A idea of using an ultra-short-throw projector as a replacement for a regular TV has been around for a few years, but there's no denying the explosion of recent interest as numerous projector manufacturers have jumped into the fray. You can blame it on a number of factors, including the dropping cost of bright lasers that eliminate the usual lamp replacements associated with projectors; the development of high-tech screens that let you effectively watch projections with the lights on; and the still very-high costs associated with a panel TV at the 100- to 120-inch image size these projectors play at. Whatever the reason, what was once a curiosity has become a bonafide product category, with quite a few models to choose from at different price and performance levels.

The projectors listed below (in alphabetical order) all use a solid-state light source—typically laser—that eliminates costly lamp replacements and provides essentially stable brightness for at least 20,000 hours of use. That's more than nine years of watching six hours of TV every single day. Some include on-board streaming platforms for receiving services like Netflix and Amazon, a built-in off-air TV tuner, or an integrated soundbar. Likewise, some are shipped as a complete solution with an ambient-light-rejection screen designed for use with UST projectors. In our guide below, we've called out these and other features, and included a link to each product's page in our ProjectorCentral database where you can see more specficiations, download a product sheet and user manual for more information, or visit our Projector Throw Calculator for that model. Clicking on the price for any projector in the guide will provide a link to our affiliated online resellers where applicable. As always, follow the links through to the retailer to check for the latest discounts.—Rob Sabin, editor-in-chief.


Epson LS500 lifestyle black

Epson LS500

  • Rated Brightness 4,000 Lumens
  • Screen Included Yes
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price $4,999 MSRP w/ 100-inch screen
  • Price $5,999 MSRP w/ 120-inch screen

Just the name of the Epson LS500 Laser Projection TV leaves no doubt about its intended use. The LS500 comes with a 16:9 ALR screen—at either 100-inch or 120-inch size—and it includes a built-in stereo audio system with two 10-watt speakers facing the seating area. It also offers a stereo-out port if you prefer to use an external audio system, which you might—unlike some of the competition that claims a built-in soundbar, Epson says its speakers are more utilitarian and not intended to replace a permanent outboard sound system. At this writing, it's slated to be available in the second half of 2020.

The LS500 doesn't include a digital TV tuner, but it qualifies as a smart TV thanks to its Android TV OS. It also includes Google Voice so you can give it voice commands. And its 4,000 ISO (ANSI) lumens—the brightest rating for any of the projectors in this buyers' guide—makes it easily bright enough for the image to stand up to ambient light with its associated screen. It also offers support for full HD 3D, and its HDR support—for both HDR10 and HLG—adds an HDR curve adjustment with 16 settings borrowed from Epson's late-model home theater projectors, so you can fine tune the image to best match the content you're watching.

Epson LS500 FrontAngle
Epson LS500

Epson's 4K PRO-UHD technology in the LS500 uses three 1920x1080 (1080p) LCD chips and relies on pixel shifting to double the number of pixels on screen. That's only half as many as are in a UHD image, but thanks to Epson's sophisticated image processing, a high quality lens, and the fact that there's only so much detail the human eye can see, Epson's approach delivers an image that's very much in the same league as, and in some cases better than, images from projectors that put a full 3840x2160 pixels on screen. Epson claims 96% Rec.709 coverage and a contrast ratio exceeding 2,500,000:1.

The projector measures just 9 x 18 x 14.75 inches (HWD), and you can get it in black or white to best match your decor. It's also a relatively light 20.5 pounds for easy setup. The only allowable positioning is on a flat surface in front of the screen, with the closest side of the projector 15.4 inches from the 100-inch screen or 20.4-inches from the 120 inch screen. That's further out than some competitors, but close enough to let the LS500 fit on a 30 to 35-inch deep table or credenza in front of the screen.


