The 8 Best Mini Projectors of 2021

Home or office? Why not both?

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
You can basically drop this projector anywhere and it will just work.
Smaller is better when it comes to carrying something around, and the smallest one on our list is the Apeman M4.
The Vankyo Leisure 3 is a good budget option that will work well in your home, assuming you have a sufficiently dark room.
Best for Business:
Optoma ML750ST at Amazon
The tiny size and bright, high contrast picture make this a great buy for any road warrior who needs to take their presentations with them.
This is a neat projector that fits in your back pocket and keeps itself protected when it's in transit.
It’s bright and contains a good amount of contrast, so the colors appear vibrant.
Best for 4K:
AAXA 4K1 LED at Amazon
If you're looking for 4K resolution in a small package, this is a great option.
Best for Gaming:
BenQ HT2050A at Amazon
If you're looking for the final piece for your gaming room, this would be a nice addition.

The best portable projectors give you a sharp quality picture, wherever you need it. Portable projectors need to be able to travel with you easily. Many homes and offices use some kind of projection system for meetings or entertainment. But those permanent or semi-permanent installations are stuck where you put them.

Mini projectors are designed to go with you. You can set them up in the office for a PowerPoint, or you want to put it on your living room table for a family movie night. It can be a portable presentation machine anywhere you need it. 

The key is to find the right balance between features and size. Any one of these projectors can be tossed into a bag or come with some kind of carrying case. They have different features, so you might want to brush up on your terminologies such as nits, brightness, and lumens before you dive in.

Best Overall: Anker Nebula Capsule II

The Anker Nebula Capsule is our pick for best overall mini projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Image Quality
    4/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Built in Android OS

  • Autofocus/keystone technology

  • Built in Google Assistant

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Android 9

  • Only 720p

On a mini projector's list, portability has to be one of the biggest considerations, and while the Anker Nebula Capsule II has a lot going for it, portability is tops on the list. It's basically the size of a 12 oz soda can. That's great for two reasons. First, it means it's not big at all, but even better, most bags have a spot dedicated to carrying around drinking containers, and this projector slots right in. You just need to be careful of the glass on the lens. 

Further, the projector comes with its own Android operating system. It's Android 9, and honestly, we'd like to see something a little more up-to-date. But with that operating system comes Google Assistant, so the projector can serve as a de facto Google Home too. It's only 720p and for the price this projector commands, we'd like to see at least 1080p as well. Another nice feature is the autofocus/vertical keystone correction which means you can basically drop this projector anywhere and it will just work.

Overall, we really like the Nebula Capsule II, and if you have a little extra money, you can check out the Nebula II/Star Wars tie in which is downright adorable.

Resolution: 720p | Brightness: 200 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: Not listed | Projection Size: 40 to 100 inches

"Perfect for those looking for a portable projector with lots of bells and whistles." — Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Anker Nebula Capsule II

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos

Best Portable: APEMAN M4 Mini Portable Projector

The apeman M4 is our pick for best Portable mini projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    3/5
  • Connectivity
    2/5
What We Like
  • Very small

  • Good sound

  • Built-in-battery

  • Includes tripod

  • 1080p

What We Don't Like
  • Very dim

  • Battery Life

One key factor in portability is size. Smaller is better when it comes to carrying something around, and the smallest one on our list is the Apeman M4. It's about the size of a larger battery pack and despite that size, it comes packed with surprisingly high-quality sound. Unfortunately, the small size also translates to a fairly dim picture.  You will want as little light in the room as possible. 

The projector comes with a 3,400 mAh battery which will usually just barely get you through a full 2-hour movie, but not much more. You can also charge your phone off of that battery, but obviously, that will mean less power for the projector itself.

