooling system is also a necessity in these projectors to ensure that the operation is very quiet. As a result, they are usually large. A feature which is common to home theater projectors is the low-voltage control (LVC).
These projectors are a good option if you have a screen of about 100 inches in size with a means of blocking out all the ambient light in a room.
Fixed-Installation and Large-Venue Projectors
These projectors provide the highest brightness available on the market. You can easily find such projectors offering a brightness of 4500 lumens or more. The set up of these fixed-installation projectors take a lot of time and they are not portable projectors.
To adjust to the throw distance, most of these projectors have a system of interchangeable-lens. Places, where these projectors are used, are areas where it is difficult to control the ambient light such as a movie theater, lecture hall, or a worship center.
They usually display on large screens for large groups. Other features which these projectors support are ‘edge-blending’ and ‘staking.’
Installation of these projectors is usually done by a professional.
Benefits of using a projector
Customize the output size
One of the major features of a projector is the option to adjust the image size. You can buy a projector screen to meet your specifications. It is also more convenient if you have to move your setup to another room.
You don’t need to worry about space like you would when moving a large screen TV to a smaller room. Simply adjust the projector to produce an image output which is suitable for the new position.
Are projectors expensive? Yes, some projectors are. There are certain projectors which may cost as much as a high-end TV.
So what do they offer? There are a lot of advantages which such a projector would have over a TV. The first is the portability. There is no need to explain the size difference between projectors and TVs. Another benefit is the size customization you get when using a projector.
Is the room big enough? If yes, you can make a display as big as the wall. If the room is too small, then you can adjust to the size.
Comparing the performance of a projector and that of a TV at the same price will often show some of the variances. It may be difficult to get a good TV offering a high-quality 4K resolution at the same price you would get a 4K projector.
Small and lightweight are two features most projectors share. If it becomes necessary, there will be no issue moving a projector around the home. These features also make them a great choice for outdoor viewing.
Interactive projectors and teaching
When teaching, it can be challenging to get students to listen while taking notes at the same time. By creating a presentation of your notes, you can easily discuss the notes with the students during the lecture and then share a digital copy at the end of the lecture.
1. BenQ W1700 Home Cinema Projector – Our pick from the Expensive range
A very popular name when it comes to the supply of consumer electronics. The company goes as far back as 2001 and has since continued to grow.
In addition to featuring the unique BenQ design, the W1700 is a 4K projector which offers some great qualities like HDR10 support. Although it comes at an affordable price, the finish doesn’t tell.
- It comes with a remote which has backlit buttons in a comfortable layout for use in dimly lit rooms
- There are two HDMI ports on the projector with one supporting HDCP 2.2 for 4K contents
- CinemaMaster Video+ technology which provides enhancements to sharpness and color
- The projector uses a lamp with a maximum life of 10,000 hours for economic use, 8000 hours for SmartEco, 4000 hours for normal
- It has a 5W speaker in a resonant chamber along with EQ settings for different types of content
- The projector chassis is made from a durable plastic material
- There are manual controls for the lens focus and zoom on the body of the projector
- The backlighting on the projector remote is a great feature to have when using the projector in dark rooms
- The 4K content playback on this projector usually has a detailed and sharp output quality
- It comes in a reasonably small size with a high-quality upscale
- The projector has an integrated lens with a low-dispersion layer and a 1.2x optical zoom
- There is a noticeable lack of image stability during some movie scenes
2. XGIMI H2 LED Home Projector – Our pick for best built-in speakers
Everything about this projector just shows off quality. The company is the brainchild of a group of young members who are intent on providing projection solutions at an affordable price. The H2 is proof of their dedication.
The quality of the output and the performance of the projector both speak high volumes about the unit.
