If screen size is your priority, you are never going to be able to get a TV that fits the 300” screen requirement. But a good full HD projector will. Of course, it will never be like watching a TV, especially during the daytime. But then where will you get a TV screen this size under $1000?
After spending 20 hours testing 20 home theater projectors, we were able to shortlist the top 6 that can fulfill all the requirements you might have. When we test a projector, we give the most important to 2 attributes – brightness and contrast ratio. These two attributes decide how the daytime viewing will be. After that, we concentrate on the color accuracy.
With these 6 projectors that we have selected, you can’t go wrong with anything. They are highly portable, have a good daytime viewing, have great sound and show accurate colors.
Best Projectors under $1000: Our Top Picks
1. Epson PowerLite 1795F: Best Projector under 1000
The Epson 1795F is super slim measuring just 11.5 x 8.4 x 1.7 inches. It comes with a carrying case but it can easily fit into a normal laptop bag along with your laptop. At 1.8 kg, it is not difficult to move it around. It is very comfortable to take it here and there and set up quickly wherever you want.
The projector is made of plastic mostly with dotted print on top. The top of the projector has all the standard buttons including auto focus, volume control, navigation, screen size mute and a small release button for adjusting the projection angle. The front portion has a shutter which covers the lens when not in use. The ventilation is located along the sides and front of the projector.
The back of the unit is where all the fun lies. At least, for us. It has got all the connectivity options like HDMI, VGA, Composite, USB-A 2.0 port and USB-B 2.0 port. The 2 USB ports ensure that you can connect a storage device and read material directly or connect the PC and use the gesture control feature of the projector.
The Epson 1795F is a business projector. For a business projector, the brightness holds the most important place. A business projector is usually set up in a brightly lit conference room or board room. This projector provides brightness of 3200 lumens which is nicely visible in our normally lit studio.
The projector offers a resolution 1920 x 1080. It is more than enough for everyday business use. The projector can project an image of up to 300” but in our recommendation keep it to 60”-120” for best results. Going for the full screen is not advisable.
The Epson 1795F has automatic keystone correction which becomes a little aggressive at times which results in skewed images that have to be adjusted manually.
Multiple connectivity options make the Epson 1795F it a perfect business projector. On top of that, it also offers wireless connectivity to a laptop or PC. It does require you to install the Epson projection software and that the projector is setup on the same network. Though our Windows 10 was not able to identify the projector the Epson software was successful in connection.
Once the connection was established successfully, displaying presentations and audio content was very easy. But we did experience a lag during video display. Video played with the severe audio delay but it was because of the lag over Wi-Fi. For places where there is a limited Wi-Fi connection, a facility of Ethernet port would have been great. Wireless connectivity is great for playing non-video content.
The projector also has an in-built smartphone connectivity via Miracast or MHL. It connects to multiple Android phones and tablets at the same time without any problem. It also has NPC but it is a bit inconvenient. When you tap the phone to the projector, it does not connect automatically. Instead, it prompts you to download the Epson iProjection app. Once the app is downloaded and installed, you can mirror the files directly from your phone. We would have preferred if the phone connected directly without the hassle of an added application.
There is a fun provision for multiple presenters too. It has an option of split screen. When the projection is made simultaneously from multiple sources, it automatically goes into split screen format.
One more fun feature is the gesture mode. You do not have to be near your PC or laptop while giving the presentation. If the projector is connected to the device by USB, you can use this feature.
So, forget gesture control if you have mounted it on the ceiling.
Once the gesture control is activated, you will see up and down arrows on the corner of your screen. You just have to cover these arrows to navigate through your presentation. Theoretically, it sounds really good but practically it is broken. If you are walking around while presenting, your shadow can trigger the navigation. Also, many times, covering the arrow with hands did not trigger the navigation. The feature is broken and it is faster to just walk back to the laptop and change the slide.
The PC-free mode is also good for pdf documents and such. For a slideshow, reading it directly from USB drive can be challenging. As you are not connected to a PC, navigation becomes a pain.
The inbuilt speaker is very low and needs connecting to a better speaker. Also, for videos, only AVI formats are supported.
The projector has immense image quality, is light, extremely portable and offers a huge range of connectivity options. The ideas like gesture control are thoughtful but under-developed. But all in all, it is worth the money.
2. BenQ EP5920 Plug ‘n Play 1080P Home Theatre Projector: The Runner up
Home projector system, good audio system, high brightness level and 3D support
The projector is a perfect home entertainment unit but that does not mean you have to fix it permanently. It is small, light and portable. At 9.7 x 13 x 5.9 inches, it weighs just 3.5 kg. You can store it away when not in use or take it to a friend’s house for a movie party.
