Gone are those days when you would have to spend a significant amount of money to get hold of a high-quality projector. Previously getting a quality projector was always considered to be a significant investment. But modern technology has come a long way, and it has not only given us new features but also has made the projector cheaper.
Nowadays, you can comfortably use a high-performance projector without digging deep into your bank account. Whether you love watching movies, TV series, playing games, or offering presentations, now you can easily get the best projector for under 500 dollars to meet your requirements. You won’t have to look anywhere else and save yourself from the hassle of finding the best projector in the market. We have come up with a list of top projectors under $500 that contains some great projectors to meet your needs.
Before jumping into the reviews of all the best affordable projectors under the $500 range, we were hoping you could check out our comparison table. We are confident that this table will help you narrow down your choices and find the ideal projector for your needs.
Now, let’s make our way into the reviews;
Best Projector under $500: Our Top Picks
|Nebula Capsule II|
The 10 Best Projectors under $500 of 2023
1. ViewSonic PA503W WXGA Home and Office Projector
When it comes to getting the best affordable projector for multi-purpose usage, one model that we want to recommend is ViewSonic PA503W. It is a 1280 X 800p native resolution projector that combines a 22000:1 contrast ratio to treat you with outstanding visual quality. Whether you use it at home for entertainment or office for presentation, the 3600 lumens would always treat you with bright images despite the lighting conditions.
We were really stunned when we saw the color depth of the images, and the credit goes to SuperColor technology that contains a 6-segment color wheel. The projector produces outstanding smooth visuals without any unnecessary motion blur and gives you a clear view of all the fast-paced frames. Since it is designed for multi-purpose usage so it comes with a huge screen size range of 30-300inches, which will help you to cover pretty much everything.
However, the 3.28-36.02ft throw distance range might be problematic for you if you try to fit it in a small area; otherwise, you won’t have space issues. Powered by a heavy-duty lamp, you can use this lamp for up to 150000hours and also dim the projection brightness by up to 70%. With this device, you can connect almost all types of video playing devices as you will get HDMI, VGA, Composite RCA, Mini USB, and 3.5mm audio.
What We Liked:
- Sharp images with buttery smooth clarity.
- Performs exceptionally well in all moderate lighting conditions.
- The quick power-off feature is efficient.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The adjustability isn’t impressive.
2. Optoma HD146X DLP 3600lumens Projector
Optoma HD146X is not your average entertainment that delivers a decent performance for occasional movie sessions; instead, it treats you with incredible visuals for both movies and games. Razor-sharp clarity and vivid image is a specialty of this projector, and it is mainly due to the 3600 lumens coupled with the 25000:1 contrast ratio. However, the main reason behind its incredible image quality is the native full HD resolution that highlights each detail in the frames.
The 6-segment color wheel also dramatically impacts the overall performance and pops all the colors in frames to create a cinematic visual experience. Besides entertainment, we also played some modern games, and the game display mode with enhanced game mode astonished us with its performance. The feature that sets it apart from other 1080p projectors under 500 dollars is its 3D performance, and you will feel as if you are watching a movie in a theater.
With excellent performance, it will also amaze you with immense lamp durability, which promises to last up to 15000hours. It might come with an ordinary body design, but it houses all the necessary ports that include HDMI, audio-out, USB, and 12V trigger. With 1.1x zoom and a 40-degree vertical keystone, we could easily rectify any image distortion during the setup process.
What We Liked:
- Incredible image quality.
- The gaming and 3D performance are top-notch.
- Affordable price point.
- Decent lamp longevity.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The fans are slightly noisy.
- It has a limited amount of connectivity than its competitors.
3. Epson Home Cinema 880 3LCD 1080p Projector
If your main priority is to get the best LCD projector under 500 dollars that will offer outstanding performance, we urge you to take a look at Epson Home Cinema 880. It is a compact projector that is equipped with HDMI, USB Type A&B and audio-out 3.5mm, and they are sufficient for all standard connectivity. This projector is meant to give you a large cinematic feel at your home comfort, and that is why it gives you a 25-386inch projection size range.
