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The best projectors: get your designs on the big screen

The best projectors in 2019
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The right projector will make it easy to present your work in the best possible light, with rich colours and super sharp picture quality. If you're looking for a projector for your studio, it's wise to invest in one that can be mounted permanently on the ceiling. A high quality model will be able to project a crisp image at sizes over 100 inches. 

If you're showing work to clients, and one of the best 4K monitors won't suffice, a portable projector could be a good option. These compact devices are small enough to tuck into a bag, and take minimal time to set up. Many even offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can display work directly from a laptop, tablet or phone without any cables.

It's also worth bearing in mind the two main projector technologies: LCD and DLP. Images from an LCD projector tend to be brighter, with better colour accuracy, while DLP projectors typically offer better contrast and tend to be smaller. If cost isn't an issue, there are also laser projectors to consider. These use less power, produce an extremely crisp image, and the light source lasts far longer than the bulb in a standard projector. We've picked the best projectors with both technologies so you can decide which one is right for you.

Optoma UHD40

(Image credit: Optoma)

01. Optoma UHD40

The best projector overall makes premium performance affordable

Projection system: DLP | Brightness: 2,400 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, VGA, USB | Dimensions: 392 x 118 x 281mm | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | 4K support: Yes

HDR support and upscaling
Sharp, detailed picture
Affordably priced
Not the most stylish chassis

A few years ago, a projector with 4K resolutions and high dynamic range would have been prohibitively expensive, but the feature-packed Optoma UHD40 is surprisingly affordable. It produces a crisp picture with punchy colours and rich blacks to make your work shine. 

There's also an Ultra Detail mode, which can give images an extra edge when used in moderation. The UHD40's HDMI connection allows you to easily connect it to a PC or laptop, and the added USB port means you can display images and video directly from a memory stick. It's not the prettiest projector around, but that's not a major concern if it's mounted on your studio's ceiling. A superb performer at a bargain price.

Optoma UHZ65

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

02. Optoma UHZ65

The best high-end projector delivers laser-powered perfection

Projection system: DLP laser | Brightness: 3,000 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, Ethernet, VGA, USB | Dimensions: 498 x 152 x 330mm | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | 4K support: Yes

Superb picture quality
Long-lasting light source
Simple setup
High price tag

Laser projectors like the Optoma UHZ65 cost significantly more than their traditional lamp-bearing projectors, but it's hard to beat the picture quality – particularly for videographers and animators. Optoma’s PureMotion technology eliminating any blurring or judder, and the projector is capable of reproducing the full Rec.709 colour gamut. Vertical lens offset makes it easy to line up the image with the screen (even if you have limited space available) and the laser light source is rated to last the whole life of the projector (20,000 hours according to Optoma), so if you can afford the initial outlay, it's a great long-term investment.

BenQ TK800

(Image credit: BenQ)

03. BenQ TK800

The best projector for animation immerses you in the action

Projection system: DLP | Brightness: 3,000 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, PC/VGA, USB x2 | Dimensions: 353 x 135 x 272mm | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | 4K support: Yes (see below)

Minimal input lag for motion graphics
Handles motion well
Bright, crisp picture
A little noisy

The BenQ TK800 is a stylish, affordable projector that was originally created with gamers in mind, but is also a superb choice for any interactive graphics and live demonstrations thanks to its minimal input lag. It also supports 4K, which seems surprising for such an affordable unit, but there’s a slight catch: the TK800 actually takes a 1,920 x 1,080 image and flashes it four times in very rapid succession, creating the effect of ‘true’ 4K. It might sound like a cheat, but qualifies as 4K by industry standards. This is further helped by a high quality glass lens specifically designed for 4K content. This projector’s biggest drawback is its noise, which might be a little distracting.

Optoma UHD51A

(Image credit: Optoma)

04. Optoma UHD51A

The best 4K projector is 3D-ready and feature-packed

Projection system: DLP | Brightness: 2,400 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, VGA, USB, Ethernet | Dimensions: 281 x 392 x 118mm | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | 4K support: Yes

3D support
Alexa integration
Sharp picture and rich colours
Setup can be tricky

One of the Optoma UHD51A’s key selling points is its Alexa integration, letting you control it with voice commands via a smart speaker. It might seem like a gimmick at first, but in practice, not having to hunt for a remote when a client is visiting can be a real boon. The UHD51A delivers stunning picture quality – rich and sharp – with the unusual addition of 3D support, provided you have the necessary Active DLP Link glasses. Its built-in speakers won't do justice to projects with audio, but add a quality surround-sound system and you’ve got one of the best projectors going.

