Office projectors 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.
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. It may prominently display that number… but if you look more closely, you’ll usually see it’s “supported” 1080p, which means the input can be high resolution 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 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 it is 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 the 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.
You can use many devices, but be aware that Bluetooth or other wireless connections 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 they 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.
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.
Some cheap models 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 components might last: most economy projectors are as close to disposables as manufacturers 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.
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 9 of the most popular high-value best office projectors to review.
Best Office Projector of 2021
1. ViewSonic PA503S – Best All-around Projector
This portable SVGA projector delivers an image bright enough to serve in a classroom or business setting with ambient light.
The ViewSonic PA503S has a 190W lamp listed at 3800 ANSI lumens and adds a high-contrast ratio of 22,000:1 that makes its picture pop … even in a semi-darkened room.
Super Eco mode conserves lamp energy and extends bulb life for up to 15,000 hours. The mode kicks in whenever the projector is idle for five minutes; after 20 minutes, images are automatically dimmed 70%.
Sharp, Colorful Resolution
This ViewSonic’s image isn’t only bright; it’s sharp and vivid. Though it’s not targeted as a gaming projector, reduced input latency keeps action images clear.
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 projected screen size is limited; you can zoom, but you’ll need to move the projector to alter the projected image significantly. A ten-foot distance is ideal for screen sharpness — it produces a 60 x 34-inch image. The picture is about 120 inches when the projector is sixteen feet away — plenty for a home movie setup.
Good User Experience
This lightweight projector is easy to move, and the setup is simple. The system turns on automatically after plug-in. The screen can be quickly optimized with 5 unique preset viewing modes.
A vertical keystone corrects distorted images. The menu is accessible, but there isn’t a detailed explanation of all functions … the settings are preset for normal performance.
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.
Service and Components
The ViewSonic PA503S is Bluetooth-enabled and supports most media players and mobile devices and PCs, and Macs. It plays VGA and accepts input from HDMI (projected at SVGA resolution).
The speaker can be disappointing for larger-scale viewing, but you can easily connect to an external speaker.
There’s an easy-to-use remote control. You can flip the picture for ceiling projection, but you’ll need to purchase the mounting separately.
The warranty is good, including direct customer support, three years of limited parts and labor coverage, and a one-year lamp guarantee.
2. YABER Y21 – Best Inexpensive Projector
The Yaber is a low-priced model for the number of features it carries. Though it isn’t for use in the classroom or with detailed presentations, it offers HD viewing and good connectivity with some extras.
The Yaber has a native 1080P resolution and employs optical enhancements to deliver a sharp central image. The 7000:1 contrast ratio helps boost clarity.
The model is listed as 6800 LUX, which overstates its brightness: you’ll need a fairly dark room for satisfactory viewing. It uses a three-fan cooling system with a power-saving SmarEco mode that extends lamp life to 100,000 hours.
There may be some blurring in the corners, a common issue with projectors in this price range. The image is suitable for gaming and movies, but text display can appear grainy.
Screen Size and Adjustment
The projection size ranges from 50 to 300 inches at a distance between five and 30 feet — the recommended distance is 10 feet. You can do remote optical zoom both horizontally and vertically.
There’s also 4D Keystone correction to maintain a rectangular image … you can adjust for a projector placed to one side. Rear projection and inverted ceiling mount settings are available.
The Yaber Y21’s 5W dual stereo speakers do a pretty good job, and it has an audio jack for external speakers. There’s some fan noise if you’re running silent.
It’s not Bluetooth-enabled, but you have two HDMI ports and two USB ports for connection with most media players. You’ll need additional adapters for Android, iPhone, or Macbook products. Note: Apple connection can be inconsistent.
Some durability issues have been reported, but the unit has a six-month return window and up to five years of support.
The Yaber Y21 is a good choice if you’re looking for HD and want an easy-to-use, lightweight projector for light gaming and casual home theater use.
3. Epson VS250 – Best Projector for Video and TV Watching
The Epson VS250 projects a bright image in a room with low-to-medium ambient light. The 2300-lumen, 210W Ultra High-Efficiency lamp outshines the most equivalent models.
The projector does a nice job outdoors, producing a screen size from 34 to 350 inches. The lamp is rated for 6000 hours of normal use, extending to 10,000 hours in Eco Mode.
Image Quality: Good Color, Average Resolution
The Epson VS250 is a bit disappointing for displaying text and rendering detailed images. The small print will be grainy. It is best for viewing movies, sports, and streaming online content.
