Short Throw vs. Long Throw Projectors

Whether you are a professional or are new to the world of home theaters, you might be exploring various types of projectors available today. With short and long throw projectors both having unique audiences, it can be curious as to what the differences are.

Short throw and long throw projectors vary in cost, throw distance, ideal space, screen size, image quality, and position. While short throw projectors cost more and are ideal for smaller rooms, long throw projectors can often create larger screen sizes and have less distorted image quality.

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Short Throw vs. Long Throw Projectors

Still, if you are looking to see if a short throw or a long throw projector is inherently better than the other, you might fall short in this search.

Realistically, short throw projectors are more ideal in certain scenarios where long throw projectors could be better suited for others.

It is important to understand how they differ in a variety of categories to more accurately make the decision of which type of projector will work best for you and your home.

Short Throw vs. Long Throw Projectors – Key Differences

Constructing your dream home theater is something that can come with a bit of apprehension as well as abundant excitement.

After all, this space can be one that you, your friends, and your family can create lasting memories in. You want it to be perfectly designed, and this includes the decision on which type of projector you should select.

Looking closely, short throw and long throw projectors can both be great options for your home theater depending on your setup. But, what are the differences between the two?

Short throw and long throw projectors have different costs, throw distances, ideal spaces, screen sizes, image quality, and projector positions.

Knowing how short throw and long term projectors vary in these categories can help you to decide which is the right piece of home theater equipment for you. Let’s take a closer look.


One of the major deciding factors between any investment into your home theater is going to be the associated cost. Regardless of how much you might prefer one piece of equipment over the other, if you cannot afford it, then there is no real point of negotiation here.

With that said, it is important to know the difference in cost between short throw and long throw projectors- especially since short throw projectors tend to come with a higher price tag.

A short throw projector costs between $300 USD to $7,000 USD with the average price between $600 USD to $1,000. Contrarily, a long throw projector costs less with a range between $150 USD to $1,500 USD with the average cost between $350 USD to $600.

Often, you get what you pay for with a short throw projector, so the lower prices will typically reflect lower quality, although that may not always be the case.

This can similarly be said about a long throw projector, but the quality among these is pretty impressive and can be vouched for by many companies considering long throw projectors have been available for quite some time.

Still, you might be wondering why a short throw projector is so expensive? Short throw projectors typically cost more than long throw projectors because of the lenses and built-in technology coming at a higher cost.

The image that would be cast by a long throw projector has to be altered with a short throw projector without the resulting image being distorted.

This means that a short throw projector costs more because it, in essence, is doing more “work” than a long throw projector is in terms of preparing the image to be cast onto your screen.

Because of this, you should be ready to invest a bit more into your home theater if you are preparing to use a short throw projector. But, for those who think a short throw projector makes more sense, you will see that it will be worth the investment.

Throw Distance

throw distance projector

Perhaps the most obvious difference between a short throw and a long throw projector is the throw distance of the two pieces of equipment.

When referring to the throw distance of a projector, this determines the space that your projector will need to be spaced from the projection screen.

There are many different examples of how to determine the throw distance of your projector when setting it up, but the specifications will be determined by your unique model.

However, these are quite simple to follow and typically are determined by the ratings of your projector and thus how far apart the lens should be from the screen in order to project a crystal clear image onto it.

The throw distance makes a huge difference when it comes to choosing a projector. This will determine your entire home theater room setup considering you cannot block the projector, and it will need to be properly displayed for the light beams to reach the screen.

Taking into account the throw distance will also help you to see how much space you have in your home theater. If you are using a projector with a longer throw distance, you will need to have the room to set this up.

This might mean that you place the long throw projector at the back of the room near the wall, or this might mean you have enough room to hang it from the ceiling- it will all depend on the model of projector that you choose and what it specifically requires.

On the opposite end, using a short throw projector will mean that you likely do not have to worry about having enough room to display the image considering the throw distance will be much shorter.

With a short throw projector, the image that is sent from the projector to the screen will be the same, but the lens will modify it so that there is no distortion even though the projector will be sitting closer.

If you were to place a long throw projector too close to the screen, your end result would be an image that was distorted (too small and unclear).

However, with a short throw projector, the shorter throw distance means the projector will sit closer to the screen while able to achieve the correct distancing required for proportionate images.

Ideal Space

Choosing whether a short throw projector or a long throw projector is better for you can come down to the specific dimensions in your living space. Particularly, you want to consider the complete dimensions of the room that you are planning on using as your home theater.

For some, this will be an entire room dedicated to media streaming. For others, this will be a convertible space like a living room that is also used for other types of functions.

Ultimately, it is up to you how you choose to set up your home theater. Since no two homes are the same, this is why this factor- among the others on the list- comes to such a personal decision about which type of projector is the right one for you and your space.

Still, with that in mind, there are certain scenarios where one type of projector will work better (or not) in your home. With that in mind, you can typically make it work for either type of projector, but the image quality (among other factors) can be changed in a way that you might not be as satisfied.

The ideal space for using a short throw projector is in homes with smaller living spaces, smaller rooms, or renters who cannot make permanent adjustments to the property.

