You know what a nice family night is? It’s huddling with your family and the old dog under their security blanket and a few snacks to enjoy a feel-good movie. But with the prices of square feet soaring in many cities, you have to crowd around the 40” TV without a proper view. The best recourse? Get a projector and air your movie at night under the open skies and breathe in the fresh air. It is very homely and much more enjoyable than being crammed into the multiplex with handrests getting in the way of hugging. Since this is an indulgence, we selected the 10 best projectors under $500 for such occasions. This budget ensures that you enjoy quality fare but do not spend beyond the limit for entertainment.
- 1 Are cheap projectors worth it?
- 2 Why the $500 limit for projectors?
- 3 Which are the key features of high quality projectors under 500?
- 4 TOP 10 BEST PROJECTORS UNDER 500 IN 2017- CHART
- 5 1. Epson VS250 SVGA HDMI 3LCD projector
- 6 2. ViewSonic PJD5555W 3300 Lumens WXGA HDMI Projector
- 7 3. Epson Home Cinema 730HD, HDMI, 3LCD, 3000 Lumens Color and White Brightness, Home Entertainment Projector
- 8 4. DBPOWER T20 1500 Lumens LCD Mini Projector, Multimedia Home Theater Video Projector
- 9 5. Crenova XPE680 720P HD Projector, Home Theater Multimedia Video Office Projector
- 10 6. BenQ MX525A DLP Business Projector – XGA Display, 3300 Lumens, Dual HDMI, 13,000:1 Contrast, 3D-Ready Projector
- 11 7. Acer H5382BD 720P 3D DLP Home Theater Projector
- 12 8. EUG Full HD 1080p 3600 Lumens LCD LED Image System Home Theater Cinema Projector
- 13 9. Epson EX3240 SVGA 3LCD Projector
- 14 10. iRULU GP90 1280×800 Video Projector
Are cheap projectors worth it?
Yes and No. It depends on the projector. As with any other product, the projectors also have good and bad eggs within the price range. There are projectors ranging from $90 to $500 in our list with similar-looking specs in terms of lumen count and resolution.
So we went digging and checked out quite a few projectors under $200. We found that some of these are decent. They nowhere meet the specs they claim but they can give you reasonable amount of details at night due to the contrast. The brightness ratings that they claim are blatantly false in most cases. But if they are paired with a proper white background and low ambient light, they show moderately good detailing. They won’t dazzle you with their brilliance in any way. Most of their glowing reviews come from first-time buyers who don’t expect too much out of the projector. If you have conservative expectations out of these projectors, you won’t be disappointed but. Since there’s no regulation about lying on the specs. You have to do your research or rely on the best affordable projectors reviews like ours to find the worthy ones.
There’s another way of ensuring quality for the money. Good brands like Optoma, Epson and ViewSonic make affordable projectors for the office under $500. These boast of at least480p resolution and agreeable brightness that lives up to the claim on the spec. These are excellent for watching movies at home. They demand a moderate price and they are worth every penny. Don’t be disheartened by their tag of business projector. They can easily handle the colors of Thor: Ragnarok.
Why the $500 limit for projectors?
$0-500 is the range where the quality goes from unheard-of brands to entry-level projectors of well-known ones like Epson. So you can pick up the maverick products from the genuinely good new brands. On the other hand, the definition of affordable changes according to the spending capacity. The $500-mark is safe assumption to cap this range. It’s an added advantage that this range conveniently packs a few business projectors that can double as your entertainment system. If you are willing to spend near the top end of this range, you will find a number of clear projectors with ample brightness that more than satisfy your home needs. They can turn your movie-watching to a real event.
Which are the key features of high quality projectors under 500?
We looked at tons of products before zeroing in on these 10 best projectors under $500. After trudging through a bunch of corporate speak, we selected these based on:
Brightness: We tested them to check the brightness level of the projectors. The cheaper projectors of newer manufacturers rarely meet the claims on their specs. So we judged them like a novice user would and checked if the brightness would be enough to enjoy our media. Both white brightness and color brightness were taken into account. The brighter our room setup is, the higher the lumen rating should be.
