Best Budget Projector for a Home Theater 2021

Our pick

BenQ HT2050A Movie Projector

The BenQ HT2050A has the best contrast ratio in its price class, as well as realistic color, great detail, and a robust connection panel.

The BenQ HT2050A offers the best image contrast of any sub-$1,000 projector we’ve tested, and it produces richer, more vibrant colors than many budget DLP projectors. This 1080p projector provides a variety of inputs and is easy to set up thanks to a flexible lens that has both zoom and vertical shift. The 1.3x zoom gives you some wiggle room in how close to the screen you can place the unit, while the vertical lens shift allows you to avoid the keystone effect. Like most projectors under $1,000, the HT2050A has a built-in speaker; it’s not amazing, but it does produce a fuller sound than what most budget projector speakers offer. The HT2050A’s biggest drawback is that its single-DLP-chip design can produce a visible rainbow effect for some viewers, but most people either can’t see it or won’t be bothered by it.


Epson Home Cinema 2250

This LCD projector delivers solid image contrast and high brightness, so it’s a good choice for a brighter viewing space. Plus, it has Android TV built in (sort of).

If you often watch movies with the room lights on or you’re sensitive to DLP rainbows, the Epson Home Cinema 2250 LCD projector is a great alternative. This 1080p projector is brighter than the BenQ HT2050A, so the image pops a bit more when the room lights are on, and it delivers an accurate image without much adjustment required. In our tests, its contrast ratio was close to that of the HT2050A, but its black level was visibly higher, so movies lacked some depth and richness in a dark room. The Home Cinema 2250’s 1.6x zoom and vertical lens shifting make it easy for you to position the image on your screen, but the connection panel isn’t as robust as the HT2050A’s. The built-in Android TV module and 10-watt speaker make this model an all-in-one entertainment option that’s more like a smart TV, but they add to the price.

Also great

BenQ HT2150ST

If you’re short on space, the BenQ HT2150ST can produce a larger image from a shorter distance.

The BenQ HT2150ST uses a short-throw lens, so you can place it much closer to your screen or wall than usual and still get a large image. This 1080p DLP projector is very bright and easy to set up. Its colors aren’t as vivid as those of the non-short-throw HT2050A, and the complex optics in its short-throw lens lead to a loss of sharpness around edges in the image, but it’s worth the compromise if you want a big image in a smaller space such as an urban apartment.

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