Your choice of portable projector will be influenced by a few factors. Depending on what you’re using it for, be it a home cinema, work presentation or a fun-filled sleepover for the kids in your life, there are some important details to consider before shelling out. Let's get stuck in.
If compactness is top of your list, opting for a 'pico' or pocket projector might be preferable – they're around the size of a smartphone! On the downside, you will find that the brightness and definition suffer slightly with smaller models.
The next size up are palmtop projectors, which are slightly larger but still compact enough to slip into a bag. They also have a better quality projection, and more connectivity options. Finally, larger LED models. Though they won’t be as light or svelte, they have a superior image and sound quality and can often stand up sturdily by themselves.
There are dozens of factors that can affect the image quality of your projected footage, and on top of this, the tech jargon surrounding it can get a little confusing! We're here to break it all down so you get the best visuals for your space and media.
Resolution refers to the level of detail you’ll see in the projected image, whereby the higher the resolution your projector provides, the crisper and clearer the image will be. You can check the resolution by looking at the number of pixels it uses.
The next thing to consider is the media you will be using alongside your projector. If you are planning to project DVD or BluRay, the overall resolution is higher, so it’s best to pick a projector with a resolution high enough to be compatible, like 1080 pixels. This figure is also ideal for smartphones.
If you are going to play content such as movies or presentations from your laptop, a lower resolution of 768 pixels may also be fine. As a general rule, avoid dipping below the 720 pixel mark.
That said, as technology advances over the years, a better investment may be a projector compatible with higher resolutions since your projector is likely to outlive laptops, BluRay, and other technology too. Consider the clearest resolution options if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
However, this is achieved by lowering the number of pixels, meaning it does slightly reduce the overall image quality. Here you have a couple of options: if your projector will be higher or lower than the space you’ll project on to, go for keystone correction.
If you refuse to sacrifice a crisp, vibrant image, go for no keystone correction. If you’re lucky enough to have a secure surface for your projector at just the right height, keystone projection won’t be necessary.
On a final note, keystone correction can be vertical or horizontal. Horizontal correction options are only usually found in projectors at the higher end of the price bracket, but this type of distortion can usually be corrected simply by moving the machine left or right as necessary.
If you’re setting up a home cinema or you’re able to close office blinds and watch in complete darkness, fewer than 500 lumen will be perfectly sufficient.
Projectors with between 1000 and 1500 lumen don’t require quite as much darkness to produce a clear image, so if you can’t guarantee a total blackout, choose a device with this number or higher. If you want crisp, clear images that stand out in even the brightest of boardrooms, opt for a projector with 2000 lumen or more.
What this means for you is that the higher contrast ratio your projector has, the richer and more detailed the image you’ll see. There's a theme here!
The contrast ratio does not account for the way your projector will display shades of grey in between black and white, so a projector with a ratio of 40,000:1 doesn’t guarantee ten times better contrast than one with a ratio of 4,000:1. Nevertheless, for a rich image, try to find a contrast ratio of at least 1000:1.
Screen size is measured in inches and refers to the diagonal length of the image. You may also spot the term ‘aspect ratio’ which simply tells you the screen shape, or width by height. Again, your choice will depend on the size of the space you’re hoping to fill – a huge garden wall will need a grander image than a snug office.
USB or HDMI may feel like a more trustworthy option, especially if you’re using the projector for work, but you’ll have to remember to bring the correct cables.
Nowadays most projectors also have an MHL port which will allow you to connect your projector to your smartphone or tablet, or the ability to cast or 'mirror' your phone screen via technologies such as Miracast or Chromecast.
There’s nothing worse than suddenly discovering the gadget you were relying on is close to keeling out, so make sure that the battery life suits the kind of usage you have planned, whether that's just one short presentation, a movie marathon or hours of gaming.
Battery power is measured in milliampere hours (mAh), which tells you the size of the current a battery can deliver over one hour. For normal use, try to go for at least 4000 mAh, but if this is not displayed you can simply note the estimated run time, which is usually from 2.5 to 5 hours for portable or mini projectors.
One thing to remember is that although many projectors can run from their internal battery or the mains, the brightness and quality of the image is usually much better when plugged in.