- Built-in Harman Kardon branded speakers for a very high-quality audio output
- There is a remote control included in the package which eliminates the need to use a mobile phone in controlling this smart projector
- The projector supports other inputs with a headphone jack, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, HDMI ports, Ethernet port, and external speakers
- It comes with different adapters so it is easy to connect regardless of the type of socket outlet
- The lens has a sliding cover which will slide open when you plug in and power on the projector
- Download more apps using Aptoide which is preinstalled along with a lot of other apps like Amazon and YouTube
- The high-quality speaker makes it possible to use the projector as a boom box or portable speaker
- There is a rechargeable 3D glass available in the projector package
- The projection distance is 2.2 m – 5 m
- Easy control for the volume with a simple slide of the hand over a particular part of the surface of the projector
- Amazing Lamp life of 30,000 H
- The Google Play Store will be unavailable unless with an update
3. XGIMI H1 Immersive Home Theater Projector– Our pick for versatility
Do you need a projector which will run very fast? One which supports multiple inputs? Or is a simple control enough for you? Then the H1 is another very good choice.
It offers great brightness and large display which makes it easy to set up. It also supports wireless connection and some display adjustment features which enhances the quality of the output.
- A 3GB RAM and Cortex-A17 Quadcore 1.7GHz processor provide a smooth operation of the projector
- Operating on the Android 5.1.1 OS, the projector offers access to apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and more
- Connect various external devices to any of the two HDMI ports, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, or the Ethernet port
- Easily set up the projector and stream content online by connecting via the Wi-Fi feature
- The projector comes with a built-in speaker which is Harman Kardon-brandedmaking it a standalone media source
- Automatic keyframe adjustment offers aligned pictures which are clear as soon as you connect
- It has a large 300” display which can be set up in any location
- It offers excellent sound quality which makes it usable without purchasing an external speaker
- The projector has a 900 ANSI lumens brightness with 3D active shutter
- This projector doesn’t offer an optical zoom so adjusting the image size is done manually
- Actual output is 1080p while there is downsampling of 4K signal
4. JMGO J6S DLP LED Projector – Our pick from the middle range
If you are on not so tight budget and looking for a home theater that will be with you everytime than this JMGO J6S DLP LED projector is just what you are looking for.
It has all the basics and this projector runs on the Android operating system which is easy to use and offers great additional functionalities. For more features read below:
- The projector has an Ethernet port, two USB ports, an audio output, and an HDMI port for connecting external devices
- Built-in speakers for direct use of the projector without an additional sound system setup
- Automatic keystone correction
- It has an electric sliding lens door which automatically slides in place to prevent entry of dust into the lens area
- It works with the DLP Display technology
- There one remote control in addition to an air mouse for fluid control of the unit
- The projector runs on the Android operating system which is easy to use and offers great additional functionalities
- Offers 4K and full HD resolution
- It has a brightness of 1100 ANSI lumens providing excellent viewing in daylight
- There is a mobile application through which users can monitor the projector and also make a few changes
- The projector supports viewing from a USB media, MicroSD card, or directly from its internal memory
- It supports the connection of multiple devices with the availability of various input ports
- A dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for rapid wireless connectivity
- The projector doesn’t feature a 3D technology
5. XGIMI CC Aurora Mini Portable DLP Projector– Best battery life
If you are looking for a projector which offers great quality while retaining its portability, then the CC Aurora is a great choice. It works well when broadcasting in daylight and offers a high-quality sound output with the JBL speakers.
- The projector uses an LED lamp which is very durable with a life of 30,000 hours
- It supports the 4K resolution with a native resolution of 1280×720
- It comes with built-in JBL with Harman Kardon stereo speakers to offer excellent sound output
- Uses services like YouTube and Netflix with the built-in Android 5.1.1 operating system
- It includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless connections
- It comes with 2 USB inputs along with one HDMI 2.0 port for easy connectivity of compatible devices
- The remote control is available in addition to the five sensor buttons on the top of the projector for easy control and settings adjustment
- The inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack makes it possible to enjoy your video without interrupting others within the area
- The built-in 20,000mAh battery provides a long-lasting use on each charge
- It uses a DLP display technology which makes it more affordable
- It comes with a remote control which has a great appearance and buttons which are very easy to use
- It runs on an older version of the Android operating system
- The Wi-Fi connectivity of the projector can be a bit weak
6. AODIN Android 7.1 4K Smart Mini DLP Projector – Our pick for portability
Aodin is a brand under Shenzhen Hotack Technology Co., Ltd. They are well known for the production of Smart TV box, Android tablets, DLP Smart projectors, and more.
