Just two or three years ago, a 4k projector would cost you 10,000 dollars or more. But, ever since Texas instruments released their new 4k DLP chip, we have been seeing cheap 4k projectors pop up all over the place.
The consumer association standards say that any projector capable of projecting 8.3 million pixels on the screen will be a certified 4k projector. Manufacturers have found ways to project that amount of pixels without the 4k chip. They are thus making the 4k experience cost drastically less.
Here, we have tried to find the cheapest 4k projector and discuss their specifications. So, let’s start by having a closer look at the 4k technology.
4k Projectors Comparison Table for 2020
- 0.1 What Is A 4k Projector Technically?
- 0.2 Advantages of Using a 4k Projector – Why Give It a thought?
- 1 Our Top 11 Picks For The Cheapest 4k Projector
- 1.1 Optoma UHD50 4K – Perfect For Home Theater Projector
- 1.2 ViewSonic PX727-4K – Best Budget Pick
- 1.3 BenQ TK800 4K – Also Good For Home Theater
- 1.4 ViewSonic PX747-4K – Suitable For Day And Night Home Theater
- 1.5 Optoma UHD60 4K – Our Best Pick
- 1.6 Optoma UHD51A 4K – Works with Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant
- 1.7 Epson Home Cinema 4000 – 100% Balanced Color and White Brightness
- 1.8 LG HU80KA 4K UHD – Home Theater CineBeam Projector
- 1.9 Epson Home Cinema 5040UB – PRO-UHD with 4K Enhancement Technology
- 1.10 Acer V7850 4K Ultra High Definition (3840 x 2160) DLP Home Theater Projector
- 1.11 Vivitek HK2288 – Ultra HD 4K (8.3 million pixels) Resolution
- 1.12 Top Rated Brands on The Market
- 1.13 How To Choose The Best One?
- 1.14 Frequently Asked Questions
- 1.15 Conclusion
What Is A 4k Projector Technically?
Before knowing what a 4k projector is, we first need to understand what 4k is.
Whether it is a projector, monitor or a TV screen, there are tiny pixels which are creating the image we see. More pixels result in higher picture quality, and the number of pixels in a screen is called resolution.
4k is a measurement of that resolution. When we say 4k screen resolution, we mean that the screen has around 4000 pixels horizontally with around 2000 pixels vertically.
So, a projector that can emit pictures with the 4k resolution is a 4k projector.
The increased resolution with HDR and wide color gamut create the best pictures available in the market. But 4k projectors are not yet as popular as 4k TV or monitors.
It is mostly because of the huge manufacturing cost. But producers have found ways to cut the cost with the same service. Companies like JVC, Epson, and Texas use a method called pixel shifting. JVC calls it eShifting, Epson calls it a 4k enhancement or 4Ke and Texas calls it TI UHD.
eShifting and 4Ke are almost the same things. They don’t use UHD (4k) chips. They use two or four 1080p chips. The pixels are shifted diagonally back and forth rapidly with half the pixel length. The resulting image projected looks very close to 4k, but essentially that is half of that.
Other projectors are using various methods like instruments approach. None of them can be called true 4k, but they can display images that have 4k resolution. Read our buying guide section to know more about these technologies.
Advantages of Using a 4k Projector – Why Give It a thought?
The best thing about 4k is, it is 4k. Yes, some people are saying this is too much, we don’t need that much quality and stuff like that, but we have to remember that there gonna be old schools in every gang. Now, let’s look at the real deal here.
4k has over 8 million pixels stuffed in them and shows the sharpest pictures in available technology. With good contrast and aspect ratios, it will give you the best experience you can think of.
Easy on Eyes
These 4k projectors are also great for your eyes. Our eyes are more comfortable watching a projector image with 4k. It is because the light we see from the projector is reflected. With 4k, you can make the image size bigger without compromising the picture quality. Bigger size means less pressure on the eyes.
Ideal for Programs
This same feature makes it easy for students to take exams. If you have ever given an exam online, you know how important that is. When you are having a party, you will need a projector with a big screen. Again 4k is going to be very effective in those conditions by displaying a huge image with sharp picture quality.
