Projectors have revolutionized how we communicate and watch entertainment. Typically, they were found in a sophisticated office to carry out business presentations. But nowadays, you can find them in an average home where people seek a movie theater experience while on their couch. Most brands have evolved and allowed connectivity with just about every gadget we use.
If you’re hoping to join in on the experience, we can understand the initial anxiety. Where does one start especially if you’ve never bought one before? We have you covered. In this article, we’ll review the best projectors under $100, a fair price for those on a budget. As technology evolves, more people are beginning to appreciate the experience they can get from the comfort of their own homes.
We’ll also provide a buying guide so that you know what product specifications you should look out for. While we have given you ten suggestions, the ultimate choice rests with you. Read carefully as to what constitutes for a perfect home theater projector so that you can make an informed decision.
Best Projectors Under $100 Reviews
DR.J 4Inch Mini Projector – Most Commonly Used Projector
This projector is the 2018 version of the same brand. It is a four-inch mini portable projector with 170-inch display capabilities. The bub is LED and gives up to 40,000 hours of viewing with 1800 Lumens. With it you can watch blue-ray quality motion pictures, that is, 1080p.
The Dr. J is ideal for home theater use and works with various inputs. These are HDMI, USB, AV, SD, VGA and finally the Amazon Fire TV stick. With a laptop, mobile device or your iPad, you can still use the projector. The manufacturer specifies that it is not best for official use. That means you stand to be disappointed in you try using it for a business presentation.
However, if you’re about watching movies in the dark indoors and outdoors, then this projector is for you. The native resolution is 840 x 480 with a 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. The projector also features a contrast of 2000:1. The screen size range is between 1.5 and 5 meters from the screen.
- Has an LED bulb that runs for 40,000 hours
- Can be used across multiple devices
- Ideal for 1080p content
- Has a high contrast ratio
- It tends not to be as bright as expected
- Getting a clear image can be problematic
QKK Full HD Mini Projector – Best for Longevity
This manufacturer provides a projector with an LED lamp projector that can run for 50,000 hours. It supports 1080p content, and in the model, you’re also able to enjoy both indoor and outdoor viewing. You can watch your favorite movies and catch up on series or play video games with this home theater projector. With 2000:1 contrast ratio you’re able to get sharp, balanced images.
It also has a high resolution of 1920 x 1080 meaning you can expect to enjoy a movie as it was intended to be as though you were in a movie theater. The screen size comes from 32 to 176 inches with a projection distance between 1.5 and 5 meters. For the typical display of 120 inches, the projector should be placed at 3.5 meters away.
You can use the QKK across multiple devices. It even has two USB inputs, a feature that was not available in the previous model. It can also accommodate VGA, SD cards, HDMI and AV for use on a blue-ray DVD player, your TV, PC, laptop, music players, tablets and smartphones. The QKK is an LCD projector.
- The native resolution is at 1920 x 1080
- High contrast ratio for sharp imaging
- Large screen size
- It is not as bright as it is an LCD projector
- Doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth.
Vankyo Leisure 3 Projector – Best for Portability
This projector has a 2400 lumens LED lamp. It can support 1080p quality with 1920×1080 a resolution. The contrast ratio is at 2000:1 and makes it ideal for home entertainment. Whatever your needs, movies, games or sports, this project is designed to accommodate it. You can connect it with your gaming device or smartphone to get in on the action.
The projection distance is between 1.5 and 5 meters with a recommended sweet-spot of 2 meters and can produce a screen size between 32 inches to 176 inches. Vakyo has a fan noise suppression system, and therefore it won’t heat up as much, and the noise levels are also low.
As a bonus, this projector comes with a bag. That makes for convenient storage and transportation. The projector can then remain safe and dust free when not in use.
- LED lamp life of 40,000 hours
- High contrast of 2000:1
- High resolution of 1920×1080
- Comes with a bag
- The inbuilt speakers seem not to add value
For this brand, the native resolution is 800 x 480P but can support up to 1080p content. You can use it with plenty of devices including USB, HDMI, SD, AV, and VGA. It works with the PC, laptop, video player, tablet, smartphone, and gaming devices.
The GooDee projector also has an inbuilt speaker that is of stereo quality at 2W. For that, if you don’t have external speakers, you can still get good sound. However, there is always the option of plugging in your home theater system for surround sound.
