What's the best projector for me?
January 29, 2011 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Any help finding an inexpensive digital projector to meet my home theater needs?

We just moved into a new place after our old one was broken into and our TVs were stolen. We were intending to go without for a while, but the new house has a room that is absolutely perfect for a projector, and so we are now considering picking one up to watch Blu-Ray movies, play video games, watch TV, and the like.

Problem is, we don't have a ton of cash to spend. We're looking to spend somewhere between $300-$500 to pick up a projector. It doesn't need to be super fancy or 3D-ready, but it does need to meet a few criteria:

- HDMI input
- Component input
- Good internal speaker or at least an audio out jack

Brightness isn't much of an issue, we can make the room pretty dark. I'd like something that can support at least 720p resolution, but 1080i/1080p would be great too.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
posted by HostBryan to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
to be honest, for $300-$500 you could get a perfectly good 40-inch or so flat screen TV and that would probably be a better move than buying a projector. In my experience the benefits of having a projector were outweighed by the annoyance of it needing time to warm up whenever you turn it on and the loud noise that the fan makes. But maybe I just had a crappy projector.

If you're set on a projector though, eBay is probably the way to go. I bought mine for about $250 Cdn. last year on eBay.
posted by sarastro at 7:55 PM on January 29, 2011

With that price range you're probably limited to getting a used one on eBay, and you probably wouldn't have much to choose from. For a new 720p projector you need to cough up at least $600. Here's a decent list.

Anyway, I have a BenQ W600+, and am very happy with it. It's quite compact (around 2.5 kg), starts up in a minute or so, and doesn't make a lot of noise (almost none in economy mode).

If you do want to use 3D, make sure the projector is compatible with whatever you're using to output. As anecdata, I've been unable to get mine to work with neither my computer nor PS3 despite the 3D-ready sticker on the front.
posted by Aiwen at 10:16 PM on January 29, 2011

You aren't going to get a projector capable of doing Blu-Ray resolution for that price unless you stumble across a REALLY good deal.

Most projectors will accept inputs of all kinds, but their native resolution won't be 1920x1080.
posted by gjc at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2011

AV system designer and installer here. HDMI and Component in limits you to home theater projectors, thereby limiting selection at this time. You will not find something new that meets these criteria just yet. Buying used is a risky proposition, and not recommended, because the cost of replacement lamps can be 1/2 the value of new projector, or more. Additionally, lamp technology is leaping forward, it would be a big mistake to buy a two year old projector with a 2000 hour lamp now, when new models are hitting 5000 and 6000 hours. Strongly recommend then that you wait a month or two for the new data projectors to hit the market, before moving forward. My understanding is that HDMI-in will become the norm with 2011 models. This should increase your choices beyond just the BenQ W600+ mentioned by Aiwen above, and drive prices down.

( Not sure why you specify audio-out from the projector, I never run audio to any projector in an installation. No projector can possibly have a "good internal speaker", this is an oxymoron. It's best to run the audio from your output device directly to your audio system. Can you explain this?)
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:31 PM on January 30, 2011

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