Hisense 120L10E lifestyle sports

Hisense L10 Series, 120L10E

  • Rated Brightness 3,000 Lumens
  • Screen Included Yes
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price $8,999 w/ 120-inch screen

Hisense has had a version of its "Laser TV" UST projector in the U.S. market since 2017. It's current generation, the Hisense L10 Series, is one of the few UST 4K projectors at this writing that's designed as a straightforward HDR UHD TV-replacement, with no need to add anything to it. The top package, model 120L10E, comes with a 120-inch, 16:9 ambient light rejecting screen and a substantial Harmon Kardon audio system with dbx-tv enhancement, a pair of 20-watt speakers, and a wireless 60-watt subwoofer. If you'd prefer a smaller screen or lower price, Hisense will happily point you towards the $9,995 100L10E with a 100-inch screen. Also available alone as the 120L10E1 is the projector and its accompanying sound system ($7,999).

As a TV, the 12L10E provides a built-in digital TV tuner as well as smart TV features that include apps for NetFlix, YouTube, a browser, and more. It also includes Alexa for voice control and support for both HDR10 and HLG—though there's no support for 3D. At 3,000 lumens, it should be easily bright enough to stand up to ambient light.

Hisense 120L10E1 FrontAngle
Hisense 120L10E

The projector is built around a dual-laser, laser-phosphor light source paired with a Texas Instrument's 0.66-inch DMD chip with XPR technology to deliver the 3840x2160 resolution. Key specs include a 98% DCI-P3 coverage—a benefit of the dual-laser system—and a 30,000:1 contrast ratio.

The case is a handsome two-tone gray. It measures 8.1 x 27.1 x 16.4 inches (HWD), weighs a hefty 50.1 pounds, and is designed to rest on a flat surface in front of the screen as the only choice for positioning. The screen-facing side of the projector sits just 8.3 inches from the 120 inch screen or, for the 100L10E, just 4.5 inches from its 100-inch screen. The Harmon Kardon subwoofer measures 13.4 x 6.5 x 14.2 inches (HWD).


LG HU85LA Lifestyle trolley

LG CineBeam HU85LA 4K Laser Smart Home Theater Projector

  • Rated Brightness 2,700 Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price $5,697

The LG HU85LA doesn't include a screen as part of the package, and its onboard stereo audio system uses a modest pair of 5-watt speakers that ran out of steam quickly during our review, so you may want an external sound system. However, it still qualifies as a smart TV replacement, thanks to its built-in digital TV tuner, and its WebOS streaming platform that supports Netflix, YouTube, and a browser, plus an app store for more. It even offers voice control with LG ThinQ, Google Assistant, and Alexa.

HDR support in the HU85LA is limited to HDR10, making it one the few projectors included here that doesn't support HLG. It's also one of the few that lacks 3D support. On the other hand, as reported in our review, it offers effective dynamic tone-mapping to optimize HDR10. And its 2,700 lumen rating should be enough to deliver an image that can easily stand up to moderate levels of ambient light at the 90 to 120-inch screen size LG recommends, especially if mated with an ALR UST screen.

Hisense 120L10E1 FrontAngle
LG HU85LA

As with most projectors is this category, the LG HU85LA is built around a laser-phosphor light source paired with a DLP chip that uses TI's XPR technology to deliver 3840x2160 resolution. Unlike most, though, it uses the larger 0.66-inch DMD. More notable is that it fully eliminates a color wheel by using red and blue lasers plus a third blue laser and phosphor for green, which LG says delivers more vivid color than a color wheel. Its DCI-P3 coverage is rated at 97% and its contrast ratio at 2,000,000:1.

The white case, which measures 5 x 26.8 x 13.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 26.7 pounds, is stylish enough to look good in a living area, thanks in part to a fabric grille covering on the audience-facing side. LG says it can be mounted in front of the screen or behind it, and on a flat surface below or a ceiling mount above. It also offers the setup convenience of 12-point geometric correction for keystone, pincushioning, and barrel distortion. Thanks to an aggressive 0.19 throw ratio for the lens, the distance from the screen-facing side to the screen for the recommended 90 to 120-inch sizes ranges from 2.2 to 7.2 inches.


