When everything works well, classroom projectors are the epicenter of the best digital learning spaces. A shared portal to engaging media where every student can be focused and actively involved.

When they don’t work well, classroom projectors are the source of endless frustration, muffled curse words and a hindrance and distraction to learning.

Given that even the cheapest projectors still cost hundreds of dollars we want to share with you the most popular and best projectors to help your school avoid the frustrations of a cheap and nasty setup. If you are looking for the quick answer, our top pick is the Optoma HD146X but regardless of the choices below, do take the time to look through all the tech specs to be sure it will fit your classroom needs.

A Word About Supply Chains..

It’s likely you are as sick of hearing about this as I am, but projector supply has been hit hard by supply chain disruptions. What is in stock one week will often be out the next. It’s gotten better in 2023 than in previous years, but sometimes projector mdoels are hard to find.
That’s why it’s important to know what features are important for you and your classroom – if one model isn’t available you’ll be able to pick a comparable projector with the same features.

What To Look For In A Projector For School

A school projector is going to be used nearly every day in your classroom. You’ll be sharing valuable information – either from your document cameras or your laptop. You want to make sure you are happy with your purchase, and that your projector has all the necessary features to make your teaching life easier.

Here are some features to check out when shopping for a new projector. We used these criteria when deciding which projectors we looked at were worthy of further review.

This is the level of detail a projector can display on a projector screen. Much like the resolution of a laptop or TV, projector resolution is measured in pixels (pixels across by pixels down – 1920 x 1080) and often given an acronym such as HD (High Definition). Essentially the higher the resolution, the more detail a projected image will have.

This is the difference between the brightest part of the image and the darkest part of the image. So, for a projector with a contrast ratio of 20,000:1, the brightest part of the projection will be 20,000 times brighter than the darkest part. Essentially the higher the contrast ratio, the sharper a projected image will appear.

If you need more pThis is measured in Lumens and is an international standard to measure brightness. The more Lumens a projector has the brighter the image will be. Brightness is very important to consider for two main reasons: If you need to project in a bright environment, you will need a very bright projector to compensate for ambient light. Or if you plan to project on large screen you will need a brighter projector to cover the larger projection surface.

There are many sub-$100 projectors on Amazon – and many of them are good for certain purposes. Almost all of them are made for dark rooms. Your classroom is likely not dark enough for one of these projectors to do the job – everything will appear washed out on the screen and your frustration level will rise.

A classroom projector isn’t very helpful if it can’t accept the input you want to send. Most all projectors in 2024 have HDMI standard – but you might need an older input depending on what content you want to project. Other common input types are component, USB, VGA and display port. Make sure your projector has the

Lamp life is often overlooked when shopping for a projector. However, it can end up being the most expensive ongoing cost for keeping your classroom projector running smoothly.

Some projectors use a mercury or metal halide lamp which have a rated lifespan of 1000-5000 hours, depending on the brand and quality. More recently, LED lamps have entered the scene. These tend to last much longer – up to 60,000 hours.

There is a tradeoff between brightness and lamp life. Usually, the brighter the lamp the lower the bulb lifespan.

Best School Projectors Compared

Optoma HD146X
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ViewSonic PA503W
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Optoma GT1080
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Best Classroom Projector For 2024 Reviews

Best Overall Projector: Optoma HD146X

The Optoma HD146X is the best projector on our list. While it’s not the top of the spec chart on any particular feature, this classroom projector does many things really well. That’s what makes it our top pick – it will do a great job in almost any classroom environment. If you don’t have much room between the screen and where you want to put the projector, you need to look at our Top Short Throw Projector pick – but otherwise you should be happy buying the Optoma HD146X.

The DLP projection technology allows this projector to achieve brightness levels you’d find in projectors 3x the price.   This means it CAN work in rooms with ambient light, but it doesn’t mean you SHOULD (with any projector).   I would dim the lights in my classroom to help avoid washout. You should also expect the bulb to last over 15,000 hours – that’s in the upper-end for any projector.

This projector is light enough at around 6 pounds and in a simple enough chassis that you can move it from classroom to classroom with ease. There is a built-in speaker, but as with most projectors that even have one it doesn’t get very loud.  It’s fine for presentations and in-class movies, but don’t expect a cinematic experience from any built-in projector speaker.  It comes with a three-year warranty which compares well with other manufacturers.

Resolution: HD 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 25,000:1

Brightness: 3,600 lumen

Connections: HDMI,USB, Audio Out

Best for: Portability, Value for brightness

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Best 1080P Output Projector: Epson Pro EX9240

If budget isn’t a huge issue – but having a high-quality projector from a trusted brand that will get the job done is – the Epson Pro EX9240 is an excellent choice.

