Carl Makes Projector Recommendations

projector recommendations

Shopping for a projector is no easy task. Over the many years we have been in the business of making DIY Projector Screens, we have helped countless customers in their search to find the right projector. Common questions we receive include “What projector should I buy for my home theater?”, “What is the best projector for a golf simulator?”, and “What projector should I use for gaming?” While we don’t sell projectors ourselves, we recommend a handful of models and offer a few valuable resources to simplify your search. We have compiled all of our best tips and recommendations in this one post.

Helpful Projector Resources

When configuring any projection setup, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of aspect ratio. This article, All About Aspect Ratio, walks through the general concept as well as the specific aspect ratios you should consider. The article, Five Things To Consider When Picking A Projector covers resolution, brightness, throw distance and more. Next, the website, Projector Central, is a great place to find reviews on specific models and Amazon typically has the most competitive prices. Finally, if you need help determining the right screen size, our Screen Size Calculator and this article explaining How To Select Your Ideal Projector Screen Size are great resources.

Carl’s Tip: The projector itself determines the size of the image it can make, as well as, how far from the screen it needs to be mounted to achieve that size.  If you need to mount your projector in a specific location, be sure the projector you select is capable of the image size you desire, at that distance, by using the screen size calculator.
Just because a projector is “recommended” as a good and reputable option does not guarantee it will work for your set up.

Projector Recommendations

1080p Projectors

Generally affordable for most home theater setups, 1080p projectors are still the mainstream choice.

  • Epson Home Cinema 1060
    We are big fans of the Epson Home Cinema 1060 because of the value it brings at an affordable price point. It has great light output, a good built-in speaker, and will easily connect to your phone with its built in wi-fi capabilities.
  • Optoma HD143X
    Another affordable option is the Optoma HD143X. While not quite as bright as our first recommendation in this category, it’s a great option for a home theater. It has 3D capabilities and a fast input lag which makes it a great projector for gaming.
  • Optoma EH412
    The Optoma EH412 is a great choice if you’re looking for higher brightness. It makes a great conference room or classroom projector with its extensive connectivity options and integrated speaker.
  • BenQ MH760
    This BenQ model is another great high-brightness pick perfect for large, bright spaces. It easily connects to business networks for control via LAN.

Carl’s Tip: While it’s important to pay attention to brightness, buying the brightest projector should not necessarily be your goal. The ideal brightness level will result in a high contrast image that is not too bright for comfortable viewing. 3000 lumens is generally enough for most home theaters, while 4000-5000 is generally preferred for meeting room or classroom settings.

4K Projectors

Sometimes referred to as Ultra HD, 4K projectors are becoming an increasingly popular choice for home theater setups. This newer technology offers four times the pixels of standard 1080p resolution. While they are becoming more affordable each year, 4K projectors are noticeably more expensive than those with 1080p resolution.

  • Epson Home Cinema 5050UB
    Offering extraordinary value, our top pick in the 4K category is the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. Boasting Epson’s UltraBlack (“UB”) technology, this projector has excellent contrast and low black levels as well as motorized zoom and lens shift. Be sure to check out the other advanced features, and take a look at sister models 5050UBe and 6050UB.
  • BenQ HT3550
    For a more affordable 4K option, this BenQ model offers a great picture. While you’ll sacrifice on some advanced features, this model supports 3D, is easy to use, and provides a great viewing experience — all for a great price.
  • Optoma UHD60
    We like the Optoma UHD60 for its great contrast and high brightness for the price. The sister model, UHD50, is another great option.
  • Optoma UHZ65 
    If you’re interested in a laser light source, this Optoma model is highly rated. Laser projectors boast even lower maintenance, improved brightness and higher contrast than the more affordable lamp or LED models. This projector provides excellent visual impact and is virtually maintenance free — you’ll never have to buy a replacement lamp.

Carl’s Tip: Watch for deals. Like many electronics categories, retailers will occasionally drop prices or run promotional sales. When our team finds a great deal on one of our recommended models we will post it on our Facebook page. Follow us so you don’t miss out!

