To truly replicate the movie theater experience at home, 3D capability is a must-have feature for your projector. Once an option only found on the most expensive high-end projectors, today you’ll find 3D ready models at every price point. Of course, all that variety can also make it hard to decide which one is the best 3D projector for you.
Based only on its 3D performance, our top pick is the BenQ TK850i (>>> Check the current price on Amazon). It supports the most 3D transmission formats, with a sharp resolution, high contrast, and wide color gamut that keeps all your content looking great.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the TK850i is the best choice for everyone. Let’s take a look at the top models with 3D support and compare their key features so you can decide which one is right for you.
Best 3D Projector 2021 – Top Picks:
|Optoma CinemaX P2||Optoma UHD50X||Epson Home Cinema 2250||BenQ TH685i||BenQ TK850i||Optoma UHD30|
|Brightness (Lumens)||3,000 ANSI||3,400 ANSI||2,700 ANSI||3,500 ANSI||3,000 ANSI||3,400 ANSI|
|Throw Distance||1.5' - 2.2'||4.0' - 26.6'||4.7' - 29.0'||3.2' - 24.6'||3.2' - 24.6'||4.2' - 33.0'|
|Screen size||85" - 120"||34" - 303"||30" - 300"||30" - 300"||30" - 300"||34" - 302"|
|Input Lag||67ms||16ms||No data||8ms||No data||16ms|
|Speakers:||20.0 Watts × 2||5.0 Watts Mono||10.0 Watts Mono||5.0 Watts Mono||5.0 Watts × 2||5.0 Watts Mono|
|Price||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
There are 4 common transmission formats for 3D content: Frame Sequential, Frame Packing, Checkerboard, and Side-by-Side. The main difference between them is how the frames are positioned on the screen, which dictates the kind of glasses you’ll need to use to see the 3D effect.
Most 3D home theater projectors are 3D Ready. These use a Frame Sequential transmission, allowing them to project content from 3D systems like Nvidia 3D Vision. Unfortunately, they can’t play 3D content directly from many Blu-ray players, cable boxes, and other content sources.
Full 3D projectors, on the other hand, support multiple 3D transmission formats. This gives them more versatility for accessing 3D TV shows and movies without buying any extra accessories. They’ll also work with a wider variety of 3D glasses, including the ones you get free at the movie theater.
Unfortunately, full 3D projectors are rare on the home theater market (and the ones you do find cost more than most want to spend). The BenQ TH850i comes close, with support for 3 of the 4 transmission formats. This enables you to watch the majority of 3D content from any source.
Widest 3D Format Compatibility: BenQ TK850i
If you plan to use the projector for gaming, a low input lag is a crucial stat. Anything under about 30ms is considered fast enough for gaming, with no noticeable delay between your input and the on-screen response.
A high frame rate is also important, preventing motion blur and keeping the action smooth. This is a good thing for 3D content, too, producing a sharper and clearer picture. Ideally, you want a frame rate of 240Hz at Full HD, or 120Hz at 4K.
The Optoma UHD50x, Optoma UHD30, and BenQ TH685i all meet these criteria, and are excellent gaming projectors. Of the three, the BenQ TH685i is the most responsive, with an incredible 8.3ms input lag.
Most responsive projector: BenQ TH685i
Most people don’t have a dedicated home theater space and need a projector that can work with their home environment. If your space has a lot of ambient light, you’ll need a brighter lamp. Anything over 3,000 lumens should do fine in most indoor environments.
The throw distance of the projector is a factor here, as well. This specification tells you the relationship between the screen size and the distance between the screen and lamp. Most standard throw projectors will need around 8-10 feet of distance to produce a 100” image, limiting their use in smaller spaces.
When it comes to installation flexibility, the Optoma CinemaX P2 is the stand-out winner. It has an ultra-short throw ratio, producing a 100” image with just 2 feet of distance. Since the light doesn’t have to travel as far, it’s also less prone to washout from ambient light.
Most flexible projector: Optoma CinemaX P2
Optoma CinemaX P2
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is the best 3D projector for a smart home entertainment system. Its built-in Android interface lets you download streaming apps right on the projector, no need for a streaming stick. Along with that, it’s compatible with multiple voice control systems and can be used with IFTTT. That allows you to link the projector to other devices like smart lights and doorbells, as well as create customized routines and commands.
