Everyone wants to bring the movie theater experience home. But many struggle to do so with space limitations. If mounting a standard throw projector in a dedicated home theater room is not an option for you, there’s still an easy way to bring the big-screen experience home: a short throw projector. Display a theater-like image in a small space with minimal installation.

Why should I buy a short throw projector?

The biggest reason to select a short throw projector over a standard throw model is that the short throw needs less distance from your wall to produce a large image. Your average short throw projector will “throw” a 100-inch image if placed 3-5 feet from the wall. That’s significantly less distance than you would need for a standard projector. This makes short throw projectors ideal for a smaller space - think an apartment or a small(ish) dedicated movie room. Simply set up the unit on your coffee table and start projecting.

There are a number of other reasons to buy a short throw projector. But none seem quite as compelling as seeing your favorite RPG displayed across your entire wall. These days, projectors have become a great way for gamers to enhance their display. Whether you’re replaying your favorite game for the hundredth time, or downloading a brand new release, upgrading your screen size will certainly heighten the gameplay experience.

What should I look for in a short throw projector?

Sound


Short throw projectors are not designed with sound quality in mind. There’s only so much you can fit into a compact, portable unit. You’ll notice that most of the projectors on this list sport built-in 10W speakers. For a better sound stage, you’ll want to consider purchasing a soundbar or a more comprehensive audio setup.

Connectivity

Each projector on this list will have at least one HDMI port. However, you might want greater connectivity for a range of devices. A fire stick, for example, will need a dedicated USB port. If you have older equipment that needs non-HDMI ports, consider scanning all of the available ports on the unit before purchase.

Light Source

Most short throw projectors use a DLP processor, but the light source varies between units. A laser or LED light source will last much longer than a traditional lamp. Many laser light sources are rated up to 30,000 hours while metal halide or mercury vapor lamps range from 5,000-15,000 depending on usage. You might be thinking that a longer life span automatically makes sense, but consider the flexibility provided by a lamp source. You can’t replace a laser light source, but you can purchase a new lamp.

One last thing to keep in mind - most people don’t exceed the lifespan of a lamp before moving on to a newer projector with improved specs.

Brightness

You might expect to need a pitch black environment for peak performance, but most short throw projectors can withstand some amount of ambient light. Look to the ANSI lumens to get a better understanding of how your projector will perform in your unique environment. 2,500-3,000 ANSI lumens is ideal if you plan to use the projector during the day. However, you can go as low as 2,000 and the projector will still be able to perform with some ambient light.

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1. Best for Home Theater: ViewSonic X10-4KE

Bring the theater experience home with the ViewSonic X10-4KE. With a brightness of 2,400 lumens and a screen size of up to 200 inches, this projector is designed to impress in a variety of environments. It just looks nice with a mixture of metal and leather accents. It’s durable too, with an LED light source that lasts up to 30,000 hours.
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As for image quality, the X10-4KE has Rec. 709 compatibility and Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 resolution. For built-in audio, it makes use of dual Harmon Kardon speakers that produce room filling sound and connect seamlessly with other devices via Bluetooth. You can take advantage of the X10-4KE’s USB Type C connection to project content from your phone, tablet, or other supported device. Experience smooth gameplay and seamless action sequences with frame interpolation technology to reduce motion blur. All in all, this is a stylish, compact projector with plenty of features for the average gamer or sports fan.
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Pros
  • Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • LED light source
  • Harman Kardon speakers
  • 2400 lumens allows for some ambient light

Cons
  • “Smart” apps don’t function well


2. Best Compact All-In-One: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

The Epson Mini EF12 has everything you need for an all-night gaming session in one small unit. Produce a stunning 150-inch HD image on any wall in your home. With a powerful built-in 2.0 channel audio system from Yamaha, you won’t miss a single line of dialogue. The EF12 uses 3LCD technology to produce brilliant colors. Expect excellent brightness and decent blacks with Epson’s micro laser array technology.
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This unit also comes with built-in Android TV eliminating the need for an external streaming device. Stream favorites like Hulu, HBO, and YouTube TV with the click of a button. It looks and feels compact. The black box is nearly square and measures 5.9” tall by 6.9” wide. However, despite its size it doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of ports. This model comes equipped with an HDMI ARC, a separate HDMI port, and one USB Type A that can be used for storage, a mouse or a keyboard. Overall, this projector performs extremely well for a portable unit in its price range.
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Pros
  • Built-in Android TV
  • 30-150 inch projection size
  • 1,000 lumens and Full HD resolution
  • Designed to be compact

Cons
  • Limited contrast - blacks aren’t very deep
  • Low brightness
  • No optical lens shift


