Top 7 Projectors under $500 – Reviews & Buying Guide

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Last updatedLast updated: June 11, 2021
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Whether you are a gamer, a professional in a meeting, or watching movies in the comfort of your own home, a standard display just doesn’t cut it anymore. For the best display and entertainment experience, you need a good projector. Now you might be thinking, well then I’ll have to shell out tons of money. This is, thankfully, not the case. All you have to do is look for the best projector under $500, and you will be set!


But what should I look for, in a projector, you might ask? Well, you have come to the right place! In this article, you will find an in-depth analysis of the best projectors under $500 on the market today, including imaging technology, available connection types, bulb life, throw distance, screen size, and brightness levels, as well as pros and cons of each item. And if you are truly just getting into the projector market, you’ll definitely want to check out the Buying Guide. It will give you everything you need to know to find the perfect projector for your needs.

Well, no time like the present, let’s get right to it!

In the table below, you can compare some of the best projectors out there today. It will help to guide you through the main projector features, so be sure to check it out.

Top 7 Projectors under $500 in 2021

1.

ViewSonic PA503SEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Display technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3,600 lumens
  • Contrast: 22,000:1
  • Max. supported resolution: 1080p
  • Screen size: 30-300 inches
  • Throw distance: 3.9-43ft
  • SuperEco mode
  • SuperColor Technology
  • 15,000 hours of lamp life
  • 3-year warranty

This is, without a doubt, one of, if not the, best projector under $500 on the market today. First off, is it’s maneuverability. Whether you need your projector close or far away, this DLP format projector can get the job done. It boasts a throw range of 3.9–43 feet! This makes it ideal for some applications, from a cramped office, a home theater, or even as an outdoor projector for a great movie experience on a warm evening.

You’ll also have no problem seeing the image with projector either. It boasts a startlingly bright 3600 lumens, which is bright enough for pretty much anywhere. What is surprising about this ultra-bright bulb is how long it lasts. Even at this high brightness, these bulbs should last you about 15,000 hours before they need to be replaced. While this is not the longest bulb life on the market, it is still impressive for such a bright bulb.

This projector also gives you tons of choices for connectivity, since it can support VGA, RCA, and HDMI hookups. These various connection options make it simple to hook this projector up to DVD or Blue-Ray players, Mac or PC сomputers, or any other device you might want to utilize it with.

What are its best features?

  • Lots of connectivity options
  • 3,600 lumens
  • 15,000-hour bulb life
  • Wide throw range
  • DLP format for crisp images

What could be improved?

  • Shorter bulb life than other projectors
2.

ZCGIOBN US7-900DAB-1Runner-Up

Features
  • Display technology: LCD-LED
  • Brightness: 7000
  • Contrast: 10000:1
  • Max. supported resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Throw distance: 6.23 – 20 ft
  • Screen size: 16:9, 4:3
  • 50,000-hour lamp life

Being limited to a budget of $500 or less doesn’t mean you have to choose a projector of subpar quality. The ZCGIOBN US7-900DAB-1 is in the same price range, and you can definitely rely on it for some top-tier functionality and quality features.

You might like the dual Wi-Fi capability that allows you to project images from your various devices, e.g. phone, laptop, computer. Once projected, it is highly unlikely that you would have any complaints about image quality either. Remember it features full HD resolution and the contrast ratio allows for top-notch clarity.

Bluetooth functionality also doesn’t seem left out of this projector’s design. As such, you can pair other Bluetooth devices such as headphones and speakers. As if Wi-Fi + Bluetooth connectivity isn’t enough, you can link various devices to the projector via HDMI, USB, VGA, AV and audio ports.

Notably, there is almost zero buffering when you’re using the wireless connections to mirror on the projected screen. This is essential if you are to enjoy seamless use of the device.

Another thing we liked and we suspect you might as well is the inbuilt media player. You can thus connect a USB or an external hard drive and get to playing movies, music videos, or anything else that you might want to view on the projector.

This projector is also an android device with 16GB memory where you can install your apps. Finally, the brightness and lamp life are other aspects that convey just how good the projector is as a potential investment.

What are our favorite features?

  • The projector allows for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • The machine has an android operating system and a built-in media player
  • Impressive resolution
  • You get multiple connectivity ports with this purchase
  • The projector has 16GB memory for storage of applications

What could be better?

  • Some apps like HULU seem incompatible with the device
  • Projector fan is a bit loud
3.

Epson VS250Best Value

Features
  • Display technology: 3LCD
  • Brightness: 3,200 lumens
  • Contrast: 15,000:1
  • Max. supported resolution: 1080p
  • Native SVGA resolution (800×600)
  • Throw distance: 3-34ft
  • Screen size: 30-350 inches
  • 2-year warranty

Epson has long been one of the leaders in projector technology, and it is easy to see why with the VS250. It is super simple to set up and can be connected in a variety of ways. Its 3LCD display helps it to produce crystal clear images at a high brightness level of 3,200 lumens. This projector can also operate at a variety of the most popular resolutions, though it works best at 800×600, which might not be the best for some movies or games.

