A home theater projector used to be an expensive proposition. Anymore, though, you can find some great options at a very affordable price. But what’s the best projector under 1000 dollars? We’ve set out to answer that question, rounding up our favorite options in the price range.

Most projectors at this price point are made with a specific function in mind, and aren’t going to be ideal for every user. Looking at all the factors together, our top pick for home theaters is the Epson Pro EX9240 (>>> Check on Amazon), while the best option for gamers is the BenQ TH685P. It all comes down to what you need out of your projector, though. Let’s take a closer look at how these projectors compare side by side so you can decide which one’s the best fit for your home.

Best Projector Under 1000 Dollars – Options for 2022:

Optoma HD146X ViewSonic X1 Epson Home Cinema 2250 Epson Pro EX9240 Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 BenQ TH685P
Resolution 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080
Brightness 3,600 lumens 1,300 lumens 2,700 Lumens 4,000 Lumens 1,000 Lumens 3,500 Lumens
Contrast ratio 25,000:1 3,000,000:1 70,000:1 16,000:1 200,000:1 10,000:1
Throw distance 3.3' - 32.2' 6.5' - 12.5' 4.7' - 29.0' 4.7' - 28.8' 2.2' - 10.9' 3.2' - 24.6'
Max screen size 301” 150" 300” 300" 150” 300"
Input Lag 16ms 8.3ms 27ms No data 120ms 8.3ms
Price

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Brightness

The brightness of a lamp determines how well it maintains the quality of the picture when it has to compete with ambient light. In a completely dark room, you can get away with a projector that has as little as 1,000-1,500 lumens of brightness. With even a small amount of ambient light, though, a light that dim will become washed out, losing color and clarity.

You can always control the light level in your room by using dimmable bulbs and installing black-out curtains on the windows. If you don’t want to have to make these concessions, though, a brightness of at least 2,500-3,000 lumens is recommended for moderately to brightly lit rooms, and the higher the better for daytime viewing in natural light.

Brightest projector: Epson EX9240

Throw Distance

The throw ratio measures the relationship between the size of the image a projector generates and the horizontal distance between the lens and the screen. Most projectors have a throw ratio somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2:1, what is called a standard throw distance, and that is true of all the projectors on this list. Find the best short throw projector options

While these are all standard throw projectors, however, there is some variation within that category, and some need less space than others. The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 has the shortest throw distance, producing a 100-inch image with 7’3” of distance. The ViewSonic X1 and BenQ TH685P are also on the shorter side, needing around 8-9 feet to produce this same image size.

Shortest throw ratio: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Resolution and Picture Quality

The majority of projectors on the market today offer a resolution of at least 1080p, which is equivalent to standard HD found on televisions. While most 4K ultra HD projectors cost much more than $1,000, you can find many options that support 4K input at this price range. It will still play at 1080p, but this allows you to watch whatever content you want, and prevents the projector from becoming outdated as quickly.

Resolution determines the sharpness and detail of the picture, but it’s not the only relevant statistic. A quality picture also requires bright, accurate colors and deep on-screen contrast between bright and dark areas. For the best picture quality, look for a projector that offers HDR10 color support and a high contrast ratio.

Best picture quality: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Input Lag

Also called input latency, this is a measure of the delay between the user’s input and what shows on the screen. It is most important for gamers. A delay of even a fraction of a second can make a very big difference in your ability to be competitive in first-person shooters, racing games, and fighting games. Check 4K projectors for gaming buying guide here

An input lag of 30ms or less is recommended for competitive gaming, and the lower, the better. There are two options on this list with an input lag as low as 8.3ms: the ViewSonic X1 and BenQ Th685P. The BenQ combines this with a dedicated game picture mode and a fast 120Hz refresh rate for 1080p content, making it the best option on the list for gaming.

Lowest input lag: BenQ TH685P, ViewSonic X1

Best Projector Under $1000: Full Reviews

Optoma HD146X

Optoma HD146X

There are two key qualities you’ll get with the Optoma HD146X that you wouldn’t expect for the price: an ultra-bright lamp and a super-low input lag. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking for multi-use functionality in your home theater projector. The Optoma HD146X can easily take the place of a television in any living room without much modification of the space.

We like the picture quality of the Optoma HD146X, as well. The color is cinema quality, with a Rec. 709 color wheel that gives accurate and vibrant hues. While it doesn’t offer the best resolution on the list, the image quality is on par with what you’ll get from an HD TV—just a lot bigger.

Setting up and installing the Optoma HD146X is also very easy. It includes vertical keystone correction for easier ceiling-mounted set-ups, which you might need to use since it is a standard throw projector. The sophisticated DLP single-chip design makes aligning the image a snap. It also uses HDMI-CEC technology so you can control all connected content sources with the projector remote. All-told, a very user-friendly and versatile projector at a great value.

