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What are the features that make the best pico projector? When it comes to portable mini projectors, image quality is important. No matter the type, the best projectors in this category have 1080p or 4k native resolution, along with excellent dynamic range and vibrant color for playing high-quality video from mobile devices and streaming technologies.
Pico projectors are battery-operated, as you’ll find in our APEMAN NM4 mini portable projector review. This makes them the perfect solution for projecting content from a smartphone or laptop, no matter where you may be. They’re even great for entertaining the family while camping. For that reason, a portable pico projector needs plenty of connectivity options, including a wireless connection, USB, or Micro SD card. We recommend looking for a model with a battery life that’s up to the task of showing a full-length feature film.
Keep reading our pico projector buying guide to learn more about choosing the right model for you.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This amazingly slim and pocketable unit can travel with you to the office or easily pack away for a traveling display for enjoying your favorite media on the go. With a multitude of connectivity options, this is a great device for showcasing a presentation or elevating your art.
The KODAK RODPJS75 is an excellent choice for users looking for an easy-to-use portable presentation projector or bakers that want to elevate the designs on their fresh batch of cookies. With a pocketable design and a rechargeable internal battery, this model offers incredible portability that puts users in control of where and when to show off their latest work. While the native resolution isn’t great up close, you’ll still enjoy a fantastic color range and decent brightness for TV or movies at an appropriate distance.
In addition to portability and accurate colors, the KODAK RODPJS75 pico projector lets users stay flexible with an impressive array of connectivity options. While some devices may require an adapter, this projector offers HDMI so you can connect with most modern PCs and streaming sticks. Additionally, users can utilize storage media through USB or MicroSD for moments when the internet isn’t available, like while camping.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device features internal power that lasts up to two hours, and a simple interface that makes it accessible to a wide user base. With included extras and a plug-and-play setup, this small unit lets users travel light on a business trip or at the library.
The Magnasonic PP60 is a super lightweight and portable pico projector that is great for traveling professionals or minimalist entrepreneurs. This small unit provides users with up to a 60” screen, and the included cables, adapter, and tripod ensure that you’ll have what you need to impress clients or entertain a group of friends. While you cannot play media from a USB flash drive or MicroSD card, this projector supports most modern devices via an HDMI port.
In addition to portability and 1080p support, the Magnasonic PP60 contains a 2100mAh battery that lasts up to two hours, and you can use the projector while it charges via micro USB. Additionally, this projector is plug-and-play, so you can get a presentation running within minutes. The simple interface and onboard focus wheel ensure that even inexperienced tech users will enjoy playing their favorite media or outlining designs projected onto their drafting table.
Award: BEST FOR FAMILY NIGHT
WHY WE LIKE IT: This tiny unit packs a ton of features and connectivity options for users looking to enjoy a night with the family or showcase their latest presentation. With support for storage media, modern devices, and legacy formats, this device is a great all-rounder.
The PVO YG300Pro is an excellent pick for users who want an easy and portable option for workplace presentations or outdoor movie nights with friends and family. With multiple power options like wall outlets, car chargers, and power banks via micro-USB, you can take this projector wherever you want to enjoy a large screen. While there isn’t support for features like Wi-Fi screen mirroring or Bluetooth sound, you’ll still have a projector that can utilize streaming sticks or let you dust off your old VHS player.
In addition to portability and input options, the PVO YG300Pro also supports media from storage devices like USB flash drives, MicroSD cards, and larger external storage solutions. While the native resolution is 800×480, this device supports full HD 1080p content from modern streaming devices and game systems. In addition, thanks to the projector’s brightness, you can even enjoy your media in a partially lit room. Lastly, the included remote and onboard focus wheel ensure that you’ll get the best picture possible in any setup.
Award: BEST FOR MINIMALIST SETUPS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This small device features a good resolution and an impressive feature-set to supply users with a versatile tool for presentations or showing-off vacation photos. With an internal battery and wire-free connectivity options, this is an excellent device for the minimalist at heart.
