Projectors for presentations have come a long way in recent years. With today’s technology, even low-priced units can project an impressive, sharp image.
We’re here to help sort it out, whether you’re new to the wonder of modern projectors, or are an experienced early-adopter looking to update your stock.
To help sort through the marketing hype, our Buyer’s Guide explains what to look for and what the jargon means, and we’ve selected 6 of the most popular high-value projectors for presentations to review.
Best Projector For Presentations of 2020
|VANKYO Leisure 510 |
|VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini|
Sharpest Image for Text
|APEMAN Projector Mini Portable|
Best Pocket-sized Projector
|APEMAN Mini Portable 3500L|
Best Mini Projector
|APEMAN Mini Portable 3500L|
1. VANKYO Leisure 510 – Projector With Highest Resolution
Electronics manufacturer VANKYO makes a number of popular projectors with a lot of performance for the price and, at 13.8 x 13.1 x 6.2 inches, this is one of their beefier models. It can project a screen up to 200″ wide, which makes it suitable for a home theater or outdoor setup. It delivers a bright picture, impressive resolution, and surprising audio quality for most home and office video uses.
The VANKYO 510 gives you higher resolution than most economical projectors, so you can put together a nice system on the almost-cheap. The crisp view has nice contrast to deliver a clear image.
The color rendition is another highlight. The LED bulb uses an Advanced Color Engine to take advantage of the 16.7-million color palette, and the acceptable brightness level brings out detail which, together with nicely saturated color, offers a rich viewing experience.
One quibble is a small amount of light bleed on the edges of the screen. This isn’t unusual or overly distracting, but it’s there.
The 510 doesn’t quite match the 3600-lumen labeling, but it’s bright enough to view in non-direct sunlight if you reduce the image to ¼ of the stated maximum (to about 50 inches wide). If you want a full-sized image over 100 inches, you’ll need to darken the room.
VANKYO announces 1080p supported resolution on the label, but the actual “native” resolution is 1280×768. This isn’t HD, but it’s pretty good for an economy machine, and one of the best on the market outside of expensive higher end projectors.
The optical quality, color depth and brightness work nicely together, and bring the image up to a nice standard.
Portable and Convenient
To achieve the mammoth 200″ super-wide picture, you’ll have to move the projector 18.4 feet away. There’s a convenient focus wheel to fine-tune the picture.
Placement is versatile, too. For typical mounting on a flat surface, the feet are spring-loaded foot to raise/lower the projected angle, which can be adjusted to eliminate distortion with the vertical keystone.
You can also turn the model upside down to project from the ceiling overhead: there are convenient mounting holes under the rubber feet, and a setting to flip the image.
Packaging & Service
The Leisure 510 comes with a soft carrying case which packs the AV, HDMI and power cables. You won’t want to drop the soft case, but it is waterproof and has a handy carrying strap. PRO TIP: The remote’s AAA batteries aren’t included.
It connects via HDMI, VGA, AV, USB and Micro SD, with Dual HDMI & USB ports.
Overall, this is a versatile unit that performs almost as well as its specs claim — and better than most units at this price. You can make a modest home theater to watch the game or host a small outdoor showing without breaking the bank. The projector is also well suited for business presentations.
2. Optoma HD143X – Best Image & Gaming Performance
Optoma’s high-quality gaming reputation shows up in this popular midrange DLP projector. Combining portability, versatility, and superior optics, the HD143X lets you host a cinematic HD group experience or enjoy the full potential of your favorite video game.
Sharp, Clear Image
The native 1080p resolution delivers a stunning, crisp image. The system is fully Rec. 709-compliant and has a high contrast ratio (23,000:1) without gimmicks, downscaling, or compression. It’s the real deal.
The imperfections are slight. Overspill is mild to non-existent depending upon image size; a black-bordered screen absorbs it. One potential flaw is a rainbow effect that’s unavoidable with DLP projectors. Not everyone notices, though, and it’s less of an issue when gaming or at a lower light output.
Screen dimensions can be adjusted from 28 to 300 inches. Large screen sizes over 120 inches can reduce brightness, but high contrast keeps the image viewable.
The system is easy to set up and looks great out of the box. Choose either tabletop or overhead mounting with reverse projection.
The vertical keystone and 1.1 Zoom help keep the picture straight. There’s an image shift but no lens shift. A convenient ISF Calibration Mode saves your finely tuned Day and Night configurations.
Most platforms are widely supported—as long as they’re digital. Plug into an iPhone or iPad, Fire stick, or cable box. There are two HDMI ports, one with MHL support, and a 5v-powered USB port.
High-end Gaming and 3D
Optoma’s low-latency mode provides snappy, no-lag action without jitters or jumps. The system works with Blu-Ray, PS3/PS4, Nintendo, Xbox, and most other recent high-performance consoles.
