However, when you look for projectors online, even the most expensive options can turn out to be shitty when it comes to display, color, picture quality, and performance. So, here we are, to walk you through the whole “choose the best projector” dilemma and actually pick the best cheap projector under $100.
Why Get a Projector
Bigger image size is the major appeal of a projector. Even with cheap projectors, get a considerably large image size and high definition image quality. In fact, most of the times, the picture quality of an HDR projector is much better than that of an Ultra large screen LCD TV. So why spend the big bucks on a large screen if you can get the same, if not better, experience in a fraction of that price. An additional benefit is that you can save space with the mini projector versions and portable projectors in a budget.
Who Should Buy a Projector
Projectors are for the big screen experience. This big screen setup is going to need some space. So make sure you have an appropriate place to set up the projector. This means a room big enough, if not solely dedicated, to set up the projector. This is because the distance of a projector decides its image quality. All projectors have a specific optimal range, at which image quality is the best. Any closer and the image will get larger, however, it will pixelate. Any farther and the image will start becoming grainy and blurry. Therefore, measure your room size and get the best projector accordingly under $100.
Projectors Have Multiple Uses
Projectors are quite a useful piece of technology. They might seem just a facilitator yet they are quite useful, not only for entertainment but also for work. Projectors are great for a big screen movie night at home or even for backyard theatre night with friends and family. At the same time, they help with delivering lectures and presentations in schools, colleges, offices, and conferences. Portable projectors under 100 dollars are best for conferences as well as the backyard settings. Moreover, cheap projectors under $100 are best for schools and small office spaces.
Types of Projectors
There is a wide variety of projectors available in the market. They range from hand held devices and portable projector sets and high powered theater style projectors. Some need complete darkness for the best results while others work fine even in brightly lit rooms.
Modern projectors are of different types based on projection technology, lenses, brightness, and even light source. These are also the most common factors to look for when buying a projector.
The three main types of projectors are DLP, LCD and LED. These types vary in their light source and technology type.
Type of Technology in Projectors
Projectors are either reflective or transmissive. The DLP projectors usually use mirrors to reflect light to form an image. That is why these are generally the reflective projectors. In an LCD projectors light passes through the LCD panels, therefore, the transmissive technology. The LED projectors can use both reflective and transmissive technology. The light source in these projectors, however, is always LEDs – the light emitting diode. Another type of rather old projectors is the CRT. However, they are no longer in use due to the old, obsolete technology.
The CRT Projectors
CRT (cathode ray tube) projectors were among the first commonly used projectors. These projectors have three cathode tubes for each of the three primary colors. These projectors have a low light output and there is a frequent need to align and converge the images forming from the three tubes for a clearer picture and color quality. For this very reason, these projectors are no longer in use.
The DLP Projectors
DLP projectors use reflective technology. These projectors have DMD (digital micro mirror device). These DLPs have up to 2 million micro size mirrors. Each tiny mirror in the chip can independently adjust towards or away from the light source to form a lighter or darker image. The image at this point is in greyscale. A separate beam of white light passes through a color wheel to feed color to the DMD mirrors. The basic color wheel has the three primary colors, red, blue and green only. However, the more advanced versions support cyan, magenta and yellow. DLP projectors come with one chip as well as three chips. One chip DLP projectors can create up to 16.7 trillion images while three-chip DLPs can process up to 35 trillion colors. When the color reaches DMD chip, the final image forms, this final image then passes through a lens to project it onto the screen.
Pros and Cons of the DLP Projectors
The mirror chip are sealed in the DLP projectors. This keeps the dust particles from settling on the chip and distorting the image or affecting image quality. Therefore, DLP projectors have minimal chances of color decay. In addition to this, the DMD chips have no alignment issues, which can distort the image in three-panel LCD projectors.
The problem with DLP projectors is that if the color wheel is slow, it can cause bright color flashes on the screen, giving off a rainbow effect. Moreover, although the chip is sealed, other parts including the color wheel are not. The dust may settle on the color wheel and affect image quality. Another concern is the range of the DLP projectors. These projectors are not compatible with zoom lenses and lens shift function, therefore, they are not a great choice for large spaces and long distance displays. They are suitable for small range display only.
The LCD Projectors
LCD projectors are around since the 1980s. The basic image processing uses the same transmissive mechanism; however, the advancement in technology has led to a more compact size. LCD projectors use the liquid crystal display like watches. The image starts with a white light, which passes through three dichroic mirrors that allow only certain wavelengths and colors to pass through. These colored beams, then pass through three LCD panel, which rearranges them for the perfect image. These images then combine in a prism to create the final image. This final image then passes through a lens, which projects it onto the screen. The three LCD panels need to be in perfect position for an accurate image alignment for a perfect final picture.
Pros and Cons of the LCD Projectors
The LCD projectors are hi-tech and reliable for larger displays. These projectors have no moving parts and are generally less expensive than their DLP counterparts are. LCD projectors are compatible with zoom lenses and allow lens shift, therefore, these are ideal for larger, home theater displays. All they need is a smooth surface for the display. However, these LCD projectors require good maintenance. Dust particles can interfere with the quality of the image. Moreover, the pixels can burn out.
