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Large television sets that support Smart TV functionality, 4K resolution and HDR dynamic pictures seem to be all the rage these days. This is perfectly understandable as they are magnificent pieces of technology and are only getting more and more affordable. Today, however, we want to discuss what may very well be the unsung hero of modern day home entertainment systems: the LED projector.
Projectors are a fantastic alternative to heavy large 60 inch TV screens. They can produce just as fantastic of an image and they are much more portable devices. This gives you the freedom to move them from room to room or even take them with you when traveling or visiting a friend’s house. Because these undeniably handy devices don’t get enough love, we’re going to discuss our picks for the best cheap projectors under 500 dollars that you can buy today.
Although that may sound unrealistically cheap to get a great quality LED projector, it’s true! Here are the best cheap projectors under 500 dollars.
Our Picks for the Best Cheap Projectors Under $500
1. InFocus Corporation IN112v SVGA Projector
The first item on our list of the best cheap projectors under 500 dollars is the InFocus IN112v projector. Despite being in a pretty cheap price range, this projector is special because it has a brighter lens than many other projectors that are priced similarly. This means you will receive superior picture quality thanks to the vividness produced by the extra power inside of its lens.
The contrast ratio of the IN112v is also quite impressive for its price. It has the ability to produce some very sharp differences between the darkest and the whitest or lightest of scenes. While it isn’t an HDR projector, it is doing a similar thing in theory. This is a great choice for people who really want to pay close attention to the details of games or movies with many darker environments.
As a bonus, this projector also features a high refresh rate of 144hz and is 3D compatible, which makes it a great choice for anyone really into console or PC gaming.
- Great brightness for the price
- Great for gaming
- 3D ready
- Good dark and white contrasts
- Eco friendly
- Low native resolution
2. WiMiUS P20 Native 1080p LED Projector
For one thing, this projector has a whopping lifespan of 70,000 hours which means that it will last you several decades even if you used it for 5 hours every single day. This makes it a fantastic purchase for anyone who wants a projector that could potentially last them the rest of their life.
Measuring in at 5500 lumens, it produces an extremely clear and bright image that will truly make your 1080p shows, movies or games look spectacular. It can project a size as large as 300 inches, which makes it an amazing way to complete whatever home entertainment theater you have going on.
Plus with both 2K and 4K support it will be able to handle the most pixel dense content you can throw at it. This thing truly delivers a cinematic experience despite being so affordable.
- 4K support
- Very bright and clear picture quality
- Amazing lifespan
- Max size of 300 inches
- Satisfying zoom in/out function
- 3 year warranty
- Audio speaker quality could be a little better
- Ceiling mount can be a little complicating
3. Optoma HD243X 1080p Projector
This may be the most expensive projector on the list, but it is still definitely one of the best cheap projectors under 500 dollars you can find anywhere. The Optoma HD243X is an all-new 2019 model that comes with some state of the art technology.
The all new DLP chip (Digital Light Processing) installed inside this Optoma provides an amazingly crisp picture that makes every color in its spectrum shine. It also has a great contrast ratio that puts all other projectors in its price range to shame.
It is also a great gaming projector thanks to its low lag latency, meaning that button inputs will feel fast and responsive. It may not have the longest lifespan but if you want a high quality projector that will last you several years of heavy use then this is the one to pick.
- Excellent picture quality for colors and contrast
- Snappy response for gaming
- 3D support
- Works very well indoors and outdoors
- Easy installation
- Could have had 4K support
While the previous three projectors we looked at are certainly great and priced very affordably, you might not believe us when we tell you that there are more great projectors in an even cheaper price range. As a bonus, we’re going to take a look at a couple of the best cheap projectors under 200 dollars. This section is designed for people who are on a stricter budget but still want to get the most of every penny they spend.
Our Picks for the Best Cheap Projectors Under $200
4. Vankyo Leisure 3 Mini Projector
If portability is your thing then Vankyo has you covered. This lightweight projector only weighs 2 pounds and will not only fit inside any backpack but even comes with its own protective carrying case.
Despite its small size and small price, this projector has a native resolution of 1080p and can project images as large as 170 inches. This is extremely impressive considering just how small this projector really is. Additionally, the Vankyo Leisure is quite eco-friendly and will last for about 40,000 hours of use.
- Impressive brightness, power and lifespan for the size
- Extremely affordable
- Very portable
- Noise suppressed fans
- Connects easily to smartphones
- May not be the best choice for outdoors daylight viewing
5. MTFY Portable LED Video Projector
The final of the best projectors under 500 dollars is the MTFY portable LED projector.
One of the most notable things about this projector is that it actually has some pretty decent audio quality speakers, which is kind of rare for TVs and projectors in general. With a built in amplifier, you can hear the quietest moments of scenes with a lot more ease.
It can also project a screen as large as 280 inches, though we find that this projector works best in the 100-150 inch range as its native resolution isn’t quite 1080p.
Nevertheless, this is definitely a great projector for the price which can easily provide at least a couple of decades of solid use.
