The 11 Best Mini Projectors to Buy in 2018

Watch movies and give presentations with these portable mini projectors

Vivitek Qumi Q6-BU Q6
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Remember projectors? Those clunky devices your teacher would use to share slides with the class? Well a new class of smaller, smarter devices has moved in that make projecting movies, photos and presentations a breeze. They come in a range of sizes, from pico to palmtop and up, and offer variety of features that make them perfect for home theater enthusiasts, on-the-go business presenters and more. Read through the list below to find the best mini projector for your needs.

Best Overall: Apeman

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 you to solely concentrate on immersing yourself 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 allows the Apeman to connect directly to a laptop, smartphone or tablet for easy plug and play use.

Best Budget: Elephas 1200 lumens LED mini portable projector

With a native resolution of only 800 x 480, the Elephas 1200 lumens LED mini portable projector might not be the best small projector you can buy, but it’s certainly the best budget one. It can scale up to full HD, but you’ll lose some quality as its not the native resolution.

On a positive note, this projector has great connectivity options: It has two USB ports (including a 5V port), one HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio port, an AV port and an SD card slot. Considering the price point, it has pretty decent speakers, too, but if you’re able, we’d recommend hooking up dedicated speakers via the audio jack. It’s also surprisingly quiet, which makes watching movies much easier. If you’re wary of buying a budget device, its 12-month warranty and two-month hassle-free return/replace policy should let you rest easy.

Best for Home Theaters: Epson Home Cinema 5040UB 3LCD Home Theater Projector

Let’s be honest: Home theaters are really all about impressing your friends and neighbors, right? So if you have the means to splurge, spring for this Epson Home Theater Projector that boasts 2,500 lumens, 2.1:1 zoom lenses, and up to a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The Lens Memory feature lets you default to a cinemascope-type widescreen instead of a 16:9 screen (HDTV), making it faster to boot up movies. It also handles 4K content with aplomb and is compatible with High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, delivering a wide range of brightness levels with dramatic darks and blacks. That makes it perfect for projection in all sorts of environments, from dark basements to bright sunrooms.

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 need to stay within reach of a power outlet, but when used in an office setting, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Best Speakers: Anker Nebula Capsule

Pico projectors have improved their brightness, battery time, and picture quality, but few have much as much thought and hardware into the speaker as this new product by Anker. The Nebula Capsule is a truly portable entertainment option, with an Amazon Alexa-style, 360-degree omnidirectional speaker. The cylindrical seamless aluminum body combines the speaker and the projector in a portable and durable design. In addition to room-filling sound, the Nebula Capsule projects a remarkably clear picture, thanks to DLP’s IntelliBright algorithm that maximizes the 100 ANSI lumen projector. The picture remains vivid and clear up to 100 inches. Smart connectivity rounds out the Nebula’s all-in-one functionality, using Android 7.1 to run and stream apps like Netflix and YouTube directly on the capsule. This smart mini-projector really is a great option for anyone who wants a device they can grab and go to bring a full cinematic experience with them in their backpack. 

Best Contrast: AAXA P300 Pico/Micro LED Projector

When it comes to projectors, contrast ration is a major factor. If it’s too low, it will be hard to see the screen, even in dark environments. The P300 is one of the brightest pico projectors on the market, with 500 lumens and a solid 2000:1 contrast ratio. The P300 also has a short throw distance. You can place the projector as close as four feet from the screen and still get a decently large and bright picture. This makes it a great projector for business and gaming alike.

The P300 has a removeable battery pack that lasts about an hour. It’s not quite long enough to watch a full movie, but if you carry a spare battery, you’ll be fine. Alternatively, you can keep it plugged in via HDMI. On top of that, it also has connectivity options for VGA, Composite A/V connections, plus microSD and USB readers. Unlike most other small projectors, the P300 comes with a remote, which lets you adjust volume and switch inputs, among other things.

