What’s the Best Short Throw 4K Projector in 2021?

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If you don’t have time to read the article, then the best short throw 4K projector is the XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector thanks to excellent streaming support and a fantastic 4K picture.

It’s only in recent years that short throw 4K projectors have started to become viable for home theater or just general home use, with some excellent options now on the market.

Short throw projectors are differentiated from ultra short throw projectors by their throw distance – short throw projectors usually need a few feet to project a 100-inch image and are cheaper, while ultra short throw projectors can do the same in inches.

There are plenty of poor short throw projectors on the market right now, but I have waded through these to find only the best 4K projectors, and will show you exactly why each deserves its place on this list.


What is the best short throw 4K projector?

The Overall Best Short Throw 4K Projector in 2021

My Top Pick

Fully featured and an outstanding picture

  • Outstanding picture quality, with very good brightness
  • Built-In Android TV for easy streaming
  • Excellent auto screen setup, including auto-keystone and object avoidance
  • Surprisingly good sound quality, plus optical out and Bluetooth to connect your own sound system
  • Looks great and has a high build quality
  • One of the most expensive DLP projectors
With outstanding picture and sound quality, all in good looking little box, the XGIMI Horizon Pro is very hard not to recommend as the best short throw 4K projector.
You get Android TV built-in to the unit, meaning you can stream over Netflix, Disney+, Prime or many other services with ease, and the excellent auto screen setup means you don’t have to do anything to get an in-focus image projected right where you want it.
Not only is it great for movies, but also for gaming with relatively low input lag of around 35ms, meaning the Horizon Pro is something of an all-rounder, and would be perfect in any home theater or living room.

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If you have a larger budget, then consider an ultra short throw 4K projector, which use lasers to reduce the throw distance to inches, meaning they can be placed against the screen, as in the top model, the Samsung LSP7T.


The Best Budget 4K Projector

Excellent value for money

  • Very good 4K picture quality and colors
  • Bright and suitable for semi-daylight use
  • Easy setup, with manual keystone correction
  • No real rainbow effect
  • Very competitively priced
  • Some high pitched whine from the color wheel
  • Quite long throw ratio
Despite being one of the cheapest short throw 4K projectors on the market, the Viewsonic PX701-4K actually offers a surprising high-end performance, with very good 4K picture quality and accurate colors.
The brightness of the image is better for lighter rooms, but also means that the projector delivers a lovely image in home theaters, with a good black point that isn’t too gray.
There are some minor issues as you would expect from a lower priced projector, but overall the ViewSonic is an excellent choice for those wanting a 4K projector on a budget.

Comparison of the Best Short Throw Projectors 4K

Projector

Throw Distance & Image Size

Resolution & Brightness

Native Netflix Streaming?

Check Price


[The Best Short Throw 4K Projector]

100" image at 8.7 feet

Pixel-Shift 4K & 2200 ANSI Lumens

Yes


[Best Budget Short Throw 4K Projector]

100" image at 10.9 feet

Pixel-Shift 4K & 3200 ANSI Lumens

With streaming stick

100" image at 8.7 feet

Pixel-Shift 4K & 1500 ANSI Lumens

Yes

100" image at 6.5 feet

Pixel-Shift 4K & 3000 ANSI Lumens

Yes

100" image at 11.5 feet

Pixel-Shift 4K & 2700 ANSI Lumens

With streaming stick


What is a Short Throw Projector?

Before we get into the detailed reviews, it pays to define precisely what a short throw projector is.

Many people use the terms “short throw projector” and “ultra short throw projector” (UST) interchangeably, but these do not refer to the same groups of products.

The difference between them is in throw ratio and distance, with short throw projectors having a throw ratio of 0.4 to 1.5, and ultra short throw projectors having a throw ratio below 0.4.

The throw ratio directly refers to how close to the screen the projector must be in order to produce an image, with a lower ratio meaning the projector can be closer.

You often see throw ratios quoted as just a number, like 0.5, which refers to the ratio 0.5:1. This means that for every inch of screen width, the projector must be 0.4 inches from the screen.

