Best ultra short throw projectors
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Best ultra short throw projectors

Aug 10, 2023

The best ultra short throw projectors for your home theater

1. The list in brief2. Best overall3. Best budget4. Best for picture quality5. Best for sound quality6. Best for sports7. Best for streaming8. How to choose9. How we test10. Latest updates

The best ultra short throw projectors, or UST for short, can beam an ultra-large picture from an ultra-short distance. They are designed as an alternative to standard 'long throw' projectors, which must be positioned at the back of a room to generate a large image – usually on a separate projection screen mounted on the opposite wall.

UST projectors also use a separate screen and some models are packaged with an ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen that uses a special material formulated for UST models. In a UST setup, the projector is positioned directly below the screen. The screen material filters out light coming from above, while reflecting light coming directly from the projector. This arrangement allows for UST projectors to deliver bright images even in a daylight environment or one with overhead lights.

We’ve rounded up the best UST projectors we’ve tested below. The models listed use different technologies, such as DLP and 3LCD to display pictures, but all have a laser-based light engine and a specified 4K on-screen resolution. We’re sure there’s a model here that suits your needs, whether it’s watching movies or sports, or gaming. And if you’re thinking that maybe a regular long-throw projector or even a portable model would be a better fit for your space, also check out our best 4K projectors guide.

Al Griffin is Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, US at TechRadar, and brings nearly three decades of journalism experience to the position. He is an ISF-trained video calibrator who specializes in TV and projector testing and has also written countless audio equipment reviews ranging from speakers and subwoofers to turntables. An avowed movie fanatic, he spends much of his free time holed up in his home theater, which is his preferred place.

Want to cut to the chase and find out which ultra short throw projectors are the best? Below, you’ll find a roundup of our choices. You can also jump to a more detailed review of every pick and our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

Best overall

Best for most people

With high brightness and rich color owing to its 3-laser light engine, the Hisense L9G offers up stunning pictures out of the box. And since it comes with a 100- or 120-inch screen included, you’ll have everything you need to set up a first-rate home theater.

Read more below

Best budget

Best budget

Another Hisense 3-laser model, the PX1 Pro doesn’t have the same brightness capability as the L9G, but its picture quality is nonetheless impressive. It also doesn’t come with a screen, which is one reason why it costs less than competing models.

Read more below

Best for picture

Best for picture quality

LG’s top UST projector is a high-brightness model that impressed us with its picture quality. It’s priced higher than much of the competition, but comes with a full range of features, including LG’s webOS smart TV platform for streaming and voice control.

Read more below

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Best for sound

Best for sound qualityWith its built-in Tizen smart TV platform for streaming and ability to beam bright images up to 130inches, Samsung’s The Premiere is a solid UST option. What really makes it special is its audio quality, which is good enough that you can easily do without a soundbar.

Read more below

Best for sports

Best for sports

The Epson LS800 can project images as bright as 4000 lumens, making it a perfect choice for daytime sports viewing. It also has a relatively powerful Yamaha-designed built-in audio system that can create a convincing surround effect when its Virtual mode is enabled.Read more below

Best for streaming

Best for streaming

With LG’s webOS smart system onboard for streaming along with Google Assistant support, using the HU85LA is just like watching a regular smart TV. Its picture lacks the powerful brightness of the company’s HU915QE, but its 3-laser light engine lets it deliver rich color.

Read more below

Our expert review:

The Hisense L9G is a revelation for the living room. This projector is packed with top-of-the-line projector features in an ultra short throw design, including a tri-color laser light engine, HDMI 2.1 ports with eARC, HDR support, an Android TV interface and powerful 40W speakers.

Hisense isn’t selling the L9G as a basic projector, but rather as a laser TV with an included ambient-light-rejecting projector screen that’s meant to be permanently installed on your wall. This 100- or 120-inch (varies depending on the model selected) screen will appeal to those who are fussy about image quality, as it will reduce the impact of ambient room lighting on the picture.

As good as its picture performance is, the projector stumbles in a couple of places. Its attempts to adjust brightness on a shot-by-shot basis for some content can mean its overcorrecting in a way that makes the lighting quite jarring. Its motion smoothing can also be trouble as it helps reduce panning judder sometimes but introduces some glaring motion artifacts for everything else on screen. Fortunately, the Hisense L9G has a ton of available settings to adjust these features and many more, effectively letting users dial in the display however they like.

There’s no denying the breathtaking quality of the Hisense L9G, but it’s a projector that takes a commitment to make sense for would-be buyers. It’s definitely less of a commitment than a 100-inch TV, though, as even the affordable models are multiple times the price of the L9G.