The top of the projector has the mandatory navigation controls, power button, zoom, and auto-focus adjustments. The front portion has an air vent beside the lens. But the party starts at the rear end.
The back panel has 2 ports for HDMI which you will be using to connect to Blu-ray, cable box or any other such medium. Apart from that, there is a VGA port, 2 RCA phono plugs, S-video ports, composite video, 2 audio-in ports and one audio-out port for external sound system connection.
The BenQ EP5920 is a full HD home theater projection system. It works pretty well for both – movies as well as sports. It offers a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a contrast ratio of 5000:1. The projector gives the brightness of 1800 ANSI lumens which makes watching under ambient lighting also pretty comfortable.
The projector has a lamp life of up to 6000 hours in Eco mode. There is also a special cooling technology in place to prevent the lamp from over-heating. The DLP design of the projector reduces the need to cool the lamp by 60% and this lowers the power consumption to less than 1 watt while on Standby.
The BenQ EP5920 is a filter-free design so you don’t have to go through the hassle of filter maintenance, cleaning or replacement.
To watch a 1080p movie in dark room, you just need 800 lumens of brightness to get 16 fL. The rated brightness of BenQ EP5920is 1800 lumens which are more than enough to watch anything in ambient light. It is bright enough to watch anything at a reasonably large screen size. For the maximum image size of the projector, various factors need to be considered like the time of viewing, a number of windows in the room and the shades drawn.
At 100” size, the brightness was really good even with lights on in the room. But it should be kept in mind that when we converted it to Eco mode, we had to reduce the image size even further. In our test, the image quality of BenQ EP5920 also held up to quite good but fell short of excellent.
The is a slight problem in shadow details, especially in darker areas, and we also noticed a hint of posterization. When it comes to large solid backgrounds like the open sky or plain wall, there tends to be a slight noise but not enough to consider it a problem. On a positive side, the projector handled color accuracy like in skin tones really well. It also supports 3D but it is highly limited.
3D was no fun at all.
Every single-chip DLP projectors have an issue of rainbow artifacts, that is, the light areas breaking up into red-green-blue rainbows. That is a common problem but some projectors face it more than the others. Fortunately, the unit we tested did not suffer from rainbow artifacts.
The audio also seems to be good. The 10-watt mono speaker makes enough crisp sound to listen to dialogues in a small room at a full volume clearly. But if you want stereo sound or audio to fill a large room, you may be better off attaching an external speaker system.
For those who don’t mind rainbow artifacts too much or want to watch movies and sports at night on a big screen, this projector is a perfect choice. Even the sound system is big enough to stand up on its own. But don’t expect a great musical experience.
Light-weight, the range of connectivity options and built-in Wi-Fi.
The Epson EX9200 Pro is a glossy black unit with textured top. The texture serves a lot of other purposes other than a design like a firm grip and no finger smudges. The complete black also makes the projector unnoticeable which is a good thing. It does not distract from the picture.
The top of the unit has all the buttons for control. The Epson logo takes the center stage and the buttons fall below the logo. These controls have everything; you won’t need the remote control if you are accessing the menu from the top of the unit. Above the logo, you will find controls for focus and screen size. There is also a lens cover to protect the lens when not in use.
The lens is set in the middle of the fan cut and below the lens is a little stand for propping the projector on a table top. The right side of the front and the right of the unit has an air vent.
The back portion has a bevy of ports and connection options. There are 2 HDMI ports one with MHL support, 2 USB ports – types A and B, VGA, RCA audio input and output and also composite video. It weighs 4.8 kgs, so it is not exactly very light, but it is not heavy too. It is easily portable.
The projector offers a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 and the projection ranges from 30” to 300”. The bulb is very bright and throws brightness of 3200 lumens. The contrast ratio is also 15000:1.
Initially, we had to fiddle with the focus and screen size for the projector to perform to its best capabilities, but after that, it was all worth the effort. The default settings are all very good. When we set the projector on Presentation Mode, the document was clear to read and the contrast between text and background was also perfect.
Thanks to the 3200 lumens bright bulb, finding a perfect environment for the setup of the projector is not hard. Obviously, the quality is excellent in a dark room but somewhat bright rooms are also not an issue. The only problem with viewing is while watching a dark video in a bright room. But that goes without saying, it is a projector, that is bound to happen.
The projector has other modes for further enhancing the quality. There are 4 picture modes to choose from – Cinema, Blackboard,sRGB, Presentation, and Dynamic. Apart from presentation mode, we found the cinema mode to be the best in all situations. For most people, these settings will be more than enough. The video quality is fairly crisp and blacks are deep. Watching a movie or two is no issue with EX9200 Pro.