True 3D content can be played from Blu-Ray and most 3D broadcast or game consoles. The rapid 144Hz refresh rate gives you a flicker-free experience: all you need is 3D glasses.
Quality Construction and Minimal Packaging
Construction looks flimsy, but don’t worry: durable flat-black ABS plastic keeps portability high at a lightweight 5.5lbs and houses smooth-glide optical controls with a precision hold. The fan noise is low, too.
Lamp life isn’t bad, either … expect up to 15,000 hours on the economy setting and 3,000 hours on high. Less impressive is the low volume output of the single built-in 10-watt speaker: sound aficionados will want to plug external speakers into the 3.5mm headphone jack for higher fidelity or surround-sound.
The HD143X packaging can be called streamlined: you get a power cord, brief printed instructions and a CD-ROM Manual. There’s a one-year warranty and 90-day lamp guarantee. 3D glasses would’ve been nice … but there are some extras.
The bulky remote is highly functional and has useful-in-the-dark illumination. A motorized screen can be automatically raised or lowered upon system activation. Input functions can be renamed along with an assortment of other small customizations.
The HD143X is a quality home-entertainment system that doubles as a top-notch gaming platform. It’s a great overall value.
3. VANKYO Leisure 3 Mini – Quietest Portable Projector
This is the smaller cousin of the VANKYO model we just reviewed, and at under $100 it’s even more affordable. It lacks the higher resolution and brightness, but this little unit beats out many models that cost and weigh much more.
Big Screen in a Little Projector
2019 saw an update to an improved LED which brings impressive color to a bright-enough screen. It doesn’t actually project a 1080p image really, of course — but it does throw a bright and colorful screen in a darkened room. Forget about daylight viewing; but, for outdoor shows at night, it does nicely.
The official projected screen size is from 32” at 4.9 feet, up to 170” from 16.4 feet, with a recommended distance of about 6.5 ft.
Quiet Fan … and Audio
The built-in speakers are less successful … you’ll want to plug them into decent exterior ones for the sound experience.
Super Portability and Connectivity
Compact size and light weight are highlight features. The Leisure 3 Mini weighs just 2.1 lbs and comes with a custom bag, so you can always bring your home entertainment system along.
You can easily connect via smartphone, PS3, PS4, X-Box ONE or Wii. Not Bluetooth though, and you’ll have to buy an adapter separately for use with an iPhone.
This is a great portable model for small showings of video games, sports, and movies. It’s not for reading text, so you won’t score points with anyone by using it in a formal office or classroom.
Overall, this economical projector can work for a small home theater — for a few folks, in the dark, not too far away. It’s limited, but also a serious value that punches up, and offers a nice experience for small, casual gatherings.
It’s also nice to have a decent projector you can use with kids and not get too stressed about collateral damage.
4. ViewSonic PA503S – Sharpest Image for Text Display
If you can step up in price, this compact mid-sized projector gives a sharp picture that’s bright enough to see text—even with the lights on. It can handle small classroom and business presentations with dim ambient light.
Mid-Size Throw Range
The projection has a wide range, from 30 to 300 inches—but you’ll lose a lot of picture at the maximum size. You’ll also be 43 feet away. But, it’s adjustable.
The best quality to size ratio isn’t given, but between 10 and 15 feet works well for many users. At that distance, you’ll get about a 120-inch screen with impressive quality, even with moderate ambient light. It’s nice for a small group.
Sharp Optical Quality[green] The projected image is a highlight of this model, and it does better than its class despite limitations. The screen is bright and crisp, and uses upgraded DLP technology for brighter colors and near-HD detail.
The actual image projected is 800×600. It’s not quite as suitable for “small business environments” as the claims say, but you can get by with a small group in a dimly-lit room.
Easy to Use and Lots of Connectivity
The ViewSonic’s setup is simple: just plug-and-play. The system is easy to learn for newbies, too. There’s a SuperEco mode that automatically shuts off the bulb to preserve life up to 15,000 hours.
Users often forget to turn off projectors, especially in common areas such as classrooms and office meeting rooms. The projector’s sleep timer allows you to select a period of inactivity that will determine when the projector automatically goes into sleep mode.
The ViewSonic PA503S also has many connectivity options for convenience. It supports most media players, PCs and Macs, and a host of mobile devices including HDMI and VGA.
5. APEMAN Projector Mini Portable – Best Pocket-sized Mini Projector
If you like the previous mini-projector but want a bump in performance, the APEMAN M4 Mini is a popular model without a lot of frills. It’s perfect for small home presentations, in a darkened room, and has lots of connectivity options.
High-end Optics in a Compact
At under four inches square and less than an inch deep, the sleek M4 fits in your pocket for easy transport. It’s less than a half-pound in weight: about that of a typical smartphone.
