I remember a time when video projectors were huge, bulky and extremely expensive. Even replacing a bulb was time consuming and pricey. How times have changed! Today you can get a very good and capable micro projector, perfect for presentations.
The market is literally flooded with product today. Finding a good quality portable micro projector is a major task. It has to be small, durable, capable, bright and, most importantly, cheap. There's also a ton of misinformation out there as to what's standard and acceptable. When it comes down to it, most people just want something that will work and isn't too hard on their pocketbooks.
This article will take the guesswork out of the equation for you. I'll be reviewing three of the best portable micro projectors on the market, and I'll explain in-depth why I've chosen each one for this list. We'll look at pros and cons of each item. I'll also briefly touch on the various technologies and terminologies out there so you'll have a good knowledge base while you hunt.
If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, feel free to post them at the bottom, I'll try to reply promptly.
In terms of technology, there are a few different types of portable micro projectors competing for your dollar. Each one is a bit different, and companies tend to lean one way or another. I'll explain the most popular versions here.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
DLP projectors are popular and common. They're usually what you'll find in most theatres and cinemas around the world. They make use of a bunch of tiny mirrors, which alternately point light towards the screen or away from it. They use a tiny spinning color wheel to make sure the right hue is represented. They're found in all sizes from very small to huge. The vast majority of pocket projectors fit into this category due to technological restrictions.
LCoS & LCD Projectors
Another common type of mini LED projector, these guys makes use of liquid crystal panels that display all images in hues of red, green and blue simultaneously (RGB color can represent basically any image). LCoS refers to liquid crystal on silicon, which combines LCD technology like I just described with the tiny mirrors found in DLP. This offers an excellent image quality, but it ups the price in a big way. Both LCoS and LED are harder to miniaturize, so while they're small, they won't generally fit in your pocket.
So Which One Is The Best
Generally speaking, I can't identify one as being superior. It varies from product to product. I usually recommend a micro projector using LED lighting due to its lifespan and durability. You should also be aware that price does correlate to quality (for example, an LCoS projector is far superior to a DLP for contrast, but it also costs a lot more).
So let's get into a few of the micro projector reviews and find the best options.
The Qumi by Vivitek is one of the top micro LED projectors on the market today. It's small, powerful, user-friendly, and (not that it matters) it has a sexy design that you'll love to show off. For me a projector's usefulness really comes down to image quality and usability, and this product offers both of those things.
I'll start with the image. It's a DLP projector, so it should be used for short throw applications (I mean, it's not going to fill an amphitheater). That said, it's got a really nice image quality and the contrast is a pleasant surprise for the price tag. It's got a 720p high definition resolution, so images will be pretty crisp and sharp. It makes use of LED bulbs that are bright and create little in the way of heat (the bulb will last for at least 30,000 hours of use: that's nearly four years of constant function!)
The Qumi is also among the smallest offerings out there. It's barely over a pound, and it will easily fit into a laptop bag or briefcase. It's also compatible with a wide variety of phones, tablets, computers and operating systems. It has a lot of different video inputs and should work with whatever you have, including HDMI. You can connect to your devices using MicroSD or USB, so you can use the projector as a portable computer screen wherever you go. It even has a built in speaker!
For value and image quality, this is a great choice. Once you have it, you won't know how you functioned before!
The Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector Mobile is a tiny, battery powered projector that might surprise you with its portability and user friendly features. This is not a 'bells and whistles' type of item, by any means. It's meant to offer extreme portability, wirelessness and ease of use.
It's definitely a short throw pocket projector, but its brightness and power might surprise you. It can cover a surface of up to 60 inches with perfect high definition (1080p as a matter of fact). It uses a rechargeable battery that can run for up to two hours of consistent use: phenomenal when you consider the size of the device. You can always plug it in for longer uses.
It's not as bright as some, but with 85 lumens it's more than enough for a family movie or presentation in a board room. The thing that really makes this device shine is the versatility. It is absolutely tiny, yet it connects to most modern devices using its universal HDMI port. You can use it with your phone, tablet or computer, or any device that supports video replication.
It charges using a USB plug. I'd definitely invest in a small projector stand for it, since it will get tedious holding it in your hand while it plays. It also tends to get fairly hot if it's not ventilated well enough. It comes with speakers and an adjustable focus mechanism to keep the image sharp and crisp.
Suitable for everything from the board room to a family movie night, this is a perfect little wireless mini projector for anyone who needs projection on the go. Durable and powerful.
The Epson Ex9200 is a projector that won't exactly fit in your pocket, but it's definitely one of the smallest offerings in the LCD category, and I wanted to review it for a few reasons. First off, it has an image quality and brightness that most micro and pocket sized LED projectors just can't seem to match. It has a maximum brightness of 3200 lumens, which is many times brighter than a lot of smaller ones can muster.
The contrast is excellent, and the color is very nicely rendered thanks to its 3-chip technology. It has some really nice features like its horizontal image correction software, which makes sure that there isn't any distortion if your projector is facing the screen from an odd angle (very useful in makeshift presentations).
It's an incredibly portable projector that is light and can easily fit under your arm for quick transportation. It makes use of a conventional lamp instead of LED (which is why the brightness and color contrast is so much better), so you'll have to handle it a bit more gingerly since it's not as durable. The lamp should last for at least 10,000 hours of use.
It is an HD projector, and it doesn't rely on a PC. You can use a USB drive to power it for presentations. It's essentially 'plug and play' for most USB devices. It has one of the longest throws of the projectors I've reviewed, and it's definitely worth a look.
How Much Brightness Do I Need?
All of these are relatively cheap mini projectors that offer a lot of versatility. You might be concerned with brightness and what will work for your daily use. I'd say you should think about the size of the room you'll be using your projector in, and the number of people who will be watching.
A small, portable micro projector with LED lighting will probably be more than enough for small groups of people. Watching a movie in the family room or presenting a slideshow to the board will be no issue. If you're presenting for a larger group, say a church or party, you should probably forget about the micro-sized devices and go for a bigger LCD or LCoS option with a brightness in the thousands of lumens. Most pocket projectors won't create an image big or bright enough for scores of people to enjoy.
If you have any questions or comments on any of the information presented, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the area below. Thanks for reading!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Any questions? Leave them below.
David Ross on October 27, 2019:
Thank you for this post. I've enjoyed your writings. Here I've posted my blog about Epson Projector. Would you give any feedback on it? https://projectorfinder.com/epson-5040ub
Misc99 on October 30, 2016:
Thanks for the review. I appreciate the technical explanation. I just started looking into projectors and I'm planning on getting one for someone. I was looking at Sony Portable HD Mobile Projector and ZTE Spro 2. How are they in comparison to the first two items in your review? I'm looking for one that connects to android and for home use. Some of the features I've seen are keystoning to prevent image from stretching. That's important but I don't know if it's typically standard in most mini projectors. Thanks for your feedback.
DATALOAD from Michigan on December 08, 2013:
These are great. I would love to get one but it would be more of a luxury item than a necessity. Maybe within a few years.