Large Venue Projectors

When choosing a projector for a church or other large venue setting, it’s important to find a model with enough brightness to overcome ambient light and produce a clear, legible image.

  • Epson Pro G7905U
    At 7,000 lumens, the Epson Pro G7905U is a great choice for big spaces like training rooms and board rooms as well as churches with large congregations.
  • Optoma ZK507-W
    A popular choice for conference rooms and other professional settings, this Optoma model offers 5,000 lumens of brightness, 4K resolution and convenient vertical lens shift.
  • BenQ LK952
    Specially designed for large meeting spaces and public venues, the BenQ LK952 is another great large venue option. With 5,000 lumens of brightness, this projector achieves clear text and images even when competing with ambient light.

Carl’s Tip: It’s important to pay attention to native aspect ratio. If you’re building a golf simulator or configuring a conference room you might be opting for a 4:3 projector screen (more about aspect ratio here). If you’re planning to project in 4:3, make sure you select a projector with a 4:3 native aspect ratio.

4:3 Projectors

When searching for a 4:3 projector, as with any projector search, you’ll want to consider brightness, throw distance and resolution, but make sure to also check for a 4:3 native aspect ratio in the specifications.

  • Epson PowerLite X39
    Our top choice among 4:3 native aspect ratio projectors is the Epson PowerLite X39. The brightness and affordability of this model makes it a great compliment to a home golf enclosure setup.
  • Epson EX5260
    Wireless and portable, the Epson EX5260 is another top 4:3 option popular for offices and conference rooms. It conveniently connects to laptops or mobile devices perfect for many applications at work or at home.

Carl’s Tip: It’s possible to force a native 16:9 projector to project in 4:3 or 1:1 aspect ratio, but it may dramatically increase the required throw distance and. If you go this route, you’ll want to pay close attention to the requirements of your space and have a good understanding of how to modify your computer’s display settings.

UST Projectors

If you have a particularly small viewing area, an ultra short throw (UST) projector might be the best option. Mounting the projector close to the screen also eliminates the risk of shadows from objects between the projector and screen.

  • Optoma CinemaX P1
    With impressive features like a built-in soundbar and smart home device control, the Optoma CinemaX P1 has been awarded one of the best new projectors.
  • Optoma GT5600 
    Get a sharp, bright image from just inches away with this Optoma ultra short throw projector. Its screen mirroring feature allows you to easily project content from your mobile device onto a big screen.
  • LG HF85JA
    With a built-in tuner, this ultra short throw projector from LG is an easy upgrade from your flat screen TV for that big screen experience. Project easily from a mobile device via wireless and bluetooth technology.

Carl’s Tip: Shopping for a screen for your UST projector? There are several things to consider when purchasing a projector screen for a UST setup. Here’s what to look for.

Portable Projectors

If you need to move your projector around for meetings, travel or backyard movie nights, you’ll want to consider the portability. The best portable projectors still offer great brightness and resolution, with the convenience of simple transport and setup.

  • LG HU80KA
    One of the most innovative portable projectors available right now, this LG model projects a high-contrast 4K picture and easily connects wirelessly with streaming services. The unique integrated carrying handle makes this unit ultra-portable and perfect for backyard movies and other on-the-go applications.

There are pros and cons to every projector, so be sure to select the best one for your needs.

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Disclaimer: Information is based on projection information that may have changed or is inaccurate. Check with your seller before making any final decisions. Information and related materials are subject to change without notice. This web page, and all information and related materials it contains, are provided “as is.” Carl’s Place makes no representation or warranty whatsoever regarding the completeness, accuracy, “up-to-dateness”, or adequacy of, or the suitability, functionality, availability, or operation of this web page or the information or materials it contains. By using this web page, you assume the risk that the information and materials on this web page may be incomplete, inaccurate, out of date, or may not meet your needs and requirements. Carl’s Place specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, including without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement with respect to this web page and information, graphics and materials contained herein.