The LED Projectors
The LED projectors differ from the traditional DLP and LCD projectors in the light source rather than technology. In fact, it is both DLP and LCD projectors that use the LED light source to form the LED projectors.
When DLP projectors use the “solid-state illumination” technology, they become the LED projectors. The light source, in this case, is not the traditional lamp it is the small colored LED lights. These red, blue and green LED lights replace the color wheel as well. The DLP projectors with LED only have the DMD chip and LED lights to impart color to the image. The image is much sharper and high contrast than the one from traditional DLP projectors.
Another type of LED projectors are the pico projectors. These are LCD projectors that use reflective technology instead of transmissive and LED lights instead of traditional lamp source. These pico projectors are usually hand held devices that use liquid crystal on silicon, LCoS. The light from red, blue and green LEDs reflects onto silicon surface instead of passing through the LCD panel. It then transmits to the lens and onto the display screen. Pico projectors are the best portable projectors under $100 and above. They are available in the market in a varying price range.
Pros and Cons of LED Projectors
The main advantage of LED projectors is that not only they have better display and image quality but they are cost effective too. The LED lights replace the traditional lamp. The average lifetime of an LED light in projectors is 10,000 hours to 20,000 hours. They usually last the whole life time of the projector. The lamp light, in contrast, have a life span of 1000 to 5000 hours. This makes the traditional projectors and multimedia setups quite high maintenance. <oreover, LED lights have no warm up or cool down time. These lights are energy efficient too. Therefore, LED projectors are the best cheap projectors under $100 with low maintenance and operating cost.
Projectors Work Best with Projector Screens
Projectors work best when paired with a special projector screen. The projector screen with a bit of a gain is the ideal choice. Gain is a specially coated screen for better light reflection than a flat grey or white screen. Using a wall instead of a screen will give a 50 to 70 percent lower image quality. Better light reflection, on the other hand, means HDR performance and better image quality from even diagonal angles.
Home Theater Vs Mini Portable Projector
best projector for under 100 dollars
The home theater style projectors are the best when it comes to performance and image quality. However, these are large, space taking devices and permanent installation is the best way to use them. If you do not have a room you can dedicate as home theater, then mini, portable projectors are the best choice. Moreover, more advanced projectors perform better in rooms with complete light control. The color contrast and picture quality shows high definition in the dark. Natural or artificial light will affect the picture quality, so if you do not have a dedicated room with complete light control then opt for the mini version or cheap portable projector. High quality portable projectors work well in some light as well. These versions are quite useful in offices for video streaming and even power point displays.
Projectors With/Without Sound System
Projectors for home theaters usually do not have a built-in sound system. Therefore, you need a separate sound system to work with the projector for the ultimate big screen and HD sound experience. However, some of the best portable projectors might come with built-in sound system and even built-in streaming apps like Netflix in the more expensive versions.
What to Look For In the Best Projectors under $100
When it comes to best projectors under 100 dollars, there are a lot of things you might want to consider regarding the image quality, color accuracy, brightness, resolution, size, settings, and connectivity.
Projector products are a two-piece system: the projector itself, and the screen. All in all, choosing the right screen is also much crucial to the overall picture quality.
Furthermore, the color temperature is important, as it’s the color of white. You don’t want it to be too blue or too red and getting it right can make the image more realistic. Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of picture quality is contrast ratio as this is the difference between the darkest object a projector create, and the brightest.
The important practicalities that collectively make up the image quality are throw ratio, contrast ratio, light output & brightness. So, if the projector you choose isn’t bright enough, the image quality is likely to suffer, regardless, if it throws an image the wrong size, the viewing experience will suffer, hence, you should carefully choose the best projector under $100 keeping in mind all the required factors.
Contrast ratio is a factor that complements brightness as it is the ratio between the black and white portions of the image. Remember that high contrast ratios deliver whiter whites and blacker blacks. And does not matter if a projector may have a great Lumens rating, but if the contrast ratio is low, your image will look washed out and blurry. Suppose, in a dark gloomy room, a contrast ratio of at least 1,500:1 is good, however, 2000:1 or higher will be considered excellent. So, keep in mind the contrast ratio of the projector you are planning to purchase as it’s an important aspect of image quality and as well as it supplements the brightness.
Without adequate light output, a projector will not be able to display a bright and sharp image on the screen. So, the best way to define if a projector outputs enough light to produce bright images is to check the ANSI Lumens rating as this determines how much light a specific projector can put out. Comparatively, projectors with 1,000 ANSI Lumens or greater have enough brightness for home theater use. If light output of a projector is too low an image will look muddy and soft, even in a dark room. Check beforehand the room size, distance, and ambient room light connections as this affect the need for more or fewer lumens.
Remember that LCD & DLP projectors put out light differently as such that LCD projectors output white and color light of the same amount, whereas DLP projectors output more amount of white light than color light.