Worthy Investment for Future
4k is a future investment. Projectors that are not 4k are going to be obsolete soon just like the predecessors of HDTV did when it arrived. So, if you don’t wanna feel left behind, you should without a doubt buy a 4k.
Better Zooming Options
Zooming is also better in 4k. If you wanna zoom into something with the same quality then 4k is the first option. You might have noticed how digital zooming affects your image. With 4k, you will not have problems with digital zooming. Optical zooming is enhanced as well.
Less Noisy Pictures
4k also has much less noise than other versions. The visible noise is limited in 4k. You might complain about the lack of content in 4k. In that case, you should know that 4k projectors can display HDTV and other lower resolution pictures much better than regular projectors.
Comes at an Affordable Price
The price of 4Ks has also dropped drastically; thanks to innovative technologies like pixel shifting. So, we should not have a problem with those for not being true 4k as long as they give us the same service.
Now, we wanna clear it out that if you are buying a projector for professional work, you surely don’t need a 4k unless your profession specifies that. But if you are into projectors then there is no second option but a 4k. Because this is the future, you can’t deny it.
Our Top 11 Picks For The Cheapest 4k Projector
When we are talking about the cheapest, it doesn’t mean that the quality is gonna be bad. 4k has its own class. We are just gonna filter out the best value 4k projectors 2020 in the market. And they are;
Optoma UHD50 4K – Perfect For Home Theater Projector
Optoma revealed 2 of its best 4k projectors in early 2018 and one of them was the UHD50 4K. Just like the other budget 4K projectors that have come out last year, this uses pixel sifting to show the 4k image with 8.3 million pixels on the screen.
This projector has a throw of fewer than 9 feet making it the shortest throw 4k projectors we have seen so far. So, guys with smaller rooms are finally getting some love.
The front has the lens with the focus ring mounted around it along with the IR sensor. Its top side houses your menu button, power button, and another IR sensor. Near the lens, you will see your dial for vertical lens shift along the manual zoom dial. The bottom has three adjustable feet to adjust the height.
The back of this thing is loaded with ports. You get a network jack, a USB port, two HDCP v2.2 ports so that you can connect two separate 4k signals which are awesome. Other ports include VGA, 12-volt trigger, audio input & output jacks, USB 3.0, wireless display USB and an optical audio output.
It produces 2400 lumens with RGB color wheel. Black levels are fantastic with a contrast ratio of 500,000:1. HDR10 and DCI-P3 wide color gamut ensure brighter whites and deeper blacks. It has four times the resolution of your HDTV.
This device has a dimension of 15.4 x 11.1 x 5.1 inches with an 11.75-pound body. It will display images at a height of 16 inches. The projector sacrifices 3D service for keystone correction which its twin, the UHD51a has. However, vertical lens shifting makes little image distortion.
- Keystone correction
- 3x zoom
- Super sharp
- Three HDR modes
- No 3D support
- The absence of frame interpolation
ViewSonic PX727-4K – Best Budget Pick
This is a 4k device using the Texas instrument chip. It creates 8.3 million pixels with the shifting technology to qualify for a 4k. But for all intents and purposes, this thing looks fantastic on the screen and hard to distinguish from native 4k.
You will get a 12000:1 contrast ratio which ensures fine color accuracy. It also gives you 2200 lumen which is excellent, especially in darker rooms. The projector has a 1.5 to 1.8 throw ratio which is a little bit limited but not bad. It provides a 120-inch image from around 13 to 15 feet.
The projector comes with a single 10-watt speaker. It has a six-segment color wheel which is less sensitive to the people with rainbow effect and gives richer colors.
For a mind-blowingly low price of less than 1300 dollars you will sacrifice the interfaces that you will hardly ever need. You will have audio in and out, a VGA, two HDMI inputs, RS-232 controls, type-A, and type-B USB. It also provides you with a 12-volt rigger.
This projector supports media players, PCs, MACs, and other mobile devices. This provides a lamp life of 15000 hours in super Eco mode. This 8.11-pound projector has a dimension of 13.07 x 10.28 x 5.31 inches. All in all, this is the best 4k projector under 2000 dollars. And, it will also last for a very long time.
