Home Audio/Video The Underdog of Projectors Rises Up

The Underdog of Projectors Rises Up

While television panel technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, so too has the tech behind the under-sung projector. The category has seen costs come down dramatically, while accessibility has improved equally so: modern projectors are easier to set up, more portable and produce better images than ever before. Of particular note is what’s referred to as “short throw” projectors, whereby the distance required between the screen and the projector to achieve a big, bright image is shortened; “ultra short throw” projectors essentially project straight upwards, so the projector can be placed on the same stand where one would typically place their television. We’ve gathered some of the best and the brightest short throw projectors out there — which, fortunately, don’t require rearranging the living room. 

Wemax Nova Smart Projector 

The Wemax Nova checks all the top boxes for the modern projector. Its 4K resolution is welcome, and its ultra short throw (UST) capability lets it slot easily into nearly any viewing situation. Unlike most projectors in its price range, the Nova uses laser-phosphor technology to produce its images; not only does this mean superlative image quality, but unlike traditional bulb-based projectors (which require changing the bulb when it burns out), the laser-phosphor light is meant to last the life of the projector —roughly 25,000 hours in View mode. The Nova’s 2,100 ANSI lumens are bright enough to light up a 100-in.-plus screen even with some ambient light, and it runs on Android TV 9.0, with Chromecast built-in and Wi-Fi 5 wireless connectivity. Finally, the built-in Dolby audio and DTS-HD sound system (two 10-watt full-range speakers, plus two 5-watt tweeters) delivers solid, room-filling audio. As a bonus, the Nova can be used in audio-only mode as a (albeit very fancy) Bluetooth speaker. 

ViewSonic X2  

Using the latest solid-state LED technology, ViewSonic’s X2 projector can hit up to 3,100 lumens with its crisp 1080p images. The LED light source doesn’t require changing bulbs and can provide more than 30,000 hours of use — all while consuming less than half the power of a typical LCD television. The X2 also makes use of ViewSonic’s Cinema SuperColor+ technology for vivid and lifelike colors, as well as HDR10 decoding for improved visibility in highlights and shadows. With Harman Kardon speakers onboard and Bluetooth connectivity, the X2 can be used as a Bluetooth speaker — or even output audio from the projector to a Bluetooth headset, for watching movies without disturbing the peace of the living room. 

Paris Rhône 4K Laser Projector 

Household appliance mainstay Paris Rhône is breaking into the home entertainment space with its PE-LT002 projector, a 4K UHD ultra-short-throw laser projector. Thanks to the UST lens, the projector produces an 80-diagonal-in. image from just 5.4 inches away from the wall or screen — or up to 150 diagonal inches from 18.8 inches away. The projector is built around the ALPD 3.0 light engine and can handle HDR10 content for impressive detail in the shadows and highlights, with a native contrast ratio of 3000:1 and 2000 ANSI lumens output. The PE-LT002 runs Android 9.0, and its combination of 60Hz refresh rate and an input lag of 50 milliseconds make it very usable for big screen console gaming. MEMC motion smoothing helps to sharpen up fast-moving scenes in movies and games, and the well-designed housing is also home to an integrated 50-watt sound system, with support for Dolby Audio and DTS HD decoding. Eight-point keystone correction combines with electronic focus for easy setup, and motion sensors dim the light source when someone approaches the projector to prevent eye damage. 

BenQ’s TK700STi 

BenQ’s TK700STi is billed as a gaming projector, combining crisp 4K images and HDR support with a low-latency, 60Hz refresh rate. The input lag of 16.66 milliseconds makes it faster than the vast majority of projectors on the market (it’s the same latency in both 4K and 1080p); at just 6.8 pounds and with a small footprint, it’s also portable enough to bring to gaming events or even informal gatherings. Game mode lets players adjust details of the image, audio and latency depending on the game: First-Person Shooter mode enhances detail in shadows to make spotting enemies easier, Role-Playing Game (RPG) mode employs “cinematic color” and enhanced music quality, while Sports Player Game (SPG) mode increases color accuracy around uniforms and skin tones. Of course, the projector can also handle movies and TV with ease: it runs Android TV 9.0 for its full suite of entertainment options, via a BenQ dongle that plugs into an HDMI port in a hidden compartment.  

VAVA 4K UHD Laser Ultra Short Throw Projector 

While Vava’s projector lacks the brand recognition of some of its big-name rivals, it’s a solid contender in the small niche of 4K ultra-short-throw laser projectors. It uses Texas Instruments’ 4K DLP tech and fires out 2500 ANSI lumens along with an impressive 3000:1 ANSI contrast ratio, at screen sizes up to 150 inches from just a few feet away. HDR10 support is a nice inclusion, and the projector comes with a 60W Harman Kardon stereo soundbar built-in, along with support for Dolby audio and DTS-HD, making it easily one of the best-sounding projectors out there. 

Samsung LSP9T  

As one of the biggest TV manufacturers on the planet, Samsung pulls no punches with its ultra-short-throw LSP9T projector — so much so, in fact, that it’s officially part of the company’s “Lifestyle TV” series. Using separate red, green and blue lasers it’s a rare breed indeed, outputting an impressive 2800 lumens and a 1500:1 ANSI contrast ratio. It’s also worth noting that the LSP9T is one of the first projectors on the market rated for HDR10+, which is essentially Samsung’s own version of Dolby Vision. On the sound front, the LSP9T delivers 40 watts of audio using Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology and runs its entertainment suite on the company’s own Tizen-powered Smart TV platform.