Epson Home Cinema
Photo/Jeff Harris

Those who remember the birth of home television projection also recall its expensive foibles. The three-lens console took up yards of real estate and delivered a fuzzy picture with dull colors unless professionally installed. In the meantime, the advent of digital streaming and 4K resolution has nothing but stoked the dream of a home experience to rival the movie theater. Now, fantasy meets reality with a new breed of affordable, compact units that project wow factor in big-screen dimensions.

An upper-echelon device like Epson’s Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD Projector ($1,999) casts video in razor-sharp quality with vivid colors. And, unless your house enjoys the dimensions of a Newport-style mansion, its picture will fill any room. The Epson projects on screens ranging from 50 to 300 inches wide. In comparison, top-of-the-line televisions tend to cap out at around 85, while multiplex screens are typically between 240 to 600.

Amateurs can set it up on a tabletop and adjust its focus in less than five minutes, but it’s also equipped to be ceiling mounted in dedicated viewing rooms. The Epson has two HDMI ports, a USB port as well as a computer input, so you can stream, watch cable or a DVD, even play video games.

Experts caution that a projector is only as good as its screen—so don’t skimp there. You’ll also have to supply a sound system. Whether it comes from surround sound or any one of the many capable sound bars, this picture deserves big audio.

The Epson’s specs—2,400 lumens, a 200,000:1 contrast ratio—will awe technophiles, but the convincer will come when your acrophobia kicks in while watching Batman glide off skyscrapers in The Dark Knight. Popcorn not included.