If you find some lacking in this projector like low lumen capacity, then look at our Viewsonic PX747-4k review which is the sibling of PX727. You will have the option for some trade-offs, but most of the features are the same.
- 2x optical zoom
- Decides HDR video signals
- Illuminated remote buttons
- Mounting flexibility
- The absence of an Ethernet port
- The temperature of the device might get a little high
BenQ TK800 4K – Also Good For Home Theater
When it comes to BenQ TK800, we like the way it looks. It has a cool baby blue faceplate accompanied by the white light body.
Up on the top of this projector, you will find some navigation and other buttons like menu, mode, source, and ECO blank. There is also an IR sensor on the top. You will also find the focus and zoom nob which are very smooth to adjust.
The assortment of inputs on the back are audio in and out, VGA, 2 HDMI interfaces, USB type A and B, RS-232 input, and a 12-volt trigger input. There is a drop down kickstand and two legs to adjust the height and slope of the device.
This has a whopping 3000 ANSI lumens which let you enjoy 4K in the middle of the day. The 10,000 to 1 contrast ratio gives you a really good night time view. This projector is also rocking the pixel shifting technique so it’s not a native 4k. Otherwise it would have been far more expensive.
The projector is pretty smooth that has a 50-millisecond latency. This also has HDR10 support with 4k color wheels that make your experience even more entertaining.
The projector will support you for 10,000 hours with its lamp life. Vertical keystone correction ability of this device will make the image fit perfectly with your wall or screen. The 7.15-pound projector has a dimension of 13.9 x 10.7 x 5.3 inches.
This projector is meant for regular living rooms. The aluminum driver diaphragm gives you the best vocals you can expect from a projector.
- 2x optical zoom
- Accuracy with different modes
- Keystone correction is auto
- A 5w speaker
- Massive sound with CinemaMaste audio+ 2
- It’s a bit noisy
- Suffers from the halo effect
ViewSonic PX747-4K – Suitable For Day And Night Home Theater
PX747 is one of View Sonic’s top-tier products. The projector has 3500 ANSI lumens that deliver a clear, detailed image even in daylight. This thing will light up any room like the sun in the lion king.
The projector uses pixel shifting to produce 8.3 million pixels on the screen. This means the certified 4K UHD will give you a resolution of 3840×2160.
On the front, this has a nice golden ring around the lens with the iconic view sonic logo as well as the front IR sensor. On the top, you have your keypads with all your menu buttons, a black power button, and another IR sensor. There is also the focus and zoom dial. On the bottom, you have your adjustable legs.
The back includes ports like audio input and output, 2 HDMI ports with the left one being the one you will use for 4k, a mini USB port, an RS-232 port, a full-size USB port, and a 12-volt trigger.
Some important features about this projector are, it has a 1.47 and 1.76 throw ratio,a contrast ratio of 12,000:1 giving it vivid colors. The internal 10w speaker is pretty good but you have the audio output anyway.
The dimensions of this 8.11-pound projector are 13.07 x 10.28 x 5.31inches. It supports PCs, Macs, mobile devices, etc. This projector will serve you for 15,000 hours with its amazing Eco lamp life.
- The remote lights up in dark and spare comes with batteries
- Super bright image with 3500 lumens
- Two optical zoom
- HDR content support
- Back lit remote
- Mounting flexibility
- No Ethernet
- No Bluetooth
Optoma UHD60 4K – Our Best Pick
This is the world’s first budget 4k projector. It gives you 3000 lumens which are enough for any living room to have the best picture quality.
On the front, you will find the lens focus ring and IR sensor. The left side will have all your buttons including the power, source, menu, and directional buttons. Open up your top lid by pressing it down and reveal the vertical lens shift and zoom dial.
On the back, you will find your power jack, Ethernet port, RS-232 port, HDMI 1.4-A port, HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 in MHL 2.1, a VGA, 3.5 millimeter audio input and output jacks, a USB power port, a 12 volt output, a USB2.0 service port and an optical audio output.
The onboard audio system has dual 4w speakers built into them. They are very loud, but don’t expect them to blow you away. The UHD 60 has an input lag of 33 milliseconds as reported by projector central.
