Best Projector Under $200
Finding the best projector under $200 is going to take some work on your part. Often, these models lack many of the features higher priced projectors do, including longer lamp life, remotes, and the ability to fine-tune a projector’s image quality. The key to finding the best model is knowing more about the features that actually matter.
Buying a screen and a projector certainly isn’t cheap, but the cost is much cheaper than a flat screen TV. You can always spend more than a couple dollars for a better quality setup, but it isn’t necessary. We’re only going to look at affordable options and discuss how you can get the best value for your money.
The cost per image area with a projector is significantly lower than the cost of a traditional TV setup. Many manufacturers produce models that can be used to create a high-quality HD home theater. Some systems have built-in Wi-Fi that can be used to connect to a number of videos and apps, and the user can then use an MHL or micro USB to project an image onto a much larger screen.
When you’re shopping for a projector, there are plenty of technical things you should consider. However, this guide will assist consumers by taking a closer look at the five top-selling models in this price range, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Creating a Home Theater Setup on a Budget
These home theater projectors can create a completely unique movie watching experience. They offer the largest possible picture inside a home and they can also produce smaller images and be used to replace a TV that takes up too much room. Compared to TVs, projectors are reasonably priced for their size and can save more space and are easy to install.
This extensive guide will educate consumers on the different types of projection systems, recommended resolutions, aspect ratios, brightness options, throw distances, and keystone correction systems.
Today’s projectors that are targeted at home theater use often start at just a hundred dollars for 720P resolution and at $200 and up for 1080P resolution. Just a few years ago you couldn’t buy a higher res projector for under a thousand dollars.
Typically, the least expensive models are considered crossover projectors which are more commonly used for picture slides, and presentations, in addition to movie viewing. But some of these projectors are also highly adjustable and are able to offer impressive image quality and brightness if you know what you’re doing and how to calibrate the device.
Pro Tip: Most projectors tend to perform best in dark settings. Carefully controlling the ambient lighting in a room can help to improve picture quality and make darker colors more viewable, without making the screen look washed out.
More powerful projectors that are known for their brightness have the ability to easily handle brighter environments such as media centers, living rooms, and family rooms. In fact, some models are actually geared for that and are marketed as home theater projectors, designed for permanent installation.
Those models are often priced in the $500 range and up. These portable models we have reviewed have more to offer in terms of usability and versatility and many can be used with a wide range of smart devices and gaming platforms, making them more usable for every member in the home.
|Irulu||HDMI ||Undetermined ||This low priced home projector doesn’t quite have what it takes to handle screening a movie night in your backyard, but it is very efficient when it comes to showing slide shows from your last trip abroad or using it as a presentation tool.||$$$$$||Check Price|
|Crenova||HDMI ||2,600||The projector features a pure glass lens for a better viewing experience and a wide range of connectivity options. However, you may need to consider using an additional sound source since the built-in speakers are pretty weak.||$$$$||Check Price|
|Fugetek||HDMI ||2,000||This is a model that offers a very energy efficient projector lamp and decent features for a lower priced model. We wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a model you can use in a well-lit environment.||$$$||Check Price
|Acko||HDMI+VGA ||2,200||This model offers decent picture quality and is ideal for beginners on a budget. However, because the built-in speaker isn’t loud enough for larger gatherings, we do recommend hooking it up to your home sound system.||$$||Check Price|
|DBPOWER||HDMI+VGA ||1,500||This model is a great buy for intimate movie viewings, slideshows, and even presentations. Just keep in mind this projector doesn’t pack enough power to project a quality image on a larger screen.||$||Check Price|
1. DBPOWER T20 1500 Lumens LCD Mini Projector Review-Best Projector under $200
If you’re searching for the right video projector, then you’re probably looking for a model that offers the perfect balance between affordability and features. If that’s the case, then you’ve probably heard of the DBPOWER T20 mini projector, which is a budget friendly model that can play 1080P high definition movies.
This model is fairly compact, weighing in at just a little over two pounds. Located on the top of the projector you’ll find the keystone and focus adjustment dials, in addition to a wide range of buttons. These buttons include the escape, source, and menu buttons and a direction pad.
