The 8 Best Cheap Projectors to Buy in 2018

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

When you want to create a movie theater-like atmosphere in your home, even the biggest TVs won't make the cut, so it's best to spring for a projector. But there’s a wide catalogue of projectors with different attributes ranging from screen resolution outputs, projection display sizes and cost, so it can be hard to know which one to buy. To help, we’ve put together the top eight projectors under $600, so whether you're looking for the highest resolution picture or something more affordable and user-friendly, there’s a projector for everyone.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Not only is the iCodis G1 mobile pico projector small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it offers 1080p viewing at 30fps in a package that’s just 8.5 ounces. With 30,000 hours of LED life, and a projection display size up to 120 inches (thanks to the 100 ANSI lumen bulb), the G1 more than meets the “definition” of a mini projector. Powered by Android 4.4, the G1 has a rechargeable battery that can run for up to 110 minutes.

Setup is a simple. Just connect to your WiFi network and then select your preferred option for playback. The G1 is also capable of connection to a standard tripod (and comes with a mini tripod) for easy mounting and stable viewing. The microSD slot allows for easy movie selection or you just can choose to stream over Miracast or Airplay or connect via the included HDMI cable. Fortunately, the G1 is more than just a movie projector as it handily doubles as a Powerpoint presentation tool for meetings.

The onboard speakers won’t knock your socks off, but the bigger the speakers you can connect, the better your overall experience will be. The vast array of connectivity options alongside the battery backup make the iCodis G1 an easy to recommend projector that fits in your pocket.

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

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