Short Throw vs Long Throw Projectors: 9 Key Differences

Projectors are differentiated using the throw ratios. When deciding which projector to buy, you need to make up your mind on a crucial aspect, and that is whether you want a short throw or long-throw projector. This is one of the reasons why people end up with the wrong projector.

In this case, throw means the distance between your projector and the screen needed to get the display size you want.  Your projector’s lens and mirror assembly influences this as the throw is basically the difference between the lens and the projector’s screen. The decision you make will hugely impact the scale of your screen.

Both the short throw and long throw projectors have their fair share of advantages and shortcomings. Deciding between the two can be a difficult choice to make. To help you make up your mind, you need to consider other factors such as your intention, the brightness level you require, the zoom range, contrast ratio, the resolution and the projection space

This article will take a keen look at both of them, and each’s pros and cons. We will also look at some of the key differences between the two and help you decide which one will work correctly for you. I hope you find this article insightful and informative. Let’s dive right into it.

Short Throw Projectors

Short throw projectors refer to projectors with a throw ratio of between 0.4 and 1. This means that they project the image on a greater width than the projector’s distance from it. For every foot from the projector surface, the projector is set back, the width of the projected image will increase by between 1 to 2.5 feet.

Short throw projectors offer you large images while minimizing shadows and eyeshine, ensuring you are comfortable while watching.

Advantages of Short Throw Projectors

  • Saves space. For instance, for a short-throw projector whose throw ratio is 0.4, a 4 feet wide screen can be projected at just 1 foot and 7 inches from the projection surface. You can therefore, use these projectors if you have a smaller home theatre or making a presentation to a few people.
  • No shadows. If you are watching a movie as a group and someone gets up to get a glass of water or use the bathroom, it will not project their shadows on the screen; and cause no distractions.

Such distractions are usually annoying and may make other people lose interest in the presentation.

  • Projection can be made from behind the screen. This is because short throw projectors can project from a short distance. This will also lower someone’s chances of bumping on the projector or knocking it down while passing by.

Therefore, if you are a minimalist, this is just the right projector for you.

  • Offers a big-screen experience. Since the audience will be closer to the screen, you can get immersed in the movie or presentation and get a big-screen experience. The image does not also have to be projected over long distances, giving you the best experience.

Disadvantages of Short Throw Projectors

  • They can get very hot. This is due to the extra processing power that the projector requires while converting rectangular images into trapezoids to project a rectangle at an angle.
  • They can be noisy. What causes short-throw projectors to be noisy are the internal fans trying to cool the projector down once it gets hot. This may be a distraction at times, which most people normally want to avoid.
  • More image warping when projecting on an uneven surface. Image warping will be intense because a short-throw projector warps the intended image at a certain angle only.
  • They have no zoom feature.  This is a big disadvantage sinceyou need to be very precise when installing your projector simply because a slight difference of just a few centimeters will affect the image quality you get.

This is one of the reasons why long throw projectors are preferred most of the time.

Long Throw Projectors

For long throw projectors, the throw ratio is more than one. This means that you get to project an image at a smaller width than the projector’s distance and your screen. The image projected has a lower diameter. Placing a long throw projector in a small room means that you get small images that will not be appropriate for the room size.

Advantages Long Throw Projectors

  • Minimal image distortion if you are projecting outside and have placed your projector on an uneven surface. This also happens when projecting on a rough surface.
  •  Long throw projectors are great if you have foot traffic closer to the screen in your room. People can pass and cross freely without stepping on any connection wires. This will help present accidents and unnecessary distractions.
  • Relatively affordable compared to short-throw projectors. This is because a long throw projector does not have to transform the images before projecting like a short-throw projector does. You will, therefore, end up spending a few pennies for one.

Disadvantages Long Throw Projectors

  • Lots of shadows. Since long throw projectors are meant to project over long distances, they become more vulnerable to getting obstructed by anything that stands in the way. Therefore, people and even pets standing in the throw distance, blocking the screen, will have their shadows cast on the screen, and this can be not very annoying for the people watching.
  • Uses up space. A big chunk of usable space is consumed when using long throw projectors since placing anything in front of your projector will make you suffer from shadows cast all over the screen.
  • Glare prone. The angle of projection makes them prone to more glare as compared to when using a short throw projector.

