Finding a projector for displaying art is a different experience from choosing one for personal entertainment. You’ll need a machine that reproduces images and video with sharpness and color accuracy, and one that can match the environment of your installation: Is it indoors or outdoors? Brightly lit or dark? Small or expansive? It’s also important to keep in mind a projector’s sound capabilities, if sound is a vital part of the piece. Many projectors can be connected to external speakers, but if you want to keep your space neat, find a projector that can provide top-notch sound as well as imaging. We’ve found a handful that meet these demands; browse our top picks below.
1. Epson PowerLite 2250U
Most artists will be satisfied with this 1080p LCD projector. It has a brightness level of 5,000 lumens, which means projections will look vibrant even in a well-lit room or outdoors in daytime. The machine also has a high contrast ratio of 15,000:1, which means that graphics and text remain remarkably sharp and detailed even when your projection is at the maximum size of 300 inches along the diagonal. Vertical and horizontal keystone correction makes setting up your image a breeze, and with the integrated 16-watt speakers, you won’t need anything more to enjoy loud and clear sound. Worth noting, too, is that this projector can create a split screen by projecting two images side by side from two sources.
2. ViewSonic PX701-4K
If clarity is of the essence, consider this digital light processing (DLP) projector, which produces exceedingly sharp 4K images. For a device that offers an upgrade from 1080p, the ViewSonic is relatively inexpensive, but it’s a great option that offers a lot. Use it with screens up to 300 inches in size, and enjoy quick setup with automatic keystoning in four directions. This is also a perfect projector for tight spaces, as it has a super-short throw. At 3,200 lumens, it is not as bright as our top pick, and you may want to replace the 10-watt speaker with better external unit set paired via Bluetooth. However, if you need a projector that will deliver dynamic visuals with unmatched detail (and will be used mostly in dim or dark rooms), this one is tough to beat.
3. Optoma S334e
Shopping with a limited budget? This Optoma projector offers a good balance of price and performance. It has a brightness level of 3,800 lumens and dynamic contrast ratio of 22,000:1, making it most suitable for use in dim or dark settings. Setup and adjustment are relatively simple due to a lens that has 1.1x optical zoom and vertical keystone correction (no horizontal). Its 10-watt built-in speaker is suitable to use alone in a small to midsize room, but it has a longer throw distance, so this is not the best projector for very tight spaces. One of its winning features is its lamp life of 15,000 hours, which, though not as good as the Panasonic PT-VMZ50, is three times as long as that of our top pick. Weighing just 6.7 pounds, this projector is also pretty portable.
4. Panasonic PT-VMZ50
This 1080p LCD projector is too expensive to be our top pick, but it is a great option for those looking for a major upgrade. It boasts a 5,000-lumen brightness level and an impressive contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1, resulting in highly brilliant, high-contrast projections that make videos look more dimensional and realistic. It also has a lamp life of 20,000 hours—much longer than others on this list—which means you can spend less time and money on maintenance. While an exceptional choice for artists, this Panasonic is also a smart pick for institutions with the right budget.
5. KODAK Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector
The smallest projector on our list, Kodak’s device makes for a great back-up projector or a device for artists on the go. Weighing just under 2 pounds, this tripod-compatible projector has a low brightness level of just 200 lumens, and the image quality is just 720p. But it is capable of working from a good distance, and resulting images can reach up to 200 inches along the diagonal without losing definition. Adjustments can be made quickly with a focus wheel. This is a great outdoor projector, as you can power it for a few hours with batteries; if you have an outlet nearby, it also runs when plugged in.