Until recently, pocket-sized portable projectors were nothing more than a novelty idea. These allowed for some fun, but didn’t offer a whole lot in terms of viewing experience. While these devices 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 be easily transported and used wherever you may go.
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.
XGIMI H1 Smart Projector
Kickstarter is home to some very innovative projects, and this specific one was featured in one of our ‘Crowdfunding project of the week’ features. We were hesitant to add it to this list due to one fact, though – it does not have an internal battery. This means the device must be plugged, but it is small enough to be taken to trips and one could always use another portable power source. All things considered, it is a worthy option if what you want is true quality, even if it is in a “somewhat portable” package.
The XGIMI H1 projects a 1080p image at up to 300 inches, with 900 lumens of brightness. It offers a pristine viewing experience, but that is not all the H1 has going for itself. Have you ever noticed how horrible projector audio usually is? XGIMI’s gadget features a 45mm built-in Harman Kardon stereo sound that actually achieves quality audio.
If that’s not enough for you, the projector also comes with support for 4K content, 3D video, keystone correction and even runs Android OS. It is not exactly cheap at $799, but it is a very neat gadget!
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.
Its rating of 200 lumens and 720p resolution is outstanding. 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.
Optoma ML550 Projector
The Optoma ML550 Projector can not just be held in the palm of your hand (it weighs just 14 ounces, or 1 pound and 3 ounces if you include its power block) it includes a standard 500-lumen projector that’s capable of creating up to a 115-inch display on a wall. Natively, the image has a resolution of 1,280 × 800, but you can push it up to 1,680 × 1,050 without a huge loss in image quality.
The Optoma ML550 not only has an HDMI port, it also has a USB port, a microSD card slot, and even 1.5 GB of onboard storage. That means you can connect the projector to a PC or smartphone, and transfer and images or files you want directly to the device. That means you don’t have to have a PC or phone hooked up to the projector all the time for any presentations.
The 500-lumen lap is supposed to last up to 20,000 hours, and is even “3D ready” to project 3D images if needed. The Optoma ML550 Projector is now on sale for just $474 at Amazon.
RIF6 CUBE Pico Video Projector
Yes, there is a projector that’s even smaller than the previous UO Smart Beam Laser. The RIF6 CUBE Pico Video Projector is just a 2 inch cube, yet can project an image as large as 120 inches on a wall.
As you might expect, the projector itself is very small and can only support 50 lumens, which doesn’t make the image itself very bright. The resolution is also very low at just 854 x 480. However, that is some of the price that’s needed to get something as small and portable as the RIF6 CUBE Pico. It has an HDMI port, along with a microSD card so you don’t have to connect it to a PC or smartphone. The projector lamp is supposed to last up to 20,000 hours, and there’s an external speaker as well.
Amazon is currently selling the RIF6 CUBE Pico Video Projector for $230. For that price, you get the projector, a remote control and even a small tripod that can be used to stand up the cube in most any setting.
While not quite as small as some of the other products on this list, the AAXA P300 Pico/Micro LED Projector is still highly portable, weighing less than a pound. The 400 lumens lamp on the projector is capable of putting a 1, 280 x 800 resolution image up to 120 inches.
If you use the battery on this projector, it should last you up to 60 minutes on one charge, which should be enough to get through most business presentations. It also has an HDMI port, a USB port and a microSD card slot, in case you want to leave your phone or notebook at home. It even has some old fashioned composite video inputs, if you run into the need to connect it to some older hardware.
The lamp is supposed to last up to 20,000 hours and there’s even a small tripod included for keeping the device level. You can snap up the AAXA P300 Pico/Micro LED Projector now on Amazon for $340.
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.