Pros

  • Bright lamp still gives a great picture quality in well-lit rooms
  • Super-short input lag in Enhanced Gaming Mode
  • High contrast ratio for excellent image depth
  • Long lasting, low maintenance lamp
  • Aligning the image is easy
  • Vertical keystone correction
  • Best value

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer 4K resolution
  • May cause rainbow effect for those sensitive to it

ViewSonic X1

ViewSonic X1

The ViewSonic X1 uses an LED light source, as opposed to the lamp or laser used by the other options on the list. This gives it a lifespan even longer than laser projectors. It also gives it a color gamut wider than the Rec.709 spectrum, further enhanced by its ViewSonic Cinema SuperColor+ technology. Paired with its HDR support, this gives users a vivid and realistic Full HD image for all of their content.

Now, there is a down side to an LED light source: they aren’t as bright as lamps or laser light sources. It produces 3,100 LED lumens, which translates to around 1,300 ANSI lumens, low enough you’ll need a dark space to enjoy those brilliant colors to their full potential. On the plus side, it’s more flexible when it comes to the size of the space. It has a shorter throw distance than most standard-throw projectors, producing a 100-inch image with less than 10 feet between the screen and lens. Features like the 10% vertical lens shift, 2D keystone correction, and corner adjustment make it fairly easy to get set up in any space.

Another thing that makes the ViewSonic X1 easy to install is that you may not need external speakers. Its dual Harman Kardon speakers can fill a room with sound and have better balance and low-end power than most projector speakers. Its wireless capability is another convenient feature, with both embedded Wi-Fi and bi-directional Bluetooth. Unfortunately, its physical inputs are limited, with just one HDMI input for content. For our more in-depth review of this projector, follow the link below: https://projectortop.com/viewsonic-x1-review/

Pros

  • Sharp HDR image with exceptional color
  • Accepts 4K content
  • Flexible image adjustment options
  • High-quality built-in speakers
  • Embedded Wi-Fi
  • Low-maintenance with long lasting light source

Cons

  • Not bright enough for lights on viewing
  • Only 1 HDMI input

Epson Home Cinema 2250

Epson Home Cinema 2250

The Epson Home Cinema 2250 is a great choice if you’re setting up a multi-use home entertainment system on a budget. It accepts all types of video content, with full 3D support and the capability to process 4K content. You can also use it for gaming, with an measured input lag of around 28ms, low enough to avoid lag and other frustrations.

From a picture quality standpoint, the Epson 2250 is impressive for the price. Dynamic iris technology improves the contrast ratio, while the 3LCD display provides accurate and vibrant colors without the risk of flickering or rainbowing that can be caused by color wheels.

The only potential limitation of the Epson 2250 is its throw distance, and you will need a good sized space to get a big screen. It does include adjustment options like lens shift and keystone correction, though, so as long as you have the space for it, aligning the picture is fairly quick and straightforward. Connectivity can also be a concern, as it only has a single HDMI input. The built-in streaming interface helps here, since many can watch content without an external device, but this may still be an issue for gamers or those who plan to use multiple content sources.

Pros

  • 3LCD display for bright color with no rainbowing
  • High dynamic iris contrast
  • Accepts 4K content
  • Built-in Android TV interface with Google Assistant
  • Input lag is suitable for gaming
  • Good range of image adjustment options

Cons

  • Long throw distance
  • Limited connectivity (only 1 HDMI input)

Epson Pro EX9240

Epson Pro EX9240

The Epson Pro EX9240 serves a different kind of double-duty than other projectors in the under-$1,000 price range. It’s just as great for business and classroom presentations as it is in a home theater context, with a bright 4,000-lumen lamp that stays vibrant in any ambient light level and a portable design that weighs less than 10 pounds.

Like other Epson projectors, the EX9240 uses a 3LCD display that maintains the accuracy of the colors for all viewers. This is paired with full HD resolution and a decent on-screen contrast—it’s not quite cinema-quality, but it’s still impressive for the price. You can also play games with the EX9240 thanks to its 16ms input lag.

The long throw distance of the Epson EX9240 is its main limitation from an installation standpoint. One helpful feature is its built-in skew sensor, which allows for automatic alignment and image adjustment and gives it a very quick and easy set-up. Its connectivity is broader than many projectors in the price range, as well, with RCA, HDMI, and wireless options. For our more in-depth review of the EX9240 click here.

