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The Quick, Easy, No-Fuss Projector Buying Guide

This simplified projector buying guide cuts through the noise to help you choose the right projector for you and your needs. There are a lot of technical specifications to be familiar with, but the best projector for you will be based on how you want to use it and the environment where you’ll be using it. And there are detailed breakdowns for home theater, gaming, and portable projectors. 

Read on for a complete projector buying guide to get recommended devices for you. Or if you’d like to jump right in, check out our range of monitors, here.

Considering a projector but hate wading through loads of technical info? Love the feeds and speeds but don’t have the time? Then this Projector Buying Guide is for you.

There’s a huge world of projectors out there. The options can be dizzying. For one thing, there are several projector technologies. All ViewSonic projectors use the popular DLP projection technology. It’s the number one tech in digital cinema – used in about 85% of all commercial theaters. Then there’s the difference between lamps and lamp-free projectors. And what’s a smart projector anyways?

Wondering which type of projector is best for you? We’ve got the latest on what to look for to satisfy your home entertainment, gaming, and on-the-go projection desires.

Why Buy a Projector?

Sure, TVs are nice. They have their place. But for projection enthusiasts, nothing beats a really big image at a really great value. Here lies the heart of the projection advantage. Inch-for-inch, TVs can’t compete.

home projector buying guide

Projectors deliver the biggest images with the lowest per-inch price tag. They’ve got other great advantages as well. Compared to TVs, projectors offer:

  • Best value – Projectors offer the best value in cost per screen inch. Even factoring in the cost of replacement lamps and a projection screen. LCD TVs are much more expensive.
  • Bigger images – Projectors deliver much larger images than flat-screen TVs. Projectors are also adjustable. They don’t limit you to one screen size. How much bigger, you ask. Many projectors can project an HD image up to 300 inches diagonally. HDTVs have a fixed screen size that currently maxes out at 80 inches.
  • Better viewing at more angles – Flat-screen TVs look great when viewed from the sweet spot. Sit at an off-angle and the image on TVs can be compromised. Projected images stay true regardless of the viewing angle.
  • Easier portability – Projectors can be mounted or used freestanding. Ditto TVs. The difference? A freestanding projector can be easily transported to liven up a backyard barbeque. Enjoy an epic game day at a friend’s house. Pitch your latest entrepreneurial idea to investors. All with a big, cinema-style image. 
  • True HD image enjoyment – Due to the constraints of human eyesight, many users won’t experience the visual clarity of Full HD 1080p content on an LCD TV. At the average viewing distance of 9 feet, the benefits of Full HD will only begin to become visible with a 55” screen, and the full visual benefits won’t be achieved until reaching a 75” screen.1 With a projection system achieving an image size at which high definition viewing can be fully enjoyed is both easier and more cost-effective.
  • Compelling entertainment experience – Big! Bold! wall-covering images! Lovers of projection swear by projectors’ ability to deliver a truer, more cinema-like experience.
  • Easy flexibility – Projectors with HDMI connectivity easily connect PCs for streaming content and big-screen gaming.
  • Aesthetics and space-savings – Projection reduces visual clutter. It’s a great choice for minimalist decor. Consider the space consumed by paper-thin projector screens or a painted-on projection surface. Add a portable or ceiling-mounted projector. Combined, these take up less space than a TV and its components. Projector screens and portable projectors can be easily stashed and removed from view. Color-matched ceiling-mounted projectors are camouflaged and discreet. 
  • Durability – Breakable LCD TVs and active children are often not a wise mix. Especially when your media room doubles as a rec room or family room. Retractable screens paired with a ceiling-mounted projector stay safely up and out of the way when the room is used for other purposes.
  • Reduced eyestrain – Small, bright focal points can cause eyestrain and visual fatigue. TVs, being smaller and brighter than projection, tend to be harder on the eyes. Projected images, with lower brightness and larger image sizes, can help reduce eyestrain and eye fatigue.2

Which Projector to Buy? 

Projectors offer a wide range of features. If you want to keep things easy, your best bet is to start with this question: How will the projector be used? Your second question should be: what will the lighting conditions be like? 

