Best Portable LED Projectors

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best portable LED projectors

Sharing your favorite movies, TV shows,  games, and memories with friends and family is a special experience, but TVs and computers have limits. When you can’t bring a TV with you, or you want to venture outside your house — even if it’s to the backyard — a portable LED projector can enable everyone to enjoy your favorite media.

Portable LED projectors are compact, easily transported devices that project content against a wall, screen, or other backdrop. They have multiple outlets and ports to connect to various devices, such as laptops, smartphones, or USB drives. They may also hook up to gaming consoles or connect via Bluetooth or WiFi to play media wirelessly.

Notably, these devices are easy to pack up and take with you to enjoy when camping, at a park, or on a patio. They can also be set up in a room to create a bigger image when necessary, up to 10, 12, or even 16 feet (measured diagonally). Portable LED projectors vary in device compatibility, size, price, and other features, and we can help you figure out which one is right for you. Check out our favorites, too.

portable led projector1
Technically, just about any LED projector is portable if you have a power source, but higher-end models may be too cumbersome and expensive to reasonably transport.

Key considerations

Resolution

Portable LED projectors list native resolution as well as maximum or compatible resolution.

Native resolution: This refers to the pixels in the image: more pixels means a sharper image. Most have a native resolution of 800 x 480 or 1280 x 720. These are common pixel ratios on TVs and monitors and denote the standard resolution each projector uses. 

Maximum resolution: This is not what the device could project, which is a common misunderstanding; it’s the resolution the projector can accept as an input. The projector will scale down the resolution of your content to its native resolution, provided your content doesn’t exceed the maximum. Conversely, if you have low-quality content, the projector will scale it up.

Most portable projectors don’t have Full HD resolution (1980 x 1080) or 4K or Ultra HD (3840 x 2160). Some support HD (1280 x 720). There are very expensive projectors that support Full HD and even 4K, but they are meant to be stationary, likely installed in a conference room or home theater

Uses

As a result of its relative limitations, portable LED projectors are best used for enjoying content more casually. You should be less focused on how the picture looks or the audio sounds and more about the experience. That’s in part because portable LED projectors work well outdoors, be it at a park, campground, backyard, or even the beach. If you have a flat, light-colored surface on which to project the image and the environment is dark enough, you have the perfect place to set up a portable LED projector.

Screen

If you intend to use the projector outside, you need some type of screen. Consider the monetary investment as well as the energy it takes to acquire and erect a portable outdoor screen. You need a screen of an appropriate size for the image your projector casts. Also, wind or mud may affect its setup and use. Some screens are exclusively for indoor use; some are designed for both indoor and outdoor setup.

Portable LED projectors can also cast the image on a wall, provided that wall is flat, light-colored, and unadorned. A projector is useful in rooms where there is no TV, or when the weather prohibits outdoor use.

Throw ratio

Be sure to check the portable LED projector’s throw ratio, the distance between the lens and the screen. For example, a throw ratio of 1.2:1 means 1.2 feet between the lens and screen, and 1 foot of screen width. Most projectors work best between 4 and 8 feet from the screen, and cast an image that’s anywhere between 6 and 16 feet (measured diagonally), depending on its power. However, viewing from the maximum distance will likely diminish the quality of the image. Keep this in mind when thinking about the number of people who may be watching the screen at one time.

Ports

Note the ports available on the projector as well as those available on your devices. HDMI, AV, and USB are among the most common ports, and you should find them on most portable LED projectors. Some laptops may have only a micro HDMI output slot, for example, and some newer or less expensive speakers may not have a cable output at all, requiring Bluetooth for connection. Make sure you have all the necessary cables and connections to make everything work smoothly.

As the projector moves farther from the screen, the image becomes bigger and blurrier. Moving the projector closer to the screen produces a smaller, more focused image.

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Features

Bag

Some portable LED projectors come with a bag for carrying and to protect the equipment, useful if you plan to take the projector with you often. It’s also a handy and safe way to store the projector when it’s not in use and keep all the cords and accessories with it.

