When you're trying to purchase one of the best short-throw projectors for your home, classroom, or office, the first thing you'll want to take a look at is the throw distance. Standard short-throw projectors are designed to work 3 to 8 feet from the screen surface, while ultra-short-throw projectors are made to work 0 to 4 feet from the screen surface. Either way, you'll want to find one with high resolution for crisp images and a decent lumen rating for adequate brightness when you need it.
Here's a little more on the specs you should take into consideration:
- Picture size and quality: Most short-and ultra-short-throw projectors can display pictures around 100 diagonal inches — and the higher the resolution in pixels, the clearer the image. Most standard home theater projectors have a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution, but there are smaller pixel resolutions for less money, too.
- Brightness: If you'll be using your projector at home in a room with minimal lighting, you'll want to go with a short-throw projector that offers at least 1,500 lumens. But if you're planning on using it in a bigger space with more light (like a classroom or office space), you'll want something with at least 2,500 lumens because it'll create a brighter image amidst the extra light in the room. However, there are some budget-friendly projectors with less than 300 lumens — and those are best for use in dark spaces only.
- Sound quality: Projectors usually come with built-in speakers — but sometimes, they aren't enough. For better sound, most machines can be hooked up to an external speaker or soundbar.
- Connectivity: Many short-throw projectors connect to computers, monitors, and devices via HDMI or USB inputs. Some others also allow you to pair and play from smart devices such as Amazon Fire Sticks, Apple TV, or Google Chromecast. Most of the projectors below include necessary cables, but some do not.
- Power source: There are some portable short-throw projectors on the market that run on rechargeable batteries or regular batteries, making them easier to use on the go. Most need to be plugged into an AC power outlet to work, though.
Don't know where to begin? Check out this list of short- and ultra-short-throw projectors. Each one offers large, bright pictures that are sure to enhance your next presentation, gaming session, or home theater experience.
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1. The Overall Best Short-Throw Projector
- Resolution: 1024 x 168 pixels
- Range: Up to 4.10 feet
- Max lumens: 3,600
This short-throw projector with 1024-by-768-pixel resolution can create a 120-inch display from up to 4.10 feet away. It features a simple plug-and-play setup with HDMI, VGA, and USB inputs, making it easy to use with computers and even mobile devices. (The projector comes with VGA and power cables, but that's it as far as cords go.) It can also be used in conjunction with Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and more. This projector is backed with a max 3,600 lumens and works in both light and dark conditions — and it can also be paired with ViewSonic's interactive whiteboard module to assist in presentations (that's sold separately, though).
It's even made to support 3-D images from 3-D Blu-ray players. And while there are built-in speakers, one reviewer noted that they weren't loud enough for an immersive experience: "You won’t get much from the build in speakers but that’s to be expected. Add a decent soundbar and you will have one nice entertainment room." Thankfully, this can be connected to external speakers with the 3.5-millimeter audio output. This one needs two AAA batteries to work, but it can also be plugged into a wall outlet and controlled with the included remote.
What fans write: "This little projector throws an amazing picture from a short distance. It's bright enough with the lights on but amazing with the light down or off. Easy to set and use features and a half decent audio out-put."
2. The Best Ultra-Short-Throw Projector
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Range: 7.2 to 16.7 inches
- Max lumens: 6,000
If you're looking for a projector that offers all the bells and whistles (albeit, at a much higher price point), this is just the thing you need. Powered with 4K resolution (aka 3840 by 2160 pixels), this ultra-short-throw projector can display crisp 100-inch images from only 7.2 inches away — and up to 150 inches total from 16.7 inches away — while at the same time offering pristine color, contrast, and saturation. It's powered with up to 6,000 lumens of brightness (the highest on this list) — and because of that, it operates well in both dark and brighter areas. The machine also diffuses the light while it shines, which helps reduce eyestrain.
It also features a built-in stereo system that offers high-fidelity, theater-quality sound — but it does inside 3.5-millimeter audio output, so you should be able to connect it to external speakers.— and it comes with a Bluetooth-enabled remote control. There are three HDMI ports built into the system, as well as a USB port. It can be powered by two AAA batteries or the included power cord.
What fans write: "I was very skeptical about spending this much money for a projector but I am so glad I did. Really easy to set up and get started. The picture quality is great even in a room with normal lighting."