Epson Home Cinema 4010

(Image credit: Epson)

05. Epson Home Cinema 4010

The best 3D projector

Projection system: LCD | Brightness: 2,400 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, VGA, USB, Ethernet | Dimensions: 520‎ x 450 x 193mm | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | 4K support: Yes

Whisper quiet
3D support
Great picture quality
Large chassis

Despite its name, the Epson Home Cinema 4010 (also known as the EH-TW7400) is ideal for work as well as play. This is another projector that simulates 4K picture quality using a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, but it’s a trick that works well in the capable hands of Epson’s engineers and helps keep the price down. 4K content is reproduced in crisp detail, and there's 3D support (reproducing the full three-dimensional Rec.709 colour space). Although its chassis is on the large side, this is one of the quietest projectors around, allowing clients to focus on your work rather than a whirring fan.

Epson EH-TW650

(Image credit: Epson)

06. Epson EH-TW650

The best budget projector is ideal for student work

Projection system: LCD | Brightness: 3,100 lumens | Inputs: HDMI x2, VGA, USB | Dimensions: 302‎ x 252 x 92mm | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | 4K support: No

Bright whites and deep blacks
Wi-Fi connectivity
Standard definition picture
Gets rather warm

The Epson EH-TW650 doesn’t offer 4K support (native or simulated), but at this price, it’s hard to complain. At 3,100 lumens, it produces a picture bright enough to be seen clearly in daylight, with bright whites and deep blacks. It produces a fair amount of heat, so make sure there’s plenty of room for ventilation when setting it up (a process made a little trickier than average due to the lack of vertical lens shift). Once you have the picture lined up correctly, you can stream your work directly from a mobile device thanks to the EH-TW650's its Wi-Fi connectivity and Epson's iProjection app. A great choice for students, or any creatives working to a tight budget.

Anker Nebula Capsule

(Image credit: Nebula)

07. Anker Nebula Capsule

The best mini projector is ideal for off-site presentations

Projection system: DLP | Brightness: 500 lumens | Inputs: HDMI, Micro USB | Dimensions: 68 x 68 x 120 mm | Resolution: 854 x 480 | 4K support: No

Several streaming apps pre-installed
Compact, attractive design
Not particularly bright
Picture is rather small

The dinky Anker Nebula Capsule has an unusual design, looking more like a Coke can than a conventional projector, and is ideal for popping into a bag for client meetings. It can connect to your laptop using the regular HDMI connection or Micro USB, though sadly it lacks the Wi-Fi connectivity of the Epson projector above. It uses a rechargeable Li-ion battery rather than a mains power supply, so you won't need to hunt around for a power outlet when setting it up, but this does have drawbacks: its resolution is just 854x480 and it’s rated at only 500 lumens. If portability is your main priority though, it's well worth considering.

LG Minibeam LED

(Image credit: LG)

08. LG Minibeam PH550G

The best portable projector can be set up in seconds

Projection system: DLP | Brightness: 550 lumens | Inputs: HDMI, USB, VGA | Dimensions: 109 x 174 x 44mm | Resolution: 1,280 x 720 | 4K support: No

Super portable
Wide choice of input options
Blacks not very intense
Resolution quite low

The LG Minibeam PH550G has a more conventional design than Anker’s Nebula Capsule, but is still tiny and comes with a smart case that means it's equally portable. Setup takes a matter of seconds, with no cables at all thanks to the Minibeam's built-in rechargeable battery (rated for two and a half hours), Bluetooth sound and screen mirroring from a phone, tablet or laptop. You can also present work directly from a USB stick, or use the conventional HDMI input. The choice is yours. Like the Nebula Capsule, its resolution is low at just 720p and it doesn’t produce the richest colours, but that’s the price of portability (for now).

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