Connect devices to the projector using HDMI or USB. The included tripod gives you a ton of range of motion for setting it up. The default resolution for the projector is 480p but it can project up to 1080p depending on the source. The projector is small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, which makes it ideal for hikers and campers.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 50 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 2000:1 | Projection Size: 30 to 100 inches

"If you value extreme portability over raw power, the Apeman Projector M4 provides a sleek, modern design you can fit in your pocket with surprisingly solid image- and audio quality for its size." Eric Watson, Product Tester

Apeman Projector M4

Lifewire / Claire Cohen

Best Budget: Vankyo Leisure 3

The Vankyo projector is a very portable projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    1/5
  • Connectivity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Included carrying case

  • Multiple input options

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Could be brighter

  • Hard to aim

As its name suggests, the Vankyo Leisure 3 is designed to be used in the home, but it comes with a carry case so you can easily take it with you on the road. There are lots of input options including VGA, HMDI, USB, microSD, RCA, and more. That being said, the projector isn't too bright, as our reviewer, Benjamin notes, "The bulb is not very bright, though, and the only way to get a decent projection is in a very dark room. We weren’t really satisfied until we closed the blackout curtains and had very little ambient light around us."

The projector is also a little hard to set up. There are no feet on the bottom for leveling, and there's only a single post for vertical adjustment. You may need to prop up the projector to get the image where you want it to go. All that being said it's hard to argue with the price.

The Vankyo Leisure 3 is a good budget option that will work well in your home, assuming you have a sufficiently dark room. If you do, you'll get a sharp, 1080p picture with good color and a 2000:1 contrast ratio.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 2400 lumens | Contrast Ratio: 2000:1 | Projection Size: 32 to 176 inches

"The Vankyo Leisure 3 is a good value for its level of quality and a very popular option, mostly because it is so affordable." Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Vankyo Leisure 3

Lifewire / Katie Dundas

Best for Business: Optoma ML750ST

The Optoma ML7520 is our pick for best business mini projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    2/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Bright colors

  • Short throw lens

  • Carrying case

What We Don't Like
  • Wireless component sold separately

  • Expensive

Photos of the Optoma ML750ST don't show how deceptively small the projector actually is. It's incredibly portable and, by the way, it's also a short-throw projector.  A short-throw projector means you can have the projector close to the projection surface and it will still be a large image. In the case of the Optoma, that's a 100" projection at less than six feet away.

Its size is especially deceptive considering the power packed into the projector. It shines at 700 ANSI lumens with a 20,000:1 contrast ratio. It's ideal for business presentations on the go because it's small, powerful, and sharp with bright colors. You'll want to make sure your presentation room is as dark as possible though.

The projector is very pricey which makes the lack of wireless connectivity disappointing. What's borderline infuriating is that Optoma sells a wireless dongle you can add for an additional cost. All the same the tiny size and bright, high contrast picture make this a great buy for any road warrior who needs to take their presentations with them.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 700 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 20,000:1 | Projection Size: 16 to 135 inches

"The Optoma ML750ST is a solid compromise between the power of a full projector and the portability and size of a mini-projector." Eric Watson, Product Tester

Optoma ML750ST

Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Best Design: ViewSonic M1+ Smart Projector

The Viewsonic M1+ Smart projector is our pick for Best design mini projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Multifunction stand

  • Great battery life

  • Good sound

What We Don't Like
  • 480p resolution

  • Auto keystone glitches

The Viewsonic M1+ Smart projector is a highly portable projector with some neat tricks up its sleeves. But first, let's get the downers out of the way. It tops out at 480p and the automatic keystone adjustment can be glitchy as well. Neither of those is awesome, but the rest of the projector is very well done.

Right off the bat, it has a sharp picture with an exceptionally high 120,000:1 Contrast ratio. It has a long-lasting battery at around 6 hours, and it accepts input from microSD, USB-C, HDMI, 3.5mm, and USB-A. But the reason this projector scores high marks in the design department is because of its clean look and its kickstand.

The kickstand is built into the projector itself and it closes over the lens, protecting the lens while the device is in transit. When the projector is in use, the kickstand acts as a well-balanced prop to set the projector on and aim it as high as you need it to go. It has an autofocus feature which isn't great, but our reviewer Hayley mentions that the autofocus tends to focus and then refocus several times, but also notes that's common in projectors with the feature.

