The 11 Best Cheap Projectors to Buy in 2018

Turn your home into a top-notch movie theater with these projectors

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We’ve rounded up the best budget-friendly projectors, all of which can be purchased for under $600. Here you’ll find mini options, our 4K favorites, all-in-ones, and more. We’ve even tested the most in-demand models, analyzing factors like resolution, brightness, and battery life. Look for our Tested by Lifewire seal to get our honest feedback.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP

Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.6

The Optoma HD142X handles 3D content swimmingly and it’s a great 2D projector, too. It has 1080p HD resolution, a screen-size range of 66 inches to 107 inches and a brightness of 3000 lumens, so it will work in a wide variety of rooms and settings. As for connections, it has two HDMI ports (one with MHL), one USB port, one 3D sync port, as well as an audio output, so you can connect a decent pair of speakers or a sound system. Amazon reviewers have been quite happy with this model and have raved about its general picture quality, rich color reproduction, minimal fan noise and good 3D projection on movies like ​Avatar, Thor and Godzilla.

Best Mini: APEMAN Mini DLP Projector

4.4

Nothing sets a camping trip or a backyard party apart like a handheld, battery-powered, mini projector, and for right around $200, this option from APEMAN gives you an amazing picture, by mini or full-sized standards. First let’s talk about that DLP tech, which gives you the crisp picture: APEMAN explains that DLP will give you a better digitally rendered picture than LCD technology, resulting in more striking colors and a crisper picture (and reviews seem to support that). And at less than an inch thick and just over one pound, this little device can be slipped into your backpack with ease. It’s powered by a 3,400 mAh battery which the manufacturer clocks at about 120 minutes of projection time (so you’ll have to keep that in mind when considering movies to watch). Plus, they’ve loaded in a low-noise cooling fan, all the necessary inputs from HDMI to USB and even a bottom-oriented tripod mount.

Check out our other reviews of the best mini projectors available on the market today.

Best Budget: OCDAY 2800 Lumens Video Projector

OCDAY 2800 Lumens Video Projector
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3.6

The best standard projector to buy on a budget is the OCDAY 2800. The device measures just 13.2 x 4.6 x 10.3 inches and weighs 4.6 pounds, but it does a lot in a relatively small and portable package. The OCDAY 2800 projects at 1280x768 resolution (720p HD) with a brightness of 2800 lumens (which is bright enough for most rooms). It has a lot of flexibility, as it can project on screens between 50 and 200 inches and project three ways (front, rear and ceiling). The OCDAY 2800 also has built-in speakers (we wouldn’t rely on them exclusively for sound) and inputs for HDMI, USB, AV, VGA and YPbPr.La. Just be sure to keep in mind that because of the pricing, the OCDAY 2800 isn’t going to blow you away, but it will likely do enough to keep you happy.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: RIF6 CUBE Pico Projector

Don’t let its size deceive you: This cute two-inch CUBE projector made of weightless aluminum is capable of projecting up to 120 inches of vivid display. It has a native resolution of 854 x 480 and a throw ratio of 1.99:1, which together yield pretty decent picture quality, but with just 50 lumens of brightness, you’ll want to limit viewing to very dark environments. The battery will last you 90 minutes, though you can use the CUBE while charging, so there’s no need to break for intermission.

Compatible with all HDMI/MHL devices, it’s hands-down one of the most practical and portable projectors on the market. It works seamlessly with streaming devices and even comes with a flexible tripod to make setup a cinch.

Best New Release: Epson VS250 SVGA 3,200 Lumens

The Epson VS250 3LCD Projector provides a color and white brightness of 3,200 lumens, making it suitable for a lasting accurate and vivid color display in better-lit environments. Despite its 800 x 600 resolution, the projector is compatible with HDMI for both digital video and audio. Unlike many other projectors on the market, Epson provides one of the longest lasting lamp lives of any projector, maxing out at 10,000 hours.

Though you’ll find more compact projectors, it measures 3.2 x 11.9 x 9.2 inches and weighs 5.3 pounds, making it small enough for decent ease in transportation. The projector also includes a one-touch instant off button as well a sleep mode so you can pause your presentation without turning it off.

Many Amazon users praise the projector for its brightness and easy setup; it’s a good entry-level projector for ease of use and for presenting business applications as well as watching movies and videos at home. More critical Amazon reviewers have mentioned that its 800 x 600 SVGA resolution seems a little dated and should be upgraded to a better display. 

Runner-Up, Best Budget: iDGLAX IDG787W

When you’re looking at budget projectors, it's expected that you’ll have to make some concessions. In most cases, you’ll sacrifice resolution (which is the case here) but, unlike many other inexpensive projectors,  the iDGLAX doesn't sacrifice lumens. This projector only has a resolution of 800x480, so even though it is compatible with 1080p files, you aren’t going to get the full pixel count. But they’ve somehow managed to work in 2,000 lumens of brightness — which is almost unheard of for such cheap models — allowing you to project movies and media even during the day (though you’ll obviously get the best results in a dark room). The aspect ratio gives you the option between 16:9 or 4:3, and there are 15 degrees of keystone correction for a bit of added flexibility on mount locations.