This has only a plus 15% lens shift which means if you are mounting the projector on the ceiling you can only shift the image 15% down, and you can’t shift it up. The contrast ratio is huge at 1,000,000:1 producing crystal clear, rich and vivid pictures.
Portability is not an option in this projector for its huge size. The dimensions of this 16-pound projector are 19.6 x 13 x 6 inches. Its image can scale up to a staggering 140 inches from a distance of 16 feet while the optimum viewing area is 6-9 feet. So, the throw ratio is 1.39 to 2.22.
The 10,000-hour lamp life can be extended to 15,000 with the Eco mode in action. The main attraction of this device is the high dynamic range.
- 6 optical zoom
- Very quiet
- Best contrast ratio
- Great connectivity
- DCI-P3 color gamut
- Short power cable
- No frame interpolation
- No keystone correction
Optoma UHD51A 4K – Works with Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant
Just like its brother “UHD50” we reviewed earlier, the UHD51A has similar characteristics with some extra features that explain its slightly higher price. So let’s talk about those additional features first, that you get with the 51A.
The 51A supports 3D for you hardcore 3D fans out there. It also has pure motion or frame interpolation which makes videos and transitions smooth. It has a built-in media player that allows you to play videos and pictures through its USB port. And, it has Alexa voice support built into it which explains the A in its name.
Now, there is one feature in UHD50 that is missing in UHD51A, and that is keystone correction. It might be due to the addition of 3D in the 51A. There is a QR code in the guide by which you can download the Optoma smart projection app which is very helpful.
It has 2400 lumens which are pretty good at this price range. The throw ratio of 1.21-1.59 is also better than most other projectors in this range. It has a contrast ratio of 500,000:1 which ensures the vivid colors of your image.
This projector has two 5watt speakers which are pretty rare. On the other hand, this is also very quiet so late night shifts will not bother anyone. This 11.75-pound projector has a dimension of 15.4 x 11.1 x 5.1 inches.
There is a ton of interfaces on the back of the device. You will have a network jack, RS-232 port, a USB port labeled Alexa for the included USB wifi adapter, two HDCP 2.2 HDMI port, VGA, audio in and out, 12-volt trigger, a USB 3.0, a wireless display USB port and an optical audio output.
- Two 4k inputs at once
- WiFi connection
- Ton of interfaces
- 3D input
- Great picture quality
- The remote is not backlit.
- Absent in many physical stores
Epson Home Cinema 4000 – 100% Balanced Color and White Brightness
This is one of the best 4k projectors of 2018 by Epson making its way to 2020. It has a 2200 lumen capacity. The 3LCD chip technology resolves a lot of problems that general projectors have. Like white segmentation, color wheel, and rainbow effect.
The spectacular contrast ratio of 140,000:1 gives the best black contrast and vivid colors. Another rare feature of this projector is its full 10-bit color output. This makes videos look very real. The DCI P3 which is 50% wider than rec-709 gives perfect color gamut that you can have in this price range.
Manufacturers of this device also included a lens shift capability. The horizontal lens shift is ±47%, and the vertical lens shift is ±96%. This would be a dealmaker for many people out there. It also has frame interpolation which makes your videos smooth.
Epson accrued its 4k reputation with 4k enhancement as they call it. 4Ke, the short of 4k enhancement is similar to pixel shifting with slight differences. So it is not native 4k. And you will never get a native one at its low price.
Another nice touch by Epson was the lenses. Apart from lens shifting and mounting flexibility, it has some other tricks up its sleeves. The lens is motorized and has a memory which can remember your set requirement and thus do so.
This 24.3 pound has a dimension of 20.5 x 17.7 x 7.6 inches. So this is certainly not a portable device. It has a throw ratio of 1.35 and 2.84 with a lamp life of 5000 hours.
The interfaces in the back are HDMI 2.2 and a 1.4, two USB type-A and a single mini USB type-B, a LAN (RJ-45), a VGA, an RS-232c and a 12-volt trigger out.
- Smart lens
- Ultra-wide color gamut
- 1x zoom lens
- Vibrant colors
- Short lamp life
LG HU80KA 4K UHD – Home Theater CineBeam Projector
Generally, when you are looking for a projector, you either have to choose a small portable one or a large high-quality non-portable projector. But this projector gives you high quality with easy mobility.
