4K projectors have become increasingly popular as their prices have come down in the recent years. They enable you to watch movies and shows in ultra high definition, providing a cinematic experience. There is a wide range of 4K projectors available from different brands. They boast of different features and proprietary technologies.
Choosing the right 4K projector from the plethora of options available in the market can be a challenging task especially for the first-time buyers. We have studied the 4K projectors available on the market today, analyzed their performance and user reviews, and recommended the best ones for you to consider. If you are looking for the five best 4K home theater projectors to buy in 2018, here are the highly rated models.
5. BenQ TK800 4K UHD Projector
The BenQ TK800 is an affordable and feature-packed 4K home theater projector. It is a single-chip DLP model with a native resolution of 1920x1080x4. It makes use of the pixel shifting technology to output images of 4K UHD resolution (3840×2160).
It is a lamp projector that has a brightness rating of 3,000 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 10,000:1 (FOFO). It is ideal for rooms with moderate ambient lighting especially when paired with an ambient light rejection screen. The color levels are decent for movies as well as watching sports, and preset modes for cinema, sports and football are provided. Its lamp has a rated life of 4,000 hours under normal operation and 8,000 hours for SmartEco operation.
The TK800 has a throw ratio range of 1.47 – 1.76 and can project images with a diagonal size ranging from 60” to 200”. It also supports HDR and 3D, providing an immersive and vibrant viewing experience. Interface options on the projector include a D-Sub port, one each of HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4a ports, a USB type A and another USB type B mini ports, 3.5mm audio-in and audio-out jacks, and an RS232 port. It also has an inbuilt 5watt speaker.
There is no lens shift though vertical keystone correction up to ±40° is provided. The brightness levels are good for regular viewing but not adequate for HDR which is commonly observed in most projectors with HDR support. However, considering that the projector retails at a low price, it is a value for money proposition that provides images sharper than a 1080p projector for a few hundred extra bucks.
4. Optoma UHD60
The Optoma UHD60 is the right mix of affordability and sharp picture quality. It makes use of the DLP660TE chip from Texas Instruments with a native resolution of 2716x1528x2. The chip employs the pixel shifting technology to produce 4K UHD content. It projects pixels twice on the screen for outputting the complete image, unlike the BenQ TK800 which projects pixels four times on the screen for outputting the whole image.
The 660TE DMD chip allows UHD60 to produce sharper images. It comes with a brightness rating of 3,000 lumens and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. The UHD60 supports HDR content and DCI-P3 wide color gamut allowing it to output images with vibrant colors. It has a manual zoom lens (1.6x) with ±15° vertical lens shift for adjusting the projected images.
The projector comes with one HDMI 2.0 port, one HDMI 1.4a port, a VGA-in port for legacy devices, an RJ45 jack for ethernet connection, a USB A port and another USB 2.0 service port, an audio-in jack, an audio-out jack, a SPDIF Out, and an RS232C port.
It may be installed at a distance varying from four feet to thirty feet. It can project sharp images up to 140” providing a large viewing area. Its lamp is rated for 4,000 hours of normal operation and 10,000 hours of ECO mode operation.
There is no 3D support, unlike the BenQ TK800 which can discourage a few buyers. It uses a color wheel that may produce a rainbow effect which can put-off viewers who are sensitive to it. Its better image quality puts it slightly ahead of the BenQ TK800 making it a value for money product.
3. JVC DLA-RS440U
JVC launched its DLA-RS440U Pro Series projector over a year ago in 2017, but it has made some serious improvements and upgraded it recently in 2018. It is an LCoS projector that now uses the latest version of JVC’s proprietary pixel shifting technology known as 4K e-shift5. It has three 0.7” D-ILA chips each with a resolution of 1920×1080 that work in tandem with the e-shift technology to project 4k UHD images on the screen.
The projector employs a high power Mercury lamp and has a brightness rating of 1,800 lumens with a native contrast ratio of 40,000:1 and a dynamic contrast ratio of 400,000:1. It performs well even in rooms with moderate ambient light while producing great colors and black levels. The lamp has a rated life of 4,500 hours.
