Here’s What a Cheap (But Good Enough) Projector Looks Like

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A cheap projector can be a great mode to spice up a living room or bedchamber without breaking the banking concern. An affordable projector can also exist a clever manner to create a large-screen home movie house experience in a small space that doesn’t take room for a large 4K Television. They can often be a lot cheaper than buying a new Idiot box too.

Picking a projector is tough, as so much depends on the room you’re putting information technology in and how you lot use information technology, whether you decide you want to prepare it up equally a home theater for the family or for outdoor camping trips and business presentations. You’ll as well desire to know what you need to look for in terms of projector resolution and effulgence for your intended purposes.

We’ve researched and tested models based on compatibility requirements (for wireless connectivity and computer ports) and diverse uses. Here are the best cheap projectors that you lot need to cheque out.

What Nosotros Like

  • 1920×1080 paradigm resolution

  • Quiet fans

  • Supports HDMI, VGA, and AV cables, plus SD and USB drives

  • Comes with a carry case for easy transporting

What We Don’t Similar

  • Needs propping up when aiming at an angle

  • Speaker quality isn’t great

  • No wireless connectivity for smart devices

The Vankyo Leisure three is a solid selection for an affordable projector with all of the usual features. Information technology comes with its own acquit example and HDMI ports, AV, and VGA ports, cables, which ways that you won’t demand to brand whatsoever boosted connector purchases. It also features SD and USB ports to view media from a card or stick and is very easy to set up, whether connecting a laptop, smart device, or video game console.

Using the congenital-in operating system to navigate the settings and options with the included remote is pretty intuitive. However, the stand is quite small, which means you may need to prop it up on a tabular array or desk with something to get the bending you desire. The two,000:one dissimilarity ratio provides solid picture quality, but the brightness level is surprisingly dimmer than what one would expect from a projector boasting 2,400 lumens.

The born speaker is unlikely to print those used to high-quality speaker systems or even a proficient built-in laptop speaker. Fortunately, the Vankyo Leisure 3 has a iii.5mm cable port which allows for a connectedness to an external speaker. You tin as well bypass the built-in speaker by exporting your audio directly from the source device, such as your computer or streaming stick.


Resolution:
1920×1080 |
Brightness:
2400 lumens |
Contrast ratio:
2000:1 |
Projection size:
170 inches


Tested by Lifewire

While in that location were sure design features of the Vankyo Leisure three we appreciated, we couldn’t assist just call up that the projector felt and looked like a cheap toy. When adjusting the focus, nosotros noticed that the lens was wobbly and did non fit tightly in the case. At just four anxiety, the power cord is annoyingly brusk and we had to get an extension cord to use the projector. Nosotros did like the carrying case that came with the projector—it fits everything inside including the cables and remote. We found the setup procedure simple and quick. Surprisingly, the projection was dainty and clear with decent colour and contrast. The bulb is not very bright, though, and the simply way to get a decent projection is in a very dark room. In general, nosotros would say this projector is not suitable for business situations. Don’t expect much when it comes to the two 2W built-in speakers; nosotros found them basically useless. They are thin, tinny, harsh, and they blend in with the fan noise. Luckily the projector has a headphone port that acts every bit an audio output, but we opted to connect a laptop to a portable Bluetooth speaker and employ that equally our sound source instead.
— Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman


Epson EX3280 XGA Projector

Amazon


What Nosotros Like

  • Looks smashing even in dimly lit rooms

  • Automatically corrects paradigm distortions

  • 768p XGA resolution is ideal for projecting documents

What Nosotros Don’t Like

  • No SD carte slot

  • No wireless functionality

The Epson EX3280 is a bit more expensive than some other budget projectors, but it’s a good option if yous’re looking for a portable projector for business meetings and gatherings.

The 768p XGA resolution and 15,000:ane dissimilarity ratio hateful that documents with a lot of text and fine details will clearly brandish when projected. The support for HDMI, USB, and VGA inputs should adapt almost mod business needs. While the lack of an SD card slot is inconvenient, you tin can e’er transfer the data to a USB stick or a device connected via cable.

3 one thousand six hundred lumens, a good number for such a relatively cheap projector, also provide a clear picture and doesn’t restrict your presentations to a completely nighttime room like other projectors in this cost range. The congenital-in sensor that automatically corrects the image to ensure information technology’s not distorted is also impressive.


