Best Budget Projectors: Top Picks And Reviews

So you want to buy a projector but you don’t have the budget for a fancy, cinema-grade, projector. Don’t worry! There are plenty of budget projectors out there, and you can easily build a really nice home cinema, without spending too much money.

Buying a projector can be a bit tricky because there are so many features to consider. In this article, I’ll not only be sharing some of my favourite budget projectors but also some tips on how to find the perfect one for your needs (connectivity options, compatibility, ports, etc). Don’t forget you’ll need a projector screen too!

Bear in mind, while there are some very budget projectors on the UK market, such as under £100, those can lack important features. I recommend looking for mid-range projectors, in the £200 to £500 price range, because the build quality tends to be better, making them last longer.

On top of that, you also get additional features that will improve your experience. The last thing you want is to drop cash on a projector only to have it die on you in a matter of weeks. While brands like BenQ are known for high-quality projectors, they’re also a little pricey.

I’ll be covering some projector buying tips and suggestions later on in this article. There are plenty of alternative projector brands out there that are much cheaper and offer similar features.

My List of Cheap Projectors Available in the UK (Many under £200 and even £100)

1 – ELEPHAS W13

WiFi Projector, ELEPHAS 2021 WiFi Mini Projector with Synchronize Smartphone Screen, 1080P HD Portable Projector with 6500 Lux and 200" Display, Compatible with Android/iOS

Type: LED | Resolution: 1080P | Brightness: 6500 Lux| Contrast Ratio: 3500:1 | Max Projection Size: 200” | Video Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 2 x USB, 1 x VGA | Built-in Speakers: Yes | Wifi: Yes | Bluetooth: No

Looking for a very budget-friendly projector? The Elephas W13 is a great choice. It’s one of the most budget-friendly options on our list so you shouldn’t expect any amazing features.

Having said that, the Elephas W13 delivers a surprisingly sharp and bright image for its price. The Elephas W13 has a rated brightness of 6500 Lux and a contrast ratio of 3,500:1. Additionally, the maximum projection size is 200″ and it includes multiple video outputs; VGA, HDMI, and USB.

One great feature that I was happy to discover is Wi-fi. The Elephas W13 has built-in Wi-fi which supports casting and screen-mirroring features. In other words, you can wirelessly share your phone’s screen with the projector.

Overall, not the absolute best projector on the market, but much better than expected, considering the price. A great backup or secondary projector!

2 – BOWMAKER GC355

BOWMAKER Tech Outdoor WiFi Projector, 2021 Upgraded Full HD Native 1080P Supported Movie Projector, 6500 Video Projector for iOS, Android, Laptop, PS5, TV Stick

Type: LCD| Resolution: 720P | Brightness: 6500 Lumens | Contrast Ratio: 9000:1 | Max Projection Size: 300” | Video Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, SD CARD, 2xUSB | Built-in Speakers: Yes | Wifi: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes

Need a budget-friendly TV replacement? The BOWMAKER GC355 is a good option for kids’ playrooms or watching movies outdoors.

The brightness is rated at 6500 Lumens and the model was recently upgraded to improve the brightness even further. The contrast ratio on the projector also allows for some very clear and vibrant colours. I like that the maximum projection size is 300″ but I would recommend keeping it in the 100″ range for better visuals.

As for connection options, you have HDMI, VGA, USB, and an SD card slot. The projector also includes built-in speakers which are acceptable. There’s also the option to use a 3.5 mm cable to connect a soundbar or other speakers.

The noise level is great too, with a very silent fan, even after long sessions. The noise level is under 15 dB. The only downside is the resolution is not a full 1080P but rather limited to 720P.

All in all, a nice budget-friendly projector that has most of the features you need.

3 – Vamco L6200

Projector, Vamvo Outdoor Projector 350 ASIN Lumens Native 1080P Full HD, Video Projector 300" Image Display Dolby Supported, Phone Projector Compatible with HDMI/ USB/ AV/ Micro SD/ VGA

 

Type: LED | Resolution: 1080P | Brightness: 7000 Lumens | Contrast Ratio: 5000:1 | Max Projection Size: 300” | Video Inputs: 2 x HDMI, 2 x USB, VGA, AV, Micro SD Card | Built-in Speakers: Yes | Wifi: Yes | Bluetooth: No

Looking for something a bit on the higher-end side? The Vamco L6200 is a good mid-range projector with a lot of great features.

