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The best portable projectors you can buy today
Remember those giant, loud, and super expensive projectors we grew up with? Technology advancements have made strides in recent years, and the best portable projectors are now functional and very capable. Some of them will fit in a small bag or pocket, too! There’s a long list of choices in the market, so we’ve curated a list of the best options for you. Let’s find the right portable projector for your needs!
What is a portable projector, and why do you need one?
While you may assume all portable projectors are tiny, this is not necessarily a requirement. Size matters, and portable projectors shouldn’t be insanely huge, but they don’t necessarily have to be small. What makes a projector portable is mostly the ability to use it without being tethered to a wall. Portable projectors should have an integrated battery. They should also be easily connected to laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Better yet, they can sometimes run their own UI, often Android-based. This would make it possible to use the projector offline or through Wi-Fi. Additionally, these should come with integrated speakers, so you don’t have to carry any extra accessories around.
Portable projectors can come in handy at home, during trips, or in business meetings, especially now that it’s more common to meet with clients outside the office. They’re also great for impromptu movie nights or YouTube fun.
Portable projectors aren’t only convenient and valuable work tools. Their biggest lure is that they can also be entertaining gadgets to enjoy during your leisure time. I’ve had fun movie dates at the beach, with movies projecting against a white sheet hung on a cliff. How’s that for an unforgettable time?
The best portable projectors
Editor’s note: We’ll be regularly updating this list of the best portable projectors as new ones launch.
Asus ZenBeam Latte L1
Asus isn’t widely known as a projector maker, but one of their latest offerings makes it to this list of the best portable projectors. For starters, it looks stunning, is made of soft fabric, and features a neat design that makes it look more like a portable speaker. That’s because it also doubles as a great 10W speaker powered by Harman Kardon.
On the projector side, we have a 720p resolution and 300 lumens of brightness. The projection can be as large as 120 inches, and the device comes with a capable 6,000mAh battery. Battery life is estimated at three hours of video playback or 12 hours of audio listening.
Asus ZenBeam E1
The Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 is a great projector, but it is a bit pricey. Those looking for something easier on the wallet, yet still capable, have another great option from Asus. What makes the Asus ZenBeam E1 one of the best portable projectors is its size. It measures only 4.3 x 1.1 x 3.3 inches and weighs in at 0.68lbs.
The device looks great and features a metallic finish and clean aesthetics. It’s not as advanced as other devices in this article, but it’s relatively capable and comes with some added functionality. You’ll get WVGA (854×480) resolution on a projection that can expand to 120 inches. Another downside is the 150 lumens of brightness, but this should be good enough for a dark room.
The 6,000mAh battery can provide up to five hours of playtime, but what makes this device special is that it also doubles as a portable battery pack. You’ll be able to charge your device on the go. The only real downside is that you’ll have to plug in through the HDMI/MHL port to display video.
Anker Nebula Solar Portable
Anker has been building a name for itself in the projector market, and it has paid out. The Anker Nebula Solar Portable is one of the best devices they’ve launched, and it’s also one of the very best portable projectors you can get today.
For starters, it’s one of the few portable projectors with a 1080p resolution. It features 400 lumens of brightness and even features HDR10 technology. If all of that doesn’t convince you, the integrated features will. This portable projector runs on Android TV 9.0, which comes with Google Assistant and Chromecast support, as well as a plethora of apps you can download directly on the device.
Viewsonic M1 Mini Plus
Viewsonic makes one of the smallest devices in this list of the best portable projectors, at 4 x 4 inches. The WVGA (854x480p) and 120 lumens of brightness won’t blow you away, but neither will the price, as this is among the most affordable options on this list. It still has some nice tricks up its sleeve, though, including an integrated JBL Bluetooth speaker (which you can use standalone), and you can use Wi-Fi by adding an optional dongle.
Related: The best Android TV boxes
The battery is smaller and can handle 1.5 hours of playback, but you can use it as a power bank in a pinch, if you need to. You also get some app access via Aptoide.
Viewsonic also makes higher-end portable projectors, and this one is pretty stunning. Do you like its looks? That’s because this specific device is made with business professionals in mind. As such, it features a sleek design and more powerful specs. Of course, it also carries a higher price tag, but many of you will deem every penny worth it.
This device comes with a Full HD 1080p resolution and can output a whopping 1,200 lumens of brightness. This makes this one of the brightest portable projectors on this list. Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers also amplify audio quality, and you’ll also get a smart TV UI with great apps for streaming.
