Best Mini Projectors of 2018

Suzanne Humphries ·
Electronics & Software Writer
Updated
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We tested 10 mini projectors covering a variety of feature sets and price points to determine which one is the best for most consumers. Our overall winner is the Optoma IntelliGO-S1. It produced unbeatable image quality and good sound quality in our tests. This Optoma projector connects to more multimedia devices than any product we reviewed, and it lets you tweak settings so you get just the right picture.

Best Overall
Optoma IntelliGO-S1
The Optoma IntelliGO-S1 projector has a smart and sturdy design. With it, you can enjoy great image and sound quality, connect your devices and tweak settings for the perfect picture.
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Best Value
RIF6 Cube
The RIF6 Cube is a great inexpensive mini projector. Its image quality is decent, and it has basic functionality, but you’ll need external speakers for sound.
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Best for Travel
Apeman M4
With the Apeman M4 mini projector, you can easily watch videos or share photos wherever you go. It provides basic connectivity options and can play for up to 90 minutes.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Connectivity & Media
Design
Performance
Price
Projection System
Native Resolution
Brightness (lumens)
Projection Type
Contrast Ratio
Aspect Ratio
Throw Ratio
Keystone Adjustment
Focus
Wi-Fi/Blutooth
USB
VGA
HDMI/MHL
microSD
Device Mirroring
Image Quality
Sound Quality (if applicable)
Battery Life (minutes)
Dimensions (inches)
Weight (pounds)
Built-In Speakers (wattage)
Remote Included
Warranty
$349 Fry's Electronics
5 4.9 5 4.8 5
1280 x 720
500
LED
15,000:1
16:10
1.2
Manual
Manual
Both
2.0, 3.0
N/A
N/A
A
A-
Plug-In
6.2 x 4.7 x 1.2
1
2
1 Year
$269.99 iDepot Mall
5 4.9 4.5 5 4.9
800 x 600
3300
LCD
15,000:1
4:3
1.5
Both
Manual
Wi-Fi Only
2.0
X
N/A
A
A
Plug-In
11.9 x 9.9 x 3.6
5.5
2
1 Year
$466.99 BH Photo Video
4.5 5 4.5 4.5 5
1280 x 800
550
LED
100,000:1
16:9
1.4
Auto
Manual
Both
2.0
X
N/A
A-
B
150
6.9 x 4.3 x 1.7
1.4
2
1 Year
$524 Amazon
4.3 5 4.7 4.9 4.9
1280 x 800
700
LED
20,000:1
16:10
0.8
Auto
Manual
N/A
2.0
X
N/A
A-
A-
Plug-In
4.1 x 4.2 x 1.5
0.9
1.5
1 Year
$329.99 Best Buy
5 4.5 4.5 4.3 5
1280 x 720
400
LED
400:1
16:9
1.1
Auto
Auto
Both
2.0, C
N/A
N/A
B+
A-
90
6 x 3.8 x 1
0.94
two 2-watt
1 Year
$370.99 Amazon Marketplace
4.5 4.8 4.7 4.3 5
1280 x 800
900
LED
2,000:1
16:9
1.2
Manual
Manual
N/A
2.0
X
N/A
B+
A
70
6 x 6 x 1.8
1.9
2
1 Year
$329 Amazon Marketplace
5 4.3 4.7 4 5
1280 x 800
600
LED
2,000:1
16:9
1.2
N/A
Manual
N/A
2.0
mini VGA
N/A
B-
B+
80
4.8 x 5 x 1.7
1.2
2
1 Year
$361.49 4K4Less
5 4.3 4.5 3.2 3.2
854 x 480
105
DLP
400:1
16:9
1.15
Auto
Manual
N/A
2.0
N/A
N/A
B-
N/A
120
3-3/8 x 3/8 x 6
0.62
1
1 Year
$208.99 Amazon Marketplace
4.5 3.8 4.5 4.2 3.4
854 x 480
50
LED
1,000:1
16:9
1.19
N/A
Manual
N/A
2.0
N/A
N/A
B
A-
90
3.9 x 3.9 x 0.85
1.1
two 1-watt
1 Year
$194.99 Amazon Marketplace
4.5 3.8 1.8 2.9 4.8
854 x 480
50
LED
1,000:1
16:9 or 4:3
1.99
N/A
Manual
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
B-
N/A
90
2 x 2 x 1.9
0.3
1
1 Year
Best Overall
Out of all the mini projectors we tested, the Optoma IntelliGO-S1 stood out as the best choice. It provides bright high-definition images, great sound quality and plenty of connectivity and features.
It is smartly designed, aesthetically pleasing and easy enough for users of any skill level to figure out. It’s also decently affordable, priced below the average projector in our comparison. It was easy to set up the IntelliGO-S1, and to connect it to a media device. With a 500-lumen LED lamp and a contrast ratio of 15,000:1, this Optoma projector made images and videos alike look terrific in all lighting scenarios. It was also easy to adjust focus on the unit and make keystone adjustments. The Optoma IntelliGO-S1 has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in, for enhanced connectivity. Additionally, it’s the only projector in our comparison that has a USB 3.0 port in addition to a USB 2.0 port. An HDMI/MHL port and a microSD slot round out the list of connection options. The IntelliGO-S1 also supports device mirroring. Whereas some of the smaller projectors have small internal batteries, this mini projector doesn’t. Instead, it needs to stay plugged in. While this limits the overall portability of the device – unless you’re also planning on lugging around a portable charger or only taking it to places with wall sockets – it does mean you are free to play movie marathons without worrying about it powering down in the middle because the battery died.
Pros
  • Solid, bright picture with a 15,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 2-watt speakers provide great audio
  • Has a USB 3.0 port
Cons
  • No internal battery
  • No VGA connectivity option
  • Has a brightness of just 500 lumens
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Read the full review
Best Value
The RIF6 Cube performs quite well, given its low price point and adorably small build. It provides basic functionality, accessories and quality for a reasonable price.