Key Differences Between Short Throw and Long Throw Projectors

  • Space and distance to set up

Small throw projectors work well for small confined spaces. This is because they require a shorter distance to project clear images and videos. On the other hand, long-throw projectors are meant for larger and bigger spaces so that the distance between the screen and the projector can be sufficient to offer clear images. Long-throw projectors also lack the versatility features to work for smaller spaces.

  • Image quality

Generally, short-throw projectors offer better quality images and videos, since they use a low number of lumens while projecting. For long throw projectors, the quality of the pictures and videos depends on various factors.

A long-throw projector uses many lumens that may decrease the quality of the images you are projecting. You can, however, turn off the lights while projecting to improve the quality. Quality will also decrease if you use a long throw projector in a smaller room where the throw ratio is not sufficiently met, as it will have to compress the images before projecting.

  • Number of people served

A short-throw projector only serves a handful people since it is used in small confined spaces. On the other hand, long-throw projectors can serve larger groups since they are mostly used in large or conference rooms.

  • Price

Short throw projectors tend to be a bit pricey. This is because they require special lenses to convert images before projecting. This also means that these projectors need extra processing power.

Long-throw projectors are relatively affordable when you compare them to short-throw projectors. You will not require any special lenses. The images do not have to be converted before projection.

  • Warping features

A long throw projector offers more versatility, especially when working in a larger space and other projectors are required. It can warp an image from various angles, which makes it more flexible.

On the other hand, a short-throw projector can warp an intended image from certain angles only. This means that if you are working on an uneven surface, you will have more image warping than working with a long throw projector.

  • Shadows

Since the throw ratio is smaller when working with a short-throw projector, you will not have any shadows cast on the screen in case of movements while projection is going on. If it is a presentation or movie, people can pay attention without distractions.

However, when using a long throw projector, you will have lots of shadows since anything that stands in the throw distance will be reflected on the screen. This can be very distracting and annoying for the people keenly following through.

  • Projection surface

When using a short-throw projector, you will need a very flat surface. If you use a surface with any folds or uneven, the images it will project will appear wavy. For long throw projectors, you can project on uneven surfaces with minimal distortion.

  • Installation costs

The installation cost for short throw projectors is minimal because they are installed on the wall. You also need a few cables, and it will require no much labor. This will further cut down the installation costs.

On the other hand, long-throw projectors are best installed on the ceiling, meaning that the installation cost will be slightly higher than short-throw projectors.

  • Options for connection

When using a short-throw projector, you get offered fewer options for connection. You only get 2 HDMI ports or a single VGA connection. A long throw projector comes with more ports for connection.

How do You Select the Right Throw Projector?

With all the differences and requirements, we have discussed above, you may already have a rough idea of the type of projector you want to get. It is crucial to keep in mind the space you want to use the projector in and the kind of environment. You should also take into account the number of people who will be relying on the projector.

If you want one that will serve you and your small family in the home theatre, it would only be wise to settle for a short-throw projector. You will get fantastic quality while enjoying the big screen experience. You will also not get distracted by any shadows while watching, which will make it a smooth and enjoyable process. If many people use the projector, then getting a long throw projector would be the best decision. It is also essential to consider the environment so that you can account for the natural light as it plays a crucial role in the quality of the images.

You also need to have a budget beforehand that will guide your purchase. Keep in mind that a short-throw projector will cost you more than a long throw projector. However, you do not need to break a bank to own a projector. Therefore, I recommend that you save up before deciding to buy a throw projector so that when you finally make your purchase, you get something that you wanted.


Picking the right throw projector is no rocket science. All you need to do is account for all the factors we have discussed above before settling on one. However, if space is not an issue, I recommend that you settle on the long throw projector. It will not be as limiting as using a short throw projector and will offer you flexibility and versatility.

They are reasonably priced, meaning you will not have to spend all your money to get one. You also get a high level of versatility that you will not enjoy with short throw projectors. For instance, you will be able to project on uneven surfaces outdoors with minimal distortion to your images. On the other hand, a short-throw projector will need you to cast on very flat surfaces or get wavy images. Short throw projectors would be excellent for situations where you do not need to place your projector far away and avoid obstructions such as your ceiling fan or hanging art.

I hope that this article has been insightful and opened your mind to realizing which throw projector would work best for your space and what you desire to accomplish. You should now be able to walk into the store without getting confused about how they work and what differences they have.

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