3.
Best for Gaming: Optoma GT1080HDR

Worried that your average projector might not keep up with your game console? The Optoma GT1080HDR Short Throw has you covered. With a 120 Hz refresh rate and an 8.4ms response time, you’ll never feel left out of the action (16ms with 60Hz). This model supports 4K and 1080 HDR inputs with various ports including HDMI 2.0, HDMI 1.4a, and USB-A. The projector relies on a lamp source which promises up to 15,000 hours of usage.
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It has a brightness of 3,800 lumens, which means your image will withstand a decent amount of light, allowing for daytime viewing. Setup is simple and the GT1080HDR offers a vertical keystone correction +/- 40 degrees for flexibility in placement. Speaking of placement, this unit can throw a 120-inch, 1080p image with a dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000:1 at a distance of only 4 feet. This is a versatile unit with a lot of perks that functions best in small spaces.
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Pros
  • 120Hz refresh rate with 8.4ms input lag
  • 3D capability
  • HDR compatible
  • 3,800 lumens

Cons
  • Needs to be paired with external speakers for improved sound quality


4. Best Laser Projector for Gaming: Optoma GT1090HDR

At a slightly higher price point than the GT1080HDR, this model offers viewers an even more comprehensive package. Game all day or all night with 4,200 lumens and a 300,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Enjoy 1080p resolution with HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range and Rec.709 for high def content. It features powerful built-in 10W speakers.
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The GT1090HDR makes use of a DuraCore Laser light source rated for up to 30,000 hours of operation. Avoid fan disturbance with the 1090HDR’s eco mode, which guarantees a 32dB noise level. In terms of installation, this unit offers 1.3x zoom and +/- 30 degree vertical keystone correction. Connectivity is not an issue, with HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2, MHL), HDMI 1.4, 2x audio in (3.5mm), mic in, USB-A, and 3D sync. In general, the 1090HDR has a number of upgrades over its predecessor including increased durability, brightness, and greater connectivity options. This is a solid choice for a short throw projector with high brightness.
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Pros
  • 4200 lumens
  • DuraCore lazer light source
  • 3D capability
  • Eco mode for low fan noise

Cons
  • No optical zoom


5. Best Entry-Level Gaming: BenQ TH671ST

Game without compromise with the BenQ TH671ST. With full HD 1080p resolution, 92% Rec. 709 color accuracy, and a brightness of 3,000 lumens the TH671ST is capable of producing a brilliant image, day or night. Designed for medium-sized spaces, this model lets you throw a 120” image from 9.8 feet away. It includes a 5W stereo speaker, a 240W lamp light source, and a vertical keystone correction of +/- 40 degrees.
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Never feel like your controller is out of sync with the image again, thanks to a low input lag of 16ms. All in all, this projector really takes gamers into account, opting to prioritize features like high brightness, low input lag, and portability. While this projector can be used for a cinematic experience, it is better suited as a gaming monitor that you can take with you anywhere.
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Pros
  • Game Mode and low input lag
  • High brightness - 3000 lumens
  • +/- 40 degrees vertical keystone correction
  • Low input lag
  • 120” image from 9.8 feet away

Cons
  • Single 5W speaker
  • 92% Rec. 709 color accuracy is lower than HT2150ST
  • No lens shift


6. Best Basic Home Theater: BenQ HT2150ST

The BenQ HT2150ST builds upon the TH671ST with a higher contrast ratio, lower brightness, and additional picture modes. Several things are the same between the two models. Both use a 240W lamp as a light source and both offer full HD 1080p resolution. Gamers will rejoice at the fact that both projectors have low input lag and a built-in Game Mode. The biggest difference is in image quality.
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The HT2150ST has a brightness of 2,200 ANSI Lumens and 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. The colors are vibrant, due to its 4X/6X RGBRGB color wheel and 96% Rec.709 coverage. In terms of sound, this model excels with two 10W speakers, over the TH671ST’s single 5W speaker. While both BenQ projectors have a number of preset picture modes, the HT2150ST has two different game modes. The traditional one found on the TH671ST and a “Bright” mode. It also offers an ISF Night and an ISF Day mode. All in all, this projector is a high quality model for an affordable price. Impressive black levels and minimized rainbow effect make the HT2150ST a great choice for your home theater and your game console.
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Pros
  • Multiple picture modes including two game modes
  • 4X/6X RGBRGB color wheel and 96% Rec.709 coverage
  • 15,000:1 contrast ratio
  • Two 10W speakers built-in

Cons
  • +/- 20 degree vertical lens correction is lower than competitors
  • 2,200 lumens does not allow for a lot of ambient light