The minimalist design isn’t overloaded with options and features, but along the device’s rim are all the basics: a jack for external speakers or a headphone, HDMI cable and micro-USB ports, and buttons for volume, focus, and power.
The screen is well-lit at 50~100 lumen with advanced DLP technology at surpasses mere LCD display. It’s plenty of power for small get-togethers to watch video, delivering a sharp 854×480 native resolution image.
Plug in Convenience and Power
Simplicity is a high point of the M4. It’s very much a plug-and-play device that anyone can use, regardless of experience. It connects to a wide variety of sources, including a teevee, camera, PS3/4 console, or either a MacBook or PC. With an adapter (purchased separately), you can stream from an Android smartphone.
The power options are convenient, too. The built-in rechargeable battery lasts 1.5 to 2.5 hours on a single charge, enough to view a standard movie.
Quality Features, but Stripped Down Options
The slick casing looks nice, but the M4 isn’t fancy. It supplements the streamlined functionality with a few high-end options.
The lens has a generous 45,000 hour lifetime, which supposedly means you can watch a 3-hour movie for 40 years. It doesn’t produce much noise, either, which is nice for small quarters.
The custom 360-degree tripod looks futuristic and lean, but there isn’t a wireless interface, and forget about flipping the image for a ceiling mount. You don’t get a keystone correction function, so you’ll have to keep the projector level and fairly plumb to avoid distortion. No remote functions either.
Overall, this is a super-convenient and portable way to bring a party around in your pocket. It needs a pretty dark environment to see well, so it’s not for business presentation.
6. APEMAN Mini Portable LC350 – Best All-Around Mini Projector
Bright Colorful Enhanced LCD Display
The 4.0 LCD uses advanced technology to up the brightness. Of course the 3500 lumen specifications listed is meaningless—it’s actually just 50 lumens according to regular ANSI-standards—but for a low-cost option it does pretty well.
The LC350 isn’t for a classroom or formal business presentation, because it lacks the clarity needed to read text, but it projects video in a darkened room well enough for a modest home theater setup.
Adjustable, Variable Wide Screen
The 800×480 native resolution accepts 1080p signals and projects images from 34 to 180 inches … though the best viewing dimensions are between 50 and 120 inches. The projector distance can be set between 3 and 12 feet away, with an optimal range between 3 and 9 feet, great for intimate gatherings or a small space.
There’s a adjustable padded foot that can change the height of the projector, and along with a focus wheel and a keystone to true up the picture. With these adjustments, you can easily cast an undistorted image from whichever distance and level you choose.
Good Audio with Low Fan Noise
Since we don’t expect much from factory speakers at this price range, the built-in dual speakers have a surprising amount of volume and sound quality. It’s even loud enough for video games.
Their efficient cooling system has fans specially designed to be quiet. You don’t get wifi or Bluetooth, though.
APEMAN’s portable projectors are easy to use and very plug-and-playable. You can connect to PCs and laptops, consoles, smartphones, TV Sticks and Chromecast.
There’s an assortment of ports for HDMI, VGA, Micro SD, RCA AV interfaces, and the crucial USB.
Not so Bright
The color stands out well enough in a darkened room, but is easily washed out with ambient light. It won’t do for anything but watching videos with a small group, or alone—which is all most people need anyway.
If you’re going to go for full-out economy, this is one of the best buys for its wide screen and sharp picture. It’s has good connectivity options and adjustments to make the image clear. It’s hard to go wrong buying at this price for a projector, but it’s still nice to know you’re not.
The newer projector technology is impressive, but the specs are usually overstated—let’s try to clear out the hype.
Before explaining the gamed “advertising” numbers, we’ll start with one of the honest specs you can count on: weight. Mini projectors are relatively new, and typically weigh from 1 to 3 lbs … most full-sized portables are under 10 pounds.
It’s easy to get tripped up on this, because manufacturers make up numbers for marketing purposes. Everyone wants 1080p HD, and that number may be prominently displayed … but if you look more closely, you’ll usually see it’s “supported” 1080p, which just means the input can be high resolution, which is reduced for actual display.
The native resolution is the actual resolution you’ll see and, for economy models, it will be in the 800 x 600 ballpark. If you’re set on getting a 1080p image, you’ll need to look for a more expensive projector. Before breaking your budget, however, remember that 800×600 is still nearly double that of a standard television.
Another specification that should have a laugh track, marketers put the number you want to hear, called the “advertising” lumen rating. The actual lumens are a piddly, sad figure. For example, a brand might advertise a projector as having 3600 lumens when its actually, officially, only 50. So look for the true lumen rating in the fine print or online, so you know what you’re dealing with.
One point to remember is that a high lumen output is really only needed in classroom or other professional settings, which require participants to read text from the expanded screen in a lighted room. Economy models can deliver a surprisingly good home movie or teevee experience at short range in a darkened room.