The projection distance is 1.5 meters to 5 meters and has a screen size ranging from 50 inches to 130 inches. The LED lamp has a life of up to 30,000 hours. The native aspect ratios are 16:9 or 4:3 with a contrast ratio of 1000:1. You can adjust the various ratios to your liking also as will be dictated by the use.
- Comes with a powerful inbuilt speaker
- Has an LED lamp with a long lifespan
- Can connect to multiple devices
- Has an LCD display not LED
The next gadget on our best projectors under $100 can support images that are up to 1080p and has a contrast of 1000:1. The Vamvo projector also comes with inbuilt speakers. This projector is ideal for home entertainment, be it gaming, sports, watching a movie or a series or sharing photographs. It is small and quite portable, allowing for smooth movement around the home and travel.
It has support for Apple products and Android devices as well as laptops and the top gaming consoles on the market. You can also use Fire Sticks or ROKU for you to catch your favorite programming on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. The lamp runs for 30,000 hours and stands up to prolonged usage.
This Vamvo model is a 2018 model and has 2200 lumens kept cool by a fanning system with reduced noise. Projection distance is between 4-12 feet with a screen size of between 60 to 130 inches. You can adjust to accommodate the room and audience size or just the experience you wish to have.
- Has inbuilt speakers
- Supports various devices for home entertainment
- Has 2200 lumens for better picture quality
- Low contrast ratio
- 30,000 hours lamp life which is comparatively low
CiBest 4-Inch Mini Projector – Best Entry-Level Projector
This home theater projector accords you a screen size of 33 to 170 inches at a distance of 6.6-8 feet. The resolution stands at 800 x 400 pixels and can support movies with a 1080p resolution. It provides a contrast of 2000:1 for a sharp image. That makes it ideal for home viewing and other entertainment activities.
It is not recommended for presentations and other official business. However, it is ideal to watch a sporting event or merely to share fun times with loved ones watching movies or playing games. To make the most out of the experience, ensure that it is in a significantly darkened room.
You can pair it with several devices. That includes your DVD player, the TV box, PC, laptop, UBS and SD card. If you wish to use it with your smartphone, you can do just that, making a great travel companion. The CiBest is an LCD along with work life of 30,000 hours.
- High contrast ratio that produces crisp images
- Can support blue ray movies
- Can be used across multiple devices
- It is an LCD
- Doesn’t support Dolby video/sound
This projector is the upgraded version of the Paick projector supports 1080p production. It has 800 x 400 pixels with a contrast ratio of 2200:1 so you can expect sharp images in your home theater experience. The company uses LED technology for their lamps, giving you 50,000 hours of viewing.
The maximum screen size stands at 180 inches. The projection distance can be between 4 and 16.5 feet that you can play with to get the right screen size for you. It comes with an inbuilt speaker, but there is always the option of using external ones. It also has support for headphones.
You can connect the Piack to pretty much any device. That includes your laptop, PC, DVD player, TV, tablet or smartphone using an HDMI cable. There is equally an option of using a UBD drive or an SD card. It has a noise suppression system that cuts the fun noise in half.
- Very sharp contrast ration
- Supports high-quality images
- Has a large screen size projection
- No lumens mentioned despite it being an LED lamp
TENKER Q5 Mini Projector – Best Value Projector
TENKER Q5 Mini Projector is the best value projector in our list of best projectors under $100. Also a 2018 upgrade, it supports 1080p resolution movies and images. The LED lamp used can run for up to 20,000 hours at a brightness of 1500 lumens. The contrast ratio is 1000:1 with a display of 800 x 400. Manufacturers recommend that this projector is for home use as it will not produce the type of imaging desired for presentations.
The screen size ranges from 35 to 100 inches with a projection distance of about 1.15 to 3 meters. The recommended length is, however, two meters. You can plug it into all your devices. That means your smartphone, tablet, PC, laptop, gaming console, and USB drives. This model has a cooling system that reduces the noise in half compared to previous models.
- Supports high-quality images
- Has a large screen size projection
- Reduced fan noise
- The projector is not as bright as other varieties
Also a 2018 model, this model has 2,200 lumens with a projection size of 28-180 inches. It acts well as a home theater addition for movies, sports, and video games. You can also use it outdoors. It is quieter than the average projector too. That is due to the fan and cooling system the brand has used for this Crenova projector.
You can connect it to all new technology devices. That means a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone. The brands it is compatible with are Apple, Samsung, Mac, PC, Amazon or Google that have an HDMI dongle or one that can connect a DisplayPort to an HDMI adapter. There is also the option of connecting using a USB, SD or MHL.
