A multimedia projector is a device that transmits data from another device to a large screen. In this material we will get acquainted with the principle of operation of projectors, types of these devices, their main technical parameters.
Advice on choosing a projector will be useful for novice users of this device, and a review of the best projectors for the home will allow customers to learn about the features of each model and make a decision to purchase this useful device.
The Best Projectors Under $500 Consumer Reports 2020.
1. Optoma HD143X 3D DLP Home Theater Projector
The HD143X 3D DLP Home Theater Projector, is designed specifically for big screen entertainment, whether it is watching TV shows, movies, or live sports. With stunning picture quality and high contrast ratio, this unit adds stunning detail and color to every home theater experience. The projector’s lamp has an extended life of over ten years with an impressive 12,000 hours. Featuring a flexible zoom, this device delivers easy installation for various screen sizes and spaces. Users can comfortably connect the unit to Blu-ray player, cable box, PC, and gaming console through 2x HDMI, 3D Sync, USB, or audio-out port. The compact product makes it easy to carry around from room to room.
- Brightness -3,000 lumen
- Resolution – 1920 by 1080P
- Noise level -25dB
- Contrast ratio -23000:1
- Hour lamp life -12,000 hours
- Full 3D output
2. ViewSonic 3600 Lumens SVGA High Brightness Projector
ViewSonic 3600 Lumens is one of the best projectors in the market for the price with stunning specifications and features. The versatile unit is best suited for use in small business and education environments. The 3600 lumens projector boasts of a big screen projection with the capacity of projecting 120 inches from 15 feet 8 inches. With an intuitive user-friendly design, the product is easy to set up and control –just plug and proceed to pay your videos, pictures, and presentations. Its flexible connectivity explains the reason why it supports most media players, Macs, PCs, and mobile devices with input options like VGA, HDMI, etc.
- Brightness -3,600 lumens
- Resolution –VGA (640 by 480) to Full HD (1920 by 1080)
- 3D Blue-Ray HDMI input
- Low fan noise
3. VANKYO Performance V600 Native 1080P LED Projector
You may think that we are kidding that when we say that VANKYO Performance V600 Native 1080P LED Projector is among the top best units under $500. This is because it offers performance challenged only by projects over $1000. With native HD resolution of 1920 by 1080 and contrast ratio of 5000:1, the high performance electronic brings three times more details than its 720P counterparts, delivering an unmatched image quality and vivid clarity for professional use. It features a lamp expected to last more than ten years of daily 2-3 hours use. Through one of the two HDMI ports, users can easily connect and project full HD presentations from smartphones, laptops, or any other streaming device.
- Brightness -2,400 Lux
- Contrast ratio -5000:1
- Display technique –LCD
- Built-in speakers
- Native resolution -1920 by 1080P
4. GooDee HD 4000L 200″ Home Theater Projector
It is hard to believe that GooDee HD 4000L 200″ Home Theater Projector is a unit under $500 for the simple reason that it features state-of-the-art features. It beats any other small projector in the market as far as brightness and clarity are concerned. Adding 80 percent better brightness than any other projectors and 2200 lux, this unit is a force to reckon. It delivers HD 1080P resolution and ultra-vivid & accurate video quality, an experience that converts home to a cinematic theater. This device is ideal for projecting games, movies, graphics, and presentations. The HD video projector from GooDee utilizes LCD display and LED light source technology, ensuring lower energy consumption.
- Compatible with PS4, HDMI, AV, USB, VGA, and Fire TV Stick
- Two built-in 3W speakers
- Item weight -5 pounds
- Brightness -4000 Lux
5. Nebula Capsule by Anker Smart Portable Wi-Fi Mini Projector
Using advanced Intellibright algorithms, this unit delivers 100AMSI Lux enough to produce remarkable contrast and clarity as well as vivid pictures. Play content from your favorite HDMI and USB devices via the 2 rear ports—you can even forgo wires entirely and stream content to Capsule via Airplay, Miracast, or Bluetooth. Made of an aluminum body, this projector ensures greater durability and effortless portability. Using Andriod 7.1, this device can flawlessly stream from media apps besides displaying content from YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu, and other entertainment environments. The unit comes with an inbuilt power source that can run for up to four hours with a single charge. With a 360-degree base speaker and dedicated control app, users can easily operate this projector from the convenience of their smartphones. Nebula Capsule by Anker is one of the best and affordable projectors (pocket cinemas) giving users the ability to enjoy their video contents anywhere anytime.
- Omni-directional sound
- Soda-can design
- Broad connectivity –HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Screen mirroring, Aux-In, and USB
- Android 7.1 OS
- Resolution -1280 by 720
6. VANKYO Leisure 510 HD Movie Projector
Equipped with 4500 Lux LED light, VANKYO Leisure 510 provides a native resolution of 1280*768 pixels and a contrast ratio of 3000:1, thus produces a brighter and crispier visual output. Elegant images for an elite visual experience. Equipped with a myriad of inputs, including VGA, HDMI, USB, and AV ports, the unit is one of the easiest to use projectors. Built with two three-watt stereo speakers, the Leisure 510 projector from VANKYO delivers great audio support and eliminates the need for costly externals speakers. If you are looking for a pocket-friendly projector for a small office display, home theater, and outdoor theater viewing, then VANKYO 510 HD Projector is the right product.
