We Tried the Best Projectors for Every Budget and Viewing Experience — See Our Top Picks

·12 min read

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Many of us think about buying a projector without acting on it. It would be so nice, we imagine, to have a nifty, relatively small device with which to watch any movie or show at any size we wish. Terminator II: Judgment Day in 80 inches, dominating the entire living room wall? Why not?

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But making that fantasy reality requires inspecting what’s under the hood of said box. That’s where we’ve come in, researching, testing and selecting the five best projectors to suit any home and budget. Projectors have come a long way in the past decade, and replacing your TV setup doesn’t have to be a huge leap in terms of cost or learning newfangled tech. These units have slimmed down and are more affordable than ever, making them sensible for the average consumer and not just the A/V geek.

Related: The Best 4K TVs for Watching Sports

You can still go all out and splurge on the 4K Epson Home Cinema (below) if you wish, as it’s more than enough machine to take on whatever you feed it in your custom-built home theater room. It might even wean you off of going to a movie theater entirely.

But if your ambitions are more modest, there are projectors here that rival the quality of a premium TV and will finally enable you to host backyard movie nights with friends and family. You can also boost your manager credentials and get a user-friendly projector for the office conference room. Or go ahead and gift your young child with a tiny but sturdy projector made for Peppa Pig parties (don’t worry, it’s cheap enough to take a tumble).

We researched and tested the newest projectors on the market, choosing the best projectors whatever your situation, from $1,900 down to just $100.

The Best Home Projectors at a Glance

For this roundup, we researched hundreds of projectors to select and test five options to suit any consumer’s budget. We tried out the units for more than a month, watching and rewatching Blu-ray discs and high-resolution digital copies of movies. We can confidently say that you’ll find something here that more than does the job whatever you’re looking to spend, and whether you’re getting a projector to complete your dream home theater or just kick it for a movie night in the backyard.

BEST OVERALL Epson Home Cinema 4010 4K Projector, $1,900 to $2,000 — Amazon | Epson | Walmart
BEST PORTABLE Anker Nebula Mars II Pro 720p Projector, $550 — Amazon | Anker | Walmart
BEST PORTABLE 1080p Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector, $460 to $600 — Amazon | Anker
BEST BUDGET BUY Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector, $180 to $200 — Amazon | Best Buy | Miroir | Walmart
BEST FOR KIDS Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector, $80 to $110 — Amazon | Best Buy | Miroir | Walmart

1. Best Overall: Epson Home Cinema 4010 4K Projector

Best For: The discriminating movie lover with a home screening room

AnkEpson Home Cinema 4010 4K Projector
AnkEpson Home Cinema 4010 4K Projector

Pros:

  • 4K resolution

  • Stunning clarity

  • A full DCI-P3 color gamut that shows off every shade

Cons:

  • It’s a big, weighty machine

  • Not portable

  • Pricey

Buy Epson 4010 projector: Amazon ($1,900) | Epson ($2,000) | Walmart ($2,000)

The first thing movie lovers will notice about Epson’s fantastic 4010 projector from its industry-benchmark Home Cinema line is the heft. This thing is a beast, taking up most of the space on top of my home office desk (though to be fair, I live in a relatively tight studio apartment, and the desk is on the smaller side). This isn’t built for casual viewing. There’s no battery, and no built-in speaker (not that you would want such tinny sound for such a maximalist device). You should pursue this if you want to replicate the experience of theatrical moviegoing at home, and if you have the space and money to spare. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about turning that wasted den into a customized home screening room. (You may feel fine never returning to the multiplex — Hollywood’s nightmare!)

Epson 4010 projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt
Epson 4010 projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt

Paul Schrodt

The optics of the Epson 4010 are sublime: The 4K image — a resolution that’s the current gold standard for technophiles looking for the best of the best — is startlingly sharp even when blown up to a ridiculously gigantic 80-plus inches on a bare wall in my humble home. But for this kind of machine, you should get a proper devoted screen. Blacks are inky and whites are luminous, with 2,400 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of up to 200,000:1, significantly higher than specs on the lower-cost projectors featured here. And subtler hues are all accounted for, thanks to the three-LCD chip processing power that displays the full three-dimensional DCI-P3 color gamut. I couldn’t catch any hot spots or other weird visual aberrations.