This classroom projector will serve you well for years to come. First, it’s a full HD (1080p) projector. While HD isn’t necessary for all classrooms, if you show videos you’ll be happy you went with the higher resolution. It’s also quite bright, with a 4000 lumen rating you won’t have your screen washed out with some ambient light.

There are plenty of ways to get your content to this classroom projector. Besides the 2x HDMI, component, composite and USB ports, it has wireless screen mirroring capabilities as well.

It comes with a built in speaker that’s quite powerful (16W). The only downside is no audio out – if the speaker really isn’t loud enough for you you can buy a HDMI audio extractor to run sound to a different speaker system.

Resolution: 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 16000:1

Brightness: 4000 lumen

Connections: HDMI (x2), component, composite and USB ports. Wireless connectivity.

Best for: A teacher that wants a high-quality, future-proofed projector that works well.

Best Short Throw Laser Projector: Optoma GT2100HDR

In my opinion, the Optoma GT2100HDR laser projector delivers an impressive image quality. It comes in a very small package – perfect if this school projector is to be moved from room to room on a cart.

The 1080p HD resolution without downscaling or compression ensures a crystal-clear picture that’s sharp and vibrant.

The DuraCore laser light technology allows for up to 30,000 hours of maintenance-free operation, ensuring long-lasting performance.

The short throw lens is a standout feature, as it allows for a 120-inch image from just 4 feet away, making it perfect for placing on a teachers desk close to the projector screen.

Additionally, the 4K HDR input and 300,000:1 contrast ratio further enhance the visual quality, delivering stunning colors and incredible detail.

Resolution: Full HD 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 3000,000:1 In HDR mode.

Brightness: 4200 lumen

Connections: HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0

Best for: Teachers looking for exceptional black colors in a small projector

Best 4k Projector For School: ViewSonic PX748-4K

The stunning 4K projector performance of the ViewSonic PX748-4K is truly impressive. The clarity and detail of the 4K image quality blew me away. As an educator, I want my students to have a clear and vibrant visual experience when watching educational videos or viewing presentations. The 4K UHD resolution and 4000 lumens brightness of this projector ensure that every detail is sharp and easily visible, even in well-lit classrooms

The colors were vibrant and accurate, creating a truly immersive viewing experience. Images were bright and clear, even in well-lit classrooms. The advanced visual features, such as anti-warping stabilization and auto H/V keystone, made setup a breeze and ensured that the image was always perfectly aligned.

The high contrast ratio and advanced visual features also enhance the overall viewing experience, making content more engaging and immersive. Additionally, the projector’s low input lag and 240Hz refresh rate ensure smooth video playback, perfect for educational videos or interactive lessons.

Resolution: Full 4K UHD – 3840 x 2160

Image Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1

Brightness: 4000 lumen

Connections: HDMI, USB C, RJ45, and 12V Trigger inputs

Best for: Teacher that need 4K content displayed

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ViewSonic PA503W

Viewsonic Wxga

Not everyone feels comfortable spending a few hundred dollars on an electronic product from an unknown brand.  If this is you and you need to input 1080 resolution, the ViewSonic PA503W is a great choice.  This projector can take HD content and natively downscale it to WXGA without distortion – you’ll still get the longer, rectangle-effect for your presentation.   It can be used to project images anywhere from just over 3 feet to over 35 feet away.  If you need HD output – either buy the Optoma GT1080 or try one of the more expensive choices above.

It only weighs in at approximately 5 pounds, so you can move it from room to room.  The vertical keystone function is helpful here – you can adjust the picture easily if you move it regularly.  With some models, this can be a chore.

The Eco-mode is an added bonus. If you forget to turn off the projector it can be told to go to sleep after a period of inactivity.  Both the three-year warranty and the reputation that ViewSonic has built over the years provide comfort this projector will be working well into the future.

Resolution: WXGA – 1280X800

Image Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1

Brightness: 3800 lumen

Connections: HDMI 1.4, VGA (x2) in, USB, VGA out.

Best for: A value-priced product from a brand you know and trust

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The only BenQ model on the list, the BenQ DLP has one of the strongest specs of the non-HD projectors. With a higher brightness than the rest in this category and HDMI input it is an all round strong performer. While the BenQ does not support full HD (1080p), once again this is only an issue if you plan on showing hi-res material.

This projector also has the ability to add wireless dongles so you can present to your class without having to be plugged in. Definitely a classroom projector to consider if you don’t have a pile of money to spend, the concession of HD will mean you can still have great picture quality at a reasonable price.

Resolution: WXGA – 1280×800

Image Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1

Brightness: 4000 lumen

Connections: HDMI, VGA, USB,RS232, Audio out

Best for: Non-HD picture quality

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Epson is another leading name in classroom projectors and the Epson EX Series is among their most popular. This model was introduced in 2021 and has everything you’ll need for your classroom.

