Why buy a projector?
No matter how large, clear, and modern your home TV might be, it can’t quite compete with a projector screen that’s 100 inches long (or bigger!). A larger screen means watching the movie, TV show, or game in more detail than what’s possible on a television screen. If you’re a video game buff, it’s possible to find a projector that’s compatible with gaming systems like Xbox and PlayStation. This, in turn, allows you to play and view your favorite games on a bigger screen as well. Projectors can also be used for presentations, displaying vacation photos, and other similar tasks. So if you want to enjoy this experience at home, investing in your projector is the way to go. Many home projectors can be used outside and inside, so when the weather is nice, you can invite friends and neighbors over for a backyard viewing party. More portable models can be brought to a friend’s house for a movie night or on the road for entertaining your passengers on long car trips.
What should you look for in a projector?
- Picture Quality: Modern projectors are capable of incredible visual displays. However, brightness, resolution, and processing capability will largely determine the overall picture quality. The amount of light that an individual project can emit is measured in “lumens” the more lumens, the more light the machine can emit. And the more light that a projector can emit, the brighter the picture will be on the screen. Since three projectors utilizing the same resolution might have vastly different picture quality, you’ll want to double-check these factors before buying. And even if a projector has a crystal-clear picture, it might not be suited for activities like video games and lag, or it could appear blurry when you use it.
- Connectivity/Compatibility: No two projectors are alike in terms of which devices they can connect to or are compatible with. Some will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which is a cinch to connect to similarly equipped devices like smartphones. Others will require specific cables to sync with your streaming device of choice. Check which type of ports are available on a projector that you might want to buy. USB and HDMI ports are the most common, and many (but not all) projectors will have both. You might need to purchase a USB cable or HDMI cable separately to hook the projector up to your desired streaming device, although some models come with a complimentary cable. Also, make sure that the projector screen size is compatible with the model you plan to buy.
- Portability: While your projector’s primary home will be your home theater, you may want to take it to a friend’s house for a movie night. If so, a light, compact projector that’s simple to set up is a great option. You’ll also want to check the projector’s power source. Some have built-in batteries, while others require a power outlet to function.
How much should you expect to spend on a projector?
Like most technology, projectors can be pretty expensive. There’s a decent range of prices, though, depending on the model, its clarity, and available features. Lower-range projectors usually cost somewhere in the $700 to $900 range, although they won’t have the same high-quality resolution as higher-end models. Occasionally, you can even find some under $700—mostly smaller, more portable ones. A mid-range projector will run you somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000, and a premium model will cost $2,000 or more.
TOPVISION 9500 Lux Portable Movie Projector
This projector features an incredible 9500 Lux brightness, touch screen, and wide compatibility and connectivity.
Pros: For people passionate about picture quality and performance, this little is the total package. It delivers a 9500 Lux viewing experience, with crystal-clear colors and impressive brightness. The processing power is phenomenal, blocking out visual imperfections that affect many HD projectors. It can connect with just about any device, from laptops to video game systems and even digital cameras to show off vacation photos. It has built-in speakers, so you won’t need to buy any external ones. It can be connected via HDMI cables, a USB cable, Bluetooth, and more and is WiFi compatible to boot.
Cons: This projector fares much better in a completely dark room or outdoor setting due to its brightness. There’s also no zoom feature.
Bottom Line: If you want to ensure that you’re getting a good value, you’ll find this handy home projector an excellent, top-of-the-line purchase at a reasonable price compared to many top projectors.
TOPVISION Mini Portable Projector
This mini projector's compact package is ideal for on-the-go viewing in the car, at camp, and more.
Pros: Sporting a full HD1080p resolution, the picture quality is very crisp given the unit’s smaller size. Since most smaller projectors tend to offer a resolution of around 720p, this one has a decidedly better picture than most. It’s equipped with various ports for easy connectivity, including compatibility with both iPhone and Android phones. It can also connect to WiFi, which means you don’t need USB or HDMI cables to achieve screen mirroring (though you can still use them if you wish), and it has three built-in speakers. Should you want to take it on the go, it’s small enough to fit into a backpack for better portability easily and weighs less than three pounds. An AV cable, power cable, and remote control come included with your purchase and a user manual.