The most notable feature is it the projector natively supports 1080P resolution. What that means is the image you see on the projector screen will be in full HD.

As for the other features, it has a brightness level rated at 7000 Lumens and a contrast ratio of 5000:1. The number of connection options is great too, I really liked how they included two HDMI ports, instead of the standard single port.

With two HDMI ports, you can easily switch from casting sticks like Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and whatnot, to gaming consoles and other devices.

Another notable feature is the manual keystone adjustment on the rear panel, allowing you to manually adjust the angle of the projection. In other words, you don’t have to set the projector in a fixed spot to get a good image.

To summarize, the Vamco L6200 is a very good mid-range projector for living rooms or gaming rooms.

4 – ARTLII ENERGON 2

5G Wifi Bluetooth Projector Artlii Energon 2 Projector 4K Support 340 ANSI Lumen Native 1080p Full HD Home Outdoor 250" Display 60% Zoom for Android iOS Phone PC PS4 (Bag included)

Type: LED | Resolution: 1080P | Brightness: 7000 Lumens | Contrast Ratio: 8000:1 | Max Projection Size: 300” | Video Inputs: 2xHDMI, 2xUSB, VGA, Micro SD Card, | Built-in Speakers: Yes | Wifi 2.4G/5G: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes

If you want a decent mid-range projector, the ARTLII Energon 2 is worth checking out.

There are two features that stood out to me, the fact that it supports 4K media and it also supports 5G Wifi. While it doesn’t natively support 4K, it can play 4K media, unlike other projectors that are unable to open the files.

If you have 5G Wifi in your home, screen-mirroring to the projector will feel very responsive with minimal delays. It also supports Bluetooth and has a built-in speaker.

Besides that, the video connection options are standard, with 2 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, VGA, and a Micro SD Card slot. Bear in mind, one of the USB ports can be used for charging a device such as a Chromecast.

One point to keep in mind is this projector is a lot larger than most budget projectors, and a little heavier too. Another issue is the fan tends to be a little loud, which can be bothersome.

In most cases, the audio from movies will cover the projector’s fan noise, but you might hear the fan in the background from time to time. Nevertheless, the picture quality is great and it has plenty of connection options.

5 – Yaber V2

YABER WiFi Projector Mini Portable Projector 6500 Lumens 1080P Full HD Projector[Projector Screen Include] 236" Home Theater Compatible with PC/smartphone/tablet/PS3/PS4/TV Stick/DVD player etc.

Type: LED | Resolution: 720 | Brightness: 6500 Lumens | Contrast Ratio: 6000:1 | Max Projection Size: 200” | Video Inputs: 1xHDMI, 2xUSB | Built-in Speakers: Yes | Wifi: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes

Let’s say that you’re on a really tight budget and you’re looking for a backup projector or something for the kids. In that case, the Yaber V2 could be perfect for you. It’s an extremely budget-friendly projector, I’m talking under 100 Euros. It’s also very small and lightweight.

My expectations for the Yaber V2 were low considering the price, but it’s actually rather impressive. For starters, the brightness is rated at 6500 Lumens, with a contrast ratio of 6000:1. In darks rooms, the image quality is perfectly acceptable and you can make out most of the details.

However, it only supports a resolution of 1280 x 720P which will look blurry at large projection sizes. Nevertheless, for the price, it’s a really good deal.

As for video ports, it only has one HDMI port and 2 USB ports. It also supports Wifi and casting features. While the built-in speakers are acceptable, I recommend using the aux port to connect the projector to a soundbar to improve the audio quality.

Overall, the Yaber V2 is an underrated extreme-budget projector that holds up surprisingly well.

Budget Projectors: What’s the Compromise?

You might be wondering why some projectors are super cheap while others cost thousands of dollars. The main reason for that is cheaper projectors use LEDs as a light source which is not very bright and can’t handle as many colours. The end result is a dim projection with washed-out colours. The upside is LED projectors are cheap and the bulb has a very long lifespan.

More expensive projectors use a variety of projection technology to improve brightness and colour accuracy. Generally, the more expensive projectors are either DLP, DCI lamps, or lasers.

Cinema-grade projectors are very large, power hungry, and require active cooling. For that reason, these projectors are placed in a dedicated room behind a glass panel to avoid disturbing the audience with loud fan noises. Most cinemas are moving towards laser projectors are they can deliver higher brightness and image clarity.

