While ultra short throw (UST) projectors are relatively new technology, especially when displaying 4K images, it might be difficult to locate reliable information on what constitutes the best short throw projector 4K.
Following extensive research, I have covered just the best UST 4K projectors in this article, including the UST laser projector, and will show you exactly why each one deserves its spot in your home theatre.
There is also a comprehensive guide to what makes the best 4K ultra short throw projector, so you can supplement the best ultra short throw projector reviews with your own research.
The Samsung LSP7T delivers exceptional performance for a native 4K ultra short throw projector, producing a native 4K 120′′ picture at 16.4 inches from the wall, with gorgeous vibrant and brilliant colours, due to HDR10+ support.
This is clearly a premium product, distinguishing itself from the competition with well-designed menus and an operating system that allows you to stream 4K Netflix, Disney+, and other services without the need for a separate streaming stick – something that is surprisingly rare in this class of projector.
Despite the apparent low brightness of 2200 lumens, the image seems brighter, with more constant across-frame brightness, than nominally better competitors such as the Optoma P2 with 3000 lumens.
Offered at a budget price (for a 4K UST laser throw distance), the premium Samusung LSP7T is in the sweet spot for laser throw distance and is my selection for the best ultra short throw laser projector for home theatres and the best UST laser throw distance in 2023.
WeMax Nova 4K
Being one of the cheapest ultra short throw projectors on the market, you might expect the WeMax Nova to skimp on quality, but it isn’t far behind the industry-leading Samsungs.
The resolution is native 4K, which is surprising for a more budget-oriented projector – there is no pixel shifted 1080p here – and the colours and contrast are bright and crisp, with an overall picture that looks superb.
The setup is simple, and the low latency makes this highly suitable for gaming. The pre-installed Android TV app’s present inability to support Netflix streaming is maybe the only serious drawback. The Netflix app exists – and both Disney+ and Prime stream without issue – but because Netflix has to certify each model that runs their app, you presently need a separate streaming stick to view Netflix. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue for long.
Overall, given the low price for a UST ultra short throw projector of this class, the WeMax Nova is great for individuals on a tight budget.
Note: If you want to save even more money and are OK with a short throw projector rather than an ultra short throw projector, the XGIMI Horizon Pro-4K is the best affordable short throw projector on the market and a strong contender for the best 4K short throw projector overall.
What Makes the Best Ultra Short Throw 4K Projector?
So you can see how I compared the best ultra short throw 4K projectors, my list of criteria is below, a long list with comprehensive explanations of each. These, in my opinion, are the most significant features to look for in a short throw laser projector 4K. If you wish to look at any other models, feel free to utilise this list for your own research.
- Take into account chromatic dispersion and aberration, the rainbow effect, and overall colour, clarity, and sharpness. Measured in lumens, it gives a decent idea of how well the projector will function in a bright setting. Is there one laser and a colour wheel or three colour lasers in the projector?
- A short throw projector has a throw ratio of 0.4 to 1, but a UST projector has a throw ratio below 0.4.
- How excellent are the native operating system and any apps? Will you need to utilise a second streaming stick, which means more trouble and additional remote controls?
- Does the projector include detailed instructions or a setup guide?
- We’re focusing on 4K in this article since these projectors provide a far better image at 100 inches or larger, but be cautious of pixel shifting when upscaling from 1080p to 4K.
- Although most projectors have multiple ports, be sure they have the relevant inputs for your whole home theatre system.
- You want to ensure that you are receiving good value for money since UST 4K projectors are highly expensive.
Picture Quality Issues
It should go without saying that the image quality is the most crucial component of the best short throw laser projector, however the specific aspects of picture quality that you should focus on are probably not so clear.
You may take it as truth that all ultra short throw model 4K projectors offer superb colour, clarity, and sharpness – the differences between models in these aspects are actually quite little.
The specifics, such as the presence of the rainbow effect, chromatic aberration, and chromatic dispersion, as well as how they perform in standard rooms in normal daylight, are where the best UST projectors differ from one another.
There are two crucial terms:
- Chromatic dispersion refers to light dispersing beyond of the intended region, causing on-screen text to seem fuzzy and points of light, such as stars, to bleed into their surrounds. This is normally more noticeable at closer viewing distances, but it can also be a symptom of poor projector control. In high-end projectors, this is less typical.
- Chromatic aberration occurs when light is split into different hue bands on the margins of objects, producing a multicoloured halo around the objects. This is an indication of lower quality glass in the lens.
You should also take into account lag if you intend to game with your projector. This ranges from roughly 40ms to 65ms for most projectors, making FPS games and the like difficult to play on some projectors.
Number of Lasers
Throw Short Although it is possible to purchase three laser models, 4K laser projectors typically only have one laser and a colour wheel (but this is not very common, even among the best 4K UST laser projectors).
The difference is that 1 laser model uses a single colour light (usually blue), which is then shone through a rotating wheel with red, green, and blue filters to create the final image on screen, implying that the image is built up in three successive images that are very slightly offset in time from one another.
