What’s the Deal with Ultra Short Throw Projectors?
You’ve seen, and maybe used, ultra short throw projectors at some point. They are extremely common in business and classroom settings. Most classrooms have a whiteboard that is essentially an ultra short throw projector with an integrated screen. In the past, there have been ULT (ultra short throw) projectors for the home. They’ve been prohibitively expensive. If you wanted a cheaper option, you’d have to choose one that was geared for business. Those are designed to be used in high-light environments where brightness is valued more highly than color accuracy. Not the best choice for the home.
Recently, we’ve seen more companies releasing ultra short throw projectors for the home. These new UST offerings have accurate colors, larger sizes, and, most importantly, more reasonable prices. So, what is the deal with these projectors?
The Benefits of UST Projectors
There are many benefits to choosing a UST projector. The most noticeable is the cost to image size ratio. Direct-view displays are outrageously overpriced past 75″ or so. If you want a large screen, a projector is the only affordable option.
You install an UST projector in the front of your room, usually on a stand or piece of furniture. This is highly convenient for most users. No mounts attached to your ceiling. No worrying about long HDMI cable runs. You don’t have to worry about people walking in front of the image. There are so many benefits. If you are a renter, in particular, being able to set an ultra short throw projector on a table near a wall is great.
How close can an UST projector be to a wall? Around a foot. While most manufacturers suggest that you buy a screen specifically designed to work with an UST projector, you don’t have to. You can just shoot the image onto the wall. That’s convenience!
If you do decide to buy the special screen, the UST projector is a great option for rooms with no light control. While all manufacturers will tell you that darkening the room will increase the image fidelity, UST projectors with the special screen work much better than traditional projectors with traditional screens in lighted conditions.
Downsides of Ultra Short Throw Projectors
Remember that special screen I mentioned in the previous section? Yeah, those are pricey. They are light-rejecting from every angle except for the direction of the projector. There are different options out there, but the best ones are very expensive. Think four figures. At the very least, you should budget at least $500 for the screen and probably double that if you want a good one. The prices only go up from there. You can pay less than $200 for a traditional projection screen of equivalent size.
This increases the price of the UST setup considerably. You can simply project the image on a wall, but be prepared to discover just how not white and not flat your walls really are. In comparison with traditional projectors, UST projectors still cost a premium. Especially when you consider screen size.
When you compare UST projectors with flat screen displays, the UST come out on top. But when you compare them to traditional projectors, you run into problems. Currently, UST projectors top out a 120″ diagonal. Traditional projectors can easily project 130″ diagonal and some even larger. Traditional projectors cost less, the screens cost less, and they get bigger images. In this case, you are paying for the convenience of having the projector in the front of the room.
When the projector is on a table or stand at the front of the room, it is very easy to access. That can be a boon or a bane. Now, everyone has access to your projector. Kids, pets, everyone. UST projectors get hot (honestly, all projectors do). This requires fans for cooling. While some quote this as a knock against UST projectors, it is honestly true of all projectors. It does mean you need to warn others about the heat and worry that any little nudge of the projector means you have to go through the setup and focus process again.
Is Ultra Short Throw for You?
We can’t answer that. There are lots of situations where an ultra short throw projector is the perfect solution. The fact that we now have access to UST projectors at a reasonable price is great. If you have light control and a dedicated room, a traditional projector setup is likely less expensive. But if you are renting, or don’t need the very largest image and don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a traditional projector, an ultra short throw projector might be just the thing.