The best part is its 1.21-1.63 throw ratio range, meaning you won’t need a vast space for setup if you wish to go for a 100inch screen. However, you might frown upon its lamp lifespan that only offers longevity of 6000hrs on average and 12000hours in eco mode. Thanks to its full HD native resolution and 3LCD chip technology, it will leave you baffled by its stunning image quality. You can enjoy ultra-bright pictures with stunning clarity, and it is all because of 3300lumens with a 16000:1 contrast ratio.
What’s more? The ability of the 3LCD chip to pop out 100% of RGB color signal from every frame and give you a realistic output. A unique feature of this projector that excited us the most is the inbuilt picture skew sensor that analyzes the image and corrects the keystone quickly.
What We Liked:
- Rich contrast with high color accuracy.
- Easy to align images.
- The visual performance is top-notch at this price point.
What We Didn’t Like:
- It lacks wireless connectivity.
4. Optoma HD28HDR 120Hz Home Theater Projector
Without a shadow of a doubt, Optoma HD28HDR is probably the best 4K projector under 500 dollars that has amazed many of its users. Designed with the blend of 1080p native resolution and HDR10 technology, it will present you with the theater-like visual quality at your home. A proper home cinema experience is incomplete without realistic colors and bright textures, and this is why it packs 3600 ANSI lumens with 6-segment color wheels.
Experience more depth and crispness in the images with dynamic black technology and a 50000:1 contrast ratio. However, it is the 4K input and full HD 3D compatibility that takes all the limelight and assists you to enjoy all the top-notch facilities that are generally available in high-end TV. While playing games on a 120Hz refresh rate at 8.4ms response, you will not only enjoy lag-free gaming but will make you feel that you are in the middle of the game.
You won’t ever have to worry about connectivity as you will have HDMI, USB, and audio-out to fulfill your basic connection requirements. In addition to performance, it also excels in the durability department, and 15000hour of lamp life serves as the proof. However, it comes with a standard throw distance that can achieve a 100inch image only when it is placed 11ft away from the projector screen.
What We Liked:
- It offers an immersive gaming and movie experience.
- A colossal depth and color clarity in the images.
- It is quite flexible when it comes to connectivity.
- You can play content up to 4K.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The cooling system could have been better.
5. ViewSonic PX701HD 3500Lumens Projector
The ViewSonic PX701HD may not be a popular choice in the best home projector under the 500 dollar category, but it is a magnificent device that delivers a magnificent performance. It is designed to give theater-like immersive visual output, and that is why it gets full HD resolution along with DC3 DLP chips. With massive 3500 ANSI lumens and a 12000:1 contrast ratio, it not only guarantees you a bright image but also high clarity and deep black level in different ambient light conditions.
However, it is the SuperColor technology that takes overall image quality to the next level by delivering true-to-life color performance and displaying a vast color range. Not only movies, but you can also always indulge yourself in playing your favorite games as it is supported by 16ms input latency that ensures buttery smooth images. Besides, you can enjoy the incredible visuals in a widescreen size ranging from 30 to 300inches, and that too with a minimum 1.5:1 throw ratio.
Since it comes with a widescreen range, ViewSonic has also given you 1.1x, digital zoom, 40-degree keystone, and vertical lens shift. Once you buy this projector, you can then enjoy a low total cost of ownership, and the credit goes to the 20000hour of lamp longevity.
What We Liked:
- Brilliant visual performance with realistic colors.
- It gives you an edge, especially for competitive games.
- Excellent lamp longevity.
- Fully compatibility with different third-party dongles.
What We Didn’t Like:
- It doesn’t get HDR compatibility.
- You can’t exceed WUXGA resolution when playing content through PC.
6. LG PF50KA Portable Full HD CineBeam Projector
You can consider LG PF50KA as a specially engineered movie projector whose main motto is to greet you with superior image output with top-notch portability. It is super compact and weighs only 2.2lbs, so you can carry it to different locations whenever you get the urge to watch a movie. Features wireless connectivity, Bluetooth sound out, and USB C connection through plug ‘n play makes streaming convenient and allows you to play content from any source.