However, the prices for other types of projectors can be very expensive. For most people, mid-range LED projectors are good enough. The other projectors are more reserved for professionals. Ultimately it boils down to your budget and needs.

In other words, if you choose to go with a budget LED projector, the compromise would be lower brightness and less colour accuracy.

What to Look for in a Budget Projector?

When it comes to buying a projector, there are so many features to consider, it can be overwhelming for some. I’ll be breaking down the most important features to look for in this section, as well as some handy tips to get the most value for your money.

Brightness

The brightness is one of the most important features to consider when buying a projector. Unfortunately, it’s not usually possible to test the brightness in person, so you’ll have to rely on the Lumen or Lux rate. The last thing that you want is a dim projection.

Most projectors will advertise their Lumen rating which is the amount of light created by the projector. The Lux rating is the amount of light that reaches the surface, which tends to decrease as the projection size increases. The Lux can be improved by using a proper projector screen.

Without going into too much detail, if you want a bright projector, look for one that has at least 6000 Lumens. Of course, in dark and small rooms, with a small projection size, projectors with fewer Lumens could work too. There’s also the possibility that the given Lumen specification is inaccurate, so that’s something to consider.

Types of Projectors:

How do you plan to use your projector? Is it for watching movies in your living room or playing a sports channel outdoors? Business presentations or gaming? There are so many ways to use a projector, but not all projectors are equal.

Business Projectors:

If you need a projector for tasks like business presentations that don’t require much colour or brightness, you could get away with a cheaper model. I would look for one that is portable and easy to carry. Casting features can be useful in this situation too. Generally, you don’t need a very powerful projector for business presentations, a budget one should be acceptable.

Home Theater and Movie Projectors

Projectors are primarily designed for movies and TV shows. For movies, you want something bright, at least 6,000 Lumens, with a good resolution. It’s hard to say which specifications are best because the manufacturers create their own specifications. It might take a bit of testing to find one that suits you.

I also recommend keeping the projection size smaller, so the light is more focused, resulting in a clearer image. Nevertheless, brightness and colour accuracy is important for movies and home theatres. I would invest a bit more into a quality projector if I was building a home theatre.

Projectors for Gaming:

For gaming, the specifications are similar to home theatres, but you’ll also want to consider the projector’s refresh rate, which is usually 60hz by default. Generally, gaming on a projector is possible, but the input delay is a lot more noticeable, and it might not appear as smooth as a regular monitor or TV.

Most home theatre enthusiasts do not recommend gaming on a projector. For casual games, like RPGs, it’s acceptable. There are projectors designed for gamers, but those are very expensive, and not nearly as good as a regular monitor or TV.

Long story short, take some time to think about how you’re going to use the projector, and then factor that into your decision. You might be able to shave off some bucks!

Projector Features:

Resolution:

The higher the resolution, the clearer the image. Today, the most common resolution for displays and projectors is 1080P which is 1920×1080. I recommend looking for a projector that has 1080P or more.

However, there are cheaper projectors that offer 480P or 720P resolutions. Those resolutions can be acceptable if you don’t use a large projection area. I wouldn’t recommend them though. Look for the “Native Resolution” specification on projectors.

Connectors & Ports:

Most projectors have outdated ports that no one really uses, like VGA, AV, and SD Cards. 90% of consumers will only use HDMI because it’s the most common. Take a look at the devices you want to connect to the projector, what connectors do they use?

With a projector that has multiple HDMI ports, you can easily flip through sources, instead of having to re-wire devices. For that reason, I suggest looking for a projector that has two or more HDMI ports.

Audio & Bluetooth

While most projectors do include built-in speakers, the quality is usually about the same as any portable speaker, which is not very good. Watching a cinematic movie with built-in speakers definitely does not improve the experience.

What I recommend is connecting the projector to a separate audio device that has better quality audio, such as a soundbar, or even a home-theatre system. To do that, keep an eye out for projectors that either has Bluetooth or an aux port. I personally recommend using the aux port for audio.

Types of Projection Technology:

You might have noticed that projectors use different technologies to create the light source, such as DLP, LED, 3LCD, and others.. I’ll briefly explain how those work below. Do note that most projectors use a combination of technologies.

DLP (Digital Light Processing)

These types of projectors rely on DLP technology, which use small micro-mirrors to help create and focus an image by rotating a small wheel. They provide good image quality, and the images that they project are crisp and have an excellent response time.

They are always excellent with high colour contrast and “whiter whites and blackest blacks”. These are generally more expensive and don’t have a very long lifespan.

