Have you ever wanted to take your movie viewing outside with you?
Or you want to wow clients with a large presentation.
Perhaps you want to view to create a movie night for your school or local church.
Whatever your reasoning, you need a portable projector.
Projectors have come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days where you needed to buy something as long as a log and as heavy as a car battery for decent picture quality.
Now, you can pick up a light and yet highly effective portable projector for any professional or personal project you might have.
Best of all, you no longer have to drop several thousand dollars for a quality picture either. But with all the different portable projectors now on the market, which one is right for you?
Here’s our selection of the 11 best portable projectors, regardless of your needs.
Before you head out and pick up whatever projector you come across there are a few specifics you should consider. Projectors do have some variables comparable to televisions, but if you want a truly visually stunning projector that can compete with the latest Ultra HD television you’ll need a stationary projector.
For a portable projector, there are a few other elements you need to keep in mind.
Of course, just like any kind of electronic device you purchase you need to keep the price in mind. For an entry-level portable projector, you can spend less than $100. It’s actually amazing the picture quality you now get for such a small investment (just a decade ago you couldn’t purchase a 13-inch standard definition tube TV for less than $100).
In general for a quality portable projector, you’ll spend anywhere from under $100 to around $600 or so. Anything more than that and you’re moving away from the world of portable and into stationary projectors. Whatever you decide to do with a cheap projector or spend a little bit more, keep in mind the potential price shift.
2. Picture Quality
When looking at the picture quality of a portable projector there are two features you’ll want to keep in mind. First is the general resolution. Now, the resolution is a little bit different with something being projected and an actual screen. With a screen, there are physical lines of information appearing on the screen. With a projector it is light, so there are no “lines.”
However, most projector manufacturers will give an equivalent resolution so it’s easier to understand (kind of like electric cars giving an MPG number so you can compare it to the monetary cost of filling a gasoline vehicle).
Beyond resolution, you should also consider color ration. This is really where the picture pops. The higher the color ration the better the color production. Most of the portable projectors you find will be, at the very least, HD in picture quality, and refresh rate isn’t a thing with projectors as it is with a physical screen (again, light works differently than physical media blinking off and on). But color ration, the more colors a projector is able to produce the higher the visual quality.
This really can be an extension of the picture quality, but consider the brightness of the projector. The brighter the projector the easier it is to produce a picture in less than perfectly dark conditions.
There will be times you want to put on a presentation but the light is coming in through a side window. If the projector struggles with brightness it will not show up.
A projector might be marketed as portable, but is it really portable? Some companies slap the name onto a product of its cheap.
But just because you want a projector does it mean you want a cheaply produced projector.
A portable projector will be designed to easily carry within a briefcase or backpack. If you’re flying across the world and you need to bring presentation tools with you, you need a projector that will likely fit into the carry-on.
This means the projector is small and yet durable at the same time. So when looking into available portable projectors, always keep in mind just how portable and soundly built the device is.
The kind of connectors the portable projector should have will largely depend on what you wish to connect with it. Chances are you’ll want an HDMI, as this is the default High Definition Multimedia Interface connector for most modern technology.
However, you may also want to connect picture through VGA, USB, or even the older RCA composite connectors. Whenever shopping for a portable projector always know what you’re looking to pair with it and go from there.
The right projector really depends on how you want to use it. Do you want something with near home-projector quality only in a slightly smaller frame? Perhaps you want something that is sturdy, can go anywhere and is a means to endless entertainment opportunities without breaking the bank.
With everything in mind, we decided to go with the Nebula Capsule by Anker. Now, the projector isn’t perfect. Its native resolution is only 854 by 480 (standard definition) and the brightness is 100 lumens, which is on the low end. However, we believe the high points far exceed the low points and make it a great projector for when you want something that is ready at a moment’s notice.
First, it comes with Android 7.1 installed, which gives you access to a number of apps, ranging from Netflix to YouTube. This way, you don’t need to have a smartphone with you. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection you can use it to watch your favorite content.
The system also has a 360 degree 5W speaker, so everyone can hear the audio playback. Some of the other features on the Nebula Capsule by Anker that we like to include:
At under $100, it’s hard to beat the overall picture quality of the RAGU Z400 Mini Projector, 2019 Upgrade.
This 1080P equivalent projector can connect to just about any device you might want, as it has an HDMI, VGA, and USB connector.
It is also 85 percent brighter than the 2017 model, which substantially improves the picture quality when the room isn’t perfectly pitch black.
The RAGU Z400 Mini Projector, 2019 Upgrade also produces a 3000:1 contrast ration. This isn’t the greatest number, but it’s not bad, especially for the price tag.
When you want a projector that’s small enough to put into your pocket, the AAXA P2-A Android Smart LED Pico Projector is the way to go.
In fact, this projector will fit in your fingerprints.
It’s a solid projector for quickly projecting information from your computer or portable devices. While marketed as an “Android” projector thanks to its native support, it can still connect to your Apple iOS device.
The projector has an HDMI connection, micro USB connection, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug your headphones into the projector if you’d like (which is perfect for when your phone doesn’t have the 3.5mm connection and only the USB/HDMI connection).
