Our pick

Epson Home Cinema 3800

This projector combines high brightness with accurate color, great contrast, and good setup tools to fit in a variety of rooms.

The extremely bright Epson Home Cinema 3800 projector offers a clear step up in picture quality over budget 1080p projectors, and its native contrast ratio—the difference between the darkest and brightest parts of an image—is much higher than that of most projectors around the same price. It can’t compete with the best 4K home theater projectors in overall performance, but its high brightness makes it a better choice for use in a living room or family room where you can’t block out all the light. The Home Cinema 3800 also has accurate colors, producing lifelike greens, blues, reds, and everything in between. The image isn’t technically 4K and doesn’t look quite as sharp as what you can see from some competitors, but it’s still highly detailed. And this projector’s higher zoom (1.6x) and better lens shifting give you increased placement flexibility, which may matter more in a living room than in a dedicated theater room.

Also great

Optoma UHD35

Optoma UHD35

The UHD35 delivers a very sharp, detailed image and offers solid brightness and color accuracy. It has fewer setup tools than our top pick but costs a lot less.

If you’re willing to sacrifice some image brightness, contrast, and placement flexibility to save several hundred dollars, the Optoma UHD35 is a good living-room projector. It differs from the Epson Home Cinema 3800 in the technology it uses to create an image (as we’ll explain below), and that technology’s strength lies in image detail. As a result, in general the UHD35 looks sharper than the Home Cinema 3800, which 4K fans are sure to appreciate. However, the Optoma’s color and color temperature are a little less accurate, and it has a worse contrast ratio, so its images don’t look as rich and three-dimensional as the Epson’s. This projector also isn’t quite as bright (though it’s still respectably so), and it lacks lens shift and has a narrower zoom range, so it will be harder to place in many rooms. Still, the UHD35 looks great with a wide variety of content and is roughly 30% cheaper than our top pick.