The 10 Best Budget Projectors

Updated May 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Bring the movie theater into your living room with these budget projectors, which are perfect for adding novelty and excitement to family screenings and neighborhood gatherings without breaking the bank. They're compatible with a number of streaming devices, and will bring people together to watch films, television shows, or play video games in supersized high definition. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best budget projector on Amazon.

10. Crenova XPE470 Mini LED

With a physical keystone adjustment on the rear of the Crenova XPE470 Mini LED you won't have to go diving into its menus every time the tilt of the display is a little off. The image quality seems to degrade with distance, though, so it might not be ideal for big screens.
  • 1000-to-1 contrast ratio
  • works well with mobile devices
  • speaker output is too low
Brand Crenova
Model XPE470
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Cozyswan GP9

At first glance, the Cozyswan GP9 appears to be just like a lot of the other options out there, with specs that fall right in the middle of the pack. However, its price undercuts pretty much every unit available with the same features.
  • 1500-lumen brightness
  • onboard and remote controls
  • audio sometimes fails to play
Model COZYSWAN-001
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Fugetek FG-857 LED

While many models in this price range skimp on inputs, the Fugetek FG-857 LED comes with component ports and dual HDMI slots, so you don't have to fuss with any wires when you want to switch from a marathon gaming session to binge watching Netflix.
  • coaxial tv connection
  • easy keystone adjustment
  • not the brightest option
Brand Fugetek
Model fg-857
Weight 8.3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Dihome Di005B

The Dihome Di005B tops out at 1,200 lumens, so you'll want to make sure your entertainment room is nice and dark when it comes time to fire up your favorite films or video games. With the lights out, however, its high contrast ratio provides a good image.
  • can produce a 20 to 120-inch display
  • built-in sd card reader
  • a little on the noisy side
Brand Dihome
Model Di005B
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Tenker Q5 Mini

The throw distance on the Tenker Q5 Mini ranges from just under four feet to over three yards, so there aren't many rooms in the house in which it couldn't get the job done. When situated farthest from the screen, it can create an image of up to 150 inches.
  • fans are very quiet
  • lifetime customer support
  • requires a dongle for wi-fi use
Model Q5
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Elephas FBA ELE YG400

The Elephas FBA ELE YG400 splits up its inputs, placing power, VGA, and infrared ports on the back, with its HDMI, USB, and SD slots on the side. This configuration actually cuts down on the space this unit takes up, making it a good choice for people with limited room.
  • leds are mercury free
  • setup is very fast
  • tough to dial in focus
Model FBA_projector-ELE400-wh
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. iDGLAX iDG-787W Mini Portable

Perfect for watching movies and playing games in high definition, the iDGLAX iDG-787W Mini Portable works with a host of gaming systems. Its dual ball bearing fans work together to combat both heat and noise simultaneously.
  • supports 23 different languages
  • impressively wide color gamut
  • speaker is a little weak
Brand iDGLAX
Model iDG-787W
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Ragu Z720

While the Ragu Z720 does a good job of keeping things simple, it still boasts a few features and specs that make it well worth its price tag. Among these is a very bright bulb and a dedicated SD card slot for instantly sharing a slide show of your family vacation.
  • 30000-hour lamp life
  • supports 1080p video inputs
  • includes hdmi and vga cables
Brand Ragu
Model Z720
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. DBpower T20 1500 Lumens

The DBpower T20 1500 Lumens is excellent for home entertainment thanks to its brightness and friendly price point. This model is equipped with heat dissipation tools that cool the device and cut the noise of the fan in half with sound suppression technology.
  • projects up to 130 inches
  • supports mhl connectivity
  • three-year warranty
Model T20
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. ABDtech Portable ST-GP90

The ABDtech Portable ST-GP90 combines an impressive 3000:1 contrast ratio with an output of 3,200 lumens. That produces one of the brightest, most dynamic images of any model in this price range, and it does so in a package that's pleasantly tiny.
  • 30-degree total keystone correction
  • built-in 3-watt stereo speakers
  • lens is easy to focus
Brand AbdTech
Model ST-GP90
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Projectors

The first primitive projector came along in 1420, the brainchild of Johannes de Fontana. He was able to project an image of a monk holding a lantern by placing a special filter over a flame, so that the picture was cast in shadow on the wall. This wasn't especially effective, as the picture would have been very blurry, but it was an important first step.