Best for Versatility: LG PH150G LED Projector

LG PH150G LED Projector with Built-in Battery 130 lumens
Courtesy of Walmart.com

This little projector from LG gives you a nice middle ground between a massive home movie setup and a portable presentation device. The 130-lumen brightness isn’t going offer you the brilliance needed for daytime movies, but it makes up for it with a few other choice features. The LED projection gives you full HD resolution of 1280 x 720 and an aspect ratio of 100,000:1, which is pretty crisp, provided you have a dark enough room and a big enough screen/wall.

LG touts the LED illumination system as giving you the further benefit of having to replace the lamp far less frequently. They promise 30,000 hours of life, which compared to traditional projector bulbs that need be replaced every 3,000 hours, is pretty impressive. That factor is extra important here ​because projector lamps are very expensive aspects of a projector system.

But, the other feature that really puts this unit over the top in terms of versatility is its portability. LG gives you the option to operate the unit plugged in or pulling power from the internal battery, which will give you 2.5 hours of projector use. That’s a great feature if you want to throw this projector into your backpack and bring it to a business presentation.

The wireless functionality is extended further via the proprietary LG screen sharing capability and the ability to connect to an external Bluetooth speaker. With those two features, you could even bring this projector somewhere remote for a movie night, such as a camping trip.

Best Wi-Fi Connectivity: Epson Home Cinema 740HD

For a low-cost home theater projector, the Epson Home Cinema 740HD is surprisingly well-endowed. It delivers high-definition images along with 3000 lumens of white and color brightness, making it perfect for rooms that have ambient light. On top of that, the 740HD has built-in speakers, an HD 1280 x 800 native resolution, up to a 15,000:1 contrast ratio and a 1.30 to 1.56:1 throw ratio.

As far as connectivity goes, there’s not a lot the 740HD can’t do. It has one HDMI, one USB (type A) for accessing photos and videos on USB flash drives, one USB Type B, one set of analog audio inputs, one S-Video, one Composite and one PC monitor input. It works with your DVD or Blu-ray player, your satellite box, as well as your streaming sticks such as Roku or Chromecast. Still not confident about a purchase? You can rest easy knowing Epson promises a two-year warranty.

Runner-Up, Best WiFi Connectivity: Epson EX7240 Pro Wireless WXGA 3LCD

Epson EX7240 Pro Wireless WXGA 3LCD
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Epson’s EX7240 Pro Wireless WXGA 3LCD Projector is an easy choice for our pick as the runner-up, best wireless projector. Perfect for a small to midsize room, the 3,200 lumens can project a 215 to 292-inch image at the Epson’s native 16:10 ratio in theater-dark lighting. Switch to more average ambient lighting and you’ll find 140-inch images are excellent. At just 5.5 pounds, the EX7240 is average sized measuring 3.2 x 11.7 x 9.2 inches. Additionally, there’s MHL support, so you can stream from a Chromecast or Roku. Wireless setup is a snap with an on-screen QR code scanned by your phone, and HDMI connectivity provides easy sync with digital and video equipment. The EX7240 works to maximize your viewing time with a lamp that lasts up to 10,000 hours. The color quality is excellent, but caution against full-length movies. The lack of full-HD makes the EX7240 more suited to video clips, pictures and TV. The included two-watt speakers sound far better than anticipated, but the lack of audio output means you’re relying on a separate receiver or speaker system. If portability and suitable brightness alongside wireless connectivity are your main focus, the EX7240 is a fantastic solution.

Best 4K: Nebula Mars Portable Cinema

Nebula Mars Portable Cinema
 Newegg

Designed as a portable, battery-powered projector meant for popup situations and use during camping trips, the Nebula Mars Portable Cinema has a sneaky little benefit buried in its specs: It has 1280 x 800 true resolution, as well as 3000-lumen brightness paired with 4K compatibility.

Those are pretty impressive numbers for a sub-four-pound device that’s meant to be packed in your duffel bag. It connects via USB, HDMI, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you’ll have no shortage of ways to get your entertainment on to the system. Right onboard are a pair of 10-watt JBL speakers. The battery is 19,500 mAh and will last you about 3 hours on full blast, which will be enough for a full movie night. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices and it will even offer 3D film viewing. So, while it isn’t quite the workhorse of the other projectors on this list, it gives you a much cheaper gateway into the 4K projector market than any other brand we’ve found.

See more reviews of our favorite 4K and 1080P projectors available for purchase.

