Remember those bulky and hard to carry around projectors of the good old days? Their time has passed, leaving room for new technology that allows for more compact devices that you can take away with you anywhere. Yes, anywhere, from office meetings to camping trips.
Toss it in your backpack and go impress your boss with that presentation or take it to a movie night in your friend’s backyard. Mini projectors have come a long way and have become a lot more portable while offering features such as built-in speakers, good battery life, streaming capabilities and lots of connectivity options, even for smartphones.
But as you might expect, the latest features require a hefty budget, so make sure you set aside some money if you want the best of the best.
Before we get to the latest and greatest mini projectors available today, let’s dive a little bit into the details of choosing one.
Mini Guide for Choosing a Mini Projector
It’s the first thing to look for. This depends mostly on budget. Don’t expect low priced options to be as portable as those high-end ones. If size and weight are important for you, be ready to pay a good price.
Any gadget comes with some accessories, and that’s true to mini projectors as well. Look for cables (as cable management is important), tripods, external speakers or built-in battery depending on your use case. If you’re going to be on the move, too many externals are definitely a minus.
This aspect is important for the quality of the image. Most will support a screen size of 60″ and sometimes more, but keep in mind that as the screen size increases, the image clarity decreases.
Another important technical factor to look for. There are two resolutions you’ll find with mini projectors, the native resolution and the maximum.
The native is the actual resolution of the projection panel, and that allows for image clarity at a given size of the projection screen (see the above point). The higher the native resolution, the better.
The maximum resolution refers to the maximum scaled resolution on the screen for a decent image quality. Scaling is done through software, and that means that the clarity of the image decreases with scaling.
You’ll also encounter terms such as HD (high-definition), which is a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Full HD means 1920 x 1080 and it’s what you’ll find in most smartphones and laptops today.
Be careful that some manufacturers will try to trick you by writing Full HD on their packaging, but that may mean the maximum resolution at a given distance, the scaled one. And if the native resolution of the projector is a lot smaller, such as 320 x 240 pixels, you’re going to have an awful image quality. So pay attention to these two types of resolutions.
Lumens are the unit of measure for brightness. Usually, the higher the number, the better. As a reference, 100 lumens is enough for a small room, while for a large one, 400 would be a good enough value.
One important thing to note here is that the amount of light decreases with distance, so on the projection screen you’d have about 30% less light than at the source. Most manufacturers won’t specify this, so whatever number you read in their specifications, expect it to be the brightness level at the bulb if not stated otherwise.
Now let’s take a look at what we think are the 20 best mini projectors to buy right now:
20. Miroir M289
The result of a collaboration between Apple and projector manufacturer Miroir, the M289 is the best mini projector you could probably get for your iPhone.
Though not the smallest, it’s compact and lightweight enough to take it anywhere with you. On the technical size, it features a 1080p native resolution, has a brightness of 400 lumens and a maximum display screen size of 100″.
It’s got an HDMI port, a 2 hour battery autonomy, built-in speakers and a 3.5mm audio jack for an external set of speakers should the need arise.
19. Vamvo L4500
The Vamvo L4500 is a budget version of the mini projector. It’s a little bit larger than most, but for under $100, you shouldn’t complain. The projection size goes up to 200″, but with a native resolution of 1280 x 720 (HD), you’d want to choose a smaller screen size for better image clarity.
As for brightness, it’s best used in dark rooms or at night. The vibrant colors aren’t enough for daylight. Connectivity is good, but it doesn’t have a built-in battery. A good choice for those on a budget.
18. Kodak Luma 150
Kodak Luma 150 is one of the smallest mini projectors you can find today and a high performance one as well, featuring touch controls, wireless connectivity and an amazing compatibility to almost any other device.
With a battery life of up to two and a half hours of projection time and a maximum screen size of 120″ in HD resolution, it’s a great option for just about anything from movie nights to photography presentations.
17. Sony MP-CD1
Did we mention that mini projectors are small? Well, this one is tiny. The Sony MP-CD1 is about the size of your phone and at only seven ounces, you won’t worry about where to pack it.
But despite its size, it’s a capable gadget, with a 120″ max screen size, 105 lumens lens, automatic keystone correction – meaning that it doesn’t need a tripod to project a quality full size image.
The battery holds up to 2 hours and it can even serve as a portable power bank should you need it.
16. Optoma LV130
The Optoma LV130 is a bit of a larger mini projector, but that means better performance, and even better battery life. Expect up to 4.5 hours of projection time, so no need to worry about running out of battery when enjoying those longer epics.
The lamp is capable of 300 lumens and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio so the image on the screen should be crystal clear and bright enough even with some ambient lighting.
15. Apeman Mini M4
Compact in size and with a great sound quality, the Apeman Mini M4 will please you in this regards.
On the other hand though, the built-in 3,400 mAh battery isn’t enough for longer movies, and the picture is quite dim at only 50 lumens, so daylight movie projection might be a no-no.
But since you can carry it in your pocket, it’s a very good option for camping trips, if that’s your thing.
The Anker Nebula Apollo is packed with lots of multimedia capabilities, thanks to its Android operating system, so you can download and stream YouTube, Netflix and Hulu without the need for an external device.
Everything can be easily accessed via touch controls and it also comes with an app for additional phone connectivity and control. Another feature that will please many is the 6 watt speaker, perfect for putting up a small party not matter where you are.
13. Vankyo Leisure 3
Providing a good value for the money, the Vankyo Leisure 3 is a budget option and a good fit both at home and on the road. Inputs come in the form of VGA, HDMI, USB, MicroSD and RCA.