Read our full Hisense L9G review

Our expert review:

The Hisense PX1 Pro is a brilliant UST model that manages to squeeze itself neatly in between some serious competition. It's not the cheapest projector, but it offers an excellent package of features and performance for the price.

Despite taking up just a small space on a shelf or media center, the Hisense PX1 Pro can beam a 90-to-130-inch picture using a triple laser light source. It’s on the medium-bright side at 2,200 lumens, and its brightness is wonderfully complemented by its color, which comes by way of three lasers, one each for red, green, and blue. The projector's built-in speakers can handle audio in a pinch, though they’re easily beaten by even a modest soundbar.

You'll need to pair the PX1 Pro with an ambient light rejecting screen to get the best performance from it, but in this case the money you save from bypassing more expensive models will set you up for success.

Read our full Hisense PX1 Pro review

Our expert review:

The LG Cinebeam HU915QE is a relatively new addition to the world of UST projectors, and it’s a fabulous one. But at $5,999 / AU$9,999 (about £5,600), this is anything but a casual home theater purchase.

You get plenty for the money here, though. The HU915QE’s massive 90- to 120-inch picture is exceedingly bright and richly colorful. Even during daytime viewing, this projector is more than bright enough to create a pleasant picture, and just a little bit of ambient light control goes a long way in allowing it to display exceptional ones.

With potent speakers, LG’s handy webOS smart TV system, the convenience of a manual focus wheel, and an image that’s hard to find many faults with, you’d be getting quite a lot for your money with the LG Cinebeam HU915QE.

Read our full LG Cinebeam HU915QE review

Our expert review:

After more than a decade since its last home cinema projector, Samsung returned with an absolute cracker: the Premiere LSP9T projector. It's an ultra short-throw beamer that makes use of 4K HDR laser projection, and its three-color laser removes the need for a color filter. That enables the Premiere's 2800 lumens brightness to really shine, and it's capable of producing a very impressive 130-inch image.

Pictures are punchy and colorful, and Samsung's support for the HDR10+ format adds scene-by-scene picture calibration in compatible films and TV shows. The projector also benefits from full implementation of Samsung's smart TV operating system, although we found it a bit sluggish at times.

The Premiere LSP9T’s built-in sound system impresses in a number of ways. Dialogue remains correctly placed at the heart of an elevated soundstage, while specific effects are accurately positioned in the audio wall to tally up with the onscreen action. Detailing in even very complex movie mixes is good, and treble effects are delivered without harshness or clipping.

The Premiere LSP9T is expensive, but we think it's a knockout choice for those who can afford it.

Read our full Samsung The Premiere projector review

Our expert review:

There’s no shortage of UST projectors turning up to stake their claim as some of the best projectors on the market right now. Epson has shown solid performance with its laser-lit 3LCD technology in various formats, and the Epson LS800 incorporates it in a powerful UST package.

At $3,499 / £3,199 (about AU$5,240), it’s amazing that this Epson can deliver 4000 lumens of brightness, which proves more than enough for viewing in the daytime without covering every window with blackout curtains. Epson could have gone further with eARC support and a wider color gamut, but for what it lacks in those departments, it does a solid job making up for it by simply being usable around the clock with little fuss.

The LS800’s built-in Yamaha-designed speaker setup provides a strong complement to its image. It can pack a punch, and is plenty for 200 or 300 square foot rooms. The virtual sound mode is surprisingly compelling, mixing voices, sound effects, and music with great balance while lending an impression of surround sound.

The LS800 has claimed a place for anyone who wants a simple, powerful projector that lets them beam a huge image they can view at any time of day they want.

Read our full Epson EpiQVision Ultra LS800 review

Our expert review:

LG's CineBeam can create a massive display from only inches away. The projector's design is as sharp as its picture, with a sleek rectangular profile.

Picture quality is good, as we found during our review. However, we think you'll want to use external speakers for the soundtrack, as there's a lack of detail in the high frequencies and we'd prefer a bit more low-end thump too.

The projector itself uses LG’s WebOS, which is the same smart interface the company uses in its TVs, and it also uses the same Magic Remote for control. WebOS is easy to navigate and, as with many other smart platforms, you can choose from a wide range of streaming services and access other features from the gallery. If you’re into voice controls, you can use the remote's built-in mic to jump to different apps, change the volume, and more.

LG’s projector makes use of Google Assistant too – so if you’re set up in the Google ecosystem, you’ll be able to control not only the projector, but also your smart home devices and so on. It’s a handy touch, and helps make the already smart WebOS even smarter.

