Thanks to the wonders of today’s technology, you can enjoy all the fun of a movie theater in your own living room: and you don’t need a huge budget to do it! There are some incredible projectors now available at very low prices, and they deliver exceptional quality HD viewing for the home. We have selected the 5 best home theater projectors under $500 that you could pick up right now, to help you find what you need. Take a look below.
Choosing a home projector
When it comes to movie projectors, $500 can go a long way. You can get HD resolution, 3D capabilities, storage, audio and more from a unit not much bigger than the average tablet. Bring the joys of widescreen cinema to your own sofa at home! If you are looking for something you can use on the go, check out our guide to affordable portable projectors.
Look for something with plenty of life potential – you want a long lamp life, a decent power-saving mode and preferably, an extended warranty for your own peace of mind. Consider buying from a name you can trust – many of the leading tech companies have their own projector lines, often designed to be compatible with their other devices and products.
Where do you plan to place your projector? Many can be fixed to the ceiling or to a back wall, though others prefer to chose a short-throw projector that sits on a unit or the floor, close to the screen. Projectors can be adjusted to get different screen sizes at different distances, you look for a model with flexible, easy to use settings.
Make sure you can connect up the devices you want to use. Projectors can support gaming laptops and PCs, so you can stream video games to the big screen as you play. They can also be hooked up to Bluray and DVD players, or used with cable boxes and TV sticks, so you can view shows and movies through them.
Epson Powerlite HC2030 Home Cinema Projector
- Size: 14.6 x 14.3 x 17.2 inches; 8.8 pounds
- Performance: 1080p widescreen to 300 inches; 2000 lumens; 3D ready
Pick up a pair of 3D glasses to make the most of this great little projector from Epson. It comes with full 3D-ready technology so you can get fully immersed in the action. The projected screen can reach a fantastic 300 inch widescreen without distortion, and it offers crystal clear images with bright, bold colors and sharp edges. Working best at a distance of around 12 feet, this is perfect for mounting to the ceiling or attaching to the wall, and it will provide a good quality picture in rooms of all sizes. One downside is the audible internal fan, but it shouldn’t be a problem unless you sit right by the unit when watching. For a budget projector, this is definitely one of the best products you can pick up today.
BenQ DLP HDMI 3D-Ready Projector
- Size: 8.7 x 11.1 x 3.7 inches; 4.2 pounds
- Performance: HD display; 3200 lumens; 13,000:1 contrast ratio; 3D ready
Another 3D projector for screening movies and shows at home, this BenQ model is smart, compact and reliable. It features impressive brightness and a sharp contract ratio, delivering theater quality pictures in your own living room. Those keen to keep costs down will appreciate the low price tag, and also the inbuilt SmartEco mode. Save energy with a low-watt standby mode and efficient power-on function. You can expect a fairly standard 10,000 hour lamp life, but the trade-off is worth it for the budget price and high quality output. This is one of the better projectors for watching films in the day or in rooms that cannot be fully darkened, with little reduction in picture quality.
InFocus IN124a XGA Wireless-Ready Projector
- Size: 14.2 x 12 x 7.8 inches; 7.1 pounds
- Performance: 1024 x 768 pixel resolution; 3500 lumens; 2 GB internal drive
This neat little projector from InFocus has its own 2 GB drive inside, and also supports a USB flash drive. You can load content directly to the unit, or play files off your memory stick. You can also connect up your TV box, Bluray player, laptop or PC using the HDMI and USB connections – or use the wireless connectvity. The lamp is incredibly bright and the projector displays in full HD resolution – perfect for watching movies at any time of the day. The fan can be a little loud, but turn up the audio source and you shouldn’t notice a thing. It is one of the heavier home theater projectors available, but still light enough for walls and ceilings.
ViewSonic PJD6353S XGA 1024×768 DLP Projector
- Size: 9.5 x 11.6 x 3.3 inches; 6.6 pounds
- Performance: 1024 x 768 pixel resolution; 2500 lumens; 15,000:1 contrast ratio
A classic home theater projector with a no-frills design and plenty of power, this ViewSonic machine could be the best choice for bargain-hunters. Inside, the 70% energy saving feature keeps power consumption down while the integrated speaker creates a self-contained entertainment system. The short throw projector is perfect for living rooms and bedrooms, and this projector is just as good for video gaming as it is for watching movies. Place it just 2 feet from the screen to get a strong, clear 50 inch widescreen image in full HD. If space is limited but you still want to see your favorite films on the big screen, go with this great little affordable projector.
Sony VPL-BW120S 2600lm Home Theater Projector
- Size: 21.2 x 19.8 x 12.8 inches; 8 pounds
- Performance: 100 inch max screen; 2600 lumens; 4,000:12 contrast ratio
Sony know what makes a good home theater projector, and this model from their mid-level budget range is certainly worth a look. Along with a wider color spectrum, it uses 12-bit gamma correction to ensure all transitions and gradients look smooth and sharp – preventing that grainy picture often associated with home projectors. It works at its best with a good quality LCD screen, but you can still get a pretty decent picture directly on the wall. The high contrast ratio enhances the difference between dark and bright, creating extra drama during your movie or show. It will also last you for years, with an average 60000 hours of lamp life.
All product details taken from Amazon.com and correct at the time of writing
Lead image credit: Wikimedia.org