The Best Budget Projectors – February 2019
Our more frequent readers will know that we’re big fans of projectors over here at Tech Junkie. These remarkably affordable and portable screening devices have largely eliminated the need to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a flatscreen TV, and they’re able to project everything from movies and TV shows to presentations and slideshows on both specified projection screens and living room walls.
We’ve cataloged several projectors ranging from the ultra-fancy to the ultra-simple, on lists that were meant to showcase a wide array of models across several different price ranges. But we’re aware that not everyone is interested in buying a super-fancy projector that will be used every night to entertain the entire family or a full-fledged party.
Sometimes, you just want a barebones, run-of-the-mill projector that can screen the occasional film or handle that once-a-week presentation at work without any frills that drive its price up into the triple digits.
If that’s the case, then you’re likely in the market for a budget projector that will get the job done without breaking the bank. Luckily for you, many such projectors exist, and we’ve rounded up some of the best you can find.
When it comes to tech, cheaper is almost always worse—regardless of what you’re planning on using the gear for. In fact, it’s almost always worth spending that extra cash in order to land the next model up, since settling for a lower-priced iteration almost always leads to despair and regret down the line.
With projectors, however, the technology has advanced so quickly that you can find some truly great units for under $100 if you’re willing to look hard enough, and if you aren’t planning on setting up a fully-functional home theatre in your recreation room.
This VANKYO LEISURE 3 unit is one such projector, and it offers a surprisingly large amount of kick and functionality for a truly excellent price.
Powered by an MStar advanced color engine, this compact projector features a newly-upgraded LED lighting system that provides over 40 percent more brightness than its previous model. It supports 1920×1080 resolution, and a 2000:1 contrast ratio is more than enough to bring your favorite movies and TV shows to life in all of their glory.
Its small size and included carrying case means that it’s uniquely portable, and you’ll even be able to fully customize the bag in order to carry everything from DVDs and presentations to accessories and external cords when you’re on the go.
It offers an impressive projection size of between 32 and 176 inches at distances ranging from roughly 5 feet to 16 feet, and a specialized fan noise suppression system means that you won’t have to endure that obnoxious buzzing sound every time you want to sit down and enjoy a flick.
All in all, you’d be hard pressed to find a projector that offers better quality for under $100, especially if you’re only interested in occasional use.
Heading even further down the price ladder, we find the incredibly cool and supremely compact QKK Mini Projector, which even comes with its own stand that can be used to get that perfect picture angle on any surface.
Featuring full HD 1080P compatibility, this tiny-yet-mighty projector is designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and allows you to view your favorite movies in surprisingly rich focus and contrast. (When tested outside, however, this projector failed to eliminate all the glare during a relatively dark evening, even with its brightness maxed out. We’re therefore only recommending it for indoor use.)
It boasts a 2000:1 contrast ratio, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a projection size that ranges from 32 inches to over 170 inches at distances between 1.5 and 5 meters. We found that the ideal distance from the projection surface was roughly 3.5 meters, although it handled itself quite well at longer distances too.
There are a wide range of ports that allow you to connect virtually any peripheral device—including HDMI cords, AV lines, VGA, SD cards, TV fire sticks, USB flash drives, and more—and you’ll even be able to connect two USB flash drives simultaneously, which is exceedingly rare even with the more high-end projector models.
The lamp life for this projector is also rated at 50,000 hours, meaning you won’t have to worry about rushing out to find a replacement bulb when your current one starts to fail in the middle of movie night.
We promise we’re not just adding this projector to our list because it looks super cool. Although RAGU certainly isn’t a household name like Sony or Samsung, this brand has started to develop truly awesome and affordable electronics, especially in the realm of projectors.
This sleek and stylish gadget delivers surprisingly vivid and detailed imagery (even while streaming fast-paced action movies or video games) relative to its low price point, and it’s also incredibly bright—making it ideal for both outdoor use and inside when you need to battle an incessant glare.
Those of you who are familiar with this series of projector may remember an obnoxious humming noise stemming from its fan in previous iterations, and this new design has thankfully hit that nail on the head by introducing a powerful noise suppression system that eliminates over 90% of that terrible fan hum.
This projector also utilizes the latest LED lighting technology and boasts an impressive 3000:1 contrast ratio—meaning that the images on your screen will come to life and be far more realistic than those that are projected with contrast ratios hovering around 2000:1.
You’ll enjoy a projection size of between 28 and 180 inches at distances of between 5 and 16 feet (although the projected image at 16 feet wasn’t anything to write home about), and there are enough connections and ports that you won’t have to worry about being able to connect everything from laptops and smartphones to USB cards and TV fire sticks.
There’s also a supremely helpful manual keystone focus feature, which allows you to perfectly adjust the projected image in order to attain the ideal clarity and contrast on virtually any projection surface—even the most uncooperative walls.
Coming in at just under the $100 mark, this mini projector is an impressive addition to TOPVISION’s impressive lineup of premium projectors. Don’t let its small size fool you, this tiny gadget is capable of projecting crisp and detailed images on virtually any surface, and there are 2400 lumens of light that allow you to break through even the harshest glare.
There are a wide range of connectivity options ranging from USB inputs to HDMI ports, and you’ll be able to stream content directly from your smartphone with the right adaptor.
This portable projector also comes loaded with a lamp that’s rated at 50,000 hours, which means that you’ll be able to enjoy your home theater for roughly 30 years without having to change the bulb (a major plus for the environmentally conscious, along with the financially conscious).
We were also impressed with the accuracy and depth of the projected image even at long distances, which can be attributed in part to a 16:10 aspect ratio and a focused beam that brings out even the most detailed shades and dark colors.
Rounding out our list is a slightly more expensive version of the projector that claimed our number-one spot. This portable home movie display is very much like its less expensive counterpart, although it offers a slight increase in terms of clarity and functionality.
It has full support for 1920×1080 resolution along with a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and it provides full zoom sizes of between 40 and 200 inches—making it slightly more formidable if you’re trying to watch your content on a much larger surface.
This unit also features superior audio performance, thanks to speakers that don’t muddle the bass and deliver crisp highs and a detailed midrange (which is exceedingly rare with it comes to home projectors). This means you may not even have to invest in an external audio source depending on your home theater arrangement.
It of course comes with all of the expected connections and ports, and you’ll be able to take it with you on the go thanks to a very cool and included carrying case.