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Top 7 Projectors under $500 – Reviews & Buying Guide

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!

Top 7 Projectors under $500 in 2018

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.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. ViewSonic PA503S (Editor’s Choice)
DLP projector with the highest brightness and contrast on the list and wide throw range
ViewSonicPA503S-1
2. VIVIBRIGHT GP100 (Runner-up)
LCD-LED projector with a large maximum screen size, high brightness and contrast, and long bulb life
VIVIBRIGHT-1
3. Epson VS250
3LCD projector, with decent image quality due to high brightness and contrast, easy setup
EpsonVS250-1
4. ViewSonic PJD5155
DLP projector with a large screen size range and throw distance, the second for contrast on our list
ViewSonicPJD5155-1
5. BenQ MW526AE (Best for Office Presentations)
DLP projector, great for business and commercial presentation thanks to WXGA native resolution
BenQ-MW526AE-1
6. GooDee GP90 (Budget Pick)
LCD projector good for the home or the office, multiple resolutions, and lots of connection options
GooDee-2
7. BenQ HT1070 (Best for Sports Fans)
DLP projector ideal for 3D, HD, and fast-moving media, such as video games
BenQ-HT1070-1
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

OVERALL RATING: 10 out of 10

ViewSonicPA503S

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 all the way outside for an outdoor movie experience.

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.

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

CONS:
  • Shorter bulb life than other projectors

Features
  • Display technology: LCD-LED
  • Brightness: 3,500 lumens
  • Contrast: 3,000:1/static, 10,000:1/dynamic
  • Max. supported resolution: 1080p
  • Throw distance: 4-18ft
  • Screen size: 35-180inches
  • 30,000-hour lamp life

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

VIVIBRIGHT

This is one of the newest projectors on the market and is a bit of a combination. Rather than simply being in an LCD format, this one also utilizes LED technology to its advantage. This shows up in two different categories. First of all, this is a bright projector, which can produce 3,500 lumens. What sets this bulb apart, in thanks to the LED technology which is built in, is its lifespan. Even though this is a bright projector, its bulb will last you an astounding 30,000 hours.

The VIVIBRIGHT is also great for multiple application. This is due, in part, to its wide-ranging throw distance and screen size. This projector can be used from as close as 4 feet away and up to 18 feet. This makes it great for indoor or smaller outdoor applications, as long as the screen isn’t super far away. It can also be used on a pretty large screen. The optimal screen size for this projector is from 35 inches, all the way up to 180 inches.

This projector is easy to connect to a multitude of devices, thanks to its VGA, RCA, and HDMI ports. With the correct connections, this projector can be used up run a multitude of HD resolutions, which makes it easier to find the one that is right for you. The projector also has a built-in speaker, making it easy to use wherever you are.

PROS:
  • 3,500 lumens
  • 30,000-hour bulb life
  • Large maximum screen size
  • Built-in speaker

CONS:
  • Shorter throw range than other projectors

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

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

EpsonVS250

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.

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

CONS:
  • Low native resolution might not be good for some media types

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

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

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.

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

CONS:
  • Shorter bulb life

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

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

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.

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

CONS:
  • Short bulb life
  • Low throw size

Features
  • Display technology: LCD
  • Brightness: 3,200 lumens
  • Contrast: 3,000:1 static, up to 10,000:1 dynamic
  • Max. supported resolution: 1080p
  • Native resolution: 1280*800p
  • Throw distance: 4-16.5ft
  • Screen size: 35-180 inches
  • 2-year warranty

OVERALL RATING: 8.0 out of 10

GooDee

This LCD projector is perfect for the home or the office. It is relatively compact in its design, making it easy to fit pretty much anywhere. It can operate at high resolutions, with its maximum being 1080P. The bulb, which will last a good long time, as it has a life expectancy of 30,000 hours. This means that you won’t have to change out the bulb for ten years, even if you leave it on for 8 hours a day!

Another high point for this projector is its connectivity. It can connect to the standard complementary items, like computers and DVD/Blue-Ray players, as well as iPhones or tablets. This makes it perfect for in the office.

This projector is ideal for a smaller, more intimate setting, as the throw range maxes out at 16.5 feet. The contrast on this model, which is never the strong point of LCD projectors, is a bit on the lower side. This might make it difficult to see darker images in brighter lighted areas.

PROS:
  • Long bulb life
  • Multiple resolutions
  • Lots of connection options

CONS:
  • Lower contrast range
  • Throw range could be longer

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

OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10

BenQ HT1070

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.

PROS:
  • Multiple resolutions
  • Large screen range

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

Buying Guide

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.

Buying Guide

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.

DLP

PROS:
  • Sharp picture
  • Great for 3D
  • Perfect for fast motion
  • Really bright

CONS:
  • Not good at rendering dark colors
  • Possible rainbow effect

LCD

PROS:
  • Bright
  • Good for dark colors
  • Affordable

CONS:
  • Not ideal for 3D
  • Blurry fast motion sequences

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.

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!

10 Total Score
ViewSonic PA503S - Editor's Choice

Of all the projectors out there, the ViewSonic PA503S is, without a doubt, the best projector for under $500. Its combination of high resolution, ultra-bright bulb, and easy connectivity make it by far the most enticing projector out there today. We highly recommend that you check it out and give it a try.

Image Quality
10
Throw
10
Portability
10
PROS
  • Lots of connectivity options
  • 3,600 lumens
  • 15,000-hour bulb life
  • Wide throw range
  • DLP format for crisp images
CONS
  • Shorter bulb life than some other competitors
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