The projector has a 2-watt mono speaker which is very basic. We found the sound options really limiting. The sound is alright for small rooms or presentations. But other than that, the sound breaks and skews as you go louder. The absence of audio out port, you are stuck with the mono speaker. You cannot attach a stereo speaker system to the projector. Though there are options like HDMI to audio extractors which you can use to solve the problem it is definitely troublesome.
The wireless connectivity is good but lengthy. The setup takes time. You have to install the Epson app and then fiddle with the Wi-Fi settings. But once all that is done properly, it works great. Through wireless connectivity you can, of course, push files from phone or laptop. But along with that, you can also use your device as a remote control. The process can be made a little shorter using the detailed and nicely written instructions.
If you prefer plug-n-play, you can always use Chromecast or Miracast dongle as an added option with the HDMI ports.
The Epson EX9200 Pro has perfectly balanced features for general uses. The picture quality is equal to more expensive models and that is the best part of this projector. It is a perfect balance between price and features. And on top of that, it performs exceptionally well.
Full HD, 3D support, 8000-hour lamp life and outstanding image clarity
At 8.8 x 12.4 x 3.9 inches and a weight of 2.5 kg, the DH1012 is not only highly portable but also really easy to setup. In theory, the projector can produce a 300” image easily but when we tested it we found that distance is an issue. The projector has to maintain far off distance to produce larger images.
The projector is a glossy white unit with a host of controls, focus and zoom adjustment on the top of the body. the front portion has the lens which is placed in the middle of a fan design. it is an attractive piece but not that eye-catching that it distracts from the picture. It is good looking but in a subtle way.
A perfect combination.
One of the rare design features of this projector is that the ports and connections are all on the side of the unit. That brings for a change from all the usual back-ports. The ports include 2 HDMI ports- one with MHL compatibility, a VGA port, RS232, a USB port, and a mini USB. There is enough air vent provision on 3 sides of the projector unit.
The projector delivers a bright and clear image with its 3200 lumens and 18000:1 contrast ratio. The image looks absolutely perfect in a dark room, but with the brightness of this projector, absolute darkness is not a necessity. In a room with large windows with daylight infiltration, an action movie was not an uncomfortable experience.
The projector projects in full HD or 1080p which is exceptional. The DLP technology and the awesome brightness, contrast and color accuracy ensures deep blacks and crisp whites. It is not just perfect for presentations, but also for movies, photos, and videos. The DLP chip is ultra-fast with a response time of 16 microseconds and 144 Hz refresh rates.
The projector supports 3D fully and it can display the 3D content from any 3D source. From Blu-ray to gaming consoles, we found 3D effects to be quite interesting.
Though the brightness is quite high for the projector, a dark room is advisable for movie watching. The image quality is good no doubt and ambient lights are not a problem visually but it will not bring out the best of the projector. And when you put the projector on Eco mode the difference in color accuracy is starkly visible.
The color depth is not like an HD TV, of course, but it quite impressive. The black is also delivered very well. The only problem is the distance. You will have to maintain a lot of distance for huge screen size. We had to push the projector to 2.5 meters distance for 80” screen. Full-screen size of 300” will need an outdoor setting or a large hall.
There is an in-built 10-watt mono speaker which is effective enough in a small room. Obviously, the sound quality is not great. But you will not have to strain yourself to hear the dialogues. On full volume, the heavy music will strain a little but other than that it is good.
The projector delivers. Quite as expected.
But Optoma could have done better. there are a lot of features which are taken for granted these days like wireless connectivity which the DH1012 does not provide. Also, it would have been better if there were more provisions for connecting external speakers.
Having said that, it is not completely negative. It is sure worth for the display.
Low resolution, excellent dataimage quality,and light-weight
This is one of the lighter projectors we have tested for this review. Measuring 8.7 x 3.7 x 11.1 inches, it weighs only 1.8 kg. Though the native resolution of 800 x 600 is low the brightness and image quality is solid. It is perfect for those who have a low budget.
The build is also basic. It is white in color made of plastic body with the lens at the front. The top has basic controls with zoom and focuses adjustments. The back of the unit has all the basic, necessary ports. There are 2 VGA/composite video inputs, an S-video port, an HDMI port, an RS232 jack and an audio in and out jack. There is also a mini USB – type B port for connecting a computer or any such device.
The device is highly portable and can slide into a laptop bag easily. the unit has legs for support at the bottom. The front leg can be height adjusted to level the screen.
The projector uses the SmartEco technology where it saves the lamp power by operating as per the brightness level of the scene. This technology helps increase the lamp life to 10,000 hours. The SmartEco decreases the power consumption and it ultimately adds the number of hours to the lamp.
The projector displays images at 3300 lumens brightness and 13000:1 contrast ratio. Though in our testing we tested it up to 2742 lumens. The white areas of the presentation had slight blueish tinge but the slides looked colorful.