Installing the Optoma P2 is easy, too. It has an ultra-short throw distance, producing a 120” image with just over 2 feet between the lens and screen. For most users, that means no need for a ceiling mount or other hardware. Along with that, the Optoma SmartFIT app automatically corrects the image geometry, eliminating warp and squaring the picture to the screen. It even has a built-in 40-watt soundbar with Dolby Digital support, with high enough quality and output you don’t necessarily need to use external speakers.
Along with all these convenient features, the Optoma CinemaX P2 is an excellent choice if you want the best picture quality. Its laser light source is backed by HDR10 and PureMotion technology, with a 6-segment color wheel whose color gamut exceeds the Rec. 709 spectrum. With true 4K resolution and a high contrast ratio, you’ll get a sharp, detailed, and realistic picture from the CinemaX P2. Read our full review of the Optoma P2.
- True 4K resolution with high dynamic contrast
- High frame rate with PureMotion technology
- SmartFIT app and automatic focus for easy installation
- Ultra-short throw distance
- Compatible with Google and Amazon voice control
- Supports IFTTT for smart home integration
- Built-in soundbar with good volume and audio quality
- Higher cost than other options
- Limited app support through Android interface
Those looking for a projector that can both play 3D movies and be used for gaming, the Optoma UHD50X is an excellent choice. It’s one of the most responsive mid-range projectors on the market, with a fast 240Hz frame rate and an input lag as low as 16ms in Enhanced Gaming Mode. The input lag is slightly higher in 4K but it’s still under 30ms, making it suitable even for serious gamers.
With its cinema-quality picture, the Optoma UHD50X offers the same exceptional performance to home theater users as it does to gamers. The DLP display uses an 8-segment color wheel with 10-bit color processing. Along with rich colors, the high dynamic contrast ratio produces deep blacks and keeps the image sharp, supporting the clarity and realism of the 4K resolution.
The Optoma UHD50X is relatively versatile. Since it has a bright lamp, you won’t need to worry too much about light control in your viewing area. It does have a longer throw ratio which could limit its use in smaller rooms. That said, it has a wide vertical keystone correction and vertical lens shift along with a 1.3x zoom, so as long as you have the space it gives you good installation flexibility.
- True 4K resolution
- Low input lag is ideal for gamers
- Wide color gamut with HDR10 and HLG support
- Bright lamp suitable for lights-on viewing
- Flexible installation
- Full HD resolution for 3D content
- Longer throw distance
- Relatively short lamp life (4,000 hours in high-performance modes)
Epson Home Cinema 2250
Here’s a streaming projector for buyers on a budget. The Epson Home Cinema 2250 is one of the best 3D projectors in the under-$1,000 price range, especially for those who want to stream content right on their projector. It uses an Android TV system with Google Assistant voice control. You can watch shows and movies through Hulu, HBO, and more, and search for content on all of them with your voice through the included remote.
From a picture quality standpoint, the Epson 2250 is impressive for the price, if not as stellar as the projectors above. One advantage it has is the use of a 3LCD chip system for the color production. That’s especially good news for those sensitive to the rainbow effect, and gives viewers more consistent overall color saturation and brightness. On the other hand, the lamp brightness, resolution, and contrast are lower. You’ll still get full HD resolution, and the dynamic iris makes the most of the 2,700 lumens put out by the lamp.
The Epson Home Cinema 2250 is an ideal choice for living rooms and home theater spaces. It uses a standard throw ratio and may need some light control, especially if your space has a lot of windows, but the set-up is fairly easy with a good range of adjustment features. We also appreciate the portability of the 2250, which weighs less than 10 pounds and has a compact, rugged design. That makes it a good choice for indoor/outdoor use around the house, especially since it can produce images up to 300”. For a more detailed Epson 2250 review click here.
- Vibrant colors with no rainbow effect
- Stream content through Android TV interface
- Built-in voice search with Google Assistant
- Compact, portable design
- Full HD 3D support
- Great value
- Needs a lot of space
- Maximum resolution of Full HD (no 4K)
Gamers looking for a 3D-ready option in the under-$1,000 price range will love the BenQ TH685i. Its input lag is incredibly low at 8.3ms. That’s just about as close to instant as you’ll get from a projector at any price. Along with that, it has a 120Hz frame rate for smooth on-screen response from both games and visual content and is compatible with all the latest gaming systems.