Though it doesn’t have the best image quality and is missing certain features, it’s a decent projector for light use. The biggest downside of the RIF6 Cube is that it doesn’t have a built-in speaker. If you want sound you have to plug the Cube into external speakers. Most other projectors in our comparison have speakers built in so you can watch a video with just the projector. Given its extremely small size, measuring just 2 x 2 x 1.9 inches, it’s understandable that the RIF6 had to give up something to make it so. Videos and images are displayed in the projector’s native resolution – 854 x 480 pixels – which gives you an aspect ratio of 16:9. Its 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 50-lumen LED bulb mean images may appear somewhat muddy. The Cube has a microSD slot and an MHL port, and you can manually adjust focus. Battery life is up to 90 minutes, and its aluminum construction is sturdy yet lightweight. The RIF6 Cube also comes with cables, a charger, a remote and a flexible tripod.
Pros
  • Smallest and most portable projector
  • Comes with a remote control
  • Internal battery lasts for up to 90 minutes
Cons
  • Lacks Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • No built-in speaker
  • No USB connectivity
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Read the full review
Best for Travel
If you want to share photos of your past journeys while on a new adventure – or if you want to play a movie for your kids at the campground – the Apeman M4 is your best bet.
Despite its small size, it has a sturdy build, plenty of features and decent battery life. It’s also the most budget-friendly mini projector in our comparison. This device can display videos and images at 854 x 480 resolution, and the M4’s 1,000:1 contrast ratio provides decently good colors. However, it only has a brightness of 50 lumens, which is far below verage for the projectors we tested, so the picture won’t be bright, especially not in ambient- or full-light settings. It has an aspect ratio of 16:9, so it can easily play the latest blockbuster without letterboxing. The M4’s throw ratio is 1.19:1, quite short, allowing you to enjoy your media on a 60-inch screen, though it works anywhere from 30 to 100 inches. The M4 has a unique feature we didn’t find on the other projectors – two speakers instead of just one. Though they’re only 1-watt speakers, they sound clean and full, and they easily fill a room. On its sides, you’ll find the power, volume and focus controls, and all connection ports are at the projector’s rear. The Apeman M4 is small enough to fit in your pocket or bag, making it great for travelers.
Pros
  • Comes with a tripod
  • Has two loud 1-watt speakers
  • Least expensive option
Cons
  • No microSD slot
  • No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity
  • No keystone adjustment
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Read the full review
Best Contrast Ratio
The LG PH500 is powerful and easy to use and has a huge array of connectivity options, making it a great choice for offices and home theaters alike.
It’s a little bulkier than most of the other projectors we reviewed, but it comes with a carrying pouch for transport and storage. Though it’s larger than most mini projectors, it makes the most of its size, offering a variety of ports so you can connect the electronics and storage devices you need. It has HDMI input, support for USB storage and composite video, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a coaxial connector. However, it doesn’t have an SD card slot. Though it’s brightness isn’t as brilliant as some of the more powerful projectors we tested, it has an impressively high contrast ratio of 100,000:1 – the best in our comparison by far. It also has a high throw ratio, automatic keystone adjustment and manual focus. Sound on the LG PH550 is also decent. It can easily fill a medium to large room volume-wise, but the sound quality is middling. Connecting a sound bar via Bluetooth can supply more volume and quality in a pinch, however.
Pros
  • It offers an impressive selection of connection options.
Cons
  • It does not have a slot for SD cards.
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Read the full review
Best Design
The Optoma ML750ST is an aesthetically pleasing powerhouse, and its bevy of features make it ideal for both office and home theater use.
You’ll be fine setting the projector in a small or unevenly lit room, as its short throw ratio is ideal for that. We tested a variety of videos on the ML750ST, in both light and dark scenarios, and it excelled in both. The picture was bright and fine details appeared clearly. Colors never seemed washed out. Plus, the projector has native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and can upscale videos to 1080i so your movies will always look clean and sharp. This projector comes with a small remote control but also allows full menu navigation and manual focus adjustment on the device itself. Lots of vents at the sides of the device keep it well-ventilated so the fan never runs loudly even during heavy use. The placement of the lens on the projector, plus its included lens cap, shows that Optoma put great thought and care into the engineering of the device.
Pros
  • It has a beautiful, smart and intuitive design.
Cons
  • It lacks Bluetooth connectivity.
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Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We researched and tested mini projectors for more than 25 hours to compare these tiny, useful devices. In our evaluation we looked at a multitude of data points including image quality, audio quality, connectivity options, size and weight. We tested each device in a variety of lighting scenarios and pushed their playback and connectivity abilities so we could recommend the best mini projectors for various uses.

