Header Ads

Breaking News

The Best Portable Projectors for 2021

Not too long ago, the concept of having a projector small enough to take with you in your bag, let alone in your pocket, was just wishful thinking. But as projectors have come down in size, portable models have come into their own, making it possible for you to project your data and video anywhere you go. (Even if “anywhere” these days just means around the house.)

Portable projectors encompass a surprisingly wide range in size, brightness, and features. Here, we will help you sort out their differences, as well as highlight our favorite models—all of which weigh less than two pounds.

Pico and Palmtop Projectors

Pico or pocket projectors are a little larger than smartphones. Because most of them can accommodate videos and photos for on-the-go entertainment (in addition to slides and charts for business or classroom presentations), these models can be thought of as multimedia display systems. Though convenient and snazzy, they tend to be of low brightness and relatively expensive for their performance.

So-called palmtop projectors are larger (and generally brighter) than pico projectors, typically a bit too large to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, even with your fingers outstretched. Still, they are lightweight enough that you wouldn’t think twice about packing one in a bag or a backpack. Most are brighter than pico models, and have more connection options.

A person's hand holding an AAXA P7 Mini projector

The AAXA P7 Mini really does fit in your palm.

Most pico and palmtop projectors can run files from a USB thumb drive and/or SD card, so you don’t need to lug your laptop with them. (If you do want to bring a laptop with you, though, check out our roundup of the best ultraportable laptops.) Some even have up to 8GB of internal memory for storing media files. Many can project content from a smartphone or tablet, either wirelessly or via an HDMI port that supports Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). A growing number offer USB-C connectivity. Many models come with built-in rechargeable batteries so you can use them away from a power outlet.

Larger But Still Portable Projectors

Many manufacturers have introduced mini projectors that are generally a bit larger than palmtops, but considerably brighter. They pack a relatively high resolution, and their larger frames let them include more physical ports than their smaller brethren.

The next step up from these, thin-and-light projectors, are as wide, deep, and bright as standard models but barely an inch thick, and they weigh in at about 4 pounds. They are highly portable, but you pay a premium for their svelteness, and they usually have a limited set of connection choices.

LG Minibeam LED projector

The LG Minibeam LED projector is lightweight, but it doesn’t sacrifice image quality.

Finally, some standard projectors are still small and light enough to be easily portable, whether you’re moving them between classrooms or taking them on a cross-country flight. Many come with soft carrying cases, but they could just as easily be slipped into a travel bag or backpack. Although a few have internal batteries, the majority of standard projectors—as well as most thin and light ones—are limited to AC power.

Brightness, Resolution, and Technology

Pico projectors have low brightness (from less than 50 to up to several hundred ANSI lumens). They generally have low resolution, often 854 by 480 pixels (aka FWVGA or 480p), with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This combination limits their effective use to projecting onto a small screen in a darkened room, with optimal image sizes ranging from 24 to 48 inches, measured diagonally. If too much ambient light is introduced, or the image is enlarged too much, it will look washed out and detail will be lost.

Although a few palmtop projectors have a brightness of less than a hundred lumens, most fall in the range of 200 to 600 lumens. Some palmtops have 480p or lower resolution, and a few have resolutions up to 1080p (1,920 by 1,080), but most are 720p (1,280 by 720 pixels). Their optimal image size tends to be between 36 and 60 inches, depending on their brightness and resolution. Slightly larger mini-projectors can have brightnesses of 1,000 lumens or more. Thin-and-lights and standard-sized portable models are often in the 3,000-lumen range, use standard projector screens, and can tolerate ambient light.

We have seen a few small laser-based projectors and a smattering of liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) models. However, the vast majority of pico, palmtop, and other small projectors are LED-based, and most use TI’s Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology in their light engines. LEDs have exceptionally long lifetimes and are generally rated for 20,000 hours or more, so the light source should last the lifetime of the projector. Single-chip DLP projectors often show potentially annoying rainbow artifacts (little red-green-blue flashes), but this so-called rainbow effect tends to be more of a problem in standard projectors than in pico or palmtop models.

Larger portable projectors vary in technology, most being either DLP or liquid-crystal display (LCD). An advantage of LCD projectors is that their images are free of rainbow artifacts.

Multimedia Projector Trends

We have lately seen a growing number of small multimedia projectors that can double as Bluetooth speakers. When you switch one of these projectors to Bluetooth mode, it operates purely as a speaker. In that capacity, it can play music streamed from a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as your mobile device or computer. When you want to use it a projector, you just switch it into Projector mode.

Anker Nebula Capsule II projector

The Anker Nebula Capsule II projector can also function as a Bluetooth speaker.

Many recent consumer-oriented small projectors (including some Bluetooth-speaker models) incorporate their own Android operating system. Although most pack standard Android builds, we have also seen ones running the Android TV OS. Android-based projectors let users run pre-installed apps (such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix), download more from the Google Play store, and perform other standard Android functions.

So, Which Portable Projector Should I Buy?

Of late, due to the pandemic, many of us have been less mobile than our devices. But now is a good time to make sure your tech will be ready to hit the road. Whether you’re a business traveler who makes presentations at multiple venues or you want to share movies and photos with friends in person, there are portable projectors up to the task. Just make sure you pick one that’s designed for the images you’re projecting and the space you’ll be in.

The projectors we highlight here are relatively lightweight, with the heaviest weighing just more than 2 pounds and the lightest right around 3 ounces. They vary considerably in size, brightness, features, and performance. Any one of these could be your favorite travel companion.

Source Link

No comments