Best Projector Under 500

Best Projector Under 500: The Ultimate Guide & Product Review

Everybody’s got very personal reasons for wanting to own state-of-the-art home entertainment. And why not? After all, now is the first time ever in the history of the big screen that we’ve been given the power to watch any movie, old or current release, at our fingertips! Well, you may not be able to completely replace the silver screen but you can certainly take home the best project under 500.

None of us here is crazy enough to trade that new-found freedom to a chaotic theater. At any given showtime, who knows you might even be seated next to an annoying movie-goer? So, if you’re still weighing your options to buy or not, our simple advice is: don’t think, just buy!

Top Pick

CAIWEI EUG 1080P

  • Supports multimedia and wireless connections
  • Noise reduction technology
  • 4D keystone correction
  • Ceiling mount
  • Features a zoom function

Best Projector Under 500 for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons

We’ve all used a projector before but mostly for work. What you might not be familiar with is that projectors have come a long way since. While we were busy being awed by the revolutionary changes in our mobile devices and the smart tv debut, the good ‘ole projector was undergoing its own metamorphosis.

Care to know more? For one, newer models are now capable of a much higher resolution more suited for viewing. The good news is that in spite of the amazing features available today, projectors no longer cost as much. If you had only \$500 to spend to seriously up your home theater system here are the 7 projectors we think are worth every penny:

IMAGENAME & DetailsDETAILS
CAIWEI EUG 1080P Projector 2021 Upgrade
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 14.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Product Weight: 9.63 lbs.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, AV in/out, RCA, USB, HDMI Port, VGA Port
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BenQ TH585 1080p Viewing & Gaming Projector 2020 version
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 13.5 x 7 in
  • Product Weight: 8.40 lbs.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Connectivity: HDMI
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ViewSonic PJD5255 Projector 2017 Version
  • Product Dimensions: 8.98 x 12.44 x 4.08 inches
  • Product Weight: 4.63 lbs.
  • Resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Connectivity: HDMI, XGA, VGA
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KODAK Luma 4K Portable Smart Projector w/Luma App
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6.77 x 2.48 inches
  • Product Weight: 1.81 lbs.
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB, VGA, HDMI
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Optoma HD142X 3D DLP Projector
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 11.73 x 3.7 inches
  • Product Weight: 5.50 lbs.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Connectivity: VGA, USB, HDMI
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Dr J Professional 4K Full HD Projector
  • Product Dimensions: 16.93 x 13.39 x 5.91 inches
  • Product Weight: 8.58 lbs.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Connectivity: VGA, USB
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ViewSonic PA503S SVGA HDMI Projector
  • Product Dimensions: 4.33 x 11.57 x 8.58 inches

  • Product Weight: 7.14 lbs.

  • Resolution: SVGA 800×600

  • Connectivity: VGA, Serial Interface, HDMI
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1. CAIWEI EUG 1080P Projector 2021 Upgrade

Highlighted features

  • Supports multimedia and wireless connections
  • Noise reduction technology
  • 4D keystone correction
  • Ceiling mount
  • Features a zoom function

This unit is our Best Overall pick because it offers ease of setup and manipulation. Operation is highly intuitive and always ready to perform as soon as you’re ready to enjoy your next game or movie.

For its price, wireless connectivity, zoom function,  and other customizable settings are a steal! If you’re serious about getting a projector but like to keep your space decluttered, this is the product you should definitely get.

Pros

  • Upgraded Bluetooth allows wireless, seamless connections with speakers and other accessories.
  • We like that it’s wireless and ceiling mount which leaves a clean look as you enjoy an immersive experience in your living space.
  • We absolutely love that it’s fully functional with perks that comes at a relatively low price.
  • The unit comes with a remote control.
  • Built-in speakers give you an option to either plug in your stereo surround sound system or not.

Cons

  • Design isn’t suitable to set on a desk if that’s what you have in mind.

2. BenQ TH585 1080p Viewing & Gaming Projector 2020 version

Highlighted features

  • 3,500 lumens
  • 15,000 hours of lifespan
  • 3 Energy Modes: Mac, Normal, and Eco

A mere $1 shy of being excluded from this list of the best projector under 500, this Premium Pick is not exactly a luxury because it’s worth every dollar. Gamers will most especially get top value with its low latency for real-time powered connections with your PlayStation. In fact, this unit isn’t only the Premium Pick but the best gaming projector in this list.

When you’re not racing with the computer or wrestling your way through some adventure game, you’ll be happy streaming your favorite movies and series here.

Pros

  • Based on our experience, the image stays clear across various lighting conditions.
  • You can use it day or night and the picture stays crisp.
  • Energy-efficient Eco Mode saves up on your power bill without compromising satisfaction.
  • Overall, it’s worth every dollar spent.

