Buying a Cheap Home Theater Projector

by Jane on December 24, 2014

Cheap Home Movie Projector Solution 

Cheap is relative to the person spending the money. To clarify what’s meant by “cheap”, we are referring to models under $300. These are not particularly hard to find. A simple search for cheap projectors on Amazon or Google will bring up a slew of mostly unheard of brands, such as: Digital Galaxy, E-rainbow, VVME, Shift3. If you take the time to read the product descriptions, these cheapies boast of high definition 1080p resolution, 3D capabilities, lamps lasting 1000’s of hours. Features found in high end models.

If you have prior knowledge of projectors then you should instinctively know high performance claims from models costing $300, $200 should not be taken serious. But are they junk? If you visit Amazon, some cheap models have received 4 and 5 star reviews. It’s not only one person giving high star ratings. At the time we wrote this the Fugetek FG-637 a LCD projector costing only $160 had received 57 (5-star ratings).

best budget movie projector

Fugetek fg-637 Review

Read our review of the Fugetek fg-637. Keep reading, the last point, #4 gives a secret to buying the best on a budget.

We don’t believe these high ratings prove the Fugetek FG-637 or other cheap models with similar ratings are in the same league as higher-end more expensive models. However, the ratings do lead us to conclude they are proving some type of value. So we decided to test a few of these cheap models to learn about the value and quality they provide. A summary of what we concluded after testing:

1. Some are complete junk, others provide value. However, no matter what the message in product description tells you, even the “best projector” at the “cheap price point” will not provide high performance capabilities.
Some models provide a decent picture but do not expect crystal clear high definition. If your expectations are too high then you will be disappointed. One plus is many of these will allow you to watch movies on a much larger
screen than your current TV.

2. Reading reviews on Amazon. As we already said, there are numerous models under $300 and $200 which have received a great number of 4 and 5-star reviews. While we do respect what these people say, you must understand
high reviews do not equal high performance. These people are just happy with the quality they received versus the price they paid. Not to be funny but to be completely honest, after actually reading the reviews it’s fairly evident many of the reviewers have never experienced the viewing experience of a high-end model provides. They seem happy the cheap model actually works and are able to view a movie on a large screen.

3. False advertisment. Most of these cheap projectors are manufactured in countries that pay little attention to advertising fraud. The advertising is aimed to take advantage of consumers with little knowledge of technology.
The advertising seems to have a common theme. They make big claims on how bright the projector is. They seems to know claiming “brightness” will positively influence buyers who lack knowledge.

4. Spending a little bit more. The vast majority of results returned by Googling or searching Amazon for suggestions on cheap home theater projectors will be of off-brands. If you are on a tight budget and absolutely can not afford to spend a dollar more, we have reviewed and recommended a few of the models in this “off-brand” class which provide the most value (see below for reviews). However, if you spend a bit more we want to suggest another avenue. Wouldn’t you rather buy a name brand?

Here’s a little secret. The big companies with all the best technology, manufacture projectors specifically designed for: Home theater, gaming and business presentations. The models for presentations are always the
cheapest. So here’s the secret advice. Just because a projector is designated as a “presentation projector” doesn’t mean it’s not capable of running movies.

Taking this route will provide you with something brighter, higher in contrast and about the same resolution. The overall quality and dependability should always be better when you buy a name brand. And you will be able to call customer service (not that they are always helpful), maybe a warranty. The off brands will not provide you with customer service or replacement parts if something is wrong.

Cheap presentation projector for home theater

A few best suggestions to consider, in no particular order: 

  •  BenQ MS524
  •  Acer C205
  • InFocus IN122a
  • Epson PowerLite X17 XGA 3LCD Projector
  • Optoma S303

The models above are not the only choices, see our entire list.

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