The BenQ TH685i is our top pick for media rooms and other multi-use spaces. Partly this is because of its gaming performance, but it’s versatile in other ways, too. Its lamp is bright enough to use in well-lit spaces and its connection panel has a variety of inputs, including USB and VGA along with the standard dual HDMI ports.
The main thing you’ll sacrifice with the BenQ TH685i compared to pricier projectors is the resolution and contrast. It can play 4K content but will downgrade it to Full HD, and the picture isn’t as sharp or defined, especially in darker areas of the screen. The good news is, you’ll get that same Full HD resolution for 3D content, along with a user-friendly design and smart interface that make it an excellent value. Click here for our full review of the BenQ TH685i.
- Super low 8.3ms input lag in Enhanced Gaming Mode
- Android TV interface with access to the Google Play store
- Full HD resolution with 4K input
- Wireless casting through AirPlay and Chromecast
- Bright lamp doesn’t require light control
- Backed by 3-year limited warranty
- No support for Netflix in Android interface
- Comparatively low contrast ratio
The BenQ TK850i is the best pick if you’re looking for a cinema-quality image and a user-friendly design. It uses a 10-element all-glass lens array, an innovative design that increases light penetration for a more intense, saturated 4K image. Not only does it have a wide color gamut, it uses HDR-PRO technology like Enhanced Tone Mapping to improve the color accuracy and overall realism of the picture. Frame interpolation keeps that image smooth, perfect for fast-paced content like live sports.
The wide 3D compatibility of the BenQ TK850i is worth noting, too. You can use the same 3D glasses you get from the movie theater, no need for specialized shutter glasses (though you can use those, too). It supports Side by Side, Top/Bottom, and Frame Packing 3D formats at full HD, letting you watch 3D content from BluRay players and other devices.
The BenQ TK850i uses the same Android TV interface as the TH685i above, including built-in support for voice searches through Google Assistant. This interface has limitations in regards to available apps and voice commands but it’s still a convenient time-saving feature. The set-up process is quick and straightforward, as well, despite the relatively long throw distance.
- Wider 3D compatibility than most projectors
- True native 4K resolution with Dynamic Iris contrast
- Wide color gamut (1.07 billion colors)
- Frame interpolation for smooth on-screen action
- Download streaming apps through Google Play store
- Supports wireless casting
- Voice control options are limited to searches
- Not as versatile for different spaces
Last but not least, the Optoma UHD30 has similar performance to the Optoma UHD50x above. It’s just as responsive, first of all, with a low 16ms input lag and a fast 240Hz processing speed at 1080p (120Hz at 4K). Other features these projectors have in common include the true 4K resolution, a bright 3,400 lumen lamp, and support for HDR10 and HLG. In short, the picture is sharp and immersive.
From a picture standpoint, the color accuracy is the most impressive aspect of the Optoma UHD30’s performance. Its 8-segment color wheel goes beyond the Rec. 709 spectrum to cover the DCI-P3 color space. Hues are further enhanced through HDR tone mapping. While the use of a color wheel may cause issues for those sensitive to rainbowing, most viewers will find the realism exceeds their expectations.
Our only complaint against the Optoma UHD30 is that it’s not as easy to install. Since it uses a standard throw ratio, most people will want to mount it on the ceiling or wall. You’ll need to be precise in your alignment when you do so since the adjustment options are limited. There’s a wide vertical keystone correction but no lens shift and a limited zoom. Once you have it installed, though, it’s a versatile, powerful projector suitable for both gaming and movie watching. Click here for our full Optoma UHD30 review.
- True 4K resolution
- Excellent image contrast
- HDR tone mapping for vibrant, realistic colors
- Responsive with low input lag
- Bright lamp for lights-on viewing
- Color wheel can trigger rainbow effect
- Not as flexible during installation
The Bottom Line
As you can see, each of these projectors has its advantages. While the BenQ TK850i has the widest 3D compatibility (>>> Find the price on Amazon), all of them will play 3D content in full HD. Consider your viewing area and how you’ll use the projector before making your decision. Whether you’re a gamer, a smart home owner, or a movie buff, one of the options above is sure to meet your needs.