Resolution: Full 1080p

Image Contrast Ratio: 16,000:1

Brightness: 3,600 lumen

Connections: HDMI x2, VGA

Best for: Higher resolution budget option

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Optoma HD143X

Optoma HD143X - our top pick in best school projector

The first Hi-Spec High Definition (HD) entry in our list of classroom projectors, the Optoma HD146X is amazingly good value for what it delivers. With top-end resolution and crystal clear contrast this is great option if you are looking for a more modern future-proof piece of equipment. One of the best selling projectors, the HD146X offer the perfect balance for schools with high end features at a very reasonable price. A real all-rounder!

Resolution: Full HD 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 500,000:1

Brightness: 3,600 lumen

Connections: HDMI 1.4a

Best for: Overall value for money for HD projector

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Optoma ML750ST

Optoma ML750ST

The Optoma ML750ST is one of the few higher-end portable classroom projectors. While the technical specs may not quite match up to some of its equally-priced competitors, the ML750ST makes up for that in its impressively small footprint. Tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand and weighing in at under one pound, it’s quite remarkable how so much power has been squeezed into such a small device.

This projector is a short-throw model.  It’s designed to work in areas where there’s not a lot of room between the projector and the screen.  You can position this projector just 6 feet away from the screen and have an image of 100 inches appear.

This isn’t for everyone.    Once again, this not the projector for a permanent classroom fixture (your money can go further with another model) but if you are looking for something to fit on your desk and project to a closeby screen, it’s great choice.  If you need something light and easy to carry you can’t go past this little pocket rocket!

Resolution: WXGA – 1280 x 800

Image Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1

Brightness: 700 ANSI lumen

Connections: HDMI, MHL

Best for: High quality portable

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Optoma GT1080

Optoma GT1080

We’re now getting into the more high-end equipment and bigger price tags with the Optoma GT1080. With incredible brightness and contrast the GT1080 has been created as a gaming projector. This means, depending on your classroom projector needs, it will better suited to fast moving video and action. If you are just looking to present slides then maybe look elsewhere, but if you want a top quality projector for a computer lab or school cinema club then the GT1080 is an excellent hi-spec option.

Resolution: Full HD 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 25,000:1

Brightness: 2,800 lumen

Connections: HDMI, MHL, USB

Best for: Gaming and video

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ViewSonic PG705HD Full 1080p

best hd projector for schools

A real all-round hi-spec HD projector, the ViewSonic PG705HD is at the top end of the ViewSonic range. This projector comes with network connectivity – this allows IT staff to monitor and manage the projector remotely on campus. With exceptional brightness, sharpness, resolution and power, the PG705HD is well worth the price if it planned for high use and heavy requirements. With a variety of inputs and ViewSonic’s exclusive HDMI-streaming PortAll dongle, the projector can be used with just about any device found in a school or classroom.

Resolution: Full HD 1080p – 1920 x 1080

Image Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1

Brightness: 4,000 lumen

Connections: HDMI, VGA, MHL, USB, Ethernet

Best for: Overall top-spec and connectivity.

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ViewSonic PJD5155

ViewSonic PJD5155

ViewSonic is one of the leading brands in the classroom projectors and produces so many different models you can nearly customize your own. The ViewSonic PJD5132 is at the cheaper end of the ViewSonic spectrum but has all the specs you would expect for a solid performing projector. It is worth noting that this model does not support full HD (1080p) display. This concession is well worth it for the price drop if you do not need this level of picture detail. The ViewSonic PJD5132 still boast great contrast and brightness, so if you are happy with the lower resolution this is a great way to save some money.

Resolution: SVGA – 800 x 600

Image Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1

Brightness: 4,700 lumen

Connections: HDMI, VGA, S-Video, Mini-USB

Best for: Value for money

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Best Sub-$100 Projector: WiMiUS K2

I’m not really recommending you go this cheap on the classroom projector spectrum. In this realm of “no-brand” brands, you’ll find quite a bit of deceptive listings. Very few projectors list the ANSI-brightness – they will go with something called “light source lumens” which aren’t comparable to the higher-priced projectors. (If you multiply the listed brightness by 0.04 you will get close.) Most won’t be able to handle all but the darkest classrooms.

You’ll also need to check on resolution – often something listed as “HD” will have a native resolution of something lower.

However, sometimes you have to make do. Luckily, an ex-teacher over at The Hookup did a video comparing these cheap projectors. He’s a great guy, and very thorough. I highly recommend following his YouTube channel. His highest ranked pick that is currently still available is the WiMiUs 720p Native. For the money, it’s a good portable projector – and would be an excellent choice for a kids room. I’m just not comfortable recommending anything this dim for a classroom.

Resolution: 1280 x 800

Brightness: 240 AMSI lumen

Connections: HDMI, WiFi, Bluetooth. 5 Watt speaker.

Best for: Extremely tight budgets

Do you have a favorite projector or a recommendation? Let us know your tips in the comments below.

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