Projectors are a great alternative to a proper TV or display, particularly if you're really looking to go big.

But it can be a bit daunting to look at the available models at retailers and try to find the best one. There are a lot out there, with loads of features and buzzwords. Fortunately, we're here to help you choose!

First, a word on '1080p' projectors

Do a quick search for 1080p projectors on Amazon. It's okay, we'll wait. You'll see a whole bunch of projectors from random brands as low as $70. Pretty great deal, right? Well … no. You'll get what you pay for.

Dig further down in the spec sheet and you'll see the projectors accept a 1080P signal, but their output resolution is as low as 800 x 400. That's not a good experience, unless you really like giant, grainy images. Resolution matters.

For the sake of not recommending bad products, everything on this list natively outputs at 1080p or higher.

The best inexpensive projector: BenQ MH530FHD

See at Amazon

The cheapest projector we could find with a 1080P native output resolution is the BenQ MH530FHD for $499. "Cheap" doesn't mean "bad" in this instance. You get a full 1080P image, two HDMI ports, two VGA ports, a 3.5mm audio-out, and a super-bright image. This is a short-throw projector, meaning it can sit about 7 feet away from your screen. And at only 5 pounds, it's easy to mount or move around.

The BenQ MH530FHD is available for $499 at Amazon.

The best 4K option - Optoma UHD50

Optoma UHD50 at Amazon

Optoma makes projectors at almost all price points, and they've been offering solid 4K options for the past couple years. That continues with this year's model — the UHD50.

You get full HDMI 2.0 compatibility — allowing for 4K video at 60 frames per second. It also includes HDR 10 support — perfect for your Xbox One X games or UHD Blu-Rays. One downside is this only has 2 HDMI ports, but that's true of almost every projector in the price range. You can get an HDMI switch if you need more than that.. It also has 3.5mm and optical audio out for your speaker system.

At the time of writing, the Optoma UHD50 is available for $1,399 at Amazon.

The best gaming projector - BenQ HT2150ST

BenQ HT2150ST at Amazon

Any projector will technically work for gaming, but some models specifically try to lower input lag so you're more responsive in your online combat. One such model is the BenQ HT2150ST — the "ST" in the product name refers to this being a short-throw projector, meaning it sits about seven feet from your screen. This is great for apartment dwellers, since you can just have the projector in the middle of your room without worrying about mounting anything and potentially losing your deposit. You get two HDMI ports, one VGA port, and 3.5mm audio out, in addition to built-in speakers.

At the time of writing, the BenQ HT2150ST is available for $870.

The best smart projector - LG PF1000UW


If you don't want to buy a separate dongle to watch Netflix or Hulu, you'll want to get a smart projector. Unlike with TV's, most projectors are just "dumb" displays. LG is pretty much the only manufacturer of smart projectors, but the projectors are compelling in their own right. The PF1000UW is powered by the latest version of webOS, meaning you have easy access to your favorite streaming services. You also get 2 HDMI ports for connecting computers or consoles, 2 USB ports for playing content off of thumb drives, and something really special — a built-in antenna jack for watching over-the-air TV stations. There's also Bluetooth support for your favorite headphones. And since this is an ultra-short-throw projector, you can just place it on a TV stand, instead of worrying about buying a mount and running cables through your ceiling.

At the time of writing, the LG PF1000UW is available for $1,195.

What say you?

Which projector catches your eye? Do you prefer a ultra-short-throw like the LG, or is latency key to your projection gaming? Do you need apps, or is that what your consoles and players are for? Let us know in the comments!

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