Resolution: To really see the details of any video, the projector should offer a good resolution. We picked the best projectors with resolution 480p or up. We must match the resolution of the projector with that of the video source played more often. The lower the resolution, the more pixelated your video will look. And nobody wants to see Harry Potter and 98% of the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Contrast: Use a sketchy projector and you will only follow half of the Game of Thrones. Contrast Ratio is what allows you to see shadow detail and deep black levels. Without a good contrast ratio you will never understand the significance of many scenes shot inside dark rooms or caves.
Use: It’s important that the projectors are easy to operate. Or else you will have to fumble with the mount every time and end up watching the Forrest Gump cursing physical exertion. A usable remote that can control all of its features is very useful.
Connectivity: For the best projectors under $500 to be compatible with all video players, they should have all popular options of connectivity. USB, VGA and HDMI can cover most of these sources. Bluetooth connectivity will also be a huge advantage if you are planning to play movies from the laptop or phone.
Lens Zoom: This becomes a concern if you are using a portable projector and screen. You might not always set them up at the same distance. With the lens zoom option, you need not adjust the distance of the system. You can simply zoom in to the video.
TOP 10 BEST PROJECTORS UNDER 500 IN 2017- CHART
The Epson VS250 3LCD projector is a reliable projector from a trustworthy brand. We were happy to believe all the ratings stated as it is on the Epson website. The high lumen count and SVGA resolution means it can handle the brightly lit office rooms as well as dimly lit movie nights. The Eco mode lengthens lamp life and reduces the cost and frequency of maintenance. The fact that it can be connected with the wireless network only makes it all the more desirable. This is hands down the best projector under $500.
Design and Features
The Epson VS250 HDMI 3LCD projector is a moderately portable unit. It measures 3.2” x 11.9” x 9.2”. At 5.3 pounds, you can move it around as and when required. This is a recyclable product. The top side has a home, menu and similar buttons. The back side carries the connections mainly. The most apparent port here is HDMI which provides a single connection for high quality audio. There are USB A and USB B type ports. Apart from composite A/V port, a computer port allows you to connect to laptop and PCs as well.
It is one of the most hassle-free devices we have ever used. It is literally plug and play. A power cord and an HDMI connection to your source and you are sorted for movies, games and music. It is a lamp-type projector. The native resolution is 800×600. What Epson claims, it delivers. Even in a dark room, you can enjoy the contrast of Breaking Bad. The 3200 lumen brightness is easy on the eyes but enough to be visible in a lit room. The 3200 lumens is both for white brightness and color brightness. With HDMI support it can work with a single cable connection to laptops since digital audio and video is relayed through one cable.
Since the V250 affordable projector does not have a Bluetooth connection, you have to hook up speakers or make peace with the native speaker. If you derive half your entertainment from the sound effects, hook up some great speakers. You can connect the projector with high-speed LAN at a nominal extra cost. The V250 also complies with iProjection App. You can project wirelessly from your mobile device.
We advise that you use the V250 budget-oriented projector in the ECO mode. In this mode, the lamp lasts through 10,000 hours of operation. In the normal mode, it lasts 6000 hours. It also allows Keystone correction. If your projector is not placed such that the image is not perfectly rectangular on the screen, Keystone correction automatically aligns it. V250 can correct by tilting up to 30 degrees. It has a digital zoom function so you are not forced to move the projector if the screen is accidentally too far. You can password protect the projector if you are concerned unauthorized people may use it. This projector allows front, rear and ceiling mounting without disrupting the picture.