In 1645, Jesuit scholar Athansius Kircher devised a way to reflect sunlight onto a screen by using a mirror and lens. He called it a magic lantern, which I think we can all agree is a much better name than projector.

By the mid-19th century, magic lanterns that burned quicklime were being used in theatrical productions. These limelight systems could give the appearance of high noon in the middle of the night, and filters could be used to project other effects, such as spotlighting.

Many inventors attempted to create a machine that could project moving images, including Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope, but the first projector that could accommodate a large audience made its debut in 1895. Chemistry professor Woodville Latham created a device he called the Pantopticon, which could display long sequences due to its ability to seamlessly advance film strips.

Movies became part of travelling vaudeville shows not long after, with the first full-time movie house opening in Los Angeles in 1902. Going to the picture show quickly became a national pastime, and film projectors would rule the roost until 1999, when the first digital models became widely available.

These digital projectors had several major advantages over their film counterparts, including higher resolution, smaller size, and reduced shipping costs. However, many purists (such as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino) prefer the old film versions, warts and all.

Still, recreating the cinema experience in your home would be next to impossible for the average American if it weren't for digital projectors. Today, you can get a relatively inexpensive model that will give you crisp images, vivid colors, and incredible brightness.

You'll have to supply your own screaming children and sticky floors, however.

Tips For Finding the Right Projector For You

If you're not a techie, picking out a projector can seem like a nerve-wracking task. Luckily, it's a fairly straightforward process, and there are very few wrong choices you can make.

Before you start shopping, you need to figure out where you'll put the thing. Do you have enough room to make it worthwhile? Will you be using a screen, or just a blank wall? Screens will give you a sharper resolution, but at an added cost. Likewise, if you don't have enough space to get the full cinema experience, you might consider just getting a big-screen TV instead.

Also, think about how you're going to install it before you bring it home. Will it be mounted to the ceiling, or just resting on a shelf? Think about how you'll connect all the necessary wires, as well. In general, you'll want to be able to put the projector a good distance away from the display area, especially if you value sound quality, as even the quietest projectors will still make a little bit of noise.

The amount of light you'll have to deal with is another important factor. If you can make the room pitch-black, then just about any model will look fantastic, but most people will find it difficult to block out all light. In general, the more lumens the projector has, the better it will be with dealing with light — and that's especially important if you plan to take it with you on the go.

Regardless of which model you choose, the important thing is to have fun and enjoy your new toy. And remember, if anyone criticizes what you bought, you can simply ask them to leave your special screening of Big Momma's House 2.

Other Ways to Create A Home Theater On A Budget

While creating your own personal home cineplex may seem financially daunting, it can actually be quite fiscally responsible, especially when you consider how expensive going to the movies can be. Here are a few ideas for putting together a great home theater without spending a lot of scratch.

First off, don't feel like you have to buy everything at once. You can upgrade a piece at a time, filling in the gaps with equipment you already have, and you can do so without going into hock.

This is why buying the right projector is key; if you get one that has in-unit speakers, for example, that can save you a fairly major expense right off the bat. Also, many models have built-in Wi-Fi, which can let you stream movies directly from the unit, allowing you to skip buying a Blu-ray player or other device. If you do want to add an external player, though, look for something that can provide a wide variety of entertainment experiences, such as a gaming laptop.

You can find cheap blackout curtains online, and setting these up will do wonders for recreating the movie-going experience. Also, they can help you cut down on energy costs, allowing you to put those savings towards buying more gear.

Finally, be wary about over-paying for cords and accessories. Many big-box retailers charge an arm and a leg for a simple HDMI cable, and you can easily find cheaper versions that are just as good online.

Installing a home theater is an investment that will pay off over time, both financially and in terms of family bonding experiences. You'll soon be the envy of the neighborhood — and hey, you might even be able to charge other families admission.

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Last updated on May 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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