The contrast for this projector is among some of the best for LCD types. It has a contrast ratio of 15000:1, making it quite easy to get really good clarity on the darker parts of your presentation or media.

This projector would be a good one to use pretty much anywhere you need one. Its throw distance makes it perfect for large or small spaces, or anything in between.

Why are we impressed?

  • 3,200 lumens
  • High contrast ratio
  • Easy setup

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Low native resolution might not be good for some media types
4.

ViewSonic PJD5155Best Home Projector

Features
  • Display technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3,300 lumens
  • Contrast: 20,000:1
  • Max. supported resolution:1080p
  • Native resolution: SVGA (800*600p)
  • Throw distance: 3.3–32.8ft.
  • Screen size: 83-207 inches
  • 10,000 hours of lamp life
  • 3-year warranty

This projector, which operates in a DLP format, has a nice wide range for its throw distance. This would make it ideal for some applications, ranging from indoor at the office, to a home entertainment theater, or all the way outdoors for an outdoor movie night. It also has a nice size screen range, too. It can be used on screens that are 83 inches up to 207 inches.

This is also, a nice bright projector, with a maximum Lumens of 3,300, though it does have a short bulb life. It can also operate in multiple resolutions and tops out at 1080P. This makes it a great choice for watching high definition movies, playing games, and giving crisp, clear presentations.

The contrast range also helps to alleviate some of the problems that DLP projectors have with darker images. Once you get the contrast adjusted properly, even the darkest darks will look clear with this projector.

Why are we impressed?

  • Wide screen size range
  • Wide screen throw distance
  • 3,300 lumens
  • Large contrast range

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Shorter bulb life
5.

BenQ MW526AEBest for Office Presentations

Features
  • Display technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 3,300 lumens
  • Contrast: 15,000:1
  • Max. supported resolution: Blu-ray, Full HD, 3D
  • Native resolution: WXGA (1280*800p), ideal for business and commercial presentations
  • Optimum distance: 6.5ft
  • Screen size: 36-300 inches
  • 10,000-hour lamp life

If you are in the market for a good projector for your office or business needs, then this might be a good one for you! It has a smaller throw size than most other projectors, topping out at 6.5 feet. This would be perfect for a small office setting, but might not be good for a home theater. Even though it has a small distance, it makes up for it in being able to utilize a large screen, since it can go from 36 inches up to 300 inches.

This projector is also really easy to set up and can be used in all sorts of formats and resolutions. This makes it easy to utilize with a variety of complementary technologies, like PC, Mac, or Blue-Ray players. You just wouldn’t want to use this projector too often, since it has a shorter bulb life of only 10,000 hours.

Why are we impressed?

  • Easy setup
  • Multiple resolutions
  • Large screen size range
  • 3,300 lumens
  • WXGA (1280*800p) is ideal for business and commercial presentations

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Short bulb life
  • Low throw size
Features
  • Display technology: LCD
  • Brightness: 7,500 lumens
  • Contrast: 5,000:1
  • supported resolution: 1920p
  • Screen size: 35-300 inches
  • Throw distance: 4-25 ft
  • 50,000 hours of lamp life
  • Innovative touch Panel Tech
  • Includes (2) HDMI, (2) USB x 2, AV, TF, and VGA
  • 5-year warranty

A video projector is one way to enjoy visual media with several people at a time. It comes in handy is many applications. The GooDee BL98 is one of the best HD video projectors on this roundup. This model is a good model that will provide an immersive media viewing time.

There are several useful features here as well. For one, it has a speaker built into it. Therefore, you can enjoy your movies and videos without having to get another sound system. Also, there are other features like the ability to change the aspect ratio and a compatibility with several viewing surfaces.

Video quality is an important consideration, and this model delivers decent quality. You get the option to change the different settings and choose the settings that will fully meet your requirements.

Apart from that, this machine offers several ports that allow you play different media. You can connect headphones, SD cards, flash drives and more. There are also several controls located on accessible parts of the machine.

Maintenance and cleaning are also easy. For one, this is made of a high-grade case that will last for long.

To ensure that the machine plays without getting too warm, there are vents and a fan installed in the machine. While this fan is very effective, it is good to know that it isn’t too loud that it drowns out the sound from the speaker.

Included in the package is a remote control for easier handling.

What are our favorite features?

  • Excellent video quality
  • Good sound
  • Quiet fan
  • Easy to setup

What could be better?

  • Relatively heavy
7.