However, the feature that got us thrilled is the SmartTV platform, and through this platform, you can watch all your favorite content from various OTT platforms. As it is designed for offering entertainment in various locations, it also equips an inbuilt battery capable of entertaining you for 2.5hours. There is a reason it is considered as one of the best video projectors under 500 dollars as it is geared with full HD native resolution and 600 ANSI lumens.
You can stay assured that you will always be treated with deep black and great details because LG has included a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. Whether you use it in the woods or inside your home, you can comfortably project a 40inch screen from just 4.1ft away. It might come with a reasonable price tag, but it also pampers you with a 30000hour of LED lamp longevity and bright images.
What We Liked:
- The power backup is excellent.
- It offers smooth connectivity in all forms.
- The clarity and detail in the images are top-notch.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Apart from SmartTV, it doesn’t get any other special features.
7. Epson VS250 SVGA 3LCD Projector
When you look for one of the best TV projectors under 500 dollars, one model that you will find familiar in many lists is Epson VS250. The main highlight of this device is the 3200 lumens that assist you in using the projector in different ambient lights without compromising on quality. It comes with a decent 15000:1 contrast ratio and 1.07 billion color production, and together they get the job done of treating you with cinematic visuals.
However, it only comes with a native resolution of 800 X 600 SVGA native resolution, and you might get disappointed with it if you compare it with others. Despite having a low resolution, the 3LCD 3-chip technology manages to project clear and sharp images. Housing HDMI, D-Sub, composite RCA, USB type A&B, and audio 3.5mm, you get all the standard ports for connectivity. But you shouldn’t rely on its 2-watt mono-inbuilt speaker, which is pretty bad in our opinion.
The 1.45:1 throw ratio is quite good, and we have been able to get a large screen size without needing a considerable setup area. Another area where we thought it could have improved is the lamp life as it only gets 10000hours as maximum longevity. But we loved the amount of image adjustment options it has on offer that includes 30-degree keystone correction, digital zoom, and manual focus.
What We Liked:
- Magnificent built quality with easy-to-carry structure.
- The images are bright and stay sharp in most lighting conditions.
- It hardly faces any screen door effect.
- Offers all the standard image adjustment options.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The native resolution is relatively poor.
8. BenQ TK850i True 4K HDR-PRO Smart Home Entertainment Projector
BenQ TK850i is a well-known home theater projector that has found its way into many American homes. It is a competitively priced projector that gives you a 30-300inch image size range so that you can get the cinematic feel at your home comfort. However, it comes with a 1.37-1.64:1 throw ratio coupled with short-throw technology, meaning you can place the projector in small places for big-screen viewing.
With that being said, the quick installation button, 1.2x zoom, and 40-degree keystone make it easier for you to set up the projector without any hassle in any space. Multiple connection availability like D-sub, HDMI, USB Type B, Composite video, RS232, and audio-out is like a cherry on the top and allows you to utilize multiple devices. However, it is the 1080p native resolution and DLP projection that will excite you the most as they create a terrific visual quality with fine detailing.
On the other hand, 3300 ANSI lumens and 15000:1 contrast ratio add to the clarity and brightness and make the visual much more magical. Even though it has 98% HDTV Rec.709 coverage, you will get brilliantly balanced picture quality without finding any noticeable difference in color quality. Unfortunately, you will only get a maximum lamp life of 10000hours in Eco mode, so you might have to replace the lamp after four to five years.
What We Liked:
- Sharp and detailed image with well-lit rooms.
- Easy setup and a lot of adjustment features.
- You will hardly face crosstalk or motion blur.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The inbuilt audio quality is below average.
- The lamp life could have been better.
9. Acer H5382BD 720p DLP Home Theater Projector
When you take a look at Acer H5382BD, you might think of it as an ordinary projector, but it is actually a hidden gem in this vast market. Geared with 1280 X 720 native resolution and 3300 lumens, Acer has made sure that you always get top-notch whether you watch movies or television shows. The proprietary LumiSens+ and 30bit color support also help the projector to mirror the original content and maintain optimum brightness with accurate colors.