Projector Buying Light or Dark Room

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all projector. Features may overlap. But different combinations best meet specific needs. Below, the key things to keep in mind when shopping for home entertainment, gaming, or portable projector. 

Home Theater / Media Room 

Buying for a movie buff? (Yourself perhaps.) Live for weekend binge-watching? Projection boosts home-viewing enjoyment with a big screen, cinematic experience. 

Key Considerations

1. Environment

  • Consider how space will be used. Is it a true home theater or a multi-purpose media room?
  • Can it replicate theater-level darkness? If so, brightness can be as low as 1,000 lumens.
  • If there will often be some ambient light, then projector brightness should be higher.

2. Room size and throw ratio

  • How big is the room? How far from the screen can you place the projector?
  • Throw ratio is the key spec for determining where a projector can be placed to create certain image sizes.
  • The keep-it-simple guideline: The smaller the space, the shorter the projector throw you’ll want.
  • To deep-dive into room set up, check out the ViewSonic distance calculator.

3. Resolution

  • Full HD 1080p resolution delivers terrific image clarity and detail. Most of today’s content will be compatible.
  • 4K resolution offers added image detail and is a more future-proof option as content moves to 4K.

Best Uses

  • Movies
  • Sports
  • Binge-watching TV shows
  • Pay-per-view events
  • Big-screen internet browsing
  • Snow-day snuggling 

Ideal Environment

Strictly defined, home theaters have cinema-like seating and a mini movie-theater feel. Realistically, any dedicated room with well-controlled lighting can be a great home theater space. The defining factor is the ability to achieve pitch-black viewing. Multi-purpose media rooms are also great for movie night. If some light sneaks through when the curtains are drawn, you’ll simply need to opt for a higher-brightness projection option. 

Home Theater Projector Bottom Line

Look for high resolution – Full HD or Ultra-HD 4K – combined with features that deliver vibrant, accurate colors. Make sure the projector has enough HDMI ports for easy connectivity to your other home theater components.

Quick Picks: Home Theater


ViewSonic PX725HD 1080p Projector with 2,000 lumens – MSRP $779.99

Full HD 1080p resolution, Rec. 709 color accuracy, and advanced color-optimization features deliver an outstanding cinema-like experience in any home theater. Amp up the immersive experience with a 3D display from any 3D Blu-ray player, viewable with optional ViewSonic PGD-350 Shutter Glasses, or any other compatible 3D glasses.


Best for: larger rooms, ceiling mounting

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 10.89 feet  

BETTER (option A)

ViewSonic PX727-4K Ultra HD Projector with 2,200 lumens – MSRP $1490.99

Step up to 4K for stunning images and content compatibility for the long haul. HDR compatibility further enables brighter, more vivid colors, richer contrast, and crisper detail. Dual 3D Blu-ray ready HDMI inputs add connectivity and viewing options.

PX727-4K Home Projector

Best for: larger rooms, ceiling mounting

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 10.38 feet 

BETTER (option B)

ViewSonic PX747-4K Ultra HD Projector with 3,500 lumens – MSRP $1,261.99

Enjoy the beauty of 4K images in any lighting conditions. ViewSonic SuperColor adds brilliant color accuracy. Amped-up brightness lets delivers stunning home entertainment around the clock: day or night, in bright rooms or dark. 

Best for: larger rooms, ceiling mounting

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 10.38 feet 


Laser LS820 Short Throw Projector with 3,500 lumens – MSRP $3,210.99

The ultimate in-home entertainment. 20,000 hours of laser light for superior color uniformity. Stunning brightness. And reduced maintenance. (No lamps to change, ever!)

Add a black diffuser screen like the ViewSonic BrilliantColorScreen™, and this is the best home theater picture you’re going to get.