The lamp is LED with 50,000 hours of lamp life. The contrast is a ratio of 1000:1. Projection size is available from 1.2 meters to 5.5 meters. You can watch 1080p HD videos at a resolution of 800 x 480. The format allows you to take with you to different areas of the house and even travel with it. Like the rest, it works to give your eyes a break from a screen.
- Has a high lumens power
- It is an LED lamp with a 50,000 life
- You can watch blue ray content
- Has a quiet fan
- Low contrast
- Doesn’t allow Bluetooth connection
The final projector on our list of best projectors under $100 is the Hausbell brand. It has an indicated native resolution of 800 x 600P but can scale up to accommodate 1080p blue ray content. The projection distance is extensive, starting from half a meter and going up to as far as five meters. The default contrast ratio is 600:1 but can be increased to 10,000:1.
It is quite portable meaning you can carry it with you almost anywhere. It is compatible with various devices. That includes your smartphone, the iPhone or Android, tablets, PC, laptop and your gaming devices including PS4s and Xbox. It has HDMI, VGA, USB, AV, and SD interphase, so you’re almost spoilt for choice on how to connect.
- Perfect sound with the bright image in the dark room
- Can be used across various devices
- Supports blue ray content
- Low native contrast ratio
- The fan will make noise after 3-4 hours of using
Note: All the mentioned home theater projectors come with a warranty varying from one to three years depending on the brand.
Best Projectors Under $100 Buying Guide
Before stepping out to make your purchase, go through this checklist below. It will help you understand the key features of the best projectors under $100 in the market. Once you are through, we hope that you’ll be able to settle for the right projector for your home theater needs.
Types of Projectors
Projectors fall under two categories: DLP (Digital Light Processing) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).
There are three components of this type of projector. There is the light source, a spinning color wheel, and a chip containing microscopic tilting mirrors. For it to work, light passes through first the color wheel and goes on to reflect on the chip. After, it goes through the lens projected on a screen. DLP is low maintenance. They are sealed so dust and debris cannot enter and affect the image. Their disadvantage is that they tend to produce a rainbow effect sometimes. You may have noticed this.
This projector works differently. Instead of a color wheel, there are three chips (red, blue and green). For an image to get projected, a light source passes through the chips. There are however more advanced varieties of the LCD where, instead of light passing through the chips, it gets projected. They are less expensive but can burn out the screen.
That is the case with some projectors giant electronic companies manufacture. In the market, you will find the SXRD which stands for Silicon Crystal Reflective Display that Sony developed. It is the system they use in their projectors. JVC developed and currently use two similar LCD projectors; the D-ILA (Digital Imaging Light Amplification) and LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon).
Usage of Projectors
- Data Projector
This type of projector is what you may have first interacted with. They are typically found in classrooms or boardrooms, typical for the small-sized audience and in smaller rooms. They can either be placed on a table or mounted.
- Installation Projectors
Where there are larger conferences or audience, you’ll find these here. They are a type of data projector that you have to put further away for a bigger image. Installation projectors tend to be brighter meaning the image remains sharp despite the distance.
- Large Venue Projector
As the name implies you’ll find these at your local sports bar projected on a screen. You will also see them in events with quite a large audience with a couple of thousand people. As you can imagine, it is very bright to be able to project the image from a long distance.
- Short Throw Projector
These types are mostly found in your sophisticated boardroom. You will see them mounted on a wall behind the screen. What makes them different is that they are interactive. A presenter can use a pointing a device or a pen during their presentation. They are called short throw because they are very close to a screen and still project a sizable image.
- Home Theatre Projector
What makes these projectors different is that they aren’t as bright as those used in sizeable rooms to large rooms. However, they are higher in contrast. As the name implies, they are best for home use and would be problematic in other contexts.
- Projectors for Home Use
Projectors are a neat alternative for a TV in the digital age. It is not uncommon to find millennials plugging a projector to their laptop and enjoying a projected movie on one wall. There is usually no screen, only a white wall. If you’re looking for the best projectors under $100, you may want only to use it for entertainment purposes only.
Those who watch regular TV are better off sticking to the set than a projector. An average projector with a lamp lasts between 2-5,000 hours of viewing while most televisions give you 60,000 plus hours of viewing.
