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Projector in a home theater space


Buying Guide

Whether you're hosting movie night or leading a business seminar, a big-screen presentation makes a lasting impression. For movie buffs and gamers, a projector offers more screen size for your money compared to a television. For your business, it's a flexible way to share presentations with groups of almost any size. Use our buying guide to learn about different types of projectors and find the one that fits your needs.

Choosing the right projector.

To get the best picture possible — whether you're watching a movie at home or giving a PowerPoint presentation at work — you'll need the right type of projector for how you plan to use it.

Home theater projectors

Home theater projectors emphasize image quality and high contrast, with deep blacks and rich color saturation. If you’re looking for an even more immersive viewing experience, 4K projectors deliver incredible detail and vibrant color to bring movies, gaming and more to life.

Home theater projectors simulate a dark movie theater environment, so they work best in a dedicated room where you can control the amount of light that enters the space from outside. However, you can compensate for ambient light by choosing a home theater projector with high brightness and investing in a high-quality reflective screen to improve how the image is displayed in partially or fully lit rooms.

Business projectors

If you plan to use your projector for meetings, presentations or classroom instruction, you'll need a business projector, also known as a multimedia or data projector.

These projectors are brighter than home theater projectors, so they work well in rooms with overhead lighting and windows. Business projectors are designed primarily to display static images, such as graphs and PowerPoint slides, but they also work for multimedia and entertainment use.

Portable projectors

Portable projectors are compact while being powerful enough to view and stream your favorite content, and they feature an ultralong lamp life. Portable projectors weigh less than 6 pounds and are easy to set up so you can take them to off-site meetings, on family vacations, to a friend’s house for movie night and more.

Ultra-short-throw projectors

If you want the home theater experience but can't mount a projector, or if you're using a projector in a small room, an utra-short-throw projector is a good solution with its space-saving design. You can place it just inches from a wall or screen, and the ultra-short-throw projector will deliver a big picture.

Display types.

The range of colors displayed by a projector is called a color gamut. The wider it is, the better the image is. Most projectors display images based on DLP technology, 3LCD (3-Panel Liquid Crystal Display) technology, or LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology and each has its own advantages.
  • Uses mirrors to reflect light onto a screen
  • Smooth motion for videos and fast-action scenes
  • 1-chip DLP typically small and lightweight
  • 3-chip DLP typically found in premium projectors
  • 3 LCD panels displaying different colors combine to make a vibrant image
  • Impressive color output or brightness
  • No moving parts
  • Uses liquid crystal chips with a mirrored backing to create a high-resolution picture
  • Mostly found on premium projectors
  • Great contrast and black levels
  • JVC refers to this technology as D-ILA
  • Sony refers to this technology as SXRD

Light sources.

Standard lamp Laser LED
Boot time Needs to warm up/cool down before powering on/off Turns on/off quickly Turns on/off quickly
Life Estimated up to 10,000 hours of usage time Estimated up to 20,000–30,000 hours of usage time Estimated up to 20,000 hours of usage time
Features Bright light, but degrades over time Brightest of the three lighting types Low draw on power, making LED extremely portable
Size Medium or larger projectors Larger projectors Smaller, portable projectors
Price Found in a wide range of projectors Premium projectors Less expensive projectors
Maintenance Bulbs can be replaced Low maintenance Low maintenance
Experience Ideal for occasional use for things like family movie night Ideal for cinematic experience seekers, usually in a home theater Ideal for someone looking for portability and a compact size

Projector features.


The total number of pixels that a projector can display defines the projector's native resolution. The more pixels you can fit in the display, the crisper and more detailed your images will appear. The higher the resolution, the closer you can sit to the screen without viewing a pixelated image. Resolutions range from 480p on the low end to our most common resolutions, which include 720p (HD), 1080p (Full HD), and up to 4K or 8K for incredibly realistic images and lifelike picture quality.

You'll get the best image quality by matching the projector resolution to the resolution of the video source you plan to use most often. For example, if you want to watch movies on your 4K Blu-ray player, you'll need a 4K projector to view the movies at full resolution. If you want to share your laptop screen, choose a projector with the same image format as your laptop, such as XGA for a 1024 x 768 display.

Resolution Lines of resolution Pixels Description
High definition (HD)
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720p 921,600 The original HD. High Definition TVs provide double the resolution of any analog TV
Full HD
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1080p 2.1 million Twice the clarity of standard HD, delivering impressive resolution on smaller screens
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2160p 8 million Superior pixel power delivers four times the resolution of Full HD on any screen size
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4320p 33 million An unbeatable 33 million pixels for exquisite resolution on really big screens


Projector brightness is measured by lumens; the higher the lumens, the brighter the projector will be at a given distance. Two separate brightness measurements can help you choose a projector that will display bright, colorful images in any lighting:

  • White brightness (white light output) indicates the total amount of white light emitted by the projector, without measuring color.
  • Color brightness (color light output) measures how bright the projected colors will be. The higher the number, the more detail and vibrancy you will see.

Make sure to compare both brightness measurements. If the color brightness of a projector is lower than its white brightness, the images and details it displays may be dark or dull.

If you're buying a business projector, you'll want a brighter output, so look for a higher lumen rating in both white and color brightness. 

If you're buying a home theater projector, brighter is not necessarily better. Instead, you want enough brightness for rich color contrast but not so much that it washes out dark-scene details. 

Contrast ratio

Contrast is the amount of difference between the darkest and brightest areas of a picture. A projector with a high contrast ratio allows you to see clearly defined shadow detail and deep black levels, adding a sense of depth and dimension to the picture.

Projectors with HDR (high dynamic range) technology reveal a wider array of color and contrast. Bright parts of images get brighter, and shadows form exquisite details to enhance viewing experiences.  