The AKASO WT50 is a compelling option for traveling business people or users who want to do more with less. This ultra-portable pico projector touts an impressive 5000mAh battery that lasts up to three hours on a full charge, and the support for storage media means you can watch your digital media collection anywhere. While the included remote isn’t very responsive, the touch screen controls on the unit itself are intuitive and include trackpad support for browsing apps.
In addition to portability and storage media support, the AKASO WT50 natively runs Android, so you can download your favorite streaming apps and run them directly from the projector. Additionally, this unit supports dual-band wireless screen mirroring via Wi-Fi. With support for Bluetooth and 3.5mm audio jack connections, you can connect this unit to an external sound system. Lastly, this unit offers a large 120” max screen, and the automatic keystone correction ensures minimal adjustments for an even picture.
Award: BEST FOR TRAVELING PROFESSIONALS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact unit features native applications and wire-free screen mirroring so you can give an important presentation or enjoy streaming media during lunchtime. With multiple input options and internal power, you can work or play where you want to.
The PTVDISPLAY PTV-P81 Silver pico projector is a stellar pick for traveling professionals or users looking to enjoy their favorite media on the go. The native Android operating system lets users download streaming apps and tools directly to the projector, so they can have a wire-free experience. Additionally, this portable unit features an 854×480 native resolution and supports full HD 1080p content from streaming sticks or game consoles. While the internal audio is sub-par, you can use the 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth for enhanced sound.
In addition to native app support and modern resolutions, the PTVDISPLAY PTV-P81 Silver offers users dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity to mirror their smartphone’s display. Additionally, the internal battery lasts up to 3 hours on a full charge, and the support for storage media ensures that you can even use this unit when the internet isn’t available. Lastly, the touch controls on the unit are responsive and let you easily adjust the screen.
Award: BEST FOR KIDS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact and modern-looking unit features easy operation and multiple connectivity options to make the most of family night. With great brightness and support for modern resolutions, this unit ensures that you’ll never run out of things to watch on the big screen.
The ARTSEA M8 pico projector is a great pick for families looking to enjoy movie nights or users that want an expanded screen for game day. With support for full HD 1080p media, this unit is compatible with most modern game systems and streaming devices. In addition to HDMI connectivity, this unit offers AV support and storage media, so you’ll never run out of things to watch. While the projector lacks internal power, it remains lightweight and only requires a single power connection to operate.
In addition to image clarity and input options, the ARTSEA M8 pico projector provides a stellar 30” to 180” screen, and the included remote allows users to manually zoom in or out to suit the viewing environment. Additionally, the super-quiet cooling system allows the built-in stereo speakers to deliver clear audio so you won’t miss the important details. Lastly, this unit offers a great color range and decent brightness, so you can confidently showcase photos from your phone or a funny home movie.
Pico Projectors are tiny portable projectors, sometimes called pocket or mini projectors, which you can learn more about in our Artlii pico projector review. Ranging in size from something comparable to a smartphone to a small tablet or power bank, these miniature on-the-go devices can display streaming media from a laptop or mobile phone or files saved on SD cards. Many portable projectors offer wireless connectivity, and some feature up to several GB of internal memory for storing media files.
As the name implies, pico projectors stand out for their mini size relative to standard projectors. They may be as little as five inches across, while a typical projector for living rooms will measure around 12 by 15 inches. A compact projector is somewhere in between in size but will still be much larger than a true “pico” projector.
With a miniaturized, portable design, most pico projector models are specialized for on-the-go uses like picnics and outdoor events. They may have built-in speakers and battery in contrast to most home and cinema projectors, which rely on external speaker systems.
Pico projectors may not require a projector stand or mounting brackets, or they may come with small, folding projector stands.
Compared to other projectors, a pico projector is more likely to use wireless connectivity options or Bluetooth connectivity to feature internal memory and come with built-in support for streaming services.