On the back of the projector, you’ll find a VGA input, with the other inputs found on the left side. Other inputs available include AV, HDMI, and a memory card reader and USB charging port. On the right, there’s only a single input for the power cable.
Setting up this model is simple and easy. You’ll get the best image quality if you position the projector between thirty-two and a hundred and seventy-six inches from the screen.
Once you find the right position for the projector, you’ll need to manually adjust and focus it using the keystone so the image looks vibrant and clear. This adjustment will only take you a few seconds.
The projector allows you to play media from a wide range of sources. However, smartphone compatibility can be somewhat iffy.
This is because you have to use an adapter that you must purchase separately. You can choose between an MHL or HDMI adapter.
When you play 1080P high def videos, the clarity is excellent, just make sure you take the time to focus the image.
This model features a unique double tube cooling system which helps to properly dissipate any residual heat. The projector’s internal fan does a fantastic job of keeping it cool. The projector’s lamp offers an impressive fifty thousand hours rating. This roughly translates to about five and a half years of use. For the price, we were also surprised to learn that this model comes with a three-year product warranty and lifetime tech support.
- This model comes with a built-in speaker, which is really nothing to brag about, although it does a decent job. Just don’t expect incredible sound.
- It offers acceptable sound with no distortion, however, there’s no bass.
- You can easily utilize the aux input and attach your own speakers for better sound quality.
- Unfortunately, wireless connectivity isn’t available since this model doesn’t have a Bluetooth feature. Any connection with a tablet or smartphone must be done through an adapter.
- The projector’s power cable is very short, so you may want to invest in an extension cord that’s at least a few feet long.
Final Thoughts on DBPOWER T20 Mini Projector
Overall, we’re pretty big fans of the T20.
This model has a lot going for it, with a number of popular features offered at an affordable price point.
The interface is easy to use and the brightness is excellent. While it does have a few downsides, the amount of value that’s packed into such a small device makes it worth every penny.Check Current Lowest Price
2. Acko Wifi Portable Mini Video Projector Review-Best Pocket Projector
The Acko portable mini video projector is compact and lightweight.
- The projector’s compact design makes it ideal for travel.
- It also supports a wide variety of file formats, allowing the user to play or stream videos, anywhere from their laptop or PC.
- The projector is also compatible with Miracast, Mainstream EZ cast, and Apple Airplay, in addition to other types of devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals.
- The projector features a built-in Android 4.4OS with one GB and eight GB ROM, so the user can store and download games, apps, and videos.
- It also offers a large projector screen size and range of distance. This model can project an image from thirty up to a hundred and thirty inches.
- It also supports 1080P HD input, offering a native resolution of 800 x 400.
- The projector features a high contrast ratio of twenty-two thousand to one and a dynamic contrast ratio of a thousand to one.
These features will allow you to enjoy watching movies inside and outside.
The projector comes with an impressively bright LED light with twelve hundred lumens and a life span of fifty thousand hours. The pure glass optical lens helps to improve picture quality, offering sharp images and high color accuracy.
The projector is perfect for gaming or home entertainment, yet it’s small enough to fit in a purse or backpack for easy transport.
This model comes with a number of input ports that support a variety of device sources including TV, SD, AV, USB, VGA, and DMI and a stereo audio out so you can hook the projector up to speakers.
- The projector can be used to connect to laptops, PCs, digital cameras, iPads, iPods, camcorders, and all gaming platforms.
- Using a Wi-Fi connection is simple and easy, so you can stream from Apple Airplay, apps, or your laptop when you’re on the road.
- Once you connect the projector to a Wi-Fi network, it will automatically begin searching for a compatible device. This helps to make switching sources much easier. T
- he video quality itself is great, even when projecting larger images.You won’t experience any noticeable lag time when you’re streaming or gaming.
- The USB port will allow you to play files and videos directly from the projector. The projector runs on an Android system, so you can install apps that can read PDF, Excel, and word docs from Microsoft Word.
- This is a huge selling point because you can also use the projector for work as well as entertainment.
- This model features a lot of input interface and also comes with a handy remote control for convenient setting adjustments.
