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Having the room, equipment and money for a full-blown projector setup in your home isn’t feasible for most people. But just because you don’t have the space or money doesn’t mean you should miss out. A great way to upgrade your movie-watching experience with a huge picture is to grab one of the best portable projectors from our list — no rolldown projector screen required.
How We Chose the Best Portable Projectors
Even though portable projectors are less expensive than a complete home theater projector setup, many of the options below cost more than $200. If you want to make the most out of this visual tech investment, here are the features we looked for when we chose the best portable projectors, and the things you should consider:
Brightness – Portable projectors are, by nature, used in various settings, meaning that the lighting might not always be optimal. The portable projector should offer at least 500 lumens.
Resolution – First and foremost, if you’re projector isn’t sporting at least 1080p resolution, you should pass. And if you can find a 4K projector, that’s a bonus.
Connectivity – The best portable projectors have onboard access to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. This eliminates you having to also bring your laptop or daisy-chain your phone to your smart projector with an assortment of cables.
Portability – Without being painstakingly obvious, even though these are “portable projectors,” you’ll want to make sure they are in fact light enough, small enough and have enough battery power (if they are battery powered) to carry with you.
Projectors used to be large, difficult to set up and generally unwieldy, but that has all changed in recent years. Now there are soda can-sized projectors that can throw a 100-inch image up on the wall without having to put much effort into setting it up. And with options from Anker, Epson, Kodak and more, there’s a portable projector for everybody, whatever your needs may be.
Why You Should Buy a Portable Projector
Portable projectors are great for movie nights when you want a large display but without the more involved setup process of a full-sized projector. Portable projectors are small and lightweight — one of them can literally fit in your back pocket — so you can break them out when you want, and store them away when you don’t. You wouldn’t want these to completely replace your 65-inch TV, (many don’t work great when it’s bright inside), but when it’s dark and you want to load up a blockbuster movie on Netflix, the best portable projectors can throw a sharp image up on the wall for you, your friends and your family to have an at-home theater experience. (Remember when we all went to the movies?)
Many of the best portable projectors also have a media platform such as Android 7.0 or Android TV built-in, which means they don’t even need to be connected to a media device to enjoy your favorite streaming services. Beyond streaming capabilities, portable projectors have multiple connectivity ports, making them great for not only the home but also the office.
With all the connectivity and ease of use, you can easily pop in a USB thumb drive and display your presentation at work without even needing your computer or additional cables. Plus, these battery-powered units make it as simple as turning the projector on and presenting.
Bring the movie-going experience to your home, or be the office superstar with one of the best portable projectors below.
1. Anker Nebula Apollo
Don’t let the size of this portable projector fool you into thinking it’s not packed with features — you’d be sorely mistaken. Running on Android 7.1, the Anker Nebula comes equipped with Android apps, and plenty of ways to control the device, including onboard controls, a remote or the Nebula Connect app. Your favorite video apps like Netflix and YouTube are on the platform, and you’ll be able to stream for about four hours before it needs a recharge. If that wasn’t enough, you can also display pictures, and it doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. Big things sometimes come in small packages.
2. XGIMI Mogo Pro
With built-in Android TV, Chromecast and Google Assistant, this option is basically a media streaming device disguised as a portable projector, eliminating the need for any external devices. Of course, there are still plenty of wired connectivity options, including HDMI and USB inputs. As for picture quality, it displays an impressive 1080p picture and plenty of controls to adjust and dial in the visuals. Plus, there’s Bluetooth connectivity if you want to send the audio to an external speaker. It’s the total package in miniaturized form.
3. Samsung Freestyle
Samsung created its version of a portable projector, the Samsung Freestyle, and we’re impressed. It has a unique spotlight-like design that rotates easily eliminating many of the problems associated with having your projector placed just right on a flat surface. Utilizing smart technology to auto-correct color, adjust keystone and optimize your surroundings takes all the guesswork out of getting the best picture quality possible. And as a bonus, it can even be used for lighting to set the mood with neon signs, scenes and photo projections.