In contrast, long throw projectors are ideal for large home theater rooms or spaces that can be appropriately set up to accommodate the throw distance of a long throw projector.

Again, this is where you see the throw distance really come into play with a short throw or a long throw projector.

When you use a short throw projector, you can assume that it will work in just about any type of home theater setup- especially when you have a smaller space and do not want the shortened distance you have between the screen and projector lens to distort the image.

Alternatively, long throw projectors will require more space to be able to cast out an image with appropriate proportions. This can result in a high-quality image, but it still requires space.

If you are tossing between a short throw and a long throw projector and do not know which one to pick, choosing one with the appropriate dimensions according to your living space is a good (ideal) place to start.

Screen Size

screen size

The screen size is another area that you might assume there are differences between a short throw and a long throw projector. Interestingly, this is an area there actually is not too much difference between these two types of projectors.

While a short throw projector will sit closer to the screen, this does not mean that it is capable of achieving a smaller screen. Instead, its lens and built-in technology allow the image it captures and displays to be cast onto a similarly-sized screen as a long throw projector.

Alternatively, the long throw projector does not have to “work as hard” to cast the image on a small or a large screen. Instead, you will simply use the proportionate dimensions to rest the long throw projector a longer distance from the intended screen.

So, if you are looking to have a 100” screen using a projector, you can determine the appropriate device based on how far away you need the projector to sit from the screen.

In using a short throw projector, you can expect to set it up much closer to the screen (even if the screen is the same size) than you would for the same size screen using a long throw projector.

Ultimately, this comes back to the throw distance and using the specifications designated for each piece of equipment in your home theater space. This, again, is why it is so important to pay attention to the unique specifications and dimensions of your own home.

Image Quality

Perhaps you are in the market for a new projector because you are realizing that your blurred image is causing distortions that are no longer just unclear but are genuinely frustrating for the viewer.

In this case, choosing a projector with a high-quality image is something that would be of grave importance to you. Certainly, then, it would be expected that you would consider all of the factors that go into the image quality of a projector.

When considering the image quality of a short throw or a long throw projector, you need to consider a few factors including the type of material that the image needs to be displayed on, the lumens, power of the projector, resolution, and projector placement.

Ultimately, it is tough to say whether a short throw projector or a long throw projector has a better image quality as this will be completely dependent on the model that you use.

With that said, there are a few factors to consider when working with a short throw projector, as the screen and display for this option are a little more finicky if you wish to achieve a high-quality image. However, if you set both of these up correctly, then it will likely come down to the specifications of each device.

Truly, while this is not always the case with every product, you typically get what you pay for in terms of quality with a projector. The least expensive options are usually priced that way for a reason. So, think of it as an investment when you choose to pay a little more for your short throw or long throw projector.

Still, when using a short throw projector, you will likely need to use a light reflecting screen, make sure that the surface is completely even, and remove all obstructions that could otherwise block the image. Additionally, slight nudges are more prone to knocking a short throw projector off of the screen.

This is different from a long throw projector in that the balance will not be as easily disrupted, and you can typically readjust quite simply.

Still, you would want to use a projector screen without bumps and ridges, set the projector at the proper distance from the screen, and ensure that you are using a high-quality projector from the start.

This, among other factors, will allow the image quality to be bolstered assuming you have set it up correctly.

So, if you are wondering if a short throw or long throw projector will provide you with a better quality image, you can assume that the question will be answered based on the other factors that you have set up to provide a high-quality image to be “caught” by the specific projector you are using.

Projector Position

Projector Position

Ultimately, ensuring that the projector is positioned well will have a lot to do with the overall image quality after you have completed setting up your home theater.

You can have everything else in your home theater setup for extreme luxury, but if you place the projector in the wrong spot, this can totally throw off the entire system.

To choose the appropriate projector position for your short throw or long throw projector, you can work one of two ways.

You can choose the projector that you would like to use and make sure that the dimensions and setup of your room can accommodate this, or you can look at the setup of your current room and choose a projector that can meld more into what you already have.

Either option can work, you just need to know where to start. When you are considering the dimensions of your room and the position of the projector, you need to consider if you would like to have the projector mounted on the wall, ceiling, or resting freely on a shelf or table. This will play a large role in the type of projector you can bring into this space.

For example, if you know that you only want the projector to be sitting on the floor about 4 feet away from the screen, then you need to choose a short throw projector as this is one of the designated distances that this type of projector can be most easily set up.

Contrarily, if you know that you want the projector to be mounted from the ceiling, then you should measure the dimensions of the screen size and throw distance to determine the ideal placement of your projector. From here, if the measurement from the screen is more than four feet, then you should install a long throw projector.

Placing a short throw projector more than four feet away from the screen can result in a distorted or blurred image as this is not how a short throw projector is designed to work.

Then, if you think that the long throw projector will be sitting too close, you can choose a projector with the appropriate dimensions and specifications according to your home theater setup and living space.

Ultimately, if you are in a smaller home, an apartment, or even if you are working in a classroom setting, then you will likely find better results with a short throw projector positioned less than four feet from the screen.

On the other hand, if you are in a home theater room with larger dimensions and capabilities than this, then opt for a long throw projector for your best results.

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