Even though TVs are getting bigger and bigger, the best way to reproduce a cinema experience at home is to use a projector. A brief overview of the most popular video projectors at the moment.
With the endless growth of televisions, one would have thought that daddy’s good ol ‘projector was going to be back in the annals of tech or at least reserved for theaters. After all, why bother with a complex installation when a 65-inch TV sells for under 1000 euros …
This was without counting on the ultra short throw projectors which have exploded in recent years. Compact, requiring only a few tens of cm of distance and now offering exceptional image quality. They offer large diagonals while being almost as easy to use as a conventional television.
LG HU70LS: The good quality / price ratio
Besides its excellent OLED displays, LG also has a very interesting range of projectors. This HU70LS is also a good representative. This medium focal length model adopts an LED lamp and 4K resolution, with the added bonus of WebOS support and therefore connected functions.
On the design side, LG is sober, with a rectangular and white device that will be discreet, especially on the ceiling. Two speakers are present, but their power (3W) makes a sound system essential. It also has the luxury of being silent even with maximum brightness. The latter is also sufficient to fully enjoy HDR content. In general, the colors are well calibrated and the image perfectly fluid in all circumstances.
Add to that a fairly low input lag and you can also play in good conditions.
But beyond its very good image quality, it is WebOS that really appeals to us, LG’s OS is very pleasant to use and has all the services that one could need. No need to add a multimedia player.
Finally, its low price makes it the best compromise for us for those who want to get into 4K home cinema without breaking the bank.
Samsung The Premiere LSP7 : le grand luxe
While it is the leader on TV or smartphones, Samsung is not exactly known for its projectors. With its laser lighting, however, this ultra-short throw model deserves to be better known. If its design is relatively banal, it has the merit of being versatile and will be easily forgotten.
From an image point of view, we will therefore have 120 inches diagonally 60 cm from the wall. The result is more than convincing, with high brightness that doesn’t require you to be in complete darkness to really enjoy it. On the other hand, the colorimetry disappoints by its lack of accuracy. The image is far from being unpleasant to the eye, but at this price we still expected at least a well-calibrated cinema mode.
Side sources, in addition to the HDMI and an antenna socket, we find the operating system Tyzen from Samsung. The latter is still as rich in applications, but we regret a small lack of general fluidity. That said, we have here a completely autonomous device, in particular thanks to a sound system of 30W quite correct.
Despite a few imperfections and a high price, this video projector will delight those who do not want to take the lead. To go into more details, head to our full test.
BenQW5700: the very big show
Between the 1500 € models and the monsters over 5000 €, few interesting projectors exist and this BenQ W5700 is one of the few exceptions. Be careful though: he is a beautiful baby, almost 50 cm long and 6.7 kg on the scale. Suffice to say that it will not go unnoticed.
Let’s say it right away, this projector is primarily designed for watching movies. And BenQ is not lacking with a very well calibrated image right out of the box. Nothing to complain about either on the fluidity and the sharpness which are impeccable. Counterpart of this cinema orientation, we will have to deal with a fairly low light. This will require having a room with well-hidden windows to enjoy it.
If you plan to play on the other hand go your way, no game mode is offered and the input lag is important. The deadlock is also made on connected functions. The manufacturer considers that at this price you will want to use your own Blu-ray or multimedia player to display high quality content.
Lots of constraints, but if you want to recreate a cinema experience at home it’s hard to find better without spending twice as much.
BenQ X1300i: For gamers
Historically, projectors have never been very good at games. This was due to a lack of responsiveness and input lag which posed major concerns in fast games. A particularly regrettable point as a giant screen is such a pleasure for most games.
With the W1300i, BenQ delivers a model tailored to gamers. This requires an input lag of only 8.3 ms where the best on the market were previously around 30 ms! There is also a refresh rate of 120 Hz for even more fluidity. Performance that comes at the cost of the resolution which is limited to Full HD.
The general rendering of the image is correct as long as we do not forget to switch to the cinema setting for films and series. The light is fine, but it will take some half-light to really take advantage of it. Note that it comes with an Android TV key which gives it access to the very extensive Play Store and an always practical Chromecast function.
A very playful projector and versatile enough to watch most content in good conditions. It’s up to you to see if you can do without the 4K.
And the Chinese spotlights?
As with smartphones a few years ago, a good part of the novelties in the world of video projectors can be found on the side of Chinese manufacturers. The latter, Xiaomi in the lead, have thrown themselves into the ultra-short throw projectors market and therefore offer high quality models at attractive prices.
However, we find the same pitfall as in the early days of Chinese smartphones, namely that they are not distributed in Europe. This often means going through sites like AliExpress and skipping local support. Above all, these products often do not have a translated interface or the apps one would expect on a fully localized product. Too bad, because a model like the Xiaomi Mijia 1S 4K is frankly impressive.
For this selection, we have chosen to present a mix of classic video projectors and short throw models. We have also voluntarily left aside the picoprojectors which have a more nomadic vocation.
If you want to take a look at TVs before you decide, then take a look at our dedicated guide. And to go with your brand new projector, buy a sound bar!
How to watch content?
Most projectors have at least one basic media player and a growing number have connected functions similar to those of a TV. Despite this, we highly recommend using a high-end multimedia player such as the Nvidia Shield TV or the Apple TV 4K. A latest-generation console will also be a good option. If you want to watch TV, the easiest way will be to go through your box or an app like Molotov.
How to enjoy good sound?
If some short-throw models have sometimes correct speakers, it will be almost mandatory to go through the speaker box to have sound that matches the image. There are therefore two solutions available to you. The easiest way is to use a sound bar which will be connected via HDMI to the projector. For maximum quality, however, we will not do better than a complete amplifier and home cinema kit.
Is one wall enough?
The quality of the image will obviously depend on the medium on which you will project the image. For many of you, it will be a wall. If that can do the trick, it is preferable that the latter be very smooth and very white, the irregularities being particularly visible.
At a minimum, therefore wash your wall, but we recommend that you apply a coat of matt white paint, special projector. It will only cost you about thirty euros. The ideal is obviously a projection screen. Fixed or roll-down, motorized or not, there is something for all tastes and for all budgets. It is with them that you will get the best picture quality.
What distance for my projector?
For short throw projectors the question is quickly answered: at the foot of the wall. For a traditional projector, on the other hand, it will be necessary to calculate the installation distance according to the desired diagonal and the focal length of the projector. All manufacturers offer a tool on their site to calculate this value. The zoom built into most projectors will also allow you to adjust a bit if you run out of perspective.
What is the lifespan of a projector lamp?
Historically, projectors used very powerful lamps that had to be replaced relatively regularly. If their lifespan was counted in hundreds of hours about ten years ago, it is generally around 3000 hours. It will cost you a few hundred euros to replace it.
For LED or laser projectors the lamp is not replaceable, but the lifespan is much longer, around 20,000 hours.