Best All-in-One: AAXA Technologies P4-X Android Projector

If you’re looking for a projector that leaves a lot of the fuss out of streaming media, then this AAXA gives you a portable, affordable option that might just check off all your boxes. The Pico projector is built with a high brightness optical engine that gives you a pretty high number of lumens – 175 to be exact – especially for a projector that fits in the palm of your hands. The lamp itself is made up of 20,000 LEDs, and they’re powered by an internal lithium ion battery that will last you up to 90 minutes.

It offers a max resolution of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is a lot crisper than some of the other models at this price point. But the best part of this unit is its standalone, internal media player with a super powerful ARM processor. It’s loaded up with an Android OS that is fully connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, meaning you can stream from a variety of apps, including Netflix, Youtube, ESPN, Facebook, and more, all without the need to plug it in or connect to an external media player. It all comes in a tiny package that’s only 1.2 x 2.8 x 5.5 inches, so it’s a pretty impressive feature set for its size. And, at less than half a pound, the thing won’t weigh down your backpack either.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 43 hours testing three of the most popular budget projectors on the market. They played games, watched TV, and streamed their favorite movies. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these cheap projectors and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Cheap Projector

Lumens - The brighter the room you’re projecting in, the brighter the projector you’ll need to make the picture viewable. Even in a dark home theater, a low light output will result in a fuzzy image. To ensure the projector is bright enough for your needs, check the lumens rating, which tells you how much light the device is capable of outputting. Generally, a projector with 1,000 lumens or more is suitable for home theater use, though room size, screen size, and ambient light will also play a factor.

Pixel density - The type of content you’re viewing will dictate what type of pixel density you need. For HDTV viewing, go for the highest native pixel count you can, preferably 1920x1080. For DVDs, 1024x768 should be ample. 4K is tough to find in a budget projector, but there are a few options out there.

Throw distance - Throw distance is the distance between the projector and the image on the screen. Some projectors have a short throw, intended for placement close to the screen, while others have a throw of 8+ feet, intended to be placed on the ceiling of a large room. Which one you need will depend on the layout of your room.

Want some more insights and recommendations when it comes to projectors? Check out our dedicated projector buying guide.

Test Results: Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP (Best Overall)

4.6

What We Like

  • Great projection quality

  • Screen size ranges from 66 to 107 inches

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like

  • Requires external audio to replicate theater experience

It may seem surprising that something that costs over $500 can be labeled “cheap,” but truly high-end projectors will often cost you thousands of dollars. The Optoma HD142X strikes the right balance between affordability and quality. Our Lifewire reviewers really put this model to the test by maxing out the throw distance, testing out the responsiveness, and poring over the image quality. One of our testers projected from the end of his driveway onto his garage and actually achieved a 130-inch projection that he described as “a very crisp display.” He added, “While testing, we were watching a Marvel movie, which was fast-paced and visually complex. The projector performed above average. It was a very enjoyable visual experience.”

Thought the picture quality is great, our reviewers suggest hooking up an external audio system to get the best sound. “The onboard speaker just doesn't have the range or the depth needed for an immersive movie experience,” one person said. And the setup experience was “a piece of cake,” according to one tester. “It’s easy to get your picture up on a screen in no time at all,” he noted.

Test Results: APEMAN Mini DLP Projector (Best Mini)

4.4

What We Like

  • Great sound quality

  • Easy to focus picture

  • Compact

  • Included mini tripod

What We Don't Like

  • Setup can be tricky

Apeman
Apeman projector
Apeman
Apeman
Apeman

Before you buy the Apeman, first find out how would attach an HDMI cable to your device. Do you need an additional adapter or is it a simple plug-and-play situation? One of our testers discovered that she would need to purchase a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter to play anything from her MacBook Air. It’s not a huge hassle, but it’s better to find out now before you sit down to enjoy your favorite movie. This projector does come with an HDMI cable, but it’s short, so our reviewers suggest getting a longer one if you need a little space between where your projector and device will sit.

Our testers got the Apeman set up and positioned, they loved it. It’s compact, displays a sharp picture, and has impressive audio abilities for such a small product. “It was like being in a movie theater in my own bed,” one person said. Our reviewers mentioned that there’s also a focus button on the side of the projector to help you adjust the image.

Test Results: OCDAY 2800 Lumens Video Projector (Best Budget)

3.6

What We Like

  • Quick to set up

  • Projection is bright

  • Good resolution

What We Don't Like

  • Audio isn’t great

  • Fan is loud

The OCDAY 2800 Lumens Video Projector is a straightforward plug-and-play projector that one of our testers described as “really very simple.” “I hooked up my Roku and was watching TV in seconds,” he said. You can also connect your computer via USB or VGA as well.

While most people never have any issues with this projector, unfortunately, one of our testers experienced off-and-on bugginess with the display and sound. He described the interruptions as “white flashes.” Like many of these other budget projector models, our reviewers suggest investing in a set of external speakers to give you the audio quality you would expect from a movie experience.