Tapping into movie magic has never been easier or more affordable with the best projectors under $500. Experiencing a projector first-hand, up close, truly has to be seen to be believed. And even inexpensive projectors provide quite a bit of movie night fun, with big, bright screens that smack of your local theater. Unlike your local theater, you won’t have to shell out $10 bucks for popcorn. Here’s a selection of the best projectors under $500.
— Best Overall: XGIMI MoGo Pro Portable Projector
— Best Sustainable: LG PF50KA Portable Full HD LED Smart Home Theater Projector (Renewed)
— Best Budget: FATORK 5G WiFi Smart Portable Mini DLP Projector
— Best for Offices: BenQ WXGA Business Projector
— Best for Home Theater: Epson Home Cinema 880
How We Picked the Best Projectors Under $500
There’s no sugar coating it: projectors are expensive. The devices made for home theaters can run anywhere from $800 all the way through several thousand dollars. If you’re willing to make a few compromises, you can grab a projector that will do a fairly good job at projecting movies on a wall or screen for less than $500. Here are some of the things we considered when picking out the best projectors under $500.
Picture Quality: One of the obvious compromises that you will have to make for a less expensive projector is picture quality and resolution. In new televisions, computer monitors, and of course, state-of-the-art projectors, 4K is the standard. Some projectors even go further with 8K resolution. At this price point, you’ll have to settle for 1080p. I wouldn’t settle for anything lower. We certainly didn’t.
Screen Size: A projector doesn’t have a fixed screen size. Screens get larger the farther away a projector is from a screen or wall. In general, screens will be anywhere from 80 to 150 inches, give or take a handful of inches in either direction. Versatility in screen size is always great, especially if you plan on schlepping with your device to a summer cookout or roof party. A great projector under $500 should work equally well in a small space.
User-Friendliness: Projectors shouldn’t be more complicated to operate than televisions. Focusing the image should be done simply, if not totally automatic. A built-in streaming backend is also great, especially if it supports every popular destination like Netflix and Prime Video. AirPlay and Chromecast capabilities are also ideal. Many devices come with remotes, which should be responsive and easy to use.
Versatility: Sure, watching “Goodfellas” on a big screen is great, but what about playing a few rounds of “Mario Kart 8”? Or, if you want to bore the life out of family and friends, project a slideshow of vacation photos directly from your phone. A great projector is a versatile one, with both wired and wireless connectivity to suit everything from Blu-ray players to a Nintendo Switch.
Best Projectors Under $500: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: XGIMI MoGo Pro Portable Projector
Why it Made The Cut: Everything you want out of a projector, with excellent portability to boot.
— Dimensions: 6.9 inches L X 6.9 inches W X 10.2 inches H
— Weight: 1.87 pounds
— Brightness: 300 ANSI lumens
— Display: Up to 100 inches
— Portable and powerful
— Complete 3-in-1 Android TV backend
— Audio by Harman Kardon
— Remote unresponsive when playing files from USB
— No Netflix
What if you could project movies from a device no taller than an iPhone? The XGMI MoGo Pro packs a lot of power in a small space.
Within this tiny projector, there’s a full Android TV, complete with OK Google, Google Play, and Chromecast. From here, you can stream from Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, and plenty more. Well, except Netflix, which admittedly is a big letdown. The built-in battery lasts from two to three hours depending on device usage, so it will run long enough to air plenty of movies. You can even run it while it’s plugged in charging. It doesn’t cheap out when it comes to audio, with sound by Harman Kardon. If you want even more immersive sound, you can easily sync it up to a Bluetooth speaker or soundbar. The rest speaks for itself. XGMI MoGo autofocuses no matter where you point it, for the best picture no matter where you’re sitting in the room. The latency is low enough to even support light gaming. And while you can play your own media by plugging it in via USB, you won’t be able to control playback with the remote. Aside from that, it’s one of the best projectors under $500.
Best Sustainable: LG PF50KA Portable Full HD LED Smart Home Theater Projector (Renewed)
Why it Made The Cut: Getting a renewed LG PF50KA Projector lets you tap into theater-quality video at an incredibly reasonable price.
— Dimensions: 6.7 inches L x 6.7 inches W x 1.9 inches H
— Weight: 2.2 pounds
— Brightness: 600 ANSI lumens
— Display: Up to 100 inches
— LG Smart TV super user-friendly
— Plays well with accessories via Bluetooth
— Plug and Play Capabilities
— Wireless connectivity only compatible with Windows and Android
On paper, the LG PF50KA Home Theater Projector is over $500, but not if you opt for a renewed version. A refurbished model not only saves legacy tech from the landfill but lets you tap into great tech at a bargain price.
The build quality is as high as you expect from an LG product and is glossy and eye-catching enough to mount permanently in a living room or home theater. With the LG Smart TV backend, tapping into all your favorite content on a myriad of streaming destinations, with a remote makes surfing from one platform to the next a total breeze. LG Portable Full HD LED Smart Home Theater Projector is great alone but plays well with others including all manner of Bluetooth devices like soundbars and smart devices aside from iPhones and iPads, and any other Mac device for that matter. Only Android and Windows devices work here if you want to connect them wirelessly. The possibilities are endless when it comes to plug and play, with a USB-C connection that allows for super-fast file transfer and displays from streaming and gaming devices alike.
Best Budget: FATORK 5G WiFi Smart Portable Mini DLP Projector
Why it Made The Cut: FATORK is super small, with a surprising amount of features you get from a much larger projector.
