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10 Best Projectors under $500 – A Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

10 Best Projectors under $500 – A Complete Buying Guide & Reviews
4 (80%) 4 votes

What is your idea of a family night?

Mine is cuddling with the family members and a furry dog under a blanket and watch a great movie. And my family day is made of playing video games with the kids. But all that on a 40” screen just doesn’t cut it!

Ok, what about a professional meeting in your office? Nothing is better until it is on a huge, best quality display. Now you must be thinking that you have to shell out a ton of money for that. But actually, you can get it for under $500.

A projector and you will be set. Watch a movie like you are in a theatre, play games like it’s for real and present your work like the professional king that you are! But how to buy a projector, you ask? I will tell you what to look at and also which one is the best projector under $500 for you.

List of 10 Best Projectors under $500

Image Brightness (lumens) ​Resolution (pixels) Price
ViewSonic PA503X 3600 1024 X 768
Optoma ML750 700 1280 X 800
Epson EX3240 3200 800 X 600
Optoma HD27E 3400 1920 X 1080
ViewSonic M1 250 854 X 480
Epson VS355 3300 1280 x 800
Sony Portable HD 105 1920 X 720
BenQ MH530FHD 3300 1920 X 1080
Epson Home Cinema 3100 1920 x 1080
ViewSonic PJD5353LS 3200 1024×768

Check out my reviews of the projectors which offer great quality when it comes to displaying, resolution, usage, durability, connectivity and last but not the least affordability.

1. ViewSonic PA503X XGA Projector: The Editor’s Choice

When it comes top-rated projectors under $500, our testing on various projectors revealed that this model that has never failed to impress its users is ViewSonic PA503X.

It is a well-curated one that delivers an implausible visual performance without making a hole in your pocket. It comes with a rich set of features which you don’t expect at this price point, and its 3600 lumens along with 3D Blu-Ray serves as the best example.

Main Features:


• 1024 X 768 native resolution.
• 3600 lumens.
• SuperColor technology.
• Projection size: 30-300inches.
• 15000hours of max lamp life.
• Three years warranty.

Detailed Overview:

There is no doubt that this model is an incredibly value for money and the performance of DLP projection technology partly responsible for it. Unlike other models, it bags 1024 X 768 native resolution so you will always have HD resolution in your entertainment arsenal or in any presentation in your office. Whether you want to enjoy a movie in a dark room or room with light obstruction, you won’t have to be bothered because it 3600 ANSI lumens takes care of vividness level.
The lucidity and sharpness it brings out in images or viewing photos are praiseworthy, and it’s 22000:1 dynamic contrast ratio deserves all the credit. It even gears 16ms ultra-low response time so that you won’t get motion blur picture in fast-paced scenes.

The thing that set this apart in the crowd is its color accuracy and its SuperColor technology featuring 6-segment color wheel helps it to achieve. You will be startled to know that it can also play 3D movies with ease and that too from Blu-Ray and PC. It is quite a versatile device because it comes with a 30-300inch screen size range which makes it suitable for both indoor and outside entertainment shows as referred by the experts.
However, it’s 1.96:1 throw ratio indicates that you will need a sufficient amount of place for installation. You will even get 40-degree keystone correction, manual focus and 1.1x zoom to rectify any error during the setup or while enjoying visuals.

The PA503X excels both in build quality and longevity, and the blend of 15000hour of lamp life along with sturdy body material serves as the main reason. You won’t ever feel shortage of connectivity option as it treats you with HDMI, VGA, composite, RS232, USB, and 3.5mm audio. Its body also houses a 2-watt inbuilt speaker, but it dies down when used in a large room or in the middle of a huge gathering.
ViewSonic is known for their warranty coverage, so they have included a 3-year limited labor and parts warranty for this model. They have even included a year lamp warranty and first year free exchange service which relieves you from any a headache.

Pros
  • Vivid and high clarity images and photos.
  • High color reproduction.
  • Broad screen size array.
  • It offers a prominent 3D output.
  • The input latency creates smooth pictures.
Cons
  • It is slightly heavy in weight.
  • Pitiable inbuilt speaker.

See What the Customers are Saying

2. Optoma ML750 Projector

We often underestimate projector by its price point, but Optoma ML750 has made a significant impact despite its low price point. It is an ultra-compact device which might look like a small box, but once you switch it on, it will leave you flabbergasted with its functionality and performance. So if you like to enjoy a movie or offer a presentation while you are traveling or in your office, then this can be your best bait.

Main Features:


• WXGA 1280 X 800 native resolution.
• SVGA 3D compatibility.
• 1.5:1 short throw ratio.
• 700 lumens of brightness.
• 17ms response time.
• 20000hour of LED longevity.

Detailed Overview:

This one is a premium and easy to carry one that utilizes the DLP projection system and 1280 X 800 WXGA resolution to create a breathtaking image or photo quality on the screen. Playing 1080p contents won’t be an issue as it smoothly plays real HD contents lag free. Though it bags only 700 ANSI lumens still it manages to maintain a decent vividness level during daylight.

In terms of clarity and black depth, it won’t disappoint you, and all the credit goes to its 10000:1 contrast ratio. Apart from movie and presentation, it also immerses you in a great gaming experience with its fast 17ms response time and low latency. Moreover, it also produces a good color accuracy, and it is due to the support from 10bit displayable color.

Despite being a 4.1inch, Optoma ML750 comes with a 120Hz 3D compatibility which is sufficient to produce a mesmerizing 3D experience. This teaches us that we shouldn’t judge anything by its look and its 20000hour of lamp longevity serves as the proof. However, it fails to deliver a superb sound experience with its 1-watt speaker, so you need to connect an external speaker.

This tiny device allows you to expand its image size from 17inch and all the way up to 100inch and that too with 1.8-10.6m projection distance. It comes with an exclusive Digital Signage application which assists this to project from any mount orientation, and it is really when you are traveling.

You will be delighted to know that this specific product houses 40-degree keystone correction, zoom and manual focus which paves the way to correct any image error during setup. The rear section is loaded with all the necessary ports, and it comprises HDMI (MHL), VGA, micro SD, USB, and 3.5mm audio.

It even allows you to play any content wirelessly, but you will need to buy an adapter separately. The build quality of this is quite fair, and the whole body carries a sufficient amount of ventilation.

However, the most prominent highlighting feature of this is its 0.8lbs weight and palm-sized body shape which makes it a perfect travel companion.

Pros
  • Lucid visuals with decent brightness.
  • The clarity in the images is sufficient.
  • It is incredibly lightweight and compact.
  • Reasonable price point.
  • The response time is fast.
Cons
  • The fan noise is on the higher side.
  • It faces scaling issues.

See What the Customers are Saying

3. Epson EX3240 SVGA 3LCD

This model of Epson is a well-known brand that has numerous positive reviews under its belt, and it serves as the first choice for many users who are looking for projectors under 500 for home entertainment or in your office meeting presentation.

It may come in a compact box but under that box there lies some powerful hardware which puts up a solid performance. And experts suggest that if your priority is getting the best 3LCD projector, then you shouldn’t look anywhere and hunt for this choice.

Main Features:


• 800 X 600 native resolution.
• 3LCD projection system.
• 3200 lumens of brightness.
• 10000hours of maximum lamp lifespan.
• USB Plug ‘n Play.
• 5.29lbs weight.

Detailed Overview:

This is obviously is a budget model which performs well in both entertainment and presentation division. It uses 3LCD 3-chip technology along with 800 X 600 native resolution to create a remarkable visual projection with clear data images. The color richness it brings out in every picture is praiseworthy, and all the credit goes to its 3200 lumens.

Not only that, but its 1.07 billion color reproduction also makes a huge image in the overall color of the visuals. It also doesn’t hold back in clarity and black depth as it’s 15000:1 contrast ratio raves up the overall quality by a large margin.

A significant downside of this product is that it only comes with a 4:3 aspect ratio which is not suitable for the widescreen movie experience. But it covers this up with its 10000hour of lamp longevity which ensures that it will last more than 3years. Expanding the screen size during the presentation or enjoying a movie would be a piece of cake as it offers a projection size is between 30-350 inches.
Unlike others, it doesn’t bite colossal amount of space for setting up, and all the credit goes to its 1.45:1 short throw ratio. This also allows you to instantly switch off the projector whenever you want without waiting for the cooldown period.

Image error is a common issue during the setup process, and that is why Epson EX3240 bags auto keystone correction, manual focus, and digital zoom. It supports various type of external device, and it is due to its HDMI, D-Sub, S-Video, composite, USB, audio 3.5mm and USB. With its USB cable, you can utilize its Plug ‘n Play facility which offers instant projection. Although it isn’t entirely a portable its 5.29lbs overall weights make it easy to carry in the bag.

For your convenience, Epson has even supplied a carrying bag so that you can comfortably carry it. Not only that, they have also given two years warranty coverage along with 3-months lamp warranty with this.

Pros
  • Top-notch build quality with a lot of ventilation.
  • It offers all the required connectivity options.
  • Rich and vivid image projection.
  • It is easy to set up and operate.
  • Instant switch off features.
  • The throw distance is low.
Cons
  • You need to buy an external speaker separately.

See What the Customers are Saying

4. Optoma HD27E Home Theater Projector

The HD27E is an outcome of modern engineering where all the hardware is configured in such a way that it never fails to deliver its optimum performance. It is probably the highest rated budget pick under $500 mark that has found its way into many homes in the United States. So if you are planning to invest your hard earned money on a potent product, then you should take Optoma HD27E into consideration.