OptomaCinemaxP1 lifestylebeach

Optoma CinemaX P1 and CinemaX Pro

  • Rated Brightness 3,000/3,500 Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • X P1 Price $3,799
  • X Pro Price $4,999

Optoma now offers this projector in two configurations with essentially the same features. The original CinemaX P1 introduced late last year offers 3,000 ANSI lumens and costs $3,799. You can see our review here. The newer CinemaX Pro, at $4,999, is targeted at the professional install channel and boasts 3,500 lumens and higher rated contrast thanks to a more powerful laser.

Aside from a screen, which you'll have to buy separately, the Optoma CinemaX P1 includes everything you need to take the place of a 4K smart TV. More precisely, it includes a NuForce 40W Dolby Digital 2.0 soundbar integrated into the front of the unit, and it offers apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon via its onboard streaming platform and the Optoma Marketplace (Optoma's app store). It offers voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant. The only trick it misses is a built-in digital TV tuner to pick up broadcast signals.

In addition to HDR10, the P1 supports HLG for HDR, and it supports full HD 3D. Its 3,000 lumens made it easily bright enough in our tests to stand up to moderate ambient light using Optoma's recommended 85 to 120-inch screen size.

OptomaCinemaxP1 fronttop blackbg
Optoma CinemaX P1

Along with most projectors in this category, the P1 is built around a DLP imaging chip and a laser light source. The 0.47-inch DMD uses TI's XPR technology to deliver a native 3840x2160 resolution, and colors are generated with a single blue laser combined with an RGBYRGBY phosphor color wheel. Optoma claims 90% DCI color coverage, though it fell a bit short of that in our bench tests. Contrast ratio is rated at 1,500,000:1. Maximum input resolution is 4096x2160 at 30Hz.

The P1 is designed strictly for sitting on a flat surface below the screen, and it's also designed to look good sitting there. The sleek black case measures 5.1 x 22.1 x 15 inches (HWD) and weighs just 24.25 pounds. For the recommended 85 to 120-inch screen, the distance from screen to projector is 7 to 14.75 inches. And thanks to four corner adjustment, 81-point geometric correction, and a powered focus control, you can adjust the image just so. Unique to Optoma is a clever app you can download to automatically apply the required geometric correction to snap the image to the screen. Note also that along with the typical two-year warranty for the projector, the P1 has the longest light-source warranty for the category, at five years or 12,000 hours.


Sim2 XTV lifestyle

Sim2 4K UHD SIM2 XTV

  • Rated Brightness 2,500 Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price n/a

Although Sim2 has announced the 4K UHD SIM2 XTV, it hasn't released much information about it yet. A company spokesman said that the specifications aren't frozen at this writing, so weren't ready to share for publication. That said, there are some details in the published data sheet that are presumably close to the final specs.

The projector is 4.5 x 21.1 x 15.1 inches (HWD), weighs 29.8 pounds, and will be available in your choice of black or white. In addition to the retail version, it will be available through custom installers who can mount it in a recessed area in the ceiling or sell it with a custom or standard cabinet with a recessed area in the top of the cabinet, so you would only see the top of the unit. This effectively hides its modern industrial design and makes the projector invisible.

SIM 2 XTV front
Sim2 4K UHD SIM2 XTV

Built around a single DLP XPR chip and using a laser light source, the Sim2 projector will offer a 3840x2160 native resolution, 2,500 ANSI lumen brightness, powered focus, and a recommended image size of 80 to 150-inches. It will also support HDR, but the data sheet doesn't specify what version or versions of HDR. It will not support 3D.

The one other key piece of information in the data sheet is the 0.25 throw ratio. For the recommended 80 to 150-inch image size, that translates to a distance from the screen to the screen side of the projector of roughly 2 to 18 inches.