BenQ HT1070Best for Sports Fans

Features
  • Display technology: DLP
  • Brightness: 2,000 lumens
  • Contrast: 10,000:1
  • Max. supported resolution: 1080p
  • Native resolution: 1280*800p
  • Throw distance: 4-16.5ft
  • Screen size: 35-180 inches
  • 1-year warranty

If you are in the market for a very basic, yet still high-quality projector, then this might be a good choice for you. It is a DLP projector, which makes it ideal for 3D, HD, and fast-moving media, such as video games. It can operate in multiple resolutions, which will allow you to find the one that works best with your setup.

Even though this is a DLP projector, it does not have a very wide contrast range. This might make it a bit difficult to find the right amount of contrast for the location you intend to utilize it in.

It is one of the dimmest projectors out there, with a maximum brightness of 2,000 lumens. While this would make it less than ideal for a well-lit room, it would be perfect for a darkened home theater, or a backyard cinema. It has a smaller throw range of 4-16.5 feet and can be used with screens ranging from 35-180 inches.

What do we love it for?

  • Multiple resolutions
  • Large screen range

What were we disappointed with?

  • Smaller throw range
  • Lower contrast range
  • Relatively low maximum lumens (2,000)

Things to Consider

If you are looking for the best projector under $500, then there are several key factors that you will need to keep in mind. In this section, you will get a quick overview of everything you need to know to find your projector, no matter if you intend to use it for home entertainment, gaming, or office presentations.

Projector Type

Projector_2If you are looking to get the best projector under $500, you will have two projector formats to choose from, which are LCD or DLP. Each of these two types offers different advantages and disadvantages over the other, so make sure you choose the one that best fits your needs. Below are major pros and cons of each type of projectors.

Screen Size

This is not the screen size on the projector, of course, since most of them do not have any screen at all. No, this is the maximum or minimum sizes that the projector can be used with for an optimal viewing experience.

You need to be certain of the size of your surface that you intend to project upon, as well as the distance that you will be mounting your projector from the screen. Then, simply make sure that your measurements line up with your projector, and voila, you are set!

Brightness

brightnessWhile it might seem counterintuitive, brighter is not always better. If you get a projector that is too bright for your setting, you’ll end up with a blinding headache (pun intended!). To determine the brightness level you need, look at how bright the location is that you intend to use the projector.

If you have a dark area, then a dimmer projector (1,000 lumens) would do perfectly. If, however, you are going to set it up in a room full of windows that gets the full sun, you would want to go a bit brighter (3,000+ lumens) to make sure you can see your screen clearly.

Contrast

The contrast in an image is the difference between light and dark. The greater the difference, the greater the contrast. Be sure to look for a projector that has a wide contrast range. That way, you’ll be able to adjust the image until you achieve your preferred look.

Resolution

Simply put, the better the resolution, the better the picture quality your projector will possess. If you want to wow your clients or are looking for an out of this world home entertainment experience, you want a projector that can handle higher resolutions.

The most projector can only put out in a fixed resolution, meaning that they can only put out set amounts of resolution, regardless of what is being fed into them. Make sure that you get a projector with a wide array of fixed resolutions so that you will be able to find one that will work for your needs. If you’re willing to invest some more into your projector, then take a look at the best projectors under $1000: these will have the best quality images.

Throw Distance

Projector_1This simply describes how far away a projector can be from the screen and still create a clear image. Most projectors have a range that starts with a few feet and extends up to 15 feet. However, some of the larger and more expensive projectors can extend all the way over 30 feet. Be sure you know your distance requirements before you buy your projector.

Bulb Life

One of the most expensive components in a projector is the bulb. It is also one of the hardest parts to switch out. Which is why it pays to get a projector with really long bulb life. That way, you won’t have to spend more money on a new one too quickly, and you won’t have to take the time to switch the old one out. You should look for one with a life expectancy of at least 10,000 hours, though anything higher would be even more ideal.

Connectivity

projector_4Nowadays, there is a myriad of connectivity choices that you can consider when purchasing a projector. You can get one with Bluetooth so that it connects wirelessly. You can also connect with an HDMI cable for the best quality picture. If you have an older setup, then you’ll want to make sure that the projector you purchase can be connected with a VGA cable or the tried and true white, red, and yellow RCA connectors that are essential for a home theater setup.

Bottom line, make sure you know what your setup needs to connect quickly and easily, then check to make sure the projector you are interested in can handle it.

Compatibility

As odd as it might seem in this day and age, there are still some pieces of technology that don’t “play” nice with certain computer formats. Be sure to look carefully at any projector you might want to purchase to make sure that it can be used with either a Mac or a PC type computer.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. Now you know everything that you need to to find the very best projector under $500! Hopefully, this article was a big help to you in finding the perfect one for your needs. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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