To make our list, each projector had to not only perform in real world testing, but had to achieve a set of features and match that with a price that was commensurate in value.
Collectively, the team at Gadget Review has spent well over 350 hours setting up, tweaking, and toying around with the 19+ projectors featured on our site. Of those run through the proverbial ringer, we’ve whittled down the results to the five best performers in their respective categories: whether it’s the best looking, the best performing, or the best for buyers on a budget.
Real World Testing That Matters
With so many factors that can affect the final picture quality you get out of a projector, it was important that during our testing we made sure to run each model through a series of real-world scenarios that the average user would encounter in their own living room.
These included running the projector for more than eight hours at a time to see if there was any risk of picture degradation or overheating (perfect for a lazy-Sunday Battlefield Galactica marathon), upping the color and saturation points to try and push out as many rainbow artifacts as possible, as well as running a LX1330B Digital Illuminance lumen meter around the edges and center of the picture to test for brightness hotspots on our 100″ EliteScreens Manual B projector screen.
Testing With Video Games, TV, Movies and More
Next, we run the projectors through three of the general use cases that consumers are looking for: computer use, TV/movies, and games. Whether it’s using your projector as a massive computer monitor or trying to get the best response times possible during a match of Halo 5: Guardians online, different projectors do better than others in certain situations, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on the specs so you know you’re getting the best possible pick for how you plan on using your projector the most.
How Easy Is It to Mount
After that, we evaluate the actual physical characteristics of the projector itself: how big it is, how heavy, and where it could be most optimally mounted given the fan placement. One mistake some upstart home theater geeks can get wrong is mounting the projector directly behind the heads of people sitting on the couch, not realizing that when a projector turns on it pumps out a whole lot of noise and heat as it tries to keep its big bulb cool.
Measuring Fan Loudness
Speaking of noise, there’s no getting around the fact that even the quietest projectors we’ve tested still need a substantial stereo system to drown out their constant whirr. We use a specialized decibel meter during testing, and will run the projector over the course of an hour before taking the reading to ensure that the fan is working at full capacity.