|Dimensions||12 x 10 x 5 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||400 lumen, 1000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||60″, 2 m|
|Connections||USB, HDMI, MHL, Firestick|
|Dimensions||9.8 x 9.8 x 2 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||100 lumen, 1000: 1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||60", unknown|
|Connections||HDMI, USB, Miracast, TV stick|
|Battery||3400 mAh, 3 hours|
|Dimensions||18 x 12 x 18 cm|
|Keystone Correction||Horizontal and vertical|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||500 lumen, 2000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||150″, 4 m|
|Connections||USB, HDMI, WiFi, Miracast|
|Dimensions||7.8 x 7.8 x 2.2 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||150 lumen, 1500:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||150″, 3.3 m|
|Connections||HDMI, USB, micro SD, Miracast|
|Dimensions||101 x 17.3 x 4.3 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||550 lumen, 100000:1:|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||100″, –|
|Connections||HDMI, USB, MHL, Bluetooth, coaxial|
|Dimensions||5.7 x 28 x 19.2 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||2000 lumen, 200,000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||118″, –|
|Connections||USB, HDMI, Bluetooth, Smartphone app|
|Battery||12000 mAh, 2.5 hours|
|Dimensions||19.7 x 16.6 x 6 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||4500 lumen, 2000: 1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||180″, 4.5 m|
|Connections||HDMI, WiFi, USB, micro SD, TV Stick|
|Battery||2500 mAh (1.5 Hours)|
|Dimensions||9.8 x16.8 x 9.8 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||300 lumen, 25,000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||100″, 1.2 m|
|Connections||USB, USBC, HDMI, MHL, wireless|
|Battery||9000 mAh, 5 hours|
|Dimensions||11.5 x 6.5 cm diameter|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||200 lumen, 40000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||100″, –|
|Connections||USB, HDMI, micro SD, Airplay, Miracast, Bluetooth|
|Battery||20,000 mAh, 4 hours|
|Dimensions||12.6 x 14.5 x 4 cm|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||250 lumen, 120000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||100″, 2.6 m|
|Connections||USC, HDMI, micro SD|
Nebula by Anker
Nebula by Anker
Capsule HD Ready Smart Mini Projector
Portable Mini Projector
LH200 Portable Projector,
CineBeam Portable Projector
Luma 150 Pocket Projector
Mars II Pro Portable Projector
Pocket Size Mini Projector
Mini Portable Projector
Clever Design, Great Specs, and Incredible Battery Life
Lightweight, Functional and the Size of a Drinks Can
Top Pick for Phone Projection
A Bargain Projector for Film and TV
Unbeatable Performance for Professionals
A Smart Palmtop Projector With Quality Images
A Sturdy Hand-Size Projector for Casual Use
Aesthetics and Function in One Portable Projector
Compact Enough to Fit in Your Pocket
Ideal for Kids’ Parties
|Dimensions||12.6 x 14.5 x 4 cm||11.5 x 6.5 cm diameter||9.8 x16.8 x 9.8 cm||19.7 x 16.6 x 6 cm||5.7 x 28 x 19.2 cm||101 x 17.3 x 4.3 cm||7.8 x 7.8 x 2.2 cm||18 x 12 x 18 cm||9.8 x 9.8 x 2 cm||12 x 10 x 5 cm|
|Weight||689 g||473 g||600 g||740 g||2.2 kg||640 g||455 g||1.4 kg||210 g||120 g|
|Resolution||1080 pixels||480 pixels||1080 pixels||1080 pixels||1080 pixels||720 pixels||1080 pixels||720 pixels||1080 pixels||1080 pixels|
|Keystone Correction||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||Horizontal and vertical||No||No|
|Brightness & Contrast Range||250 lumen, 120000:1||200 lumen, 40000:1||300 lumen, 25,000:1||4500 lumen, 2000: 1||2000 lumen, 200,000:1||550 lumen, 100000:1:||150 lumen, 1500:1||500 lumen, 2000:1||100 lumen, 1000: 1||400 lumen, 1000:1|
|Screen Size & Projection Distance||100″, 2.6 m||100″, –||100″, 1.2 m||180″, 4.5 m||118″, –||100″, –||150″, 3.3 m||150″, 4 m||60", unknown||60″, 2 m|
|Connections||USC, HDMI, micro SD||USB, HDMI, micro SD, Airplay, Miracast, Bluetooth||USB, USBC, HDMI, MHL, wireless||HDMI, WiFi, USB, micro SD, TV Stick||USB, HDMI, Bluetooth, Smartphone app||HDMI, USB, MHL, Bluetooth, coaxial||HDMI, USB, micro SD, Miracast||USB, HDMI, WiFi, Miracast||HDMI, USB, Miracast, TV stick||USB, HDMI, MHL, Firestick|
|Battery||6 hours||20,000 mAh, 4 hours||9000 mAh, 5 hours||2500 mAh (1.5 Hours)||12000 mAh, 2.5 hours||2.5 hours||2.5 hours||3 hours||3400 mAh, 3 hours||Unspecified|
Whether it's movies, gaming, music, or TV that gets you going, having the right equipment can make all the difference to your immersive experience. For more recommendations for top-quality audio and video tech, check out the links below!
Now you have the guidelines to choose the portable projector which will be most appropriate your needs, you can get out there and get shopping for a great-value machine that will bring a whole vibrant world of moving images into your life and onto your walls.
Author: Annie Hopkins
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