Cons

  • We’re not happy with the built-in speakers but you can easily connect to any Bluetooth speaker for a fuller sound experience.
  • Despite its great ability to withstand room lighting, it not a good option for outdoor setup.

3. ViewSonic PJD5255 Projector 2017 Version

Highlighted features

  • 3,300 lumens
  • Comes with remote control
  • 10,000 hours lifespan
  • Dynamic Eco Mode function

Want to spend even less than $500? This unit will leave you with more savings that you can spend to buy other things that will complete your home theater. Ahem! Bluetooth speakers! Or, if you already have those, perhaps a reclining seat for you and another one for your partner.

 

Pros

  • Excellent image output that kept us glued.
  • Built-in speakers are supplied but level-off your expectations or connect to your BlueTooth speaker.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an option for WiFi connectivity.
  • Lamp heats up intensely after two movies but we tried this with open windows so that may explain why.

4. KODAK Luma 4K Portable Smart Projector w/Luma App

Highlighted features

  • Digital Light Processing Technology
  • Multimedia connectivity
  • Supports screen mirroring

This product has one very special advantage over others that makes it the best projector under 500 for camping or traveling. That is, it’s ultra lightweight and fits easily inside your pocket.

We took this to camp just last week. It kept everyone entertained under the stars. Don’t expect crisp image output until the darkness of night completely sets in though. That should be understandable given the lumens and its size.

Pros

  • We love the fact that we can stretch the image output up to 150 inches!
  • Take it or leave it to use at home — it’s so versatile.
  • The fact that it’s Kodak, expect output resolution to be designed for your pleasure.
  • This will likely be our team’s go-to projector for off-site presentations from now on (wink, wink).

Cons

  • As with most other projectors, the built-in speakers are disappointing.
  • Bluetooth speakers will be required but that’s probably something you already have.

5. Optoma HD142X 3D DLP Projector

Highlighted features

  • 3D DLP
  • Screen size: 66 inches up to 107 inches
  • 3000 lumen
  • 8,000 hours lifespan

Why not complete your home theater experience with a 3D projector? Indeed, with this product, you can. Don’t forget to add 3D glasses to your cart before you check out. Make sure everyone in your household gets one.

Pros

  • Lightweight and still relatively easy to move around.
  • True HD image quality with 1080p resolution.
  • We tried this with a PlayStation console and the gaming experience was superb.

Cons

  • Built-in speakers can be improved but you can switch to external speakers easily.
  • Ideal only in a range of temperature and humidity conditions which means the A/C must be turned on when you use it.

6. Dr J Professional 4K Full HD Projector

Highlighted features

  • Native 1080p resolution
  • 50,000 hours lifespan
  • 7,200 lumens
  • 8000:1 contrast ratio

If you like hosting outdoors or barbecuing in the backyard on weekends, this projector will amp the ante of your random private get-togethers at home. High lumens support crisp video output even before the sun has completely set.

Call in the band simply by tuning in to a live streaming or pre-recorded concert. Or, watch an interesting family video while you’re busy grilling the burgers and franks.

Pros

  • For all its versatility, this projector is a steal!
  • Move your hosting prowess indoors or outdoors anytime along with the entertainment without fuss.
  • WiFi connectivity is supported which is good to prevent you and your guests from tripping on wires.
  • We find the built-in speakers sound better than most projectors at this price point.

Cons

  • This is so much larger than the other units featured on this list.
  • It produces more noise than others on this list.

7. ViewSonic PA503S SVGA HDMI Projector

Highlighted features

  • 3800 lumens
  • 15,000 hours lifespan
  • Built-in speakers

If you need a projector that can double for both work and play, this one will be a superb choice. Images are crisp and colors are accurate which are important features to have most especially if you’re moving within creative circles.

Pros

  • We tested performance under different lighting conditions and this one remained clear and crisp.
  • This projector does a great job even when outdoors or with the shades up.
  • SuperEco Mode provides a low energy option to save on power cost.
  • Lightweight enough to be moved back and forth indoors/outdoors or from one room to the next.

Cons

  • Not surprisingly, the 2W built-in speakers failed to match the image quality with excellent audio experience.
Best Projector Under 500

Projectors Under $500:  Buying Guide

By experience, we all know how hard it is not to be bedazzled by tech, including state-of-the-art projectors. If you have just $500 to spare, it’s best to err on the side of caution to avoid spending more than what you can afford.

Unless you’re willing to spend thousands more on a projector, you better shop with a purpose. After all, there’s a world of difference between spending for wants and needs — and your wallet, too, will feel it. So, be on the lookout for these five features when shopping for the best projector under $500.