The problem with this approach is that the colour wheel must move very quickly in order to provide an accurate image, which can contribute noise as well as the rainbow effect. This is only seen in dark films with strong contrast periods, and is characterised by a colourful rainbow surrounding objects on screen when you move your eyes around the screen.
Just 10-15% of the population is susceptible to the rainbow effect, so chances are you won’t notice it even if it is present, and it can grow less noticeable with time.
3 channel lasers are found in more premium 4K ultra short throw projectors and consist of three independent laser signals (typically red, blue, and blue with a green phosphor filter) to generate the projected image concurrently. This eliminates the rainbow effect and theoretically provides more colour clarity, but in practise, it is difficult to see the difference between this and the one channel laser plus colour wheel.
The brightness of a short throw home theatre projector is a straightforward figure shown in ANSI lumens – the bigger the number, the brighter the image – but this isn’t the full story.
To begin with, all 4K Ultra Short Throw Projectors are bright enough to give a good image in a darkened room, therefore the brightness of a projector is really only relevant in non-ideal lighting settings, such as operating the projector in normal daylight.
All UST projectors will demonstrate inferior performance in this environment, however those with a greater value of lumens should perform better.
In practise, however, this is not often the case since lumens are computed in a lab context rather than in real-world application. This implies that you can’t rely on lumens to locate projectors that function well in bright settings, but I’ve mentioned which projectors perform better in less-than-ideal lighting in the complete reviews below.
Before we get into the projector reviews, it’s crucial to understand the difference between ultra short throw projectors and short throw projectors.
They are divided according on throw ratio, which is shown as, for instance, 0.3:1 or simply 0.3. In this situation, the 0.3 signifies that the projector must be 0.3 inches away from the screen for every 1 inch of screen width. As a result, multiply the decimal number by the width of the projected picture to get how far back the projector must be from the screen or wall.
If the ratio is 0.3 and you want a 100-inch image, set the projector 30 inches away from the screen.
Although ultra short throw 4K projectors have a throw ratio below 0.4, short throw 4K projectors have a throw ratio between 0.4 and 1.0. The closer the throw ratio, the closer the projector may be placed to the screen.
Take a look at this video of the advantages and cons of ultra short throw projectors to get a sense of how powerful UST projectors are and if one is suitable for you.
Smart Features, Apps & Ease of Setup
Each UST projector has a unique set of smart features, applications, and operating systems.
Leading models from major manufacturers such as LG and Samsung provide the best performance in this category, with custom-designed menus and remotes and an operating system that allows you to utilise Netflix, Disney+, and other services directly through the projector.
Inexpensive, non-major brand versions, such as Vava, are not capable of running Netflix and other streaming applications directly through the projector since they frequently utilise a rudimentary version of Android that does not support these. If you wish to stream any video, you’ll need a separate streaming stick, such as a FireStick or Roku.
This implies more money, more trouble with setup, and a second remote, and it gives you the impression that you are no longer utilising a premium product.
This is related to the simplicity of setup. Similarly, the best manufacturers provide simple software setup procedures that take only a few minutes to complete, but the less expensive ones require more time and effort on your behalf to set up. This is only an issue if you expect to relocate your projector, as every movement, no matter how minor, requires re-completing setup to avoid viewing a distorted image.
All of the projectors in this article have 4K resolution, which, in my view, produces a considerably nicer image at 100 inches plus screen size. They also employ lasers rather than bulbs, which results in more cleaner, more vivid images with more saturated colours, as well as a far better ability to operate the projectors in standard illumination.
The disadvantage of utilising laser projectors (and projectors in general) is that there is a tiny loss of shadow detail when compared to OLED panels, however this is difficult to see in practise until in very dark environments.
Nevertheless, certain projectors, such as the Vava model, do not display a genuine 4K image and instead upscale a 1080p source to play within the projector. This is referred to as pixel shifting, and it results in a substantially worse image than projectors that display a real 4K source.
WiFi is typical with 4K projectors, but you should double-check the ports to verify that you can connect your entire home theatre system. Although all of the projectors in this article include built-in speakers, most users will prefer to utilise a separate sound system, which can run into problems, especially on lower-cost versions.
Does a UST Projector Need a Screen?
One of the benefits of a home theatre projector is the ability to project straight onto a wall (light grey is the ideal wall color).
But, because the projector is pointing up at such an extreme angle, it really picks out any defects in your plaster and paintwork, showing wavy walls that a standard, front-facing projector would miss.
This implies that for best performance, a screen is essential.
My advice would be to test the projector against your wall, and if there are any problems, you may purchase a screen separately. Brightly illuminated environments are best suited for an ALR or CLR screen since they “ignore” ambient light. Although there are several other well-regarded screen manufacturers, Elite Screens are probably the best option.
In relation to this, most projectors must be mounted a certain distance below the screen, however this varies by manufacturer. You should check this distance to determine that this location is feasible for you and your screen positioning, as well as if it will obstruct your center sound bar.