Our Top Picks for the Best Projectors Under 100 Dollars
Nothing beats the big, widescreen high-quality image when it comes to video streaming, a weekend football game, your favorite movie or your favorite video game. You might think you will need a full-on home theater with an expensive huge LED television. Well, not always! A good quality, high resolution projector will do the same job just fine. Get the best projector under $100 and create your very own home theater without breaking your bank account.
Get the Best Projector under $100
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, you can 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
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:
- Long Throw
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
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.
Reviews of the Best Projectors under 100 dollar
Our Top Pick
THZY DR. J 1800 LUMENS MINI HOME THEATER PROJECTOR
Dr. J mini projector is the best projector for under 100 dollars. It is our top pick for under $100 projectors. This projector is ideal for home and office use. It is compact in size and conveniently portable. THZY DR. J is ideal for home as well as office use. It is great for outdoor theater display as well. It works fine in medium light as well. However, the picture quality is 30% better without light.
DR. J mini home theater uses healthy diffuse reflection technology with long lasting LED lights instead of traditional lamp as the light source. This hi-tech mini portable projector is the best for home use. It helps avoid fatigue as it does not strain the eyes.
Brightness and Image Quality
Image quality is great with high color contrast ration of 2000:1. At the same time, the company recently upgraded the brightness. The new 2019 models have a brightness of 1800 lumens for a bright projection.
The DR. J mini portable projector is our top pick under $100. It comes with a high 1920X1080p resolution and an aspect ratio of 4:3/16:9. This makes for vivid and clear display.
The size of the mini projector is compact and does not need much space. This mini portable projector has a throw distance of 1.5 to 5 meters. The screen size ranges from 32 inches to 176 inches.
Multimedia Setup and Input
DR. J mini portable projector is ideal for use with Amazon fire stick, TV box, chromeboo, laptops, PCs, tablets, Blu-ray Disc and DVD player, USB Flash Drives, PS4, XBOX, SD cards and even smartphones. Using HDMI cable. This comes with a Bluetooth transmitter port through which you can connect it to Bluetooth devices as well.
Our most favorite feature in this DR. J mini portable projector is that it comes with a built-in speaker. This makes it the best portable projector under $100 dollars. Moreover, you can connect a Bluetooth speaker to create a surround sound system by simply attaching a Bluetooth transmitter to the projector.
DR. J projector is long lasting and durable with an estimated 40000 hours of lifespan. Furthermore, it comes with a money back guarantee and full refund 3-years limited warranty.
Pros. & Cons.
- Compact size
- Built in speaker
- Large screen display of 176 inches
- Excellent multimedia support and great connectivity
- Minimum screen size is 32 inches
- The fan is loud so you might have to connect a Bluetooth speaker
- Not very suitable for business use including word, PPT or excel presentations
MEYOUNG TC80 LED MINI PROJECTOR
This projector is almost $100 and definitely makes it to our list of best projectors under $100. This projector is great for indoor and outdoor use. For best results and great image quality, you will need a dark room with complete light control. It is compatible with multiple, multimedia devices and comes with a remote control.
Meyoung TC80 LED mini projector uses LED illuminant as the name indicates. The LED light lifespan is up to 30000 hours. It has an LCD display.
Brightness and Image Quality
the image quality is bright and efficient with 1200 lumens and an aspect ratio of 4:3/16:9. It has a high color contrast and very good image quality in complete darkness. It is ideal for outdoor movie nights as well.
the Meyoung LED mini portable projector comes with 800X400P resolution and a throw ratio of 1:4:1.
the size of the mini projector itself is small and compact. It has a throw screen range of 50 to 130 inches and a throw distance of 4.9 to 13 feet. This makes it ideal for home and outdoor theater.
Setup and input
It is compatible with a variety of multimedia devices. It supports HDMI-enabled Blu-ray DVD player, PCs, laptops, tablets, media players and game consoles, as well as smartphones. However, the USB port will not support the cord connection. You need a separate HDMI adapter for smartphones and tablets.