Pros

  • Bright lamp suitable for any light environment
  • Accurate colors with no rainbowing
  • Variety of wired inputs
  • Built-in wireless connectivity and screen mirroring
  • Low input lag
  • Automatic skew correction
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Long throw distance
  • Doesn’t accept 4K content

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

If you want all-in-one capability for under $1,000, the Epson EF12 is your answer. This starts with its integrated Android TV interface, which lets you download any streaming app from the Google Play store right to the projector and gives it support for Google Assistant voice searches. Along with that, its Yamaha-designed speaker has quality and volume on par with stand-alone Bluetooth speakers, so you can use it without an external sound system.

The Epson EF12 has a high dynamic contrast and uses the same 3LCD color system found in other Epson projectors. This is paired with support for HLG and HDR10, as well as a proprietary Adaptive Color Correction that optimizes the color scene-by-scene for a clear, accurate picture. The only caveat to this: you’ll only be able to enjoy that picture if you’re in a completely dark room. The 1,000 lumen lamp is weaker than most home theater projectors and will wash out easily from any ambient light.

The Epson EpiqVision EF12 is built to be portable, weighing less than 5 pounds and with a compact, self-contained design. It doesn’t need as much space as other projectors, either, about 7 feet for a 100” screen, with 2D keystone correction for greater installation flexibility. For our more in-depth review of the EpiqVision EF12 click here.

Pros

  • 3LCD color with Adaptive Color Correction
  • Good sound quality and output
  • Short throw distance
  • Integrated Android streaming interface
  • Compact and portable
  • Accepts 4K and 3D input

Cons

  • Low lamp brightness
  • Input lag is too long for gaming

BenQ TH685P

BenQ TH685P

The BenQ TH685P is arguably the best projector for gamers under $1,000. Putting it in Game Mode drops the input lag down to 8.3ms, with a 120Hz frame rate for full HD content (4K/60Hz and 16ms). This mode also adjusts the image to enhance detail and shadows, making it easier to spot enemies or hidden items. The picture quality is strong overall, as well, with coverage for most of the Rec.709 spectrum along with HDR contrast and a full HD resolution.

The metal halide bulb in the BenQ TH685P puts out 3,500 ANSI lumens, enough to maintain a colorful and sharp picture even when there’s ambient light. It’s easy to install, as well, with a 1.3x zoom and automatic keystone correction. It’s also relatively light and compact, weighing just over 6 pounds and with a slim 4.3” profile, making it an option for those who need a portable projector.

You’ll get a lot of options for adjusting the sound with the BenQ TH685P, too, with four pre-set sound modes as well as a custom EQ. That said, an external speaker is the best way to enjoy this option. The 5-watt speaker built-in to the TH685P just doesn’t have the power to fill a room with immersive sound. As far as connectivity, it has dual HDMI inputs but no wireless connectivity, which can limit its functionality in modern home theater spaces.

Pros

  • Excellent choice for gamers
  • Crisp and colorful full HD image
  • Bright enough for lights-on use
  • Compact and portable
  • Easy installation with auto keystone correction

Cons

  • No wireless capability
  • Weak built-in speaker

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of excellent options in the under $1,000 price range for projectors, and choosing the right one really comes down to deciding which factors are the most important for you. For gamers, the low lag of the BenQ TH685P makes it the best option. For presentations, the Epson Pro EX9240 has the bright lamp and compact build you’re looking for (>>> Find on Amazon), while the short throw and high image quality of the Epson EF12 outweighs its relatively dim lamp for many.

How the projector generates the image can have a lot to do with your decision. If you tend to be bothered by common visual issues like the rainbow effect or the screen door effect, go for an Epson projector that uses 3LCD technology or the LED-based ViewSonic X1.

Whatever your needs or situation, one of these projectors will give you the quality and features you’re looking for. We hope this review and comparison has been helpful for your search!


FAQs

What’s the best projector under $1,000 for 3D movies?

Three of the projectors on this list support 3D content: the Optoma HD146X, BenQ TH685P, and ViewSonic X1. Of the three, the BenQ supports the most 3D formats, including frame sequential, frame packing, top bottom, and side by side, and is the best option for those who plan to watch 3D movies.

Do any projectors under $1,000 offer smart features?

If you want smart functionality, the Epson models on this list are the way to go. Both the Epson 2250 and Epson EF12 have an integrated Android streaming interface with Google Assistant voice control, so they can be integrated easily into smart home entertainment systems. The Epson EF12 has the most robust wireless capability on the list, with support for 5.0 or 2.4 Wi-Fi networks, 2-way Bluetooth connectivity, and Chromecast built in.

What’s the best portable projector under $1,000?

For traveling and road trips, we’d recommend the Epson EF12. Not only is it compact and lightweight, it also has streaming capability and decent built-in speakers, so you can use it on its own without extra accessories. The BenQ TH685P is also lightweight and easy to move around, and can be a good choice for those who need a portable projector.

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