Projectors have moved out of the movie theater and into your apartment living room. Once the domain of houses with large media rooms, the new generation of short throw and ultra short throw projectors only need a few feet (or in some cases inches) to cast true HD image of up to 100 inches. Short throw projectors also include a host of wireless options and functionalities, making them an ideal way to eliminate claustrophobia-inducing clutter in small spaces.
So what do you need to know before you invest in a short throw projector? First, consider your needs. If you are really tight on space (say, living in a studio apartment in Tokyo or NYC) go with an ultra short throw projector. These devices can cast an image the size of widescreen TV from half a foot and a full 100 inches from just 2 feet away.
This is a niche category without too many options yet, and it lags behind other classes of projector in terms of lumen count, which determines image brightness. Black out curtains reduce ambient light and can make them a viable option for most apartment owners.
Short throw projectors deliver more value, but usually require at least 3 feet to obtain full image size. They are brighter and more affordable, but do take up more space.
Best Overall Ultra Short Throw Projector: LG PF1000U
This recent offering from LG is the first quality ultra short throw projector that is at a price point affordable to most consumers. While it isn’t as bright as most standard home theater projectors, the PF1000U shines with a great design that can turn any reasonably dark room into a home theater.
Let’s start with the biggest strength of this projector: you can put it anywhere. It is about the size of a large shoe box and weighs less than 5 lbs. Just connect it to the power source and it is ready to go. It casts a 100″ screen when placed 15″ away from the wall. Move it as close as 5″ from the wall to get a 60 inch screen.
The PF1000U comes with an internal speaker, which is nice to have if you are in between sound systems, but you’ll want to sync up speakers via Bluetooth. It does have smart functionality, so expect access to the usual streaming suspects like Netflix and Hulu. There isn’t an app store, though, so you should get a Roku. Otherwise connect via Bluetooth, DLNA, Miracast, WiDi or through one of the 2 HDMI ports.
So how about picture quality and brightness? The PF1000U bright at 1000 lumens, but not as bright as standard home theater projectors at a similar pricepoint. Still, you don’t need a short throw projector to reach the same lumen count because it is less affected by ambient light at the short distance. The bulb lasts an impressive 30,000 hours.
It reaches 1920 x 1080 full HD at 100″ with a contrast ratio of 150,000:1. The LED bulb excels at delivering sharp, vivid colors. It falters on darker hues, so Game of Thrones and horror movies look a little washed out on dark scenes. The other major complaint is that the fan runs on the loud side. It’s not loud enough to be an issue for most people, but if you demand whisper quiet performance from your technology you will be irked by this.
Best Short Throw Projector: Optoma EH200ST
If your room is small and not particularly dark, you’ll do well with the Optoma EH200ST. This short throw projector can cast a 100″ image from 3.5 feet away and delivers a bright 3000 lumens.
The DLP short-throw lens delivers ideal white and black contrast with a high native contrast ratio of 20,000: 1. It also performs well with colors. The EH200ST comes with BrilliantColor Technology which offers 6-color processing to create vibrant colors on the screen. It has full HD at 1080p and VESA 3D capability.
The EH200ST is a little bulkier than LG’s short-throw offering, but with dimensions of 4 x 12.4 x 8.8 you can still tuck it away in small rooms. You connect your devices via wireless connectivity, which works with laptops, smart phones, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles, and many other digital devices. Back ports include a USB mini-B, 2 HDMI ports, or a 12V out.