The 8 Best Mini Projectors of 2021

Watch movies and give presentations with these portable mini projectors

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The Rundown
"The built-in 270-degree speaker sounds good and supports Google Assistant."
"It's about the size of a battery pack and brings a surprising amount of audio into a tiny package."
"The Vankyo Leisure 3 projector is a nice budget option that comes with everything you need to carry it around, including a case."
Best for Business:
Optoma ML750ST at Amazon
"It's incredibly small, at just over 4 inches, but it delivers bright and vibrant colors despite its tiny package."
"The built-in stand functions to both prop up and aim the projector, but also closes over the lens to protect the glass during transport."
"It should plug into just about any device you have with you on your trip."
Most Versatile:
Elephas GC333 at Amazon
"You can connect a ton of devices to it including your phone, computer, gaming console, or even a streaming dongle."
Best for Gaming:
BenQ HT2050A at Amazon
"This projector offers a bright, clear picture with a high contrast ratio for prime gaming."

The best portable projectors are small enough to take with you anywhere you need to go, but big enough to provide great entertainment on any surface. Many homes and offices use a projection system in lieu of a TV for entertainment and meetings. But those setups are usually semi-permanent and aren't designed to go anywhere.

Portable projectors, on the other hand, usually trade off things such as battery life and resolution to remain lightweight and small. They're mostly for portable entertainment purposes, or in some cases, portable presentation rigs. If you can walk into any office and set up a projector for your latest PowerPoint, that's pretty huge. If you can show a movie on the wall of your tent, that's also awesome.

The key is finding the right compromises between portability and features. The projectors on this list have a combination of both, and any one of them can be tucked into a backpack or briefcase. Before you dive in, you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology we'll be using, such as nits, brightness, and lumens.

Best Overall: Anker Nebula Capsule II

4.3
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Image Quality
    4/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Built-in Android

  • Autofocus

  • Google Assistant

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Our pick for best overall portable projector comes from Anker. The Nebula Capsule II is about the size of a soda can, so it easily fits into your bag or purse, but be careful of scratching the glass on the lens. This projector comes with Android 9 built in, so it runs its own operating system. That means there are a ton of apps you can download to play your favorite movies and TV shows including Netflix, Hulu and more.

There's also an HDMI port, so you can connect media players like a DVD player, gaming system, or computer to project. The built-in 270-degree speaker sounds good and supports Google Assistant. Add in autofocus with projection sizes ranging from 40 to 100 inches, and this is a great projector to take with you anywhere, even if it is on the expensive side.

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 NM4 Mini Portable Projector

3.1
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    3/5
  • Connectivity
    2/5
What We Like
  • Tiny

  • Impressive sound

  • Built-in battery pack

  • Includes tripod

  • 1080p

What We Don't Like
  • Dim

  • Short battery life

  • No wireless connectivity

The Apeman Projector M4 is one of the smallest projectors on our list. It's about the size of a battery pack and brings a surprising amount of audio into a tiny package. The tradeoffs come in the form of lack of wireless connectivity and dim brightness. You need to be in a really dark room to make the most out of this.

But the projector comes with a 3,400 mAh battery pack that can even charge your phone. You may want to skip using that though, since the projector's battery life will just barely cross the 2-hour mark.

You can connect your devices using HDMI or USB, and the included tripod makes setting up the projector a breeze. The default resolution on the projector is 480p, but it can project up to 1080p depending on the input resolution. The projector itself is almost small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, which makes this perfect for travelers or 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

3.5
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    1/5
  • Connectivity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Included carrying case

  • Lots of input options

  • Very inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Dim

  • Hard to aim properly

The Vankyo Leisure 3 projector is a nice budget option that comes with everything you need to carry it around, including a case. There are plenty of input options including VGA, HDMI, USB, MicroSD, RCA, and more.

As its name suggests, the Leisure is designed to be used in the home, rather than the office. The 2,400 lumens is rather dim, and an office space would need too much ambient light for you to get a good picture here.

If you're watching at home, you'll want to make sure the projector is properly placed, which can be a challenge. There aren't any feet on the projector to adjust for level and the height adjustment doesn't go very high, so you'll want to want to keep that in mind. Still, if you want an inexpensive projector for use at home, this is a good choice, and it'll work with just about every device you can think of.

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

3.4
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    2/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Bright, vibrant colors

  • Short throw projector

  • Included carrying case

What We Don't Like
  • Wireless connectivity sold separately

  • Expensive

Optoma is a big name in projectors, and the ML750ST is no exception. It's incredibly small, at just over 4 inches, but it delivers bright and vibrant colors despite its tiny package. Add to that, this is a short-throw projector, meaning you can be close to your screen and still get a large viewing area. At just 36 inches away, you can get a screen size of up to 54 inches diagonal.