Hardware-wise, this is the most interesting projector we have ever seen. At first glance, it will not look like your everyday projector, but its unique design enables it to perform in 4 different ways.
Besides the remote control, everything you need is built-in. On the back, there are your inputs like the two HDMI, audio output, a digital TV tuner, USB, Ethernet, optical audio, an antenna input, and a built-in retractable power cable.
There are dials for zoom and focus. Then the most interesting part, the laser light source and the mirror which allows the four convertible modes with 2500 lumens.
This 4k DLP projector is the best 4k projector under 5000 dollars. It can give you an image from 40 inches to up to 150 inches. The projector has motion compensation and estimation for fast-moving video, and most importantly, it has an eye-shaped engine without mirrors.
It also features an improved cooling system which not only makes it quite but also makes it very compact compared to other projectors. The lamp life or laser life is 20,000 hours and a contrast ratio of 150,000:1 which guarantees the best color display.
Now, for the four-way versatility, the first two are like general projectors. You point it or attach it to the wall, and your project across a room. But you can also stand it vertically and project on the ceiling and watch while on your bed. The final way is to use the built-in mirror to project from a shorter distance.
- Noise under 24Db in normal mode
- Auto vertical keystone correction
- 2 optical zoom
- Trumotion or video interpolation
- No maintenance
- You might need to dim the lights for perfection
- Lasers cannot be changed
Epson Home Cinema 5040UB – PRO-UHD with 4K Enhancement Technology
This is one of the least pricey projectors that handles true 4k content while taking advantage of pixel shifting. That produces an impressively sharp and detailed image.
On top of that, the 5040UB has a new 2.1x lens, and it has fully motorized focus and lens shift. This projector is truly revolutionary compared to the older 5030UB. Having lens memory allows you the luxury of going with widescreen.
Apart from the lens, there is an IR sensor on the front. Power switch and source control on the right-hand side along with the door opening button which reveals other buttons. Under the lid, there is the menu button, four arrow keys in a diamond configuration, lens, ok, and escape button.
There are a lamp and temperature indicator on the top. That takes us to the back which has the interfaces. There are optical HDMI, HDMI 1 (HDCP 2.2) needed for Blu-ray to UHD, a standard HDMI, a USB type-A and USB type-B, LAN interface, VGA, RS-232c input and a 12-volt trigger out.
The lamp life is 4000 hours in normal mode and a thousand more in eco mode. This is 2500 lumen which is pretty good. The throw ratio has a wide range from 1.35 to 2.84 which can be projected from 50 inches to 300 inches. There is a manual vertical keystone of ±30°.
One of the best contrast ratio of up to 1,000,000:1 will give you rich and vibrant colors and fantastic black and white images. It also supports ultra-wide color gamut. This 24.3-pound projector has a dimension of 20.5 x 17.7 x 7.6 inches. So it is not portable.
- Spare lamp
- ISF certified
- Cable cover
- Less lamp life
Acer V7850 4K Ultra High Definition (3840 x 2160) DLP Home Theater Projector
The Acer V7850 uses DLP technology to produce its native 3840×2160 resolution. One of the gems in the market that can produce true 4k with a mind-blowing contrast ratio of 1,200,000:1. These features make it stand out of the crowd and have a place of glory with a price under 2000 bucks.
It can produce 1.07 billion colors with 30 bits which is also a special feature. With the contrast ratio that good, you also have the dynamical black adjustment which makes life far easier.
The projector has a feature called auto ceiling mount correction which flips the image upside down when mounted on the ceiling. The aspect ratio of 16:9 makes it more comfortable to watch. It is a little short on lumens which is 2200 so you have to use it in a dark room.
The throw ratio is from 65” to 78.74”. It has a digital zoom of 2x and an optical zoom of 1.6x with and maximum vertical and horizontal sync of 120Hz and 135Hz. There are also dual stereo speakers built in the device which has an output power of 2 watts.
This projector has a UHP lamp which will give support for 4000 hours. But this can be extended to 10,000 hours in economy mode and 15,000 hours in extreme economy mode. The 11.68-pound projector has a dimension of 15.7 x 11.7 x 5 inches.