This is an excellent projector to purchase when you need one to carry around with you at all times. It uses a battery as a power source which also provides versatility in the use of this projector.
- 8000mAh battery which offers more than 1.5 hour play time when outdoors
- A Quad-core Cortex-A53 with processor speeds up to 1.5GHz for the efficient running of the Android 7.1 operating system
- A touch panel with smart touchpads for easy control of the projector settings
- It has an HDMI and USB 3.0 for rapid transmission
- It has a brightness of 2200 lumens and is suitable for screen sizes up to 300-inches
- It offers a 4K decoding with support for various video formats including WMV, VOB, MP4, and more
- It uses a DLP display technology
- The projector is very portable with a size that easily fits into small spaces
- There is a 2GB DDR with a 16GB ROM which is expandable to 32GB for storing files
- It allows users to watch videos online and TV channels without the need for a subscription
- There is often a difficulty when trying to gain access to Play Store
- The battery doesn’t last very long when in use
7. DCC 4K LED Projector UHD – Best new entry
This is a new product which is really pulling its weight. The projector offers a lot of great features and the manufacturers offer a 2 years warranty on the product. It also supports HDR content with a MicroSD slot for streaming content.
- Watch 4K content in high-quality with the HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 capability
- A high brightness at 3,000 lumens to reduce the limitations when choosing places to use the projector
- Great video playback with support for HDR content decoding on this projector
- Connect various devices on the input ports available including one AV port, a headphone jack, HDMI ports, USB ports, and a VGA port
- The projector has a dedicated MicroSD slot for reading information from such source
- In addition to the long life of the lamp, there is an Eco mode which can further increase the life to 30,000
- The projector can display on screens of up to 200 inches with 4x the clarity of regular full HD projection
- It features the LED display technology
- This projector supports all kinds of input including MicroSD cards and VGA inputs
- Supports a lot of inputs including the VGA ports
- Being expandable up to 200-inches is low in comparison to some projectors offering over 300-inches
8. Everycom X9 LED HD Projector – Our pick from the low-range
The Everycom X9 projector is an excellent choice since it is a newer model from the series. It includes some improvements in the features which were available in the X7 and X8 projectors from the same series.
This projector offers great versatility and can be set up on a tripod or ceiling mount with ease. It all depends on how best it suits your requirements.
- This projector uses an LED lamp with an estimated life of 30,000 hours
- It has a brightness of 3500 lumens which makes it a good option for rooms where it is not possible to block off all ambient light
- It allows connection of various external devices with multimedia interfaces such as a VGA port, two HDMI ports, one ATV, two USB ports, and an AV port
- The projector provides support for the red and blue 3D effect which allows users to watch 3D videos
- There is a remote control available
- It runs on the Android operating system with a quad-core ARM-Cortex 1.5GHz CPU and 1GB DDR3 RAM
- There is a 1-year warranty on the projector
- With 3,500 lumens brightness, it doesn’t matter if there is still a little amount of light, the projector display will remain clear
- A keystone correction feature allows users to adjust the alignment of the projector display
- The 30,000 hours lamp life will last a very long period of use
- There are no batteries included with the remote control
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I depend on the speakers that come with a projector?
If you are really after a great output sound quality, then you shouldn’t depend on the built-in speakers of a projector. The design of the built-in projector speakers doesn’t focus on providing very high-quality sound. This is a common problem which these devices share with televisions.