- Great audio speakers
- Good lifespan and brightness
- Long lifespan of 30,000 hours
- Good brightness
- Picture quality suffers a little bit past 150 inches or so
- Contrast ratio & resolution could be higher
Buyer’s Guide for Finding the Best Cheap Projectors
Now that we’ve gone through our picks for the best cheap projectors, you know that great projectors can come at a relatively low price—especially compared to the price of a large screen smart TV. But what if you want to know more about shopping for a great LED projector? What if you want to know our formula for figuring out what makes a projector worth skipping over and what makes one worth your hard earned cash?
In this final section, we will discuss how you can spot the quality aspects of a good LED projector. These devices, much like television sets, are fairly complicated pieces of machinery. Therefore, several important factors need to be taken into consideration before deciding whether one is worth purchasing.
It should go without saying that the best way to figure out if a projector or any product is good is to test it out yourself. While this makes perfect sense in theory, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone has an unlimited supply of money where they can just buy every projector on the market and test each and every one of them out for themselves. Luckily, there are still many reliable ways in which you can examine a projector online to be able to discern its quality. We’ll be concentrating mostly on things like the technical specifications of a projector, but there are other characteristics too that can be great signals of a great machine.
Size and Resolution
For many people, these are the most important parts of a projector and they have good reasons to put so much stock into this characteristic. With picture quality elements like 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range becoming more and more popular, people’s standards for TV viewing are only getting higher. That’s why you should always select a projector that will fit these needs.
When it comes to screen size, this will ultimately vary depending not so much on what size you prefer but what size your home can handle.
If you set up your projector in a living room for example then odds are you won’t need something that goes beyond 100 inches. However, if your entertainment theater is in a place like a basement, you have higher odds of being able to fit as much as 250 or even 300 inch sized screens.
Take your own personal environment into account to make sure you don’t buy a projector that projects too small an image. The same is true for avoiding overpaying for an expensive projector that can produce images too large for your home.
When it comes to resolution, 1080p should always at least be your standard. This high definition is still considered the norm for cable, satellite, and online streaming.
4K or 1080p?
Despite the fact that 4K is getting bigger and bigger, most people use 1080p and are still satisfied by this resolution quality. If you have a lot of 4K content you can use (whether it be Youtube, Netflix, video games or Ultra-HD Blu-Ray movies) then by all means spring extra for a projector with 4K support. The same is true for 3D support if you have enough games or movies with this functionality to justify the purchase.
On the other hand, if you simply have a huge collection of DVDs that you want to watch on a large projected screen then there would be no harm in getting a projector of a lower resolution.
Next, let’s talk about lighting, particularly when it comes to brightness and contrast.
Lighting & Brightness
The most inconvenient thing about projectors, especially when compared to regular TV sets, is that they typically require a little bit of configuration when it comes to the picture sharpness and things like that. Being able to place a screen on potentially any wall in your home sounds like a great convenience but it can be offset by some less than ideal lighting scenarios.
The picture of projectors is typically more sensitive to external lighting conditions than television sets are. As a result, there are some low quality projectors that won’t give you the most clear or visible picture. The best thing to do is to select projectors that have a high “lumens” score.
What are Lumens?
What lumens essentially refers to is the brightness of the image. The brighter the screen, the easier it will be to see your content and the less sensitive it will be to other light sources such as lamps or sunlight. These projectors are inherently more versatile and will work better under a larger variety of lighting conditions compared to projectors with lower lumens scores.
It’s also important to select projectors with very reliable settings where you can adjust things like contrast, sharpness, color, focus and brightness. This is probably most important on the cheapest projectors with lower lumens scores but it also matters on high quality projectors as well for those who really want to fine tune their image and brightness quality to absolute perfection.
When it comes to audio, projectors can be hit or miss but this is also very true when it comes to TV sets as well. If you really want a great audio experience than high quality external speakers, headphones or a soundbar will really be your only choices. However, if you’re not picky about sound quality then things will be smoother for you. A projector with decent speakers will often have a built in audio amplifier. This helps produce a clearer signal so that voices will be more audible regardless of the volume level or loudness you prefer.
Many people like projectors for their portability which is certainly a great benefit they have over TV sets. While it typically doesn’t matter whether a projector weighs 5 pounds or 15 pounds, you should keep in mind that pocket sized projectors do exist. These are a great fit for people who only need screen sizes in the 20-100 inch range and need to use them on a daily basis either for work or for school.
Lastly, let’s discuss the lifespan of projectors.
Most people tend to believe that LED projectors don’t last as long as TV sets. This is typically not true, actually. Many projectors have a lifespan that lasts in the tens of thousands of hours, which ends up being several decades even if you used them for several hours every day. This is something to keep in mind if you want a projector that will last you for 3 years or 30 years.
That’s all we have to say about the best projectors under 500 dollars. We hope you enjoyed learning about our top picks as well as our educational guide on how you can be better prepared for the next time you go projector shopping. Thank you for reading and enjoy whatever fantastic LED projector you end up choosing for many years to come.