The downsides are the low brightness, the difficulty in setting it up due to its single, and too short, front foot for vertical adjustment. The contrast is good enough at 2000:1, color reproduction is solid and 1080p resolution is sharp enough, with a projection screen size of up to 176″.
You only need a dark room.
Another good option below the hundred dollar mark is the Hompow Mini-Projector, with great connectivity with external devices both for movie playback and gaming.
Easy to set up, simple, small and modern, it delivers great quality for little money.
11. Epson VS355
Though not that small and lightweight at 5.5lbs, the Epson VS355 delivers great quality and performance.
It offers bright and vivid images thanks to its 3,300 lumens and has unbelievable color accuracy for a projector, due to its High Color Brightness and Wide Color Gamut technologies.
It also has one of the largest projected screen sizes at 320″, so it can serve as a serious projector for when you need to stand out.
10. Optoma ML750ST
For those with enough cash in their pockets, small can mean fitting in the palm of your hand. And that’s how small the Optoma ML750ST is.
Another awesome feature is that it’s a short-throw projector, meaning you can place it very close to the screen and still deliver a full sized image. Think 100″ at only six feet away.
Contrast ratio is 20,000:1, which is great, and with the 700 lumens, brightness is great as well, making it a perfect companion for those looking for something business oriented.
Going back to budget options, the Topvision 7500L Portable Mini-Projector proves to be a very good option, both for movie nights outside or even conferencing.
Picture quality, sharpness and brightness are all good, especially when you look at the small price.
8. AAXA 4K1 Led
A little bit on the larger side, the AAXA 4K1 Led has an excuse: it’s one of the best for 4K movie projecting, with a superb picture quality.
Connectivity is good, but it lacks when it comes to sound and set up. There are no feet for adjustment, so you’d have to improvise here, and the built-in audio needs more power, but that can be solved via external speakers as it comes with a 3.5mm jack.
But those are little annoyances given the crisp 4K image with excellent sharpness.
7. LG PH550
Probably one of the best all-round mini projectors available today, the LG PH550 comes with plenty of features, good connectivity and compatibility with a wide range of external devices.
It’s got a built-in TV tuner and coax connector for watching shows in real time, Bluetooth audio output so you can connect portable speakers, headphones and soundbars without the need of cables. Another interesting feature is the Wi-Fi mirroring function which allows you to stream media right from your smartphone.
Other specs include a maximum screen size of 100″, a battery autonomy of up to 2.5 hours and customizable preset modes for picture.
6. BenQ HT2050A
The excellent BenQ HT2050A is probably the best mini projector there is if you want a superb 300″ image with low input lag for your gaming sessions.
Built for gamers, it’s also got a good 2,200 lumens brightness, high contrast ratio and good connectivity. The downsides are the lack of mounting brackets, which are available separately and it’s not portable. But if you’re a gamer, you’re not that interested in portability.
Probably among the cheapest options for a mini projector that’s also portable, the Elephas Portable Mini-Projector offers quite a lot for around $50.
The image is bright enough, crisp, and might exceed your expectations for such a low price point.
4. XGIMI Elfin
The XGIMI Elfin is expensive, has no possibility for aiming adjustments, no built-in battery, but the advantages outweigh these downsides.
The sound is probably the best among all the options available today, with loud and clear dual 3W speakers. Another feature that beats everything on the market right now is the built-in auto keystone and auto obstacle avoidance. That means it will fill the largest possible space while avoiding objects on the wall.
The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector comes with one of the best designs, with a stand that provides 360 degrees of articulation and acts as lens protection when it’s closed.
The short-throw lens, amazing 120,000:1 contrast ratio and the Harman Kardon speakers with superb sound make this mini projector one of the favorites.
Despite it’s super small size, the AAXA P7 Led Projector delivers stunning picture quality, due to its native 1080p Full HD resolution. Brightness is wonderful, with 450 lumens when running on battery and 600 lumens if plugged in.
The tripod makes for easy set up and adjustability, while the many ports and inputs, USB, TF, HDMI, mini-VGA and AV, allow for wonderful device compatibility.
The Anker Nebula Capsule II is the best overall mini projector you can buy right now. The size and shape of a soda can, it’s perfect in terms of portability.
Feature-wise, there’s an Android operating system which allows for easy access to various streaming apps so you can have a portable smart TV in your backpack pocket. There’s also Wi-Fi mirroring and Bluetooth, excellent battery life, a 720p (HD) resolution and can project up to a screen size of 100″.
Though a little bit on the pricey side, this is a do-it-all take-it-anywhere mini projector that’s worth every penny.
This list should now give you a clearer picture of what to look for and what’s available on the market, from low budget options to full featured or super portable mini projectors.
- Mini Guide for Choosing a Mini Projector
- 20. Miroir M289
- 19. Vamvo L4500
- 18. Kodak Luma 150
- 17. Sony MP-CD1
- 16. Optoma LV130
- 15. Apeman Mini M4
- 14. Anker Nebula Apollo
- 13. Vankyo Leisure 3
- 12. Hompow Mini-Projector
- 11. Epson VS355
- 10. Optoma ML750ST
- 9. Topvision 7500L Portable Mini-Projector
- 8. AAXA 4K1 Led
- 7. LG PH550
- 6. BenQ HT2050A
- 5. Elephas Portable Mini-Projector
- 4. XGIMI Elfin
- 3. ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector
- 2. AAXA P7 LED Projector
- 1. Anker Nebula Capsule II