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Are you looking for a better viewing experience than what your TV already provides? Or maybe you’re all about improving presentations at the office. Whether it’s for your home or office, the new era of smart projectors brings advanced features such as WiFi, apps and even voice control.
The market is still relatively new so many manufacturers are experimenting with features to see what works with users. For that reason, choosing between them can be a bit of a nightmare, not least because you have to consider the brightness, viewing quality and more.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you choose the right smart projector for your needs.
These are the best smart projectors currently available in the UK:
- Best Overall: Viewsonic M2
- Premium Pick: LG CineBeam Laser 4K
- Best Under £300: Kodak Luma 350
- Best Under £100: VANKYO
- Best Portable Projector: Anker Nebula Capsule
- For Home Cinema: Phillips Screeno S6
- Alexa and Google Home Integration: Optoma
What is a Smart Projector?
A smart projector is a projector that has advanced connectivity such as WiFi and will usually have the ability to download and use apps (although some are limited to screen mirroring from your phone). It’s usually easy to set up and connects with other multimedia devices for a seamless streaming experience.
The difference between a projector and a smart projector is the presence of features like app integration, streaming functions, and voice control. The integrated applications and voice control in most provides a better user experience.
While it can be compared to a smart TV, it has an upper hand as it provides a cinematic experience resulting from a larger screen. It’s also portable which makes it suitable for camping trips and outdoor movie nights. Not to forget, in terms of screen size, smart projectors cost less than their TV counterparts. It’s worth considering.
As the day goes by, more and more smart projectors are introduced into the market. It’s hard to make a quick choice in only a couple of minutes. It’s even harder when you don’t know what to be on the lookout for. Don’t worry, take that frown off your face. Our buyer’s guide will give enough details for you to make an informed decision.
With the smart projectors available today, you no longer have to sacrifice image quality for a larger screen. The introduction of new and improved display technologies and resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD, you can be sure to have crisp and clear images at all times.
There are two specifications to note: resolution and lumen. For both, the higher the numbers, the better your image quality. Lumen is a measure of the brightness produced by the projector, we would recommend the following lumens for a typical 100″ screen:
- For dark rooms: Below 1,500 lumens
- For rooms with some light: 1,500-3,000 lumens
- For rooms with ambient light: Above 3,000 lumens
Note that not all lumens are equal. ANSI lumens are the proper measurement, but some manufacturers (usually cheaper brands) use alternative measurements to achieve a higher result.
A good number of smart projectors come with inbuilt speakers but all of different qualities. If you plan to use your projector for movie night outdoors, you might want to buy a projector that allows you to add extra speakers.
The need for a bigger screen is likely one of the reasons you are buying a projector. Some projectors can project screens as wide as 200 inches. You need to figure out what your wall space can accommodate. For a small space, make sure to buy a projector with a short-throw lens as it allows you to place the projector close to the wall and still projects the full screen.
Basic projectors will have HDMI inputs and most likely a USB or SD card input too. But, a smart projector will go that one step further with other forms of connectivity. At a basic level a projector will have WiFi screen mirroring, but the better projectors will have a full interface that allows you to download and install apps without the need for a phone.
Smart Projector Recommendations
Below are detailed reviews of each smart projector.
Best Overall: Viewsonic M2
The ViewSonic M2 is our top pick projector thanks to a huge range of great features. It can project a screen of up to 100 inches and has short-throw lens which is useful for small spaces.
With a resolution of 1080p full HD, supercolour technology, you’ll benefit from crisp viewing and top notch audio quality thanks to the built-in Harmon Kardon speakers. However, at 1,200 lumens it’s not powerful enough to be used in rooms with ambient light.
Being a smart projector means you can install apps on it, the app store has all of your favourites including Netflix, iPlayer and more. Alternatively you can use an SD card or USB stick to play local media (including documents or presentations if you want to use this for work) or you can screen mirror from your smartphone making use of the Wi-Fi connection.
As well as using the built in speakers, it also has Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to connect it to a Bluetooth sound bar or to some headphones if you want to watch without disturbing the rest of the house.
There’s the voice control feature which is compatible with both Alexa and Google assistant – get ready to navigate your entire experience with your voice! With its adjustable kickstand design, auto focus, and auto keystone features, it’s easy to set up.
Along with those other features, it’s portable and can be powered by a power bank. What more can you ask for? This is a great purchase for your home or office.
Premium Pick: LG CineBeam Laser 4K
(Model No. HU85LS)
There is no doubt that this projector is one of the best smart projectors available. It comes with a hefty price tag, but trust us when we say it’s worth every penny.
The first thing that will catch your eye is the stunning picture quality. With 2700 ANSI lumens, you can enjoy an amazing viewing experience without having to draw the curtains as it’s suitable for rooms with lots of ambient light.
