Our Recommended Budget Projectors: $150-$500


Finding projectors with good performance under $500 can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you do not want to rely on coupons or sales. Projectors in this price range sometimes struggle to deliver the top-notch image quality we would love to recommend. With this in mind, many of the projectors we suggest in this category might lean towards the higher end of the budget, and some may even slightly exceed the $500 mark. The reason for this is that projectors are pretty complex devices, needing lots of technology crammed into a small package to compete with regular TVs. Achieving this without a higher cost can be challenging.

Nevertheless, these entry-level projectors do offer a fantastic way to dip your toes into the world of projection technology and can still provide an immersive viewing experience.

The next price bracket beyond this range is where the projector market truly starts to open up, offering more advanced features and significantly improved performance. In an upcoming article, we will explore the exciting options available in that category. Stay tuned for projectors that strike a better balance between price and performance!

Quick Jump

Projector Features in this Price Range

It is essential to manage your expectations, as these projectors do come with limitations:

Limited Resolution: Do not expect entry-level projectors to deliver native 4K Ultra HD resolution. Instead, they often feature lower resolutions like 720p or 1080p.

Low Brightness and Contrast: Entry-level projectors typically offer lower brightness and contrast levels compared to more expensive projectors or even with TV’s in this price range. This means they may not perform well in rooms with significant light or be able to show the best details, but their advantage is being able to produce a large image and potentially even be portable.

Limited Picture Controls: Projectors at this level may lack advanced picture control options found in higher cost modes. You might not have extensive customization for color accuracy or image adjustments. However, there will be some basic settings that can still help you optimize your viewing experience.

Marketing Tactics: When shopping for a projector, especially in this price range, it is wise to be cautious of misleading advertisements. Pay attention to key specifications like brightness, resolution, and contrast, but be aware that some manufacturers may exaggerate their product’s capabilities, making it essential to seek reliable sources for accurate information to make an informed decision. We help you understand this more in our article “Shopping for Projectors: Cutting Through the BS.”

Our Criteria

Picture Quality: Despite being in the budget category, we should still prioritize good picture quality. Going beyond merely considering brightness and resolution, we look for projectors that offer the best possible contrast and color accuracy within the price range. A balanced blend of these elements ensures an enjoyable viewing experience.

User-Friendliness: Ensuring a hassle-free experience is crucial for this price range as most people will not want to mess with a bunch of settings to get the picture right. We assess the user-friendliness of each projector, focusing on aspects such as setup ease, straightforward controls, intuitive menu navigation, and convenient connectivity options. Additionally, a well-designed remote control can significantly contribute to a smoother and more enjoyable user experience.

Versatility: The versatility of a projector is another aspect we consider. This includes evaluating its connectivity options, such as HDMI ports, USB inputs, and portability. Furthermore, we assess its compatibility with various media sources including streaming devices, gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and whether or not it has built in streaming capability.

A note regarding built-in apps: while adding features like an integrated streaming app can enhance ease of use and versatility, it can also raise manufacturing costs and potentially impact the projector’s image quality as cost-saving measures may be necessary to squeeze in those extra features in this price range. Instead of investing in projectors with built-in apps, consider allocating a little extra budget for an affordable streaming device such as the Firestick, Roku, or Chromecast. Another factor to consider is that built-in apps may become obsolete and lose support over time, making a separate streaming dongle a more adaptable and dependable option.

Recommended Projectors

Best Overall

XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro

The XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro is a compact portable projector that stands out for its excellent image quality and color balance for its price. It features TOF-based autofocus, keystone correction, and obstacle avoidance, making it incredibly user-friendly for quick setups. Running on Android TV 11, it offers access to a wide range of programming options, and is HDR10 compatible. Despite its impressive attributes, the MoGo 2 Pro does have a few drawbacks such as the absence of a Netflix app and a somewhat confusing menu structure for more advanced picture adjustments.

Nevertheless, it sets a high standard for portable and low cost projectors with its advanced auto-setup capabilities and overall performance. It does come in slightly above the $500 mark, so if that is a concern you could step down a model to the XGIMI MoGo 2, but you will take a hit in native resolution to 1280×720 and lose out on some of the auto-setup functions.



