Mini projector vs full-size projector: Which one should you get?

Mini projector vs full-size projector: Which one should you get?
(Image credit: Getty)

Picking up a projector can be a solid investment, whether you're grabbing one to boost your movie watching experience at home or for conferences and presentations in the office. They are just that though - an investment, and you can easily spend several thousand dollars on a decent model if you go for a full-sized projector.

But do you even need a full-sized projector, or will one of the best mini projectors like the M2 Micro Projector, Acer K11 or Optoma PK301 Pico? These pint-sized projectors cost a lot less than the chunky models, so they're instantly appealing on that front, but they do have some limitations. Depending on your needs, you might be fine with a mini projector, or you might need to splash the cash on a full-sized model. 

This article will help you figure out which type of projector you need, going over the pros and cons of both types to help you figure out which type of projector suits your needs the best.

Why buy a mini projector?

By the name alone you can determine the leading feature of these mini projectors; they are small, pocket sized, micro. This means you don't have to worry about trying to lug them around with you when you travel. The majority of these pocket projectors weighs less than a pound and fit easily into your shirt pocket. This is a great advantage when you don't have much space to pack or have a weight limit to consider.

Another advantage to these mini projectors is many of them come with a built-in rechargeable battery. This means you don't have to worry about having an extension cord or outlet to run your presentation. The micro projectors also have a long-lasting lamp life, upwards of 30,000 hours, which is a cost saver in the long run since replacement lamps can be pretty pricey. Overall these mini projectors on the high end are less than $500, and many are closer to the $400-$300 range.

One of the limitations to these is they just don't have the space for all of the components to make a bright image with a clear contrast. This isn't bad to work with, but it does mean the room needs to be darker for the mini projectors than the full-size projectors. So that makes these little guys more suited to a dim conference room than a well-lit convention center.

Why buy a full-size projector?

Full-sized projectors have amazing picture quality with high brightness, resolution and contrast ratio. They can also project larger images greater distances. These are perfect whether you are in a dark conference room or trying to draw attention to your booth at a convention. There are several different styles to choose from as well, including LCD, DLP and LCoS. Between all of the manufacturers and styles, you are sure to find a product that will suit your needs.

There are two limitations to full sized projectors though. The first is the size. For such a high-quality picture you need space to put all of the components. The average weight is between 16 and 25 pounds. This isn't something that you can just toss in your luggage or carry with you all day. The other limitation is the cost. For a projector with a high-quality picture you are looking at spending $1,000 if not closer to $3,000.

Should you buy a full-size or mini projector?

If you are working on a budget and are only expecting to make presentations in close company, the mini projector is the way to go especially if you need something portable. If you need to work in a brighter environment or want an extra high-resolution picture, you will want to spend the extra money and go with a full-size projector.

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.