With a 20,000:1 contrast ratio, it doesn’t let you compromise on black depth in the image and helps you to see everything in the shadows clearly. However, we didn’t like the quality of its inbuilt 3-watt audio that offers good volume only when used inside a small room. An interesting fact about this one of the best movie projectors under 500 dollars is the versatility in connectivity, and you will get HDMI, USB, composite video, VGA, audio, etc.
When it comes to lamp durability, H5382BD promises a 10000hour of lamp longevity which is quite decent in this price range. Like others in this list, you won’t have a problem settling this projector in a city apartment, and it is due to its ability to produce a 100inch image from 3.4m. While setting up the projector, if you face any key stoning, then you can use its 40-degree keystone correction along with 1.1x digital zoom.
What We Liked:
- Razor-sharp clarity is most lighting conditions.
- It comes equipped with all the standard ports.
- The color boost technology makes the quality much more realistic.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The bulb performance isn’t very reliable.
10. Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Portable Projector
If you travel a lot and want to enjoy your movies and web series wherever you go, Nebula Capsule II should be on your target list. It is one of the best home theater projectors under 500 dollars that uses modern DLP technology with 720p native resolution to meet your entertainment needs. Despite being a 200 ANSI lumens portable projector, you will be startled when you will experience the image quality it has on offer.
However, it is the 8-watt scan-peak transducer speaker that completely immerses you in the visuals and produces every detail in the audio. With this portable device, you can enjoy up to a 100inch movie and that too in a limited space. While notching up the image size up to 100inch, if it gets out of focus, you can use the one-second automatic focusing system to get a clear view. You can comfortably use it everywhere you want because it will give you a power backup of 2.5hour without dimming the lamp.
What makes it more enjoyable? The inbuilt Android TV supports more than 3600 apps so that you can access all your web content from anywhere in the world. The voice operation through Google Assistant makes things smoother as you can start your web series with a simple command. It might come in the size of a soda can, but it houses HDMI, USB, audio 3.5mm, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Chromecast connectivity.
What We Liked:
- Extremely portable and easy to store.
- Seamless wireless connectivity.
- The inbuilt Android TV operation is smooth.
- Excellent battery backup.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The brightness level could have been better.
Apart from the reviews, we have also put forward some crucial information that will help you to improve your judgment while selecting a projector. We highlighted all the major topics that you need to go through before you make the final purchase.
Noticeable Features Of Best Projector Under 500 Dollar
When you are investing your hard-earned money on a projector, especially under the 500 dollar range, there are features that will help you to judge the performance. Here we present all the noticeable features to check out when getting the best budget projector under 500 dollars.
The first thing you should check out is the resolution offered by the projector, as it will decide the visual quality you will get. Even though the resolution is not the only deciding factor for visual quality, a high resolution can make a significant difference. It is always recommended to get the maximum resolution possible, but under $500, you won’t get above full HD. Make sure you shouldn’t compromise on other resolutions when comparing with other features, as a poor resolution will make the visuals blurry and pixelated.
Whether you are getting a projector under 500 or 1000 dollars, you shouldn’t overlook the connection availability offered by the projector. The ports are one of the vital features of the projector as they ensure a smooth connection with other devices. The availability of all the necessary connections like HDMI, VGA, USB, audio 3.5mm, Bluetooth, etc., will make sure of the convenient usage of the projector. Moreover, it will help you to play content from various sources without facing any limitations.
Having The Required Brightness
Like resolution, brightness also serves as a noticeable feature that you emphasize when getting the best HD projector under 500 dollars. Brightness not only ensures a bright image but also ensures the clarity and texture quality of an image. Depending upon the lighting conditions, you should choose the brightness carefully because a high lumens rating will ensure a top-notch visual output. If you go for a high resolution and have a low lumens rating, then you are going to get an average quality visual.
Without a rich contrast, you are going to get a faded view and poor quality. So it is vital to have a high contrast projector that will not only lead to stunning colors but also excellent shadows when you watch movies or TV series. Moreover, choosing a projector with high contrast ratio also gives you the required detailing and deep black levels that accentuate overall image quality. Always avoid a projector with poor contrast because it will eventually ruin your visual experience, especially in the presence of ambient light.