Sony VPL VZ1000ES lifestyle bedroom

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES

  • Rated Brightness 2,500 Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price $14,999

Sony was first to market with a UST living room projector when it introduced the predecessor to the VPL-VZ1000ES in 2016, and at $25,000, still offers the most expensive. It doesn't come with a screen, and it doesn't have any smart TV features or an onboard audio system. Yet, the high price pays for lots of technology focused on delivering a great looking picture, including advanced display technology plus some pricey conveniences the others lack, most notably a powered lens shift.

The VPL-VZ1000ES uses Sony's Z-Phosphor laser light source, and it's one of only two models (along with Epson's) that uses three imaging chips instead of one, eliminating any possibility of rainbow artifacts. It's also the only one that uses LCoS imagers—Sony's SXRD version—and the only one with true native 4K 4096x2160 resolution.

Other key features include HDR support for both HDR10 and HLG as well as support for full HD 3D. Sony doesn't disclose color gamut coverage. The brightness is rated at 2,500 ANSI lumens, which should make for a suitably bright image in ambient light at the recommended 80 to 120-inches.

Sony VPL VZ1000ES frontangle
Sony VPL-VZ1000ES

The VPL-VZ1000ES is on the large side, at 77 pounds without its top and side covers and 8.6 x 36.4 x 19.4 (HWD) inches with them. But the black case is suitably handsome for a living area, and the small powered lens shift (+/-6% vertical and +/-3% horizontal) and zoom (just 1.02x) let you compensate for less-than-perfect positioning. The powered focus is also a welcome convenience for setup.

You can mount the projector on a flat surface below the screen, a ceiling mount above it, or behind the screen in either position. The range for the recommended 16:9 image size is 80 inches with the screen side of the projector against the wall to 120 inches at 8.3 inches from the wall. As a final welcome touch, the VPL-VZ1000ES comes with a three year warranty, which is a bit longer than typical.


VAVA 4K UST lifestyle rocks

VAVA 4K Projector

  • Rated Brightness 2,500 Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price $2,800

The VAVA 4K Projector is less of a smart TV replacement than most of the other choices included here, with no digital TV tuner, no voice control, and no screen included. However, it still offers smart TV features, courtesy of Android 7.1 and the Aptoide app store, which has apps for Netflix, Hulu and more. It also boasts an integrated Harman Kardon sound system with 60 watts of power, dts-HD, and Dolby Audio that fared well in our evaluation (see our review). Note also that at this writing VAVA plans to sell a screen separately and is considering offering screen-projector bundles to turn the VAVA 4K Projector into more of an off-the-shelf TV replacement.

The white case, designed with rounded corners for an attractive look, measures 4.2 x 21 x 14.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 23.8 pounds. Inside is a laser light source, an RGB phosphor color wheel, and a 0.47-inch DMD that uses TI's XPR technology to produce 3840x2160 resolution. VAVA rates the color coverage at greater than 100% of Rec.709 and the contrast ratio at 1,500,000:1. Maximum input resolution is 3840x2160.

VAVA 4K UST front angle
VAVA 4K VA-LT002

You can position the projector on a flat surface below the screen or in ceiling mount above it and either for front or rear projection. A welcome convenience is eight-point geometric correction for keystone as well as pincushion and barrel distortion. For the recommended 80 to 150-inch screen, the distance from screen to projector is just 3.3 to 10.9 inches.

Note that the warranty is shorter than for most of the competition, at only one year, so you may want to add an extended warranty. Also, HDR support is limited to HDR10, and there's no 3D support yet. However, VAVA plans to add 3D as part of a planned firmware update during the 2nd quarter of 2020. The upper end of the recommended 80 to 150-inch image size is much larger than offered by most UST lensing systems. The 2,500 ANSI lumen rating should easily be bright enough for a 2D image in moderate ambient light even at that large size.


