Watch your favourite movies and TV shows anywhere in the world with our picks of the best portable projectors in 2022. Just a few years ago, the idea of having a projector small enough to fit in your bag, let along your pocket, would have been absurd. Nowadays, though, projectors have more than halved in size and portable models have improved 10-fold, enabling you to project your video wherever you travel.
In fact, today, portable projectors encompass a surprising number of variations, including in size, brightness, power and additional features. While nothing can quite compete with the big screen for watching movies, this experience shouldn’t be confined to the cinema. Here, we outline the differences, pros and cons of some of the best mini projectors on the market.
Check out our guide to the best portable blenders and the best portable BBQs, too.
What to look for when buying a portable projector
Choosing the best portable projector ultimately comes down to compromise.
Size & weight
Given that portability is the name of the game, it’s not surprising that size and weight is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing the best portable projector. Obviously lighter and smaller projectors will be easier to carry around and so make more sense if you’re planning on travelling a lot with your mini projector. On the other hand, if you simply plan on moving your projector from one room in your house to another, a larger, heavier model might not be an issue.
Back in the day, most projectors had a low resolution – some even less than the standard 720p HD. Today, however, when choosing the best mini projector, there is no reason to opt for anything less than Full HD.
Brightness is another significant factor when deciding on the best portable projector as the brighter you projector, the brighter the room you can use it in, and the larger the image you can get. For example, a projector with 900 Lumens would work well in a room with curtains closed, whereas a portable projector with just 300 Lumens might struggle somewhat.
Today, nearly all portable projectors have built-in speakers, meaning you don’t have to carry additional speakers around with you. However, not all mini projector speakers are of equal quality. For example, a portable projector with dual 5W speakers will be loud enough and clear enough to use outside as well as inside. By contrast, a pocket speaker with 3W speakers will be a little quieter and won’t work so well with ambient noise in the background.
As with any piece of travel tech, battery life is always going to be an essential feature when it comes to portable projectors. This is because, when on the move, there’ll likely be times when you’re not near a power socket. Typically, portable projectors will last between two and four hours on a single charge – enough to see you through a standard length film or a few episodes of a TV show.
The best mini projectors
ANKER NEBULA SOLAR PORTABLE PROJECTOR
Compact and stylish, the Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector ticks almost all the boxes and retails at a relatively affordable price. Measuring just 19.2 x 19.22 x 5.45cm and weighing in at just 2.38kg, this mini projector really is mini, easily fitting into a backpack or storing in a tent while camping.
Despite being so impressively small, the battery life doesn’t seem to suffer as a result. In fact, the battery seemed to last for about three hours – pretty good going for such a small projector. This makes it great for taking with you on longer journeys where you might not have access to a power socket for some time. However, its USB-C power port means you should also be able to link it up to a portable power bank for really long adventures.
Another feature that makes the Nebula one of the best portable speakers on the market is its Bluetooth speaker functionality. The only slight let down when it comes to this mini projector is the picture quality, with a pretty average level of brightness. With just 400 Lumens, this portable projector struggles to remain visible in bright environments.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good portable projector that has all the features you need for travelling long distances, then you’re onto a winner. But, if you want a bright, clear picture, you should maybe think about upgrading to one of Anker’s higher-end models.
VIEWSONIC M1 POCKET PROJECTOR
ViewSonic’s pocket projector features a clever design that’s perfect for on-the-go movie watching. The stand-out design feature is the integrated handle which swivels to the front to cover and protect the lens, or underneath to act as a stand while watching. This means you can adjust the beam tilt to be perfectly level with your viewing screen.
Aside from the ingenious design, the HDMI 1.4, USB-A and USB-C ports means you can hook this portable projector up to an Android smartphone or plug it into a streaming stick to start playing your favourite films. However, unlike the above Anker Nebula, ViewSonic’s mini projector lacks Bluetooth audio output. Instead, you have to plug in your headphones (not the end of the world).
When it comes to the picture quality, the M1 portable projector is impressive when compared with the majority of its competitors. Although you’re slightly limited by the 480p resolution, the image is shockingly vibrant, showing colours in full brightness when used in a darkened room. The sound, too, is something to admire, drowning out nearly all background noise.
Overall, if you’re looking for a neat, take-anywhere portable projector at a reasonable price, the M1 could be the one for you.
SAMSUNG FREESTYLE PORTABLE PROJECTOR
If ease of use is what you’re looking for when it comes to finding the best mini projector, Samsung’s Freestyle portable projector might be difficult to beat. Its streamlined set up process means it’s a breeze to use and you’ll get it up and running in no time at all. This paired with its additional built-in features and streaming apps makes this Samsung portable projector one to watch.
Boosting its practicality further, we were pleasantly surprised by just how small and lightweight this projector was. With its dimensions measuring in at 95.2 x 171.4 x 95.2mm and weighing just 0.8kg, this mini projector can easily be picked up and thrown in your rucksack.
While this portable projector might be small, it is oh so mighty thanks to its plethora of clever built-in functions, including a handy auto-levelling functionality, its surprisingly loud 360-degree speaker and its Full HD picture quality. The Freestyle portable projector easily covers all the bases but it’s not the cheapest option on the list so might be reserved for bigger budgets.
ACER C250i MINI PROJECTOR
The best portable projector for image quality, the Acer C250i is incredibly versatile and an all-round good option. With Full HD resolution, the Acer certainly outperforms the Anker Nebula when it comes to the picture.
It’s not just the excellent image that makes this mini projector a true contender, though. It’s clever design also stands out – lay it down flat or stand it up on its end and it will automatically rotate the projection. It also had the longest battery life of all the portable projectors tested, lasting for a whopping five hours so you don’t run the risk of it dying halfway through your viewing. Although this travel projector doesn’t have as many built-in features as some of the other options on this list, it does have a lot of ports for connectivity and you can even mirror your phone screen.
Overall, the C250i portable projector is a lightweight, sturdy and compact option with an impressive picture quality and battery life. However, if you want more snazzy features included in your travel projector, you might be better opting for a Samsung or Anker projector.
ANKER NEBULA COSMOS LASER 4K PORTABLE PROJECTOR
As the largest option on our list of the best portable projectors, the Cosmos Laser 4K projector is probably less suited to those who want to watch movies while camping or travelling, but better suited to those who plan on moving it around their home or taking it in the car. The almost 5kg weight of this ‘mini’ projector, however, is perhaps outweighed by its impressive screen quality and features.
With a built-in Android TV and a working Netflix app, as well as ports for connecting streaming sticks, USB flash drives or headphones, an impressive autofocus feature and keystone correction which makes setting it up unbeatably easy, this Anker portable speaker really is the all-in-one package. With 4K resolution and 2400 Lumens, there’s not beating this mini speaker’s screen performance, while the built-in speakers are as clear and crisp as they get.
So, if you don’t mind your portable projector not being that portable, but prioritise intelligent features and ease of use, then this Anker projector might be the best choice for you.