The picture quality of the AAXA P2-A Android Smart LED Pico Projector is at 1080, although you’ll never have the same kind of brightness or screen size potential as you would with a larger projector. But you’re not buying this device for optimal picture quality. You’re buying it because it can fit into your hand.
It can create a 100-inch projection and it has an Android operating system built into the device. This way, you can actually run Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and other apps right from the device (with a Wi-Fi connection) without pairing it with any other device.
The PIF6 CUBE Full LED Mini Projector is another super portable projector that will fit in the palm of your hand.
A nice feature on the PIF6 CUBE Full LED Mini Projector is it comes with a tripod mount on the bottom of the device. This way you can connect it to a camera tripod wherever you go. This is great if you don’t have a shelf or books to put it on.
Battery life is 90 minutes. It would be nice to see the battery life longer than this (as good luck finding a 90-minute movie nowadays), but for the size, it’s hard to complain. Thankfully you can plug it into a power outlet with the micro USB connection.
Brightness is not a strong point with the projector at just 50 lumens, so you’ll need to use this in an almost entirely darkened room.
The PIF6 CUBE Full LED Mini Projector does have a micro HDMI cable connection, as well as a microSD slot for inserting memory caries (which makes it great to take with you on vacation and look over pictures you snapped with your camera).
Despite its size, it is built for travel. You’ll feel just how structurally sound it is. In fact, it’s 1.8 pounds, which is nearly three times the weight as the last projector.
By increasing the amount you pay for a portable projector you’ll drastically boost the features that come along with it. With the Nebula Capsule by Anker, you’ll land some truly impressive specifications.
The Nebula Capsule by Anker itself is designed much like the tower Amazon Alexa speakers. It is a cylinder construction so it’s simple to place onto just about any surface.
The projector has Android 7.1 natively installed on the device, so with a Wi-Fi connection, you can stream content from Netflix, HBO Go, YouTube, and other applications without connecting any device.
The Nebula Capsule by Anker has 100 lumens, which isn’t the greatest number in the world, but for the size of the projector bulb, you’ll be hard pressed to find something better (it is recommended to use it in mostly dark situations).
The Nebula Capsule by Anker features a four hour playback time, which is perfect for movie night. It also can produce a picture at up to 100 inches.
The entire base of the Nebula Capsule by Anker is one large speaker too, so no matter what direction you’re sitting around the projector you’ll have clear audio. In fact, you can use the Nebula Capsule by Anker as a stand-alone speaker (with 30 hours of music playback time).
Some of the features you’ll find on the Nebula Capsule by Anker include:
The Epson VS250 SVGA 3 is basically a smaller version of a regular projector. It isn’t the most durable due to this, but it does provide you with superior picture quality.
In fact, the Epson VS250 SVGA 3 produces 3,200 lumens of brightness. That’s compared to the last two projectors, which have a lumens brightness of 50 and 100 respectively.
This means the projector is great when you don’t have complete darkness around you.
The picture quality isn’t up to HD standards though, as it is 800 by 600. This is slightly more than standard definition, but not up to minimum HD specs. Basically, this is a projector you’ll want for the office when you want a visible picture at any time of the day but don’t require extreme resolution.
You can produce up to 120 inches of projection with this device. It also comes with remote control, giving you more playback control if you’re not sitting right next to the projector.
A solid feature of the Epson VS250 SVGA 3 is the number of connection options you’ll find. It does have an HDMI connection port, but it also has RCA composite video (plus the audio connection if you wish to play audio through the internal speaker). There is a USB A and B, plus a D-sub 15-pin connector. Basically, if you need to connect a device to the Epson VS250 SVGA 3 it will have the right connectors for it.
Some of the features to consider on the Epson VS250 SVGA 3 include:
When you want a great pocket projector, the Sony Portable Pico Projector may fit the bill. This small device is about the size of your hand. It’s designed to be rugged so if you need to travel with your projector this is a desirable option.
It does create 105 lumens, which isn’t great, but for the size, you have to expect it (bulbs can only produce so much light at this reduced size). The projector can throw a viewing size of up to 120 inches as well.
The built-in battery lasts up to two hours, which should be enough for any business meetings.
There is a micro tripod attachment on the base of the projector, so you can connect the Sony Portable Pico Projector to any smaller tripods.
The projector does have an HDMI input, but this is the only connectable option. The built-in speaker does produce some audio, but you’d be better off connecting a secondary pair of headphones or speaker to the source device.
When you want the combination of both power and portability, the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector may be the kind of projector to invest in.
The device has a built-in swivel base, which makes it easy to place on any object and to adjust the projection angle. This is great if you want to project the visual up or down, based on your needs.
The projector does only produce 854 by 480, which is standard definition. Ideally for something around $400 you’d get HD, but you’re paying for other features and not necessarily resolution quality.
There are dual built-in Harman Kardon speakers to give you solid audio without connecting secondary speakers.
One of the best features of the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector is its six-hour battery life. You can also charge the device with the USB type-C connection as you use it.
The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector comes with remote control, projector case, and a USB type-C cable so you have everything you need ready to go.