ViewSonic X1000 4K Lifestyle

ViewSonic X1000-4K

  • Rated Brightness 1,000 ANSI/2,500 LED Lumens
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Est Street Price $1,699

The ViewSonic X1000-4K is not available at this writing, and is still at the point that some of the most basic specs ViewSonic provided—including maximum recommended image size—were hedged with a TBD (to be determined) note. That said, at $1,699 MSRP it has the distinction of being the lowest price projector in this buyers' guide by more than $1,000, making it worth discussing even if some of the specs change.

One big difference between the X1000-4K and the other projectors covered here is that it's the only one using LEDs as a light source. Its rated brightness is both 1,000 ANSI lumens and 2,500 LED lumens. How much the LED brightness will matter in real world use is hard to predict, however, since the perceived brightness boost from LEDs is greater in the dark than with ambient light.

The projector is built around TI's 0.47-inch DLP chip that uses XPR technology to deliver 3840x2160 resolution, with colors generated by the red, green, and blue LEDs. ViewSonic pegs the color gamut coverage at 125% of Rec.709 and contrast ratio at 3,000,000:1. For HDR, the projector will support both HDR10 and HLG. It will also support full HD 3D.

ViewSonic X1000 4K frontangle
ViewSonic X1000-4K

If you don't need a digital TV tuner, the X1000-4K can easily serve as a smart TV replacement. Netflix, Hulu, and other apps are available from the Aptoide app store and voice control is provided by Alexa and Google Assistant. You may or may not want to use an external audio system. The projector includes two onboard 20-watt speakers and a subwoofer port.

The X1000-4K is designed for placement on a flat surface below the screen or a ceiling mount above it, with either front or rear projection. Its black and metallic gray case measures 6.3 x 29.8 x 11.4-inches (HWD), and will weigh about 23 pounds or a little less. ViewSonic couldn't give me a definitive image size range, but said that for a range of 100 to 120-inches, the distance from screen to projector is 3.5 to 7.9 inches. As a final plus, the X1000-4K will have a slightly better than typical warranty for the category, at three years for the projector and light source.


Wolf TFX 950 front
Wolf TXF-950

Wolf Cinema TXF-950

  • Rated Brightness 3,300
  • Screen Included No
  • Light Source Laser
  • Price n/a

Wolf Cinema has a solid reputation among enthusiasts for the excellent image quality delivered by its long-throw projector models, which are sold only through custom integrators. This is the company's latest effort at a 4K UST model. It utilizes TI's 0.47-inch DLP chip with XPR technology for 3840x2160 UHD resolution. Wolf's BluHD laser-phosphor light engine with an eight-segment RGBYRGBY color wheel delivers a solidly bright 3,300 rated ANSI lumens. TI's BrilliantColor technology is also on board. Contrast is rated at 1.5 million:1 with the projector's Dynamic Black feature engaged, and the TXF-950 supports HDR10 high dynamic range content and Full HD 3D—but not HLG HDR at this time.

The TXF-950 has a relatively compact chassis at 24.8 x 5.5 x 20 inches (WHD), but weighs a quite substantial 50 pounds. Much of that can be attributed to an all-metal black cabinet design that is said to "improve thermal coefficents for extended projector and laser-module life," though the projector boasts the same 20,000-hour guarantee to half-brightness that most other laser models do. On the other hand, better thermal characteristics may contribute to the quiet operation Wolf promotes, which is spec'd as 24 dB from a 1 meter distance.

Wolf TFX 950 frontangle
Wolf TXF-950

The projector's UST lens has 0.23:1 throw ratio as calculated from lens to screen, or 0.10:1 from the back edge of the projector to the screen surface. It can be mounted below the screen for front or rear projection. Image size is specified at 85- to 120-inches diagonal 16:9, though Wolf offers its 4K ProScaler video processor as an accessory to both further improve image quality and allow scaling for regular 16:9 or widescreen movies on 2.35:1 'Scope-style screen.

A built-in stereo soundbar featuring dual full-range speakers and a pair of LFE (low-frequency effect, or subwoofer) drivers, driven by 40 watts of power, delivers the audio in the absence of an outboard system.