Overall, this is a neat projector that fits in your back pocket and keeps itself protected when it's in transit.

Resolution: 480p | Brightness: 300 lumens | Contrast Ratio: 120,000:1 | Projection Size: Up to 100 inches

"Perfect for those looking for a portable projector with both practical and bonus features." Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

ViewSonic M1+ Portable Projector

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos 

Best for Travel: AAXA P7 LED Projector

The AAXA P7 LED projector is our pick for Best for Travel mini projector.

Our Ratings
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    2/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Multiple input options

  • Long LED life

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life

  • Included tripod is not great

  • Bad audio

The best projector to travel with is going to work in most conditions and fit easily into a travel bag. The AAXA P7 does that very well. The tiny almost-cube measures just 4 x 4 x 3 inches (LWH) and has a lot of input options including HDMI, USB, microSD, AV, and mini-VGA. Put simply, it'll work with any device you come across on your trip from computers to Bluray players and everything in between. 

The sound isn't very loud, so make sure you use the projector in a quiet room if you're watching a movie. Also, you'll probably have to plug into power since the battery only lasts about 90 minutes. The projector comes with a tripod for easy setup, but it's not a very sturdy tripod so be sure you have a solid base.

You'll get 30,000 hours out of the LED bulb, and our reviewer Hayley says you'll get "picture quality similar to that of what you see in a modern HDTV...It’s bright and contains a good amount of contrast, so the colors appear vibrant." That's good news for those looking for a projector to hit the road with you.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 600 lumens | Contrast Ratio: Not listed | Projection Size: Up to 120 inches

"The AAXA P7 LED Projector might be worth the price to a specific buyer. However, it won’t beat out other solutions on sound or image quality for those who aren’t picky cinema viewers and who aren’t fazed by the price tag." — Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

AAXA P7 Projector

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos

Best for 4K: AAXA 4K1 LED Home Theater Projector

AAXA 4K1 LED Home Theater Projector
What we like
  • Sharp picture

  • Good brightness

  • Dual HDMI inputs

  • Focus and keystone controls on the remote

What we don't like
  • Finicky remote

  • Too quiet audio

  • No feet or prop to aim

  • Keystone controls are not very responsive

Just because we're talking about mini projectors doesn't mean we can't include a little 4K love. The AAXA 4k1 mini projector is only slightly bigger than your open hand, but it comes with a sharp 4K picture that is bright and crisp. The low contrast ratio is made up for in the resolution. You have multiple input options including USB-A and two HDMI 2.0 ports. There's an aux output for speakers and a headphone output as well, which is good because the built-in dual speakers are way too quiet.

The remote is a nice addition because it includes focus, volume, and keystone adjustment controls. That means you can adjust all of that from far away. Unfortunately, the IR receiver for the remote is recessed making for a finicky experience. The keystone controls on the remote are too fine since it takes a lot of adjustment to square up the picture. There are also no feet to prop up or aim the picture.

But if you're looking for 4K resolution in a small package, this is a great option.

Resolution: 4K | Brightness: 1500 lumens | Contrast Ratio: 2000:1 | Projection Size: Up to 300 inches

Best for Gaming: BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Low input lag

  • 2,200 lumens

  • Many input options

What We Don't Like
  • Not portable

  • Mounting brackets sold separately

Sure, you can use a projector for a movie or a presentation, but let's not forget about gaming. Gamers have one particular need and that's low input lag. If your projector is taking too much time to process the image that your gaming rig is putting out, that's never a good thing. The BenQ HT2050A is designed for low latency input that won't slow you down on the battlefield or wherever your gaming takes you. 

At 2,200 lumens, this is the brightest projector on our list which means you'll get a good picture even when it's not perfectly dark. Plus, you'll be able to blast away your enemies on a screen that is up to 300 inches with a high contrast ratio and great colors. That's power. Plus you can connect with two HDMI ports, RCA, VGA, and MicroSD.

The projector isn't terribly portable; there's no case for it or anything. There's also no mounting bracket included and at this price point, we'd like to see BenQ commit one way or the other. But if you're looking for the final piece for your gaming room, this would be a nice addition.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 2200 lumens | Contrast Ratio: 15000:1 | Projection Size: Up to 300 inches

"It offers 1080P resolution and 2,200 lumens and produces a crisp and vibrant picture."Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

BenQ HT2050A

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos 

Final Verdict

Overall, we love the compact portability of the Anker Nebula Capsule II. It was just made to be toted around anywhere you cared to go. The built-in Android operating system is what puts it over the top for us. It's a great thing when you don't have to plug anything into it to start watching content.


If you want something even smaller, we also love the Viewsonic M1+. The long battery life alone sets it apart from most mini projectors. The fact that it was built with portability in mind ratchets it up a level for us.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade and is also the creator and host of the Benefit of the Doud podcast, which reviews and discusses popular technology.

Hayley Prokos has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, focused on travel-friendly consumer technology. She reviewed several of the portable projectors on this list, including the AAXA P7, ViewSonic M1+, Anker Nebula Capsule II, and others.

Benjamin Zeman has written for Lifewire since 2019 and boasts 20 years of experience in the tech industry. He reviewed the Vankyo Leisure 3, a portable and popular projector.

Eric Watson has years of experience as a freelance reviewer for tech and gaming websites like PC Gamer and Polygon. He's written for Lifewire since 2019 and reviewed several of the projectors on its list, particularly the Apeman NM4 and Optomo ML750ST.

FAQs

What's the difference between ANSI lumens and lumens?

Lumens are a measurement of luminous flux, or the observed power of light. ANSI lumens are measured as per the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute, which means that the light is measured the exact same way every time. It gives you a more exact figure as to how projectors compare with one another. Other measures of lumens are valid, but they're not as strictly controlled.

Do you need a screen to use a projector?

Typically you will get a much better picture if you use a projection screen, however it's not strictly necessary. You can use a blank, white wall as a screen and it'll work just fine. Keep in mind that the wall's color will have an effect on the colors from the picture. For example, a tan wall will skew colors toward the brown range.

Can you get a projector instead of a TV?

Yes! Good projectors will sometimes offer a better picture than a TV would. Plus, it has the benefit of going away when you're not watching it. You can roll up a screen, or even just cast your projection onto a white wall and not have to worry about a screen. Many projectors, including most of the ones in this list, take the same kinds of inputs as a TV, too.

APEMAN NM4 Mini Portable Projector

Lifewire / Claire Cohen

"Placement, regular maintenance, and transportation are important qualities to extending the lifespan of your projector. Keeping the projector in a relatively dust-free space helps keep the air filter and vents clean. Cleaning your projector’s filter every few months is also important in maintaining the projector’s temperature." — Carlos Regonesi, Senior Product Manager, Epson America Inc.

What to Look For in a Mini Projector

Contrast Ratio

You've probably seen some contrast ratios that look like 1,000:1, or 10,000:1. The contrast ratio is defined as the difference between the brightest color possible and the darkest color possible.  The bigger the difference, the more the projector will differentiate between colors. Lower contrast ratios will result in pictures that look either too dark or washed out. Contrast ratio is denoted as "XXX:1". The higher the first number is, the better.

Brightness

Obviously, how bright your picture is will determine how dark your environment has to be in order to watch. Brightness is measured in lumens or ANSI lumens (See above). A brighter picture is more visible even when there's a lot of ambient light. Generally speaking, a higher brightness is better.

"When purchasing a projector, shoppers need to be cautious of misleading metrics listed as 'Lux,' 'LED lumens,' 'Lamp Brightness,' or 'brightness at the source' that fail to provide useful information about on-screen light output performance." — Carlos Regonesi, Senior Product Manager, Epson America Inc.

Battery/Battery Life

One of the benefits you'll get from a portable projector is the ability to set it down anywhere and go. Batteries ensure you don't even have to worry about a power source. If you want to get through a movie, look for a battery life that exceeds 2 hours. Obviously, in this case, higher is better, because it gives you more freedom of placement.

Anker Nebula Capsule II

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos

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