The 9 Best Mini Projectors of 2021

Watch movies and give presentations with these portable mini projectors

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The Rundown
"One of the most versatile options for consuming media on the go."
"The inclusion of dual speakers adds to the audio-visual mix."
"Its simple plug-and-play setup makes it easy to attach a streaming stick, cable box, gaming console, or even a flash drive."
Best for Business:
Optoma ML750ST at Walmart
"With 700 lumens, it yields high color accuracy and produces a beautiful, bright picture."
"Beyond its ultra-streamlined aesthetics, this projector stands out for its integrated smart TV interface."
"This pint-sized device projects in 1080p resolution and can generate up to a 120-inch image in the right low-light conditions."
Most Versatile:
Elephas GC333 at Amazon
"A versatile and portable projector that can project a 120-inch image at its best quality."
Best for Gaming:
BenQ HT2050A at Amazon
"Boasts a high level of responsiveness with a low input lag (16ms) for an ultra-smooth gaming experience."
"This mini projector is compact and lightweight, and comes with a carrying handle for easy portability."

The best mini projectors should come in a compact size and have a light weight, allowing them to be easily carried in a backpack or taken on a trip for a presentation. Smaller projectors tend to make the trade-off of a shorter battery life and usually don't offer 4K resolution, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for low quality. There are plenty of options on this list that come with versatile connectivity options, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and integrated audio.

Some of the more sophisticated projectors here run an Android operating system, sparing you from needing to secure another media source and they can even work with game consoles. While a compact projector for outdoor viewing might be a challenge, there are a few on this list that can fit your needs. If you want a broader overview, make sure to check out our list of the best projectors.

Also, you should read our guide to nits, brightness and lumens before diving into our list of the best mini projectors available.

Best Overall: Anker Nebula Capsule II

Anker Nebula Capsule II
What We Like
  • Android 9 OS with 3,600 TV apps

  • High definition imaging

  • Autofocus technology

  • Voice-activated Google Assistant

  • Universal connectivity

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Less battery power than Nebula Capsule 1

  • Almost completely Wi-Fi dependent

More than an all-in-one small form factor projector, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is a grab-and-go entertainment setup, with speakers and all. Whereas the first-generation model introduced a built-in 5-watt speaker that, for all intents and purposes, was pretty loud for the price, the Capsule II steps that up. This time you can expect an 8-watt built-in speaker for even more power.

But that's not all. The company has also increased the resolution to 1280x720, putting it firmly in the HD realm. This is an upgrade from the 854x480 resolution of the previous-generation Anker Nebula Capsule, which admittedly is still a better bang for your buck. Then again, from the Anker Nebula Capsule II, you’ll get a much sharper image in a more compact package. Anker has also stepped up the brightness to 200 ANSI lumens, meaning you don't need to sit in the dark to enjoy its views.

Plus, with Chromecast capabilities built right in, you can cast content from more than 3,000 apps, making the Nebula Capsule II one of the most versatile options for consuming media on the go.

"The Anker Nebula Capsule II is a best-in-class mini projector—worth every penny for those who care about image quality, sound, and portability."Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Best Portable: APEMAN NM4 Mini Portable Projector

APEMAN NM4 Mini Portable Projector
What We Like
  • Small form factor

  • Impressive stereo sound

  • Rechargeable battery that can charge your mobile device

  • Includes mini-tripod

What We Don't Like
  • 2.5-hour battery life

  • Glossy surface easily smudged

  • HDMI only

Measuring 3.86 x 3.86 x .87 inches and weighing 1.2 pounds, the Apeman has 120 minutes of battery life courtesy of a 3400mAh battery. It's capable of projecting a screen size up to 100 inches on a wall. The 854 x 480 resolution isn’t quite Full HD quality, but video playback still looks fantastic. The inclusion of dual speakers adds to the audio-visual mix, while noticeably low fan noise allows for complete immersion in whatever is on the screen.

The 25,000 hours of LED life allows for 1,000 days of 24-hour video playback before the bulb will burn out. Adding HDMI cable and MHL support lets the Apeman connect directly to a laptop, smartphone, or tablet for easy plug-and-play use.

"For such a tiny projector, the Apeman M4 boasts impressive stereo quality sound." Eric Watson, Product Tester

Best Budget: Vankyo Leisure 3

Vankyo Leisure 3
What We Like
  • Very compact and portable

  • Carrying case fits everything you need

  • Good cooling design with quiet fan

What We Don't Like
  • Vertical angle adjustment is manual and not very high

  • No feet adjustment to level the projector

  • Not very bright

  • Terrible built-in speakers

This popular portable projector is a great option for those who want a versatile budget device that can play all kinds of media. Unlike many pricier models, the Vankyo 3 does not have a Wi-Fi connection. Instead, it relies on HDMI and USB connections to play your content. Its simple plug-and-play setup makes it easy to attach a streaming stick, cable box, gaming console, or even a flash drive. You can also connect your smartphone using an HDMI adapter cable (sold separately). 

