In this article: We’ll review our best 6 choices for a 3D projector along with their key features and details.
Flat-screen televisions certainly dominate the home entertainment market, but the rise of 3-dimensional film is providing a resurgence for home movie projectors. Technology today allows for hyper-realistic images at very high resolution from a projector. In fact, a projector may even be the best solution for people who have limited space for anything other than a dinky little TV. Projectors work best on a screen, but any flat surface will work. The 3D projectors on the market today provide excellent image quality and value, as prices have dropped somewhat as competition increases.
What is a 3D projector?
A 3D projector works by displaying two almost identical images at once. When the viewer sees the image through polarized lenses that isolate left and right views, the depth of the image is enhanced, creating a 3-dimensional image.
3D-Ready vs. Full 3D
Some projectors are marketed as 3D-Ready, while others say they are Full 3D or Full HD 3D. These terms are a major source of confusion for buyers shopping projectors. Full 3D projectors and 3D-ready projectors cost about the same, so what’s the difference?
Simply put, 3D-ready projectors only handle one format of 3D projection -called frame sequential. A PC creates the dual image and transmits to the projector. Set-top boxes and Blu-ray players, including game consoles, will not work with a 3D-ready projector. The PC must also be capable of running the 3D software.
Full 3D projectors will work with a Blu-ray player, game console, or a set-top box like those from DirecTV. The term Full refers to the fact these projectors can display content in all four of the common formats.
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Additional Equipment Needed
The only way viewers can experience 3D images is by using a pair of specially-designed glasses that isolate the images for each eye. Without the 3D glasses, the image isn’t clear and definitely isn’t 3D. Many 3D projectors will include glasses, but it’s also a good idea to check out the top brands on the market. There are two types of glasses, active and passive. Active are the most common, but are also more expensive. Passive glasses can require an additional polarizing module, offsetting the savings.
In many cases, you are going to have to come up with solutions for audio. For example, using a Fire TV stick is a great way to get tons of streaming content available on your screen, but audio will require either Bluetooth speakers or a more complex wiring solution using HDMI converters and adapters.
Most projectors will give you a decent image on a flat wall or even a bedsheet, but to get the best quality from a 3D projector, you will want to invest in a projector screen. Screens are available in a wide array of sizes to suit any situation.
High-resolution projectors require a media feed capable of providing HD content. This means you will need a DVD player, set-top box, or gaming console capable of 1080P or 4k, depending on the projector model you choose.
Our Top Pick 3D Projectors
- 2,500 lumens ANSI
- Full HD and Full 3D
- 1080P resolution
- Streaming capable
- Vertical lens shift
- Built-in 10 watt speaker
- Frame interpolation
- 3LCD, 3-chip technology
- Screen size: 30″ – 300″ at (2.86 ft – 29.2 ft)
Epson Home Cinema 2150 Quick Review
When it comes to home theater projector superstars, Epson is a company to look out for. They bring superb quality and approachable prices to create one of the best values on the market. The Epson 2150 is a Full 3D projector ideal for most home theater setups. The 2150 features a manufacturer’s rated 2,500 lumens -enough light to get excellent visibility in less than ideal conditions. In its brightest mode, the 2150 recorded 2,617 lumens during independent testing.
Full 3D capabilities make connecting your favorite movies a snap. You can hook up a Blu-ray player or even stream content from an MHL-enabled device. Gamers looking to project from a PC are in luck, with a moderately low lag time of 29.2 ms, games will run smooth. Colors are true-to-life, though blacks are a little dull.
The projector displays full HD widescreen images in native 1080P resolution, but does not support 4K Ultra HD. Viewers who are into 3D content will need active 3D glasses to take advantage of the breathtaking and almost seamless experience. From a distance of 11 feet, you can project an image of 132” diagonal, around four times the screen size of a 60” flat panel TV.
- Excellent projector at a low price
- Versatile projector that is portable
- Very good illumination
- Blacks could be better
- Doesn’t work with 4K Blu-ray players
ViewSonic PJD7828HDL Quick Review
ViewSonic makes some very good home theater projectors. This one, the ViewSonic PJD7828HDL is one of the best budget options on the market today. It provides superb color and clarity in 1080P resolution and provides Full 3D integration. The setup is simple and straightforward as the 7828HDL can display content from Blu-ray players, PCs, set-top boxes, and gaming consoles.
Gamers will particularly gravitate to this projector. Its lag speed of only 16.4 ms is among the industries lowest, providing spectacularly smooth graphics on the big screen. Speaking of big screens, this projector will give anywhere from a 30” screen all the way up to a monstrous 300” widescreen. The projector is optimized for screens of 100” from a distance of 8.9 feet.
You can even stream wirelessly using a HDMI WiFi dongle or an MHL connector. The ViewSonic is one of the most portable of any of the projectors out there with a total weight of only 5.3 lbs, you can easily move it outside for movie night, then back inside afterward. Dual 10 watt speakers provide better than average sound.
- Incredible image quality for a low price
- Dual HDMI ports make multiple hook ups easy
- Better than average speakers for excellent portability
- Requires more space than average short throw projectors
- Fan is louder than some competitors
BenQ HT2150ST Quick Review
Gamers make up a significant portion of the most dedicated projector users, and for good reason. Today’s games are an amazing combination of hyper-realistic graphics and cinema-quality cutscenes. It’s as immersive of an alternate environment as you are going to get. The BenQ HT2150ST is designed with avid gamers at heart. It has an insanely low 16 ms lag time, so you won’t deal with stuttering or artificial artifacts obscuring your image.
