A big-screen TV used to be a status symbol. But these days you can get a good 65-inches of 4K display for under a thousand dollars. That's not to say that big-screen TVs aren't cool — they most certainly are. And that's not to say that 65 inches and up isn't big — you can definitely go bigger.

But maybe a flat-screen TV isn't actually the right choice for you. Maybe it's time to consider a projector.

There are pros and cons to each, of course. Here's how I'd look at making your decision.

Why a projector instead of a TV?

I'm a huge fan of projectors. For one, they're just awesome. (I don't need another reason.) For another, you get a whole lot of options when it comes to size. Your TV won't ever get bigger — at least not without buying another one. And then there's the whole thing about operating systems. You can take 'em or leave 'em. I'll leave 'em.

Start streaming Star Wars, Marvel, & more with Disney+ today

Sheer screen size

If your goal is to get the largest screen size for your space, you'll want to look at a projector. A 75-inch TV goes for between $1,400 and $3,800, and if you really want to go crazy Sony has a 100-inch TV for $60,000.

Is your jaw picked up from the floor yet? Great! Projectors can get expensive, too — especially if you want something that handles 4K, HDR and the other new whiz-bang features in the home media world. Even then, you're able to get a much bigger picture of your money — Optoma's UHD50 costs $1,400 and can display a 4K image up to 140-inches diagonally — a larger image will result in a lower resolution. If you want something that sits right next to the projector screen, Dell's S718QL ultra-short-throw is available for $6,000 and can produce a 4K image up to 130-inches diagonally.

Dumb displays

It's increasingly rare to find a TV without a smart operating system. This can be great at first — you get easy access to Hulu and Netflix without needing to have an additional dongle. But there are always edge cases. Almost everyone I know with a smart TV still has a streaming stick because their favorite streaming service isn't available on their TV's OS — or navigating the TV's smart interface is slow as molasses. I already own an Xbox One X and a Chromecast, so a TV's smart OS isn't going to do anything I can't already do with that Xbox.


One of my favorite things to do is move my Viewsonic PX800HD from my living room to my bedroom for a long, big-screened movie session. The projector weighs all of 13 pounds and uses a standard power cable, so getting it moved and set up in my bedroom takes all of two minutes. Then, I just Cast something from my phone and I'm in a world of pure imagination.

That's not as likely with a TV. Because of how heavy and large TVs are, it's much more likely for someone to have a second TV in their bedroom. There's nothing wrong with this, but there's something cool about just moving your projector from one room to the other, and getting a giant screen in a different space. This also makes it easy to take your projector over to a friend's house for game day.

Reasons to consider a TV over a projector

Image quality

If you value raw pixel density, a TV is going to be a better use of your money than a projector. TCL's new TVs offer 4K resolution, HDR-10 support and deep contrast for as low as $650. That Optoma UHD50 at $1,400 will display a much larger image, but as good of a value as that is, it's still more than twice the cost. That's not even factoring in the cost of a screen, a mount, an HDMI switch and other accessories that will be needed. A 1080p projector starts around $500, but these aren't as sharp or vibrant as TVs in the same range.


If you have a giant wall for a projector screen, great! But if not — or if you have other stuff on that wall — a TV is simply a better option. A projector will display a smaller image just by being closer to the wall or screen, but there's no sense in going to all the trouble of mounting and setting up a projector when you could just unbox a TV and put that on a stand.

Smart features

If you like the fact that you can just turn on TV and immediately launch your favorite streaming service, a projector will likely leave you disappointed. Most projectors are marketed towards businesses and home-theater enthusiasts who don't want these smart features. LG has a few projectors with their webOS smart platform and integrated support for over-the-air antennas, but you'll have more options for smart platforms if you're shopping for a proper TV.


We touched on this before, but it's worth its own paragraph. A projector on its own is going to be at least $500. But it's only part of the equation. You may be able to just project onto your wall, but you'll likely need a screen. This can range from a couple hundred dollars to almost a thousand, depending on how big of a screen you want. As bad as a TV's integrated speakers are, projector speakers are even worse, so budget some money for speakers. You'll also need a mount, a shelf or a stand, adding another $30. It takes a good bit of money for your first projector setup, and if you're not after the absolute biggest screen size it'd be much cheaper to just get a TV.

What say you?

Do you prefer a bigger screen, or more pixels? What about a dumb display vs. integrated smarts? Let us know in the comments!

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.