Buy Portable Projector
I have over a decade of experience reviewing TVs, projectors, and other video devices. I was formerly the video editor and primary TV tester for HomeTheaterReview.com, and previously contributed TV coverage to Home Theater Magazine, Electronic House, and other publications. I am an Imaging Science Foundation Level II Certified Video Calibrator, and I have the full complement of objective testing gear to measure and evaluate the performance of these projectors.
buy portable projector
Portability: We give strong preference to projectors that can run on battery power, although we are willing to consider models that omit this feature if they seem particularly strong in other areas. Some portable models lack a battery but can run on a portable USB-C power bank, which is almost as good. We require all the projectors we consider to be at least small and light enough to carry between rooms and to put in a backpack or suitcase. A carrying handle or included travel case is a big plus.
After these measurements are complete, we spend several hours using each projector, evaluating the picture quality of both the internal apps (if they exist) and connected sources. We primarily project the image onto an Elite Screens matte-white screen, as opposed to a wall, because that provides the best viewing experience.
Kodak Luma 450: This especially petite 1080p projector costs about the same as our top pick. It has Wi-Fi and Android 9.0 (but not Android TV) built in to stream content from apps such as Hulu and Netflix, as well as autofocus and keystone adjustments and a built-in battery rated for up to three hours of playback time. Unfortunately, its claimed light output is only 200 ANSI lumens, below the minimum we set for consideration in this guide, so we did not test it.
Not too long ago, the concept of having a projector small enough to take with you in your bag, let alone in your pocket, was just wishful thinking. But as projectors have come down in size, portable models have come into their own, making it possible for you to project your data and video anywhere you go. (Even if "anywhere" these days just means around the house.)
Portable projectors come in various size classes: Some are small compared to others. Pico or pocket projectors are a little larger than smartphones. Because most of them can accommodate videos and photos for on-the-go entertainment (in addition to slides and charts for business or classroom presentations), these models can be thought of as multimedia display systems. Though convenient and snazzy, they tend to be of low brightness and relatively expensive for their performance.
So-called palmtop projectors are larger (and generally brighter) than pico projectors, typically a bit too large to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, even with your fingers outstretched. Still, they are lightweight enough that you wouldn't think twice about packing one in a bag or a backpack. Most are brighter than pico models, and have more connection options.
Most pico and palmtop projectors can run files from a USB thumb drive and/or SD card, so you don't need to lug your laptop with them. (If you do want to bring a laptop with you, though, check out our roundup of the best ultraportable laptops.) Some even have up to 8GB of internal memory for storing media files. Many can project content from a smartphone or tablet, either wirelessly or via an HDMI port that supports Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). A growing number offer USB-C connectivity. Many models come with built-in rechargeable batteries so you can use them away from a power outlet.
Many manufacturers have introduced mini projectors that are generally a bit larger than palmtops, but considerably brighter. They pack a relatively high resolution, and their larger frames let them include more physical ports than their smaller brethren.
The next step up from these, thin-and-light projectors, are as wide, deep, and bright as standard models but barely an inch thick, and they weigh in at about 4 pounds. They are highly portable, but you pay a premium for their svelteness, and they usually have a limited set of connection choices.
Pico projectors have low brightness (from less than 50 to up to several hundred ANSI lumens). They generally have low resolution, often 854 by 480 pixels (aka FWVGA or 480p), with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This combination limits their effective use to projecting onto a small screen in a darkened room, with optimal image sizes ranging from 24 to 48 inches, measured diagonally. If too much ambient light is present, or the image is enlarged too much, it will look washed out and detail will be lost.
Although a few palmtop projectors have a brightness of less than a hundred lumens, most fall in the range of 200 to 600 lumens. Some palmtops have 480p or lower resolution, and a few have resolutions up to 1080p (1,920 by 1,080), but most are 720p (1,280 by 720 pixels). Their optimal image size tends to be between 36 and 60 inches, depending on their brightness and resolution. Slightly larger mini-projectors can have brightnesses of 1,000 lumens or more. Thin-and-lights and standard-sized portable models are often in the 3,000-lumen range, use standard projector screens, and can tolerate ambient light.