For testing purposes, I rewatched Tenet on the Epson 4010 — projected in the Christopher Nolan 2020 blockbuster’s native 4K resolution. As I was watching, I admired how rounded the image is: Nothing from the camera’s eye seems to be flattened or missed. I no longer regretted skipping a visit to see the movie in theaters during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This thing looked as sparkling as it likely did from a professional projection booth. Nolan’s precise visuals managed to be crystal clear across the frame in both wide action shots with many actors (That plane crash! Those sailboats!) and in intimate closeups. I spotted the tiny crevices on John David Washington’s beautiful movie-star face that I hadn’t even realized existed. But there they are.

(Epson is currently knocking $100 off the normal $2,000 price of the 4010, which makes this projector a no-brainer in the upper echelon.)

Price $1,900
Model Number V11H932020
Image Resolution 4K Ultra HD
Lumens 2,400
Battery Life No built-in battery
Speaker No built-in speaker
Maximum display 300 inches
Connectivity HDMI
Outputs 2 HDMI, 1 USB-A, 1 USB, 1 mini USB, 1 LAN, 1 computer/D-sub 15 pin, 1 RS-232c/D-sub 9-pin, 3.5mm audio, 12 V DC (200 mAh max)
Weight 24.7 pounds
Dimensions 20.5 x 17.7 x 6.7 inches

Buy: Epson Home Cinema 4010 4K PRO-UHD Projector $2,699.00

2. Best Portable: Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector

Best For: Premium viewing that can move from the living room to the backyard (or rooftop!)

Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector
Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector

Pros:

  • Solid, bright image for the size

  • Smart go-anywhere design

  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • Not quite full HD resolution

Buy Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector, $550: Amazon | Anker | Walmart

Opting for a projector over a television saves space. It also gives you the flexibility of making your image big or small—and potentially, taking the image with you. Anker’s Nebula Mars II Pro hits the sweet spot of being a portable projector, with 720p resolution that looks good enough to satisfy living-room viewings along with camping-trip excursions.

The resolution-obsessed might be unimpressed with standard HD (720p) these days, in which case they may be inclined to go for this model’s cousin, the 1080p Nebula Solar Portable (listed further below).

But unlike the Nebula Solar, the Nebula Mars II Pro model (with a built-in battery, hence no need to plug in when you’re out in the wilderness) doesn’t sacrifice brightness for the extra pixels. The image from this mid-sized portable device is appropriately radiant, with 500 lumens, and will suit most consumers well.

Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt
Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt

Paul Schrodt

I got lost in the beautiful, Oscar-winning costumes of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread all over again watching it on the Nebula Mars II Pro. Their intricate detail came through as the image shined across 60 inches of my apartment wall. And while it didn’t live up to my theatrical viewing of the movie, it wasn’t seriously degraded compared to watching on my 43-inch Vizio V-series 4K UHD smart TV. But the experience did feel more cinematic. And the image was just well … bigger.

But my favorite part of this puppy is the packaging: Anker has smartly designed the Mars II Pro in a vertically oriented shell you can easily drop into a backpack or tote. And there’s even a firm leather handle to help with carrying. The lens cap is a welcome addition, blocking dirt and other elements when you’re headed outdoors. You could also haul this up to the rooftop of your apartment building and project on the side of a neighboring building — it would make for a fabulous summer movie-and-popcorn get-together. This projector makes the most of its versatility.

Price $550
Model Number D2323
Image Resolution 720p
Lumens 500
Battery Life Up to 3 hours
Maximum display 100 inches
Connectivity  HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen mirroring
Weight 3.9 pounds
Dimensions 7.0 x 4.8 x 5.2 inches
Outputs 1 HDMI, 1 USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio

Buy: Nebula by Anker Mars II Pro 500 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector $549.99

3. Best Portable 1080p: Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector

Best For: True full HD resolution you can take with you

Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector
Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector

Pros:

  • Full HD resolution in a small, sleek package

  • Portable

  • User-friendly

Cons: 

  • Image could be brighter

Buy Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector: Amazon ($460 to $600) | Anker ($520)

If you’re a stickler for full HD resolution but don’t want to break the bank, Anker’s Nebula Solar portable projector with a built-in battery is a nice all-around mid-tier option. The image at 400 lumens is slightly dimmer than the lower-res Nebula Mars II Pro (projecting at 500 lumens), but the upside is that it comes in a lighter, more streamlined body. And the higher resolution at a lower price makes it hard to complain.

