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The best projectors you can buy: Expert tested

We went hands-on and tested some of the best projectors on the market from Xgimi, Samsung, LG, and more for all your viewing needs.
Written by Kayla Solino, Associate Editor
Samsung Freestyle 2 | Best projector overall
Close-up image of the Samsung Freestyle 2 projector light
Samsung Freestyle 2
Best projector overall
View now View at Samsung
Xgimi Horizon Ultra | Best projector splurge
Xgimi Horizon Ultra Projector
Xgimi Horizon Ultra
Best projector splurge
View now View at Amazon
Emotn N1 | Best budget projector
The Emotn N1 video projector and remote.
Emotn N1
Best budget projector
View now View at Amazon
Anker Nebula Capsule 3 | Best portable projector
Nebula Capsule 3
Anker Nebula Capsule 3
Best portable projector
View now View at Amazon
Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro | Best alternative projector
Xgimi Mogo 2 Pro Projector
Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro
Best alternative projector
View now View at Amazon

While TVs reign supreme in the home entertainment ecosystem, offering more advanced features like OLED displays and oversized screens. However, upgraded TVs with all the latest and greatest specs can be very expensive. If you're looking for an alternative, consider a projector. 

Also: The best outdoor projectors of 2024

Whether you're having a movie night in your backyard, creating a home theater, or just wanting to catch the latest flick on a larger display, we rounded up the best projectors that will fit your needs. 

What's the best projector right now? 

Our tested pick for the best projector overall is the Samsung Freestyle 2 projector thanks to its all-in-one projector and gaming hub design, portability, easy set-up, and indoor and outdoor use. We also rounded up our other top projector picks from brands like Anker, Xgimi, and more. See how they stack up to Samsung's Freestyle 2 and find the best pick to fit your entertainment needs. 

The best projectors of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Some free games
  • Fast loading
  • Crystal clear pictures
  • No lags
  • Easy set up
  • Some preloaded content
  • Extra portable
  • Impressive sound
  • Works well outdoors
  • Need to subscribe for certain cloud streaming
  • A bit pricey
More Details

Samsung's Freestyle 2 combines a projector and a gaming hub all-in-one, and the Freestyle 2 builds on its predecessor with greater functionality, a better remote, and some literally game-changing features. In fact, what's distinctly unique about the Samsung Freestyle 2 Gaming Hub is that you don't need a physical console to play a game, but just the Freestyle 2, internet access, and game controller.

Review: Samsung Freestyle 2

When ZDNET's Allison Murray and her husband tested the Freestyle 2 in their home, they were impressed with the portable projector's power-packed value, and the ability to play video games from the ceiling -- or any room in the house with an open wall. 

"My husband was able to play Rocket League with a free membership to GeForce Now, and other free games like Fortnite were also available. The overall gaming experience will depend on your Wi-Fi connection, but the graphics were crystal clear, and the Freestyle 2 loaded the games fast with virtually no glitches," Murray wrote. 

And the Freestyle 2's projecting capabilities weren't lackluster, either. "The Samsung Freestyle 2 impressed me with both image quality, the ability to auto-focus -- whether it was projecting onto a slanted ceiling or a projector screen -- and the overall experience of setup and streaming," Murray wrote in her review. 

Users on Reddit and Best Buy liked the small design and easy set up of the Freestyle 2, as well as its gaming capabilities, while others didn't think it was bright enough or see a reason for such a portable projector. 

Samsung Freestyle 2 tech specs: Throw ratio: 1.2 | Brightness: 230 ANSI lumens | Resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 30-100 inches 

Pros & Cons
  • Great picture quality
  • Good audio
  • Quiet system operation
  • Retractable lens cover
  • Upscale design
  • Dolby-Vision supported
  • Very vibrant, which may bother some
  • Not portable
  • Only available in one color
  • Pricier than other options on this list
More Details

Xgimi's Horizon Ultra projector is a power-packed at home viewing device that's certainly a cut above other options on this list. The Horizon ultra features 4K resoultion for crystal clear viewing, covers an expansive screen size range, and uses 2300 lumens for maximum brightness. What's even more impressive though is the Dolby-Vision support it offers -- something uncommon in the projector market. 

Review: Xgimi Horizon Ultra 

When ZDNET's Kerry Wan tested the Horizon Ultra back in 2023, he was stunned with the theater experience it provided on his blank bedroom wall. 

"The Horizon Ultra may be the end game of my home projector quest. It delivers some of the best picture quality I've seen, doesn't sound like a blow dryer when I increase the scaling, and dare I say, at $1,699, is not expensive at all," Wan wrote in his review. And to his point, the hefty price tag is actually pretty on par with other 4K options on the market with similar features. 