This is the cutest of the best portable projectors, but don’t underestimate its capabilities. It’s is a capable projector with good specs and even better additional features.
It comes with a 720p resolution and 300 lumens of brightness, which isn’t impressive, but it’s good enough for most users. What makes it an exceptional product is its set of wireless standards. The device comes with Android TV, AirPlay, and Chromecast support, making it one of the easiest projectors to use. It even supports Google Assistant, which means you can use it as a smart speaker of sorts.
Take your projections to another level by upgrading to the BenQ GS50. It’s more prominent but still features a cool design and plenty of good features. You’ll get a 1080p resolution and 500 lumens of brightness, as well as 2.1 Bluetooth speakers.
Like other portable projectors from BenQ, this one comes with Android TV, AirPlay, and Chromecast support for wireless streaming. What’s even better is that the unit is IPX2 certified, making it more rugged and splash-proof. It’s an excellent option for your camping adventures.
LG CineBeam PF50KA
The best portable projectors on this list are great, but we know some of you prefer sticking with the bigger brands. LG has earned the industry’s respect, and the LG CineBeam PF50KA is a great option. It comes with a 1080p resolution and 600 lumens of brightness.
Also read: Android TV vs WebOS
What’s also great about the LG CineBeam PF50KA is that it comes with LG’s WebOS smart TV platform and a fully functional remote that will make the experience closer to that of an actual LG TV. There are also many ports on the back, including HDMIx2, USB, USB-C, Ethernet, and even a cable coaxial connection for live TV. The battery lasts about 2.5 hours, but that’s reasonable considering everything the projector offers.
ASUS ZenBeam Latte L1 Epson EF-100
So far, all of the portable projectors we’ve listed come with a battery, but the Epson EF-100 doesn’t. We’re sure more demanding users won’t mind this, though, as this projector is on a whole other level. It’s still small enough to carry around, and the design is gorgeous, but those are hardly the reasons we added this device to the list.
This laser projector can project stunning 1080p video at an impressive 2,000 lumens. It can reproduce 100% of the RGB spectrum efficiently. The image can be expanded up to 150 inches, too. Furthermore, you’ll get the full streaming power of Android TV onboard.
It’s a very powerful projector with laser technology and a very reasonable price, even if its portable size would tell you otherwise. It’s also pretty expensive, but you get one of the best experiences you can get without having to carry a giant projector.
Samsung The Freestyle
While we’re on the topic of portable projectors with no integrated battery, we couldn’t forget about Samsung’s The Freestyle. This projector is small, gorgeously designed, and very capable. It can output 1080p video as big as 100 inches and at 550 lumens. It also supports HDR10, HLG, and 360-degree audio, making for a great viewing experience.
It may not have an internal battery, but it can run on a portable battery pack if needed. This makes it at least somewhat portable. It also works with Google Assistant, Bixby, or Amazon Alexa, making it a great smart speaker alternative. It’s rather pricey, but it’s a very cool and capable device.
Q: What are lumens?
A: Lumens are a standard the tech industry uses to measure light brightness. The higher the number, the brighter the light is. Projector lights with more lumen output will create a brighter image. For comparison, 800 lumens is the equivalent to about a 60W incandescent light bulb, and 1,600 lumens is almost as bright as a 100W one.
Q: What is a laser projector?
A: Traditional projectors use LED lights, which are great but not as powerful and efficient as lasers. Newer, higher-end projectors have implemented laser technology. Laser lighting is brighter, lasts longer, and requires much less maintenance. It can also produce better colors and is more energy-efficient.
Q: Do I need to have a smart TV platform built into my projector?
A: Having a projector with an integrated smart TV platform is extremely convenient, as it won’t require a secondary connection from a smartphone, tablet, computer, or any other device. These portable projectors can operate on their own. That said, these devices are usually significantly more expensive. You can save some money if you don’t mind having to plug your phone in to enjoy your projector.
Q: How much should I spend on a projector?
A: Generally speaking, it depends on your needs. A more affordable device will suffice if you want a projector for casual use and the occasional movie. We would say affordable portable projectors that are still worth considering cost anywhere between $200 and $400. Things start getting much fancier once you start paying more than that. Professional users might want more resolution, better sound, and more functionality, in which case paying more is definitely worth it. If you’re looking at a TV replacement option, you might also want to consider getting one of the higher-end devices on this list, which can cost close to $1,000.
Are you still not convinced by these portable projectors? You should take a look at our list of the best Android TVs. If you care for portability and added functionality, you might also do well with one of the best tablets.