The color is vivid and can reproduce up to a billion hues. The image quality doesn’t begin to deteriorate until the picture is larger than 120 inches.
Solid options enhance the user experience. The stylish projector is lightweight and portable. It sets up easily, and the controls are easy to understand and operate.
You can center the display when the unit is placed to one side, enabling you to stand in front of the image without blocking projection.
You can flip the image for use with a ceiling mount (not included). It can’t be mounted on a tripod; however: the projection must be placed on a sturdy, level surface or special bracket.
Fan noise is minimal and won’t interrupt normal viewing. The remote control has image zoom features.
The one potentially serious downside is the lack of an audio jack for an external speaker. An HDMI extractor can output the audio, but that requires an extra purchase.
This Epson VS250 has 2 USB ports and an HDMI input that accepts all formats. It’s compatible with Xbox and both Apple (MAC OSX 10.5 – 10.12) and PC laptops. It works with an iPhone, but you’ll need Apple TV and a 4K HDMI cord to project movies.
Two things it doesn’t have: Bluetooth capability and wireless connectivity.
If you don’t need to display text and don’t mind being tied to average audio speakers, this is an excellent and highly portable home theater unit or office video streaming projector that’s stylish and has nice extras.
4. TOPVISION Video Projector – Best Budget HD Resolution
This TOPVISION model offers high resolution and good connectivity options along with some higher-end features.
Bright HD Image
The TOPVISION offers 1080P resolution and a screen bright enough for space with medium ambient light.
6000:1 contrast provides a defined image. The picture isn’t crisp enough to display detail or small text, but the optics work nicely for movies or PS4/Xbox gaming.
The automatic dual fan mode minimizes power consumption and extends lamp life for up to 80,000 hours.
The image is best within a suggested range of 4-6m … the screen size varies from 80 inches to 240 inches.
There aren’t many centering options: you are limited to keystone correction and manual adjustment.
Plug and Play
The unit comes with two HDMI and USB ports and one VGA port. It connects easily to an iPad, TV box, Chromecast, PC, and most multimedia players.
You’ll need to purchase gear for some options. An iPhone needs a Lightning to HDMI adapter, and a smartphone requires a Wi-Fi or HDMI adapter. Android uses a Micro USB (Type C)-to-HDMI adapter.
Additional Features: Hit and Miss
The two 3W HiFi speakers aren’t loud enough for a large setting, but there’s an AV jack for external audio. You can’t access Dolby, but you can turn the option off for regular sound.
One potential pain point is that the projector doesn’t remember its source after shutdown — you have to navigate to the input option each time you power up.
There is a remote control, and you can set a shutdown timer. A soft carrying case is included.
It’s hard to find a budget unit that delivers a brighter picture in HD 1080P resolution. Adjustability is a bit limited, but the connectivity and external speaker options help make it a good value.
5. VANKYO Leisure 510 – Projector With Highest Resolution
Electronics manufacturer VANKYO makes some 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 a higher resolution than most economical projectors so that you can put together a nice system on the almost cheap. The crisp view has a 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. The acceptable brightness level brings out detail, which offers a rich viewing experience, together with a nicely saturated color.
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 a 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 a spring-loaded foot to raise/lower the projected angle, which you can adjust to eliminate distortion with the vertical keystone.
You can also turn the model upside down to project from the ceiling overhead: 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 that 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.
6. 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.
You can adjust screen dimensions 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, Firestick, 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.
It can play true 3D content 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
The 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 are a one-year warranty and a 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. You can rename input functions 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.
7. 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 a 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 lightweight 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 that you won’t score points with anyone 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 and 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.
8. 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 many 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 that surpasses a mere LCD display. It’s plenty of power for small get-togethers to watch the 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 various sources, including a TeeVee, camera, PS3/4 console, or 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.
9. 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 are meaningless—it’s actually just 50 lumens according to regular ANSI standards, but it does pretty well for a low-cost option.
The LC350 isn’t for a classroom or formal business presentation because it lacks the clarity needed to read the 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 an adjustable padded foot that can change the projector’s height, 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 anything but watching videos with a small group or alone—which is all most people need anyway.
If you’re going to go for a full-out economy, this is one of the best buys for its widescreen and sharp picture. It 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.
Our roundup of high-value economy projectors includes 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 because of lower prices and the nice image quality and 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 it.