Best for Design: RIF6 CUBE Pico Projector

Honestly, could there be a cuter projector? The tiny RIF6 CUBE is a silver 2- x 2- x 1.9-inch cube that weighs just five ounces, so it easily slips into your bag. (The cube shape, however, makes it not so pocket-friendly.) On one side it has a USB Micro-B port for charging, a power button and a headphone jack. On the opposite side, it has a microSD card slot, a mini HDMI port and a tiny focus wheel. It produces a brightness of 50 lumens and a native resolution of 854 x 480 pixels, which is pretty common for pico projectors.

It would be hard to find a projector that Amazon reviewers are more in love with. “Super dope,” “a surprise in a box” and “phenomenal” are just a few of the phrases used to describe it. Still, the RIF6 CUBE does have some faults: it doesn’t connect wirelessly and video quality could be better. But if you’ve got design in mind, this projector is the way to go.

Best for Traveling: ZTE Spro 2

The ZTE Spro 2 measures 5.2 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches in size and weighs just 1.2 pounds, making it an ideal size for traveling. Small stature aside, the ZTE is full of features, including a five-inch touchscreen with 720p, 2.5 hours of battery life and a 4000:1 contrast ratio for a highly detailed picture. The ZTE supports anywhere between a 20 to 120-inch or a nearly 10-foot viewable screen with DLP (digital light processing). The ZTE doesn’t require any wires, allowing content to be accessed via HDMI, USB, or microSD memory card, as well as support for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The projector also has JBL speakers that offer great sound quality.

Best for Connectivity: LG Electronic’s PH550 Minibeam

LG Electronic’s PH550 Minibeam projector is a standout choice for portable projectors with excellent connectivity options. The 4.3 x 6.9 x 1.7-inch projector weighs 1.43 pounds and has a built-in mirroring function that allows it to connect to a smartphone or tablet for projection, but it can also display movies, pictures or even documents directly from a USB drive.

 While the wireless options require an Android device or Windows operating system hardware, (Apple is limited by design), additional options include Bluetooth streaming for sound directly to a Bluetooth-compatible sound system (home theater setup, headphones or even a soundbar) for an all-around projecting experience. The 2.5 hours of battery life for viewing is paired with 30,000 hours of total life on the LG’s LED lamp, adding up to more than 10 years of use even if the projector is utilized for eight hours every day. The native 1280 x 720 resolution and 100,000:1 contrast ratio outclasses nearly all middle-of-the-road portable projectors.

Best for Gaming: Optoma GT1080DARBEE 1080p Short-Throw Gaming Projector

A projector engineered specifically for games can take your gaming to a whole new level, and that’s exactly what the Optoma GT1080Darbee does. It features an Enhanced Game Mode setting that levels up contrast and color while delivering an impressively low input lag of 16ms. (To non-gamers, that’s the amount of time it takes to render its pictures.) According to the company, the projector “uses neuro-biologic algorithms to enhance detail and depth in skin tones, textures and relative surfaces,” which essentially means it yields a sharp picture with a stellar contrast. With 3,000 lumens for peak brightness and a contrast ratio of 30,000:1, the GT1080 displays games well in all light settings, and on top of that, it has a fantastically short throw lens, able to cast a 100-inch image from a throw distance of about three feet. Still not sold? It’s one-year limited parts and labor warranty and 90-day lamp warranty makes this purchase a no-brainer for gamers.

Best Value: Insignia™ Reverb - Premium Audio Pico WVGA DLP Projector - Black

The Insignia Reverb is what we like to call the Goldilocks of small projectors. It’s not too big, not too dim and not too expensive. When it comes to key features, everything is just right. Enlisting Digital Light Processing (DLP) image technology, which is most common in pico projectors, it delivers crisp pictures. It serves up 100 lumens of brightness, which makes it ideal for use in dark settings, and can cast a picture up to 100 inches. With a built-in Yamaha audio amplifier, it produces surprisingly good sound for such a small device, and its rechargeable battery runs for up to 120 minutes. Altogether, that equals a solid serving of flexibility when taking this projector on the go.

Disclosure

At Lifewire, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.