  • LED illumination engine with a rated lifetime of 25,000 hours
  • Resolution: Native 1920×1080 full HD
  • Capable of 400 ANSI lumens (“Performance” mode), but is 313 in the more color accurate “Vivid” mode
  • 1.2:1 lens with a projection size ranging from 40 to 200 inches diagonally
  • HDMI 2.0 video connection, headphone jack, and USB 2.0 Type A port
  • Powered by an Amlogic 950 quad-core processor, 2GB of system memory, and 16GB of storage
  • Equipped with 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Side-firing 8-watt speakers and a passive bass reflex driver
  • Control via a 6-inch remote control
  • Dimensions: 4.7″ (12cm) x 4.3″ (11cm) x 6.3″ (16cm)

Additional Info:

  • Provides various picture modes including Vivid, Cinema, Bright, Performance, and Custom
  • Supports HDR content and offers a wide color gamut
  • No optical zoom, but includes a digital zoom function
  • Built in Chromecast
  • Be aware that side-loading the latest Netflix app isn’t guaranteed to work and Netflix tends to disable some of these cheaper projectors as Chromecast targets – including the XGIMIs – so it is best to read the forums or Reddit for the latest on this
  • Can wirelessly send audio to external Bluetooth speakers

Dedicated Home Theater/Gaming

Optoma HD146X

The Optoma HD146X offers impressive image quality without breaking the bank. It is an excellent choice for gaming thanks to its low 16ms response time, a rare find near $500. It includes gaming-oriented features like an enhanced gaming mode and a game display mode, reducing input lag and enhancing visibility in dark scenes. Although, it has only one HDMI port, modest built-in audio, and lacks lens shift for precise alignment (but has keystone correction). The image quality has good color accuracy and contrast in various viewing modes. It also supports 3D with reasonable performance.

In summary, the Optoma HD146X delivers impressive image quality and gaming performance at its price point. It is a great choice for dedicated media or home theater rooms, although it does not prioritize easy setup or built-in media features, which can be more important considerations in this price range. If you are setting up a dedicated room, projectors like this one are worth considering. For alternative options, check out the honorable mentions section.



  • Native resolution: 1080p (1920×1080)
  • DLP Lamp Light engine rated for 15,000 hours in dynamic mode
  • Brightness: 3,500 lumens
  • Contrast ratio: 25,000:1 rated (on / off contrast with dynamic lamp dimming)
  • Throw ratio: 1.47:1 ~ 1.62:1
  • Projection distance: 39.37″ – 385.83″
  • Inputs: 1 x HDMI 1.4a, 1 x USB-A (1.5A power)
  • Outputs: 1 x Audio 3.5mm
  • Audio: Built-in 10W speaker

Additional Info:

  • Fan noise can be more noticeable than with lower-lumens and LED-powered projectors due to the heat from the lamp
  • The bottom of the image is above the lens when table mounting and below the lens when ceiling mounting. This is in contrast to most other projectors in this category which tend to centre the image on the lens. Therefore, extra care should be taken when planning to install this projector.
  • Supports 3D playback
  • Keystone correction: +/-40° (vertical)
  • Dimensions: 12.44″ (31cm) x 9.61″ (24cm) x 4.25″ (11cm)
  • Weight: 8.38 lbs

Battery Powered

Anker Nebula Capsule II

The Anker Nebula Capsule II is a highly portable and user-friendly DLP projector with a compact design and Android TV integration. While it has some limitations in terms of brightness and resolution, it excels in portability and ease of use, making it a great choice for on-the-go entertainment and projection of up to 100-inch screens. Its built-in battery, variety of ports, and access to a wide range of apps enhance its appeal, despite the absence of Netflix.

If portability is a top priority, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is a compelling option as it is about the size of a soda can. There is a newer model for a bit more money but it is outside of this price bracket; here is the link if you want to take a look.



  • Brightness: 200 ANSI Lumens
  • Lamp life: 30,000 hours
  • Capable of playback from a 4K source, but outputs in 720p native resolution
  • Compact and portable design, weighing only 680g
  • Projects an image as large as 100 inches
  • Built-in battery for portability, offering 3 hours of video playback
  • USB-C port for charging, with 1 USB-A port
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • Built-in 8W speaker

Additional Info:

  • Capsule II’s lens features 1-second autofocus so there’s no need to manually focus the projector
  • Powered by Google’s Android TV 9.0 platform with Chromecast built in
  • Included remote control with Google Assistant button
  • Soft touch top navigation buttons
  • You need a light-controlled room that you can darken as 200 lumens isn’t going to cut it with daylight streaming in or with lights on.
  • No horizontal keystone correction so you will need to centre it when projecting, such as placing it on a table in front of you.
  • You won’t get stellar contrast performance from a portable DLP projector, but that isn’t really expected in this price category .

