Looking to take the theater experience with you? Our audio/visual experts bought the eight best portable projectors on the market today and rigorously tested them side-by-side to make your purchasing decision as painless as possible! We've left no stone unturned with our extensive hands-on, side-by-side approach to testing, evaluating everything from the A/V spectrum to battery life, to portability. The result? This detailed report to help you find the exact portable projector to meet your needs.A portable projector can be an important accessory in the office, but they're not just for business — we love to break these out for movie nights, too. We also did comprehensive testing and a write-up on full size projectors for a real theatrical experience. Don't forget the popcorn!
|Price||$500 List||$80 List||$70 List|
$69.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Excellent text projection, range of plug-ins||Straightforward UI, sturdy construction||Affordable, small, lightweight|
|Cons||Poor battery, no wireless connectivity||So-so image quality, no independent battery||No independent battery, fuzzy images, dim|
|Bottom Line||An excellent option for text-heavy presentations on the go||A very middle-of-the road projector with a very affordable price tag||An inexpensive option that is best for kids or inconsequential applications|
|Rating Categories||AAXA P7 Mini Projector||Vankyo Leisure 3 Mini||PVO Mini Projector|
|Image Quality (30%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Audio Quality (10%)|
|Specs||AAXA P7 Mini Projector||Vankyo Leisure 3 Mini||PVO Mini Projector|
|Weight (pounds)||1.48 pounds||2.1 pounds||.7 pounds|
|Dimensions||4.7in x 4.4in x 2.7in||7.9in x 5.9in x 3.1in||5.63in x 3.78in x 2.13in|
|Specification Brightness||600 lumens||2400 lumens||n/a|
|Maximum Resolution||1080p||800 x 480||640 x 360|
|Throw Ratio (wide to zoom)||1.20:1||n/a||1.7:1|
|Vertical Keystoning Correciton||Yes||Yes||No|
|Horizontal Keystoning Correciton||No||No||No|
|Warranty||1 year||3 year||N/a|
Best Overall Portable Projector
Anker Nebula Capsule II
The Anker Nebula Capsule II is the ultimate tool for portable multimedia functionality. This projector's crisp image quality, healthy battery life, and excellent speaker brought the big screen to anywhere. Included with built-in Google Assistant functionality, and a mere button-press transformation from projector to Bluetooth portable speaker, the Anker Nebula Capsule II offers the full multimedia experience. The operating system was easy to navigate, and the pre-installed Google Play store was a wonderful feature that helped find all our preferred streaming sites. Paired with both a remote for at-home viewing and a built-in control pad on the top of the device for on-the-go projections, this projector prioritizes device use without any of the confusing back-end configurations. This allowed us to find requisite settings and tools with ease. Lastly, this device is easily oriented to any surface with both auto-focus and auto-keystone capabilities.
But just as nothing is completely perfect, neither is this projector. With only a limited number of ports — AUX, HDMI, USB, and Type C — this projector may not be for the more nuanced A/V crowd. Moreover, thanks to its extra-fortified casing, this projector was a little bulky. However, the Anker Nebula Capsule II eliminates any need for an accompanying portable speaker, and its strong exterior will make it an excellent choice for any traveler in need of media whenever, wherever.
Best Visual Experience
XGIMI MoGo Pro
If nothing else, the video quality of the XGIMI MoGo Pro will truly floor you. More than any of the other projectors we reviewed, the projected image was of such high quality that we were momentarily shocked by its clarity and detail. In terms of solely projector capabilities, the XGIMI MoGo Pro offers an all-around fantastic audio/visual experience, with excellent built-in speakers and the aforementioned breathtaking video. With both automatic focus and keystone, this projector provides an excellent and straightforward user experience. Its almost six-inch standing height meant that this projector never needed any form of support to ensure unimpeded projection. Should your needs be more about intra-home portability and movie viewing, this projector will more than meet your requirements.
Unfortunately, despite its incredible projection power, this projector isn't truly portable. Shaped like a brick, and heavy to boot, the XGIMI MoGo Pro was a pain to lug around. Despite a relatively sturdy casing, we wouldn't want to risk it falling. This device is very open about its limited streaming services. Also, its included guide for how to use Netflix and Amazon Prime is not the easiest to process. However, the projector does boast plenty of other Google Play Store services. Also, it would be a good idea to buy a case if you go for it.
Best for Travel
Kodak Luma 350
If you seek a projector that emphasizes portability first and foremost, look no further than the KODAK Luma 350. With both dimensions and weight more akin to a cupholder than a projector, this model has absolutely no competition in terms of ease of transport. Any projector can just be small, but this one did not sacrifice other functionalities. The KODAK Luma 350 passed the same metrics as the other high-scoring projectors, providing both fantastic image quality and an enviably streamlined UI, with incredible Bluetooth and wired connectivity. Furthermore, with an internet connection, there is no lack of additional features, from surfing the internet with the handy remote-operated mouse, to a host of streaming services. Lastly, this maximizes portability with three easily swappable electrical plugs, allowing easy use in Type B, C, and G countries.
Being incredibly easy to travel with does have its tradeoffs. The projector's speaker starts to taper out in quality when it reaches the higher end of the spectrum. Moreover, the KODAK Luma 350 has only middle-of-the-road battery life, projecting for only about two hours before shutting off. These issues shouldn't deter you if portability is your primary concern, because with seamless Bluetooth connectivity, and an AUX port, this projector can easily connect to a stronger audio output.
Best Bang for Your Buck
If you are looking for great quality on a tight budget, the ViewSonic M1 guarantees the most bang for your buck. With strong speakers, a good battery life, and a streamlined lens cover, this device provides a great projector experience on a budget. After testing its numerous ports and using them to install several movies onto its internal hard drive, this device offered a great viewing experience. With its small carrying case, which would protect the device from any scuffing, this device prioritizes durability. This projector provides ample protection to all of its ports with an easily removable cover, ensuring longevity.
But alongside any price drop, there are always downsides. The ViewSonic M1 comes without any sort of wireless connectivity, so to utilize the device in a rewarding way, you'll need to either plug in a device and/or install your content onto the hard drive. Moreover, the device's interface was not always the most user-friendly, causing a fair share of time rooting around the sub-menus to find the settings or files we were looking for. Also, the device has a limited battery life, with about two hours of use before it shut off. Given that, the ViewSonic M1 provides with a wonderful projector experience, making it a good option for those on a budget.
Best for Business
AAXA P7 Mini Projector
Should you be on the portable projector market for primarily business purposes, then the AAXA P7 Mini Projector should be with you on your next work trip. While other projectors may have better visual clarity, this projector really shines with dense, text-filled imagery, creating clear distinctions between letters and digits on crowded spreadsheets or statements. The AAXA P7 Mini Projector also comes equipped with the widest range of ports of all the projectors we tested, possessing even a VGA port, something uncommon among the others. The full control pad on the top of the device was just as useful as the included remote. Lastly, there is a very simple yet effective two-step activation process, to ensure no accidental activations in transit to your next presentation.
There are tradeoffs. The device suffers from a weak independent battery, so if not plugged in, any presentation longer than an hour runs the risk of being cut short. Also, there is no wireless connectivity, thus making it a poor choice for those looking to minimize additional wiring. Furthermore, both the UI and the remote seem not to have been developed with consumers first in mind, as the former is remarkably bland, and the latter is unnecessarily complicated and cramped. Lastly, its portable stand is rather cumbersome and difficult to ensure a level projected image. Despite all this, should your needs only be to create a (wired) connection to a computer and run a business meeting, the AAXA P7 Mini Projector is a good bet.
Why You Should Trust Us
Over the past few years, Michelle Powell has personally tested hundreds of products for GearLab. She has fine-tuned and honed her ability to develop thorough testing plans and evaluate products fairly and objectively. In approaching these portable projectors, Michelle brings years of experience in testing camera drones, dash-cams, home-security cameras, and full-scale projectors. Conrad Salonites worked before as an A/V technician and a professional writer.
After an extensive research period, we narrowed down and purchased the best portable projectors on the market. Every projector had a thorough analysis of its image and sound qualities, as well as aspects like ease of use, all-around portability and battery life.
Analysis and Test Results
The subsequent passages are the direct results of our extensive, hands-on research divided into the following metrics.
We define our value metric by noting the relationships between overall performance and total cost. The strongest bang for the buck would definitely come from the ViewSonic M1. With a reduced price point, strong projector capabilities and wonderful portability, this projector would be a smart choice. However, if you want the best, and price is secondary, the Anker Nebula Capsule II warrants the higher cost.
The projected image is, arguably, the most important aspect of a projector. Of the devices we tested, the XGIMI MoGo Pro and the Anker Nebula Capsule II top the list. Using extensive visual, color, contrast, resolution, and surface tests, we ran these devices through the gamut. Even in less-than-ideal conditions, these high-scoring projectors did not disappoint.
A big discrepancy between our higher and lower scorers had to do with the brightness and clarity of the image, not just on an empty white wall, but on a variety of different surfaces (including, but not limited to, a brick wall and a DIY bedsheet draped on chairs). With all of these unorthodox surfaces, the XGIMI MoGo Pro and the Anker Nebula Capsule II provided excellent image quality, overpowering the native surface colors, and providing a perfectly acceptable viewing experience. This process was helped by the XGIMI MoGo Pro's 300 ANSI Lumens and the Anker Nebula Capsule II's 200 ANSI Lumens images.
Using industry standards both of our leading projectors passed the Siemen's star test without any asymptotic problem, revealing an excellently clear resolution. Alongside color gradients and skin-tone tests, we made sure that every projector, and especially our top scorers, ensured life-like palettes and realistic contrast, all with minimal visual noise. Our clear winners are the XGIMI MoGo Pro and the Anker Nebula Capsule II.
With we spent a lot of time ensuring seeking the most size efficient and easily transported projectors. The best were the KODAK Luma 350 and the ViewSonic M1. With the former's sleek, cup-holder size, and the latter's all-around device protection, these projectors prioritized their portability.
We prioritized durability and size during our portability testing. For durability, we put our devices through the wringer to gauge how strong they were and make sure that there were no protruding pieces at risk of snapping off. Although the vast majority of the projectors were streamlined and smooth, few matched the KODAK Luma 350 or the ViewSonic M1. Both projectors, with nearly flush sides, were at no risk of accidental damages by other objects, with the latter offering an exceptional covering for both the ports and the lens. In terms of simple sizing, these projectors are enviably portable, with small, streamlined designs that fit well in both our testing luggage and backpacks. This is especially impressive given their quality in the other metrics.
Ease of Use
Anyone can buy a projector, but if they're frustratingly difficult to use, are they even worth it? none of our reviewed projectors suffered from any catastrophic ease-of-use functionality. Our highest performers, the Anker Nebula Apollo, Anker Nebula Capsule II, and KODAK Luma 350 had strong compatibility, great remote pairings, excellent internet services available, and made image adjustment incredibly easy.
When testing out this metric, we wanted to prioritize seeing how the user experience feels. Thus, we took note of the variety of streaming services and internet connectivity that the projectors offered, their compatibility with external devices, how their remote fared, and importantly how good and easy both focusing and keystone adjustment was. The competition across the board was really strong, but in the end, we decided on the Anker Nebula Apollo, Anker Nebula Capsule II, and KODAK Luma 350 because their all-around ease of use.
In our battery testing, the Anker Nebula Apollo dominated the field with a four-hour battery life on a charge. Our overall top scorer, the Anker Nebula Capsule II, came in second at the three-and-a-half-hour mark.
For the testing of video content projection, we used the same movie across all projectors, the seven-hour Hungarian epic, Sátántangó. Many did not rise to the unique challenge this movie presents, but the Anker Nebula Apollo achieved an uncommon success, enduring over half the film in one sitting. A majority of the projectors with internal batteries barely made it beyond the second hour. We also measured charging time and here again the Anker Nebula Apollo outperformed the competition with a competitive 2:1 battery life to charge time.
The Anker Nebula Capsule II and the XGIMI MoGo Pro led with incredible audio performance. The former offered the incredible functionality of doubling as a portable Bluetooth speaker.
We ran numerous tests analyzing the audio range of each device, namely its bass, treble, clarity, and volume. Many projectors were top scorers in this regard. For reference, the poorer-performing speakers suffered from cluttered audio and poor quality at both the higher and lower ends of the spectrum. No projector had any real problems with volume.
What helped to widen the field and determine our winners was compatibility with external. Here the possession of both an AUX port and Bluetooth connectivity helped to solidify the Anker Nebula Capsule II and the XGIMI MoGo Pro as the best performers in terms of audio performance. The Anker Nebula Capsule II's easy single-button switch to Bluetooth speaker is incredibly smooth and efficient, and we found ourselves using the device frequently.
This portable projector review offered a comprehensive look at the most important aspects of the best portable projectors on the market. We focused not only on their image and sound quality but also their portability. Our research should help you pick the ideal portable projector for your needs, be that watching movies anywhere or ensuring a killer business presentation. You're in for a treat with these projectors.
— Michelle Powell and Conrad Salonites
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