So, to understand how far back from the screen you need to place your projector, simply multiple the throw ratio by the width of the image you want to project. As an example, if you wanted a 100-inch width picture and were looking at a projector with a 0.5 throw ratio, this means that you would need to place the projector 100 x 0.5 = 50 inches from the screen.


Although the above is the only technical difference between short throw and ultra short throw projectors, in practice there is also a difference in picture quality, as short throw projectors use DLP light sources, rather than lasers of the UST models.

DLP models use lamps with a shorter lifespan that lasers, and aluminum mirrors that tilt thousands of times per second to reflect the light onto the screen. This is both cheaper, and gives higher contrast, but can produce the rainbow effect which some find distracting when viewing.

The rainbow effect on a DLP projector

Laser models use either a single laser channel that is projected through a color wheel that spins at very high velocity to change the color of the laser, or use three separate laser channels to produce RGB colors.

Laser 4K projectors
How laser projectors work

There are currently no 4K short throw laser projectors, only 4K ultra short throw laser projectors, as all short throw projectors use the cheaper DLP technology.


What Makes the Ideal Short Throw 4K Projector?

There are a few key characteristics that are useful for comparing short throw 4K projectors, which are what I have used to decide on the projectors reviewed within this article. You could add many more to this list, such as on-board sound quality, but this metric is fairly uniform across all projectors of this type, so I’ve tried to consider only the most relevant points.

  • 4K Picture Quality. Consider native and upscaled 4K, color fringing and contrast, and overall sharpness.
    • Brightness is a useful metric, as it lets you know how well a projector performs in a bright room, useful if you want to use it during daytime.
    • Refresh Rate. If you are in the market for a 4K short throw gaming projector, then frame rate is crucial, as projectors tend to have much more lag than traditional TVs.
  • Ease of Use. Can you setup the projector easily, and does the remote work well for general day-to-day use?
  • App Integration. Does the projector have Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming apps available natively, or do you have to add a separate streaming stick?
  • Connectivity. Can you connect the projector to WiFi, or use Bluetooth to connect to your sound system?
  • Value for Money. Even short throw 4K projectors are quite expensive, so you must be sure that it is worth the high price tag.
4K short throw projector

4K Picture Quality

Overall picture quality is by far the most important part of any 4K short throw projector, but how can you define this?

Although every projector in this article has very good clarity, color and sharpness, there are some that are better that others in the details of picture quality, such as chromatic aberration, color fringing, and the rainbow effect, and this is therefore where you can separate models out from one another.

Two useful terms here are:

  • Chromatic dispersion, which refers to light dispersing outside of the intended area, so that on-screen text appears fuzzy, and points of light, like stars, bleed into their surroundings. This is usually more noticeable at closer viewing distances, but can be a sign of poor focusing control on the projector.
  • Chromatic aberration is where the light is split into different color bands on the edges of shapes, producing a multicolored halo or color fringe around objects. This is a sign of lower quality glass in the lens.

Also, it should be noted that every 4K projector in this review actually creates the 4K image by pixel shifting, despite many of them being advertised as “true 4K”.

This is effectively a 1080p image upscaled to 4K, which happens by splitting the input and re-sending it through the image processor. Generally it works well, although comparing any of these pixel-shift 4K projectors to a UST projector with true 4K, you will see a noticeable difference.

Remember though, that 4K UST projectors are 4 -5x the cost of pixel-shift 4K short throw projectors, but do not have 4 – 5x the picture quality – these short throw projectors are currently much better value for money.

Brightness

Brightness of projectors is measured in ANSI Lumens, where the larger the number, the brighter the image, although this is not always the case in practice due to this measurement being produced in lab tests, rather than in the real-world.

All 4K short throw projectors in this article are bright enough to produce a lovely picture in a darkened room, such as a home theater, but there are differences when it comes to using the projector in normal daylight conditions, such as you might in a standard living room.

4K short throw projector

Therefore, the brightness rating should only guide your research if you think that you will be using the projector in non-optimal lighting, such as in a non-darkened room.

Generally speaking, all short throw projectors perform less well in this situation, but some are definitely better than others, with those of a higher lumens value usually delivering a brighter image, but exceptions to this are noted in the reviews below.

Refresh Rate

If you are looking for a 4K short throw gaming projector, then refresh rate is very important. DLP projectors like those seen here tend to have a faster refresh rate than laser projectors, so short throw projectors are better suited to gaming than ultra short throw projectors.

Ideally, you want a refresh rate as high as possible, as a lower refresh rate leads to lag, which can be a serious problem in some games.

Most of the projectors in this article range offer 60 Hz refresh rate and 16 ms of input lag when operating in 4K mode, or up to 240 Hz and 4.2 ms lag when at 1080p, meaning that for gaming, you are often better off using the projector in 1080p mode.


Ease of Use & App Integration

Short throw projector

Setup for any projector can be a painful experience, so it pays to know which have well-designed menus and a remote that can makes it east to get the picture perfectly straight, level and in-focus.

The best projectors have menus that can guide you through this process, but also have integrated apps like Netflix and Disney+, meaning that you can stream movies directly through the projector.

Most projectors in this price range though do not offer this level of app integration, meaning that you must buy a streaming stick separately, plug this into the projector’s HDMI port and power it one of the projector’s USB ports. You can then stream as normal, although this is obviously extra hassle, and means you end up with two remotes.


Connectivity

It’s very useful for a projector to have WiFi to enable it to stream movies directly, but this is not needed if you use a separate streaming stick.

Perhaps of more use is a Bluetooth connection, which allows you to setup a wireless sound system, although this tends not to be found in projectors of this price range.

Instead, you get a variety of ports to connect your sound system. As some sound systems require very specific cabling and support different audio standards, it makes sense to check your current system against any projector before buying.



Reviews of the Top Short Throw 4K Projectors

The short throw projectors included in this review list were all compared based on the criteria listed above, with only the top scoring models included.


1. XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector

The Best Short Throw 4K Projector

My Top Pick
XGIMI 4K projector

Specifications:

  • Max. Image Size: 150″
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 2200 Lumens
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • Resolution: Pixel-Shift 4K
  • Throw Ratio: 1.2
  • Netflix Streaming? Yes
  • Ease of Setup / Use: Easy
  • Built in Speakers? Yes

The XGIMI Horizon Pro looks good from the outside, and delivers an outstanding picture with great sound quality from the on-board speakers. Compared to the other 4K short throw projectors reviewed, it offers a much more professional experience, and seems reliable, with built-in Android TV, Wifi and Bluetooth.

Picture Quality

Although at 2200 ANSI Lumens of brightness, the picture is more than bright enough to use in daylight (though it does suffer substantially in direct light) and darkness, with plenty of detail visible, and with a clear, sharp image produced in a darkened room.

Colors are great and the overall experience from viewing the 120-inch picture is akin to using a much more expensive projector – this is probably the top DLP model currently available.

Setup

One area that really sets the Horizon Pro apart from its competitors is in the auto-setup features. It has auto-keystone correction and can intelligently avoid projecting the image onto objects, meaning that the picture will fill any space you point the projector at, without overlapping onto furniture or other objects.

This means no constant adjusting of the projector’s position, making it much more portable, and a joy to use when compared to some of the harder-to-setup models.

Overall

The Horizon Pro has very low input lag, making it the most suitable for gaming at 4K, when compared to other DLP projectors. The Harmon Karmon speakers deliver excellent quality sound, and you can supplement this by connecting your own sound system through an optical output, or via Bluetooth.

With the addition of in-built Android TV making streaming super-easy and the professional build quality of this projector, there’s really no reason to not recommend the XGIMI Horizon Pro for the majority of home users looking to create their own home theaters.

  • Pros:
  • In-built Android TV for easy streaming
  • Outstanding picture quality, with very good brightness
  • Bluetooth or optical out to connect to your sound system
  • Looks good from the outside, and has high build quality
  • In-build speakers provide surprisingly good sound quality
  • Auto screen setup is very useful and takes the hassle out of setup
  • Cons:
  • One of the most expensive DLP projectors

2. ViewSonic PX701-4K

The Best Budget 4K Projector

Viewsonic 4K short throw projector

Specifications:

  • Max. Image Size: 300″
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3200 Lumens
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz @ 4K; 240 Hz @ 1080p
  • Resolution: Pixel-Shift 4K
  • Throw Ratio: 1.5
  • Netflix Streaming? With streaming stick
  • Ease of Setup / Use: Medium
  • Built in Speakers? Yes

As one of the cheapest 4K short throw projectors on the market, you would expect the ViewSonic PX701 to have a large downside, but it actually performs very well, offering an excellent choice for those on a budget.