How Much Do Mini Projectors Cost?

Though dedicated high-end projectors can cost thousands of dollars, you can get a mini projector between $200 and $550. We found that the sweet spot is between $400 and $550 if you want the highest-quality picture, most features and biggest array of connectivity options.

How We Tested

For hands-on testing, we used each mini projector in controlled environments meant to simulate real-world situations. We looked at picture quality and brightness both in dark rooms and areas with ambient light. We judged each projector’s ability to produce true colors and a picture that isn’t muddy. We also evaluated the picture focus and keystone adjustment abilities for each projector, as well as how easy it was to set them up and interact with them.

We also checked the audio quality and discovered it was lacking in one way or another for every mini projector we tested. If you’re watching videos, we recommend connecting to your own set of speakers either through an auxiliary cord or Bluetooth in order to have the best possible experience. However, given their small size, their sound overall is good enough, certainly for a presentation on the go.

Key Features to Look for When Buying Mini Projectors

Brightness & Picture Quality
Most mini projectors are built around either laser or LED projection hardware. While both have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to image quality, their differences illustrate the importance of brightness. If you project in a non-traditional environment like outside or during the daytime with lots of ambient light in the room, you need a bright projector to create a clear picture. Projectors that have brightness ratings of at least 250 lumens display usable media in most viewing environments.

Technical image quality plays an equally significant role in your viewing experience. During our testing, we evaluated each projector’s color accuracy by measuring how well each one rendered a variety of colors. While laser-based projectors tend to have low brightness ratings, their high-quality hardware has some advantages over that of traditional LED pico projectors. During our picture quality testing, the laser mini projectors we reviewed had substantially better color accuracy marks than competing LED models.


Sound Quality

In our hands-on testing, we found audio fidelity is rarely a strength for mini projectors. Because of their small statures, these projectors often have to rely on a single low-powered speaker for audio. While high-end models can usually reach high volumes, the audio quality is often thin and poorly defined. Most mini projectors come with 3.5mm audio output or Bluetooth connectivity, so they can connect to external speakers for better sound quality. This can be a hassle for travelers, however.

Picture Quality & Resolution
As with computers and TVs, each projector is built with a default resolution. Default resolution varies by projector but is usually comparable to a standard- or high-definition television. Most low-resolution projectors can still display HD content like Blu-ray movies and video games, but because the image has to be downsized, image quality generally steps back.

Good projectors should have a keystone adjustment option, which automatically “straightens” the image out if you’re projecting to a display at an awkward angle. Most projectors automatically detect and correct for the projection angle, but some require manual adjustment.

Projectors also require you to focus the picture that’s projecting. If you’re planning on leaving the projector in the same spot, you won’t have to adjust this often beyond the initial adjustment unless it gets bumped. If you’re constantly moving the projector around – on vacation, for instance –you’ll need to adjust each time you move it. These projectors have a focus wheel you can slide with your thumb to adjust. Again, it’s part of having a projector instead of a TV but it’s easy and quick to adjust.


Also look for projectors with a good contrast ratio of at least 1,500:1. The contrast ratio is the number of gradients between white and black colors. For example, if you’re watching a movie and there’s a dark scene at night or in a dim basement, on a projector with a low contrast ratio it’ll just look all black, without much detail. However, the same scene on a device with a high contrast ratio will show you different gradients of black, meaning you’ll see more detail.

Room Sizes & Throw Distance
If you plan to frequently move your projector around your home or office, make sure you know the projector’s throw specifications. The throw ratio determines screen size range, and it is calculated by dividing how far the projector is from the screen by the width of the projected image.

Projectors with small throw ratios, such as those that are 1.1:1, display large images when close to the surface you project on, while large-ratio models need to be farther away to create a large display. The ideal throw ratio depends on where you plan to use the projector.


Battery Life
By size alone, a mini projector is much more portable than the larger dedicated units you see in a home theatre. The inclusion of a battery on many small projectors makes them extra portable. If you’re moving from office to office with the projector, or are always on the go, you probably want one with lengthy battery life. Average projectors have batteries that last between one and two hours while high-end models can go for up to 2.5 hours.

Connectivity
Home users usually only need an HDMI port, but business users benefit from projectors with multiple connection options. If you’re moving between offices or businesses, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be connecting to a device with modern inputs and outputs. Along with standards like HDMI, business-friendly mini projectors feature options like VGA ports and audio output. A USB port and a microSD slot are nice to have as well, as they allow you to access content from a wider variety of sources. None of the projectors we tested had every single port option we consider to be important, so make sure you know what connection options you need before buying your mini projector.