Wan also enjoyed the upscale design and features, like a lens cover that retracts, but said the vibrancy was so amped up, that he found it just a bit too much for his eyes. Current owners on Reddit also noted the top features like brightness and vibrancy, but some users said they decided they didn't need a projector that's so "extra." 

Xgimi Horizon Ultra tech specs: Throw ratio: 1.2-1.5:1 | Brightness: 2300 ISO lumens | Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160) | Screen size: 60-150 inches 

Pros & Cons
  • Impressive audio
  • Quiet
  • Affordable
  • Crisp picture quality
  • Bluetooth
  • Integrated flip-out stand
  • No lag
  • Easy to use
  • Licensed for Netflix
  • Not as portable
  • Auto-keystone feature sometimes tricky
More Details

If you're not looking to drop over $500 on a projector, the Emotn N1 mixes affordability and a solid set of features. With 500 ANSI lumens, a 1080p resolution and a maximum screen size of 120 inches, you'll have everything you need for an at home movie theater experience. 

The Emotn N1 is officially licensed for watching Netflix, and can also project other platforms like YouTube, Amazon Prime, and content from any device that allows you to connect via HDMI or USB. And if you don't have Wi-Fi available, you can use a wired connection or even tether the projector to a phone or hotspot.

Review: Emotn N1

When ZDNET's Jack Wallen tested the Emotn in Dec. 2023, he was surprised with how much he ended up liking the projector. "Up until now, I never would have thought a projector could so easily spread Netflix films or TV on a wall or a screen with ease, but that's exactly what the Emotn N1 does ... If Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube are your go-to for movies and television, this little projector is worth every penny," Wallen wrote in his review

Amazon users like the overall value and performance of the Emotn N1, especially its crisp audio and clear pictures. Some users experienced issues with the bulb dying out, and like Wallen noted in his review, some users reported needing to play around with the focus and keystone a bit. 

Emotn N1 tech specs: Throw ratio: 1.25:1 | Brightness: 500 ANSI lumens | Resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 60-120 inches

Pros & Cons
  • Super portable
  • Lightweight
  • Crisp imagery
  • Great audio
  • Perfect for travel or at home
  • Intelligent environment adaptation
  • Shorter battery life
  • Not as bright as other picks
More Details

The Nebula Capsule 3 can easily be held in your hand or carried in a backpack, yet it throws a screen size of up to 120 inches -- on par with larger picks on this list. It features a competitive 1080p display and 200 ANSI lumens, and you can watch up to 2.5 hours of your favorite shows, movies. or videos or listen to ten hours of music on a single charge. 

Review: Anker Nebula Capsule 3

It's also equipped with Nebula's intelligent environment adaptation technology, which performs performs auto keystone correction, autofocus, keystone correction and obstacle avoidance in just 3 seconds, making setup and use easy. 

When ZDNET's Sabrina Ortiz tested out the Capsule 3, she was blow away with the soda-can sized projectors functions. "Anker calls the Capsule 3 a "Pocket Cinema," and the description could not be more accurate ... You won't be disappointed in the sound or video quality, and the environment adaptation technology makes the projector extremely flexible in terms of placement," she wrote in her 2024 review

Current Nebula users love the maximum portability and crisp image quality of the Capsule 3. One customer said it "packs a serious punch in a quite literally pint sized package." Other current users noted the only downside is that the charge only lasts about 2.5 hours which is sometimes not enough to get through certain films.Anker 

Nebula Capsule 3 tech specs: Throw ratio: 1.2:1 | Brightness: 200 ANSI lumens | Resolution: 1080p | Screen size: 40-120 inches

Pros & Cons
  • Chromecast built-in
  • Simple set-up
  • Android TV 11 compatible
  • Intelligent screen alignment and obstacle avoidance
  • Portable
  • Dolby Audio
  • Good image quality
  • Not as portable as other picks
  • No internal battery
More Details

The Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro is a popular home projector pick, thanks to its mid-range price and solid features. 

The Xgimi easily allows you to stream entertainment via apps downloaded from the Google Play store. The 1080p resolution comes with 400 ISO lumens on a picture that expands as much as 120 inches for your viewing pleasure, making this portable option big enough for wherever you take it. In addition to wireless and Bluetooth listening, enjoy dual 8W speakers with Dolby Audio built into the projector for excellent sound. 

Current MoGo Pro users like the easy connectivity and overall value, as well as the crips audio and picture quality. Some users noted that you'll have to use some workarounds if you want to use your projector for Netflix viewing. 

Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro tech specs: Throw ratio: 1.2:1 | Brightness: 400 ISO lumens | Resolution: 1080p | Screen size: Up to 120 inches

What is the best projector?