Cons: The one downside to this projector’s portability is that it doesn’t have a built-in battery, so it must be plugged in for it to work. While it’s highly compatible in most ways, there isn’t a Bluetooth connectivity option, nor does it support Dolby sound.
Bottom Line: This projector packs a lot of functionality in such a small package. With built-in speakers that provide excellent sound and a variety of connection options despite the small size, this mini projector is great for people on the go.
ONOAYO 5G WiFi Projector
A high-quality projector that offers bright, clear, premium picture quality without the high-premium price tag.
Pros: If you’re after a good-quality home theater projector that won’t completely break the bank, this model is an excellent choice. While not cheap per se, it’s more affordable than the average premium projectors while still providing premium, bright, high-resolution HD imaging. The three built-in fans offer an advanced cooling system, the lamp life can last up to 100,000 hours, and there is a handy zoom feature that non-premium projectors often lack. Even better, it’s compatible with both WiFi and Bluetooth, and the Bluetooth connection is bidirectional. Although this projector is compatible with external speakers, it is equipped with its built-in speaker if you already own a set or want to buy some. You also can mount it on your den or game room’s ceiling if you so desire. A remote control, user manual, HDMI and A/V cables, lens cap, and a soft carrying case come complimentary with your purchase.
Cons: While this projector has its built-in speaker, the speaker is on the smaller side and isn’t as powerful as external speakers. The built-in triple fans are a bit on the noisy side.
Bottom Line: This model provides just about everything that one expects to see in a premium projector and even some more. The picture quality stays crisp at various screen sizes, and the innovative cooling system works wonders.
Nebula by Anker Mars II Lumen Projector
Don't let this machine's size fool you; the built-in speaker packs a punch, and it's able to project onto screens large and small alike.
Pros: No matter how large or small your home TV screen is, you’re in luck with this. Unlike some other projectors, this model is designed to fit a wide range of different-sized screens, not just big flat screens. It can project onto screens as small as 30 inches and as large as 150 inches, which should cover pretty much any sized TV or other screen you have at home. You also can project your images both horizontally and vertically, a feature not commonly seen in a lot of home projectors. It’s WiFi- and Bluetooth-compatible with HDMI and USB connections for most devices and gaming systems. The two audio, stereo-style speakers provide excellent immersive, resonant sound, especially for a small, compact projector. That smaller size and its built-in carrying handle also ensure that this projector is another highly portable model.
Cons: The resolution isn’t quite as powerful at 720p. It’s also on the costly side for small, portable projectors. It’s also impossible to zoom in and out on images with this projector.
Bottom Line: This is another excellent choice for people who want to watch movies or play games on the go. Since it can project both horizontally and vertically and fits such a wide range of screens, this projector should have no problem adjusting to most screens.
JIFAR 5G WiFi and Bluetooth Movie Projector
With up to 100,000 hours of lamp life, you're sure to get your money's and time's worth with this user-friendly home movie projector.
Pros: This projector costs less than average, yet isn’t lacking in useful features or value. Most notable is the extra-long life of its lamp that casts the projections. It can last for up to 100,000 hours, the equivalent of almost 11.5 years. The projector is also equipped with Bluetooth and 5G Wi-Fi connectivity, making it incredibly simple to pair with your streaming and gaming devices. The projection will work equally well on a wide range of screens, from as small as 60 inches to as large as 450 inches.
Cons: The brightness projected by the device isn’t evenly distributed around the entire screen—it might be dimmer around the edges than at the center, which could be distracting.
Bottom Line: Given the impressive life expectancy of this particular projector’s LED light, this unit’s service life is worth the investment.
Your projector can be a great asset as it can bring the real-life movie theater experience into the comfort of your own home. It allows you to watch your favorite movies and TV shows on an even bigger screen than your TV provides. A good-quality projector can be a worthwhile long-term investment for your home theater system and other entertainment purposes.