Most home theater projectors use an LED lamp design to project the image. Laser projectors use a different internal design, however, that allows them to provide a broader range of colors and a sharper image. Generally speaking, the best laser projector will offer a superior picture to a lamp-based projector.

We’ve rounded up our seven favorite laser projectors and reviewed them below. Taking everything together, the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 is our top choice.  (>>> Find it on Amazon) Not only does it have a stunning picture and easy set-up, it also comes with a high-quality screen and has streaming capabilities, making it an all-in-one entertainment package.

That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect projector for everyone, though. Depending on which factors are most important in your decision, one of the other projectors reviewed below might be a better fit for you.

Best Laser Projector 2020 – Top Picks:

Epson LS500 Optoma P2 LG HU85LS LG BU50NST VAVA 4K Optoma P1 LG HU85LA
Resolution 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD 4K Ultra HD
Brightness 4,000 ANSI 3,000 ANSI 2,700 ANSI 5,000 ANSI 6,000 lumens 2500 ANSI 3,000 ANSI 2,700 ANSI
Contrast ratio 2,500,000:1 2,000,000:1 2,000,000:1 3,000,000:1 1,500,000:1 1,500,000:1 2,000,000:1
Throw Distance 0.7' - 1.9' 1.5' - 2.2' 1’5” – 1’11” 6.0' - 28.6' 1.4' - 2.5' 1.5' - 2.2' 1.3' - 1.7'
Max screen size 130” 120” 120” 300” 150” 120” 120”
Speakers 2 x 10 W 2 x 20 W 2 x 5 W 2 x 5 W 2 x 30 W 2 x 20 W 2 x 5 W
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Since laser projectors are newer technology, they cost more. While you can find a few that cost less than $1,000, this is the exception more than the rule. This is on-part with what you’d expect to pay for a high-quality projector of any design, but you aren’t as likely to find them in the lower end of the budget. That’s the main trade-off when you’re comparing laser projectors to other designs.

 

Just like with any home theater equipment, there are a few features you want to consider when you’re buying a laser projector. Let’s take a look before we dig into the full product reviews.

Brightness

Laser projectors are typically brighter than their lamp-based counterparts. There’s still some variation from one model to another, though. A quality laser projector can range anywhere from around 3,000-4,000 lumens on the low side to as much as 20,000 lumens or more.

Keep in mind that brighter isn’t always better. A lamp that’s too bright will be hard to watch for long spans of time and can lead to eye strain and pain. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000-5,000 lumens is the best for home use. Where your space falls in that range depends on how much ambient light there is. (More info about recommended projector brightness here).

Brightest projector: LG BU50NST

Throw Distance and Ratio

Another advantage of laser projectors is that they can often get a shorter throw ratio than most lamp-based projectors. The throw ratio is the measurement of how far away from the screen your projector needs to be to create a large image, so this is especially important if your home theater space is on the smaller side.

 

Where many lamp-based projectors need several feet of distance, some laser projectors measure their throw distance in inches. Even if you have plenty of space, this can give you more flexibility when you’re setting things up.

Shortest throw ratio: Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500

Resolution

The native resolution of a projector determines whether it’s capable of playing HD content with its full detail. As you might expect, a higher resolution typically comes with a higher price tag. Most home theater projectors have a 1080p resolution, though there are many that offer full 4K UHD. (Find out best 4k projectors options for 2020)

Along with 4K resolution, many laser projectors offer enhanced detail through technologies like Dynamic Tone Mapping. This optimizes each frame to ensure you’re getting the 4K resolution you were promised. Motion blur reduction systems are also helpful, especially for action movies and fast-paced sports.

Projector with the best resolution: Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500

Sound

It used to be that laser projectors were designed more for presentations and offices than they were for home theaters. Because of this, they don’t as often come with speakers installed, the way many home theater projectors do.

There are exceptions, however—and on the plus side, laser projectors that do include speakers tend to give you a higher sound quality. Most home theater projectors have speakers rated for only 10 to 20 watts of power, but some laser projectors include soundbars that give much better volume and audio quality.

Best projector for sound: Optoma CinemaX P2

Best Laser Projector: Full Reviews

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500

Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500

The incredible picture quality on the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 starts with its native 4K resolution, which keeps the details crisp and life-like. It also has a high contrast ratio for rich black levels and remarkable picture depth. The 3LCD chip color processing provides all the hues from the Rec. 709 spectrum, with advanced 10-bit HDR support so you’ll see hues the way they were intended.

Gamers should take note of the Epson LS500, too. Its input lag is low enough for even professional gamers, with no detectable delay between your actions and what you see on-screen. This makes it an excellent choice for mixed-use spaces, especially since it also uses an Android TV system with Google Assistant voice search capabilities.