It boasts of features like 1.4:1 to 2.8:1 motorized zoom lens, a vertical shift of ±80% and horizontal shift of ±34%. It has a lens memory function to store five different settings for focus, shift and zoom position freeing you from having to reconfigure them repeatedly. The lens can project images with a diagonal size ranging from 60” to 200”. The RS440U has two HDMI 2.0 ports, unlike other projectors that generally have one HDMI 1.4a port. It also features a 3-pin mini-DIN port, an RS232C port, and a LAN port.
The RS440U, being an LCoS projector, has great black levels that are unparalleled in its price range and even better than a few expensive models. It also supports advanced HDR and 3D.
One thing to consider about the Pro Series of JVC is that these models are only available through the retailers and are not sold online. Online shoppers can consider JVC’s DLA-X590R Consumer series model which shares the same features, specifications, and pricing as the RS44-U but has a few aesthetic differences.
2. Epson Cinema 5040UB
Even though the Epson Pro Cinema 5040UB has been in the market for a while, it is still one of the better 4K projectors available today in its price segment. It is a 3-chip LCD projector that uses a lamp as a light source. Epson has upgraded the projector to include a motorized 2.1:1 zoom lens as well as the lens memory functionality. It makes it easy for you to switch between 16:9 and widescreen mode once you save the settings.
It has a native resolution of 1920x1080x3 and utilizes the pixels shifting technology for projecting 4K UHD images on the screen. Each image on the screen is composed of 6.2 million pixels. The projector supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), 3D, and REC2020 content. It has a vertical lens shift of ±96.3% and a horizontal lens shift of ±47.1%.
Epson claims a brightness rating of 2500 lumens and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 for their 5040UB projector. It is bright enough for rooms with a moderate amount of ambient light. Its improved dynamic iris technology also yields better black levels. The lamp has a rated life of 5,000 hours on the ECO mode.
Connectivity options on the projector include an HDMI 2.2 port, another HDMI 1.4a port, two USB ports and another mini USB port for servicing, an RJ45 LAN port, a 15-pin D-Sub port, and an RS-232c port.
The Epson 5040UB and the JVC RS440U have a neck-to-neck competition. However, the better the color quality of the Epson 5040UB puts it slightly ahead of the JVC RS44U. Another factor in favor of the Epson projector is its lower lag making it ideal for gamers. The JVC RS440U would be the better choice for homeowners who only watch movies. The Epson Pro Cinema 5040UB like the JVC RS440U is only available through authorized dealers and won’t be available online.
1. Sony VPL-VW385ES
Sony’s VPL-VW 385ES takes the top spot on this list which is unsurprising considering it has a native resolution of 4096×2160. It can project sharp images that can’t be matched by any pixel shifting 4K UHD projector. It is a successor to the VW365ES and comes with many improvements including the Dynamic Iris, lens memory functionality and enhanced optical performance.
It is a 3-chip LCOS projector based on Sony’s proprietary SXRD technology. The projector has a motorized lens that allows easy picture adjustment which is a great option for widescreen viewing as it eliminates black bars at the top and bottom of the images. It supports a vertical shift of +85% to -80% and horizontal shift of ±31%. You can save three different settings for lens zoom and shift parameters.
The VPW-VW385ES has a claimed brightness rating of 1,500 lumens and a dynamic contrast ratio of 200,000:1. Its dynamic iris provides excellent black levels which very few projectors can replicate at this price point. The images output by the projector have excellent colors and are sharp thanks to Sony’s Reality Creation engine.
It uses a 225watt high-pressure lamp with an expected life of 6,000 hours on low mode. The projector has a wide range of connectivity options include three HDMI 2.0 ports, an RJ45 port, and a 9-pin D-Sub port among others.
It supports HDR, 3D and a wider color gamut (BT.2020/P3) allowing the viewers to have a cinematic experience. It is one of the few projectors to offer a true 4K resolution and excellent picture quality at this price point. There are laser projectors available from Sony and a few other brands that can produce better quality, but they are much more expensive. It is the perfect choice for homeowners who want the best picture quality.
If you have the money to spare and want an even better option, then consider the VPLVW675ES projector from Sony. It has enhanced optics and picture quality including better black levels. A cheaper alternative is the Sony’s VPL-VW285ES and has similar specifications but lacks a few advanced features like lens memory and Dynamic Iris.