The Best Portable Projectors – February 2019
It seems like only yesterday that if you wanted to enjoy your favorite movie or TV show in the comfort of your own home, you needed to invest in a large and needlessly cumbersome television in order to get the job done. Usually costing the equivalent of a small car, these in-house entertainment machines were the centerpiece of any truly great living room. They brought families together and allowed viewers to watch in awe as their favorite characters came to life in front of their eyes.
And up until the 1990s, having a TV with a diagonal screen measurement of over roughly fifteen inches was a blessing, and the few TVs that had screens boasting larger measurements were simply way too expensive for the average family to afford.
Then came the flatscreen TV revolution, which changed the ways in which people thought about home entertainment. These effortlessly chic and stylish gadgets took up a fraction of the space that their predecessors did, and they almost always offered superior resolution as well.
But we’re in the midst of another home entertainment revolution that’s putting flatscreen TVs to shame: The home projector revolution, which makes it incredibly easy to project virtually any kind of digital content onto virtually any surface in the home, with screen sizes ranging from a few inches to upwards of twenty feet.
This new reality makes it easier and more affordable than ever for anyone with a love of movies and a modest budget to enjoy a full-fledged home theatre experience, and small portable projectors get the job done just as well as their larger and more cumbersome counterparts.
Here are some of the best portable projectors money can by.
If you haven’t heard of the brand name TAINIDI, you’re probably not alone. Far less reputable than industry standards such as Sony or Samsung, this brand isn’t a household name quite yet. But TAINIDI is a leading developer of some of the best projectors you can find, and this flagship portable projector is no exception.
Regardless of whether you’re primarily interested in showcasing movies and TV shows or slideshows and fast-paced video games on your home’s wall, this tiny-yet-mighty projector has you covered, thanks to full HD resolution and 1080P compatibility.
One thing to keep in mind when searching for the perfect projector is that its projected image is only as good as its source. For instance, 1080P resolution and a super-fast refresh rate won’t do you very much good if you’re only feeding it low-quality VHS tapes. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in streaming HD content from sites like Netflix or Hulu, an HD projector like this one won’t let you down.
It comes loaded with advanced color features that bring to life the best aspects of the richest and most vibrant backgrounds, LED lighting that lets you view your content at up to 70% greater brightness (a very important feature if you view your content in rooms that have an unreasonable amount of glare during the day), a contrast ratio of 2000:1, and a variety of outside connections that make it easy to plug in just about anything.
You’ll be able to use it with laptops, TV boxes, tablets, DVD players, USB drives, HDMI devices (there’s even an HDMI cable included, which is a big plus), and more, and it supports projection sizes between 44 to 180 inches at a distance of between 4.9-18.4 feet with good focus. Think about the size of a 40-inch flatscreen, and now imagine watching movies on a screen that maxes out at a whopping 180 inches instead. The mind truly boggles.
This projector also features an impressive fan noise suppression and cooling system, which means that your entertainment won’t be muddied by that all-too-familiar and distracting fan noise.
The one area in which this projector seemed to struggle was with gaming. Although its refresh rate and resolution is perfectly fine for most movies and the occasional car chase scene, it’s a bit lacking when it comes to fast-paced video games in which characters and backgrounds are usually and constantly on the go.
But if you’re not an avid gamer, we highly recommend giving this compact and ultra-portable projector a try.
It wasn’t easy deciding between the TAINIDI and this almost equally as cool GooDee gadget for our top pick. Priced roughly the same, these two units are neck and neck with it comes to size, compatibility, adaptability, and overall quality.
We ultimately decided to notch the GooDee down one spot only because of slight variations in image quality and depth at larger distances, but this may actually come down to personal preference instead of objective quality differences, so read on in order to see which device may be best suited for your needs.
When it comes to brightness, this GooDee gadget reigns supreme. Compared to other projectors at similar price points and sizes, this projector was able to overcome even the most severe glares thanks to 2200 lumens (which offers about 80% more brightness than competing models). This lumen increase is also important if you want to maintain clarity at wider viewing projections, and it’s an absolute must if you’re watching anything outside.