On the back, this projector holds a variety of ports and interfaces. It has two HDMI, a USB type-A, an RJ-45 network port, VGA, audio input and output. This is also compatible with HDTV as most of the contents nowadays are HDTV. You can hook it up with both Mac and Windows.
- Ethernet capability
- Temperature range is 32°F (0°C) to 104°F (40°C)
- Maximum humidity is 80%
- Very sharp picture
- The best contrast ratio
- Cannot be used in a well-lit room
- Claims of bad customer service
Vivitek HK2288 – Ultra HD 4K (8.3 million pixels) Resolution
We know that 11 is a widely odd number. But Vivitek HK2288 was so good that we had to include it in our 4k projector review. It has a native resolution of UHD 3840×2160 making it among those in the native 4k resolution collection.
This device has a lumen capacity of 2000 so you have to have a pretty dark room to see its full potential. It will serve you for 3000 to 5000 hours depending on the mode you choose.
It has a native aspect ratio of 16:9. The throw ratio is from 1.39:1 to 2.09:1 which can project an image of 25.9” to 324.9” from a distance of 1.2meters to 10 meters. Therefore, you can use it in small as well as large rooms or even in your bedroom.
Vivitek included a DMD 0.66” chip. They also included a 10w speaker. This 19.81 pound is definitely not a portable projector and has a dimension of 16.9 x 14.2 x 5.7 inches. So it is the second biggest projector in our list.
On the back of the projector, it holds its ports and interfaces. They are 3 HDMI ports, audio out mini-jack, an RS-232 interface, USB type-A and USB type-B. This projector is compatible with SDTV, EDTV, HDTV, and last but not least UHD 4k. You have the focus and zoom dials on the top.
It also features a manual lens shift of +15% and -10% based on the full image size. Vivitek also included a 10w speaker which has clear sound quality. The contrast ratio is 50,000:1. This might not be the best ratio but still good to go.
- Spare lamp
- 5x zoom
- Good customer service
- Beautiful look
- Good image quality
- Buttons are on the back of the device
- Low lamp life
- Low contrast
Top Rated Brands on The Market
While there are many projectors in the market, not many manufacturers are making them. Here are the top 5 brands that make the best 4k projectors.
This Taiwanese manufacturer now has its shade all over the world including America. They are not only selling in America but also the number one seller of DLP projectors here.
They have a large range of products ranging from SVGA to full HD. They also have the superior class of 4k projectors like UHD51A and UHD50. They have efficiently kept the price to a minimum while giving the best quality.
All of their projectors are also DLP sometimes with an additional light source. For the past two years, they have been in the top game in the USA.
This multinational has become a kind of a legend in the electronics industry. They score star marks in after sale services. ViewSonic makes all of their projectors with DLP technology. Currently, they host two 4k projectors which are the PX727 and the PX747. Both of them made our top 11 list.
This conglomerate makes all kinds of electronics and specializes in screens like TVs and projectors. So it is understandable why they are so good at giving high-end resolution with such low cost.
This company also keeps the information of products transparent so that you can compare and find your best fit even if it goes against them.
BenQ is a big multinational stretching their business from east to west. Projectors, especially 4k projectors are their specialty. They use a special type of advanced illumination technology which gives greater comfort to your eyes.
Their projectors have the best color gamut and easy setup. They also have excellent customer service and they are the #1 seller in Australia.
Their projectors also feature true 4k, HD, short throw, color accuracy etc. These features are common in them while very hard to find elsewhere. They have been successful in creating the best theater experience with their projectors.
They manufacture the number 1 projector that is being sold like the hot cake. Epson has the optimum balance of price and service. But if you want luxury, they have a dose for that too.
Epson, being a vastly experienced company knows their consumer’s needs. And according to that, they divide their products such as the projectors are divided into two categories, one is for work, and the other is for home. They have also divided the work section is three parts- educational, corporate, and small business.
Thus, they can ensure the best service to their consumers
This is another conglomerate that manufactures a load of things ranging from laptops to mini projectors. They are doing business all over the world, but they give extra focus to our America as it is their biggest market.