Other places to use a projector are outdoors during special occasions at night. It works fantastic when you want to catch a movie outdoors with friends and family. It is also typically be used when sharing a presentation during birthday, wedding engagements or even the wedding itself. With fair weather and a sheet, you can use it just about anywhere.
Note: Home theater projectors have less light than those for office or a significantly sized audience. Usage ought to be in a darkened room or area where the projector is the only source of light.
What we love about projectors nowadays is they are light and portable. That means you can take it just about anywhere with you. This aspect makes it easy to try out different walls around the house and distances before settling on a place it works best. However, it’s not just about whether you can travel with it or use it outdoors. Portability also refers to how easy it is to connect to other gadgets. It requires installation and set-up.
Brightness is a crucial feature in projectors. A light that is not bright enough will mean the image will be dull. It will be reminiscent of an old movie even when watching the latest comic adaptation movie. On average, a projector with 1,000 ANSI Lumens is ideal. However, this will depend on usage and distance from the wall. In a larger room or where there is some light, you want something with a higher ANSI.
There are three bulbs: lamps, LED and laser. The first are inexpensive but have a shorter lifespan. LEDs are mainly in portable projectors, last longer and require less maintenance. Lasers are newer in the market and by far the most expensive. They do however very bright and produce high contrast images. They also never burn out and are energy-efficient.
This feature goes with the brightness. What a contrast does is balance the white and black in an image. You want to go with a ratio of 2,000:1 if you want sharp images or are likely to use the project in a room with some light in it. However, in a darker place, 1,500:1 also works, but you won’t get the same experience.
Also known as the pixel density, you want a projector that will give you the HD experience we all enjoy. If you’re mostly watching HDTV, the ideal resolution to go for is 1920×1080 as it will be able to run blue ray content comfortably. For 720p then a 1280×720 works as well. Otherwise, for normal viewing, a 1024×768 works just fine for your standard DVD.
Tip: While most projectors come with a default setting, you can change to suit your preferences. Pros however advice you to purchase a projector with the resolution and aspect ratio it came in.
How large you wish the screen to be is tied in with several factors. For a bigger screen, the projector needs to be further away from the screen. That implies that you need a larger room. As the projector moves away, that means it needs to have a higher light output for the image to maintain its clarity. Having a large room is a matter of audience size. You need the person in the back row to be able to see everything.
With that in mind, offices and such places with limited spaces should opt for a short throw projector. It still provides an average sized screen where you can get plenty out of it. Brands include Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and Epson to mention a few.
Though all brands provide the same output, ensure that they still match your device. Most offer HDMI inputs and a VGA or DVI when you want to use your computer. That said, if you have older analog TV or an older model computer, you might need to find a projector brand that still offers these input models. Don’t assume; make sure you check your TV or laptop if you’ve had them for a couple of years.
FAQs About Cheap Mini Projectors
We’ll look at a few basic questions that come up often. They both address questions for those looking to buy a projector and those looking to troubleshoot common issues.
- Why a mini projector?
The most appealing advantage a projector has over a TV is the size, with some projecting to as high as 300 inches. It feels like a movie theater at the comfort of your own home if that’s what you’re doing. Those having a significantly sized gathering like in a conference or a sporting event, they can project the image on a screen. A projector is also obviously cheaper than a TV that size. It is also, unless mounted, portable.
- What are the main reasons for the projector now working?
The first could be compatibility issues. As companies upgrade their projectors, they tend to tailor them for newer devices. Therefore, before making a purchase, ensure they are compatible.
The other reason it can stop working if the connection cables are faulty. Consider trying connecting to another device to ensure it is working.
If you’re using a laptop and the connection goes off, it could be low on power. It could be that your computer is powering down to sustain vital functions.
- The projector seems to be fine, but there’s no light. What’s the problem?
There could be two reasons. The first is that the lamp has burnt out and needs fixing. The other is there is a voltage fluctuation. Newer models will not power up if they detect it to save the lap from burning out.
- What are the “blobs” on my screen?
It is likely that there is dust or debris in your projector. To keep in good condition, vacuum it monthly to remove dirt from the filter.
We hope that you now have a full understanding of the aspects that make for the perfect projector for your home entertainment needs. We have all at one point bought something, and it didn’t pan out as we wanted. If you had a projector prior and it disappointed you, we hope you’re now able to know what features to look for in your next one.
We hope that our review of the best projectors under $100 has now made your next purchase that much easier.