Connectivity

Carefully consider how you want to connect with your projector and what devices you will be using. Are you looking forward to skimming through your old, personal collection of BluRay discs, streaming Netflix, playing video games online, or doing all of it with your projector?

Keep in mind that different projectors will have varying capabilities to connect with your devices. More recent releases include both wired and wireless connections. Some include most connectivity mechanisms such as HDMI, USB, and VGA while others have more limited offerings.

One other thing to consider when it comes to connectivity is that, when it comes to projectors, wired connections will minimize delays. Wired would be ideal if you have intermittent Internet in your area. Otherwise, projectors such as the BenQ TH585 1080p Viewing & Gaming Projector 2020 version which promises low latency will be a viable option.

Intended Use

Do you want a home projector for weekend family viewing? In your living area or outdoors when camping? Would you rather own a projector that can switch seamlessly for your office presentation needs and home viewing pleasure?

The options are massive! If you fail to identify your purpose for wanting one, you’re inevitably increasing your risk of overspending or failing to get the value you desire. Examine your purpose well so you can find the product that matches your goals.

Space Availability & Size of Projector Screen

Down to a more practical consideration this time, how much space do you have? Well, it’s all-too-easy to fall in love with the idea of setting up an entertainment oasis in your home. The more important question though is if there’s really any space you can convert to accommodate your projector.

Projection works from a distance. You need to have space between your projector and your projection screen for this technology to work. We’ll discuss throw distance later in this section.

Resolution

Most projectors available at a $500 or less price point are capable of a 1020 x 1080 output resolution. Products such as CAIWEI EUG 1080P Projector 2021 Upgrade can rival the output of HD television.

You have to be able to distinguish between a 1080p and a 1080p-enabled resolution before you go shopping. The first pertains to native 1080p resolution which is also sometimes termed as Full HD. The latter simply means that the projector can project videos or games that are made for Full HD viewing. But, the output you get is not real Full HD. Since 1080p-enabled projectors have a lower native resolution, it often requires compressing the image to fill up gaps in pixels and give you a Full HD output.

Definitely consider buying the best 1080p projector under 500.

Throw Distance

Perhaps the trickiest and most important factor to consider when shopping for projectors is this. We’re warning that this one requires you to stand up, take actual measurements, and do some math. If you choose to be lazy instead, you’ll end up feeling sorry for your spend later.

Identify the throw ratio of the projector you’re eyeing to buy. Then, take note of the size of your projection screen or wall. If you don’t already know it, get a meter stick and start measuring.

To compute how far away your projector should be placed from your screen to achieve the desired width, simply multiply the width of the projection screen with the throw distance. If, say, your projection screen is 5 feet wide and the throw ratio is 2, that means you’ll need to setup your projector at least 10 feet away to achieve a f

5-foot-wide image.

Don’t forget to go back to your living space and do another round of measurements. Check if you have the throw distance required to achieve the size of projection you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I stream Netflix with my projector?

Of course, you can! I had the same question before I bought mine years ago. A simple rule of thumb is to identify what connectivity your projector supports. If you can play Netflix on your laptop, make sure that HDMI is supported. If you’re running on a Macbook, you’ll require an external HDMI adapter to plug in the HDMI cable.

If you watch Netflix with your mobile or tablet, you just have to make sure you have the right HDMI cable that fits your device. Or, choose wireless streaming if you have uninterrupted internet connection at home.

Q: Is a projector better than a TV?

That depends on what purpose you have. Another big consideration to make is available space.

If everything else were equal and the throw ratio of your projector is comparable to TV resolution then, owning a projector would be cheaper and more cost-effective than a TV. Why? If both devices were capable of a Full HD resolution output then, the only comparison to make would be the size of the image projected.

For as long as you have the space and throw ratio is ideal for your space, you can get larger image projection at just a fraction of what the same size of tv would cost you. With tv, you’re paying for every square inch of additional space. In which case, you’ll be better off owning the best HD projector under 500 — big screen, minimal cost.

Q: Do 4K projectors offer the best resolution?

At the moment, yes. The more important question to think about is if you really need one. At a $500 price point, you’ll already find a handful of 4K projectors to choose from. But, options remain limited since 4K projectors still tend to cost much higher.

If your goal is to make your projector your go-to viewing and gaming option at home the, the extra dollar spent will be worth it. However, if use would be limited to weekends and holidays when you’re staycationing, it might be best to settle for something less. For a $500 budget, you can already buy topnotch functionalities that come with good-to-have features.

Conclusion

Well, you’re all set to shop the best projector under 500! Here’s our tall order: put your feet up, enjoy, and don’t forget the popcorn!

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