Picture Quality

Movies look good when projected at 4K, using the internal Android TV streaming, with the brightness in particular allowing for the projector to be used even in a fairly light room.

Colors seem accurate with no noticeable rainbow effect, and blacks do actually look pretty close to black, rather than gray.

The only real negative with the picture is the relatively long throw ratio, at 1.5, which means to get the maximum 300-inch screen size you would need to place the projector about 36 ft from the screen!

Setup

You need to manually perform keystone correction and other setup, unlike the auto-setup functions of the XGIMI, but this is relatively easy to do, although is an annoyance if you don’t have your projector in one fixed location and constantly move it.

Streaming is via a separate streaming stick, which you must provide, but it works well with Chromecast or Fire.

Overall

There are a few minor issues with the ViewSonic, such as a high pitched whine from the color wheel, and louder fans, which are to be expected given the low price, but are not things that I feel are deal-breakers.

Gaming is particularly good with 4.2ms of input lag and a 240 Hz refresh rate when using the projector in 1080p mode.

Overall, the ViewSonic PX701-4K is an excellent budget short throw projector that delivers a much better experience than the lower price would suggest.

  • Pros:
  • Excellent brightness, suitable for use in daylight
  • Very good 4K picture quality and colors
  • Easy setup with manual keystone correction
  • Minimal to no rainbow effect
  • Large max image size
  • Very competitively priced
  • Cons:
  • Some high-pitched whine from the color wheel spinning
  • The remote is less well designed than with competitors
  • Quite long throw ratio means the projector must be moved back from the wall / screen

3. Anker Nebula Cosmos Max

Uniquely Designed Short Throw Projector

Anker 4K short throw projector

Specifications:

  • Max. Image Size: 150″
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 1500 Lumens
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • Resolution: Pixel-Shift 4K
  • Throw Ratio: 1.2
  • Netflix Streaming? Yes
  • Ease of Setup / Use: Easy
  • Built in Speakers? Yes

The Anker Nebula Cosmos Max is the 4K version of the popular 1080p Nebula Cosmos, offering unique benefits like 360-degree sound from the four 10W speakers.

Picture Quality

Despite having a relatively low brightness in ANSI Lumens, the Cosmos Max does deliver a very good image in a darkened room, but this is not really suitable for using in daylight. The trade-off is that you get a much quieter projector that does not need as aggressive cooling fans, which is something that those with a home theater setup will definitely value.

Sound quality is very good, and largely negates the need for a separate sound system, although the projector cannot be hidden away if you want to get the full effect from the speakers.

Picture quality overall is lovely, with accurate colors and a clear 4K image being delivered.

Setup

The Cosmos Max is easy to setup with the semi-auto-keystone (vertical is auto, horizontal is manual) and autofocus settings. It uses Android TV to access streaming apps, although Netflix must be downloaded separately through the Nebula app interface, but there are no issues with quick setup or ease of use in practice.

There is also access to the Nebula app for iOS or Android phones, meaning that you can control the projector via your phone, if you find that the remote doesn’t quite cut it. This is particularly useful for Netflix, which otherwise can be a little tough to use on projectors.

Overall

If you are looking for a ceiling mounted short throw projector, then the Cosmos Max really does a good job, thanks to its low profile, quiet-enough fan noise and 3D sound. Provided that you use this in a darkened room, picture quality is excellent, and the integrated Android TV and Nebula apps make streaming easy.

