Posted on January 1, 2023 By Phil Jones
If you are looking for an entry-level home theater projector under $1,000, there are several solid projectors that will fit your budget. You won’t get nearly all the bells and whistles of a more expensive projector, of course, but you can still get a decent picture that can be used in a variety of ways, such as for outdoor movie night, or a highly portable projector you can take just about anywhere, etc.
If you need a condensed list of the best home theater projectors, explore our article on the best home theater projectors for 2023.
While the BenQ TH585 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles found on more expensive 1080P home theater projectors, it does deliver an excellent picture for its price.
For the price of a 65” TV you could have a 10-foot projection system. Combine the BenQ TH585 with a decent screen to create a truly cinematic viewing experience for about $1,500. If you’re looking for a great entry-level projector at a truly affordable price, the BenQ TH585 should be at the top of your list.
The BenQ TH585 is a Full HD 1080P DLP projector that has a rated brightness of 3500 lumens. BenQ says it can produce 95% of Rec709 due to its RGBW color wheel. The BenQ TH585 delivers good color reproductions out-of-the-box. BenQ is also promoting the TH585 as a gaming projector with a rated input lag of just 16ms. The BenQ TH585 has a dedicated picture mode for gaming designed to not only reduce input lag, but improve clarity and enhance the dark scenes in video game content.
The BenQ TH585 is a small bright portable projector and has a built-in 10-watt speaker. It delivers an excellent picture for its price and supports 3D. It would be a great starter projector for an enthusiast or someone looking for a better projector for a backyard theater.
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The Philips PicoPix Max is a portable DLP projector that offers Full HD (1,920×1,080) resolution. The LED light source is rated for over 30,000 hours of use. Philips describes the PicoPix Max as “the Smart & fully wireless native Full HD projector with an ultra-vivid picture made for use anywhere.” It has a built-in 3-hour battery, Android OS, a top touchpad, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth casting, and USB-C connectivity.
Portability stands out as the most prominent advantage for this projector. Anyone living in a dorm, barracks, or tiny apartment would appreciate having a variety of viewing options comparable to most Smart TVs in such a compact portable package.
With an MSRP of $899, the Max is the most powerful (and most expensive) of the Philips PicoPix line of projectors. The PicoPix Max is an excellent choice for anyone who wants the functionality of a Smart TV with a paperback novel’s portability.
The ViewSonic PX727-4K won a Hot Product Award when it was introduced in 2018. Back then the projector delivered good performance for a $1500 projector. It delivered a sharp detailed image with accurate color right out of the box. The unit now sells for under $1000 which still makes it a performance value.
The ViewSonic PX717-4K is a 4K Capable DLP projector that can deliver 2200 lumens of brightness. It delivers a bright, accurate picture rivaling more expensive projectors. While the PX717-4K is a lamp-based projector, the SuperEco model extends the projector lamp life to 15,000 hours.
The PX747-4K produced accurate color reproduction along with a sharp, clear image. Even though the one is a couple of years old, its sub-$1000 price point still makes it a great value for someone looking for an entry-level projector with good performance.
The Epson EF12 is part of Epson’s EpiqVision series of Smart projectors. The Epson EF12 is a Smart, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), laser-powered home media projector that can deliver 1000 ANSI lumens of brightness. Since it has built-in Android TV, it is packed with all the features of a Smart TV, as well as Wi-Fi.
The Epson EF12 delivered more accurate colors and better black levels than most portable smart DLP projectors we have reviewed. While additional resolution would be nice, better color and contrast have a much better impact on image quality.
Its superior picture quality and excellent audio performance make it one of the best compact projectors on the market which is why we rewarded it with a Hot Product Award
While the EF12 is compact, it has a custom-designed speaker system built by Yamaha that sounds better than most flat-panel TVs and can rival many small soundbars.
While many DLP-based portable projectors can deliver 4K resolution, the EF12 is a 1080P unit. However, the Epson EF12 delivered more accurate colors, better black levels than most portable smart DLP projectors we have reviewed.
The EF12 is a user-friendly plug-and-play machine with a compact design that makes it suitable for everything from binge-watching your favorite show in any room of the house to hosting an outdoor movie night.
While we have reviewed several lamp-based home entertainment projectors that are brighter and cost the same or less than the EF12, those models do not offer all of the Smart features, and they aren’t equipped with a high-quality sound system.
So, while you can get a brighter “dumb” lamp-based projector for less, if you want all the Smart features, the upgraded sound system and the advantage of a laser light source, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector is an excellent option.
The ViewSonic® M2 is a portable Full HD LED projector that is ideal for business travelers and home entertainment applications. Since the M2 is compact and lightweight, it can be carried from room-to-room or slipped into a backpack and taken on the road.
Android-based OS included the Aptoide store, where you can download streaming apps from Netflix, YouTube, and more. For convenient content sharing, a wireless screen mirroring feature (via supplied Wi-Fi dongle) allows users to cast content from a mobile device to the projector easily.
Its LED light source can produce 500 ANSI Lumens (1,200 LED lumens) and has a rated lifespan of 30,000 hours. There are an integrated Micro SD card slot and USB Type-A reader port that allow users to display videos and photos without connecting to an external source. Lastly, the dual Harman Kardon speakers (3watts x 2) deliver room-filling sound.
Due to its compact size, LED light source, smart features, and built-in premium dual Harman Kardon sound system, the Viewsonic M2 is an excellent portable projector option for a conference room, dorm, bedroom, or backyard theater.
The Home Cinema 880 is Epson’s least expensive home entertainment projector. This lamp-based projector produced brighter and more accurate colors than many DLP laser projectors that cost 3X more. The HC880 does not have many bells and whistles, but if you desire an excellent image from an affordable projector, the HC800 should be at the top of your list.
The HomeCinema 880 is the replacement for the popular Home Cinema 760HD. The biggest upgrade is the HC880 is a Full HD (1920 x1080) model, while the 760HD was a WXGA (1280 X800) model.
Epson, one of the top projector manufacturers in the world, had three of the top-selling projectors under $1,000 in 2020. With a current street price of $499, the HomeCinema 880 is Epson’s least expensive home entertainment model.
The unit houses Epson’s 3LCD technology for best-in-class color brightness and a dynamic contrast ratio up to 16,000:1, which allows for rich detail in dark scenes.
The Home Cinema 880 is a very basic 1080P projector, it utilizes a lamp-based light source, and it doesn’t have many smart features. However, at $499, it is very affordable and produces good picture quality for its price. The HC880 walks a fine line between convenience, performance, and value. The projector delivers a bright picture with accurate colors.
While the Home Cinema 880 is a lamp-based projector in ECO mode, its 210-watt UHE bulb is rated to last 12,000 hours while still producing more than enough brightness to fill a 120” screen with a bright, vibrant picture.
While they are less expensive home entertainment projectors on the market, spending a few $100 more on a reputable brand model like Epson will provide a much better viewing experience.
The Epson Home Cinema 880 can produce up to 3,300 lumens of brightness and good color accuracy, making the unit a good option for an entry-level home theater.
PROJECTORS UNDER $1,000
PROJECTORS $1,000 TO $2,000
SMART PROJECTORS $1,000 TO $2,000
PROJECTORS $2,000 TO $5,000
PROJECTORS $5,000 TO $10,000
PROJECTORS $10,000 AND ABOVE
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