Ultra short throw (UST) projectors are becoming more and more popular. As they become more and more popular, more models come to market and so there’s more choice and more people buy them. But if you are serious about your home cinema, and you plan to use it in a dedicated darkened space, should you really buy one? Well, that depends!
Pros of UST Projectors
The biggest pro of UST projectors is that they require very little space to set up. So if you don’t quite have the space for the throw distance of a regular projector, then a UST projector might be worth considering.
Also, they are somewhat easier to set up and connect than regular projectors because you don’t need to mount them or run cables all the way to the back of the room. This can be a plus for a lot of folks.
Lastly, they can usually get pretty bright so they are very well suited to brighter rooms.
Cons of UST Projectors
And this last pro is the first con: while brightness is great, unfortunately most UST projectors cannot hold a candle to the contrast performance of dedicated home cinema projectors. Let’s take the Epson UB6050 (UB5050 / TW9400) versus the LS500 for example. While the LS500 is a fine projector, reviews mention time and time again that the UB6050 has the contrast advantage – and therefore is better suited to a dedicated home theatre. The DLP based UST units would likely perform even worse than the LS500 in this respect.
Another con is having to set up a UST-compatible light-rejecting screen, as these projectors perform best with these type of screens. Unfortunately, light-rejecting screens can have a type of texture that can be distracting for some people. I am especially sensitive to such artefacts and it is something I wouldn’t be able to put up with in my own home theatre. While most people wouldn’t be put off by this, it’s best to audition one before pulling the trigger.
Versus Dedicated Home Cinema Projectors
While UST projectors are getting better and better, if you have the space, I recommend you get a dedicated home theatre projector, preferably one with great contrast performance. This will provide better image quality that’s more suited to a dedicated room.
In terms of image quality, especially brightness and contrast, my opinion is that a TV is a better buy. More and more 100″ TVs are coming on the market at competitive prices so it is worth considering one if you are happy with only a 100″ display. Another advantage of a TV is that it handles HDR content much better than a UST projector can.
If you must go bigger, and you don’t have the space for a normal projector, a UST projector might be a good bet. But be sure to read reviews and consider one with better contrast performance if you plan to use it in a dedicated room.
Need dedicated advice for your own setup? You can book time with the author here.