Our top pick for best projector is the Samsung Freestyle 2 thanks to its all-in-one projector and gaming hub design, portability, easy set-up, and indoor and outdoor use. To see how it stacks up against our other picks, here is an overview of the best projectors we tested. 

Best projectorCostScreen sizeResolutionLumens
Samsung Freestyle 2 $80030-100 inches1080p230 ANSI
Xgimi Horizon Ultra $1,69960-150 inches 4K2300 ISO
Emotn N1$39960-120 inches1080p500 ANSI
Nebula Capsule 3$55040-120 inches 1080p200 ANSI
Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro$599Up to 120 inches 1080p400 ISO

*MSRP price at the time of writing. Please note that actual prices may vary depending on available sales, deals, discounts, and coupons.

Which is the best projector for you?

Not sure which projector is right for you? Here's how our top-picks compare based on best use-case and our hands-on testing. 

Choose this best projector...If you want...
Samsung Freestyle 2 Top-quality gaming and home entertainment in one.
Xgimi Horizon Ultra A superb 4K cinematic experience.
Emotn N1A great performing budget projector for at home entertainment.
Nebula Capsule 3An extra-portable projector with easy setup.
Xgimi MoGo 2 ProA solid projector with crisp video and audio for at home or away.

Factors to consider when choosing a projector:

If you're on the hunt for the perfect projector for your home setup, here's a few things that may be helpful to keep in mind. 

  • Screen size: The best projectors cover a variety of different-sized spaces. Be sure to measure the area where you plan to use your projector so you can be sure that the specifications match your intended space.

  • Resolution: Most of the best projectors offer a full HD resolution measuring 1920 x 1080 for a superior image. If you're wanting something more, you're probably going to want to look at 4K projector options, which will cost more. 

  • Lumens: The number of lumens that a projector has will speak to its brightness. The higher the lumen count, the brighter you can expect your projector to be. Keep the lumens in mind when you think about where and when you'll be using your projector. Indoor? Outdoor? 

  • Audio: Look to see what speakers are incorporated and what kind of sound output is generated. The home theater experience will be lackluster without great audio capabilities. 

  • Price: Projectors are an expensive investment, so be sure to set a budget for yourself. This will help narrow down your picks and help you decide what numbers you're comfortable spending. Do expect to spend a few hundred dollars for many mid-range projector options, and over $1,000 for more advanced models with top features. 

How did we test these projectors?

ZDNET went hands-on with the majority of the projectors on this list. We spent time in our own homes testing these projectors' picture quality, audio, screen size, features and more -- not just for a day or two, but over the course of a few weeks to really get a feel for a product's add-in value. 

If we think a product is worth your money, we'll update this list or write up a spotlight review highlighting its best qualities and specifying who it's for. 

Plus, we are routinely scouring the web for new products that are worthy of testing, and following news on product rollouts and upgrades, and sourcing the best deals. We know buying anything in the current economy is not just for your whims, and that's why this list, as well as our other advice, is tailored to your needs, wants, and your budget and why our picks are expert-tested and expert-vetted. 

How much do the best projectors cost?

Projectors are one tech product that just don't run cheap. If you're looking for a quality, top-rated projector option, you should expect to be spending over $100 -- for sure. Many mid-range projectors fall under $1,000, with flagship options like the Samsung Freestyle 2 and the Xgimi MoGo models following suit. 

Of course, the value of what a projector is worth is relative to every unique buyer, and projectors can significantly range in cost, quickly climbing into the thousands as you add more features. But many quality projector offerings can be found under $1,000. These best projectors range anywhere in cost from less than $300 to near $2,000 depending on the model you choose to best fit your needs. 

Are projections better on a wall or a screen?

Projector screens are specially designed to reflect light more efficiently which creates a brighter, clearer, and more color-accurate image compared to just projecting on a plain wall. Projector screens also ensure a smooth and flat surface for viewing which combats any distortions. However, it's perfectly fine to project on a blank wall, sheet, etc. without issue. 

I have projected on all of the above and even onto the side of a friends' lake house without any issues. 

What's the difference between ANSI and ISO lumens?

ANSI and ISO lumens just refer to two different measurement units for brightness. One ANSI lumen is equivalent to 0.8 ISO lumens. For example, a projector with a brightness rating of 1000 ANSI lumens is equivalent to about 800 ISO lumens. 

Are there alternative best projectors worth considering?

Yes. Although we've hands-on tested every pick on our list, there's tons of projectors available on the market to fit your needs. Here's a few other options worth checking out.

View at AmazonView at Us.xgimiView at LG
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