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To help you find the best cheap projector, one that is well suited to a home theater or business environment, we tested out a plethora of models, looking for products that delivered pristine HD visuals onto large canvases, erring on the side of projectors with high resolutions and just the right lumen capacity, with long-lasting bulbs. We were also looking for products that were easy to set up and easy to navigate, so easy that anyone could get it out of the box and set it up to watch their favorite movies or business presentations in minutes. We are looking for the best home theater projectors that you can get for your money that give you an immersive experience, and that can properly display a variety of scenarios like dark scenes or sports events. With our guide, you’ll have the most high-tech home entertainment, at a price point that doesn’t break the bank. However, if you want to check out more projectors, go to our best projectors guide.
Of the seven best cheap projectors on this list, the Epson VS250 projector certainly shined! It has the brightest projection, with an equal 3,200 lumens of both color brightness and white brightness output, helping to create a stellar, and easy-to-see, picture. This top business projector is simply perfect for business presentations, boasting 800 x 600 SVGA resolution, HDMI compatibility, and an easy-to-use zoom function. Keep reading to learn more about the Epson VS250 and the other projectors on this list. You’ll be ordering the best home theater projector before you know it.
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Epson VS250 boasts 3,200 lumens of equal color and white brightness, which helps it produce accurate, vivid color, even in well-lit rooms, with an 800 x 600 SVGA resolution, which we found to be adequate for all of the tasks we threw at it. This is the best projector to use in a business setting.
Unlike the Epson EF 100, the Epson VS250 Projector is simply a stunning budget projector that is just as ideal for streaming visuals in a business presentation as it is at home watching stunning images and movies on Netflix. The 800 x 600 SVGA resolution may not be true HD that you’d find on an HD projector, but the 3,200 lumens of equal color (color light output) and white brightness (white light output) allows the projected visuals to be seen in any room, no matter how brightly lit it is, a feature that helps offset the slightly lower-than-average pixel count. The included fan is also extremely quiet, with a power-saving mode that spits out just 28 dB of noise, eliminating the need for a projector hush box. This is ideal as a top-notched quiet projector.
We had this thing out of the box and set up in minutes, hooked up to a laptop via HDMI cable and projecting onto a wall. This Epson is PC and Mac compatible, and with the iProjection App and some Wi-Fi, you can project wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile device. That’s a great feature if you don’t have Apple or Android TV. Though it is easy to use, however, there are some limitations when it comes to functionality. As stated above, this product does not produce HD visuals, though you’d be hard-pressed to notice, though it does struggle with making small font sizes readable, something we noticed at 14pt and below. Despite the images not being HD, the picture quality of this projector is still extremely high. This is proof that you can get a lot in the best projector under $1000.
Award: Best Connection Options
WHY WE LIKE IT: The TOPVISION Mini Projector is absolutely rife with connection options, with the ability to stream content via any HDMI-enabled device, USB stick, and SD card, allowing smartphones and laptops to be plugged in via USB, which avoids the need for any special hookups. The extended feature set (keystone adjustments and more), and lengthy 2-year warranty makes this the best projector for folks looking for a product that will adjust to their preferred viewing habits.
The TOPVISION Mini Projector is a great entry-level product that is compatible with just about anything you can throw at it, including SD cards, USB sticks, and streaming devices, with smartphones and laptops able to be connected via USB cable in addition to HDMI. The projector features a contrast ratio of 2000:1 and a 16:10 aspect ratio with a maximum screen size of 176” and a native resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. The company throws in a two-year warranty and boasts that the LED bulbs are good for over 50,000 hours. Don’t forget about the best projector screen for your projector.
This projector is best, however, for dimly lit rooms, especially at night. We found the visuals to be slightly difficult to appreciate during the day, as sunlight poured in. We also noticed some blur around the edges of the screen, though the center was particularly crisp. This may not be ideal if you need the whole screen to be sharp and clear, like if you’re an artist and need something like a digital projector for artists specifically.
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: The AuKing Mini Projector offers some impressive features, including the ability to play content from a variety of sources at a maximum screen size of 170”, with 1080p support and a keystone correction feature, all at a very low price point. This is a great entry-level projector for consumers looking to get started with the hobby at a price that won’t break the bank.
The Auking Mini Projector is a nifty little unit that offers similar features to the competition at a much lower price point. It boasts a maximum display size of 170”, which is on the higher end, with decent built-in speakers and a proprietary cooling technology that keeps the internal fan quiet as can be. This great mini projector is compatible with USB drives, gaming consoles, HDMI-enabled devices, smartphones, and tablets, and it is light, coming in under three pounds, making it a great outdoor projector to take camping or to help host movie nights outside.
The project can play 1080p content, but the native resolution is actually 800 x 480 pixels, though the downgrade is barely noticeable. Similar to other lower-priced products on this list, this projector is absolutely perfect for nighttime viewing or viewing in a dimly lit room, but does not excel in brightly lit rooms, like other top projectors that work for daylight viewing do. To ensure that you get the best possible brightness by installing a projector close to the screen, go for the best ceiling-mounted projector.