Read our full LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector review

The flexibility that UST projectors provide when it comes to room lighting makes them a great option for watching daytime sports. And their compact installation, with the projector positioned close to the wall where a screen is mounted, also means there will be no shadows cast by family members and friends as they walk around during commercial breaks as they would with a standard projector. That’s not to say UST projectors won’t look good when lights are dimmed and it’s movie time. For that scenario, many models can perform equally well as their long-throw projector counterparts. Some even have the added benefit of Dolby Vision high dynamic range support, which is especially useful for movie viewing.

UST projectors also work out to be great value when compared to the largest examples of the best 4K TVs, which are now sold in screen sizes up to 98-inches. While TVs that large are priced anywhere from $8,000 for a new Samsung QLED model up to $25,000 for an LG OLED, a UST projector typically sells for $2,500 to $3,500. Many UST projectors also have relatively powerful built-in speakers, and that feature adds to their value by eliminating the need – in some cases – for an external audio system.

As with any projector, a projection screen isn’t required for UST projectors to work. You can also project onto a white-painted wall, preferably a smooth one that’s free from cracks or other inconsistencies. Use of a dedicated screen will result in the best performance, however, and will affect important picture parameters like brightness, contrast, color accuracy, and detail.

While you can use a regular matte white screen with a UST projector, especially if you’re viewing in a room with proper light-control, you’ll generally get better results by using an ALR screen. An ALR screen is designed to filter out light emanating from undraped windows and lamps that would otherwise reflect off the screen’s surface and reduce picture contrast. A special type of ALR screen is normally used with UST projectors that takes the additional picture-improving step of filtering out light coming from above while directly reflecting light coming from the projector positioned below. Some UST projectors such as the Hisense LG9 are even sold as a package with an ALR screen, which is typically available in a 100-inch or 120-inch size option.

For the most part, no. Even when using a screen with special material optimized for UST projectors, the image won’t be as bright or have the same contrast level as what you can expect to see with the best TVs. One area of picture quality where certain UST projectors can beat TVs is color rendition. Models that use three separate lasers to transmit the red, green, and blue components of video images are generally capable of covering 100% of BT.2020 color space, which is the recommended color space standard for ultra high-definition television. The best TVs, in contrast, generally max out at 75% BT.2020 color space coverage.

That will depend on whether or not you plan to buy a UST screen as part of a package with the projector. Models with a fixed image size – typically 100- or 120-inches – come with a matched screen, which in some ways eases setup. A projector with a variable image size will have a zoom lens that allows you to vary the size of the image. This feature will be helpful if you plan to use a screen smaller than 100-inches, or plan to use the projector in multiple locations.

Most UST projectors feature a built-in smart TV interface, or come with a USB stick that’s used for streaming. In the first case, it will typically be the same smart interface found on the manufacturer’s TV lineup – LG’s webOS or Samsung’s Tizen, for instance. In the second, it will be Android TV. Most Android TV implementations don’t support Netflix, however, so if that’s one of your regular streaming apps, you’ll need to connect one of the best streaming devices (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV 4K, etc.).

UST projectors typically use a laser light source instead of the lamps found in most long throw projectors, so there is no need for lamp replacements. Lifetime specifications for laser light sources are generally 20-25,000 hours, which should provide 10-20 years of use depending on the number of hours spent viewing per day.

Most UST projectors are designed to be all-in-one audio and video systems and have reasonably high-quality built-in speakers. They all also feature both optical digital and HDMI eARC or ARC ports audio output to a soundbar, so you’ll have that option if you find the sound quality to be insufficient.

At TechRadar, we evaluate UST projectors in both bright and dark room environments, the same as you would when using the projector at home. We also pair the projector with a projection screen – typically an ambient light-rejecting type specifically designed for use with UST models.

Using both test patterns and reference movie clips, we test the projector’s ability to display bright, uniform images with fully saturated colors. We also test for image sharpness and both noise and motion handling. Audio also gets tested, as we evaluate the projector’s ability to convey both basic TV show dialogue and complex movie soundtracks with clarity and dynamic finesse.

Streaming and gaming is another part of our testing regimen. In the first case, we check the projector’s smart TV interface to see the range of streaming apps on offer and how easy it is to navigate through them. In the second, we connect a next-generation gaming console and test both motion handling and input lag.

August 3 2023Ultra short throw projectors buyer's guide launched.

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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.

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1.The list in brief2.3.4.5. for most peopleRead more belowBest budgetRead more belowBest for picture qualityRead more belowBest for sound qualityRead more belowBest for sportsRead more belowBest for streamingRead more belowRead our full Hisense L9G reviewRead our full Hisense PX1 Pro reviewRead our full LG Cinebeam HU915QE reviewRead our full Samsung The Premiere projector reviewRead our full Epson EpiQVision Ultra LS800 reviewRead our full LG HU85LA CineBeam Projector reviewAugust 3 2023