Laser Projector for Home Theater

Best for: small-to-large rooms, ceiling mounted or freestanding

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 1.74 feet 

Home Theater Match-Up

  GOOD PX725HD  GREAT (darkened rooms)PX727-4K GREAT (all lighting)PX747-4K

BEST Laser LS820

Resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) 4K Full HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p
Brightness 2,000 ANSI Lumens 2,200 ANSI Lumens 3,500 ANSI Lumens 3,500 ANSI Lumens
Throw type Normal Normal Normal Ultra-Short
Throw ratio 1.5 – 1.65 1.5 – 1.8   0.23
Throw distance 3.3 – 32.8 ft / 1.0 – 10.0 m 3.2 – 38.4 ft / 1.0 – 11.7 m 3.2 – 38.4 ft / 1.0 – 11.7 m 1.21 – 2.62 ft. / 0.37 – 0.8 m
Display size       70 – 150 in. / 1.78 – 3.81 m (diagonal)
Lens 1.1x Manual Optical Zoom  1.2x Optical Zoom 1.2x Optical Zoom Digital optical focus
Speaker 8W internal 10W internal 10W internal 8W internal
RGBRGB, Rec. 709 Yes Yes ViewSonic SuperColor wide color range ViewSonic SuperColor wide color range
HDR content support No Yes Yes ?
Reduced input latency Yes 16ms No N0 NO
Dynamic contrast ratio 22,000:1 12,000:1  12,000:1  100,000:1
Inputs: HDMI 1.4 (HDCP1.4), USB 2.0 Type A, Mini USB HDMI 1.4 (HDCP1.4), HDMI 2.0 (HDCP2.2), USB 2.0 Type A, Mini USB HDMI 1.4 (HDCP1.4), HDMI 2.0 (HDCP2.2), USB 2.0 Type A, Mini USB HDMI 1.4 (HDCP1.4), 1 HDMI MHL, USB 2.0 Type A, 2 VGA In, Mini USB

Gaming Projectors

Got a gamer on your gift list? Projection takes the action to a new level of big-screen intensity. Great for solo gamers. Even better for split-screen with friends. Always cooler than your typical TV. 

Gaming Projector Buying Guide

Key Considerations

1. Lag time (aka input latency)

  • This is the time it takes for a projector (or TV) to produce an image. It’s a no-compromise spec for enthusiasts as well as serious gamers.
  • Too much lag can make the difference between survival and defeat. Relaxed fun and mega-frustration.
  • Look for a lag time lower than 40ms.
  • HDMI 2.0 is a critical port for reducing lag time…

2. Resolution

  • Full HD 1080p is the most popular gaming resolution. It delivers beautiful clarity and detail while enabling superb in-game performance.
  • Higher resolutions require beefed-up hardware to support decent game-play performance.

3. Contrast ratio

  • This spec is the difference between the whitest white and darkest black a projector can produce.
  • For gaming, higher is better. A high contrast ratio ensures visibility in dark scenes. Clarity without washout in brighter scenarios. 

Best Uses

  • Gaming
  • Gaming
  • Gaming
  • More Gaming

Ideal Environment

Multi-purpose media rooms with variable lighting make great gaming environments. Just make you’re your projector produces >2,500 lumens. For the most immersive action, block out as much light as possible. 

Gaming Projector Bottom Line:

Low lag time is a gamer’s best friend. Ultra-low lag time? Even better. When it comes to contrast, more is better. Go for high contrast ratios, ideally >10,000:1. For all but the most high-end hardware setups, 1080p is an ideal resolution. 

Quick Picks: Gaming Projectors


ViewSonic PX700HD 1080p Projector with 3500 Lumens – $573.99

Everything gamers need. 3,500 lumens shine bright for great gaming, day or night, in any environment. Smooth, frame-by-frame action. Accurate color and crisp images. Plus, cut power costs – and keep the play going longer between lamp changes – with energy-saving SuperEco® for extended lamp life up to 15,000 hours. 

Best for: larger rooms, ceiling mounting

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 10.89 


ViewSonic PX706HD 1080p Short Throw Projector with 3000 Lumens – $785

Short on space? This projector delivers big, bold images up to 100” from just two feet away. Shines bright in any type of lighting. Delivers fast frame-by-frame action and smooth, delay-free gameplay. Not to mention, eye-pleasing color, contrast, and detail.

