The best portable projector
Portable projectors are great for cinephiles who want to share their favorite movies wherever they go. However, they can also be useful for more mundane tasks, such as displaying Powerpoint presentations in meetings. Whether you want one for business or pleasure, there's plenty to consider before you buy.
This guide will help you find the best portable projector for you. Our favorite option is the DR. J Professional Four-Inch Mini Projector, a tiny yet surprisingly powerful model with 2,000 lumens of brightness.
Considerations when choosing portable projectors
Check what resolution your chosen portable projector uses. The majority of models will project at 720p at a minimum -- this is the resolution of standard HD. However, you can also find higher-resolution models that use 1,080p resolution (full HD) or 4K ultra HD resolution.
The brightness of a projector is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the image and the clearer it will be in lighter rooms. If you plan to use your portable projector in completely darkened rooms, or as close to completely dark as possible, a brightness of around 2,000 lumens will suffice. If you're likely to use your projector in rooms with lots of ambient light, opt for at least 4,000 lumens.
The throw distance is the distance that the projector must be positioned from the wall or projector screen in order to get a clear image. With portable projectors, a throw distance of between two and six feet is common. A shorter throw distance is best for use in compact rooms, since the projector usually needs to be positioned in front of where people are sitting to avoid casting shadows.
Although the majority of portable projectors have built-in speakers, they often leave something to be desired. If you want to play sound, not just project images, we'd highly recommend using an external speaker.
Wireless capabilities: High-end projectors are often WiFi and/or Bluetooth compatible so that you can stream or cast videos or images wirelessly.
Controls: Ideally, a portable projector should have a remote control in addition to control buttons on its casing. Some models can also be controlled via an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Carry case: You're probably looking for a portable projector, rather than a full-sized model, because you want to use it in various locations. If so, an included carry case is a must-have to protect your projector in transit.
Portable projector prices
You can find some basic portable projectors for around $50 to $60, but the quality might not be excellent. Mid-range models are priced at $100 to $200, whereas high-end options can cost as much as $300 to $500.
Q. Do portable projectors need to be plugged into a power outlet?
A. This depends on the model you choose. Many portable projectors do need to be plugged into a power outlet to run, but you can also find battery-operated models. While battery-powered projectors are convenient, they do have limited run times, so be sure to check that the battery life meets your requirements before buying.
Q. Are portable projectors suitable for outdoor use?
A. As long as the weather's dry, there's no reason why you can't use your portable projector outdoors. Of course, it will either need to be battery operated or you'll need access to a safe outdoor power outlet. Plus, you won't find a portable projector that will give you a clear image in full daylight, so it should ideally be completely dark out or, at the very least, be getting dark.
Portable projectors we recommend
Best of the best: DR. J Professional Four-Inch Mini Projector
Our take: An excellent choice of portable projector with 1,080p resolution and 2,000 lumens of brightness.
What we like: Works with almost any device, assuming you have the correct cable. Compact and highly portable 40,000-hour lamp life.
What we dislike: Built-in speaker isn't great.
Best bang for your buck: VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector
Our take: Although twice the size of the smallest portable projectors, it still falls in the "portable" category and is highly affordable.
What we like: Full HD resolution. Adjustable focus and distortion correction. Carry case included. Can display size up to 170 inches. Quiet fan cooling system.
What we dislike: Room must be completely dark to get good results.
Choice 3: Anker Nebula Capsule
Our take: If you're looking for a feature-rich model and don't mind paying a premium, this is your best choice.
What we like: Compact design around the size of a soda can. 360-degree speakers. WiFi and Bluetooth compatible to cast videos straight from your devices. Battery operated.
What we dislike: Controller app is only available for iOS (though it can be controlled in other ways).
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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