The best option is to do your research and then purchase a separate sound system to complement the video output of the projector. You can choose to search for a projector offering a minimum of 10-watt on the speaker if you would prefer not to buy an external sound system.
2. What is LVC?
LVC or Low Voltage Control is a feature on a projector in the form of an output through which the projector can trigger the functioning of another component that is part of the home theater setup. In most cases, this is usually a motorized projector screen with support for LVC.
By connecting these components, the projector can automatically cause the screen to lower as soon as it is powered on. The LVC can also be set up to control other components like the house lights by connecting it to an automation system instead.
3. What is stacking?
Stacking is a process through which two or more projectors project the same image over the same area on the same screen. There are a number of reasons for stacking. Firstly, it is a way of producing an image brightness which is more than what is obtainable with a single projector. In other cases, it also reduces cost as buying a projector which will produce the brightness you obtain when stacking will cost a lot. The projectors in use for this process need to be of the same model with adequate calibration performed. If there is no built-in stacking feature on the projector, there are third-party software which can perform this process.
Although the term stacking in projection doesn’t imply arranging the projectors by stacking one on the other, it is possible to find projectors supporting this arrangement to perform the process.
4. What is edge-blending?
This is a term which is used when there are two or more images from two or more projectors which are made to merge perfectly resulting in one larger image. It is sometimes obtainable through the use of third-party software while certain projectors offer this as a built-in feature.
In most cases, for the edge blending to work, it is necessary that the projectors are of the same model. Edge-blending in projection is also similar to the video wall.
5. Why would I need a Lens shift on a projector?
The lens shift of a projector simply determines the flexibility in the placement of the projector relative to the projector screen. Although projectors are supposed to be placed directly in front of a screen, in reality, there may be a need to place it higher, lower, a little to the left, or the right.
A lens shift can either be a vertical or horizontal lens shift. The horizontal lens shift determines the position on the horizontal plane where you can set up the projector and still produce a perfectly rectangular image. In terms of the vertical lens shift, it gives the position where the projector can be set up vertically in relation to the center of the screen. In general, it allows a minor shift of the lens in relation to the plane of the image.
6. What is the contrast ratio?
This is the measurement of the differences between the bright and dark portions of an image which the projector is projecting. A projector with a higher contrast ratio will produce increased details on the projector screen.
The contrast ratio is usually expressed in the form of a ratio such as 1000:1, or any other ratio. Projectors have a lower effective contrast with an increase in ambient light.
7. What is a laser projector?
This is a type of projector which uses a laser light source in projecting images. There are a few benefits to the use of such projectors including lower maintenance costs and operating costs. They also have a rapid start-up time and higher picture quality.
8. What is a throw ratio?
This is a specification which is very important when installing a projector. This is the closest distance a projector can be set up from a screen to produce an image which doesn’t have any visible pixel and is also very clear.
9. Are there any additional costs which may come up after purchasing a projector?
To fully enjoy the functionality of your projector, there are a few things you may need to invest in after your purchase. A screen is one of these items. Depending on the resolution of the projector, you should buy a screen which offers clarity without any distortion on the images.
Another additional purchase which may become necessary is a sound system. The lack of high-quality built-in speakers on most projectors will cause you to purchase a quality sound system.
Finally, you need to purchase high-quality cables that will produce the best output when you connect the setup.
So have you made up your mind on the best projector to meet your requirements? If not, why not take a second look at our recommended projectors?
For anyone who is not purchasing a budget, the BenQ W1700 projector is a great choice. A product of a company that is popular for making high-quality products, it offers a lot of high-quality features.
If you would like to get some of these great features at a more affordable price, then the Everycom X9 projector is another great choice.
For a projector that offers some very cool features like high-quality built-in speakers along with some additional accessories like cool 3D glasses, then you should try the XGIMI H2 Projector