  • Pros:
  • Lovely 4K picture
  • Integrated Android TV makes most streaming very easy
  • Autofocus and semi-auto-keystone make setup easier
  • Perfect for a ceiling mount due to its low profile
  • 3D sound from the built-in four speakers
  • Relatively low fan noise
  • Cons:
  • Does exhibit some rainbow effect
  • Uses Nebula App Manager within Android TV, which is a little inconvenient

4. BenQ TK700STi

BenQ Short Throw Projector 4K

BenQ short throw 4K projector

Specifications:

  • Max. Image Size: 120″
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3000 Lumens
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz @ 4K; 240 Hz @ 1080p
  • Resolution: Pixel-Shift 4K
  • Throw Ratio: 0.9
  • Netflix Streaming? Yes
  • Ease of Setup / Use: Medium
  • Built in Speakers? Yes

The BenQ TK700STi offers a fully featured projector with access to Android TV, built-in speakers and Bluetooth connection to add you own sound system without extra wires.

Picture Quality

Images look lovely on the BenQ, with a quoted color space of 96% of the Rec. 709 gamut meaning that it can show more colors than most computer monitors, and puts the projector in a high position for color accuracy in this list.

The short throw ratio of 0.9 means that you only need around 6.5 ft to get a 100-inch image, which is perfect for smaller spaces, and the bright 3000 ANSI Lumens means that the image is still easily visible, even in normal daylight.

Setup

Setup is straightforward and easy, with no issues, and there is a decent amount of lens shifting available to allow you to position the projector where you want, rather than having it in a fixed position.

The included Android TV dongle works well and means that you have access to all of the standard streaming apps over WiFi, and this also lets you connect to your speakers via Bluetooth.

Overall

This BenQ TK700STi is overall an excellent projector with a number of premium features that would sit well in any home, but particularly those short on space who don’t want to pay the premium for an ultra short throw projector.

Ultimately, the only thing wrong with the BenQ is the relatively high price when compared to other models in this list, but if you want the best and don’t have a fixed budget, then BenQ is the way to go.

  • Pros:
  • Low throw ratio of 0.9 means you can use this in a small room
  • Built-in Android TV with access to all streaming apps
  • Bluetooth connection to let you connect your sound system
  • Bright with HDR-enabled picture for beautiful images
  • Low input lag makes this suitable for gaming
  • 96% of Rec. 709 color gamut means nearly all of the sRGB gamut, and gives lovely colors
  • Cons:
  • Quite expensive for a short throw projector
  • Built-in speaker isn’t too good

5. Optoma UHD35

Optoma 4K Short Throw Projector

Optoma short throw 4K projector

Specifications:

  • Max. Image Size: 300″
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3600 Lumens
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz @ 4K; 240 Hz @ 1080p
  • Resolution: Pixel-Shift 4K
  • Throw Ratio: 1.5
  • Netflix Streaming? With streaming stick
  • Ease of Setup / Use: Medium / Hard
  • Built in Speakers? No

The Optoma UHD35 is one of the cheapest Optoma short throw projectors, offering a slightly less bright image than its more expensive big brother the UHD38.

Picture Quality

As with all of the projectors in this article, there is no issue with the picture quality at 4K, with colors and contrast appearing as good as you would expect. Brightness is high thanks to the 3600 ANSI Lumens, making this projector the most suitable for use in daylight out of any here, but be aware that this does come at the cost of louder fan noise.

When in enhanced game mode, lag is hardly noticeable, making it easily usable for gaming and one of the most capable gaming projectors.

Setup

It is a little harder to setup the UHD35 than its immediate competitors, as it has limited lens shift, meaning that the projector itself must be moved around to get an in-focus image that sits in the position that you want it.

You will also need to add a streaming stick to access Netflix, Disney+, Prime and all other services, which feels a little cheap given the relatively high price of the projector.

Overall

Although the Optoma UHD35 projects a lovely, bright image, it doesn’t quite feel like value for money for me, unless you need something that will work in daylight. In that case, the Optoma is probably your best bet, as the high 3600 ANSI Lumens really let it produce a clear, crisp and bright image regardless of its surroundings.

  • Pros:
  • Very large image size possible, up to 300-inches
  • Bright image is suitable for use in rooms in daylight
  • 4K picture is very sharp, clear and crisp
  • Enhanced game mode reduces input lag and makes it excellent for gaming
  • Lamp has a rated life of 15,000 hours in Eco mode
  • Cons:
  • Limited lens shift, meaning you can’t move it much closer or further away from the screen, while maintaining the same size image
  • Louder fan noise
  • Quite long throw ratio, meaning it needs to be placed further from the screen

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