The projector does come with a built-in speaker for high-quality sound, but it’s not quite loud enough if you’re hosting a large backyard gathering.
Final Thoughts on Acko Wifi Portable Mini Video Projector
This compact, lightweight projector supports 1080P, so you can also enjoy watching high-quality movies, easily, with no lags.
For its size, we were pleasantly surprised at how bright this projector is and all for a price that’s reasonably low.Check Current Lowest Price
3. Fugetek FG857 Home Theater Projector Review-Best Value
The Fugetek FG857 home theater projector is definitely not a high definition or high-performance model, but it’s also not a bad option if you’re looking for a reasonably priced home projector that offers a little kick.
This model often gets a bad rap, but we feel this is mainly due to the confusion surrounding what the projector is actually capable of, combined with consumers who purchase this model not having a solid understanding regarding what they’re really buying. So, what’s the truth?
This is not a 1080P HD res projector. It’s a 720P res projector, which actually isn’t a bad resolution level, especially for an LCD LED model that costs under $200. If you’ve taken the time to peruse the specs or check out the product description, you may be left feeling a little confused about the projector’s capabilities.
In the product description, you’ll notice a mention of 1080P high def res. This isn’t stating the projector’s resolution level, instead, it’s referring to what you can use to plug the projector into and play content from.
- The projector’s five inch LCD technology provides better brightness and image quality when compared to seven-inch competing models.
- The device is compatible with a wide range of gaming platforms.
- This model features a couple of HDMI ports, allowing you to plug in a 1080P device such as a Blu-Ray player.
- Many people misunderstood that the projector is only 1080P compatible, failing to realize it only offers the 720 resolution.
- The contrast is what makes darker colors stand out from lighter colors, making contrast a very important element to picture quality. While this model doesn’t offer the best contrast we’ve come across, it’s still acceptable for a projector in this price range. It currently offers a six hundred to one contrast ratio.
- The projector’s LED lamp is able to operate for up to 20,000 hours and is a very energy efficient option.
Brightness is another important factor. A projector that’s super bright is able to project better image quality in a room with lights on. Brightness can also have an impact on screen size. The bigger the screen image, the higher the level of brightness is needed. So, how does the 857 stand up?
According to the manufacturer, the projector has a lumen rating of 2,000, allowing it to easily handle a well-lit room. We felt that the rating was a slight exaggeration. For the best image quality, we recommend using it in a dark room.
The manufacturer also claims that it’s able to produce a three hundred inch image, but we felt that its image capabilities were more around seventy-two inches, which still isn’t that bad for a lower priced model.
Final Thoughts on Fugetek Home Theater Projector
Considered energy efficient and offering a decent screen projection size, brightness and contrast levels, and a longer lamp life, this projector by Fugetek performs about as well as expected, just keep in mind this model doesn’t offer the type of high definition viewing experience some consumers are looking for.Check Current Lowest Price
4. Crenova XPE600 Home Theater Projector Review-Highly Adjustable
Another popular model that’s considered budget friendly and efficient is the XPE600. While not a feature packed model by any means, the projector’s capabilities and the included remote make it really stand out from competing projectors in this price range.
The Crenova XPE600 home theater projector comes equipped with a glass lens that features a six-layer coating designed to increase clarity and transparency, for an improved viewing experience. This model also offers 2,600 lumens and a LED light source for a brighter image.
- The projector can connect to smartphones and tablets via a wireless HDMI adapter.
- It also supports multimedia function with two HDMI ports, two USB ports, and a VGA port.
- It also uses the latest lamp technology and is equipped with a LED light that can save up to seventy percent energy with a lamp life of up to twenty thousand hours.
- The manufacturer offers a free lifetime bulb replacement and a one-year product warranty.
- The first feature we took a closer look at was the LED lamp. The lamp provides a bright image so you won’t need to worry about switching off every light in the home in order to enjoy a more vibrant viewing experience.
- The projector’s connectivity options is another big selling point for consumers.
As we have discussed above, this model is very versatile, offering wide connectivity capabilities.