Everyone has somehow a different color observation and different aesthetic sense to what looks pleasing to them. So, color accuracy is another factor to check before purchasing the right projector of your need. Always observe that how colors looks in the brightest and darkest areas of the still and moving images, notice and check the natural flesh tones and color depth. Before making any decision, do check the grade of color stability from input to input, so that you get familiar with the types of picture settings the projectors has to offer. Check and then choose carefully.
There are mainly three technologies used in projectors, and they all have their own high and lows as mentioned above along with their thorough explanation; DLP (Digital Light Process), LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), and LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon).
In addition to the principal LCD or DLP technology that may be used in a projector; there is another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is whether the light source used in the projector is a lamp, LED, or Laser and all of these three options have their pros and cons.
Projectors that use lamps need to be changed after about 3,000 to 4,000 hours of viewing and sometimes ideally upwards of 5,000 hours.
On the other hand, projectors that use LEDs and/or Lasers as light sources have comparatively a much longer life, as much as 20,000 hours or more.
As obvious, you first need to be sure of what are you are going to use the projector and for this is the driving factor to purchase the projector at first. Are you going to use the projector in an educational system setting to show images and slides to your students or you want to keep in your home to watch football and play games?
The projector position and the size of the image depends upon your room arrangement and structure. That is why, you need to consider the throw distance and the projector features that will give you placement flexibility.
The two most common throw distances are:
This type of throw provides extensively large images from projectors that are installed in the center of the ceiling in a large room.
Short-throw projection normally denotes to a distance between 3 to 8 feet away from projector to screen by providing large images while reducing shadows and eye glare. In this type, projectors are either installed on the wall or the ceiling closer to the wall, basically anywhere that is close to where the image is projected.
Moreover, if it’s your first time to get a projector and screen and you wonder what screen size to get? A fast and quite rough, rule of thumb is to multiply the distance of the distanced viewer by 1/5. So, if the person farthest from the screen is sitting 50 feet away, you need to get a screen that is 10 feet high.
You can also project the image on a wall of a white sheet but in order to get the best result and image quality, project it with a proper projection screen. The screen are not that costly, so you can easily buy a 120-inch size screen for less than $50 and the best cheap projectors under $100.
Most mid and all high end projectors are 1080p and cable box sends out 1080i. Remember that 1080i and 1080p are of the same resolution.
Pixel density also known as display resolution is important and mainly means the number of pixels in a frame of a video or photo, so remember, the more the pixels, the better the image/video quality. If you plan to watch movies and most of your viewing is HDTV, then it is recommended that you buy a projector with at least 1920X1080 resolution.
Keep in mind that every projector needs to convert whatever signal you send it to its native resolution for example1080p, WXGA, etc. and this processing is called up converting. A native pixel count of 1024×768 is appropriate for DVD. But, 720p HDTV signals need a 1280×720 pixel count for native display, whereas a 1080i HDTV input signal needs a native pixel count of 1920×1080.
Portability is obviously important as it not only allows one to move or travel with his projector, but it also simplifies installation and setup. It also makes it easy to try different screen sizes, distances, and different areas to see what works best. Thus, opt for getting best portable projectors under 100 dollars projector, so that you can even hang a sheet or screen on an outside wall or wherever you want to according to feasibility in the summertime and enjoy your own drive-in movies and more!
Setup And Input
Before purchasing the projector, make sure it has all the inputs you need. All video projectors these days, provide HDMI inputs, and most projectors also offer VGA and/or DVI inputs available for computers. Though if you have older source gears that have composite, S-video or component video outputs, many newer video projectors no longer accommodate these options or may offer just composite video inputs. Hence, when shopping for a best projector under $100, it is absolutely important to make sure that it has the required connections that you want.
The best way to get an HD signal to your projector is with HDMI cables. You do need long runs from your sources like your cable boxes to your projector, but don’t get fooled by ultrahigh prices of the projectors and know that all HDMI cables are the same and you can get the best cheap projector under 100 dollars easily with necessary connecting cables. Also, projector’s settings play a huge part in how the image looks. After setting up and installing your projector, check the settings and consider getting your projector professionally calibrated.
Most projectors don’t have built-in speakers, so you’ll need to get a receiver with speakers, or sound bar separately. Because projectors usually aren’t built to provide great sound and often limited to 1-watt or 3-watt speakers, which do not most of the times fulfill the purpose in most circumstances. In general, investment in a separate sound system even portable speaker is recommended as required. On the contrary, if you want the accessibility of an all-in-one projector solution, choose for a projector that has a reasonable built-in speaker and you will find many as such best projectors under 100 dollar.
It is difficult to find quality products under $100. Projectors range from as low as $55 to as high as $65000. They are available in different sizes, and types. They vary in image quality, sound support, compatibility, connectivity, as well as usage. Mini portable projectors are the best choice for home theaters in a budget. These we have reviewed the best cheap projectors under $100 for you so that you can enjoy the big screen experience within a budget.