Of course, the most unique advantage of the Epson LS500 is the included high-definition ALR screen. It has a low glare and a wide viewing angle that’s ideal for viewing parties, giving everyone the best seat in the house. It’s designed to work perfectly with the LS500 projector, too, helping to make the set-up and installation even easier. Read our full review of Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500

Pros

  • Sharp, detailed picture with 4K resolution
  • Low 16.7ms input lag is ideal for gaming
  • Excellent color accuracy with full HDR10 processing
  • Bright lamp looks sharp and vibrant even with ambient light
  • Includes a 100” ALR screen
  • Built-in voice search through Google Assistant
  • Easy, flexible installation thanks to ultra-short throw distance

Cons

  • 3D content only displays in Full HD (not 4K)
  • High cost

Optoma CinemaX P2

optoma cinemax p2 laser projectorThe upgrade of the Optoma P1, the P2 matches its best features and adds some new features that will make it an even better choice for some users.

For image quality, the Optoma CinemaX P2 has to be seen to be believed. The native 4K resolution is supported by a Dynamic Black contrast ratio and over 1 billion displayable colors. Overall, it’s truly cinema-quality.

You’ll also get expanded smart home support with the Optoma P2. There are more custom commands available for voice control through Alexa or Google Home, and this allows for more complex routines and integration with other devices through IFTTT.

Another benefit of the Optoma CinemaX P2 over its predecessor is that it’s more responsive. The input lag is around 55ms. That’s still a bit high for serious gamers, but for single-player games and casual gaming, there’s no noticeable delay. Click here for a more detailed review of this projector.

Pros

  • Lower input lag makes it suitable for casual gamers
  • 6-segment color wheel with HDR10 support
  • High contrast ratio
  • Reliable light source lasts up to 30,000 hours
  • Throw ratio is the shortest on the list
  • Robust voice control functions (Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT support)
  • Integrated 40-watt soundbar with Dolby Digital 2.0 support

Cons

  • Not the best option for competitive multi-player gamers
  • Some users report difficulty using the SmartFIT app

LG HU85LS

LG HU85LS laser projectorThe LG HU85LS is a smart projector in more ways than one. It comes equipped with LG’s AI ThinQ system and a Magic Remote for easily viewing content right on the projector. You can also use it with both Google and Alexa voice control, so it’s perfect for integrating into a smart home theater.

Installing the LG HU85LS is fairly easy, too. While it is heavy, you likely won’t need to wall- or ceiling-mount it. It has a short throw even for a laser projector, needing less than 6 inches to display a 100” screen. That makes it one of the few projectors you can set right on the entertainment center.

This short throw also makes lamp brightness less of a concern. It’s rated lower in that regard than other projectors but you wouldn’t believe that looking at the picture. The LG HU85LS has vibrant colors and sharp on-screen details in any light level. IT also supports HDR10 and uses Dynamic Tone Mapping, so you’ll get true-to-life, accurate colors no matter what content you’re watching. Click here for a more detailed LG HU85LS review.

Pros

  • Sharp, clear picture at all screen sizes and light levels
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Ultra-short throw ratio
  • Dynamic Tone Mapping for improved color performance
  • Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity along with HDMI and USB
  • Lamp lifespan of up to 20,000 hours

Cons

  • Heavier and bulkier than other home theater projectors
  • Built-in speakers are weak

LG ProBeam BU50NST

LG ProBeam BU50NST projectorThe LG ProBeam is remarkably user-friendly, both in its set-up and in the day to day use. Along with a manual focus and 1.6x zoom, it has a wide 2D keystone correction and both horizontal and vertical lens shift. That’s in addition to the 12-point warp and 4-corner correction. Basically, you have every tool you could hope for to make installation easy.

One major difference between the ProBeam and other laser projectors is the throw distance. This is a standard throw projector, so you’ll need around 10 feet of distance for a 100” screen. The flip side of this is the image can get much larger, up to 300” on the diagonal, so it’s a better choice for outdoor use than most laser projectors.

The picture quality of the LG ProBeam is high. Native 4K resolution, a high contrast ratio, and a bright lamp combine for a realistic, vibrant picture no matter the light levels. Our only quibble from a picture standpoint is that there’s no 3D support, which we’d expect to have on a projector at this price point.

You will want to use external speakers with the LG ProBeam, since its 5-watt speakers don’t put out much sound. The good news is, you can connect them wirelessly via Bluetooth. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi and on-board web browser, giving it strong marks for wireless connectivity.

Pros

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and integrated web browser
  • Can connect external speakers via Bluetooth
  • Ultra-bright lamp works in any light level
  • Colors compatible with HDR10
  • Wide lens shift and zoom options
  • Easy to align image with warp adjustment and 4-corner correction

Cons

  • Weak built-in speakers
  • No 3D support

 

VAVA 4K UHD

VAVA laser projectorLet’s start things off with this VAVA 4K home theater projector. If high picture quality is your main priority, you’ll want to check out this beauty. The native 4K resolution and high lamp brightness provide a sharp picture with excellent color accuracy. Some of the specs even exceed the projectors in movie theaters.

Another strong point of the VAVA 4K projector is its sound. The built-in soundbar far exceeds the wimpy 10-watt speakers you’ll find on many projectors. You don’t need external speakers to use the VAVA 4K Laser TV projector, which is nice if you have a cramped space.