When it comes to basic projection technology, both leading mini projectors and standard projectors use the same method. They all generally use an LCD screen, light source, and focusing lens. Pico models are usually short-throw projectors, meaning they sit closer to the screen.
An HD pico projector may have a similar resolution and detail sharpness to a larger standard projector. However, due to their compact size and the constraints of built-in battery power, most pocket projectors have a somewhat lower maximum level of brightness than you might find on a larger laser or LED projector.
Like most digital projectors today, pico projectors use an input, an internal LCD screen or set of LCD chips, and a light source. The light source illuminates the image on the LCD and projects it through the projector lens. The lens focuses the image onto a screen and is responsible for the throw distance and the image size.
In addition to this, you’ll often find they have extra features like a built-in rechargeable battery and built-in memory. Pico projectors are often smart projectors, meaning they have some internal media storage and playback capability. A smart Wi-Fi mini projector will have wireless capability and work with streaming media.
Along with wireless input options, mini projectors use various wired inputs. USB ports, HDMI, or HDMI mobile ports are common, and higher-end models often come with one or more USB-C inputs.
A portable projector may also come with internal speakers. Some models of HD pico projector offer a 360-degree speaker that delivers surprisingly capable audio quality.
A pico projector brings a whole new level of convenience and mobility to the world of projectors. These tiny, portable devices are the smallest and easiest way to create a cinematic viewing experience practically anywhere, with the largest screen size to device size ratio available.
You might use a pico projector or mini smart projector to share social media content, documents, and notes for a work meeting, for example. These versatile small projectors are also great for movie watching parties. With a battery-powered model, you can watch films, TV shows and videos just about anywhere.
Great for entertaining, small projectors can also add ambiance to a dance party. You may want to use one to project visuals on a wall or on the dance floor. Cookie and pastry decorating is another popular use for portable projectors.
Today’s portable movie projector and HD pico projector devices allow you to easily display a large image with excellent visual quality just about anywhere. Mini projectors, even high-output models with impressive brightness, tend to be less expensive than big-screen TVs or large monitors.
New pico and smart mini projectors have improved battery life for more extended video playtime and longer-lasting bulbs than older projectors. They may also feature higher resolution, with the same benefits of a compact design and built-in power source.
Current pico projectors may also include cutting-edge audio tech, such as a 360-degree speaker with room-filling sound quality. Plus, portable projectors with built-in battery packs benefit from continued advances in battery tech, enabling longer viewing times and higher image brightness.
On-the-Go Media: Pico or pocket projector devices are uniquely well-suited to entertaining on road trips and outdoor excursions. With built-in battery power and convenient connectivity options, they can show movies and streaming media on the road or just about anywhere.
Convenient Presentations: Portable projectors can be of use for work as well as entertainment. Easy-to-set up and able to display large images from a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, Micro SD card, and USB drive, a smart projector can be an excellent tool for presentations in a co-working space, at trade shows, and in the office.
Smaller Spaces: If you’re looking for a projector for movies at home and need a device with a short minimum throw distance, an HD pico projector or portable smart projector may be worth considering. These models tend to have a very short throw, meaning they require a smaller projection distance for a given projection size.
Outdoor Movie Nights: With compact designs, wireless capabilities, and built-in rechargeable battery power, modern pico projectors can play movies and other content outdoors. They may not be as bright as an auditorium projector, but you don’t need the brightest projector for a great viewing experience at night outdoors. Even a cheap pico projector will have plenty of brightness for low-ambient light conditions.
You Already Have a Large TV: If you’re not concerned with portability, a pico projector may not be for you. Still, having a big-screen TV may not necessarily outweigh all the reasons you might want a portable smart projector. With an ultra-compact and battery-powered projector, for example, you can take the cinematic, big-screen viewing or gaming experience on the road.
Larger Living Room Space: Larger spaces may be able to accommodate larger and brighter projectors. However, a large area doesn’t require a very bright projector unless you have tons of ambient light. A portable smart projector with HD resolution may provide ample picture quality along with easier placement and installation.
