Good Experiences with Cheap Projectors?

I want to replace our TV with a projector. The primary goal is freeing up space and making it so the screen is less of a pervasive presence. I enjoy watching movies with my family but I don’t want us to watch TV constantly. Having a big TV in the room is a constant temptation.

Unfortunately, good projects are super expensive, but I’ve seen some people say they’ve had good experiences with sub-$100 projectors, though I can’t get specific recommendations from them. I can settle for 1080p and no HDR.

Has anyone here been satisfied with a cheaper projector?

I fear you won’t get anywhere in this price range. The cheap ones simply don’t have enough lumens. Try to get close to 2000 lumens, or above if budget allows.
Cheap projector makers know that theirs often have just 70 or 100 lumens, to escape the truth they advertise artificially high lux figures instead.

Your search terms:

  • How many lumens does my projector need?
  • Lux vs lumens for a projector.

HTH

1 Like

It depends on what you want Josh. You do generally get what you pay for in this area. Our projector is an Epson DLP (better blacks and colour) with multiple inputs and outputs, It’s a good few years old, 1080P, but the output looks great from the AppleTV 4K. But it cost over 1200 and I’d consider it a workaday model quality wise. We mainly use it for movies, and quality is important, but it’s still very limited compared to any current OLED TV out there. Biding my time until the size and price of those become things I can live with.

If you want really inobtrusive you might consider a Philips Pico projector, a few inches across only. Quite surprising quality from the Philips but mixed from other brands.

My College uses BenQ projectors and they’re pretty good, I see they are the recommended budget model in the WireCutter. But the creative courses are all moving to very large LCD monitors.

2 Likes

It is relatively expensive but I have been using a Casio XJ A257 as our lounge room projector for many years. It has sufficient brightness for subdued daylight conditions. It uses a combination of laser and LED and so does not get hot like conventional projectors and is very quiet. And no need to replace the lamp after a few years.

Having used a projector as a tv for over 15 years now. Great when the kids wanted to touch the screen ;) or throw wiimotes at it.

You want at least 2000 lumens. Even if you’re using a room with no windows and the lights down to watch movies. You don’t want to have the brightness cranked up as it reduces their dynamic range. And of course you want the biggest possible screen which means spreading that light out over a bigger area.

If you’re using it in a normal room, a white painted wall is fine and less imposing. A proper projector screen will help dynamic range. But check what their reflection angles are like - it’s a balance between reflecting room lighting versus people watching off centre.

Ignore the internal speakers and source switching. Budget for an AV Receiver and some proper speakers, then plug everything into that. Then you can switch between the TV, Blu-ray, TV without having to faff about. If you have got kids then roof mounting is dead simple too and with a white projector guests normally wouldn’t notice it.

A $400 1080p unit from a decent brand such as optima or epson will do you fine for 100” of wall. But also budget for bulbs. The moment the kids started watching tv on it, then we were spending $150 in bulbs a year.

And as a rule of thumb, if you have a limited budget (and we all do), once you have all your basic requirements met, put any extra money into upgrading the speakers.

It’s been my experiene (and that of many people I know both on- and off-line) that a cheap amplifier with good speakers will sound much better than cheap speakers with a good amplifier.

And be sure to read reviews. If you have a store with a listening room where you can compare models with identical content, take advantage of that. If they will let you plug in your phone or iPod (so you can test with your music), do that too. Don’t trust sales people or marketing materials - sound quality is very subjective and expensive does not always translate to “better”.

Absolutely yes. And take that cost into consideration when selecting a projector. Projector bulbs are expensive - cheap ones for around $100, with some costing much more (one projector my employer had used $450 bulbs - nearly half the price of a new projector!).

Depending on usage, a bulb may last 1 year or for many years. But you may need to replace it before it actually burns out. As projector bulbs age, they gain a color cast which the projector may not be able to compensate for. If you notice it, then you will probably want to change the bulb at that time.

I bought a MoGo Pro a couple of years ago and have been very happy with it. Currently £440. Not as bright as others have recommended, but has worked fine for us and it’s nice and compact so easy to store away.

1 Like

The Casio XJ projector that I have used for many years does not need lamp replacement. They are selling on ebay for less than US$400 ( retail about $1000). Seems like good value to me.

1 Like

Sadly, it appears that Casio is getting out of the projector business. I saw the following on their projector product home page:

Hmmm … thanks for that. I might buy a spare from ebay!