- It comes with a carrying bag
- Projection size -200 inches
- Brightness -4500 Lux
- Resolution – 1920 by 1080P
- Contrast ratio -3000:1
7. ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector
The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector is designed with straightforward controls and simple setup experience –just plug and play your videos, pictures, and presentations. The built-in battery provides up to 6 hours of entertainment so you don’t have to deal with tangled power cords. And with a 16GB of internal storage, you can enjoy up to 4,000 songs and up to 4 hours of movies. As its name suggests, this unit is highly portable, delivering convenient entertainment in nearly every environment. It comes installed with an inbuilt dual Harman Kardon speaker to produce room-filling audio. Connectivity to this unit is through options such as USB, HDMI, and much more. It supports most media players like PCs, mobile devices, and Macs. This is one of the best projectors in the market with the best specifications and features.
- Resolution –WVGA 854 by 480P
- 360° Projection with Smart Stand
- Brightness -250 Lumens
- Lens –fixed zoom
8. Epson VS250 SVGA Projector
The Epson VS250 SVGA Projector is one of the most reliable units from a reputable brand offered at amazingly affordable price. With a brightness level of 3,200 Lux, this unit is more accurate and produces vivid colors even in well-lit spaces. Featuring a SVGA resolution of 800 by 600P, this Epson projector is best suited for projecting everyday graphics and presentations. The unit is built with convenient controls and easy image adjustments modes so you can get up and running in no time. Supporting standard connectivity through an HDMI port, users can work with the latest media players and laptops. The projector includes a zoom ring so you can reduce or enlarge the image size with great ease.
- Power supply voltage -100V-240V, 50/60Hz
- Eco mode power consumption -211W
- Brightness -3200 Lux
- 800 by 600 SVGA Resolution
- Fan noise –37 dB for normal mode and 28 dB for ECO mode
9. WOWOTO Mini Portable Projector
If you are looking of a 3D video projector with a long-lasting in-built battery, then WOWOTO HD Mini Portable Projector is the most ideal. This device is well-known for its high brightness, which is 50 percent sharper and brighter than any other projector of the same class in the market. With a DLP technology and built-in Andriod system, this unit is perfect streaming entertainment via YouTube, Airplay, Miracast, and Netflix. It also comes with inbuilt 10400mA rechargeable battery, meaning you can enjoy your movies without worrying about power issues.
- Brightness -4000 lumens
- Contrast ratio -3000:1
Let’s get to know the projector.
The projector is a stand-alone device that provides transmission (projection) of information coming from an external source to a large screen.
This optical device can convert signals from such sources to the screen:
- a camera or video camera;
- a computer or notebook;
- a video recorder or DVD player;
- television tuner.
In general, it is essentially from any digital media.
As a rule, an external source of information is connected to a conventional projector via a wired connection. However, multimedia models supporting WiFi are already widely used. Ha presentation, such a device can be connected to several laptops at the same time.
Projectors are used at seminars and meetings, at exhibitions, in educational institutions and at home. Among the latter, there are a couple of subclasses: for those who want to watch movies on a large diagonal (in fact, most titles) and those that can provide a decent FPS to broadcast to the screen toys from your computer or console.
With the help of a projector you can equip a home theater in any apartment. Thus you will not need a heavy stationary device which weighs tens of kilograms. The compact home projector does not take up much space.
The main advantages of the compact projector
- small size;
- small weight;
- projector screen can replace bulky TV;
- easy to connect and operate;
- easy transportation (for example, to a presentation).
- Remote control of the device (remote).
- Infrared screen mouse, laser pointer (controlling computer cursor at a distance).
- Color settings, brightness, contrast settings.
- Support for 3D technology.
- Interactive mode (for some models).
- Correction of trapezoidal image distortions.
- Horizontal and vertical image inversion (movie and photos can be viewed on the ceiling with this projector).
- Can be operated in economy mode (light output adjustment).
- Selection of menu language.
- Auto tuning (depends on room and hall lighting).
Additional projector features that some models have
- Interchangeable lenses included, allowing for short or long-focus use.
- Projection on dark (not white) surface.
- Stop frame (“Off and go”). Very convenient for watching movies.
- A/V MUTE (stop signal for a while).
- USB input for flash card,
- “Electronic magnifier” – multiple magnification of individual areas of the screen.
- Auto-tune the fan speed of the projector, depending on the temperature.
- Network hub (direct connection of the device to the local network).
- Support of DVT and HDTV digital TV technologies with increased clarity.
- Choice of image formats: 4:Z or 16:9.
- Built-in memory (this projector remembers multiple signal sources).
- Built-in browser.