Meyoung mini portable projector comes with a powerful built-in speaker with aloud amplifier. Enjoy the movie nights, watch your favorite match or play your favorite games with amazing sound quality and volume.
Pros. & Cons.
- Compatible with a variety of multimedia devices
- Comes with a remote control
- AV cord provided
- Ideal for gaming
- It does not come with a warranty
- You will have to buy a separate HDMI cable and HDMI adapter for smartphones and tablets
- Not suitable for professional presentations
- External speakers required for VGA cord connection
iDGLAX iDG-787W LCD LED Video Multimedia Mini Portable Projector
This is another great choice for under $100. And it comes with a remote control and connecting cable including the HDMI cable. It is great for indoor, home use.
this is an LED projector with LCD display. The LED light system has a lifespan of up to 20000 hours. The light is soft with no glare or strain on the eyes. This makes for low maintenance and operating cost.
Brightness and Image Quality
the image, bright, clear and vivid with 2000 lumens. This makes for a much brighter image than other projectors at this price range.
the bright image is supported by 800X480 native resolution which ideally supports 1080P resolution. It has a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and an aspect ratio of 16:9/4:3.
this mini portable projector is best for home use as it offers a big projection screen. The image size range is 30 inches to 100 inches. The projector distance is about 6 feet to 9 feet with an approximate image size of 79 to 90 inches.
Setup and input
This portable projector is among our top picks because of great compatibility as well as cables that come with it. It is compatible with TV, TV box, USB port, game consoles as well as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. An HDMI cable comes with the mini portable projector. However, you will need a separate HDMI adapter for connecting smartphones and tablets.
This mini portable projector comes with built-in speakers. However, external speakers will definitely improve the experience for home theater.
It comes with a limited one year warranty along with excellent customer service.
Pros. & Cons.
- Wide compatibility
- Built-in speaker
- Comes with a remote control
- Free HDMI cable
- Might need to attach external speakers for better sound quality
- HDMI adapter needed for smartphones
- Fans might be noisy
Best Cheap Projector under 100 Dollars
DBPOWER T20 1800 LUMENS LCD MINI PROJECTOR
This is one of the best cheap projectors under $100. With a wide screen display and HDMI cable, this mini portable projector makes for great home theater experience at a very cheap price range.
this mini projector is portable and lightweight. It comes with TFT LCD display technology with a long lasting LED light source for a nice image quality.
Brightness and Image Quality
the image is sharp, bright and vivid at 1800 lumens and a high contrast ratio of 1000:1. The aspect ratio is 16:100 while the projection ratio is 1:4:1.
It comes with a native resolution of 800X400 pixels yet it conveniently supports 1920X1080P. This makes for a bright and sharp image quality with a perfect video display.
the size of the portable mini projector itself is small and compact. It is easy to carry and ideal for traveling. It has a throw distance of 1.5 to 5 meters and the screen display size ranges from 32 inches to 176 inches.
Setup and input
This mini portable projector supports a variety of devices. It comes with an HDMI cable for convenient TV and TV box connection. It is compatible with Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV as well as Amazon Fire Stick. It can be connected to game consoles, laptops, and smartphones as well with HDMI adapter.
Even at such a low price, it comes with a built-in speaker. However, connecting external speakers will definitely improve sound quality and overall experience.
It comes with a limited two year warranty even at such a low price. Moreover, you get free customer support service.
Pros. & Cons.
- Wide compatibility
- Large yet clear image quality
- Free HDMI cable
- Built-in speaker
- The fan might sound noisy
- HDMI adapter is needed for smartphone connections
- External speakers might be needed for better sound quality
These projectors are small and compact in size with a bright display. They work best in complete darkness so that you can enjoy the home theater experience in a cheap and low price range. All these mini projectors are portable and ideal for use when traveling. They don’t need dedicated rooms or special installations. All you need is a screen or a smooth surface and you can stream your favorite TV shows, movies, and play games. These projectors are, however, not very suitable for professional use.
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.