Award: Best Speakers
WHY WE LIKE IT: The ELEPHAS Mini Projector comes with a pair of HiFi stereo speakers built-in which, to our ears, sound absolutely great and much better than the built-in speakers found with equatable products. It’s nice to come across a product in this price range where the integrated speakers can hold their own audio output and don’t call for investing more of your money into external speakers. This is a great product for people who want good sound out-of-the-box, without the necessity to plug into a home stereo system jack, though that is an option.
The ELEPHAS Mini Projector is a solidly built unit with some above-average stereo speakers, along with the option to add an external speaker via a 3.5mm output. It has a maximum display size of 180” and comes with the ability to send the projection in four different directions, maximizing your living or outdoor space. The company also throws in a three-year warranty and boasts that the LED bulbs are rated to last for 50,000 uses, which is tied for the longest bulb length on this list
Though the portable projector is not HD, maxing out at a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, we found the picture to be excellent, especially at night or in a dimly lit room. This product has the loudest fan on this list, however, though the noise was offset by the brilliance of the stereo speakers. Be sure to consider a short throw projector if your space is limited, and if you like mobile entertainment during your trips, then you might also want to check out the best iPhone projector.
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Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: The VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector can display content up to 170” and easily connects to USB, VGA, or HDMI devices ( smartphones, gaming consoles, laptops, or streaming devices), all the while projecting at 1080p for a promising 40,000 hours of bulb life, all at an extremely reasonable price point. This is the perfect projector for homes or offices for play and work.
The VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector displays visuals in glorious HD, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a maximum screen size of 170 inches, which is a nice boost versus projectors that have a 100-inch image limit on a 100-inch screen. The home projector is fully compatible with all major gaming systems and streaming devices, via HDMI, and smartphones (iPhone and Android), as long as you have an HDMI adapter that works with your device. The company also claims that the included bulbs will last through 40,000 hours of use (40,000 hours of LED lamp life), which means it will be years before you’ll be looking for a replacement product. This is a great feature, but if you’d prefer to avoid bulbs completely, you’ll probably want to look into a leading laser projector instead.
The projector is bright and well-contrasted and we had no trouble seeing the visuals in a well-lit room in the middle of the day, though the picture was much better at night. The built-in speaker sounded a bit tinny, though there are plenty of output options to run it through your home audio setup. Additionally, this product is intended for home use and is not recommended to be used with PowerPoint or other business applications. If you use it with anything else, there’s a chance you can wear it down faster, and then you’ll need to know how to repair the projector.
Alternatively, you could get the best 4K projector, like the Optoma HD, and pay a lot, but this one has enough features that you won’t have to. If this is not the best overhead projector for your home, read on to find a projector that works for you.
Award: Brightest Screen
WHY WE LIKE IT: The OKCOO Video Projector boasts a maximum screen size of 200”, by far the biggest on this list, and has 4500 lumens, making for a sharp and ultra-bright image that is perfect for both home and office use. This is the projector to buy if you are in need of a seriously bright display that can be viewed in just about any setting.
The OKCOO Video Projector’s main selling points are the ultra-large display, which maxes out at 200”, and the fact that the projector emits 4500 lumens, these features work together to produce some truly breathtaking visuals as you watch movies or play video games. On that note, the device boasts a large number of inputs, including HDMI, MicroSD, and USB, making it fully compatible with a large number of gadgets, gaming systems, and streaming devices, turning this home projector into a real entertainment hub. It also works with smartphones and tablets, but requires the purchase of an HDMI adapter.
The built-in speakers actually sound pretty good, though connecting to your home stereo is probably the better option as we thought the fan was slightly loud, though it wasn’t a huge disruption during my cinema experience while watching my favorite movie scene. We also found the adjustment capabilities to be somewhat limited, though it does have a keystone correction feature. It has many of the features that we also look for in the best mini projector.
There are many overhead projectors out there, with a ton of features and, also, limitations. Our primary concern as we ran through testing was to see how the display looked and whether or not it was watchable in both daylight and nighttime hours. Many of the above projectors are not 1080p, on paper, but if they offered a lower resolution, we made sure that it would be hardly noticeable to the eyes, favoring products with suitable brightness and contrast to make up the difference. If you’re trying to upgrade your home cinema, one of these projectors will definitely do the trick.
We also wanted to make sure that these projectors could work with a variety of input sources, with most of the above products offering connectivity via HDMI and USB and some offering SD card support and the ability to stream content wirelessly from a phone or tablet. We were also looking for quiet projectors whose fans would not interrupt family movie nights or business presentations. On that note, the above list offers a nice mix of projectors suitable for home or office use, with many options able to do both equally well.
Finally, we favored projectors that would last a long time, with bulbs that were rated for extended use, in some cases for decades, and products that offer lengthy warranties, in the two or three-year range.