The best video projectors for microflats, in Hong Kong or wherever – you just need a wall, preferably grey

So your apartment is too small to fit a big-screen TV? A new generation of ultra-short-throw projectors offer a solution: place one 30cm from your wall and it projects a 100-inch image

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 5:55pm

Many of us want as big a screen as possible in our homes, but there is no room in the average Hong Kong flat for a big-screen television, let alone a state-of-the-art home cinema projector. That’s the received wisdom, at least, and the reason home projector sales have lagged far behind those of TVs for years.

But with the advent of a new product, the ultra-short-throw home projector, that could change.

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Placed just 30cm from a wall, this new class of machine can project a 100-inch image. If you don’t want it that big, you can adjust the image size.

If a lack of floor space rather than wall space is the problem in your apartment, ultra short throw could be for you.

Aesthetically it is hard to argue against having one. Far smaller than a TV set, some of them resemble furniture, air purifiers, even bread makers. And because they project upwards from a spot near a wall, you don’t have cables trailing across the floor.

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The image they project is not as bright as that on a TV. To ensure the image looks good in daylight as well as in a darkened room, look for an ultra-short-throw projector with a brightness rating of at least 3,000 lumens.

In unexpected shapes and with wacky designs that make them look anything but a slab of audiovisual gear, here are the ultra-short-throw projectors to consider for your home.

 Sony LSPX-A1 

Part of Sony’s Life Space UX line-up, Sony’s LSPX-A1 is one of the few ultra-short-throw projectors with 4K resolution and HDR colour.

Launched this year, the LSPX-A1 can sit just 25cm from a wall and create a 120-inch image above, with brightness of 2,500 lumens just enough to make it usable during daylight.

More a piece of furniture than a mere product, this Sony projector’s front legs each contain a Glass Sound Speaker – a vibrating, resonating glass tube that mimics a tweeter in a conventional speaker; a sub-woofer and three mid-range speakers are integrated in the projector. This is a machine that is as much about producing room-filling sound as visuals. However, it is rather large – 1,255mm by 599mm by 470mm – and weighs 75kg.

Price: HK$7,990 (US$1,017)

Optoma HD31UST 

At 3,400 lumens, Optoma’s latest projector – a smaller version of its Optoma GT5000 model – produces images bright enough for it to be used at any time of day. It projects images up to 100 inches across in Full HD resolution and has a built-in 16W speaker. Users can plug in an Amazon Fire Stick or Google Chromecast USB dongle for streaming.

Compared to most other ultra-short-throw projectors, this model’s killer app is that it can project in 3D if you have a 3D-ready Blu-ray player.

Price: HK$11,775 (US$1,500). Dimensions: 343 x 383 x 112mm. Weight: 3.9kg

Epson EH-LS100 

A high-end choice for sure, Epson’s short-throw projector offers the biggest and brightest images.

With 4,000 lumens, the EH-LS100 is capable of replacing a TV altogether for daytime viewing, and it can spread those extra lumens over a massive 130-inch image, if that’s what you want. It uses a laser light source to produce a Full HD image.

Price: HK$23,000 (US$2,930). Dimensions: 494 x 437 x 188mm. Weight: 11kg

LG Minibeam PF1000U 

Hidden home cinema doesn’t get much more convincing than this. The LG Minibeam PF1000U is a laser-light-powered projector that creates a 100-inch Full HD image from 30cm.

Unusually for a home cinema projector, the PF1000U has built-in smart TV apps including Netflix and YouTube. However, it has one huge drawback; with just 1,000 lumens brightness, this is one to use in blackout conditions only, so it’s good for occasional gaming or screening a movie, not as a TV replacement.

Price: HK$14,500 (US$1,847). Dimensions: 132 x 127 x 310mm. Weight: 1.5kg

Philips Screeneo HDP2510 

How about an occasional projector you can keep in a cupboard? That’s the thinking behind this portable model that comes with a carry handle. Looking more like a bread maker, the Screeneo can create a 50-inch image when placed just 10cm from a wall, and go up to 120 inches if you move it 42cm from the wall.

Screeneo is best used as an occasional projector, since its Full HD images are produced using a Digital Light Processing source that can only reach 2,000 lumens brightness. However, Screeneo does have something hugely appealing; a built-in 26W speaker, with sub-woofer, that you can stream music to from any smartphone over Bluetooth.

Price: HK$14,980 (US$1,908). Dimensions: 316 x 282 x 249mm. Weight: 8.3kg

Do ultra-short throw projectors need a projector screen?

Audio-visual aficionados would disagree, but you can use a wall of your home to project images from an ultra-short-throw projector.

Although many manufacturers include modes for projecting onto different colour blinds, the choice is limited, so it’s best to prepare your wall in either white or grey; the latter can make the image brighter.

Since projector screens use a fabric that rejects over 80 per cent of a room’s ambient light, the more you watch TV during daylight hours, the more important having a projector screen becomes.