With the Sealegend projector you’re landing a solid projector for a nice price tag. This fan favorite is a small projector that will fit in your hand. Despite the size it can produce 3,000 lumens of brightness, all while having a 50,000 hour lifespan. This makes it a great projector if you’re always on the go.
The device can connect to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network while also output audio via a Bluetooth speaker. The built-in speaking on the projector itself isn’t all that great (although it works in a pinch). Thankfully, with the Bluetooth speaker feature ,you can not only connect it with physical speakers,but your Bluetooth headphones as well.
The output resolution of the projector is 1280 by 720, so it is on the low end of the HD spectrum, but still considered high definition.
Despite the small stature of the device, there are some solid ports. You’ll find an HDMI input, SD card slot, two USB connections , nd an AV/audio out.
You can even mount it on a portable tripod, which is a great tool to travel with. There is also a remote control, so you don’t need to remain right next to the projector at all times. Combined with the small stature of the projector, this is a fantastic projector to travel with.
So whether you want to keep your kids entertained while on the go or you want to go over photos and videos you’ve taken on the trip, having the small projector at your disposal is a perfect addition.
Some of the great features you’ll find on the Sealegend projector include:
You’re getting to the point where you should begin to expect higher-end specs for the price point. This holds true with the Optoma ML750.
This projector is smaller, so it’s designed for travel, but it isn’t a pocket projector. It will take up some space in your carry-on if you plan on traveling with it.
This projector does produce 700 lumens, which is excellent for the size and will work in rooms where sunlight is present.
The Optoma ML750 is only slightly larger than your hand, so you’ll have a solid design in a compact body. It features an HDMI port, USB, and a microSD card slot.
The contrast ratio is one of the highest on the list of portable projectors at 10,000:1, while the video quality is 1280 by 800 (1280 by 720 is the low end of HD, so you are technically experiencing a level of high definition).
The LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam Projector is a glossy, sleek looking portable projector. It does have a produced resolution of 1280 by 720, so you’ll receive a lower end HD video signal (while other projectors can create 1280 by 800, most of the material will be displayed in 1280 by 720, so the two resolution sizes are displayed exactly the same).
The LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam Projector comes with a pre-installed Android OS, making it possible to run applications from the device, all without connecting secondary devices (although you do need a Wi-Fi signal for this feature to work).
The projector produces 550 lumens, while also providing you with a 2.5-hour built-in battery. While the LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam Projector does have an internal battery, you can take advantage of the DC-in power connection if you do have access to a wall outlet.
There are a number of connection options with the LG Electronics PH550 Minibeam Projector. In fact, in terms of connections, this is one of the best portable projectors out there. You have your USB and HDMI, but you also have a coaxial cable connection and a VGA computer monitor port.
The Optoma ML750ST is similar to the regular Optoma ML750, only it comes with a handful of spec improvements, all while maintaining the excellent design size.
With the Optoma ML750ST, you’ll have a microSD card slot, USB connection, HDMI port, and a headphone jack.
The “ST” within the title references “Short Throw” which means it is made for a shorter projector throwing distance. This way, you can be closer to the projection surface when using the device.
The 700 lumens is towards the top of its class, plus you receive a 20,000:1 contrast ratio, giving you excellent depth and color. This is twice the contrast ratio of the standard 750.
The short throw design allows you to be within 1.4 feet of the surface, yet you can project up to 199.9 inches in size.
Some of the features on the Optoma ML750ST to consider include:
The Epson PowerLite 1781W is larger than the other options on this list. In fact, it may be the biggest projector we’ve covered. However, it can still fit into any backpack and your briefcase (or carry-on). So while it is larger, it packs a punch for the size.
This is because the Epson PowerLite 1781W is able to produce an incredible 3,200 lumens. This makes it a great projector when you need to put on a presentation in a fully-lit room.
The Epson PowerLite 1781W has a resolution of 1280 by 800 and comes with a number of connection ports. This includes a VGA computer monitor port, an HDMI, a USB type-A and a USB type-B connection. There is also an RCA composite video connection, although you will need to plug in the audio into a speaker system if you want audio.
The Epson PowerLite 1781W is on the heavier side when compared to the other projectors at four pounds. Ultimately, you’re buying this kind of a projector if you want something that can perform in fully lit rooms yet is still small enough to fit into a bag.
The right portable projector comes down to what you want to do with it and where you want to travel with it. If you want something that’s sleek and easy to slip into a pocket you’ll find a number of options here. You’ll also find options when you want something a bit larger, brighter, and with improved visual quality.
Our Editor’s Pick is the Nebula Capsule by Anker. Now, we know this isn’t going to be the right projector for everyone. The resolution does leave much to be desired, the lumens are adequate and in terms of hard connections you only really have USB and HDMI.
However, with a four hour playback time, Android installed into the native operating system, plus its sleek design, it’s a great purchase for when you want a portable and well-crafted projector.
If you had to go with a projector on the list, which one would you select? What is important to you when it comes to portable projectors? And if you have a projector, which model do you have?
Let us know in the comments! Your fellow shoppers would love to get your input as well.