The HT2150ST is a true short throw projector. It’ll put up a 100” image from only 5.5 feet. The color reproduction is simply unbelievable -even 2D movies have that deep, rich saturation you only get from high-end professional projectors. And pop in a 3D movie on DVD and grab a pair of active 3D glasses, you’ll get sucked right into the action. It’s ready to stream from your favorite source wirelessly through an HDMI WiFi dongle making it simple to watch what you want, when you want.
There really isn’t more you could ask for from a top-tier 3D projector. BenQ stands behind their products with a two-year warranty, but most people don’t need to use it. The biggest issue owners have reported is that the lens has a tendency to collect dust, particularly when ceiling mounted. It’s an easy task to clean, so the dust issue really is more of an inconvenience most owners think is far from a deal-breaker.
- True short throw projector
- Ideal projector for gaming
- Lamp replacement is expensive
Optoma HD146X Quick Review
Buyers looking for an incredible projector at a great value should check out the Optoma HD146X. This is one of the lowest priced Full 3D projectors on the market right now, but don’t let that make you think this one is short on features. It’s a well-optioned pic for anyone looking to upgrade their in-home theater experience.
The HD146X provides incredibly realistic color using a single chip DLP design. Optoma rates the HD146 as producing up to 3,600 lumens, which should be bright enough for rooms that allow ambient light or use outdoors. Native 1080P resolution gives razor-sharp images, deep black shades, and bright colors.
Gamers will love this projector. It supports frame rates of 144 Hz for seamless transitions and no stutter. An advanced Gaming Mode provides smooth graphics. A higher frame rate translates to better graphics and a more enjoyable viewing experience, particularly when watching 3D content.
- Excellent low-cost option
- Ideal for backyard movie nights
- Replacement lamps can be difficult to find
- Some users reported frequent lamp changes well below the manufacturers estimate
Sony VPL-HW40ES Quick Review
Sony is a big-time brand in the home theater market and for good reason. Sony’s extensive line of products provide options for nearly anyone interested in a professional-quality home theater. The HW40ES provides a true to life cinema experience you aren’t likely to forget.
Supporting Full HD and Full 3D, the Sony HW40ES features advanced SXRD panel technology to provide “Reality Creation,” Sony’s way of describing super high definition resolution, high frame rates, and warm butter-smooth transitions. This is one of the most popular projectors for true-to-life viewing.
Sports fans are particularly drawn to the Sony HW40ES. The projector features “motionflow” technology to prevent blurred images while on-screen objects are moving quickly. It is one of the very best looking projectors for watching sports, and it looks even better than a high-quality HD television.
- Incredible detail, particularly for sports and live events
- Much better image brightness than the rated lumens would suggest
- Bulky and heavy, not ideal for portability
- Rated 4,000 lumens
- Full HD and Full 3D
- 144 Hz frame rate
- High brightness rating
- Network control through LAN ethernet
- Requires DLP-compatible 3D glasses
- 10 watt speaker built-in
InFocus IN3138HD Quick Review
The InFocus IN3138HD is a professional-grade projector. Designed more for conference rooms than home theaters, it is fully capable of producing vivid 3D playback and HD resolution. In fact, numerous users prefer this projector for home theater use over other similarly priced options.
In testing, the InFocus projector did not meet its rated 4,000 lumens, instead topping out around 3,000 in its brightest mode. When using the projector for gaming or 3D movies, lumen output drops to around 1,500. While that may seem low too many buyers, users did not report any issues with visibility in properly designed spaces.
As a professional projector, this one offers some connectivity features that are uncommon, like a 12V trigger for built-in screen control and an ethernet port for remote adjustments. Since it is designed for use in conference rooms and classrooms, the projector is somewhat larger and bulkier than competitors, and its 31 db fan is among the loudest on the market.
- Effortlessly goes from business presentation to 3D viewing
- Superior options for connections and controls
- Conference room design makes bright colors a little too bright
- Some users report a bluish or greenish hue
A 3D projector can really change the way you watch movies, sports, or play video games. The ability for many of these projectors to be set up outside also brings a whole new level of entertainment within easy reach. Any of the projectors on this list will provide dynamic color, excellent image quality, and support for full 3D.
Picking the best option for you comes down to how you plan to use the projector in the first place. If your intention is to set it up in a darkened home theater room, any of these projectors will give you satisfactory results. You should consider the throw distance of your space. Some people have found that a short throw projector is necessary for the size of the room they use, while others prefer a ceiling-mount and a long throw for more of a cinema feel.
Extra costs are an important consideration. Lamps burn out and must be replaced. The industry tends to average around 5,000 hours on a lamp, but the cost of lamps can vary from low-priced options to lamps that cost nearly a quarter of the value of the projector. Also consider that 3D glasses are needed for 3D viewing. Active glasses provide a cleaner experience, but cost more. Passive glasses are not compatible with many high-end projectors.
We hope this list has helped you to focus your search for the ultimate home theater projector for your 3D viewing.