- Portable with Eco Mode
- HDMI support
- 800 x 600 resolution
- 3200 color and white brightness
- Keystone correction and digital zoom
- Security password
- Native speaker is average
The ViewSonic PJD5555W WXGA HDMI projector is an outstanding unit for the price. It’s portable and equipped with all the connection options for the modern audio visual sources. It offer great value for money with its enhanced audio so you don’t have to buy separate speakers. It provides much better video quality than the DLP models available at this price. It is an excellent pick for both work and home entertainment. The choice of lower and high resolution models ultimately lands it in the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The ViewSonic PJD5555W WXGMA HDMI projector is one amongst a line of reasonably-priced projectors from this brand. It is WXGA and claims a resolution of 1280×800. There are similar models in SVGA and XGA with HDMI port. The PFD5153 model is SVGA without HDMI port. It is 12.44” x 8.98” x 4.08” in dimensions. It weighs only 4.63 pounds. This makes it one of the most portable models. The zoom wheel is visible on the top. On the top surface are the menu options. In spite of being portable, it does not come with a carry bag at this price.
The backside of this affordable projector has the composite input and an HDMI input. There are a USB and a mini USB ports. Computer ports are aplenty. The HDMI 1.4 jack supports Blu-Ray. It claims a brightness rating of 3300 lumens. The video stands its ground when introduced to moderate ambient light. In a dark setting, it is quite clear for movies and for business presentations. We suggest an ideal screen distance of 8 feet for convenient screening. You can adjust the phase of the video for to avoid any pixel jitter.
Based on the mode used in this projector, the lamp life is 5000, 6000 or 8000 hours. DLP data projectors usually have the rainbow artifact issue. The PJD5555W surpasses this problem and you rarely find this issue in videos. For a DLPP projector, it has only a mild rainbow issue. The low fan noise ensures your House of Cards screening is not interrupted by a low annoying buzz. The remote works smoothly within the 40 feet range. The buttons are large and made for tactile advantage.
This budget-oriented projector from ViewSonic has a vertical keystone adjustment up to 40 degrees in both directions. Given the high resolution keystone adjustment also does not create any issues. The PDJ5555W offers two modes that are brilliant for movie viewing: ViewMatch and Movie. You don’t need to make any adjustments to the video to get high quality color balance and contrast. Even at the lowest setting of lamp power, it comes down to only 1000 lumens compared to 80-100 lumens of cheap projectors from unknown brands.
- Very low fan noise
- WXGA resolution at 1280×800
- 3200 lumen brightness rating
- HDMI jack
- No carry case
3. Epson Home Cinema 730HD, HDMI, 3LCD, 3000 Lumens Color and White Brightness, Home Entertainment Projector
The Epson Home Cinema 730HD is a complete home entertainment projector custom-made to stream movies and games on your walls. It has the video quality that will satisfy the requirements of a dedicated bachelor den. For families, it is bright enough to watch those soapy movies, cry and hug each other through the screening of Hachiko with a few lights on. The convenient connection options ensure that you only have to route the minimum number of wires to one of the best projectors under $500.
Design and Features
The Epson Home Cinema 730HD entertainment projector is a suave little white box. It measures 3.1” x 11.7” x 9.2”. At 5.3 pounds it’s pretty portable. The back side has an HDMI connection which allows a single connection for audio and video. It also has a composite video and S-video inputs. USB-A and USB-B ports are accompanied by computer port. This is a 2Donly. At this price, this is a good deal since it pays off with video quality. It offers a manual zoom of 1.2x. They can throw a quality picture at 12 feet distance with no fading and pixelation.
This affordable projector has a native resolution of 1280x 800. It does not scale the image for 720p, 1080i and 1080p input. Even so the 720p resolution lives up to the expectation of the viewer. It boasts of a brightness rating of 3000 lumens for both white and colored images. The image is clear whether you have dimly lit root or a room flooding with celestial light. When watching a movie in a dark room, you can make use of the Eco mode. It saves lamp life and provides enough contrast for the video. It throws images that are 80 inch diagonally fully utilizing all the features. The shadow detailing is particularly impressive for the budget. There are no motion artifacts that could spoil your move experience. Being an LCD projector, it will
The 730HD makes moderate fan noise. But it’s not bad enough to be distracting. It packs a 2-watt mono speaker which provides a punchy and loud audio. It works if you want to catch a short episode of Orange is the New Black. If you are used to high-fidelity audio, you can connect the video source to a pair of hi-end speakers. It isn’t a great match for a home theater, but this projector does well for normal home entertainment. And it is much more affordable that a large TV. The lamp lasts through 5,000 hours of use in normal mode and 6,000 hours in Eco mode.
