The best digital projectors may seem to be the type of gadget that would be out of the reach of many consumers, but the fact is that there are a lot of decent models available for the same price as a small flat screen television.There are a lot of big name brands among the best digital projectors under $500, such as Sanyo, Epson, and LG, but budget models also exist from ViewSonic, 3M, and Dell.
Here are some of the best digital projectors under $500:
Epson’s Widescreen Champion: The EX70
Epson’s EX70 is a bit large for an inexpensive portable digital projector, but its widescreen resolution makes up for it. Users can also attach their computer with a simple USB connection, one of very few models out on the market to provide this type of Plug ‘n Project functionality. Of course users can still utilize the VGA input if need be.
The EX70 is one of the best digital projectors under $500 that has good brightness with 2,000 lumens with a 165:1 contrast ratio. It also has a very high level of volume for a projector, which can easily fill a room, however the bass is predictably tinny. The EXS70 is also very short throw, needing only about 9 feet for a good picture. Overall it’s one of the best buys in its price class.
LG’s Loaded HS200
The LG HS200 is an inexpensive digital projector that has a plethora of extras, including USB inputs, wireless FM for an audio feed, 30,000 hour lamp life, and embedded DivX capability. It’s an LED-based projector, so it’s environmentally friendly, but it only supports 200 lumens. It has so many connectivity options, like RGB/component, composite, HDMI, and a 1/8 audio output jack, not to mention the very useful USB.
While the speakers on the HS200 digital projector won’t blow you away, they’re better than nothing. However it’s lightweight, whisper quiet, and has good color saturation overall. The LG name usually carries a good amount of quality with video products and this projector doesn’t disappoint for the price, which makes it one of the best projectors under $500.
The Tiny Giant 3M MPro150 Pocket Projector
3M’s MPro150 is not the first pocket digital projector to appear on the market for under $500, but it’s one of the most improved. It’s a bit brighter than older models, holding its own at around 15 lumens. The pocket projector is not for all occasions, of course, but for viewing a quick video or TV show, it’s very handy. It only has a battery life of around two hours maximum, so watching movies isn’t going to happen anyways.
3M provides a composite video cable, as well as a USB cable and VGA cable. The cable length is around 3 feet for each, not terribly long but adequate for most situations that call for a budget pocket digital projector. 3M also offers an iPod, or iPhone cable that allows users to project video directly from their device. That cable will run you around $50, however.
ViewSonic’s Light as a Feather PJD2121
The ViewSonic PJD2121 is much more lightweight than many other top rated digital projectors its size. While it stands a bit bigger than palm top projectors, it only weighs around 2 pounds, and supports about 308 lumens. While you’ll only get an image size around 35 inches diagonally, its much brighter than most projectors its size, definitely out performing any palm top projector.
The one downside to the PJD2121 cheap digital projector is that it lacks connection options. It only accepts component video and VGA, but doesn’t provide a mouse input for control. With no composite video input, it can’t run 480i or 480p. It also lacks any audio speakers, so an external sound system is needed.
Dell’s Micro Monster: The M109S
The Dell M109S is a micro budget projector under $500 that has an 858×600 SVGA resolution and uses Texas Instrument’s Pico technology, similar to the 3M digital projector above. With standard composite and VGA inputs, there are decent connectivity options. It weighs less than a pound and fits in most hands. Its lamp will last around 10,000 hours, and it has an 800:1 contrast ratio.
The M109S digital projector features 50 lumens, and can display up to 480,000 pixels total. While you may not take this into the boardroom, it’s great for home use for quick videos.
The Versatile Vivitek D825MS
The Vivitek D825MS is a cheap projector quite light and supports 2500 lumens. With a resolution of 800 x 600, it’s not the best projector out there, but one wouldn’t expect that for under $500. It has no speakers, so an external sound system is needed for audio. It has a decent contrast ratio of 2200:1, and it delivers in color accuracy.
This digital projector also doesn’t have air filters that can sometimes get clogged and make the projector overheat. It cools down so fast, in fact, that it doesn’t even need the standard two minutes before unplugging.