Resolution: 1024×768 |
Brightness: 3,600 lumens |
Dissimilarity Ratio: 15000:1 |
Projection Size: 300 inches

BenQ

Courtesy of Amazon.com

What Nosotros Like

  • ii,200 ANSI lumens and 15,000:1 contrast ratio

  • The 1:1.69 pes throw ratio is groovy for small spaces

  • Low latency is slap-up for gaming

  • Loads of ports

What We Don’t Similar

  • A bit more expensive than other budget projectors

  • No wireless connectivity

  • No 4K project pick

The BenQ HT2150ST is absolutely on the college stop of the cheap projector category, but It’south nonetheless worth considering, especially if you want a good projector for playing video games. This model boasts incredibly low latency with just a 16ms input lag, which means very lilliputian filibuster from when you press a video game controller button to when the action happens on-screen.

This budget projector also boasts a 1:1.69 human foot throw ratio that gives y’all an extra 2 feet of prototype for every foot away from the wall or screen that the projector sits. This ratio is good as it will allow you to make a sizable projection when used in a pocket-size place such as a child’s bedroom or tent.

The 2,200 ANSI lumens allow the BenQ HT2150ST to put on a mostly solid show in dimly-lit rooms while the support for 1080p resolution and fifteen,000:1 contrast ratio produces a projection with solid colors and fine details.

Where this projector really impresses is with its range of ports. With two HDMI ports, a USB-A port, a USB Mini-B port, 3.5mm input and output audio jacks, an RS-232 control port, and a PC VGA port, very few devices won’t be able to connect to the BenQ HT2150ST.


Resolution: 1920 x 1080 |
Brightness: 2,200 ANSI Lumens |
Contrast ratio: xv,000:1 |
Projection size:up to 300 inches


Tested by Lifewire

One of the best parts of the BenQ HT2150ST is its short throw lens, giving buyers a fantastic projection experience that will work in just about whatsoever room configuration. A 1.2x zoom gives you lot a decent amount of play with your motion picture size, assuasive for more flexibility in projector placement. This might not seem like a huge deal at first, but once we started setting up the projector and dealing with the practicalities of finding the all-time placement and projection surface, we speedily felt the benefits of this characteristic. An as important pattern feature for some, even though information technology is not highlighted quite equally often, is noise. The BenQ performs very well in this category, delivering whisper-quiet fan performance and doing a great job of creating as few distractions as possible. Image quality is definitely the main attraction for the HT2150ST. The flick is bright and sharp from corner to corner, with excellent color and contrast performance. The but place the HT2150ST loses marks is with effulgence uniformity. It might not be apparently visible during normal utilize, but during testing, the departure in luminance from edge to edge is definitely noticeable. The audio is noticeably better than most other projectors nosotros’ve tested, but that’s a fairly low bar.
— Jonno Hill, Product Tester

 Lifewire / Jonno Hill


The Topvision 4000LUX projector is a great portable projector.

What Nosotros Like

  • HDMI, USB, VGA, and AV ports

  • Built-in surroundings sound speakers

  • 2000:1 contrast ratio

What We Don’t Similar

  • No wireless casting option

  • Physical pattern is a scrap clunky

The Topvision T21 is an affordable projector designed for working with smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It tin can connect to devices via HDMI, USB, VGA, and AV and mirror their displays on a wall or screen in 1080p resolution.

The 3,600 lumens and 2000:1 dissimilarity ratio create a rather skillful quality projection that’south abrupt and bright. The built-in speakers offering basic surroundings sound that won’t compete with a proper speaker system only are more than than plenty for coincidental movie viewings. That’s not bad for such a upkeep-friendly projector.


Resolution:
1920×1080 |
Brightness:
3600 lumens |
Contrast ratio:
2000:1 |
Projection size:
176 inches

Lifewire / Erika Rawes


The Kodak Luma 150 projector is a highly-portable projector.

Amazon


What We Like

  • Extremely portable and easy to acquit

  • Bear upon controls feel modern and premium

  • Support for wireless casting from smart devices

What We Don’t Like

  • 480p resolution is really low

  • Low 1,000:1 contrast ratio

  • sixty ANSI lumens isn’t very bright

The disappointing 480p resolution on Kodak’south Luma 150 projector rules information technology out every bit a chief home movie house projector, but its small size and fashionable build go far an platonic solution equally a projector for traveling, attending gatherings, or the occasional presentation with a client on-location.