Wallet Friendly

NexiGo PJ40

The NexiGo PJ40 is an affordable projector that strikes a balance between features and performance. It provides a well-rounded package at a budget-friendly price, usually around $250. This projector delivers a bright and clear image for its price, even in moderately lit rooms, thanks to its good contrast ratio and decent brightness. Adjusting the image size is easy enough with its keystone correction and zoom features. Although the built-in speakers provide only okay audio, some users may opt for external speakers for better sound. It has support for 4K resolution while having a true native 1080p resolution, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. However, it is worth noting that it lacks HDR support, and has received occasional reports of overheating.

In summary, the NexiGo PJ40 offers a balanced combination of features and performance, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a true budget home projector.



  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
  • Maximum supported resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • ANSI Lumens: 700 ANSI lumen theoretical, 583.71 from measured reviews
  • Contrast ratio: 1700:1 measured
  • Smart OS: No (Android menus)
  • Throw ratio: 1.47:1
  • Projection size: 50″ to 300″ with a throw distance 4.72-30.18′
  • Connectivity: 2 x HDMI, 2 x USB, RJ45, Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.1
  • Speakers: 2 x 10W

Additional Info:

  • Focus: Manual
  • Keystone Correction: Auto Vertical or 4-Point Manual
  • Fan Noise: 46.2 decibels, but adjustable depending on the image brightness set
  • Power Draw: 174W
  • Dimensions: 11.3″ (28cm) x 10.8″ (27cm) x 4.8″ (12cm)
  • Weight: 6.24 lbs

Honorable Mentions

I would like to mention these because even though they did not beat out the other projectors mentioned, they are still noteworthy projectors to consider.

Anker Mars II Pro: A portable DLP projector with a built-in battery that can last up to 4 hours on a single charge. It has a resolution of 720p and a brightness of 500 lumens with a built in speaker, making it suitable for watching movies and TV shows in dark rooms or even outside. It runs android 7.1 for streaming apps.

Optoma HD28HDR: The Optoma HD28HDR is a quality DLP home theater projector with Full HD and HDR support, delivering vibrant visuals and a great gaming experience. Its high brightness and low input lag make it ideal for both movies and gaming. With multiple HDMI ports and 3D support, it offers versatility in setup. While it has built-in speakers, an external sound system is recommended for better audio. It’s in the honorable mention section due to its higher price around $650USD, but it can frequently be found on sale for around the $500 mark.

BenQ TH575 1080: A DLP home theater projector with a resolution of 1080p and a brightness of 2700 lumens. It also supports HDR10 content, which means it can deliver brighter whites and darker blacks for a more immersive viewing experience. It has two HDMI inputs, so you can connect multiple devices, such as a streaming device, Blu-ray player, or game console. This one is good to consider for a dedicated room as it lacks a built in OS.

Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01: A portable projector with a resolution of 1280×800 and a brightness of 3000 lumens. It has a built-in battery that can last up to 8 hours on a single charge, making it ideal for outdoor use. It also has a built-in speaker. This is a great projector if high brightness is the priority as it lacks many other features and does not have full 1080p resolution.

XGIMI Elfin Mini Projector: A tiny projector with a resolution of 720p and a brightness of 600 lumens. It is perfect for traveling or for use in small spaces. It has built-in Harman Kardon speakers with a built-in Android TV operating system, so you can stream apps like Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video directly from the projector. Again, this projector is slightly out of the $500 mark, but can often be found for less on sale.

Finding Deals

If your budget is tight, one way to save money on projectors is to buy factory refurbished units or buy second hand.

Factory-refurbished projectors are a cost-effective way to get high-quality performance. These units, restored and tested by manufacturers, provide like-new quality at a fraction of the price. Plus, they often come with a warranty, but it may be shortened compared to buying new.

Buying second hand is another way to save a ton of money, but it does come with its risks. Using sites like AVS forums, is a great way to find deals and most people on the site are home theater enthusiasts. A word of caution: when purchasing a used projector, it is essential to thoroughly inspect the device for any signs of wear and tear, test its functionality, and inquire about the projector’s history and maintenance records.

While these ways can be a more affordable option, there is a chance that you take with the warranty and level of support you may get if anything happens to the unit. However, with careful research and a bit of luck, you can still find a reliable and cost-effective projector that suits your needs.

Projector Buying Guides:

Projector Buying Guide: The Room

Shopping for Projectors: Cutting Through the BS

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: