Projectors a decade ago were only seen in schools and at office presentations. Today, with advancements in display technology and falling costs, it’s normal for people to have them in living rooms and bedrooms.
Whether it’s playing videos on YouTube, a replacement for 4K TV, reminiscing holiday photos, or creating your home cinema experience, you can have the big screen all to yourself with the best projectors under $300.
Finding the right projector with a limited budget can be challenging. With so many choices available, and with these objects being not-so-cheap, making the wrong choice would break your heart.
We list down our top picks and a buying guide for affordable projectors.
- Top Recommended Projectors Under $300
- 1. ViewSonic PA503S – Ideal for Movies with External Audio Set-up
- 2. Epson VS250 – Suitable for Home Movies and Presentations
- 3. BenQ MS524AE SVGA – Recommended Business Projector
- 4. InFocus IN112XA – 3D Ready Budget Projector
- 5. ABOX A6 – Top Choice for High Lumens
- 6. CiBest – Best Video Projector Less than $300
- 7. Vamvo HD – Cheap Projector with High Native Resolution
- How to Pick a Good Budget Projector For No More than $300
- Final Verdict
Top Recommended Projectors Under $300
We have reviewed and tested seven projectors that are less than 300 dollars. Before reading our detailed review, take a look at a comparison table of the products’ resolution, image brightness, contrast ratio, display technology, and screen projection.
|Product name||Resolution||Brightness (lumens)||Contrast ratio||Display||Screen size|
|ViewSonic PA503S 3600||SVGA (800 x 600)||3,600||22,000:1||DLP||120"|
|Epson VS250 SVGA 3200||SVGA (800 x 600)||3,200||15,000:1||LCD||30-350"|
|BenQ MS524AE SVGA||SVGA (800 x 600)||3,300||15,000:1||DLP||60"|
|InFocus IN112XA Projector||SVGA (800 x 600)||3,800||26,000:1||DLP||28-300"|
|ABOX A6 Projector||Native (1920 x 1080)||4,000||4,000:1||LCD||74-200"|
|CiBest Projector Upgraded Native||Full HD (1920 x 1080)||3,600||4,000:1||LCD||67-200"|
|Vamvo HD Projector||High native (1280 x 768)||3,500||2,000:1||LCD||44-200"|
1. ViewSonic PA503S – Ideal for Movies with External Audio Set-up
ViewSonic is a recognized brand name in projection technology. It is our highest rated projector on the list. If you want excellent picture quality and contrast on white walls, this is your best bet because of its high contrast ratio and DLP technology.
The projector is light (weighing just under 5 pounds) and bright even at a 10-meter distance. Importantly, the fan is quiet enough not to be distracting as you are watching your favorite film.
The colors hold, even during the day, against a lot of natural light from open windows. The zoom feature and intuitive menu allow business people to set it up easily for office presentations. The SVGA resolution is lower than HD, but the picture remains clear, though it does support the 1080p resolution as with all the lumens SVGA projectors.
The 120” is plenty big enough – though still falling behind some of it’s competitors’ 200”. Bulb life comes in at 15,000 hours, an important consideration being the most expensive part of the projector.
2. Epson VS250 – Suitable for Home Movies and Presentations
VS250 is another household name by Epson, a brand with a long history of decent projectors. Epson VS250‘s central selling point is its relatively high lumens color brightness and color gamut delivering excellent color accuracy.
Other projectors in our line-up have higher brightness and contrast ratios. Epson plants itself squarely in the middle of the pack.
Using LCD video projector technology, you still get an impressive contrast ratio of 15,000:1 and 3,200 lumens, which delivers a bright and clear image on a white wall, even with natural light.
Do note that SVGA 800x 600 resolution is high for movies but impractical for reading text, so if you plan on using Epson, make sure you set it to the appropriate zoom function or HD resolution.
Its speaker’s better than the ViewSonic, which means you don’t need output audio. The image quality is still good, though not as bright due to lesser lumens. Overall, it’s a good middle-of-the-road option.
3. BenQ MS524AE SVGA – Recommended Business Projector
BenQ is a relatively new company who became established over the past ten years for providing cost-effective technology. This little BenQ MS524AE SVGA packs a punch like the ViewSonic.
Using DLP technology, 3300 ANSI Lumen, and 15,000:1 high native contrast, it delivers excellent brightness and contrast, with a low sound output of below 36 dB. The specs of this product make it ideal for use in a business setting rather than for home movies.
The brightness also means it holds up well under natural or artificial lighting without the lights dimmed. Dual inputs allow you to control the laptop with your phone during a conference or a presentation.
The speaker, much like the ViewSonic, is not that great, so you need to rely on audio output, but the zoom and picture quality make up for the lack of sound. So, it is still suitable for use as a home movie system.
4. InFocus IN112XA – 3D Ready Budget Projector
InFocus is a relatively new name to the market, but this projector is ready to prove itself. InFocus IN112XA has the best brightness (3,800 lumens) and contrast ratio (26,000:1), so it produces an impressively bright and clear picture – the best in its class.
The downside is that its warranty (1 year) is shorter than its competitors’ warranties (around three years).
The lamp claims to last 15,000 hours, which is commendable compared to others in the class that only last 5,000 hours. Our favorite thing about this projector is that it’s suitable for a home theatre since it’s 3D ready. You need to buy the glasses separately, but the DLP technology, combined with the outstanding contrast ratio, means that you get a good enough quality picture.
Like the ViewSonic and BenQ projectors, InFocus’ sound quality needs improvement, so you need an external sound output. But, it’s a worthy sacrifice for picture quality.
5. ABOX A6 – Top Choice for High Lumens
Abox is another new name to market. This projector leans towards brightness and Keystone (the ability to elevate the picture) over other features. The Keystone goes up to 35 degrees (versus the typical 15 degrees in other projectors).
Abox A6 packs a whopping 4,000 lumens of brightness, making it one of the best HD projectors when it comes to light output. With a contrast ratio of 4,000:1, its picture quality is noticeably lower than our first four.
Rather than abiding by industry standards, Abox A6 promises a 3x wider color gamut. Abox A6 projector aims to produce a better sound quality too. It’s got 2 x 3W speakers as opposed to 2 x 1-2W speakers in other projectors.
The quieter fan makes it perfectly fine for home movie watching, possibly in a smaller room. Overall, Abox A6 is great for a portable LCD video projector.
6. CiBest – Best Video Projector Less than $300
There is a lot of similarity between CiBest and Abox.
Cibest’s key selling point is its bulb life. It boasts of a superior lamp life of 50,000 hours, meaning you can get 10+ years’ worth of screen time!
The contrast ratio of 4,000:1 is similar to the Abox, meaning that picture crispness may be compromised, particularly over long distances.
Using LCD technology and 3,600 lumens, it’s better than average for sure when it comes to brightness. The manufacturer claims it’s HD ready, but many online reviews seem to disagree.
The CiBest projector is lighter than average, weighing about 4 pounds. But for the price, it’s just about right.
CiBest is an appealing option for the home movie market, since it comes with mounting brackets for positioning on a desk or projecting on the ceiling.
7. Vamvo HD – Cheap Projector with High Native Resolution
Vamvo HD has an impressive brightness, and its exterior looks sleek and classy, but it falls short in some specs.
The contrast ratio is 2000:1, which is pretty low. Vamvo HD pitches itself as a budget option for those wanting a decent enough home movie system. The colors will not be as bright or crisp as that of pricier models, but it does the job just fine.
The brightness is higher than average at 3,500 lumens. It uses LCD technology and the lamp clocks in at an impressive 30,000+ hours of use.
Also, the sound quality of the Vamvo HD is so good – which is surprising considering it’s the cheapest 1080p, HD projector. Overall, we categorize this one as a portable mini projector fit for gaming and simple home use.
How to Pick a Good Budget Projector For No More than $300
Consider these things before you go projector-shopping. Picking a low-budget gadget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality.
1. Type of Video Projectors
There are two main types of projectors in today’s market: DLP (Digital Light Processing) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).
DLP projectors contain tiny mirrors that tilt towards or away from the light to create dark and light pixels. They offer sharp images – better than an LCD screen – making them great for fast motion and bright videos. Cinemas use DLP, so expect these to be more expensive.
LCD projectors are like TV’s – they shine a light through a few panels to create an image. The technology is more cost-effective since they tend not to be as dynamic or as bright as DLP. LCD handles motion well enough for videos.
2. Contrast Ratio
The contrast ratio refers to the difference between the blackest black and the whitest white in any given image. They are essentially providing a contrast between different colors. A contrast ratio of 500:1 would mean that the brightest white is 500x more vivid than the darkest black.
The higher the ratio, the richer and clearer the image will be. The most expensive projectors will have contract ratios of 200,000:1 and up. Contrast ratio is different from aspect ratio, which is the width-to-heigh ratio of the screen. The aspect ratio of most projectors is 4:3 or 16:9.
3. Pixel Density and Display Resolution
There are two main types of display resolution for projectors: Wide XGA (1280 x 800) and HD (1920 x 1080). An HD projector will have roughly 2 million pixels – twice that of a full XGA projector.
A higher number of pixels corresponds to a clearer image. As most media formats look better in HD, we advise getting an HD resolution.
4. Color Reproduction
Color reproduction is the accuracy of color display. It’s affected by a combination of brightness, contrast, and color saturation. If your projector is not very bright, color saturation adjustment compensates for that (wouldn’t it be nice if this applied to not-so-bright people as well?).
Your projector should have a good, out-of-the-box solution such as THX mode, which uses advanced color technology. If not, you’ll need to manually tweak the grayscale balance, or even calibrate individual colors.
Your projector comes with a variety of ports or inputs. You need to assess how you will connect media to your projector. HDMI connections are standard for High Definition Media from both TV or PC. VGA Cables allow linkups to desktop PC towers.
DVI ports are rarer, for digital to digital connections, and finally, USB connectors straight from laptops or possibly even a mobile phone. You don’t need all the inputs, as you can always buy a cheap connection converter from Amazon.
The size and weight of projectors have dramatically decreased over time, and these days, an average projector is unlikely to weigh more than 7 pounds. Of course, if you’re using a projector solely for home use, portability shouldn’t be a big deal. If you plan to use them in the office for presentations, opt for a lighter projector. Luckily, most have the size of a large 1000-page book that you can easily fit in a rucksack with all the cables.
Projectors have gotten noticeably cheaper. Previously, it was hard to buy a half-decent projector for under $1,000, but now you can own a very basic projector for under $100.
If you’re looking for serious cinema-quality, you still have to pay a hefty price. But, you can get excellent home theater or office-tier projectors for under $300! Isn’t it obvious, looking at this comprehensive guide we just wrote for you?
For sheer quality, the InFocus is our top pick for picture quality, brightness contrast, and functionality. When choosing a projector, it’s important to be reasonable about its purpose: are you using it for your home or work?
All seven projectors offer impressive technology for less than $300. If you have that much budget, there’s no excuse not to bring the best-quality-cinema-feel right in front of your face.