Located on the rear of the projector you’ll find two inputs, which can be used to connect a DVD player, laptop, PC, or gaming console. You can also use a mobile high-def link, but you’ll have to purchase an HDMI adapter.
This will allow you to connect wirelessly to mobile devices such as iPads or smartphones. Considering the price, the connectivity options are pretty impressive.
- The projector can be used for images up to two hundred inches. This is very large compared to most TVs.
- The projector comes with a remote so you can control a number of functions including zoom.
- The projector’s native resolution is 800×480, which isn’t considered HDTV quality, but it’s better than what we were expecting for the price.
The projector isn’t able to provide the same level of vibrant colors, sharpness or contrast that you’ll find in higher priced models.
Final Thoughts on Crenova XPE600 Home Theater Projector
For a budget home theater projector, this is a good buy. It’s very easy to use and set up, making it a good option for the beginner on a budget. The projector’s speakers are decent, but they aren’t quite powerful enough to project enough sound for a larger gathering.
While the resolution the projector offers isn’t really anything to brag about, overall this model performs exactly how the manufacturer claims it can, and you can’t really ask for more than that.Check Current Lowest Price
5. iRulu BL20 Video Projector Review-Most Versatile
The iRulu is a low priced home projector that can be used for a wide range of purposes, but many consumers reported that it truly shines when it comes to home slideshows and even PowerPoint presentations.
Like most projectors under $200, you’ll need to pick up the iRulu projector in order to properly size it to your screen, because it lacks a lens shift and zoom. If you’re using a white wall or another type of makeshift projection surface, this won’t be much of an issue.
You’ll find a manual keystone control, but it’s not very exact and can cause the bottom or top edges to lose focus.
This projector utilizes a LED light engine, which results in an extremely high lamp life, which is easily this model’s best feature.
Most competing models use bulbs with an average lifespan of five thousand hours before they must be replaced.
The BL20 features a couple of HDMI ports, in addition to two analog AV inputs. This model is also compatible with MHL sources.
With a sixteen to nine aspect ratio, the image is a little narrower than it should be and tends to make people look skinnier and taller if the projector is not placed properly. However, with most material, the effect is subtle.
- This is a lower priced, smaller model, so you can expect plenty of issues to arise when it comes to image and color quality.
- Focusing with the projector can be tricky, but making the projector’s image smaller will definitely help.
- The projector is the most watchable in a room that’s completely blacked-out. While its performance is anything but spectacular, it’s also considered one of the most affordable models on the market.
- The projector doesn’t offer the best image quality for larger screen viewings, which tend to look bland, with pale skin tones, muted colors, and an image that just generally lacks much-needed pop. The unnatural crawling movement and jagged edges are visible in lines, not to mention the evidence of visible pixel structure.
- Overall, the image is pretty soft, which is an effect of low resolution.
- When you attempt to focus on the screen, you’ll notice blurry edges.
- The colors the projector displays are inaccurate, with a narrow gamut and a super-blue color temperature, with a light output that’s somewhat feeble.
- Basically, this projector is unable to fill a sixteen by nine-screen, so when you attempt to fill the bottom and top edges, you’ll notice there’s too much unfilled screen space.
- Attempting to adjust the projector’s settings will give you a stretched out image.
Final Thoughts on iRulu BL20 Video Projector
This isn’t the type of projector you can expect great results from, at least if you plan on using it to host a movie night. It can, however, perform well for smaller viewings.
The lumens rating for this model is not listed on the manufacturer’s website, so we were unable to provide you with that specific information, although based on the flat color it provides we can assume that it’s around thirty.
Not a projector you’d want to use as a replacement for your TV, it still has a lot to offer the consumer looking for a smaller, more affordable projector to use for slideshows or even presentations.Check Current Lowest Price
Affordable Home Theater Projector Buying Guide
If you’ve never owned a projector before, then this is a good place to start. Many of the models we’ve reviewed feature built-in speakers, so you can use them outdoors and in your living room, without needing a sound system. However, the speakers can strain when they’re turned up at a higher volume.
Each model here is also small enough for you to easily store them away when they’re not in use. If you’re looking for a projector to use only on occasion for intimate family gatherings, then a projector in this price range should suit you fine.