Since a greater amount of light in the room can wash out the difference in contrast between projectors, it's more important to pay attention to contrast ratio for home theater projectors than it is for business projectors.

Comparison image, showing a landscape with a mountain

Throw ratio

The throw ratio tells you how wide the image will be when you place the projector at a certain distance from the screen. For example, a 1.8:1 ratio will produce a 5-foot wide image when you place the projector 9 feet from the screen (5 feet x 1.8).

Calculating the throw ratio is especially important if you plan to permanently mount the projector. If you can't install the projector far enough away from the screen due to space limitations, you may need a short throw projector. A short throw projector will allow you to place the projector much closer to the screen, while still displaying a wide enough image to fill the entire screen.

Not sure what size projector or screen you need? Use the Projector Calculator to find the maximum and minimum screen sizes and projection distances for various projectors.

Keystone correction

If you can't place the projector exactly perpendicular to the screen, keystone correction allows you to correct distortion by digitally adjusting the image, so it is perfectly square on the screen or wall. This can also be accomplished through manual keystone correction, which allows you to physically adjust the lens.

Other technologies.

Wireless projectors, adapters and streaming capabilities

If you want to project photos or a PowerPoint presentation wirelessly from your laptop, smartphone or tablet, you'll need a projector with wireless capabilities. Some projectors allow you to send an HDMI signal wirelessly from the video source to the projector using a wireless HD transmitter that's either built in or sold separately. You can download a wireless projector app for iOS or Android that works with your specific projector brand.

Some wireless projectors have built-in voice assistants and streaming capabilities. With a voice assistant, you can control your projector using your voice. Models with streaming capabilities allow you to stream movies, music and more by connecting directly to the internet. If the projector doesn’t have streaming built-in, you can connect a streaming device to enjoy your favorite movies and more.

Lens zoom

If you'll be setting up your portable projector in different places where you won't always have control over the screen size or placement of the projector, you can use the lens zoom to adjust the image size. By adjusting the lens zoom, you won't have to move the projector closer or farther away from the screen in order to adjust the image size.

The greater the zoom ratio, the larger you can make the image. For example, a 1.2x zoom creates an image up to 20% larger than the minimum size. A 2.0x zoom creates an image twice the minimum size. Not all projectors feature a lens zoom; portable projectors, for example, often exclude the lens zoom in order to make the projector as compact as possible.

Lens shift

Lens shift allows you to mechanically adjust the angle of the lens by shifting it up, down or sideways. Lens shift also retains 100% of the resolution in the projected image and is available mainly on high-end home theater projectors, where the projector will be installed semi-permanently on the wall or ceiling.


Before you can splash your slideshow or movie on the big screen, you'll need to find a way to hook up your image source to the projector. Business projectors and home theater projectors each have their own set of inputs and outputs, which vary from projector to projector.

Home theater projectors

Home theater projectors typically include one or more HDMI inputs for your cable or satellite box, Blu-ray player, gaming console and other devices. Your home theater projector may also include other ports, such as component video, VGA, an SD card slot and USB. Audio outputs allow you to connect to your sound system.

Make sure you have the right type and right number of connections that you'll need. For example, if you want to connect a Blu-ray player, gaming console and HD cable box to your home theater projector, you'll need a projector with at least three HDMI inputs.

Business projectors

Business projectors typically include VGA and USB inputs. Some include DVI or HDMI inputs as well. Built-in wireless offers even more flexibility by letting you share presentations without the hassle of hooking up cables or making sure you have the right connections.

Projector screens.

Why use a screen?

Although you can use a white wall as a screen in a pinch, a high-quality projection screen will make the picture look better and brighter. Since the screen reflects light, it works with your projector to make colors and images pop off the screen. Every screen is rated according to its gain factor, or how efficiently it reflects light. The higher the gain, the brighter the image will be on the screen.

White screens enhance brightness, which is especially beneficial for business use, where you'll be viewing images in a well-lit room and presenting documents and graphs with a white background. Gray screens boost color contrast and make 3D images stand out more, which makes it a good color choice for a home theater room with ambient lighting or light-colored walls.

Shop screens by type

Motorized screens
Lower and raise the screen at the touch of a button, which is especially useful when it’s mounted out of reach.
Fixed screens
These are mounted on the wall, which requires a dedicated space but no lowering or raising.
Pull-down screens
You can retract the screen when not in use, which allows you to use the same space for other purposes.
Portable and tripod-mounted screens
These scroll open and closed for portable use, with tripod legs or a built-in stand for support.

Screen sizes

With a projector and screen, you can make images much larger than most HDTVs can. The screen size needs to match the aspect ratio of your projector, such as 4:3, 16:9 or 2.4:1.

Screen sizes range from 50" measured diagonally to 300" measured diagonally or even larger. You'll want to make sure the screen will fit your space before you make your purchase. Measuring the ceiling height, making sure the screen is high enough off the floor to see over a coffee table or other furniture, and figuring out where you'll mount the center speaker are all issues to take into consideration when choosing how big you want to go.

Accessories and services.

Projector mount
If you'll be using your projector in one location, mounting a projector on the wall or ceiling offers the advantage of keeping it secure and ready to use.
Streaming devices
Watch your favorite shows and movies on popular streaming services with Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV Stick and more.
Home audio
Choose from sound bars, speakers, home theater systems and more.
Installation services and additional warranty protection
Need help installing your projector, mounting your screen or connecting the audio? Let Geek Squad® take care of the details. Plus, get peace of mind with a warranty that covers maintenance and repairs, as well as a one-time bulb replacement.

Shop online or in store.

Find a wide variety of projectors and screens at Your local Best Buy store also has a selection of home theater, business and portable projectors. Plus, our Blue Shirts are on hand to provide expert advice, answer questions, and help you choose the best projector for your needs.