With all this brightness level, the unit heats up too much. So there has to be provision for saving lamp power. Eco blank mode switches off the image immediately and on standby mode, we tested the power consumption at just 0.5W.
The design is completely filter-free to make it low maintenance projector. The projector also supports 3D which is quite flexible when it comes to reading various formats. We found the 3D function as well as the 3D glasses quite satisfying.
In our testing, the projector produces vivid and accurate colors as well as deep black. In fact, the indoor scenes were also quite bright and not at all washed out. The BenQ projector throws quite sharp images, the landscapes looked really picturesque. Of course, the SVGA resolution of 800 x 600 can’t quite match the 1080p resolution, but it is really accurate and clean. Never in our testing did we find the images grainy.
The lower resolution will definitely come out starkly when compared to full HD side by side. But independently you will not have anything to complain about. The picture quality translates into vivid text too. The text-heavy presentation was completely readable. At larger sizes, it did become a little fuzzy though.
The SVGA models have an aspect ratio of 4:3 which does match the aspect ratio of 16:9 of modern computers. This makes the scaling a little odd when you connect the projector to a computer.
The setup of the projector is quite easy. The zoom and focus are also smooth. It just takes a minute to setup the screen as per your liking. The 1.2x zoom is modest but provides enough versatility for comfort watch.
There is not much to write about the remote. It is fairly basic and small. It is utilitarian. It is not backlit, small and hard to read. The buttons are small and placed in less space so reading the text is strenuous. Also, the on-screen menu has more functionality as compared to the remote control. The remote has large arrow buttons which makes menu navigation really easy.
The fan is not that noiseless as claimed. In fact, at times it grew even noisier. But at the same time, it is not that annoying or extraordinarily loud. To those whom it bothers a lot, it can be problematic. But if you are not extra sensitive to it, the noise will not even be noticeable after 10 minutes.
All-in-all the BenQ MS524A is a compact, portable package. The only real sacrifice is in the resolution. For those who have a low budget or have to carry the projector a lot, this is a great buy. You can also game as long as you don’t mind a slightly grainy background.
DLP based projector, light-weight and easy to operate
At 1.4 kgs, Optoma X304M is the lightest we have tested for this review. It measures only 7 x 8.7 x 2.8 inches which makes it quite compact. But the compact size does not affect the functionality of the projector in the least bit. The top of the unit has a plethora of buttons for navigation, power, menu, mute and even zoom adjustment.
The connectivity options are limited to a bare minimum. There are the most common provisions like HDMI, VGA, and composite video ports. From the missing ports, the most notable is the USB type A. There is provision for external sound system setup by audio in and out ports.
The projector comes with a case to carry it which has a handle and a pouch for storing the cables. The 1.15x zoom is a little less but it provides enough flexibility for a easy setup.
The projector has a native resolution of 1280 x 800. With 3000 lumens brightness, the projector competes heavily with the other DLP-based projectors. The projector projects higher brightness when we compared it to the other projectors of the same category.
The X304M is fully compatible with 3D and has advanced energy-saving features. It is supposed to be mobile and so setting it up is really easy. The projector uses Brilliant Color technology to project the colors brightly, accurately and vibrantly.
On standby mode, the projector has the power consumption of only 1-watt. Compared to regular standby modes, it is 75% higher.
X304M earns a lot of points for its image quality. There are different pre-set picture modes and the color balance is excellent in all of them. In our test, we found that the colors are all well saturated and eye-catching. There were discrepancies though. Yellow seemed to be mustard yellow and red was a little dark.
Data images are pure perfection. Deep black on crisp white is excellent. The text is readable at as small as 6.8 points. We inverted it too. White text on black was not so crisp. During an analog connection, there was a minor jitter in pixels. But unless it is a patterned image, it is barely noticeable.
Video quality is not as great as the data image quality. Because of less resolution, there is posterization while watching HD videos. Most DLP projectors face rainbow artifacts problem, but while we were testing this particular unit, there were no signs of any rainbow colors during data image. But they were very much there during long video sessions.
The audio quality is also a huge minus point. The one-watt speaker is barely audible from 2 feet away. Even on loudest volume, the dialogues were incomprehensible. We would suggest getting an external audio system if you want to hear things properly.
The 3D viewing is really great. The projector supports all HDMI 1.4a formats for the 3D experience. You can connect Blu-ray directly or any other video source like a computer but you will need 144Hz DLP-Link glasses for watching Blu-ray 3D.
The Optoma X304M has a lot of going for it where portability, image quality, and 3D support are concerned. It loses its mark on audio and long video playbacks but it is not a deal breaker. Definitely!