Zoom and Focus Capability
Another feature that you should assess in a projector under $500 is the zoom and focus capability. Having a projector with a fine zoom lens and excellent focusing capability will allow you to get stunning visuals without needing much adjustment. With a zoom lens, you can easily zoom in and zoom out depending upon the convenience and also change focus when you get a blurry view. You should try to avoid a cheap quality projector that doesn’t have good zoom and focus because it will force you to manually adjust the placement for a proper view.
Buying Guide: The Main Factors That Will Help You in Finding the Top Projector under $500
Buying a device like a projector is not easy, and it becomes trickier when you try to hunt for the best video projector for under 500 dollars. So to make your buying process easy and less stressful, we have created a guide that will help you to ideal the appropriate projector. The following factor should be your significant considerations;
The first essential thing you need to take into account is the projector technology you want to use. Under the 500 dollar range, you will either have to choose DLP or LCD as LCoS or Laser projectors aren’t available in this range. Both the projection types have their own pros and cons, and you should decide depending on your requirement. DLP is a popular choice when it comes to entertainment as it gives you sharp and detailed image quality.
Moreover, it delivers high brightness that not only enhances the overall viewing experience but also maintains top-notch clarity. You will hardly get any motion blur while playing fast-paced games or watching action movies. However, like every technology, it too has some cons, and the dark color rendering problem is the major one. Another problem faced by DLP users is the rainbow effect that often appears when you are watching any content, especially movies.
On the other hand, LCD projectors are well-known for producing realistic colors that elevate the visual experience by a large margin. The black levels on the LCD projector are really great, and it is far better than DLP units. Most importantly, it is much cheaper than DLP projectors and produces a minimal amount of rainbow artifacts in all light conditions. However, it faces a lot of motion blur for faced-paced scenes. Plus, when it comes to 3D playback, it fails to deliver a good performance.
After considering the projection technology, it is time to consider the brightness level. Brightness which is generally specified by lumens serves as a vital factor because it decides how bright your images will be in any light condition. You have to determine the lumens rating according to your usage and setup location. If you plan to use the projector mostly inside the room with minimal light interference, then the 1000-2000 ANSI lumens range would be sufficient for you. However, if your entertainment room faces a lot of ambient light problems or you plan to use it in an outdoor area, then it would be wise to get a 3000+ lumens projector.
When deciding on a projector, you shouldn’t compromise on the resolution as the higher the resolution, the better the picture quality will be. However, you can’t expect to get a projector with 4K or full HD native resolution. Although you might get lucky to get a full HD projector under $500 due to Amazon offers.
Your target should be getting a 720p or 600p native resolution projector because they will ensure a high-quality output with top-notch detailing. Some of the projectors also come with full HD support so that you won’t have a problem playing full HD movies or presentation content on the large screen. However, you should remember that with an increase in resolution, the price of the projector also increases.
Contrast and Color
While evaluating brightness and resolution, many users often overlook contrast and color, but you shouldn’t. Just like other features, contrast and color play a vital role in deciding the quality of the projector’s visuals. You should always target a projector that not only offers a high contrast ratio but also offer stunning color accuracy.
A projector with a contrast ratio of more than 10000:1 and over 90% color gamut coverage will mesmerize you with some incredible images for all your needs. If you go for a projector with low contrast and poor color accuracy, you will get a bland image output even if you have HD native resolution. So it is crucial to have the right blend of all the features.
A projector should be equipped with all the suitable connection options, including both wired and wireless. However, under the 500 dollar range, it is implausible that all the quality projectors will offer you both wired and wireless options. So your main task would be to get a projector with all the standard connectivity like HDMI, VGA, USB, and audio 3.5mm. Having all the standard ports will allow you to connect most of the modern devices with ease.
It would also be great to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity because it will not only allow you to go wireless but also enjoy screen mirroring through your smartphone. Moreover, it saves you from the hassle of hooking the cable to the projector when it is mounted on the ceiling.