An ultra-short throw ratio of 0.19 makes it possible to have a projection screen as wide as 120 inches without loss of image clearness. This smart projector combines the 3 channel laser technology, 4k resolution, and tru-motion technology to give you that cinematic experience you deserve.
The audio quality is as good as they come and does not require external speakers. You can carry it from room to room because it’s lightweight and has a stylish design that would blend with your home decor.
As well as the standard connectivity options, it runs LG’s WebOS platform which is also found in their smart TV’s. This is one of the leading TV platforms with a huge range of apps available and frequent updates to add functionality. There’s also the option for Bluetooth pairing or wireless mirroring using Miracast.
The remote control gives you continuous access to the projector from any part of the room. Setting up is easy and you can get it running in a minute. This is a solid choice for your home.
Best Under £300: Kodak Luma 350
The KODAK LUMA 350 is an all-in-one smart projector that is a steal for all the features it has. It uses DLP technology to display images with up to 4k resolution. With the Android interface and built in WiFi, you can download your favourite video streaming apps and watch movies without connecting to your phone. Alternatively you can mirror your screen or use the typical inputs like HDMI.
If you’re one to travel, you’ll love this projector. Why? It’s portable and easily fits in a bag or suitcase. It’s also rechargeable and can last for 3 hours after full charge. Asides the touch controls on the projector, you can also navigate the system with a remote control.
When it comes to audio, you have two options. It has an audio jack you can connect your headphones to for private listening and it also has a speaker which works efficiently so you can have a couple of people around for movie night. Sounds fun! This projector provides you a cinematic experience on the go. It’s a great choice if you’re working with a slim budget.
Best Under £100: VANKYO
You can’t go wrong with buying this smart projector if you’re on a budget. It has so many features that are sure to impress you. With projectors, one important feature to look out for is the image quality and this projector produces bright and clear images at 720p resolution.
The manufacturer states 6,000 lumens capability but this has been manipulated rather than using standard ANSI lumens so it’s not comparable to the other projectors. But don’t let that distract from the fact that the quality is still decent and far exceeds anything else at this price point.
It has built-in audio that actually works but if you need to expand the sound, there are ports available for extra speakers as well as ports for connecting various types of media devices. It supports wireless screen mirroring which can be achieved in a couple of clicks.
Best Portable Projector: Anker Nebula Capsule
Maybe you’re one to travel often and you need a projector you can easily carry along with you. If “small and portable” are the top features you’re looking out for in a smart projector, you have a winner. This Nebula Anker Capsule is an award winning designed projector that is soda can sized and can easily fit into your pocket. Sure sounds good to have a cinema right in your pocket.
Even though it’s small in size, it can produce a screen up to 100 inches wide. It produces 100 lumens which requires that you use it in a dark room for clear and crisp images, but for a portable projector it’s not too bad at all.
While it’s good practice to project onto a smooth flat surface, sometimes, it’s impossible to get that perfect surface but the automatic vertical Keystone correction helps to correct the distorted images generated.
The 360° speaker design allows you hear from all angles and it also has a Bluetooth speaker option. It’s rechargeable and can play videos for up to 4 hours on a full charge. This smart projector has an integrated app control called Nebula connect app that makes it easier to operate. It supports connectivity with HDMI and USB devices and also wireless connection via Airplay, Miracast, and Bluetooth.
For Home Cinema: Phillips Screeno S6
For you to replicate a cinematic experience, it’s majorly about the image and audio quality. This projector provides you with both. With a 4K ultra HD resolution, it gives you an image quality which is four times that of a full HD resolution TV. The images produced are detailed and have vivid colors. It’s recommended that it’s used in a dark room as it generates 2000 lumens. It has speakers built within the unit that requires no extra support.
It runs on an Android OS and has some of the popular video streaming applications pre-installed. All you need to do is navigate the system with Airmote remote which also works with gesture control. It supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, and HDMI. It’s a projector that makes sure you don’t compromise on quality image.
Alexa and Google Home Integration: Optoma
You’re in for a great deal with this Optoma projector. From the black sleek design, you can tell that it’s not a low end product. The best of the best features have been rolled up into one unit. It produces images with 4K ultra HD resolution. This means that you get to sit across lifelike images with accurate colours. It’s great for movies, animation and, gaming.
Is it really a smart projector if it does not have voice control? Well, this unit is fully equipped. It supports Google assistant and is Alexa smart home ready. Whichever one you already use, it’s ready to fit in.
It also comes with a remote control that allows you navigate the projector conveniently. The ease of set up and use is second to none. The light bulb used can be recycled making it environmental friendly. It is affordably priced and has impressive features.