Until recently, pocket-sized portable projectors were nothing more than a novelty idea, which allowed for some fun but didn’t offer a whole lot in terms of the viewing experience. While these devices still remain niche products, there has been an upswing in terms of quality, and quite a few OEMs are stepping up their game in this segment, delivering some amazing projectors, that can also fit in the palm of your hand.
Here is a roundup of some of the best portable projectors available right now.
UO Smart Beam Laser
The UO Smart Beam Laser is one of the smallest projectors on our list, weighing a little over 500 grams, and with dimensions of 2.2-inches all around. This projector comes with a native 720p resolution and features fast laser auto focus, allowing for some very crisp and clear images instantly, no matter where you move it. The picture is quite bright, rated at 60 lumens, and so watching videos and movies even in non-pitch black areas is still manageable. The overall quality is great, and things stay in focus at pretty far distances, with a max screen size possible of 100 inches. The picture does tend to have a harsh bluish tint at times, but it’s not very obvious until you compare it to another projector, and is something that is easy to get used to.
The projector does have built-in speakers that get loud enough to handle watching anything on the go, but isn’t suitable for watching a full-length movie. The quality of the sound isn’t that great either, and while it isn’t completely horrible, the sound is a little muffled, which is not helped by the sound that the projector fans make either. Unfortunately, there is no audio output, but you can of course utilize Bluetooth external speakers with this one.
The device does offer multiple options when it comes to setting up a video for playback. You can connect your smartphone to the projector wirelessly using DLNA or Miracast, and it also features a mini-HDMI port which can be used to plug in your laptop. Under the hood is a 4,200 mAh battery that can last for up to 2 hours, and a little more if you are connected with HDMI, so if you do plan to watch a long movie, it’s a good idea to plug the device into an AC power outlet.
Next up is the PicoPro by Celluon, another projector that is beautifully designed and is portable enough that it should comfortably fit in most pockets, with its length of 6 inches, and weighing just 181 grams. It also a has a very interesting design, giving an appearance of two bricks being stuck together, even though it is just one solid body. It also comes with a stand offering 360-degree rotation, which makes it very easy to find a surface for the projector to rest.
The projector light is rated at 32 lumens, which is the lowest on this list, but the PicoPro can get plenty bright, and offers fantastic quality as well, with its 720p resolution. It also comes with a infinite auto focus feature, which means that you don’t ever have to worry about fiddling with the focus, and it works just as well as the laser auto focus of the UO Smart Beam projector. The picture is always very clear, and the image doesn’t go out of focus up to a screen size of 250 inches. The color temperature can be a little warm and lean more towards a purplish hue which is very apparent, and will likely bother some users.
The built-in speakers of the PicoPro unfortunately don’t get very loud, but the quality of the sound itself is fantastic. There is a standard audio jack available, letting you connect your own set of speakers or a pair of headphones.
The device supports the standard suite of connectivity options, including DLNA and Miracast, and also comes with a mini-HDMI port. We aren’t exactly sure as to what the capacity of the battery is, but the device lasts for around 2 hours when connected wirelessly, and can go beyond 3 hours when wired. You have the option to connect the device to a wall outlet as well.
ZTE SPro 2
The ZTE SPro 2 isn’t just a projector, it’s also an Android-powered device with a 5-inch touchscreen. The 5-inch display can be used as you would a regular smartphone, where you can surf the web, browse through photos, message your friends, and download apps from the Google Play Store. The projector can connect to WiFi, but the device is also available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the US, and you can take advantage of 4G LTE data connectivity with this projector as well, allowing you to project videos directly from Youtube, Netflix, and other media streaming websites.
If you decided to not opt for a data connection and find yourself without WiFi, local storage is also possible, with the device featuring a microSD card slot, with support up to 64 GB. Wireless connectivity via Miracast is also available, and there is also an HDMI port, and USB port for charging your mobile device.
The picture quality is by far the best of the lot, with its rating of 200 lumens and 720p resolution. You get a nice, bright, crisp, and clear image, and colors are absolutely beautiful, at a maximum of 120 inches. There are no weird tints or hues or strange color temperatures to worry about, and the color reproduction is very accurate. There is an auto focus feature, but the implementation is slower than the others, and the device does tend to re-adjust the focus every now and then even if the device is not moved, but you do have the option to turn this setting off once the device is set down correctly.
There are different options for brightness as well, including low, medium, and high, but the last option will require the device to be plugged into an AC wall unit. Another feature that the ZTE SPro 2 has that the others do not is Keystoning, which means that the projector will automatically correct the angle to prevent the picture from stretching, so even if the projector is not sitting perpendicular to the wall, the projector image will be of a rectangular shape. The speakers on the projector are about the same quality as that of the ASUS S1, albeit a little quieter, but there is also a headphone jack available to connect external speakers. The device also packs a 6,300 mAh battery, which keeps things running for around 3 hours.
Sony Portable HD Mobile Projector
The Mobile HD Projector from Sony was designed for the everyday user and its functional yet simple design makes this all the more apparent. The Sony projector offers both Wifi and HDMI compatibility, and so it will hook up to just about anything from game consoles and computers to even the smallest of smartphones.
While not quite as small as the UO Smart Beam, the Sony still gets the job done and fits nicely in your pocket or purse. To further enhance your media experience, the HD display can be pushed to an impressive 120″, and is also equipped with an audio jack to allow for a better use of speakers if you’re watching a movie with friends. The screen comes coupled with keystone correction, so if you’re using the projector on an uneven or angled surface, the picture quality will remain the same.
The cherry on top is that the built-in 3,400 mAh battery can also be used to charge your mobile devices. Don’t expect a long charge though. Currently you can purchase the Mobile Projector for $349.99.
Lenovo Wireless Pocket Projector
Lenovo loves making their products applicable for both work and play, and the Wireless Pocket Projector is no different. As you may have figured out by its name the pocket projector is no more than 4.7″ all around, making it easier to carry than some smartphones, and at $249.99 that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Possibly the most versatile projector on this list, it has MicroSD card support, so you can load it up with your favorite movies and shows, and let the UI of the device handle the rest. If you’re not a fan of SD cards, you can still share content to it with your mobile device. While it’s resolution sits at a bothersome 480p, the auto-correct display and 90-degree rotation ensure that the projector can be used in almost any situation. Unfortunately, the charge will only last you about three hours, but at least you could get through a nice movie or long presentation without a hitch. Just remember to bring your charger with you.
So there you have it for this roundup of some of the best portable projectors currently on offer. With the choices listed above, there is a little something for everyone here. Whether you are looking to impress people with a very stylish and compact design, have the ability to create a home theater anywhere, project beautiful video without breaking the bank, or going all out with a high-end Android-based device, there is something that will best suit your needs.
Any other great options we didn’t mention? Let us know about it down in the comments.