Whether you’re giving a corporate presentation or you just want to lie in bed and play Mario Kart on your ceiling, a good portable projector will let you turn virtually any surface into a screen for all kinds of media.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Portable Projector?
Projectors can be fairly expensive and come in a wide variety of options, so it’s important to consider what you need your projector to be able to do for you.
- Picture quality: Just like a TV, the image created by projectors varies in quality, and there are different kinds of projectors displays. The three main types of projectors are DLP, LED, and LCD. DLP projectors generally look sharper and are better with colors but usually need a darker room. LCD and LED projectors, however, can show clear images even in bright rooms and are typically much quieter. There are also laser projectors, which are the best of the best and their price tags definitely reflect that; they are brighter, clearer, and more expensive.
- Keystone adjusting: The angle the projector is at and the type of surface you’re projecting on can greatly distort the image. Usually, it’ll make the screen look more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. All projectors should have a way to fix this by adjusting the angle the beam comes out, horizontally and vertically, to account for the distortion.
- Brightness: Projectors work best when they are used in dark rooms, but obviously you’re not always going to have the perfect conditions. The brightness of the projectors bub, measured in lumens, will give you a decent idea of how well the projector will work under all kinds of conditions. The more lumens, the brighter the image.
- Viewing distance: You’ll want to consider the setting where you’re most likely going to use the projector and how far you’ll need the image to reach. Projectors are made to project an image only so far away before it begins to get blurry and out of focus.
- Input sources: Every projector should be able to use HDMI and USB as an input; some also have more options like cable antennas, USB-C, and the ability to cast from a phone or computer.
The Best Choice for Most People: Anker Nebula Mars II
If you’re looking to purchase a portable projector, the Nebula Mars II is the best thing on the market. Its interface uses Andriod 7.1, which provides a sleek experience that allows you to use all sorts of streaming apps and even wirelessly cast from your phone or tablet. Of course, it also comes with USB and HDMI compatibility, making it the complete package. The Mars II can operate for up to four hours on a single charge, letting you watch basically any movie or give a presentation without having to plug into an outlet.
The image on this thing is as great as its connectivity features. The Mars II uses a DLP projector that has a beautiful picture ranging from 30-150 inches in size depending on how far it is from the projection surface. It has a one-second auto-focus that will give you a crisp image you don’t have to manually adjust, and then after it also allows vertical and horizontal keystone adjusting to make sure its HD picture is squared up and not distorted. Portable projectors have never looked so good.
Nebula, by Anker, Mars II 300 ANSI Lumen Home Theater Portable Projector with 720p 30 to 150 Inch DLP Picture, Outdoor Projector, 10W Speakers, Android 7.1, 1-Second Autofocus, Movie Projector
The Anker Nebula Mars II is a nice portable projector that has both an excellent DLP picture and connectivity abilities that rival most standalone TVs.
The Budget Pick: Anker Nebula Capsule
Projectors are usually very expensive products, even smaller portable ones. If you’re on a budget but still want to take your presentations with you everywhere you go, the Nebula Capsule is an affordable option that will allow you to do just that. Another solid product from Anker, this projector is the size of a can of Coke but still packs quite a punch. The DLP projection isn’t as bright as the Mars II, but it gives a clean image that can display at up to 100 inches. The focus needs to be manually adjusted, but the Capsule makes it an incredibly easy thing to do. It also runs on Andriod 7.1 allowing you to download streaming apps and screencast while also having the standard HDMI and USB ports. You can take this thing with you anywhere, and it only weighs 15 ounces so it won’t hold you down.
Nebula Capsule, by Anker, Smart Wi-Fi Mini Projector, Black, 100 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector, 360° Speaker, Movie Projector, 100 Inch Picture, 4-Hour Video Playtime, Outdoor Projector-Watch Anywhere
The Anker Nebula Capsule will let you take a home theatre experience with you everywhere you go for an affordable price.
The Premium Pick: LG HF80LA
If you’re looking for a high-end portable projector, look no further than the LG HF80LA. Just like LG’s premium OLED TVs, this projector is the definition of luxury. This laser projector is capable of being insanely bright, letting you clearly watch the full HD picture in even the brightest rooms. Automatic keystone adjusting is included, but this projector also lets you manually adjust the position of all four corners of the display, giving you complete control over the shape of this 120-inch image.
This projector can connect to virtually anything through USB, HDMI, and wireless screen sharing from Andriod and Windows devices, but it doesn’t stop there. This mini home theatre also includes LG’s Smart TV program built-in to the device, allowing you to take full advantage of every feature the platform has to offer. If you’ve got the money to spend, this projector is the luxury option for portable home theatres.
LG HF80LA Laser Smart Home Theater CineBeam Projector (2019 Model - Class 1 Laser Product)
The LG HF80LA is one of the few portable laser projectors worth the extravagant cost. This projector will let you take your luxury media viewing experience with you everywhere you go.
The Best Smart Projector: LG PF50KA
If you’re in the market for compatibility and smart features, the LG PF50KA can play almost everything under the sun. This LED model from LG also comes fully enabled with LG’s Smart TV platform, giving you the full experience of an LG Smart TV that can easily fit into your bag and go anywhere with you. It can wirelessly cast in full HD from Android, Windows, and even iOS using a downloadable phone app. It also has two HDMI ports, a standard USB port, a USB-C port (for video and/or for charging), and has a cable antenna port, giving this projector the ability to completely replace your current Smart TV.
LG PF50KA Portable Full HD LED Smart Home Theater CineBeam Projector
The LG PF50KA is a smart projector that supports six different ways of watching content: USB, USB-C, HDMI, Cable, Wireless Casting, and LG's Smart TV Platform.
The Best Pocket Projector: ASUS ZenBeam E1
Projectors are pretty bulky, even the portable ones. If you want one you can truly carry on you everywhere, the ASUS ZenBeam E1 can even fit in your pocket. This tiny projector might weigh less than a pound, but it still packs some serious heat. The battery lasts for up to five hours and can also double as a 6000Mah power bank, meaning it can get through almost any movie and still have enough power to charge your phone afterward. The projector uses automatic keystone adjusting, but the focus needs to be adjusted manually. It can project a crisp 120-inch DLP image but, sadly, is only HDMI compatible due to its slim design and large battery. This projector is the perfect size to keep with you and turn any surface into your own personal screen.
ASUS ZenBeam E1 Pocket LED Projector, 150 Lumens, 6000mAh Battery, 5-hour Projection, Power Bank, Auto Keystone Correction, HDMI/MHL
The ASUS ZenBeam E1 is the perfect projector that can fit in your pocket. Take it with you anywhere and turn anything into a display or use it as a charging bank for your USB devices.