Best Budget Projector for a Home Theater

Best Budget Projector for a Home Theater

Our pick

BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A

The best projector under $1,000

The BenQ HT2050A has the best contrast ratio in its class and more realistic color than the competition, and it’s brighter than some projectors that cost a lot more.

Buying Options

$1,490* from Amazon
$700 from Best Buy

*At the time of publishing, the price was $700.

The BenQ HT2050A uses an RGBRGB color wheel that produces richer, more vibrant colors than many budget DLP projectors.1 This 1080p projector is also much easier to set up than other sub-$1,000 projectors, thanks to a flexible lens that has both zoom and vertical shift. The 1.3x zoom gives some wiggle room in terms of how close to the screen you can place the unit, while the vertical lens shift allows you to avoid the keystone effect. The speakers in this BenQ model are not amazing, but they are better than what most budget projectors offer. The HT2050A’s biggest drawback is that its single-DLP-chip design can produce a visible rainbow effect for some viewers,2 but most people either can’t see it or won’t be bothered by it.

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Runner-up

Epson Home Cinema 2100

Epson Home Cinema 2100

An LCD projector for bright rooms

If you’re bothered by rainbows when viewing a DLP projector, the Epson 2100 LCD projector is very bright, but its contrast ratio is only average.

Buying Options

$730 from Amazon

The Epson Home Cinema 2100 is brighter than the BenQ HT2050A, making it a better choice for family rooms and other spaces where you can’t control the ambient light. This 1080p projector offers limited vertical lens shift and a slightly higher zoom than the HT2050A (1.6x). As an LCD projector, the Epson 2100 won’t create the rainbow artifacts visible to some people with DLP projectors; however, the BenQ model looks sharper and offers double the contrast ratio of this Epson projector.

Also great

BenQ HT2150ST

BenQ HT2150ST

A short-throw projector for small rooms

If you’re short on space, the BenQ HT2150ST can produce a larger image from a shorter distance.

Buying Options

$800 from Amazon

The BenQ HT2150ST uses a short-throw lens, so you can place it much closer to your screen or wall than usual and still get a large image. This 1080p DLP projector is very bright and easy to set up. Its colors aren’t as vivid as those of the non-short-throw HT2050A, and the complex optics in this model’s short-throw lens lead to a loss of sharpness around edges in the image, but it’s worth the compromise if you want a big image in a smaller space, such as an urban apartment.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A

The best projector under $1,000

The BenQ HT2050A has the best contrast ratio in its class and more realistic color than the competition, and it’s brighter than some projectors that cost a lot more.

Buying Options

$1,490* from Amazon
$700 from Best Buy

*At the time of publishing, the price was $700.

Runner-up

Epson Home Cinema 2100

Epson Home Cinema 2100

An LCD projector for bright rooms

If you’re bothered by rainbows when viewing a DLP projector, the Epson 2100 LCD projector is very bright, but its contrast ratio is only average.

Buying Options

$730 from Amazon

Also great

BenQ HT2150ST

BenQ HT2150ST

A short-throw projector for small rooms

If you’re short on space, the BenQ HT2150ST can produce a larger image from a shorter distance.

Buying Options

$800 from Amazon

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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