The Anker Nebula Solar Portable (also available in a lower-priced AC powered option) may not be enough reason to ditch your TV at the same price point, but the built-in battery means that this is a great supplemental unit that you can take out to the back patio for sharp 1080p poolside viewing. The simple, pared-down layout and included apps via Nebula Connect make both this and the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro more user-friendly than the other options here. (Though warning: Even with a software update, those native apps can be a bit clunky, so you’ll probably want to keep your Apple TV, Roku or another backup streaming device handy.) I found myself quickly switching over to my Apple TV for nimbler movie- and TV-surfing.

Anker Nebula Solar Projector
Anker Nebula Solar Projector

The sleek white device would also fit in an office setting as a projector for conference-room presentations. The price shouldn’t raise the eyebrows of a significant other or the company accounting department.

Price $500
Model Number D2131121
Image Resolution 1080p
Lumens 400
Battery Life Up to 3 hours
Speaker Built-in Dolby Digital Plus 2x3W
Maximum display 120 inches
Connectivity HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast
Outputs 1 HDMI, 1 USB-C, 1 USB
Weight 2.9 pounds
Dimensions 7.6 x 7.6 x 2.2 inches

Buy: Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector $599.99

4. Best Budget Buy: Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector

Best For: Pocket-sized projection under $200

Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector
Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector

Pros:

  • Literally pocket-sized

  • 1 pound

Cons:

  • Non-HD resolution

Buy Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector: Amazon ($180) | Best Buy ($200) | Miroir ($180) | Walmart ($180)

If you’re looking for an add-on to your current TV installation but at a lower-budget price point, it’s hard to beat the truly miniature Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector. It might not be HD like its competitors above, but its advantage is that, weighing in at literally just one pound, it’s genuinely pocket-sized (4.13 x 6.63 x 1.13 inches) — at least if you’re wearing pants with relatively roomy pockets. I was able to slip it into the back pocket of my Old Navy shorts to walk to the park (my shorts didn’t fall!).

The built-in battery lasts around two hours, enough for the average movie if not The Batman-length viewing. Better is the unit’s collapsible kickstand, which means you don’t even need to bother with a tripod. While the 480p resolution won’t wow anyone, the image is surprisingly bright at 200 lumens given the tiny footprint. The black rectangular device looks like it could be a portable phone charger, and it’s pleasantly unobtrusive whether planted on a coffee table or tucked into that pocket.

Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt
Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt

Paul Schrodt

Price $180
Model Number M190
Image Resolution 480p
Lumens 200
Battery Life Up to 2 hours
Speaker Built-in, 1-watt
Maximum display 80 inches
Connectivity HDMI
Outputs 1 HDMI, 1 USB-C, 1 USB, 3.5mm audio
Weight 1 pound
Dimensions 4.13 x 6.63 x 1.13 inches

Buy: Miroir M190 Mini Pro Projector $159.99

5. Best for Kids: Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector

Best For: Toddlers rolling around while watching Peppa Pig

Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector
Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector

 

Pros:

  • Tiny

  • Weighs less than a pound

Cons:

  • Somewhat murky, low-resolution image

Buy Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector (reg. $150): Amazon ($80) | Best Buy ($110) | Miroir ($110) | Walmart ($110)

A projector for your little one? It might sound over the top, but your young one doesn’t need to be too spoiled to deserve this true-to-its-name “micro” unit with built-in battery. The lightweight box-like device is small enough to sit on the smallest of bookshelves — or travel wherever a child wants to busy themselves watching shows and playing video games. If the plastic casing gets beaten up, well, at least you’re only out $100.

Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt
Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector - Credit: Paul Schrodt

Paul Schrodt

If the plastic casing gets beaten up, well, at least you’re only out $100. And if your kid hasn’t yet hit roller-coaster height, chances are they won’t grumble about an image that maxes out at 50 inches and is on the fuzzy and dim side (with a meager 360p resolution and 20 lumens of brightness). Toddlers will be over the moon rolling around while they project their favorite Peppa Pig episodes. Having no kids of my own, I beamed Jennifer Lopez’s Halftime documentary on my kitchen wall, and half-watched her grueling effort to pull off a spectacular Super Bowl show and earn America’s respect while I cooked a lazy weekend stir fry. The sudden addition of a kitchen TV-that’s-not-a-TV felt luxurious.

Price $100
Model Number M75
Image Resolution 360p
Lumens 20
Battery Life Up to 2 hours
Speaker Built-in, two 1W speakers
Maximum display 50 inches
Connectivity HDMI
Outputs 1 HDMI, 1 USB, 3.5mm audio
Weight 0.84 pounds
Dimensions 3.46 x 3.46 x 1.69 inches

Buy: Miroir M75 Micro Pocket Projector $79.99

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