In addition to the usual HDMI and USB connections, the Luma 150 also supports wireless casting from Apple, Android, and Windows devices. The 60 ANSI lumen hardware and low i,000:i contrast ratio practice limit projections to smaller and darker spaces, but its convenient size and back up for tripods as well add actress functionality that many may find are worth the trade-off. If you’re later on an inexpensive portable projector, the Luma 150 is worth a await.


Resolution:
854×480 |
Brightness:
sixty ANSI lumens |
Contrast ratio:
chiliad:one |
Project size:
150 inches

“This is a fun and stylish projector that would brand a slap-up gift for my nieces, and I like that it works both wirelessly and with Bluetooth.”
— Katie Dundas, Tech Author

The Anker Nebula Max is an awesome portable projector.

Amazon


What Nosotros Like

  • Tin natively run Android apps

  • 720p projection resolution

What We Don’t Like

  • Will need a dark space with only 200 ANSI lumens

  • Low contrast ratio at 400:1

  • Only four hours of battery life

The Anker Nebula Capsule Max projector features the usual HDMI and USB ports for connecting media, but its real claim to fame is its congenital-in support for the Android operating system, which allows it to run Android apps natively. You don’t need to connect another device to the Nebula Capsule Max for streaming content nor worry nearly copyright-protected content when casting Netflix or Disney Plus. Yous tin can run your favorite apps straight from the projector itself as if information technology’s a tablet or smart TV. Yous will need to use the Nebula Sheathing Max smartphone app to control the apps you run on the projector, though.

Another benefit of the Nebula Capsule Max project is its size. The size of a soda tin can, this cheap projector is very piece of cake to pack for a trip and store at habitation when non in employ. The Anker isn’t perfect, though. Offering but four hours of battery life, information technology’ll demand to exist plugged into a power source very regularly. Its low lumen count can besides touch its visibility in brilliant environments.


Resolution:
1280×720 |
Brightness:
200 ANSI lumens |
Contrast ratio:
400:1 |
Projection size:
100 inches

Lifewire / Erika Rawes


Philips NeoPix Easy

Courtesy of HSN


What We Like

  • Support for HDMI, VGA, microSD, and USB inputs

  • 3.5mm sound output for headphones and speakers

  • Solid contrast ratio of iii,000:i

What We Don’t Similar

  • The 480p resolution is really disappointing

  • No support for VGA connections

  • No wireless functionality

The Philips NeoPix Easy is a budget projector worth looking at though it definitely isn’t for anybody. While information technology does support HDMI, VG, USB, and MicroUSB sources, the output resolution is only 480p. It’s a long cry from a proper 1080p HD resolution and an even further weep from what’s available with a high-stop 4K projector. This low resolution will likely be a deal-breaker if you want to watch movies and TV shows in high quality but this also shouldn’t bother children or coincidental viewers who don’t accept an experienced centre for paradigm quality.

There is no AV port on the Philips NeoPix Easy but the projector does come with an AV adaptor then you will even so be able to use an AV source if that’southward what you prefer.

The 40 ANSI lumens may also be an issue for media enthusiasts equally this rather low ANSI lumen count does decrease the projection brightness in rooms that aren’t completely dark. The 3,000:1 dissimilarity ratio is solid, all the same, and the 3.5mm sound output does allow y’all utilize your own speakers for audio.


Resolution:
800×480 |
Effulgence:
40 ANSI lumens |
Contrast ratio:
3000:1 |
Project size:
eighty inches


Final Verdict

When looking for the best cheap projector, information technology’s hard to beat the Vankyo Leisure iii Mini (view at Walmart), which checks almost every single box. This projector supports all of the major ports needed for connecting smart devices and computers via cable and also features both a USB port and SD bill of fare slot for viewing content saved on memory sticks and cards. For a inexpensive projector, you can’t do much better.


What to Look For in Inexpensive Projectors


Brightness

When it comes to projectors and brightness, the brighter a projector is, the better it will be at projecting in environments with more ambient light or from longer distances. If you lot programme on projecting close to the screen or wall and in dark environments, effulgence may not matter equally much, simply the effulgence will exist important for those who want an fifty-fifty moderately versatile projector.