We have seen a few small laser-based projectors and a smattering of liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) models. However, the vast majority of pico, palmtop, and other small projectors are LED-based, and most use TI's Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology in their light engines. LEDs have exceptionally long lifetimes and are generally rated for 20,000 hours or more, so the light source should last the lifetime of the projector. Single-chip DLP projectors often show potentially annoying rainbow artifacts (little red/green/blue flashes), but this so-called "rainbow effect" tends to be more of a problem in standard projectors than in pico or palmtop models.
We have lately seen a growing number of small multimedia projectors that can double as Bluetooth speakers. When you switch one of these projectors to Bluetooth mode, it operates purely as a speaker. In that capacity, it can play music streamed from a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as your mobile device or computer. When you want to use it a projector, you just switch it into Projector mode.
Many recent consumer-oriented small projectors (including some Bluetooth-speaker models) incorporate their own Android operating system. Although most pack standard Android builds, we have also seen ones running the Android TV OS. Android-based projectors let users run pre-installed apps (such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix), download more from the Google Play store, and perform other standard Android functions.
The pandemic may have kept most projectors at home over the last few years, but now is a good time to make sure your tech will be ready to hit the road. Whether you're a business traveler who makes presentations at multiple venues, or you want to share movies and photos with friends in person, late-model portable projectors up to the task. Just make sure you pick one that's designed for the images you're projecting and the space you'll be in.
The projectors we highlight here are relatively lightweight, with the heaviest weighing just more than 2 pounds and the lightest right around 3 ounces. They vary considerably in size, brightness, features, and performance. Any one of these could be your favorite travel companion.
Portable projectors do come with some drawbacks, though. One is that many are relatively dim, lacking the brightness of a traditional home theater projector. Meaning they can't project as large an image as the big guys. Another is that most portable projectors, especially the cheapest ones, often have lower resolution than their larger counterparts, especially 4K projectors. If you're never going to be far from an outlet, a standard projector will get you a much bigger, brighter and better image for similar money. But if you want something compact, portable and maybe battery-powered, here are our top picks for the best mini projector.
The Mars II Pro is our favorite portable projector here due to its light output, overall image quality, ease of use and affordable price. This mobile device is a bit bigger than most other portable projectors here, but still small enough to hide completely under a six-pack of Coke.
The built-in 12,500-mAh battery is good for about three-and-a-half hours, longer if you just run it as a Bluetooth speaker. There are apps built in, some of which consider the Mars II a portable device, meaning you can download content to its 8GB internal memory for offline watching. The faux-leather strap also makes carrying the outdoor projector around super easy.
I like the top projector better but the AAXA P6X is my pick when money is tight. Not only is it less expensive than the Anker above, it's also brighter with superior battery life. This mini projector fits in my hand, creates a 720p image, and has a huge 15,000-mAh battery. An HDMI input and USB connection lets you connect and power a streaming stick. The stick connection is important because the AAXA lacks built-in apps.
Light output is impressive for its size and price, about 50% more than the Anker Mars II Pro, though its contrast ratio is a bit less. The internal battery should last around 90 minutes in the mini projector's brightest mode, and an impressive 240 minutes in Eco mode -- probably a little less if you're also powering a streaming stick. The internal speaker isn't great, but there's a headphone jack you can connect to a portable speaker.
The Xgimi Halo Plus is a little large to truly be considered "mini," but it is fairly small. "Easily portable" is probably a more accurate description. It projects a 1080p picture and has a two-and-a-half-hour battery. It has Android TV built-in, so streaming is far easier than with many other portables. It performs far better than most mini projectors, but it's also way bigger and costs a lot more. 041b061a72