In terms of image size, the Vankyo 3 projects a picture up to 170 inches across. The ideal placement is 6.5 feet from the projection surface, making this an especially good option for smaller rooms. With enhanced brightness and 1920 x 1080 resolution, your media is clear and sharp. But one of the most appealing aspects of a mini projector is its portability, and the Vankyo is designed with this in mind. Weighing less than three pounds, this projector is lighter than many laptops and even comes with its own carrying case for extra portability.

"Projectors in this price range are definitely for budget home entertainment systems or for occasional use as a novelty." Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Best for Business: Optoma ML750ST

Optoma ML750ST
What We Like
  • Well-lit screen with vibrant colors

  • Supports a variety of inputs

  • Large projection size at a minimal distance

  • Multiple display options

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Unattractive design

  • Weak speaker

  • Wireless connectivity sold separately through Optoma

Sure, it's expensive, but the Optoma ML750ST is well worth its steep price tag. The LED projector boasts a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and can upscale video content to 1080i. With 700 lumens, it yields high color accuracy and produces a beautiful, bright picture.

The ML750ST’s short throw ratio of 0.8:1 is also to thank for its impressive image quality. While many projectors need a 1.2:1 to 1.5:1 ratio to project a large picture, the ML750ST can sit rather close.

The ML750ST has run-of-the-mill connectivity options, including an HDMI port, a USB port, a 3.5mm audio output, and a microSD slot. Its integrated document reader makes it a great pick for business applications, though. You can project PDFs, DOCs, and more from a USB thumb drive, so you don’t need to hook it up to a laptop.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an internal battery, so you do need to stay within reach of a power outlet. When used in an office setting, however, that shouldn’t be a problem.

"As a short-throw projector (0.8:1) the Optoma excels at producing a large image without having to pull the projector too far away." Eric Watson, Product Tester

Best Design: ViewSonic M1+ Smart Projector

ViewSonic M1+ Smart Projector
What We Like
  • Highly portable

  • Sleek design

  • Long battery life

  • Great sound

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Auto keystone glitches

Design might not seem like a top priority when you’re shopping for a projector, but the ViewSonic M1+ is more than the sum of its looks. It’s tiny (only 5.7 x 5 x 1.6 inches) and has an elegant built-in stand for instant angle adjustments.

But beyond its ultra-streamlined aesthetics, this projector stands out for its integrated smart TV interface, which connects to Wi-Fi so you can stream directly from your favorite services without going through a laptop or mobile device. The M1+ even has 16GB of internal storage to hold about four hours of video for offline viewing. Add to that a six-hour battery life and this projector can be used entirely wirelessly, no power cords or cables needed.

For the times when you don’t have Wi-Fi, the M1+ does have a USB Type-A and USB-C port so you can plug it straight into the device of your choosing (some may require a USB-C adapter, which is not included). It also has integrated Harman Kardon speakers to boost your media soundscape beyond typical built-in speaker quality.

"Among the many things that’s great about the ViewSonic M1+ is its fair price point given all that it offers." Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Best for Travel: AAXA P7 LED Projector

AAXA P7
What We Like
  • Rechargeable battery

  • 30,000 LEDs

  • Many inputs

  • Multifunctional

What We Don't Like
  • Only 90 minutes of runtime

  • Subpar speaker quality

  • Unstable tripod

When it comes to miniature form factor, projectors don’t get much smaller than the AAXA P7. This tiny device measures 4.7 x 4.4 x 2.7 inches and weighs less than 1.5 pounds, so if you need a projector that can easily fit in your bag without weighing you down, then the AAXA P7 may be the one for you.

This pint-sized device projects in 1080p resolution and can generate up to a 120-inch image in the right low-light conditions, making it surprisingly powerful for a projector this small. It also includes a rechargeable battery with 90 minutes of runtime for truly on-the-go functionality. The P7 has an array of different inputs to support all kinds of devices. These include USB, HDMI, mini-VGA, composite AV, and a TF card port. Technically there are built-in 2W speakers, but it’s worth connecting a separate Bluetooth speaker for better audio.

"If you were hoping to get a picture quality similar to that of what you see in a modern HDTV, the P7 LED Projector comes close." Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Most Versatile: Elephas GC333 Mini Projector

Elephas GC333
What We Like
  • Classic design

  • Clear picture

  • Mobile phone connection

  • Extended lamp life of 50,000 hours

  • Decent speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Loud fan

  • Uninnovative design

Another great option in the sub-$100 range is the Elephas GC333. This model doesn’t have the same brand recognition as some of the more expensive products on this list, but it’s a versatile and portable projector that can project a 120-inch image at its best quality, and all the way up to 236 inches with some reduction in clarity.

If you need a small, inexpensive projector that can do just about anything — whether you’re attaching a streaming stick to watch your favorite show, playing games on a console, or mirroring content from a laptop — the Elephas GC333 packs in a ton of flexible features for a budget price. It measures 8.7 x 6.7 x 3.5 inches and weighs a little over a pound, making it easy to transport. The only downside is that it does not have an internal battery, so wherever you take it, you’ll need to plug it in. 

The projector’s long-lasting LED lamp delivers up to 3,300 lumens of brightness and a maximum 2000:1 contrast ratio so your media looks clear, sharp, and true to color. It also features Elephas’ revamped cooling system, built-in speakers, and the option to connect a separate speaker via the projector’s 3.5mm audio input for a more cinematic experience.

"The Elephas GC333 Mini Projector is as robust as your average projector with a classic build; it’s just smaller and more lightweight." Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Best for Gaming: BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A
What We Like
  • Great value

  • Low input lag

  • 2,200 lumens

  • Flexible connectivity

  • Multiple setup options

What We Don't Like
  • Not portable

  • Doesn't come with brackets for mounting

Looking for a projector that can keep up with your gaming needs? The BenQ HT2050A boasts powerful visual specs and smooth lag-free processing. This projector is well suited for small spaces, capable of producing a 100-inch long screen from just 2.5 meters away. The BenQ features 1080p resolution and is compatible with 3D video.

With a brightness of 2,200 lumens and a contrast ratio of 15,000:1, the BenQ showcases vibrant colors that are comparable to the best HD TVs. Additionally, it boasts a high level of responsiveness with a low input lag (16ms) for an ultra-smooth gaming experience. The BenQ HT2050A comes equipped with a plethora of inputs and outputs, including 2 HDMI audio-outputs, a 3D Sync port, and a 12V trigger. It can connect to most major gaming consoles.

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

Best Outdoor: Anker Nebula Mars II Pro

What We Like
  • Compact size and dimensions

  • Useful carry handle

  • Supports game consoles and laptops

  • Solid resolution and brightness

  • Good speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Runs older Android 7.1 software

The Anker Nebula Mars II Pro a mini projector designed for portability. The size and dimensions are compact and lightweight, making it easy to set on a tabletop or even take with you on a camping trip due to the convenient carry handle on top. It has a 500 ANSI lumen image at 720p, giving it a decent resolution for the size and features. It's geared toward outdoor use with its powerful dual 10W audio drivers to provide booming bass and a cinematic experience.

The built-in operating system is Android 7.1, which is a little old, but you get all the key apps like Netflix and YouTube, and it has HDMI and USB 2.0 support, allowing you to plug in game consoles and laptops.

Final Verdict

No bigger than a soda can, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is nothing short of a top of the line projector that goes wherever you do. It can, however, be a bit expensive, so if you need something budget-friendly, but still need something you can fit in your back pocket, the APEMAN NM4 is a solid alternative.

About Our Trusted Experts

Meredith Popolo has written for PCMag.com, Geek.com, ThinkWithGoogle.com, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She is passionate about consumer technology and how it can streamline our daily lives.

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.

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.

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.

FAQs

How much does a projector cost? 

Projectors can cost anywhere from about $50 to well over $5,000. Based on this wide range, anything around $500 and under is typically considered a cheap projector—and if you’re in the market for a 4K projector, that price goes up even more.


How many lumens do I need in a projector?

A lumen is a general term that describes light output, but in the case of projectors, it’s the unit of measurement used to describe the brightness. The more lumens, the brighter the projector will be and the more likely you’ll be able to use it in settings that aren’t completely dark. If you’re looking to project in a completely dark room, as few as 1,000 lumens might be fine, but for spaces with more ambient light, you’ll want to look for something closer to 2,000 lumens.


What is the throw ratio on a projector? 

The throw distance is how much space you need between the projector and the screen (or wall) to display a certain size image. Standard or long-throw projectors require a minimum of 6 feet between the projector and screen to project images of 80 inches or more. Short-throw projectors, on the other hand, can project a 100-inch image at a distance of only 4 or 5 feet. Check your specific projector’s manual for a chart that lists the distance required to display (or throw) an image onto a specific sized screen. This will help with the entire projector setup process.

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