When shopping for a budget projector, it’s important to set expectations and understand that you won’t be able to achieve the same results as with a more expensive 4K projector or even most mid-range flat-screen TVs.
However, there are important factors to keep an eye out for when selecting the best cheap projector for your home:
✔️ Portability: One of the key features to consider when it comes to cheap projectors is how portable they are. Do you want a projector that’s small enough to throw in a backpack or one that’s super lightweight so you can move it around from room to room or easily bring outdoors for a movie night? If opting for a portable projector, you should consider one with a rechargeable battery so you can use it without an outlet. A built-in projector stand is also a nice bonus to help adjust the angle of projection and eliminate the need for a tripod.
✔️ Brightness: A projector’s brightness or the amount of light it can produce is measured in lumens, which is important since there will likely always be some ambient light in the space you’re in. While some brands list a projector’s brightness in lumens, others reference ANSI lumens. When possible, we recommend finding a budget projector with at least 1,500 lumens or 500 ANSI lumens to ensure you’ll get a clear picture, though our pros warn that you might have to make sacrifices for size and portability. Higher lumens mean higher brightness, which is considered better for picture quality.
ANSI lumens are proportionally brighter than standard lumens. A key difference between lumens and ANSI lumens is that ANSI lumens are based on an industry-standard whereas others may use different approaches to measure and market lumens. We prefer when lumens are systematically measured, and ANSI lumen measurements provide that standardized approach to compare brightness.
✔️ Resolution: While 4K resolution is always preferred, our experts recommend full HD resolution (1920 x 1080) for budget projectors if you plan on streaming TV shows, movies or videos. If the resolution is lower, your screen’s image won’t be quite as sharp and defined though this may not be an issue if you’re projecting office presentations or don’t need as high of image quality.✔️ Screen size: Our pros recommend looking for a max screen size that is at least 100 inches to ensure you can comfortably watch a movie. While some brands claim you can achieve an even larger screen size, keep in mind that the picture will decrease in quality.✔️ Connectivity and ports: Check how many ports your cheap projector comes with and ensure that there’s one for HDMI, which is one of the easiest ways to connect your laptop or a streaming stick like Roku. Some projectors may even be able to connect to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to stream from your phone or directly access your favorite apps like Netflix, Hulu and more internally.✔️ Audio: Most cheap projectors come with a built-in speaker, which is a nice feature to have when on-the-go. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you may need to connect another audio source for better sound quality, such as an outdoor speaker. If you want to be able to connect headphones to your projector, look for ones that offer an audio jack.