Screen Size and Throw Distance
When you are considering all the essential features to buy the ideal projector for, under 500 dollars, you should also check the screen size and throw distance. The throw distance not only decides the distance between the projector and screen but also ensures a clear image output. Different projectors have different throw distances, and it tells you how much setup area it needs. So if you are setting the projector in a small area, then you need ultra-short or short throw distance.
But if space is not a problem, then you can go for a normal throw distance. Along with throw distance, you should also consider the screen size of your projector because it will decide your extensive screen experience. Most of the projectors you will find under $500 offer a fantastic screen size range of around 40-200inch so you won’t have any problem. However, for a proper movie experience, we will recommend you for a wide clear-screen image size range.
When it comes to getting a projector, apart from the performance, you should also consider the bulb life of the projector. Lamp life of around 20000hours will not only ensure great longevity but will also save you from frequent lamp replacement. It is expensive hardware of a projector, and if you get a high lamp life, then it will reduce your cost of ownership. We would suggest you go for a minimum bulb life of 10000hours, but it would be better if you can get it around 20000hours.
How to Buy a Projector That Costs Below $500? Five Go-To Steps For 2023
The market is filled with various projectors from different brands, and everyone advertises themselves in offering the best performance. So when you are going to buy a projector that costs below $500, it would be not easy to choose as you will be overwhelmed by the choices that you will currently have in the 2023 market. So here are the five go-to steps that will smoothen the process;
- The first and foremost thing you have to do is understand your usage, and it will help you to narrow down your choices. Once you understand the purpose, whether it is for entertainment, gaming, education, or presentation, you can easily guide yourself to the right projector. You will have different choices for various purposes, and you should choose the projector that is meant for the task. If you use a presentation projector for entertainment purposes, you can’t expect it to give you a cinematic viewing experience.
- In this third step, you will have to decide the location of your placement and the available space for the setup. The location of the setup is very important as it will help you determine various features like throw distance, screen, brightness, etc. While evaluating all the other aspects, it would be better if you can check the weight of the projector. For portability, you should go for a unit that is not only lightweight but also comes with a small form factor.
- Once you have decided on the external aspects, now in this step, you need to assess all the features offered by the projector. Ranging from resolution, contrast, brightness, color, throw distance, connection options to screen size, you should check each and every factor based on your requirement. For entertainment purposes, gaming or movies, you should look for high-quality features like full HD resolution, high color accuracy, 2000 ANSI lumens, etc. However, for presentation in office or education purposes, you should look differently. You need to look for a projector offering a widescreen size range, high brightness, proper clarity, etc. This step is probably the most crucial step as a wrong choice will make your entire investment futile.
- Now, you will have to check the durability and cooling system of the projector. The durability is not only determined by the build quality but also the lamp longevity. It would be best to get a device with a high lamp life and avoid the ones with lamp life below 5000 hours. However, not all projector offers a good lamp life, so you need to consider this aspect. After taking lamp life into consideration, you also need to check the cooling system. It should have a modern cooling system with adequate cooling fans and vents.
- Lastly, you need to consider the budget. Even though you have restricted yourself to a maximum budget of $500, you also need to consider your budget regarding accessories. Projector screen, stand, cables, soundbox, etc., are some essential accessories that you will have to buy after getting the projector. So you should balance your budget accordingly.
Nowadays, the consumer market is filled with budget projectors from various manufacturers in almost every price range. So it gets confusing for many users to get a high-quality projector when they are going below the 500 dollar range. Going through this list of the best projectors under 500 dollars will not only help you to get the ideal projector but also save you from various hassles. If you’re looking for cheaper projectors, we also have reviews for projectors under $300.
As we have shared this list after a lot of testing and assessing various reviews, you can stay assured that you are getting a good product. We have also added a buying guide that will smoothen the process of finding the appropriate model. If you think that we can add something more to this article, do write to us and we will try to improve the best way possible.
My name is Henry Larson and I have been associated with research and development of projectors throughout my professional career. I used all my experience and expertise to create this blog so that I can guide people to get the best projector of their choice. For any further assistance, you can get in touch with me through email or comments.