If you’re planning on using a projector in a brightly lit room, want a projector that can replace your TV, or plan on using one for large family gatherings, then you should consider spending more for a model that offers better image quality.
A good projector under $200 will offer the best color quality and contrast ratio, as well as a decent resolution level, and a low input lag for video games. Built-in lumens and integrated speakers, and a lamp life of at least ten thousand hours is another feature to look for.
In this price range, it can be hard to find a model that offers a good selection of image adjustment settings, or settings that are easy to use and precise.
The features we like to see on affordable projectors include built-in speakers, so you don’t have to hook it up to an external audio system. The quality of a built-in speaker is more important on higher priced models because they are usually installed permanently in a room.
But with cheaper models that are only used for special occasions, you’ll need to have a portable external sound system at your disposal.
We also looked for models equipped with a standard USB port, which allows users to easily connect their projector to streaming devices, powering it directly from the projector without the need of an additional external power cable.
However, if you need a projector that has a high def resolution, then you should prepare your budget as it could be worth more than $200. There are also some best outdoor projectors that you can add to your options.
Resolution and Connection Options
Pro Tip: If you already own a projector with a 1080P resolution, you should stick with what you have. Models in this price range usually feature a 720P resolution.
With an image that’s a hundred inches or larger, the difference between 720P and 1080P is much more noticeable than it would be on a thirty-two or fifty-inch screen.
Because most people purchase a home theater projector because they want a larger image, usually a hundred inches or more, a 720P model can produce less than ideal results.
Every projector we received features at least one HDMI input, while some include two and also offer other connection options.
When it comes to zoom range on a projector, the wider the range the easier they are to install in a room. Larger zoom capabilities also offer more flexibility regarding how far away the projector can be placed from the screen, or how big of an image you can project from any spot in the room.
What are Throw Ratios?
A projector features a very important spec called a throw ratio. Throw ratios are specs that are determined by the first couple of pieces of information in the equation: how wide the screen is and the distance from the projector to the screen.
So, finding a projector that will work for you and your home environment involves pinning down how far the projector can be placed from the screen in your home and the width of the screen you use. Once you’ve figured this out, you can narrow down your choices.
A projector will mainly use a couple of lamp technologies: metal halide and LED. Outside the realm of pocket projectors, LED lamps are still not that common. Most models of projectors will use metal halide, which is a form of tungsten lamp that usually offers a lifespan of two to five thousand hours depending on the brightness setting you use.
How much Brightness do you really need?
While the throw ratio is definitely important, brightness is probably the most important spec to look for with these compact projectors. If the model projects an image that isn’t bright enough to be clearly seen, then all other features won’t even matter. Getting enough light out of your projector can be one of the biggest challenges.
In your home, the more ambient light you add, you’ll notice that the image looks washed out, with a contrast that’s too low. Even using a brighter projector will only partially solve the problem since ambient light mixes with the darker portions of the image, which can make it look cloudy.
If you have to use your projector in ambient lighting, you won’t get a perfect image, but it’s still possible to get a viewable image.
Average Lumen Range for Lower Priced Projectors
A projector’s brightness is measured in lumens. Typically, the lumens range in cheaper projectors can range from just thirty, up to ten thousand. Many manufacturers are very generous with their lumen ratings, so it can be difficult to determine the type of brightness you can really expect.
In order to calculate how many lumens you need, you’ll need to know the image width, throw distance, the type of content that will be shown and how much ambient light is present. The easiest way to figure this out is to use a projection calculator.
This is a software tool that will run the numbers for you. Many manufacturers have a projection calculator right on their website.
The type of content you’ll be screening must also be factored in. Are you projecting white text over a solid background? Are you playing a scary movie that features plenty of night scenes? If at all possible, try to eliminate all ambient lighting.
Watching a movie in your own backyard is an excellent way to enjoy a totally dark setting for the best movie viewing experience possible. Keep in mind, ambient lighting will not only degrade the image but it will also alter it, which can end up undoing the careful calibrations of the projector or even the color correction work on the image.
Unless otherwise noted, a projector’s brightness specs are often derived not from measuring color, but by measuring monochrome. For many, this can be misleading because colors might not be emitted with the same amount of intensity as grayscale tones.