They have been one of the leaders of electronic design which earned them the good design award and Reddot award in 2018. For designing, they have acquired many other awards like the IF designing award, Taiwan Excellence award, etc. And, this is a streak of winning they are carrying.
They have excellent customer service and low prices with good quality. Thus, they are one of the best in projector making.
How To Choose The Best One?
Projectors like all other electronics have many specifications which make it hard to wrap our heads around. We have assorted and explained all of the features you need to care for in the guide below.
Here, you will find what the specification means and what standard you should be looking for.
We have explained what 4k is before. It is a screen that has to show a horizontal pixel count of around 4000 pixels. The resolution has to be somewhere around 3840×2160.
Now, when you are looking for a cheap 4k, you will never get a true native 4k that has 8.3 million separate pixels, assuming your maximum budget is under 4000$. But you don’t need that much unless you want to view 4k in 3D.
You can get displays that have 4k screens under 3000 or even 2000. They use a process called pixel shifting. This same process is called eShift at JVC and 4k enhancement in Epson. Texas incorporation uses another approach for their widely popular DLP projectors. They informally refer to this process as TI UHD.
There is another method of producing 4k cheaply used by Sony. It is called the native approach. It is a bit expensive but unique and better than others. We will also have a closer look at that.
Now, you don’t need to know every nook and cranny, but you do need to know the basics and how they differ if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on it.
Pixel Shifting for LCD Projectors
This process begins with the 1080p chips. There can be 2 or 4 chips like that. When the system detects 4k input, it divides the 4k input among its chips to their maximum capacity.
Then the pixels are altered or shifted to and for promptly. This is done with half of the pixel width. The fast alteration is not visible to the human eye. So, we take the emitted image as better than the 1080p quality.
Now, if this is done with two chips, it will give us above 4 million pixels because chips can only take half of the 4k input. And, with four chips, it will give us 8 million pixels resulting in a full 4k image.
This does not have much difference than pixel shifting. But the slight modification that allows it to have better image quality than other companies.
One of the modifications is that this system doesn’t alter or shifts the pixels backwards and forward, it shifts them horizontally and vertically. This allows shifting in lesser time which results in better resolution. The basic chips might have any resolution but this process will enhance the picture quality.
The second modification is in the chip. Though this modification is not used always and also is a bit expensive but enhances the picture quality with a big leap forward. The chip that is used here has a resolution of 2716×1528 which is 4.15 million pixels.
Now, it can be shifted diagonally or in the two directions (horizontally and vertically).
The TI USD DLP protectors are superior to that of Epson’s or JV’s.
Sony uses almost true 4k. Chips they use have all the pixels that are needed for 4k. The pixels are actually more. This approach requires them to have three chips and show them all together without shifting them.
This allows the projector to have a resolution of 4096×2160, which is 8.8 million pixels half a million more than other projectors.
This makes Sony projectors better than all other projectors in the market. But they don’t come cheap. If you are looking for the best 4k projectors under 5000 then you can skip Sony. But if you want 4k in a big screen then there is no option but Sony.
Lamp Life/ Laser Life
Lamp life is the measurement of the longevity of the lamp you have in your projector. A lamp replacement can cost over half of the initial cost of a projector. So to ensure the best value 4k projector you have to take note of this feature.
Lamp life of 10,000 hours, under normal mode is standard. But projectors can have 15,000 hours too. You should never go with a projector for less than 5000 hours of lamp life unless the replacement cost is low.
Laser life is as same as lamp life. But they generally can’t be changed. So, the standard is more here. 20,000 hours is good but it should never go under 15,000 hours.
You should never expect 3D display from a low priced 4k projector. The process that makes the projectors cheap deters them from displaying 3D. In our 4k projector review, we have the UHD51A that can show 3D, but that is an exception. Moreover, it’s not that cheap.
So, if you are looking for 3D with 4k, you better have some in your pocket.
This is the analysis of the brightness of the projecting image. Higher lumen projectors are always preferred than lower ones. High lumen projectors can display finely in ambient light. Without a good lumen power, other features like contrast ratio, image sharpness and video smoothness all fail to do their job.
So, if you are buying a 4k, better go for a high lumen. A lumen capacity from 2500 to three thousand is preferred. But you can find better than that. Never go for one which is less than 2200 lumens.