Speaking of space—the ultra-short throw ratio on the VAVA 4K makes it incredibly versatile when it comes to set-up, too. You don’t need a massive room to get a massive picture. Since the lamp is bright, too, it’ll work in basically any space. This VAVA projector is on the pricey side, but if you have the budget for it, it’s the best laser projector out there. (Find more detailed review of VAVA 4K here)

Pros

  • Contrast ratio and resolution exceed movie theater projector stats
  • Bright lamp can compete with any ambient light level
  • Short throw ratio for more installation flexibility
  • Built-in sound is fantastic
  • Lamp life of up to 25,000 hours
  • Connects through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or wired connections

Cons

  • High cost

LG HU85LA

LG HU85LA projectorThe LG HU85LA is arguably the smartest laser projector on the market. It comes with built-in Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with Google Assistant. It also uses LG’s proprietary Smart TV interface with ThinQ AI. Navigating is easy with the included magic remote, and it’s equally simple to integrate into an existing smart home system.

Gamers will also love the LG HU85LA. It has a fairly low input lag of around 55ms. That’s not in the exceptional range but is definitely suitable for most gamers, even fast-paced and graphic intensive multi-player games.

The LG HU85LA also has one of the shortest throw distances on the home projector market. The .19 throw ratio is impressive even for a laser projector. You can truly use it in any room and get the same excellent resolution and picture quality.

While the LG HU85LA is on the pricier side, it’s worth the investment if you want the most versatile home theater projector. It also has the highest picture quality on the list. True 4K resolution and HDR10 with Dynamic Tone Mapping provide an image that’s optimized frame by frame, with TruMotion processing to make on-screen movement more fluid. Find a full review of this projector here.

Pros

  • Excellent color accuracy and contrast ratio
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Ultra-short throw ratio (120” screen from only 7” away)
  • Built-in Bluetooth connectivity
  • Smart TV interface and Google Assistant voice control
  • Low input lag for gamers
  • Smooth frame movement with TruMotion

Cons

  • High cost

Optoma CinemaX P1

Optoma CinemaX P1 projectorThe Optoma CinemaX P1 provides the outstanding picture quality and ultra-short throw ratio you expect from a laser projector, as well as some unexpected extras.

One unexpected feature of the Optoma P1 is its integrated NuForce soundbar. The dual subwoofers actually put out pretty decent bass—a serious weak point for most projector speakers. The mid-range has excellent detail and clarity, key for dialogue, and the 40 watts of power give sufficient volume for most viewers. It’s the next best thing to surround sound, far exceeding the sound quality from most projectors and televisions.

The Optoma P1 also integrates easily into smart home systems. It’s compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control. In addition, it supports IFTTT protocols, letting you create your own smart programs.

A throw ratio of .25:1 gives you a 120” screen from about 15” away. That’s one reason setting up the Optoma P1 is so easy. You can also download the SmartFIT app for easy 4-corner alignment through your smartphone.

An excellent picture is just the start of what you’ll get with the Optoma CinemaX P1. It’s the easiest way to integrate a truly cinema-quality home theater into your life, especially if you’re a smart home user. For more detailed Optoma CinemaX P1 review here.

Pros

  • High sound quality
  • Ultra-short throw ratio
  • True HDR10 color and 4K resolution
  • Easy to set up with Optoma’s SmartFIT system
  • Compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Supports IFTTT for smart home integration

Cons

  • High input lag makes it unsuitable for gamers
  • Must be placed flat (no ceiling-mounted or angled installations)

Customer Impressions

Most modern projectors are very easy to use and set-up. The smart features and short-throw ratio offered by these projectors make it even easier. The only complaint from users on this front was from those ceiling mounting the VAVA model, which is on the heavy side. Users buying their first projector appreciate that the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 comes with a screen and the mounting hardware needed to hang it. This takes the guess-work out of alignment, too, since it’s built to work with the size of screen that’s included.

If you’re looking for the most reliable projector, both the VAVA and the Optoma P1 have high marks, with long usable lifetimes and low maintenance requirements. Having said that, some users have been frustrated by the customer support for the Optoma P1, especially if they’re having trouble making the image align with the SmartFIT app. While the company is generally responsive and good about fulfilling warranty repair requests, they can take a while to get back to people who have questions and issues.

Something else to consider is whether you’re sensitive to image issues like the rainbow effect. This is an unavoidable with projectors that use a color wheel, such as the Optoma P1 and P2. While some viewers aren’t bothered by this, those that are should get a projector like the Epson LS500, whose 3LCD chip technology isn’t prone to this issue.

So What’s the Best Laser Projector?

If you’re going to spend the money it takes to get a laser projector, you might as well go for the best. In our opinion, that’s the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500 (>>> Find it on Amazon). It has a short-throw ratio, a high picture quality, and is responsive enough for most gaming applications. The easy set-up is a mark in its favor, too.

That being said, its high cost may be prohibitive for some buyers, especially those who already own a screen and don’t want to pay extra for a new one. Users who need a brighter lamp will love the LG BU50NST, while the super-short throw on the LG HU85LS makes it the most versatile projector on the list.

The best way to find the right projector for your home theater is to do your research. Any of these options could be a great choice depending on your home, your budget, and the type of content you’ll be using it for. We hope the reviews above have given you a good start on finding the perfect projector for you.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING: