here’s something magical about sitting in a darkened movie theater and watching the action of the latest blockbuster unfold on the big screen. Whether it’s Jason Statham punching his way through several bad guys or the Rebel Alliance battling the evil Galactic Empire. The cinema sucks you right into the drama and excitement. We cannot get this from even the largest of televisions, which is why portable mini projectors are so well-liked.
Before we get into those, let’s be honest here. Who was a nervous wreck during the water cup in the car scene in Jurassic Park? On a huge screen, that scene with the people hiding from the T-Rex is incredibly intense and unnerving. The first time you experience it, it’s actually really thrilling.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to recreate the cinematic experience from the comfort of your own home. Who can blame you? While the movie theater is the best place to experience Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson taking on large monsters or large burning skyscrapers, it does come at a price. Tickets can be expensive, but it’s more than that.
They are incredibly loud, messy eaters are all over the place, and then you have those horrible people who talk in the theater during the film.
Portable mini projectors have become a viable option for people looking to enjoy movies and even TV shows on a big screen from the comfort of their own home. There are a ton to choose from, so in this guide, we’re going to help you out. Men’s Gear has found the best of the best, to deliver you the 13 best portable mini projectors on the market today.
Before we dive into our top picks, however, there are some important questions that need answers.
What are the Main Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Mini Projector?
As noted above, there’s a greater variety to choose from when it comes to portable mini projectors these days. There are far more today than there was in the past. They can also get relatively expensive. This is why we’ve realized people needed to know of the best ones.
We want you to get a good experience, such as great visuals and overall working ability out a projector. We’d hate to see you waste a dime on a bad one, bringing a bad name to a device that can be amazing.
To find the best portable mini projector for you then, you need to understand some of the main considerations to think about. We’re going to cut through the jargon and technical spec and discuss the most important things you should be aware of and why.
When it comes to size and portability, there are two options. Those are pico and palm-top. It’s important to understand the confusion that exists between the two sizes. Many palm-top manufacturers refer to their models as pocket projectors.
However, they have dimensions of around 2.5-5.0 inches, so the term pocket is metaphorical rather than actually a real size.
With the mini models, also known as pico, they have a cellphone-size and weight and are actually pocket-sized. This can be confusing, when one claims to be something it’s completely not. Yet if you know the difference between the two, it’s much easier to buy what you need.
Portable mini projectors might be great, but getting the wrong one can suck. Especially when it’s not the right size for you.
Type of Display Technology:
There’s currently two main kinds of projector display available, LCD and DLP. DLP or Digital Light Processing uses light that is passed through a color wheel. It is then reflected off tilting mirrors onto whatever screen you’re using.
While LCD or liquid crystal display projectors take the light and guide it through three colored chips, blue, green and red and onto a screen.
This is more of a technical thing, but it’s basically the same as your television. LED and LCD are the main ones there outside of 4K. These displays have to use certain light to get the picture they are going for. This means that portable mini projectors are doing the same thing a television does.
The difference comes down to the visual in the end as well as the ability to make an incredibly large picture. A TV, meanwhile, holds its picture inside its device.
Generally, to get the best quality, the native resolution of the projector should be paired with the resolution you normally use. A native resolution happens to be the number of physical pixels the projector’s chip has. The issue with portable mini projectors, like Picos and Palm-Tops, is that you don’t have the choice.
All palm-tops, for instance, are SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) often not even the standard of 800 by 600. They’re often 850 by 600. As a palm-top projector needs to scale even VGA (Video Graphics Array) images, the quality can be impaired.
While pico models provide more flexibility with the resolution though, they max out at around 640 by 480.
To help this, you can get something known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) under their DLP chip. It’ll officially be called a DMD-DLP Chip when you’re looking for it online or at a store. The addition of this to portable mini projectors can take their picture from a low video appearance to a resolution of 1280×720.
Of course, this will fall under two points where you might see a “p” or “i.” The P in this stands for “progressive” and the “I,” stands for integrated.
This is the pixel type a system is. Progressive is more of an open type that has pixels run up and down, allowing more color and freedom for bigger images with coverage of all. While Integrated is sharper and focused, with pixels running side to side. Yet they ignore some of the colors they could have in order to bring that sharp image for the important stuff.
Despite this, higher resolution of either pixel type will make the picture better overall.
Brightness in Lumens:
The curious thing about brightness though is that brighter doesn’t always mean better in standard projectors. This rule doesn’t apply to portable mini projectors. They don’t have a high enough number of Lumens to qualify as too bright. So, brightness with these is always better.
Basically, if you’re worried that projectors will come off like a television, they won’t. That is really the beauty of what they bring to the table. This allows them more freedom with their color, so brightness is always good for those who want certain types of images.
This is something that’s always mentioned alongside mini projectors. What does the contrast ratio refer to? The ratio of darkest and brightest areas that a projector can produce. Brighter higher ratios produce blacker blacks and whiter whites.
It’s important to note as a projector may produce a high number of Lumens, but the images will have a washed-out look if the contrast ratio is too low.
Those who have used cameras will understand contrast ratio and you can even find what they do on your own television. Find the contrast ratio you like there, and then try to use it for the projector. It’ll likely be a little darker than you want it. However, this will be a good starting point. You can then brighten it up to get to the level you want.
What are the Common Mistakes People Make When Buying Portable Mini Projectors?
There are a lot of pitfalls you need to try and avoid when buying a portable mini projector. Learn from the mistakes others have made. For instance, if you look at the portable projector listings on Amazon, you’ll see some ‘great’ bargain prices. Although these prices may look good, it’s worth remembering that looks can be deceiving.
Many of these are fake product descriptions promising more than the projector you actually receive is capable of.
A great example of this is when you see a projector with a reported 1000 Lumens that is seemingly available for just under $100. This should always ring alarm bells. The phrase “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”, comes to mind.
Aside from buying into the big promises at basement prices, other mistakes people tend to make involve putting too much priority on the brightness without considering the contrast ratio. Even if you have a projector with an astonishing Lumen count, and the contrast ratio is too low, all that brightness won’t make the display produced by the projector any better.
Another huge mistake people buying portable mini projectors often make is not paying for a quality item from a reputable brand. Obviously, keep your mind open to the possibility of buying one that’s not BenQ or Anker. However, you need to appreciate that the bigger brands are more reputable and popular for a reason.
Don’t just look at the price, the brightness, size, portability or even the contrast ratio. The best thing to do is to take it all into account and find the one that meets your needs and budget best.
How do I set up my Portable Mini Projector?
This is a justified question because in the past portable (and to be honest, their larger cousins) were known to be tricky to set-up. That’s on top of being incredibly expensive, bulky, and not nearly effective as you’d hope. Seriously, they were nothing short of a nightmare to get working.
However, those days are long gone. We’re incredibly happy about that ourselves. Many of the portable mini projectors we’ve included in our list can be used straight out of the box.
The only problems we can foresee with some of these projectors is that they can get a little fiddly. Of course, this depends on the connection options and the kind of devices you are looking to use with them. Most come with instruction manuals that should fully explain what you need to do and how.
It’s also recommended that you pay close attention to what’s included with the projector you’re interested in buying. This is because you may have to buy additional cables.
By and large, we selected many of these great products because they’re easy to use. No-one really wants to fuss with cables and complicated settings when they want to chill in front of the big screen.
We want to get that popcorn out, some cheesy nachos, and enjoy the latest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Jason Statham movie. There’s no time for a horrible setup experience due to this. You’ll want to watch them in their own film or against each other from that comfy sofa you’ve got.
These projectors will just that. Goodbye uncomfortable cinema seating, hello recliner! Without further ado then, we’ll kick things off with the first portable projector of the pack…
1) Optoma ML750ST Ultra-Compact 700 Lumen LED Projector
First on our list are these awesome short-throw portable mini projectors from Optoma. Texas Instruments are behind that DLP technology we mentioned earlier. It is used in this projector to produce razor-sharp images with stunning brightness and a beautiful mix of colors.
With 700 lumens, what would you expect?
Unlike projectors of old, this one relies on a LED-based light source, consisting of three modules – blue, green and red. Therefore, a color wheel is not required.
One of the major selling points of this pico projector is the fact it’s easy to connect to not just via HDMI and MHL, but wirelessly too. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in relaying some footage you recorded on your phone. You could even see your glorious battles in Clash of Clans on the big screen with the Optoma ML750ST.
At under one pound in weight, this palm-sized triumph from Optoma will blow you away. It’s also incredibly easy to use, so you won’t have a war on your hands trying to calibrate and get it working. Let’s leave the warring to the miniature-made-massive battlefields of CoC or COD (if you prefer) shall we?
2) BenQ WXGA Wireless LED Internet Portable Projector
Next up we have these pricier, but nevertheless efficient wireless portable mini projectors. You can use this device to project a screen as big as 75-inches from a distance of 3.3 feet away. Its brightness of 500 Lumens may not be as good as others on the market or this list.
However, it still helps this portable projector produce stunning images.
Thanks to its awesome plug-in and play technology, there is no need to connect the device to a separate Blu-Ray player or PC. You can just use the USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 ports and connect your mobile or flash drive. This small, but feature-filled projector offers so many different ways to view content.
This is not just via your own device as above, but also online using the built-in Android launcher. This launcher allows you to watch YouTube videos, surf the web, and stream the content you want.
Unlike many others out there, you don’t have to invest in a cumbersome set of external speakers, as the BenQ has its own 10W Bluetooth speaker. That means you’ll hear every punch, lightsaber swoosh, and witty one-liner.
Along with the shiny skin of Gal Gadot or Margot Robbie popping out at you or the shiny yellow paintwork of Bumblebee, you’ll also have the sounds to go along with it.
3) APEMAN Mini Portable Projector
The APEMAN Projector is much lower in price than the previous two models and therefore has a considerably lower brightness rating. It does rely on cutting-edge DLP technology though. This allows it to produce brighter projected images than LCD devices.
It may only be 1.2lbs in weight and fit right into your pocket, but it can support full HD projection of 1080p. It also benefits from a 1000:1 contrast ratio that ensures the image has a crisp quality to it.
Another awesome feature of these APEMAN portable mini projectors is that it gives you the option to use either the mains adaptor or the rechargeable battery. This means you can enjoy your favorite movies, games, and any other content you like to watch, wherever you are.
Think about the next time you want to watch something spooky like The Conjuring or a classic like Blair Witch Project. If you’re ever out in the middle of nowhere, you can do it with this portable mini projector.
You can connect just about any device you can think of to these portable mini projectors. That includes things like your smartphone, TV stick, camera, tablet, and even laptop. That’s all thanks to the MHL and HDMI ports. Whether it’s the aforementioned witch you’re wanting to watch or the big game on Monday Night, APEMAN provides plenty of options.
4) Anker Nebula Mars II Portable Projector
The Nebula Mars II is an upgraded version of the original Mars and has an incredible array of excellent features. Like most others in our guide, these portable mini projectors utilizes cutting-edge DLP technology for more vibrant and detailed images. The colors really pop out at you.
This truly helps make the experience even more authentic to that you’d get at the movie theater. Connectivity is obviously important and this is compatible with a wide variety of devices.
Would you like to fully immerse yourself in a blood-soaked COD campaign, experiencing the victory and defeat on your games room wall? Perhaps you want to snuggle up with your better half and enjoy the latest Game of Thrones episodes from the comfort of your bed?
You can do all this and more with the Mars II projector.
The flexible connectivity is made possible by the Mirrorcast software, and the Bluetooth, USB, and HDMI ports. It can be powered through the mains adaptor or the built-in rechargeable battery. This means you’ll have a full 4-hours of video playback, without the burden of cables.
Why not surprise your partner to a meal and movie under the stars or host the big match from your backyard? It’s easy to do with one of these Anker portable mini projectors.
5) APEMAN Upgraded Portable Projector
As an alternative to the DLP portable mini projectors above, the second APEMAN device on our list utilizes LCD image technology. It provides an impressive brightness level of 2200 lumens, which is among the highest around. The relatively low price with a high contrast rate cannot be ignored.
You would be best using it in a completely dark space, to get superior quality images.
The thing that really stands out about this is the multimedia connectivity. Whether you want to use your TV, laptop, Chromecast, Amazon Stick, smartphone or iOS device, you’ll be able to do so with this fantastic projector. There’s an SD card, USB port, and HDMI port.
Thanks to the 15 degrees manual keystone correction it’s easy to fix distorted images.
The remote control ensures you can control everything from the comfort of your lazy boy, gaming chair, or king-size bed. All in all, for the price and what it’s capable of doing, this is an ideal mini projector. Especially when trying to create a magical cinematic experience wherever you want.
6) Asus S1 200 HDMI/MHL Short-Throw Projector
Asus is best known and respected for their laptops, but this is a good entry into the portable mini projectors market. At just 1m away it can produce a 41-inch image with a brightness of 200 lumens. Although this is not the highest on the market, it is bright enough to bring out those vibrant colors.
Like others, it also benefits from DLP technology.
Remarkably, considering its capabilities, it’s extremely lightweight at under 1lb and fits nicely into the palm of your hand. There’s also no need to connect a speaker, as the Asus-branded Sonic Master enhanced speaker reproduces the sound authentically.
What’s more, it also features a 6000mAh rechargeable battery that provides 3-hours of projection time.
Connectivity-wise there is an MHL/HDMI port that enables you to connect a plethora of different devices. Maybe you’re looking to stream Deadpool 2 or Avengers: Infinity War on a long car journey. Perhaps, you just want a way to enjoy the dancing and team battles of Fortnite on a larger screen.
Regardless, the Asus S1 is perfect.
Although the USB port is not used for connecting devices. Interestingly, this allows your projector to double up as a power bank for charging devices. Ideal when you’re on the road.
7) ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector
If you’re looking for Wi-Fi-only portable mini projectors, the ZTE Spro 2 might be what you’re after. It comes with a 5-inch touchscreen display that is capable of producing a viewable screen of anything between 20-inch to 120-inch. Like others, it uses the great DLP technology for smooth running and sharp images.
The brightness of 200 lumens along with the amazing 4000:1 contrast ratio helps to ensure the picture quality is as detailed and authentically reproduced as possible.
When and if there are any issues with the quality of the image or distortion, the keystone correction and autofocus can fix it in a matter of seconds. That means, there’s no need to fiddle around too much with confusing settings that you don’t really understand.
You can connect and project anything with this device, whether it’s from the cloud, or mirroring a device using Miracast or the USB and HDMI ports. There’s also no need to worry about the sound, as there are dual JBL speakers on-board, that is capable of producing a powerful and rich sound.
Once you’ve used this projector, you’ll find it hard to watch something like Game of Thrones without it again.
8) APEMAN DLP Mini Projector
The third of the APEMAN portable mini projectors on our list is an exceptional device, to say the least. The manufacturer claims it is brighter than around 65% of rival projectors. The reason is due to its production of images with 4000 lumens and its contrast ratio of 1000:1.
With this, we are inclined to believe it’s certainly possible to have a brightness edge over rivals.
Utilizing advanced DLP technology, the colors are as vivid as you’d want them to be. Those decomposing corpses in The Walking Dead have never looked more chilling.
If you get this projector, you’ll be buying a very versatile device. You can connect various devices including Blu-Ray/DVD players, laptops, cameras, Firesticks, and PCs. Unlike some portable mini projectors, this actually comes with the HDMI cable. Though you’ll have to buy your own HDMI converter if you’re looking to use a smartphone or tablet.
It’s not just the brightness that this projector claims to outclass other models with, as it’s also 1/3 of the size of similarly priced devices. Even at such a small size though, it can still project an image as big as 100-inches.
Perfect for all those battle scenes in Westeros or while you watch Daryl survive another day after the Zombie Apocalypse.
9) Vankyo Leisure 3 Portable Projector
These Vankyo Leisure 3 are an update on the previous portable mini projectors from the manufacturer. It’s extremely affordable for the contrast ratio and brightness rating. Truly, your Netflix or Hulu streamed movies and shows will look crisp and smooth using this projector.
However, we do not advise using this for a school presentation.
You can enjoy all the action and suspense of the latest Man in the High Castle or let your girl enjoy Poldark smoldering on a bigger screen than ever before. Bigger is accurate as the Vankyo can project screens from 32-inches to 170-inches at distances of 4.9ft to 16.4ft away from the surface.
Are you planning a huge Fortnite party or do you have plans to campaign through Ironforge, and want to really feel part of it all? You need to consider Vankyo Leisure 3. It doesn’t matter whether you want to use your Amazon Firestick, your games console, or any one of numerous other devices, the Vankyo supports most.
10) Anker Nebula Capsule Portable Projector
Looking like a slick or can of body spray or Pepsi, the Nebula Capsule is reminiscent of the Amazon Echo. Although this won’t tell you jokes or tell you the temperature in Mozambique, it will provide you with a crisp projected image as big as 100-inches.
The great picture quality is possible thanks to its use of the DLP technology and the 100 lumens of brightness it provides.
With a 4-hour run-time on a full charge, these insanely portable mini projectors are the perfect companion for camping trips. Possibly great for times when you want to enjoy playing games, streaming content, and watching the latest blockbusters on a big screen on your own too.
Its external sound system will enhance your experience even more. Anker made sure sound is covered by the Capsule too. There’s an onboard 5W speaker that provides 360-degree sound, allowing you not to worry about sitting close, directly behind, or in front of the projector to benefit best.
Anker has also ensured that this projector will connect easily with virtually any device or service. This is perfect for big screen experiences with Fruit Ninja or Clash of Clans. It’s even better for streaming the latest episode of The Walking Dead, Anker has provided HDMI and USB ports to help.
This is on top of the ingenious Screen Mirror technology for projecting your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
11) LG PH550 Minibeam Projector
LG Electronics are the manufacturer behind the next portable mini projectors on our guide. They produce popular smartphones and televisions among other electronic devices. That means they’re suitably experienced to create an excellent portable mini projector that can be freaking awesome to use.
With the PH550 Minibeam projector, we definitely feel they have delivered.
It may look very unassuming, but trust us, this is a fantastic device. Capable of providing a projected image with a high-definition resolution of 1280 x 720, the brightness rating of 550 lumens ensures there are a crispness and sharpness to the images.
Although it’s not a short-throw projector, it’s still capable of a large display of 100-inches. This little beauty definitely packs a punch suitable for any blockbuster viewing. Maybe the Fast and Furious franchise is your thing or you want to get down to some modern warfare with Call of Duty.
Regardless, this projector is a great device to use for either.
12) AAXA Technologies P300 Pico Projector
AAXA Technologies have marketed the P300 Pico Projector as a true pocket projector and at only 5.9 by 3.9 by 1.6-inches. It’s energy-efficient and compact, only consuming under 25W. Positioned as a complete all-in-one system and will fit comfortably into your laptop bag, briefcase or purse.
It’s capable of projecting high-res videos and pictures.
There’s also plenty of options for connectivity. That includes VGA, Composite, and the standard HDMI.
It peaks over the others in terms of screen size 120-inches. Many of the others listed in our guide are not suited to professional presentations at work or in a school environment. Yet the AAXA Technologies projector is ideal for it.
Along with the mains power, there’s also a powerful built-in Lithium-ion battery. You can sit back and enjoy the football in a full high-definition display on a wall in your yard. You could even enjoy a more immersive gaming experience. Both are easy and possible with this device.
13) ELEPHAS LED Movie Projector
At under 2lbs, this is a lightweight projector that still manages to feel substantial and robust enough that it won’t break easily. Providing projected images of between 50 and 130-inches, it actually works best at 100-inches.
The contrast ratio of 1000:1 helps to ensure that the colors and images are crisp and clear. It is not perfect for all lighting setups, as it’s obviously best in darker settings. However, it can work in most of them without an issue.
The ELPHAS offers a wide array of options with VGA and HDMI ports to provide ultimate compatibility. An audio port is also included to add an extra dimension to your experience. Headphones can be hooked to this for personal experiences too.
We don’t recommend watching A Quiet Place with them on, that’ll be terrifying.
It’s also perfect for binge-watching Game of Thrones alone, or watching the big game and/or fight with your buddies. Your girl will love it too, as she can watch a soppy rom-com with you as you build brownie points. You’re welcome in advance.
This will give you that full movie theater experience wherever you want it. Even if you’re going on a camping trip to the middle of nowhere, you’ll still be able to enjoy it all. You’ll love the betrayal, intrigue, titillation, and dragons of GoT as much as you would at home on your TV.
Of course, we can’t mention the dragons enough. Think of the dragons, Carl.
Lights, Camera, Action!
There you have it guys, our picks of the 13 best portable mini projectors on the market today. 10 years ago, we probably wouldn’t have been able to provide such a diverse range of prices and devices. We hope you find the best projector for your needs from our selection, we’re sure you will though.
For us, there’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a movie from the comfort of our own homes. Especially without the hassle of ‘other moviegoers’ ruining the experience. With these, you have the power and flexibility to turn virtually any surface into a cinema screen.
Ready to see just how big and mighty those Jaegers are in Pacific Rim, or just how big and mighty The Rock is in general? You’ll be able to do that with one of these small and wondrous devices. Even if you’re looking to just enjoy the pleasure of ending your friends in Splatoon. you’ll love it.
These screens will almost make you feel each and every hit you give and take. Who could hate that?
More than anything else, we hope we’ve shown that purchasing a portable mini projector is not quite the minefield it used to be. There’s more than enough great devices to choose from across a wide spectrum of price points.
Although they can’t hope to compete with a full-size thing, for a more manageable price tag you can have a similar experience that is close enough to knock your socks off!