Looking for the best projector under 500? Well, we have you covered. From budget home theatres to office presentations, we've compiled a list of the best devices to kick off your search in the best way possible.
When it comes to selecting the best projector, it's important to consider its brightness, which is measured in lumens. As a quick tip, the lighter your room is, the brighter your projector needs to be.
For example, if you're planning to use the projector in a dark room, 1000 lumens should suffice. For lighter rooms, you'll likely need something between 1500 and 3000 lumens in order for the projected picture to be clearly visible.
In terms of resolution, picture quality and colour accuracy are important. Most projectors under 500 will have a resolution of 720p or 1080p; however, there are a few 4K options to consider as well.
Next up is the contrast ratio, which refers to the differences between shades of white and black. If your projector has a low contrast ratio, the picture will appear "washed out". We'd recommend opting for a projector that has a 1500:1 ratio or above to avoid this.
Another area you should be looking at is the lamp life. Once the lamp runs its course, you have to replace it. So, a longer lamp life is beneficial here and should reduce your overall maintenance costs.
Finally, keep an eye out for any additional features that can make your life easier when choosing a projector. For instance, some of the best short throw projectors can deliver full-sized images by super-sizing pictures through a unique set of lenses.
With all these areas considered, here's our list of top picks...
Best projector under 500
- Epson Home Cinema 880
- Anker Nebula Solar Portable
- WiMiUS Upgrade Q1 Mini Android Projector
- Viewsonic High Brightness Projector PA503X
Best projector under 500 - AuKing Mini Projector
AuKing's Mini Projector is one of the cheapest on our list, but don't let the price tag fool you into underestimating its specs.
To begin with, the projector has a brightness of 7500 lumens, making it fit for well-lit environments as well as outdoor use.
In addition to the brightness, you get a resolution of 1080p, which should deliver bright, clear, and colourful images in exceptional detail and quality.
Read More: Best budget 1080p monitor
Furthermore, the projector has a contrast ratio of 2000:1 - pretty impressive considering its price tag. What this means is a solid white image will be 2000 times brighter than a solid black image, thus providing you with more varied, vibrant pictures.
Finally, AuKing's mini projector boasts a lamp life of around 55,000 hours. As a result, you should get a few years of use out of this projector without ever having to change its lamp.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a cost-effective and low-maintenance device, then we'd recommend checking out this AuKing bit of kit.
Best 1080p projector under 500 - Epson Home Cinema 880
Epson's Home Cinema projector comes packed with technology to deliver crisp, clear pictures and make setting up your display easy.
To start things off, the projector has a 3300 lumens brightness, so you should be able to use it in dark rooms as well as rooms with some ambient light.
Next, you get a full HD display, which should suffice for projecting movies, games, and much more. With a high contrast ratio of 16,000:1, you should also find it delivers a cinema-like picture - pretty impressive for its price tag.
Read More: Best gaming TV
To add to the visual specs, the projector also comes with "3LCD technology" which is said to display 100% of the RGB for each frame. You can also choose from 4 colour modes to optimize the colour for the type of content you're viewing.
Finally, with "Auto Picture Skew" sensor, the device detects images and corrects them to deliver perfectly aligned images rather than images slightly off-kilter.
So, if you want a projector for home use capable of Full HD projection, then this Epson device might be your answer.
Best portable projector under 500 - Anker Nebula Solar Portable
Anker's Nebula projector is designed to be taken anywhere thanks to its compact, portable design suitable for outdoor use.
The projector packs in 400 ANSI lumens (that is around 1000 lumens), which should be suitable for dimly lit rooms or night-time viewing outdoors.
Picture-wise, you get a 1080p resolution delivering Full HD visuals. With HDR10 as well, it will likely deliver stunning visuals with high-contrast colours. Also, the device automatically adjusts the image and allows you to modify the keystones manually to tailor its picture to whatever it is you're watching.
Read More: Best soundbar for a small room
To further enhance your cinematic experience, you get built-in speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for 7.1 surround sound audio to completely immerse yourself in all the action.
To top everything off, the projector features a built-in stand, so you don't have to worry about getting a tripod to mount the device either.
So, if you're looking for what is arguably one of the best mini projectors that can deliver 1080p visuals, then this Anker device is worth considering in our opinion.
Best short throw projector under 500 - WiMiUS Upgrade Q1
For smaller rooms, a short throw projector is a must as you can set it up in close proximity to your wall and, thanks to a combination of lens and reflection, it can project full-sized images from just a few feet away.
As far as WiMiUS' Upgrade Q1 is concerned, it can project a 100-inch image from a distance of 2.5m. To add to it, the device features a "low noise" cooling fan that is said to reduce the sound it makes to just 10 dB when in use.
Coming to the display, the projector has a native 1080p resolution, and it's compatible with 4K as well. This is complemented by the DLP projection technology that reproduces detailed pictures with high brightness.
Read More: Best budget 4K monitor
To deliver a better viewing experience, WiMiUS' projector also comes with features like like Autofocus and 6D Keystone Correction. This means the projector can adjust the focus automatically and correct keystone distortion.
Finally, the projector is powered by the Android system - this means you can install an array of apps like Netflix, Hulu, and more without having to connect to an external device to watch your favourite shows.
So, if you're on the hunt for a short throw projector, then this WiMiUS' device looks to be a great budget option for you to consider.
Best projector under 500 for presenting - ViewSonic High Brightness Projector PA503X
At schools and offices (or even at home, for that matter), you need a reliable projector that can produce bright enough pictures that they're visible during the day.
With a brightness of around 3800 lumens, this ViewSonic's PA503X looks as though it has you covered. Plus, it has a high contrast ratio of 22000:1, so whatever it is you're projecting shouldn't look washed out either.
To add to this, the projector has ViewSonic’s SuperColor Technology that is said to give the picture a wide colour range to deliver "stunningly beautiful images" with bright, vibrant tones and textures.
The projector also has Vertical Keystone Correction, which is designed to eliminate keystone distortion for well-proportioned images. This should come in handy when presenting as it should ensure any text is readable.
Coming to the lamp life, it is said to last up to 15,000 hours. To increase its lifespan though, the projector has a 'SuperEco' mode which dims down the brightness by 70% to save on the lamp's output.
For a smoother projecting experience, the device also has ultra-low latency of 16ms, so you should expect smoother video playback when presenting.
Overall, if you're looking for a high-brightness projector to present with, then this ViewSonic device might serve your purpose well.
Frequently Asked Questions
While you're on the hunt for the best projector under 500, you might encounter these questions...
Can you get a good projector under 500?
Yes, we'd argue you can get a good projector for under 500 dollars or pounds as shown with our list.
At this price point, you can find a device that projects 1080p pictures with a powerful brightness of 3000+ lumens plus additional features like surround sound and built-in stands. You should find any projector in this price range suitable for home theatre or some outdoor screening.
However, it also depends on your requirements. For instance, if you're looking for a 4K projector with a lightning-fast refresh rate, then you may have to extend your budget in order to pick up something that suits your needs.
However, you can still find some 4K projectors within this price range if needed. So, if you don't want to break the bank on a projector, then there are plenty of great options under 500 to consider.
Is 1000 lumens enough for a projector?
1000 lumens brightness should suffice in a dark room or space with little or no ambient light. However, 1000 lumens may not be enough if you want to project outdoors.
In this instance, we'd suggest going for something that can produce 1500 lumens or above depending on how light the environment you plan to project in is.
Anything above 3000 lumens tends to only be necessary when projecting in a fully-lit space.