This projector has both horizontal and vertical keystone adjustment. With all the features, it is a hoot to setup and gets awesome entertainment up in no time.
- HDMI connection
- 1280×800 resolution
- 3000 lumens
- 2-W mono speaker
- Horizontal and vertical keystoning
- Does not scale the visuals of 720p
DBPower T20 projector is available at an unbelievable price for someone who is on a shoestring budget but still wants the theater experience. This small portable box throws a decently large and clear picture for a dark den or night. The average brightness ensures you can view a decent amount of details at this small budget. The HDMI port is very useful in connecting a single cable for audio and video. This is an excellent budget-oriented unit for the best projector under $500 list.
Design and Features
The DBPower T20 projector is surprisingly well-made for the price. It is 7.5” x 5.9” x 2.95”. It weighs around 2 pounds. This is an extremely portable device, so you can flit it between frat parties for a movie marathon. There’s no carry bag which is understandable at this price but getting one would be a great investment. It has the IR receiver on the right side, so you need to keep that accessible. It has a bottom arrangement to mount it on a tripod. Because of its low weight, this is feasible.
This affordable projector sports an HDMI port at the back. The other side has an SD card slot, a 3.5mm port and an Audio/Video composite port. You can directly play from a USB stick. You can also connect it directly to smartphones using a USB cable and screen mirroring. This will drain battery fast though. The remote is small but it has all the important controls, so it’s actually smartly designed. The screen size can vary between 32” to 176”. The native resolution is 800×480 which is decent for downloaded videos and movies. It supports up to 1920×1080 resolution. The brightness rating is 1500 lumens. While it can’t compete with the Epsons and ViewSonics we covered before, it’s fine for a dark night outside or for darkened room. AT 1000:1 contrast you miss some shadow detailing. It better to stick to brighter videos so that you can see more detail. So we would watch Friends over GOT with this.
The T20 projector exhibits low fan noise, so it does not kill your buzz. It has an on-board speaker which can be heard if you are sitting close to the projector. You can connect to external speakers for a better effect. It does have a 3.5mm port where you can connect headphones we assume. The T20 offer manual keystone correction within 15 degrees. It’s not as easy to adjust as the previous models but we appreciate the feature all the same. The user interface is kept simple such that a newbie at the audio/visual equipment can easily handle it.
- Highly affordable
- Extremely portable
- 800×480 native resolution
- 1500 lumens brightness
- HDMI port
- On-board speaker and headphone jack
- Keystone correction
- Keystoning is complicated to get right
The Crenova XPE680 projector is another low-budget unit lying bang in the middle of our price range. This balances the price against video quality well so it bangs big for the bucks. It can be hooked up with a nice audio system and you will be good to go for the movie night. With the included remote, you can control it from your couch. The range of input options is dazzling at the price too. Reliable performance at low price earns it a place in the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The Crenova XPE680 projector edges towards being an at-home unit. It is larger than the four units we covered before this. At 13” x 9.5” x 4.5”, it weighs around 5.5 pounds. The right side carries the IR receiver. There are only few buttons on the projector itself, most of the operations are carried out through the remote. The best highlight is that this unit has 2 HDMI inputs. It is flanked by two USB ports, one RCA component port coaxial and VGA ports. There are RCA out ports to connect to external speakers. It cannot be mounted directly on a tripod but you can use a platform to load it on one.
The specs of this affordable projector tell that it’s capable of screening 32-200” and within 1.2 to 6m distances. It produces a decently large image. At 3.3m distance, it will give a 2.7m (diagonal) image. The brightness rating is 2800 lumens but we doubt it reaches the full potential. The ideal condition to watch a movie with this inexpensive projector is in a dark room with as less ambient light as possible. The native resolution is 1280x720p. But it supports input source of up to 1080p.