There’s a lot of options of devices you can use, but be aware that Bluetooth or other wireless connection are premium features. The best bargain projectors keep it simple—and we can probably consider that a mercy where wireless is concerned.
Do pay attention to which devices a projector can use, because you can’t assume anything in that regard. Smartphones can be a trickier option than it should be, so check to see what adaptor thingies you’ll need to finish the picture.
You want rechargeable batteries. Life is too short. They are almost universal, but make sure.
Check out their expected charge life, and shoot for at least 3 hours to get the whole movie in before a maintenance check is needed.
A loud fan can ruin a movie, and you can get low-noise models.
Mounting options moutnin/ceiling Make sure the mount is compatible with your desires. If you contemplate a ceiling mount, make sure the system lets you flip the image, and that the mounting assembly is appropriate for you.
There are cheap models that sound terrible, which only matters if you’re not connecting them to real external speakers. Some projectors have a lot of sound quality, but you have to make sure. It’s not a given.
Many economy projectors are streamlined to the basics of connecting, powering up, and beaming the image. If you want Remote Control, Wireless, a custom carrying case, an adjusting keystone, etc, you can expect to pay more.
Pro Tip: Don’t be overly impressed with how many hours some component might last: most economy projectors are as close to disposables as manufacturer’s can make them.
Warranties – One year is about the minimum useful period for a projector. Longer terms naturally signal better-made equipment: a three-year warranty is quite good.
Our roundup of high value economy projectors include the most popular on the market today. We’ve explained the basic product terminology, and reviewed 5 bestsellers that meet the criteria.
Interest in the newest projectors is increasing not only because of lower prices, but also the nice image quality and different fun it brings. People invent positive things to do with a projector they wouldn’t have otherwise thought to try, such as impromptu photo-shows, or screening movies outdoors or at group venues.
Creatives are experimenting with making artful projections that add to the surroundings in novel and exciting ways. The future will probably soon bring wireless, and find a cost-effective way to increase brightness so a room can be moderately lit.
It can be fun living in the future, and we’re living in an era that puts superior optical quality into amazingly cheap crap. Which is great … just do your homework before buying.
Projector or TV – what is best for presentations
It is important to consider that projectors and TVs serve two different purposes, and there are pros and cons to both. For some reason, people tend to think that projectors are really expensive, but in most cases, a good budget projector is actually going to cost you less than a large TV.
Considering that a projector is using light from a bulb, it is not going to be as bright as a TV, so they typically work better in a basement or a dedicated conference room, somewhere where you can easily control the light. If you really do want to put it into a bright room, there are ways that you can combat that. You can make the screen a little bit smaller just because the bigger the screen is darker. You can also get different types of screen material that will actually reject the light, or you can get different types of paints if you are putting it on a wall, that will help as well.
Space, size and cost
TVs are great for just about any space, but when you want something really large and you are comparing them to a projector, it can get really, really expensive. A really cheap 70″ TV is going to cost you maybe around a one thousand USD. A good 70″ TV is going to cost you $1,800. Once you start to get into 80 or 85″ TVs, you are well on to four or five, $6,000 or more. To be fair, TVs do have a lot of benefits over projectors. The first thing is that they’re really, really bright, so you really don’t have to worry about putting it in a bright room because it’s bright enough that it’s going to overpower whatever light you have in the room. Another thing about TVs is that most of them are smart now. They have smart features built in to them. That is not something you are normally going to find in a projector. In order to get smart features on a projector, you would have to hook up something like a Roku, Chromecast, or a Fire TV or something like that. Another thing to consider is 4K and HDR. There are 4K HDR projectors out there, but if you are the average person and really interested in 4K HDR, you might want to consider a TV over a projector, unless you are willing to pay at least $10,000.
You are probably thinking, “Why would anybody buy a projector over a TV considering all the benefits of a TV?” Well, there are two reasons you might want to consider a projector. Reason number one is “wow” factor. There is nothing like walking into a room and seeing a huge screen with a nice picture on it. The average movie theater is going to use a 2K projector, which is very close to just a 1080p projector. Depending on where you are sitting in that movie theater, you could actually have a better experience at home sitting in front of a 120″ screen 10 feet away. If you are sitting way back in a movie theater, then yes, that’s going to be a really sharp picture to you because you’re not right up, and you can’t really see the pixels, but if you’re sitting on the first few rows, you’re definitely going to notice a drastic difference in picture quality.
Reason number two is that it is more immersive. Having a huge 1080p screen versus having a smaller 4K screen can definitely be a much better experience. How would you feel if you walked into a movie theater, and they had an 80″ screen on the wall instead of a 50′ screen? That’s the major difference between a projector and a TV.