Best Gaming Projector

Best for: small-to-large rooms, ceiling mounted or freestanding

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 5.01 feet 


ViewSonic PX800HD Ultra-Short Throw Projector with 2,000 Lumens – $1,407.99

Get big-screen gaming in the smallest spaces. Achieve huge gamescapes of up to 150” from just inches away. Best-in-class ViewSonic SuperColor™ with TruCinema RGBRGB tech and Rec. 709 color accuracy deliver brilliant, lifelike images. For an even more immersive experience, gain 4x greater contrast than a typical screen with the ViewSonic BrilliantColorPanel™ screen.


Best for: small-to-large rooms, ceiling mounted or freestanding

Mounting distance for 100” projected image – 1.74 feet 

Gaming Projector Match-Up

Resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p
Brightness 3,500 ANSI Lumens 3,000 ANSI Lumens 2,000 ANSI Lumens
Throw type Normal Short Ultra-Short Throw
Throw ratio 1.5 – 1.65 0.69-0.83 0.23
Throw distance 2.5 – 25.0 ft / 0.7 – 7.6 m 3.0 – 7.2 ft / 0.9 – 2.2 m 3 0.33 – 0.75 ft. / 0.10 – 0.23 m 
Display size      
Lens 1.1x Optical Zoom  1.2x Optical Zoom Manual Optical Focus
Speaker 2W internal 5W internal 10W internal
RGBRGB, Rec. 709 ViewSonic SuperColor wide color range yes ViewSonic SuperColor wide color range
Reduced input latency Yes 16ms Yes 16ms Yes 16ms
Dynamic contrast ratio 12,000:1 22,000:1  100,000:1
Inputs: Dual HDMIUSB 2.0 Type AMini USB Type B Dual HDMI 1.4USB 3.1 Type CMini USB Type B HDMI 1.4 (HDCP1.4), Mini USB Type 
Special Features Full HD 3D compatibility lets you enjoy 3D movies and games.  PortAll® compartment for wireless streaming devices and PC sticks.   

Portable Projectors

Provided they’re not mounted to the ceiling, most projectors qualify as reasonably portable. For the ultimate in portable ease, nothing beats an ultra-mobile pico projector. Tiny projection powerhouses, they’re the ultimate in versatility. Camping. Backyard barbeques. Driveway movie marathons. Your best friend’s basement. You name it. These projectors like to go on the road.

Key considerations

1. Design

  • There are many types of pico projectors. Many need external components to deliver content.
  • For the ultimate in ease look for a complete projection system with internal memory, ports for USB micro SD cards that can access content without connecting to an external system

2. Battery life

  • The longer the battery life, the more trusty the travel companion. Watch out for models that get good reviews but only last an hour or two away from a power source.

3. Features

  • Many portable pico projectors offer bare-bones design and few features.
  • Smart add-ons to look for include: integrated stand; 360-degree rotation; and instant on-off.
  • Versatile connectivity options are always a good thing. 

Best Uses

  • Camping
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Holiday light displays
  • Quiet travel companion

Ideal Environment:

Anywhere your heart desires. The less ambient light, the better. 

Portable Projector Bottom Line:

Look for a slim, lightweight exterior design plus robust internal components that eliminate the need for external hardware support. The longer the battery life, the better. Smart design features add ease, function, and the wow factor. 

Quick Pick: Portable Projector

ViewSonic® M1 ultra-portable LED projector – MSRP $337.99
Loaded with smart design features, this small but mighty projector is perfect for taking your entertainment with you. Lamp-free solid-state tech delivers over 30,000 hours of enjoyment. The built-in battery provides up to 6 hours of gameplay, movie marathons, and holiday décor. The integrated smart stand enables easy 360-degree setup and doubles as a lens cover. Powers on automatically by uncovering the lens for instant full-brightness entertainment. Dual Harman Kardon speakers provide crisp and clear sound. The short-throw lens displays large images in small spaces. Versatile connectivity options include a MicroSD card slot, USB Type-A, and USB Type-C.

Portable Projector


Final thoughts on buying the right projector

There is a huge range of projectors available on the market, and while it might seem overwhelming to choose the right one, we hope this guide helps you in finding one that suits your needs. If you’re still not sure which direction to go in, read 7 Factors to Consider when choosing a lamp or lamp-free projector, or check out our range of projectors, here.