In order to counter this, some models will offer a color brightness specification. Since you’ll probably be measuring color images, this spec is more reliable.
Now that you’re a little more familiar with brightness and the throw ratio, you should consider other factors including contrast ratio and resolution.
Contrast ratio, for many, seems like a pretty meaningless spec. A projector will rely on the dynamic contrast in order to increase on-paper performance. Dynamic contrast involves comparing the deepest blacks with the brightest whites.
The screen surface will play an important role when it comes to contrast quality. Some screens offer high contrast finishes, but this comes at the expense of reduced viewing angles. Any ambient lighting can also reduce the contrast ratio.
Lens Shift and Keystone Corrections
Most models feature at least horizontal and vertical keystone correction. Some models also offer lens shift. Most people are familiar with the basic trapezoidal keystone effect. This involves the image appearing wider on one side when the model is off center horizontally, or at the top when the projector is too low.
Pro Tip: Using keystone correction will remedy this, up to a certain percentage. The keystone correction is achieved digitally, so there are some limitations. The more correction you apply, the more degraded the image will be. If you place or mount the projector, so the lens isn’t above the top of the screen or below the bottom of the screen then you should be okay.
The lens shift function serves the same purpose, allowing the user to reposition the image optically, without losing out on image quality. Typically, models that are equipped with lens shift are on the pricey side.
LCD or DLP?
There are a few imaging systems that are commonly found in projectors under $200. This includes LCD, DLP, and LCOS. Between the LCD and DLP, it’s kind of a toss-up. LCD offers less rainbow effect, while DLP offers a less screen door effect.
- Aside from that, LCD offers a slight edge in terms of reliability because the imaging system has no moving parts.
- The single chip DLP utilizes micromirrors and a spinning color wheel.
- The LCD panels are still fallible, but typically, it involves a case of dead pixels instead of system failure like when the DLP color wheel ceases to work.
- If the projector is used in a remote setting where it can’t be readily serviced or replaced, then go with an LCD model.
- Otherwise, DLP versus LCD isn’t really a deciding factor for most buyers.
LCOS is the underdog here and in some ways, it offers the best of both worlds. LCOS stands for liquid crystal on Silicone. This is a type of reflective technology, much like DLP, but in this case, using a silicone backed LCD panel instead of micromirrors, the light is reflected.
This type of system boasts the ability to produce the least amount of screen door effect, and because it’s LCD, it’s also free from the rainbow effect. This option is used almost exclusively in multimedia projectors that target critical viewing applications.
Going with Wireless
Wireless video is probably one of the most requested inputs. Some models have it, often in the form of an optional USB dongle. Because video must be compressed and due to the wide range of competing wireless devices, the wireless interface on many models is only recommended for photo slides and PowerPoint presentations.
If you need to send video wirelessly, there are several third-party options that can do it, some of which are uncompressed.
Much like TVs, projectors aren’t designed to deliver excellent sound and they’re often limited to one or three-watt speakers. This wattage simply won’t cut it in most cases. Generally, investing in a separate sound system is recommended.
So, before you buy, consider the following:
- What type of screen size do you need?
- Is the projector designed for both indoor and outdoor use?
- Once you know the screen size, determine the type of throw ratio you need based on the distance between the screen and projector and the screen width.
- If you don’t know the screen size in advance, choose a model that features more zoom or a projector that has a shorter throw.
- If you’re not able to calculate the type of brightness you need, buy the brightest projector you can get, based on your budget.
- Consider the content you’ll be showing to determine the minimum resolution you need.
- Consider the type of secondary features you may need.
Final Thoughts on Your Projector Buying Guide
Chances are, you’ll want the best picture quality for your money. Of course, your budget will play a major factor in regards to the model you choose and the features available.
These lower priced models may not be able to perform quite like the higher priced projectors, but the models we have reviewed do offer a solid performance and certain standout qualities that make them worth buying. In this price range, you’ll actually have more models to choose from, which is why it’s important that you do your research to determine which features you just can’t live without and which specs and features aren’t worth the higher price tag.