Wireless

More expensive portable LED projectors enable you to connect wirelessly, either through WiFi or Bluetooth. This adds convenience, allowing you to cast from a smartphone or tablet and connect to a portable speaker without lots of cables. Look for this option if you plan to take your projector when camping.

Remote control

Some portable LED projectors come with a remote control; however, batteries are likely not included.

Accessories

Outdoor projector screen: Jaeil PLM Portable Outdoor Screen
You need a screen to go with your new portable LED projector, and we recommend this versatile option that comes with a stand and can also hang on the wall.

Bluetooth speaker: Bose Soundlink Resolve
For the best entertainment experience, you need a portable Bluetooth speaker that provides high-quality sound. This Bose option offers deep, immersive sound.

portable led projector2
DID YOU KNOW?
Light-emitting diode (LED) projectors cast their image from high-quality bulbs, most of which are guaranteed to last 10 to 20 years, by which time you’ll be ready an upgrade!
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Portable LED projector prices

Inexpensive: For less than $100, you can find a very compact, quality portable LED projector with decent native resolution. Projectors in this price range emphasize convenience and portability and likely won’t have wireless capabilities or high-quality sound.

Mid-range: For between $100 and $200, you can find quality projectors with additional features, either battery operated or wireless. These may be slightly larger or more compact for easy transport. The native resolution varies with these models.

Expensive: For over $200, and even over $300, the portable LED projectors are likely wireless, with a large viewing screen and throw ratio. A higher native resolution allows you to cast more detailed content.

Tips

  • Turn off the lights. The projection is best enjoyed in total darkness. Any lights, aside from maybe the moon and stars, will interfere with the image.
  • Pair the projector with an external speaker. These projectors are designed with visuals and portability in mind, not audio. Some may have decent sound, but they don’t compare to a proper Bluetooth speaker.
  • Consider the power source. If your portable LED projector needs to be connected to an outlet, make sure you have an extension cord and power supply nearby. Some use batteries or can be charged with a portable USB charger.
  • Be patient. The idea of watching a movie outdoors is appealing, but it takes some time and work to position the projector, connect the cords, hang the screen, and set up a viewing space. Take your time!

You need a portable projector and screen for outdoor viewing. However, a speaker, folding chairs, blankets, and popcorn can help make your outdoor movie night special.

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Other products we considered

There are plenty of portable LED projectors available, and we have a few more options for you. We recommend the compact yet powerful Meer Mini Projector, which comes at an inexpensive price point and connects to multiple devices, though it has a low native resolution. Another easily portable LED projector with a lower price tag is the APEMAN LC350 Video Projector, which is ideal for small gatherings and events. Finally, be sure to check out the QKK Mini Projector. It features two USB slots, includes a remote control and tripod, and has decent native resolution and Full HD support.

portable led projector3
Any flat, light-colored surface can be used as a screen. You can even lie on the floor and cast the image on the ceiling.

FAQ

Q. What are lumens?

A. A lumen is the measure of the quantity of visible light per unit of time. LED projectors, among other electronics, include lumens in their specs. Most portable LED projectors have anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 lumens, though more expensive models have 6,000 lumens or more. The more lumens, the brighter the projected image. More than 5,000 should be bright enough in a room with some daylight, while roughly 3,000 is sufficiently bright for a room with some ambient light.

Q. Are portable LED projectors safe for outdoor use?

A. While portable LED projectors can be enjoyed outdoors, they are not made to withstand the elements. They aren’t waterproof, nor are they made to absorb shock or handle dirt, dust, or debris. Unless covered, the projector shouldn’t be used if it’s raining, and it should be protected from wind.

Q. How do I get the best quality image with my projector?

A. Connecting your projector to an HDMI cable, which can support HD and UHD content, will get you the highest-quality image. An AV cable will produce content of lesser quality. The quality of images cast wirelessly won’t be as good as through a cable because it relies on the speed and efficiency of the WiFi signal. However, while most projectors accept HD content, the content is downgraded to the projector’s native resolution.

 

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