Concerns about Battery Life: Mini projectors with built-in battery packs might seem like a risky choice for longer movies, gaming, and work presentations. However, battery life has improved since the first generation of portable projectors, and the top-rated current models all offer at least two hours of viewing time. Moreover, portable projectors also give you the option of running them on AC power.
Pico projectors are still a relatively new class of products, with many of the oldest ones potentially still in use. However, given their components, it’s possible to estimate how long these devices should last.
General-use projectors for schools and theaters generally have an assumed lifetime of three to five years. In terms of home use, many projectors last much longer. Projector lamps may wear out quickly, depending on the model and type of light source. The average lifespan of projector bulbs can be anywhere from 1,500 hours for very bright conventional bulbs to about 20,000 hours for laser and low-power LED versions.
Pico projectors also use LCD screens, wireless and Bluetooth modules, and battery packs. Most use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries rated for 500 to 1500 charge cycles, and how long the battery lasts in practice depends on the frequency of use and the charging conditions.
To prolong the life of your mini projector, avoid charging it in very hot conditions. Store the projector indoors and in a cool, dry place, and keep the lens and fan vents clean. Very humid or dusty conditions can also increase wear and tear on projectors, so a cleaning kit may be worthwhile if you use a portable projector outdoors.
Various factors will help determine the best pico projector for your needs. If your priorities for use include travel and multimedia presentations, for example, then you might want to look for a model with excellent battery life and flexible connectivity options. If you’re mainly looking for a supplemental home theater projector, you might prioritize picture quality, brightness, and maximum resolution.
Depending on what media sources you use, you may need specific connectivity options and image settings on your projector. Some models advertise compatibility with particular smart TV and streaming modules, while others support easy smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth, which makes such models great candidates for top-rated smartphone projectors, and the leading iPhone projectors.
If you’re mostly looking to integrate a pico projector with your current home theater setup or workspace, you may already have wireless or bookshelf speakers. In that case, the audio quality of a projector’s built-in speaker may not be a top priority. On the other hand, those looking for a portable media device for traveling may rely on internal speakers.
If you want a projector to display clear images in a typical conference room or home office space, you may want anywhere from a 1000 to 4000 lumens brightness rating. Conversely, a few hundred lumens of brightness may be plenty for short-throw projectors in a dark environment or at night outdoors.
Another factor to consider is what screen size or image size you’re looking to get. Along with your plans for placing the projector, the screen size determines what kind of projector lens and throw ratio you need. In the product description, most portable projectors list the throw ratio, minimum projection distance, or minimum throw distance.
In general, pico projectors benefit from their compact size and extreme portability. Small enough to easily fit in a backpack or day bag, they're great for travel and camping. They also usually have a built-in battery and built-in speakers, making them easier to set up than a traditional projector.
It depends on your needs and what kind of spaces in which you want to project images. For close-up projection, if using a projector for cookie decoration, for example, you might not need more than a hundred lumens or so. For movie viewing, most experts recommend at least 1,000 lumens.
Pico projectors are relatively simple to set up. First, determine what surface you’ll be projecting the image onto, place the projector at the right distance, and adjust the lens until the test image is focused. Depending on the media source, you'll want to plug in your micro SD card, USB drive, USB-C cable, or other wired connection, or activate the built-in wireless or Bluetooth transmitter, then pair it with whatever device you're using to stream media.
It depends on what uses you have in mind. Most pico projectors have a small amount of internal memory, with some models having the option of using a micro SD card as their storage medium. Typically, they have enough room for office documents, photo sets, slideshows, and short videos, but not for longer video content. If you're looking to watch movies and TV shows on it, you'll likely need a wired or wireless connection to another device.
For mini projectors, the image quality can vary highly, even with the same native resolution ratings. In general, the bigger the image you want, the higher resolution you'll need to have good picture quality. For example, many HD projectors look good at 60 to 100 inches, whereas a 720p mini projector may be better suited to a smaller image.