4. PVO Mini Projector
One problem you need to consider when purchasing a portable projector is where you’re going to store it. Considering you’re searching specifically for a portable projector, we don’t anticipate that you’re going to hang it up on the ceiling as you see in classrooms and movie theatres. Plus, you might not want to place your new projector in a space that feels like it’s part of the furniture. Thankfully, you can save space with this tiny projector from PVO. This little buddy packs a punch with the ability to project a maximum of 150 feet both indoors and outdoors and is tiny enough to carry to and from in a small bag. You can power it through an outlet or mobile phone charger for on-the-go movies and videos.
5. FANGOR 1080P HD Projector
With a vivid resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a contrast ratio of 6000:1, the FANGOR HD projector doesn’t skimp out on detail. Using a high-refraction six-layered glass lens for total clarity, this projector can stream whatever you prefer with great color and visuals. The machine uses Bluetooth to connect to any speaker you have, but unlike a lot of the best portable projectors, it’s even complete with a speaker when you’ve got little to work with. Hate wires? Connect with WiFi for instant streaming from your phone, laptop or tablet. When it’s time to take it on the road, there is even a carrying case for making your life a little bit easier.
6. Anker Nebula Capsule II
BEST FOR DARK ROOMS
You’ll find all the same features as the Nebula Apollo here, with 720p resolution instead of 480p and even a better-sounding Bluetooth speaker, which makes the experience of watching your favorite movies or shows even better. Instead of using Android 7.1 to power its smart UI, this portable projector uses the Android TV, which is clean, intuitive and easy to navigate. With WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth and Google Assitant-powered voice commands, there is no shortage of robust connectivity options, but these additional features also come at a higher price than the Nebula Apollo. Just make sure you are in a dark room to enjoy the full visual experience.
7. Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector
BEST FOR PROFESSIONAL USE
Need an on-demand projector for work? While she’s definitely a bit bulkier, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 projector is one of the best portable projectors for professional use. Here, you can anticipate total clarity up to 150″ with full HDR picture quality. It’s complete with sound by Yamaha (hence the larger size for good speakers) and the latest Android TV with built-in Google Assistant. We think this is the perfect projector to use in visual art universities and careers within visual and digital art fields. It really doesn’t get more high-quality than Epson.
Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector
8. Anker Nebula Astro
BEST PROJECTOR FOR KIDS
While the Anker Nebula Astro won’t blow the doors off the competition in terms of specs, this Grapefruit-sized projector comes in at an affordable price and is packed with a couple of features that make it a great distraction for your kids when they start to grow restless. First, it has an eye-guard sensor that kills the projector bulb if your kids decide they want to try and look this thing directly in the eye. Secondly, it comes with content controls that ensure that you don’t walk in the room and find your grade-schooler captivated by an episode of Euphoria. But this projector can also be a great option for adults looking for a value option that strikes a nice balance between affordability and quality.
9. ViewSonic M1 Mini
With portability and low brightness in mind, this portable projector is best suited in an office setting compared to your main movie projector. The low brightness doesn’t make for optimal movie night quality (although you can stream Netflix), but it can easily handle a work presentation. And the projector can literally fit in your back pocket, making it ultra-portable, especially when you consider the battery packs enough juice to let you project a couple of hours’ worth of YouTube vids whenever and wherever the desire may strike.
10. DBPOWER WiFi Mini Projector
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Don’t be fooled by the size of this portable projector. This baby is native 1280 x 720P, 7000L, 3500:1 high contrast and with a 16:9/4:3 aspect ratio, making it 60% brighter and clearer than a majority of competing projectors. With this one, you don’t even need WiFi to mirror your phone cable-free, making it super reliable for situations where you aren’t 100% sure how you’ll get your content running. It is able to project in a range of 40”-200” and even has zoom features that won’t ditch out on quality. It’s complete with a carrying case for easy lugging when it’s time to take it on the go.
11. Kodak Luma 350
You can not only control this mini-projector with the remote or on your Android device but can also run a whole slew of Android apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other movie streaming options. For such a small footprint, it actually displays quite a big picture, up to 150-inches in theory, although the visual quality might not be on par with the likes of XGIMI or Anker. In a dark, quiet room, this can serve as a quality portable projector, especially when you consider the price tag compared to others.