Projectors measure brightness in lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the projector is. So what does that mean? Well, for a home projector used in dark environments, you might be able to get away with as little every bit 1,000 lumens. Brighter projectors, however, volition be much more suited to environments with some ambience light. With a larger room or 1 with more ambient low-cal, y’all’ll want something closer to the 2,000-lumen range, while really big or bright rooms might demand fifty-fifty more than that. For bones use, we recommend something close to the 1,500-lumen range.


Dissimilarity Ratio

The dissimilarity ratio is essentially a measurement of the brightness betwixt black and white. The higher the contrast ratio, the deeper the darks and the brighter the whites. That’s good for TVs and projectors; it means that there’southward more detail in a picture, creating a more immersive viewing experience.

The contrast ratio is specially important for home projectors. In darkened rooms, the contrast will exist more noticeable than in rooms with a lot of light, which often mutes contrast.

The contrast ratio is a primal differentiator between dwelling theater projectors and business solutions. Movies and Boob tube shows with dark scenes require a higher contrast ratio for clear distinction when watching these scenes. Thus, well-nigh home theater projectors are designed with higher contrast ratios than those used in a concern setting.” — Carlos Regonesi, Senior Product Manager, Epson America Inc.

Information technology’due south important to note that contrast ratio isn’t the be-all and end-all of image quality. A projector with a 5,000:1 contrast ratio isn’t necessarily twice as good equally one with a two,500:1 contrast ratio. Afterward all, the dissimilarity ratio only accounts for extremes—it doesn’t say much about the colors and grays in between the brightest whites and blackest blacks.

So what’s a good contrast ratio? Nosotros recommend a dissimilarity ratio of at least 1,000:1, though many projectors will boast a higher figure. That higher figure normally comes with a college price.


Resolution

Just similar TVs, smartphones, and calculator monitors, projectors also display images in pixels—and more than pixels is pretty much always better. These days many projectors take an Hd resolution, which equates to 1920×1080 pixels, although you’ll run across many with a lower resolution and a bunch with 4K (4096×2160 pixels) resolutions. In an era of mutual 4K content, a projector with a 4K resolution is ideal—but oftentimes comes with a hefty price. Because of that, we recommend finding one with the highest resolution possible in your price range.

FAQ

  • How much should a projector toll?

    Projectors can vary profoundly in cost from nether $100 to well over $2,000. This massive price range is why projectors that cost around $500 or and so are still considered to be inexpensive, or at to the lowest degree more than affordable, than others.

    The manufacturer or make associated with a projector can affect the price simply the price is mostly affected by the quality of the projection and the resolution it offers. For example, a projector that needs to exist used in the night and only displays a 480p resolution paradigm might cost $fourscore or then while a 4K projector that produces an paradigm that’s completely clear during the daytime from all angles could price around $1,500.

  • How many lumens do you need in a projector?

    Lumen is a term used to describe the level of light output from projectors and other similar devices. The minimum requirement to create a quality project in a domicile theater setting is i,000 lumens. Generally speaking, the higher the lumens, the better the paradigm quality. It’due south important to note, though, that cheaper projectors with lower lumen counts can often exist completely fine if yous’re prioritizing portability and toll over quality. After all, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a 4K abode movie house experience from a portable projector designed to keep kids entertained while camping ground in a tent.

  • What is the throw ratio on a projector?

    The throw ratio is the distance between a projector and a screen required to produce a clear or high-quality epitome. The throw ratio, sometimes chosen the throw distance, is a stat that’s completely independent of a projector’due south lumen count and resolution. For example, ii 4K projectors with the same lumen count could take very different throw ratios. Standard, or long-throw, projectors usually crave a minimum of 6 feet between the projector and the screen to project an image of 80 inches or more, while short-throw projectors tin can create a 100-inch image at a distance of but 4 or 5 feet. Throw ratios can ordinarily be found on a projector’s product clarification folio and within its transmission.


About Our Trusted Experts

Katie Dundas is a freelance journalist and contributing writer to Lifewire. She has been roofing tech for over two years and loves the look of the Anker Nebula Sheathing Max for traveling and camping ground.

Benjamin Zeman has a background in film, photography, and graphic blueprint. He is an expert in film and video technology, and has reviewed several of the projectors on this list.

Jonno Hill is a writer who covers tech such as computers, gaming equipment, and cameras for Lifewire and publications including PCMag.com.

Source: https://www.lifewire.com/best-cheap-projectors-to-buy-4062263