The other day I saw an ad on Facebook for a palm-sized portable projector, and I found myself wondering “Are portable projectors worth it for traveling and vacations?”.
As someone who is a bit of a tech-gadget nerd, I decided to look into portable projectors to see if there are any models that are worth the investment. What I found might interest you.
Are Portable Projectors Worth It for Traveling?
In my opinion, unless you can find a palm-size portable projector, they’re are not worth it for traveling. Most of the mini-projectors are a bit bulky and fragile. While the price and size of portable projectors continue to decrease, I still don’t think they’re worth it for traveling at the moment.
Having said that, mini-projectors have their place. You can certainly use them for a number of projects, such as presentations, gaming, and overall home entertainment. They can also be useful for watching movies while camping and other outdoor adventures. They can be fun!
Got the budget? I say go ahead and take a look. We picked the mini-projectors below based on these criteria:
- Not too expensive.
- Small, durable.
- Good image quality.
- Good brightness.
We’re not going to be recommending the super-HD projectors, because, to be frank, they’re out of most people’s budget.
What are the Best Budget Mini-Projectors for Travel?
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Without further delay, let’s dive in.
1 – Mini Projector Vamvo L4200 (Under $150)
The L4200 is an inexpensive and lightweight mini-project that is great for traveling and outdoor use. The good thing about this projector is it does come with a padded case, so you don’t need to worry about finding a case for it. Makes traveling with it very easy!
I also liked how it supports pretty much every type of connection: one HDMI port, 2 USB ports, SD CARD, VGA, and even AV (the three color-coded cables). It also has builtin speakers, which aren’t the best, but good enough for watching movies.
- 3,800 LUX
- Resolution: 720P
- Weight: 2.75 Pounds.
- Dimensions: 10 x 6.5 x 3 inches.
Verdict: A good budget portable projector. For the price, it’s a great deal.
2 – AUKING Mini Projector (Budget Choice)
Now, if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest mini-projector, the AUKING 2019 mini-projector is worth a look.
While it’s very cheap and offers decent brightness and image quality, the major downside is the connections are limited. It only supports VGA and USB, so you might have a hard time connecting your devices.
I would much prefer to pay a bit more for a projector with an HDMI port.
- 2,600 Lux
- Dimensions: 3.15 x 6.69 x 7.68 inches
- Weight: 2.87 pounds
- Resolution: Up to 1080P
- Connections: USB and VGA
Comment: A very bare-bones, budget-friendly, projector.
Note: There are quite a lot of other off-brand projectors that are very similar to this model. One of them is Dr.J Professional HI-4 which is one of the best sellers on Amazon at the moment. Worth checking out.
3 – IDGLAX IDG-787 (Extreme Budget Choice!)
If you’re just looking for a mini-projector that can fit in the palm of your hand, the IDGLAX IDG-787 might be what you need.
Look, I’ll be honest, the specs aren’t great, but that’s too be expected from an extreme budget choice. I recommend this one for people who are on a tight budget and plan to use the projector in a very dark room.
- Brightness: 1,200 Lux
- 2 Builtin speakers
- Connectors: HDMI, VGA, AV, Audio Out, USB, SD.
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.8 x 2.7 inches.
- Weight: 1.54 pounds
What I liked about this portable projector is it has a lot of connection options. Not too bad for an extreme budget option.
Want to Go a Bit Crazy? Try the Cocar C800S
Here’s a really cool mini-projector (not budget-friendly!) that can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s basically the same size as a phone.
The Cocar C800S is a luxury compact projector. It’s really small, and for the size, the specs might surprise you. It can support up to 1080P, has a builtin battery, builtin speaker, powered by Android 7.1 (so you can download apps), Wifi, remote control, and even a mini-tripod.
The downside? Brightness. The bulb can only output 100 Lux which is very dim. But it can work in dark rooms!
So as you can see, there are a number of budget-friendly compact projectors for travel. Most of these can easily fit in a suitcase or carry on, and some even come with a travel case.
Bear in mind, these budget mini-projectors aren’t very bright, so they’re best for very dark rooms. I wouldn’t recommend using them during the day. If you’re using them at home, then you’ll want to get a good projector screen. Something like this 120-Inch projection screen should do the trick.
Business Presentation Alternative:
If you need a projector for a business presentation, one alternative I recommend is a portable monitor. Asus has a decent selection of portable monitors, and they’re great for small business presentations.
Slip it right into a briefcase and you’re good to go!
Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Projector:
Before you buy a portable projector, consider these issues:
Let’s face it, traveling can be bumpy, and baggage claim can be rough with your belongings. Portable projects have very delicate components, and one strong bump can easily break the bulb or something else inside the projector. Be careful.
Work Best with a Projector Screen:
To properly use a projector, you’ll need to mount it to something – either a tripod or a ceiling mount. You probably won’t be able to get the perfect angle with furniture, nightstands, or books.
On top of that, for the best viewing experience, a projector screen is required. I doubt you’ll want to set a projector screen up in a hotel room, so it’s kind of out of the question. It’s also a lot of extra stuff you need to carry around.
And we want to be as portable as possible!
Another thing to consider is the sound. Are you going to bring external speakers? You could use headphones or your laptop’s speakers. Chances are you don’t want to blast IMAX quality sound inside a hotel room or Airbnb. While some portable projectors come with built-in speakers, the sound quality is usually similar to laptops – not the best.
Those are just some pointers to keep in mind.
Can You Connect Your Phone to a Portable Projector?
Absolutely, if your phone supports HDMI or other input methods, then you can connect it to a projector. You will need to buy an HDMI to USB-C adapter, similar to what you would need to replace your laptop with Samsung Dex. Take note of what type of port your phone uses, and then buy the appropriate adapter.
Portable Projector Alternatives: Casting Sticks
So you’re stuck in a hotel and you want to watch a movie on the TV.
Here are some options:
Chromecast is probably the most popular casting stick at the moment. It works great with laptops and even Chromebooks.
Currently, Chromecast includes the following apps:
- Google Play Movies
There are lots of things that you can do with a Chromecast but the main use is to stream media to a TV from your phone or laptop.
In other words, you can beam Netflix and YouTube from your phone over to Chromecast on the TV. The best thing about Chromecast is it works with Google Chrome. So you can cast any tab to the device, whether from your laptop or phone. Super convenient.
Roku is basically the same as Chromecast, except with different software, and it usually includes a remote. Roku has a lot of apps, but some of them are geo-locked. You also need to create a Roku account. Overall, though, it has most of the popular apps and several Roku-specific ones.
Here we have Amazon’s streaming stick. The Amazon Fire Stick supports over 15,000 apps and many other features. It also comes with a remote. The following are some of the apps you can find on the Amazon Fire Stick:
- Disney Plus
- Amazon Prime
Basically, it’s Amazon’s way to make it easier for people to watch Amazon Prime, their media streaming service. It seems like people struggling with the Amazon Fire Stick a bit, so I would recommend going with the Chromecast or Roku.
The Bottom Line:
So portable projectors can be entertaining but if you’re on a budget and have limited space in your suitcase, I think it would be best to leave the projector at home. Having said that, these projectors are perfect for indoor use. You can build a budget home theater in the living room. It’s something to think about, at least. It could be a fun project.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article!