The upside is they’re usually brighter than other projector types. DLP projectors are also capable of 3D. The downsides? They’re more expensive.

LED (Light-emitting Diode):

LED projectors are the most popular, and for good reasons. For instance: they’re smaller, cooler, last longer, and are more eco and budget-friendly. For example, the average lifespan of a LED projector light is around 30,000 hours.

The colors are usually pretty good too. Most budget projectors use LED. Some people complain that LED projectors are not as bright or clear as other projectors, but it’s a matter of personal preference.

For personal use, LED projectors should be more than sufficient. BenQ is a popular brand that mostly manufacturers LED projectors.

3LCD

3LCD is the term for LCD projection, which was pioneered by Epson. The number represents the amount of panels the projector uses. These are usually very bright, with a high colour output, while also using less power.

One downside is that a lot of 3LCD projectors have a “screen door effect” which is a visual effect that blurs images around the corners of the screen. Modern products counter this issue, but it’s still common on older models. They also require more maintenance.

FAQ:

How Many Lumens Do I Need for a Home Projector?

For a home projector in a dark room, it’s recommended to buy a projector that has a minimum of 2000 Lumens. Remember, not all product listings list an accurate lumen count, so you might need to do further research on the specific projector model that interests you.

What Type of Projectors Are Used in Movie Theaters?

Most movie theatres use Christie Digital laser projectors. Other theatres such as IMAX use projectors with Xenon lamps. These projectors are incredibly large and very expensive, not to mention power-hungry.

Can You Watch TV on a Projector?

You can watch TV on a projector if you connect a TV’s cable mod-box to the HDMI port on the projector. You could also connect an internet-based live-TV stick such as Chromecast, Roku, Hulu, and Apple TV.

Which Type of Projector is Best for Classroom and PPT Presentations?

For classroom and PPT presentations you do not need a very powerful projector. The Elephas W13 is a good option for classroom and PPT presentations.

What is the Best Material to Use for a Projector Screen?

There are lots of good options for projector screen material. The most recommended options are blackout cloth, spandex, or Carl’s Flexiwhite. While projector screen fabric is important, there are many other factors that can affect the projection quality too. Most pre-built projector screens are good enough for most projectors.

Best Projector Brands:

If you’re looking to narrow down a projector by brand, most of the big-name brands have excellent projections. For example, Epson, JVC, BenQ, Sony, LG, and Panasonic, are all solid projector brands. Most of these brands offer a variety of projectors with a wide range of prices. BenQ, Epson, and Panasonic tend to have more budget-friendly projector options.

For cinema-grade quality, the best-known projector brands are Christie Digital and Barco Projectors. However, those cater towards professional movie theatres and not casual home theatre setups. For example, most Christie Digital laser projectors start from €25,000.

The Bottom Line:

Buying a projector can seem like rocket-science at first, especially once you do more research, but it really boils down to your personal preferences. The truth is most modern projectors are decent for casual use, regardless of the technology they use.

To make things simple, I would stick to LED projectors, and look for one that has the ports you need, with good brightness. Worse case, you can always return undesirable projectors for a refund. And most companies offer good warranties too. Good luck!

Sources:

https://www.projectorcentral.com/projector-contrast-ratio.htm

https://www.cnet.com/topics/tvs/best-tvs/projectors/

https://www.projectorpeople.com/resources/buyersguide.asp

Foto credit: Photo by Alex Litvin on Unsplash

About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and tech blogger, with a love for video games, gadgets, home entertainment and personal technology. I've been writing about the industry now for over 10 years - first as an editor of various magazines before branching out to work on my own blog. I like to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, I can be found playing tennis or padel. This blog is my space to explore new topics related to these hobbies; as well as share some thoughts about life in general (sometimes you need a break from electronics!). 😎

1 thought on “Best Budget Projectors: Top Picks And Reviews”

  1. I just bought the ELEPHAS GC333 Portable Projector as a replacemt for an older ELEPHAS 1500 projector. Much of the software/menus do not work properly on the GC333 and the fan is very noisy. I think their Mini Projector ELEPHAS 4500, which is cheaper, is actually the much better model, though again this has issues where some menus do not display text and more annoyingly it now only has 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios so if you try to play anything else directly through it it gets squashed. I’m dissapointed in both, the older Elephas projector I had was better in every way. Perhaps I will try the APEMAN model.

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