The projector is expensive, which makes the lack of built-in wireless connectivity disappointing. You can purchase a wireless dongle separately to connect your phone or computer to the projector, but at the price the Optoma commands, you shouldn't have to. 

The included carrying case is nice, as it lets you tote around the cables you'll need. This projector would be good for an office space with a dark conference room. 700 lumens isn't bright enough for a bright presentation room, but if the lights are off, it should work just fine.

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

4.3
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Built-in multi-function stand

  • Battery life

  • Great sound

What We Don't Like
  • Low resolution

  • Auto-focus can be glitchy

The Viewsonic M1+ Smart Projector brings a sharp picture and smart design to the table. The projector tops out at 480p resolution with glitchy autofocus which is not awesome, but the rest of this projector is remarkable.

The built-in stand functions to both prop up and aim the projector, but also closes over the lens to protect the glass during transport. Add to that an impressive sound and battery life, and our reviewer calls it the best value yet.

This projector almost fits into the back pocket of your pants—that's how small and portable it is. This projector is great for an on-the-go device when you want to watch a movie at a friend's house or while camping. It's not really meant for business use, mostly because of the focus issues and low resolution.

Resolution: 480p | Brightness: 120 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

3.9
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Image Quality
    3/5
  • Sound Quality
    2/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Lots of input choices

  • Long LED life

What We Don't Like
  • Poor battery life

  • Not good tripod

  • Bad audio

If you're hitting the road and want to take a versatile projector along with you, the AAXA P7 is a great choice. This tiny cube measures just 4 x 4 x 3 inches (LWH) and it accepts input from HDMI, USB, MicroSD, AV, and mini-VGA. In short, it should plug into just about any device you have with you on your trip. You'll get 30,000 hours of life out of the LED bulb. The sound coming out of the projector isn't the best, and the battery only lasts about 90 minutes, so make sure you have power nearby. 

The projector comes with a tripod, but it's not the most sturdy, so be careful on that front, or just bring your own. Otherwise you'll get good image quality at 1080p up to 120 inches in size. This projector would work great in an office as well, since you'll need to be close to power. Otherwise, keep your presentation short.

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

Most Versatile: Elephas GC333 Mini Projector

4.4
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Image Quality
    4/5
  • Sound Quality
    3/5
  • Connectivity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Price

  • Clear picture

  • Good audio

What We Don't Like
  • Loud fan

  • Bigger than most mini projectors

If you're looking for a good projector on a budget, this Elephas GC333 is a great option. The projector typically retails for less than $100 and features a clear, 1080p picture, and great audio.

Though this projector is larger than most of the others on this list, you're getting a lot of features that would normally be reserved for a higher-end projector. You can connect a ton of devices to it including your phone, computer, gaming console, or even a streaming dongle.

The fan is on the loud side, so that's important to keep in mind, but you still get really good audio through the built-in speakers. While this projector is less portable than its counterparts, it's a great option for the home or office when you're on a tight budget. You won't take this projector camping, and you probably won't keep it in a backpack or briefcase, but you can set it up in a conference room or your living room and have a great entertainment console.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 5000 lumens | Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 | Projection Size: Up to 200 inches

"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

Elephas GC333 Mini Projector

 Lifewire / Hayley Prokos

Best for Gaming: BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A
4.4
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Image Quality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Connectivity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Low latency

  • Bright, clear picture

  • Many input options

What We Don't Like
  • Not very portable

  • No mounting brackets

Projectors aren't limited to just movies and presentations. They're also for gamers. Blasting away enemies on a 300-inch screen is a pretty amazing feeling, and the BenQ HT2050A is designed for low latency input that can make or break a gaming rig. But this projector offers a bright, clear picture with a high contrast ratio for prime gaming.

This is the largest projector in the list, and as such, it's not very portable. But it has multiple mounting options, though brackets are not included. All the same, there are a ton of input options including HDMI, RCA, VGA, and a MicroSD card slot. If you're a gamer and you're looking for that finishing touch to your entertainment room, this is the projector you should get.

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 have to give our nod to the Anker Nebula Capsule II (view at Amazon). It's compact and ultra portable, and the extras put it over the top. It has its own Android operating system and suite of streaming apps, so you don't even need to connect a device. It has Google Assistant built in. There's just a lot to like here.

If you don't need your projector to be quite as portable, we love the Elephas GC333 (view at Amazon). It has superior brightness and clarity for a price that's unbelievable. It has a ton of input options, so basically anything will connect to it. And it's small enough that if you wanted to take it outside for a fun movie night, you could do that too.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. When not working, he's a cyclist, geocacher, and spends as much time outside as he can.

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.

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.

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.

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