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  • (upbeat music)

  • - I really like projectors.

  • I much prefer a bigger image over that from a TV.

  • And there's something nice about the texture

  • of a projected image to my eyes.

  • Also, I think TVs are kind of ugly.

  • I have a really big wall in my living room.

  • And even if I've put up a 70 inch TV,

  • it would still look small and kind of dinky.

  • Now that a movie theater isn't really an option.

  • My friends have been asking me what kind of projector to get

  • so to help them, but also myself,

  • I've been living with nine different projectors.

  • After three months and a lot of movies

  • I found the projector that's best suited

  • for most situations.

  • There are a lot of specs

  • and choices to make when it comes to projectors.

  • But basically the important things are

  • how easy is it to set up audio, image quality and price.

  • Currently, there are five kinds of projectors

  • that you can get for your home.

  • DLP LCD LED LCoS and laser.

  • For this test, I looked at DLP and LCD,

  • which are common for home projectors.

  • And also one laser projector ranging in price

  • from $530 to $2,800.

  • You can spend a lot more

  • for high end dedicated home theater projectors.

  • But for this test, we kept the budget reasonable.

  • Most of the models I tested max out at 1080 P resolution,

  • but we do have a couple of 4k picks as well,

  • DLP or digital light processing,

  • and LCD projectors are lamp based.

  • So the bulb will eventually degrade,

  • but they're much more affordable.

  • DLPs tend to be smaller and more portable

  • and offer more contrast and blacker blacks.

  • While LCDs tend to have a sharper crisper image

  • and appear brighter than DLPs even at a lower lumen count.

  • Laser projectors are not lamp based.

  • On average the laser lasts five times longer

  • than the bulb in a DLP or LCD projector.

  • And unlike a lamp based projector where a bulb emits light

  • through a color wheel to produce the image

  • laser projectors generate

  • only the exact colors needed for an image.

  • This efficiency makes for a much brighter image

  • and very accurate colors and deep black levels in contrast.

  • All this comes at a much higher cost.

  • On average, low end, laser projectors are around $2,000.

  • Although you can find some smaller ones for less.

  • We also need to talk about the projected images surface.

  • The surface you project on is important,

  • You can use a wall white is typically best,

  • but a regular wall won't show off the projector's best self,

  • every tiny bump, refracts light, and creates small shadows.

  • So the image ultimately loses quality and brightness.

  • You'll benefit a lot from getting a projector screen,

  • especially if you'll be watching with a little daylight

  • projector screens brighten the image noticeably,

  • depending on what they're coded in.

  • I used an inexpensive 80 inch pan of view popup screen.

  • You can find a similar one for around a hundred bucks,

  • but it's still made for a better experience

  • than just pointing the projector at my wall.

  • And as for content, every projector has an HTMI input.

  • So I was easily able to stream things

  • by plugging in my Roku stick.

  • You can also use a laptop, Apple TV,

  • or whatever other device you use to stream video.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Out of the nine projectors I tested the best overall,

  • the one I'll be recommending to my friends is the $899

  • Epson 2150.

  • Epson may remind you of a school teachers,

  • overhead projector, but they make good projectors.

  • The image is really great.

  • It's big, it's bright and it's color is really pretty.

  • The 2150 is an LCD projector,

  • which gives it a really crisp image.

  • It's 1080, but the image is really good

  • for what most people will want.

  • It's only 2,500 lumens, which seems kind of low, but again,

  • LCD makes a low lumen count,

  • seem brighter and more vibrant than a DLP projector would

  • with the same lumens.

  • You can watch this with some ambient daylight,

  • but definitely not broad daylight pouring in

  • and toggling to dynamic mode makes

  • for the best daytime image.

  • That's a great thing about Epson projectors.

  • You can easily toggle between viewing modes

  • and they're all great.

  • At night if I was watching a movie I'd use cinema,

  • which looked great with dark blacks.

  • I like how the modes are in the corner of the image,

  • not in the middle, like most others blocking the content.

  • Also the 10 watt speakers are loud.

  • You likely won't need external speakers with this model.

  • The fans are also loud though, and it gets hot.

  • I would avoid putting this right next to your head.

  • And honestly, that's easier than it may seem

  • because the Epson 2150 has automatic keystoning,

  • which feels like a magical feature.

  • Keystoning is important.

  • It allows you to straighten out the image.

  • So the projector doesn't need to be perfectly parallel

  • with the wall.

  • There's also really great manual knobs, focus,

  • zoom lens shift, and Keystone can all be done manually,

  • which is way easier than with digital controls.

  • The zoom is also 1.6 times,

  • which is exceptional.

  • Without moving the projector you can have an image

  • that ranges anywhere from 80 inches diagonally across

  • to 132 inches across.

  • So if it's too bright in your room during the day,

  • you can make the image smaller

  • to more efficiently use the lumens available.

  • This zoom lens paired with all the other controls

  • makes life way easier.

  • If you move, or if you end up putting the projector

  • in a different room,

  • you'll be able to customize it

  • to the new space very quickly.

  • All in all the Epson 2150 just works well.

  • It's easy, flexible and offers a bright crisp image.

  • (Gentle music)

  • If you're looking for a cheaper option,

  • then I'd recommend this projector.