As intended, projectors are divided by:
- projectors for home cinema (Home Cinema), game projectors;
- projectors for entertainment (movie theater);
- projectors for education and business.
By weight projectors are also divided into several groups – from stationary to pocket, the size of a mobile phone.
In our review we will stop on:
- portable projectors ;
- ultraportable devices.
There are projectors by the type of technology used:
- LCD (Z LCD) projector (liquid crystal, c prism – works on the lumen, has Z-matrix);
- DLP-projector (reflecting technology – micro mirrors, has one matrix);
- 1LCD or TFT projector of lumen type (with one LCD-matrix and a system of lenses / condenser);
- LCOS, D-ILA, SXRD projectors (liquid crystal projectors – working on reflection);
- Light-emitting diode projector (LED);
- Pico projector (laser technology).
Separately, it is worth noting 3D projectors with additional HD or Full HD technologies. Such projector converts video images from 2D to 3D format, it is important that the data source may not support active or passive (stereoscopic) 3D format. These projectors are often called “large format”.
Projector support of this or that technology determines its resolution, i.e. the fractional resolution of the image being created, which depends on the number of micro mirrors or liquid crystals.
There are many types of resolution, but we will highlight the main ones.
1) B image format is 4:Z (better to use for viewing photos, presentations):
- VGA (640×480),
- SVGA (800×600),
- XGA (1024×780).
2) In 16:9, 16:10, 15:9 image formats (widescreen cinema, home theater):
- HD720 (1280×720),
- W VGA (864×480),
- Full HD (1920×1080).
Resolution is indicated by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels (shown in parentheses above).
By the type of light source, projectors can be divided by:
- projectors with mercury / metal halide UHP (Ultra High Pressure) lamps – these lamps are less bright but have a long life;
- projectors with high brightness xenon lamps – these lamps are less durable, warms up, but the luminous flux is strong (more than 10,000 ANSI lm);
- LED projectors: they are characterized by low luminous flux, do not require cooling, they are durable (from 10,000 operating hours and more);
- laser projectors, mentioned above.
Useful tips on choosing a projector
What should I consider when choosing a projector? Let’s consider each item separately.
1. Source and connection to it: Output from a data source to which the projector will connect. Check the input/output type for connection in advance. A standard set of a good projector:
- 1 or 2 analogue (RGB) computer inputs;
- One RGB output for computer monitor (parallel);
- inputs for analog video sources (S-video, composite, component);
- digital inputs (usually DVI, HDMI);
- audio input;
- RS-2Z2 or USB connector for the mouse.
2. Take into account the conditions of the device: home, office, business trips.
3. Matrix resolution is an important consideration when choosing a projector. The image will be of the highest quality with the highest resolution. In turn, the higher the resolution, the more expensive the device.
4. Tips for choosing the resolution of the projector:
- If you plan to watch videos and movies of poor quality when projecting to the screen with a diagonal to Z m, you will be suitable for the resolution: SVGA (800×600), WVGA (854×480), WSVGA (960×540).
- For DVD-movies of high quality, BluRau, high definition television – formats SXGA (1280×1024), SXGA+ (1400×1050), UXGA (1600×1200), Full HD (1920×1080).
- For presentations in the office will be enough resolution: SVGA (800×600) (cheaper projectors), XGA (1024×780) (more expensive).
Please note that the projector manufacturer often specifies a nominal resolution in the projector specifications, not a real resolution. This is why you need to know a little about the types of this parameter before buying a projector.
5. The technology of the projector determines its functionality in many ways. For example, projectors with DLP (Micro Mirror) technology are most susceptible to glare.
6. Supported video standards: standard PAL, SECAM, NTSC Z,58 and NTSC 4,4Z are used for normal TV and standard viewing of clips, photos and documents. You will need the HDTV format if you want to broadcast high definition TV.
7. Brightness / luminous flux, work in light and dark room. If you need a bright luminous flux, it is better to choose a projector with a xenon lamp. Some projectors have an auto-adjustment function for the brightness of the screen, depending on the lighting. For home theatres (“Home Cinema”), a co projector with a luminous flux of 600 to 1500 ANSI lumens will be suitable. For rooms with high lighting levels, a higher luminous flux will be required.
8. Contrast: If you need a really high quality projector, take a look at the JVC Class 50000:1 contrast ratio.
9. The size of the projected image
10. Lens: Lenses with zoom type ZOOM simplify the user to work with the projector – the image size can be changed, without moving the device.
11. Functions: Check out the basic and advanced features of the projector described above.
12. Network interfaces: Wireless slideshows or LAN display, “live video” via WiFi are possible with some models of projectors. These options are also popular for home use.
13. Noise level:
– For a small room – 30 dB;
– for a large hall: 45 dB.
14. Weight: everything is clear here – if you are not planning to move the projector from place to place, its weight will not matter to you. If you need mobility, pay attention to ultra-portable models in our review below.
15. Dimensions and design: your choice.
16. Service: the projector is not that simple and requires professional service and diagnostics in case of malfunction. When you purchase a projector, do not ignore this point.