The XPE680 projector has a brightness rating of 2800 lumens. But it is definitely not that bright. You need to draw the blinds and dim the lights to get the best contrast out of it. The color saturation is good for the pitch dark conditions. They have built-in speaker unit. It is surprisingly loud and can function in emergencies. But it gets boomy at high volumes. So we recommend using a set of external speakers. It exhibits some moderate fan noise but its speaker can drown it.
- 2 HDMI ports
- 1280×720 resolution
- 2800 lumens
- Remote controlled
- In-built speaker
- Loud fan noise
6. BenQ MX525A DLP Business Projector – XGA Display, 3300 Lumens, Dual HDMI, 13,000:1 Contrast, 3D-Ready Projector
The BenQ MX525A DLP projector is an energy-saving device for your home. It has a set of popular connection options that allow you to use it as a business, home and classroom projector. The resolution and brightness ratings are good for the price. When used inside a small room, there’s no dearth of details in the video. It’s an apt candidate for the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The BenQ MX525A DLP projector is a handsome unit measuring 3.7” x 11.1” x 8.7”. It weighs only 4.2 pounds. It’s quite portable in its own right. It claims that it can throw images from 5.1 to 39.2 feet away. The backside of the unit is littered with connections. It has one HDMI port and is available in a different model with two HDMI ports. There’s a VGA In port, a USB port, a composite and an S-Video input port. There’s an audio out mini jack to route audio to external speakers.
This affordable projector boasts a native resolution of 1024×768 with a 4:3 aspect ratio. It is capable of playing 3D content. The brightness rating at 3300 lumens is bright enough for ambient lights. In these kind of projectors, the color brightness is not same as the white brightness. There are some rainbow artifacts in the light against a black backdrop. If it’s a visible problem for you, we don’t recommend this DLP projector.
The MX525A DLP projector has an in-built speaker. But it is not loud enough, so an external speaker is required. There’s not a lot of fan noise to be distracting. It offers digital vertical keystone. So your not-so-rectangular picture can be adjusted with the remote. It also has digital zoom so you can lounge on your couch after you plug and play. It has a normal and eco mode. In the latter, the lamp lasts more, up to 10,000 hours. In the normal mode, the lamp lasts through 5,000 hours.
- 1024×768 resolution
- 3300 lumens
- Lightweight portable
- Eco mode for long lamp life
- Some rainbow artifacts
The Acer H5382BD home theater projector is an excellent device for home entertainment. Although affordable, it delivers to every claim it makes on the spec. Capable of HD video, it packs the most important HDMI link that makes it a plug-and-play device with TV, PC and smartphones. The Acer H5382BD is a reliable pick for the best projectors for $500 list.
Design and Features
The Acer H5382BD home theater projector is a moderately built unit at 5.3 pounds. Like most of Acer’s hardware, it has a simple design. It comes with a carry case which makes it plain that it’s meant for movie nights at your friends place. You have a manual zoon option of 1.1x. It has the most important trait of a single HDMI port which requires a single connection for audio and video. The unexpected perk is that the HDMI port support MHL technology. So you can connect your smartphone and tablet directly to this port and play the videos. No hoopla involved. There are two VGA ports, an S-Video port and a composite video port.
The native resolution of this budget-oriented projector is 1080×720. So you get HD details while watching Suits. The brightness is rates at 3300 lumens. As with DLP projectors, the white and color brightness are not same. The DLP projectors have a slightly less color brightness than whites. Even so, it works fairly well in ambient light. In darkened rooms, you get superb contrast. You can actually use the Eco mode here which increases lamp life by 1,000 hours to 6,000 hours.
As with most DLP projectors, the H5382BD has some motion artifacts. But they have controlled the extent of this disturbance. The HDMI provides full supports to 3D screening with shutter glasses. You have to buy your own glasses. Almost all of its functions are controlled by remote. There are very few buttons on the projector itself. Its fast response to the recorded video is a steal at this price.