Much like our number-one pick, this projector offers HD, 1080P resolution (as long as your source supports it as well) and you’ll be able to utilize the latest lens technology that allows for ultra-accurate and vivid video quality—making this projector ideal for everything from movies and games to presentations and graphics.
You’ll enjoy an LCD light source that makes it easy to watch your content at a projection size of 44 to 200 inches at a distance of between 4.9 and 18 feet, and low power technology along with a long-lasting bulb means that you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re doing your part for both the environment and your electricity bill.
Much like the TAINIDI above, this unit features a fan noise-suppression system, and there are two powerful 3W built-in speakers that offer a decent amount of sonic depth and clarity. (Although for a truly realistic home theatre experience we would highly recommend investing in a separate, external audio source for added bass response and clarity.)
Here’s the bottom line: For overall clarity, color definition, and resolution, we would recommend our number-one pick. But if you’re more concerned with your projector overcoming a room’s glare, of you want to occasionally be able to enjoy a movie in the great outdoors, this GooDee projector may in fact be a better pick.
Although not exceedingly expensive by any standard, we understand that our first two portable projector picks may be a bit too pricey for some potential buyers—especially those who aren’t necessarily looking to use their new projector every day. This significantly cheaper LoongSon projector acts as a more affordable alternative, and offers an impressive set of features that make for a perfectly enjoyable movie-watching experience.
Built primarily for gaming but equally well-suited for films, TV shows, and presentations, this compact projector allows you to enjoy 50-130 inches of projection on the big screen at a projection distance of between 1.5 and 4 meters.
It offers HD 1080p resolution with 800 x 600 mixes, and you’ll be able to cut through a decent amount of room glare thanks to 1200 lumens of brightness (although this may not be enough to enjoy your content outdoors unless it’s quite dark).
This gadget comes equipped with an upgraded LED source that can save up to 70% on enegery, and since the bulb features a lifespan of over 30,000 hours you’ll be able to feel better about your environmental impact while you enjoy your favorite flick.
This projector also comes with a wide range of helpful connections and ports, including AV/USB/SD/HDMI connections that allow you to connect everything from smartphones and laptops to DVD players and tablets.
Next up on our list is another budget projector that gets the job done. This latest iteration of perhaps one of the most popular portable projectors of the past five years is over 80% brighter than its predecessors and features a screen size range between 33” and 170”—meaning you won’t have to worry about not being able to fill all that space on your living room’s largest wall.
You’ll be able to project from distances of between five and fourteen feet, and there are a series of connection ports that provide for unparalleled attachments to everything from SD cards to TV sticks.
We were also unusually impressed with the overall design and aesthetics of this portable projector. Although not necessarily smaller than some of the others on our list, this unit definitely seems and feels more compact, and its super-sleek and stylish dark grey exterior means that it’s likely to fit in well with any room’s decor.
CiBest also features world-famous customer service and support—meaning in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your projector you won’t have to worry about dealing with the increasingly underwhelming customer services centers at large-scale retailers like Amazon or Best Buy.
Ratcheting things back up in price a bit, we find the incredibly cool and unusually powerful APEMAN Mini Projector. The first thing you’ll notice about this projector is that it doesn’t look like all the others. Instead of lying flat, this projector stands tall and proud, yet it’s still portable and compact enough to take on the go.
It features an unusually bright output thanks to a whopping 4000 lumens, along with a 1000:1 contrast ratio that makes for stunningly rich and realistic imagery.
One of the greatest parts of this projector is that you may not even need to utilize an external audio source, thanks to a built-in 4.2 Bluetooth speaker that provides an impressive amount of bass response and treble accuracy alongside a pronounced but nuanced midrange (which is exceedingly rare when it comes to built-in projector speakers).
You’ll also be able to connect all the usual suspects—including laptops, TV boxes, Chromecast devices, and HDMI cables—and a powerful rechargeable battery offers 2.5 hours of projection time without the need to be plugged in, which makes this projector an ideal choice for camping or other outdoor activities where finding a suitable power source may be a difficult feat.