Screen Size And Aspect Ratio
Screen size is very important in cheap 4k projectors. Not because you need a bigger screen but how much stretching can the screen handle.
The average screen size should range from 50” to 250”. The wider the range the better it is. But you need to be sceptical about the screens that are too large. Larger screens can ruin your picture quality. So be very cautious about the up limit of your screen especially if you are planning to use it.
A ratio of width to length of the image is called the aspect ratio. It shows how rectangle your pictures are gonna be. There are three aspect ratios that are popular in the market these days; they are- 4:3, 16:10, 16:9. Anyone of them should be fine for your projector.
People with small rooms need to care a lot about the throw ratio of their projector. This is the measurement of the distance that the projector can cast the image from.
There are short throw projectors which can project from a distance of 3 feet and there are long throw projectors which will project from a distance of 10 to 15 feet. You need to pick the one according to the room you are gonna use it in.
This a ratio of the luminance of the lightest part to the darkest part of the image. The better it is the lighter the white and deeper the blacks. This gives you rich and vivid colors. This vibrant option is critical in 4k projectors. When choosing the projector always go for the best contrast ratio. But do not go below 12000 to 1.
Speakers are generally not that important. Most of the projector users buy additional speakers to have good sound quality. But if you don’t have an audio out the interface or you want to use the projector on the go, then it becomes one of the essential parts of the projector.
The sound of the speaker should be loud and clear. A 10w or 20w speaker should be good. It should be enough for 2 to 3 people to hear it while someone is talking in the room.
Ease of Use
Like all electronics, the projector should be easy to use. It should be ceiling mountable and have IR sensors in both front and back. The software should also be easily understandable. You should be able to navigate the whole menu option easily.
Lens adjustment and keystone correction ensure this ease significantly. The lens adjustment should be ±15%, and the keystone correction should be at least ±30°. Auto adjustment is preferred. The focus should also have auto and manual control.
The projector should also be able to work in 50%-80% humidity and require less maintenance. The cooling fan should not make any annoying sounds, and the device should never heat up beyond 50° Celsius.
Ports And Interfaces
This is a very important fact for all projectors. 4k inputs need HDMI ports. A 4k projector should also have VGA, USB type-A and type-B, RS-232 port, audio input and output, 12-volt trigger other than the HDMI. These are the minimum that a projector requires. An additional HDMI is also much important.
For a projector to be portable, it has to be under 12 pounds or 5 kilograms. That is the maximum we consider. It would be a lot better if it is under 10 pounds or 4 kilograms. It should also be a very compact and low profile. Projectors that come with bags and handles are extra convenient to carry around.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is the best 4k projector 2018?
- Ans: We all know that there are no clear winners. The people who like portability will not want the heavy ones even if they are the most versatile. So, it depends on your taste. But yes, we can tell you our favorite. And, that is the Optoma UHD51A 4k projector. I think you already know the reason.
- All of the projectors in our review are great, but it is the only one that can display 3D in 4k. It also has Ethernet capability. The connectivity also surprises in this low budget projector.
Q: How close is the pixel-shifting technology to the real 4k?
- Ans: Very close! If you have the money, you can go for the real deal, but it should not be for the high resolution rather some other benefits like 3D. You might just see in 2020, pixel-shifting using 4k chips making them double the resolution of true native 4k. So, heads up!
Q: Is 4k worth my money?
- Ans: If you are buying your first projector or if you are buying it because the previous one is broken or something or if you are using the projector commercially, you should without a doubt buy a 4k.But if you wanna upgrade then you need to think that will you be happy with the second best.
Q: Which is better, lamp or laser?
- A: It depends on the frequency of your usage. If you are gonna use it often then never buy a laser because you can’t replace it while lamps are easily replaceable.
Q: What is frame interpolation?
- A: Frame interpolation or frame smoothness is the measurement of how smoothly the frames flow through the display. Fewer glitches and breaks in the videos mean smooth interpolation.
Now, here you had our review and buying guide. We have provided you with our top 11 picks and the way to choose your own with some additional information. Hopefully, it will guide you to the cheapest 4k projector that fulfils your requirements.
Thank’s for reading.
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