Proprietary 9-element lens for exceptional image clarity and edge-to-edge focus. Has fast 802.121ac WiFi for reliable, uninterrupted wireless streaming. Comes with a 60-day warranty.
Definitely an expensive option compared to others, but performs well to justify the price.
Utilizes latest in Digital Light Processing technology for clear, bright images. Wireless connection to smartphones and tablets. LED has an estimated life of 30,000 hours. Small footprint.
Lower resolution than expected. Streaming experience isn't as consistent as it could be.
Full HS 180p resolution and widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. Easy to stream from popular services and tuner receives over-the-air HDTV broadcasts with an antenna. Miracast lets you enjoy mobile-to-TV wireless mirroring.
Lacks optical zoom, and unable to change region from US.
Quite portable – can fit in your pocket or the palm of your hand. Rechargeable and easy to set up. Has an HDMI port. Comes with a mini tripod and lifetime customer support.
Picture quality isn't very sharp, and getting it in focus can be a hassle. Light is dim. Isn't compatible with all smartphones, especially some Android devices.
Stands out for its ability to run on batteries for hours. Offers bright projection, especially in low-light settings. Easy to set up and convenient for use with multiple files. Comes at a mid-range price point.
We found that the focus control is difficult to use. The design is bulkier than similar models on the market.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
The general rule with technology is that after a new gadget comes out, if it’s popular, it will eventually evolve and get smaller. The first cell phones were bigger than bricks, and now most models are pocket-size. Even laptops used to be enormous monstrosities that required a gym membership just to lift, but nowadays they’re thin, light, and able to fit in any bag. One of our favorite technologies to get the shrink treatment is projectors.
Projectors started out as large, noisy affairs, and they were originally so expensive that most consumers couldn’t afford one. But time has passed, and they’re now more affordable than ever, and, naturally, smaller, giving us a brand-new product category: the mini projector.
Mini projectors are exactly what they sound like: tiny projectors that can connect to any source and create a giant image on a wall or projection screen. Mini projectors are ideal if you need to take one when you travel or you just don’t have a lot of space. And they don’t compromise much in terms of features when compared to full-size models.
Whether you’re looking for a pint-size projector for your apartment, or you need a projector that can go on business trips with you, you’re in the right spot. Here’s everything you need to know to find the right mini projector for you. And check out our favorites when you’re ready to buy.
Before you start comparing specifications or looking at different models, start by answering these questions. They’ll point you in the right direction and help you find the right mini projector more quickly.
Projector images are measured diagonally, so start by using a tape measure on the surface where you’ll be projecting to define your ideal image size. Mini projectors can produce images that measure from 60 to 170 inches, so you have a lot of options.
If you plan to use your mini projector at home, the image resolution should be a high priority so your movies and TV shows look as good as they can (we recommend getting a mini projector with a minimum native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p). If you’ll just be using your mini projector for work or imagery like presentations and screen sharing, you don’t need one with a high native resolution, so you can probably get by with a more affordable model.
Mini projectors offer several versatile applications that you just can’t get from a standard projector, including the following:
Business presentations can be set up “on the fly” by linking your mini projector to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can easily showcase websites, apps, photo galleries, and more to a group of coworkers.
You can easily bring your mini projector to classrooms, auditoriums, or other functions where you might be presenting to a group.
You can take this portable unit to a friend’s house for movie night or to the park for a group gaming session after sundown.
Never change a projector bulb again
We love the Optoma portable projector because it makes no compromises when it comes to delivering a full feature set and quality viewing experience. It’s got 720p native resolution, 700 lumens, and a 17ms response time, which means it’s great for gaming, too. But the killer feature here is the LED bulb, which will never burn out like a traditional bulb. It also means the projector never runs hot, so there aren’t any noisy fans.
Some mini projectors look and feel like toys, while others offer high-end features to compete with their full-size equivalents. Here are the ones to prioritize.
Mini projector product pages can be deceptive: most claim support for 1080p resolution, but only certain models can truly display every pixel. Look for models that state a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. That means they project an image with that many pixels by default. When a mini projector says it supports 1080p but lists a lower native resolution (like 1280 x 720, or 720p), it means it can accept a 1080p source but will downgrade it to its native resolution of 720p when projecting.