3. A Mini Short-Throw Projector That's Portable (& A Lot Cheaper)
- Resolution: 854 x 480 pixels
- Range: Up to 9 feet
- Max lumens: 200
Powered with a rechargeable battery that delivers up to three hours of uninterrupted projection (and doubles as a power bank for phones), this short-throw projector is easy to take with you anywhere you go. And although it's portable when fully charged, it does come with a power cord for the power input, per reviewers. It's smaller than most of the others on this list and can fit in the palm of your hand, so it's a good option for business meetings or travel.
This projector has a resolution of 854 by 480 pixels, and it comes with with an ASUS Sonic Master enhanced-speaker for crisp sound delivery that reviewers call "really great for the size." However, it also comes with a built-in headphone jack that you should be able to connect with a different speaker if you want better sound. One person wrote that "you can still attach a set of speakers to the audio port and push sound through a set of speakers."
This one's labeled as an "ultra-short-throw projector," but the measurements align more with standard short-throws: It works from 3 to 9 feet away and can display 41- to 100-inch images. However, it only boasts 200 lumens, which means it might not shine as brightly as the other options on this list. (If that isn't enough, you can opt for a 500-lumen projector for a little bit more money.) Still, it comes with an HDMI port as well as a USB port for charging. While there's not direct mention of this machine being compatible with smart devices or streaming platforms, one customer noted, "It works perfectly to play movies (I hooked it up to the Amazon Fire Stick) or to show presentations."
What fans write: "It still worked great even under florescent lights above and windows in the room. So you do not need absolute dark to present PowerPoint slides or movies. At home this was great for movies at night. There is no noise from the fan, compared to others I've tried, usually there is slot of noise. Luckily this is a very quiet unit."
4. Another Portable Short-Throw Projector That's Even Smaller (& Cheaper)
- Resolution: 854 x 480 pixels
- Range: Up to 11.32 feet
- Max lumens: 105
This pocket-size projector — which boasts a 854-by-480-pixel resolution — is great for use on the go. It can project a 120-inch screen from 11.32 feet away (and an 80-inch from 7.55 feet away). And according to reviewers, you can even connect it with your Fire Stick since it has a built-in USB port. The HDMI cable ports allow for connectivity with laptops, gaming consoles, and various mobile devices.
The rechargeable battery lasts two hours, but there's no indication of an included power cable that can be plugged into an outlet. It comes with a protective carrying case, and it's also equipped with a built-in speaker and audio jack that allows you to plug in your headphones or external speakers. However, this one comes with the lowest lumens at only 105, which means it's best to use in darker rooms. But for the price, the trade-off is an image that's lower in quality than the others.
What fans write: "This is a fantastic little device! I have owned other projectors, and they work great, but can be a bit bulky for mobile use. The Sony Portable Pico Projector really is pocket sized... a bit bigger than a smartphone. So I love the fact that I can just put this in my purse and go. It's not exactly HD, but picture quality is really pretty good for it being such a small device. Very easy to use also. Plug the device into a laptop or mobile phone, or any kind of video source, turn it on, focus and you are good to go."
5. A Short-Throw Projector Designed For Gaming
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Range: 1.3 feet to 11.3 feet
- Max lumens: 3,800
This 4K-compatible short-throw projector does an awesome job at displaying high-definition images, and comes with a special gaming mode that offers lightning-fast response times. It features 3,800 lumens that work in both dark or light conditions, and it features HDMI, USB, VGA, audio, RS-232 inputs for simple connection.
This machine is able to project a 120-inch image from only 4.4 feet away, and it features flexible connectivity that pairs up with gaming consoles, Fire Sticks, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, and more. Featuring a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution, it provides sharp images with amazing color depth. It even has a powerful built-in speaker that delivers awesome sound quality throughout the whole room — but since there's an audio output, it can also be connected to external speakers. There's no portable battery option, though; this projector only works plugged into an AC outlet for power.
What fans write: "Bright! Sharp! Super short throw! Great price for a high quality piece of equipment. I did a lot of searching and comparing specs before deciding on this projector. I am primarily using it outside, with a 220" screen, and it sits about 9' away from the wall. I live in a city, so there is a decent amount of ambient light, but the picture was clear and bright at 8:30 in July, before the sun had set completely."