Should you buy an ultra short throw projector?

There are many types of projectors suitable for rooms, spaces and experiences of different sizes. You can go big or you can go small; you can opt for a projector that works in a bright room or that mimics the experience of a movie theater screen in your home.

One type of projector that is not as well known is the ultra short throw projector. They allow a large screen image in a small space.

If that last sentence piques your interest, here’s what you need to know to know if you should buy a projector that could definitely replace your TV.

What is an ultra short throw projector?

An ultra short throw projector uses a combination of wide angle lenses and mirrors to project an image onto the screen / wall in front of it.

The ultra-short is the key element of the capabilities of this projector. Unlike other projectors, it doesn’t need to sit remotely to project its image onto a screen, reducing the space required for installation.

You will also find them referred to as USTs and maybe even laser projectors, as the majority (but not all) of them use laser projection technology to create the image.

What are the benefits?

As an ultra-short throw projector doesn’t require as much space, it gives users some flexibility in terms of positioning as it can hug the wall while still producing a massive image. Take the XGIMI Aura, for example, it can output an 80 inch image on a screen at a distance of 4.3 inches.

This means that ultra-short throw projectors are a great choice for small rooms or for those who don’t have the space or capacity for a more permanent installation.

XGIMI Aura light stage

UST projectors may not create an image as large as most “normal” projectors, but these projectors are not quite the competition that UST projectors have in mind.

They are targeted by televisions. Compare the 120-inch image of an ultra short throw projector to that of a television and there is no real competition in terms of size or price. 100 inches is considerably larger than a TV, which tends to go up to sizes of 85 to 88 inches. And while £ 2,000 might seem like a lot for an ultra-short throw model, compared to an 88in TV, they are competitively priced.

Samsung The First Mirrors
  • Laser light for bright rooms

The combination of laser technology and high brightness means that an ultra short throw projector can compete with ambient light washout.

The other advantages of USTs using laser projection technology are that they last longer than projectors that use bulbs or LEDs, and the image quality is sharper, crisper, and more colorful, especially useful for sources. HDR.

What are the disadvantages ?

Most projectors have a built-in sound system for convenience, but few are really convincing. UST projectors fare better, their body shape and size lends itself better to a built-in soundbar, but that doesn’t always mean the output is what you want.

While the audio tends to be decent, the sluggish bass and lack of directivity means they won’t outperform an external audio system.

A preserved white LG HU85LS projector on a white background
  • they are relatively expensive

Despite all the praise we have mentioned about UST projectors for more value than a TV (at least per inch of screen), they aren’t exactly cheap. £ 2,000 is considered ‘affordable’ with some UST projectors costing two or even three times as much.

If you want one of the more complete options with smart, dynamic HDR support, you’ll have to dig deep to get yourself one.

XGIMI Aura dark scene
  • Can wrestle in dark rooms

Cinema is the experience of watching a movie in a dark room, and in that context, ultra-short projectors can struggle.

They strive to create the depth and detail needed for “real” black levels. The results can be blacks that appear gray because they sacrifice black depth for more detail, or slightly crushed blacks that reduce detail.

Another issue is the Rainbow Effect, where stripes of pure color flash in the brighter parts of an image. This is not very common, but it can be distracting if you are particularly sensitive to it.

Should you buy an ultra short throw projector?

Any decision to buy a product depends on what you want. Ultra short throw projectors can replace large screen TVs, many of them offering smart features and HDR support. For small rooms they make sense, but they can also be used in larger rooms and their ability to create a much larger picture than any TV is a big part of the appeal.

There are downsides: the cost is not just that of the projector, but the likely need to invest in an audio system with a projection screen. HDR will always be a problem for a projector because it can’t be as bright as a TV. You’ll also need to make peace with the fact that spotlights and deep, detailed black levels don’t always come together.

It puts the ultra-short throw projector in a strange area where it’s not affordable enough for occasional use, and a performance that doesn’t quite live up to the exacting standards of AV fans. If you can live with that compromise, a UST projector is worth considering.

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