Some mini projectors have USB ports, so you can connect a thumb drive with your favorite video and photo content for display. Whether it’s movies and shows you’ve downloaded or just your personal photo collection, it’s nice to be able to plug in a USB drive and have your content all ready to go.
Lumens are how projectors measure brightness. Lumen counts on mini projectors range from 100 to 1,000. If you’re going to be using your mini projector on a regular basis, we recommend getting one with at least 500 lumens so it’s adequately bright.
If you want above-average sound to go along with your mini projector, you’ll need to supply your own powered speakers, soundbar, or home theater system.
Mini projector setup can sometimes take a little know-how, so check different manufacturer support policies. If you run into issues or defective hardware, you’ll need to work with the support team, so read user reviews to see which manufacturers offer the best customer service and after-purchase support.
Some mini projectors include Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect your phone and stream audio through the projector’s built-in speaker. It’s convenient, but mini projector speakers often lack adequate bass. For the casual listener, it’s great for playing music. If you’re an audiophile, get a proper Bluetooth speaker.
Budget and entry-level models cost anywhere from $30 to $100. If you just need a mini projector for occasional use or for an event like a party, you’ll find a lot to like in this price range. These projectors have moderate lumen counts and typically a native resolution of 1280 x 720. If you’re not terribly picky, this is the price range to consider.
Most of the best values cost between $200 and $300. Mini projectors in this price range are the real deal – they look, feel, and act like full-size projectors; they’re just smaller. If you’re looking for a mini projector that will last you several years and produce a gorgeous image, you’ll need to spend this much.
Premium models start at $500 and go up from there. Models in this price bracket usually have high lumen counts (so they’re incredibly bright), high native resolutions (so they can natively display any video source), and, in some cases, they include an onboard operating system such as Android so you can stream content directly.
Buy a projection screen or consider using projector paint. Don’t forget that you’re going to need a projection surface! If you’re building a home theater or outfitting a conference room, pick up a projection screen. If you need a cheaper solution, consider projection paint, which is specially formulated to be reflective so you can project directly onto a blank wall.
Consider a mini projector with a built-in rechargeable battery. If you’ll be taking your mini projector with you to lots of places that may not have a power outlet, consider getting one with a built-in rechargeable battery. Some mini projectors call themselves “portable” because they’re small and include a case, but many of these models still require a power outlet, which limits their mobility. If you need a truly portable mini projector, get one that has a built-in battery. These projectors let you screen your favorite content no matter where you are.
We’re big fans of the Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector because it offers such an impressive feature set in such a small package. It’s got an LED bulb, so you don’t need to replace it, and it even has DLNA and AirPlay on board for wireless streaming from your smartphone. It’s got enough technical chops to keep up with its full-size counterparts but manages to do it all from within a frame that’s just 18 inches square. The TOPVISION 2400Lux Mini Projector is a solid performer with a feature we wish every projector came with: easy smartphone connectivity. The onboard software makes it a snap to play videos from your phone in no time at all (just be forewarned that it only works with your personal video and audio and won’t work with apps like Netflix or YouTube). If you need an easy way to show off your personal content from your phone, this is the one to get.
Q. A lot of mini projectors have device compatibility lists, but I don’t see the devices I own on any of those lists. Will I still be able to use a mini projector?
A. Yes. Mini projectors use HDMI ports to connect to AV components like cable set-top boxes, game consoles, and streaming boxes. HDMI ports are generic, so your mini projector will be able to handle any source that comes in via HDMI. In the instances where you find product pages that list support for specific HDMI devices, they’re simply providing extra reassurance to consumers about compatibility.
Q. Why do product listings for mini projectors include a number of hours?
A. Most mini projector product listing include an hour count to indicate how long a typical projector bulb will last before needing to be replaced. Projector bulbs can be quite expensive, so picking the right one can make a big difference in terms of your long-term cost of ownership.
Q. What’s the easiest way to show my phone’s screen as a projector image?
A. It depends on the projector, but usually the simplest way to connect your phone to a projector is to find an HDMI adapter. One of these connects to your phone on one end (via USB-C for Android phones and via a Lightning cable for iPhones) and creates a port so you can connect a standard HDMI cable. That’s typically the most reliable method, but if you want to share your screen wirelessly, look for a mini projector that runs Android. With an Android-enabled mini projector, you can use any one of the screen-sharing apps from the Google Play store.
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