  • The Optoma HD146X costs $549

  • and shares many of the same specs as Epson 2150.

  • It's 3,600 lumens,

  • which is actually more than the Epson 2150,

  • but it's a DLP projector.

  • So it appears darker and less vibrant.

  • In bright mode the projector image is very green.

  • It's kind of unusable, but in vivid or cinema mode,

  • the image is great.

  • Vivid mode is pretty bright.

  • If you're viewing in the middle of a day,

  • you'll need to put shades down,

  • especially if you don't have a screen,

  • but it's not a bad experience.

  • And it's contrast is good.

  • In general, I really liked the way Optima projectors look.

  • They have a nice color and texture

  • and although the HD146X isn't quite as nice as

  • Optoma's higher end projectors,

  • the image still looks good,

  • but it doesn't get as crisp as the Epson 2150,

  • partly because it's DLP not LCD.

  • The HD146X also lacks in audio quality.

  • It's three watt speaker is unsurprisingly, not loud,

  • but the fan is loud.

  • At maximum volume you can still hear the fan

  • if the projector is near your head.

  • It's manageable though.

  • If this is going to be for your bedroom,

  • the speakers will be fine.

  • But if you're trying to do a movie night with friends or

  • you've got loud street noise, I'd recommend speakers,

  • which you can hook up through a 3.5 millimeter audio output.

  • Also, it only has a 1.1 time zoom lens,

  • which is pretty minimal.

  • So it's hard to make the image really big in my apartment.

  • At 11 feet away, the image is about a hundred inches,

  • which is big, but I wish it could get even bigger.

  • (gentle music)

  • If you're looking for a projector with better image quality

  • and have a larger budget, go with the Vava.

  • This should come as no surprise

  • because the Vava is the most expensive

  • that I tested by over a thousand dollars.

  • And it's the only one of the bunch

  • that is a laser projector.

  • It's $2,800, which is a lot more than the Epson, 2150.

  • But what you get is brightness.

  • The Vava is 6,000 lumens,

  • which means you can watch it with a good amount of daylight

  • and no screen, but it's still helped to pull my shades down.

  • It's contrast ratio is 1,500,000 to one,

  • which makes it extremely crisp and rich.

  • The image quality is closest to that from a TV,

  • but since it's a projector,

  • I think it's nicer to look at.

  • The other thing that makes it kind of a TV

  • is the fact that it's an ultra short throw projector.

  • It goes basically right up against the wall,

  • unlike traditional projectors, which are mounted behind you.

  • I personally don't like this setup,

  • but it comes down to preference.

  • It's also huge and heavy.

  • It's not ugly, but it just takes up a lot of space.

  • Also the maximum image is only 150 inches diagonally across.

  • And for that, it needs to be about 10 inches from the wall,

  • which means it's kind of awkwardly encroaching

  • on prime living room, real estate.

  • It's definitely sharper and brighter

  • when it's closer to the wall, about five inches from it.

  • But the image is then only about 80 inches.

  • It projects 4k and the speakers are really, really good.

  • The Vava definitely when's the best speaker award too

  • exponentially.

  • Inside is a full 60 watt Harman Kardon soundbar.

  • I found myself playing music

  • and turning off the screen a lot,

  • which is a nice feature that most projectors don't have.

  • But it heats up the room noticeably.

  • There were a few other things I also didn't like about it.

  • It took me a long time to set it up.

  • It connects to the internet download software.

  • And since it's connected to the internet,

  • every time I turn it on, it asks me to update.

  • I don't need it to connect to the internet.

  • There's no point,

  • especially since there's barely any useful apps,

  • other than YouTube on it.

  • Also, all the settings are digital, including the focus,

  • which I find way hard to know if it's accurate.

  • And this is hugely annoying.

  • The image bends a little on the sides.

  • It was really hard to get it perfect,

  • which just shouldn't be the case for $2,800 device.

  • So even though the image is technically the best one,

  • I wouldn't spring for this,

  • unless you really don't want to get a TV,

  • but basically want a TV.

  • (upbeat music)

  • If you're looking for a comparable good and bright image,

  • that'll cost you a thousand dollars less.

  • I recommend Optima's UHD52ALV

  • it costs $1,789.

  • And it also protects 4k with over 8 million pixels.

  • At 3,500 lumens it's just over half of what Vava claims,

  • but it doesn't feel that dim it's still bright

  • and there are different viewing modes.

  • While the vava only has bright and standard.

  • Like with the HD146X,

  • the bright mode on the UHD52ALV has a strong green tint,

  • but cinema mode on this 4k projector is honestly beautiful.

  • The color is just so pretty.

  • I almost feel like I'm watching film.

  • It gives everything a gold, almost seventies filter,

  • which I think is in part because of its color space.

  • The projector uses rec 2020, or BT 2020,

  • which can produce more colors than the previous VAX709.

  • That basically all of these other projectors use.

  • Using the menus can be a chore, but once it's set,

  • the image stays good when you make it bigger too.

  • And it can get large up to about 300 inches,

  • double the Vava.

  • There's a manual 1.3 times zoom adjustment.

  • So from about 11 feet away,

  • it can get an image as small as 80 inches diagonally