- 1080×720 resolution
- 3300 lumens
- HDMI port
- Auto keystoning
- Some motion artifacts
The EUG Full HD LCD projector is a middle-of-the-road projector for our price range but it has a brilliant spec. The HD video saves you the budget of buying a huge TV. The brightness and contrast ratios ensure that you get a completely clear picture in light and in darkness. With the HDMI connection, it’s completely geared for the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The EUG Full HD LCD projector is a funky piece measuring 13.2” x 10.4” x4.6”. The silver body with ventilation looks stylish. It packs a speaker which can be used in case you don’t have external speakers to connect to it. The connections are pushed to a side on the back panel. There’s a USB port to directly connect the USB stick and play media from it. It has a single HDMI port which also supports playback from the smartphone and tablets. A composite port and VGA port are other input options.
This affordable projector has a native resolution of 1280×800. The brightness is rated at 3600 lumens. It gives a solid image in pitch dark conditions. There’s only loss a minimal shadow details in ambient light. The contrast ratio at 4500:1 gives you good details in dark movies at an optimum projection distance of 100 inches. We use it not just for movies but also for gaming nights. Being an LED projector, the map lasts through 50,000 hours. That’s 10 times the bulb life of LCD projectors. It has digital zoom so you don’t have to move it manually. It also has vertical keystone up to 15 degrees. But using it distorts the image a little bit.
The EUG projector has an image flip function. It can be mounted on front, rear and ceiling mounts without disturbing the image.
- 1280×800 resolution
- 3600 lumens brightness
- On-board speaker
- 50,000 hour lamp life
- Digital zoom and keystoning
- Keystoning disturbs the image
Epson EX3240 SVGA projector is a sweet deal when you are on a modest budget. It balances excellent specs against the price. It makes a perfect fit for watching movies and can be a backup option for business purposes as well. It can throw detailed and quality video with its HDMI connectivity. This is home unit that earned its place in the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The Epson EX3240 SVGA projector is a gorgeous unit. It measures 11.7” x 9.2” x 3.2”. It weighs only 5.3 pounds. It’s moderately portable. It comes with a carry bag with a sling. So party is on wherever you want to carry it. The button controls are all on the top as with most other Epson units. The back side has numerous connection ports spread out with decent space in between them. There’s one HDMI port to connect for a single audio/visual line. There are USB, composite and S-Video ports for more inputs. Although it packs a usable speaker, we would encourage you to use the Audio Out port to connect external speakers.
This affordable projector uses a 3LCD chip for visuals. This avoids the motion and rainbow artifacts that are common to LCD projectors. It has brightness rating of 3200 lumens for both whites and colors. The native resolution is 800×600. Epson delivers every pixel to that rating so its image quality looks brighter and clearer than that of cheaper projectors that boast of 1080p. This doesn’t support 3D video though. It offers both digital zoom and auto vertical keystone. Horizontal keystone is manual. The lamp lasts through 10,000 hours of use so the maintenance cost is low. It can be easily mounted on a ceiling mount.
- 800×600 resolution
- 3200 lumens for color and whites
- Portable with carry bag
- In-built speaker
- Digital zoom induces artifacts
If there was ever a question of style in projectors, we would rush to iRulu for advice. Their GP90 projector is suave-looking set that would actually enhance your décor than be an eyesore. Its clear performance at a low budget is what propelled it to the best projectors under $500 list.
Design and Features
The iRulu GP90 projector is an ultra-portable unit at 11.2” x 9” x 4.5”. It weighs a meagre 4.8 pounds. It packs stereo speakers inside which can get loud enough for movie watching. But most of us with projectors have external speakers. The connection ports are spread across the backside. There are two HDMI ports and two USB ports each. There’s one VGA and a RCA port. An audio out port is to connect to speakers.
This affordable projector has a native resolution of 1280×800. It supports up to 1080p video. There’s no digital zoom so you have to fix this projector at any convenient distance between 1.2-8.5m. It can be mounted by rear, front and ceiling supports. It offers 15° vertical keystone. The lamp lasts through 20,000 hours. The brightness allows it to be used clearly in dimly lit rooms for both home and business use. The only downside is that he customer service is from the originating country and may not work for native English speakers.
- 1280×800 resolution
- Manual vertical keystone
- 2 HDMI ports
- No digital zoom