— Dimensions: 2.83 inches L x 2.83 inches W x 4.17 inches H
— Weight: 0.86 pounds
— Brightness: 150 ANSI lumens
— Display: Up to 114 inches
— Unfathomably portable
— Supports 5G wireless
— Low latency for gaming
— Lackluster audio
— No streaming backend
What if you could pack all the power of a theater-quality projector into a space not much larger than a can of Coca-Cola Classic? The FATORK is an affordable little projecting marvel.
Considering its size, it’s incredibly portable, for movie watching at friends’ places, summer campgrounds, and even small apartment bedrooms. In lieu of LED, this device utilizes a DLP projector, which limits light loss using mirrors for surprisingly bright images. It supports 5G wireless, which means you can tap into great speeds when it comes to streaming. This includes projecting smartphone screens. How awesome would it be to play “Fortnite” on a massive 114-inch screen? Low latency ensures you won’t have to sacrifice any speed for quality. Unlike many of the other devices featured here, there’s no built-in streaming. Also, the audio leaves much to be desired. However, you can connect external devices via USB and Bluetooth. An inexpensive streaming stick and Bluetooth soundbar make this one an excellent pick, especially given its competitive price. And you really can’t beat that portability. For more options, here's our guide to the best portable projectors.
Best for Offices: BenQ WXGA Business Projector
Why it Made The Cut: BenQ WXGA Business Projector is compatible with new and legacy office computers, and is even energy-efficient.
— Dimensions: 11.42 inches L x 8.7 inches W x 4.72 inches H
— Weight: 7.7 pounds
— Brightness: 4,000 lumens
— Display: Up to 150 inches
— Durable and dust-resistant
— Eco-mode conserves energy and lamp life
— New and legacy inputs
— Lousy audio
Nothing makes a boring presentation pop like when it's projected on a big bright screen and the BenQ WXGA is a no-nonsense entry in this compilation of best projectors under $500.
With 4,000 lumens, everything from pie charts to photos will pop, with three different modes made for data review, infographics, and full-blown presentations. Whichever way you decide to project, BenQ Business Projector conserves up to 70 percent of its power, for a projector lamp that’s built to last. It will even shut off after 20 minutes, in case you forget to turn it off. Aside from being eco-smart, it’s incredibly durable and even dust-resistant even after years of use. While it may not be the best for home theaters, it’s truly built for home and professional office use, with both HDMI and VGA ports. There are even USB Type-A and USB Type B ports, as well as old-timey standard video input like you’d find on a ‘90s TV. There’s simply no competing with the input versatility. No matter which input you use, this projector is fast, and the picture output is incredibly good. Like many other projectors, it has less-than-great audio capabilities, but that’s not terribly surprising considering it’s built for professional settings.
Best for Home Theater: Epson Home Cinema 880
Why it Made The Cut: Epson Home Cinema 880 provides big, bright, and immersive images, which is everything you want for a home theater projector.
— Dimensions: 11.9 inches L x 9.2 inches W x 3 inches H
— Weight: 5.95 pounds
— Brightness: 3,300 lumens
— Display: Up to 200 inches
— Cinema-quality picture
— Exceptional color and brightness
— Compatible with HDMI 2.0 devices
— No streaming backend included
The Epson Home Cinema 880 is an aptly named projector that’s a great, semi-affordable entry that would be great in any home theater.
Not only do all images projected to come in full 1080p HD, but they come in fast, which makes this a great device for both gaming on an Xbox Series X, PS5, or PC, as well as live sports. The picture isn’t just stunning with some of the best color clarity, it projects up to 200 inches diagonally, for a truly cinematic experience. A built-in picture skew corrector means you don’t have to spend time focusing the image on movie night, simply point at a wall or screen and push play using the handy remote. Strangely, tragically enough, this powerful device doesn’t have built-in streaming on the back end, so you’ll have to provide one of your own. What’s great is that it’s compatible with any device that has HDMI output, like a Roku Stick, an Android TV device, a Nintendo Switch, or even a laptop. Plus, it’s simply a gorgeous device, the kind you wouldn’t mind mounting permanently and showing off to the company. If it’s good enough for Shaq, it’s certainly good enough for the rest of us.
Things To Consider Before Buying a Projector Under $500
This is a question many people looking to buy a projector, inexpensive or otherwise, ask themselves. The truth is, if you have light-colored walls, you may be able to get away with not using a projection screen. However, to take full advantage of the picture quality that projectors provide, a screen isn’t just great to have, it’s outright necessary. Of course, good screens don’t come cheap, but if you’re going to get one, it’s best not to cut corners. This Akia 110-inch Screen supports up to 8K and mounts to both walls and ceilings and retracts when it’s not in use. If you’re going for broke, there’s also a motorized model, complete with a remote.
Q: How much do projectors under $500 typically cost?
Good quality projectors under $500 usually run anywhere from $300 to $500. If you're looking to upgrade, here is our guide on how to recycle electronics.
Q: Which brand is best for projectors?
The best brands for projectors include Epson, LG, and XGMI.
Q: How many lumens should a projector have?
For the best picture quality, a home projector should have at least 1,500 lumens. ANSI lumens are brighter than regular ones, so you may be able to get away with less.
Final Thoughts on Projectors Under $500
Projector tech is getting better and better, and more importantly, affordable. Plenty of brand-name models can be had for less than $500, to tap into seriously cinematic experiences at home. For a device that blends great picture quality with portability, go for our best pick, the XGIMI MoGo Pro Portable Projector. For the absolute best in picture and speed in this price range, the Epson Home Cinema 880 would fit perfectly into any home theater.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.