Main Features:


• Full HD native resolution.
• 3400 ANSI Lumens.
• 15000hours of lamp lifespan.
• BrilliantColor technology and Reference display mode.
• 10-watt inbuilt speaker.
• Real HD 3D compatibility.

Detailed Overview:

When you search for a great projector under $500, this model you will get familiar in many lists is HD27E. It is a well-engineered and coupled with DLP projection technology to meet every visual requirement. However, its 1920 X 1080p native resolution takes all the limelight as it treats you with outstanding visual .

Its whopping 3400 ANSI and 25000:1 contrast ratio also aids to the image projection with high brightness and immense crispness. To make it ideal for entertainment, Optoma has given 16:9, 4:3 and 16:10 aspect ratio option.

As this HD27E model is a dedicated home theater device, so it utilizes BrilliantColor technology and a reference display mode to bring out high color accuracy in every frame. If you desire to watch movies in Full HD 3D, then it is an ideal device for you because it offers 3D compatibility including Blu-Ray 3D. You will be startled to know that even cradles you with a hefty 15000hours of lamp longevity which is unusual in this kind of hardware combination.
You will never feel a shortage of connectivity options with this model as it gets HDMI (1.4a), MHL, 3D Sync, USB, 12V trigger and audio 3.5mm.

You can use this one for both indoor and outside movie session because it allows you to notch up the screen from 28 inches to 301 inches. Although you won’t be able to expand the screen size from a short distance as it offers a range between 1m and 9.8m. It also houses a 10-watt speaker which brings out a decent sound in the indoor area but fails in volume section outside your home.

It makes use of modern fans for cooling which makes around 25dB noise level while in action so you can stay assured it won’t bother you much. Lastly, it is blessed with two years warranty coverage which also comprises a 3-month lamp warranty.

Pros
  • Terrific image quality with high brightness.
  • Zero artifact issue in 3D visuals.
  • The color reproduction is top notch.
  • The lamp longevity is decent.
  • Extensive screen size range.
  • The inbuilt speakers offer excellent sound.
Cons
  • Weak zoom range,
  • The absence of a VGA port.

See What the Customers are Saying

5. ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector

Another potential addition in this list of most exceptional projector under 500 is ViewSonic M1, and it rightly deserves this position. It is a beautiful looking model which might look small in structure, but it is a master blaster that can outclass many midrange projectors.
It doesn’t have a rich set of features but whatever it possess assist it to create a mindboggling output quality. It serves as a perfect blend of performance and portability which is a rare combination in the projector market.

Main Features:


• 854 X 480 native resolution.
• 250 lumens of brightness.
• Two 3-watt Harmon Kardon speakers.
• Smart stand with 360-degree projection.
• 5 X 5.8 X 1.6inch palm-sized body.
• 1.52lbs body weight.

Detailed Overview:

The M1 is a well packed LED based projector that utilizes both DLP projection technology and 854 X 480 native resolution to delivers the required visuals. Although don’t be appalled by its 480p native resolution because you can easily play 720p and 1080p with ease. It may offer 250 lumens, but once you see the brightness level in the visuals, you won’t be able to complain about it.
All the images or photo are crisp and carry the perfect amount of black depth which is mainly due to its 120000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Moreover, it also brings a decent color depth in all the visuals.

However, M1 only offers 16:9 aspect ratio which is suitable for a wide view cinematic experience but may not be adequate for presentation. Despite being a portable model, it holds the prowess to enhance the screen from 24 inches and all the way up to 100inch.
Not only that, it even bars you from maintaining a substantial distance from the screen and all the credit goes to its 1.2:1 short throw ratio. Once you own this LED projector, you won’t have to think about lamp replacement for at least 10years, and its 30000 hours of longevity is the main reason.

The M1 houses two 3-watt inbuilt Harmon Kardon speakers which ooze out crystal clear sound with decent sound depth. To make it an ultimate travel companion, it has also given 16GB internal storage and an inbuilt battery that last around 6hours. It is compatible with a varied type of devices because it gets HDMI, USB, 3.5mm audio, micro SD. It comes with a unique Smart Stand which allows it to offer 360-degree projection at any angle.
A significant advantage of owning this model is its palm-sized body shape and 1.52lbs body weight, which makes it super easy to carry it in the pocket.

Pros
  • The visual quality is quite impressive.
  • Entirely value for money.
  • Immense lamp longevity with good inbuilt battery.
  • It delivers satisfactory sound.
  • Availability of 16GB internal storage.
  • Three years warranty coverage.
Cons
  • It faces a lot of light leakage.
  • The fan noise is bit high.

See What the Customers are Saying

6. Epson VS355 3LCD

We all know Epson has many high-performance projectors in their lineup, but one model that shines brightly in the budget range is this specific model. It is really an incredible device that is configured in such a way that it can offer impressive performance while you watch a movie or provide a presentation in your office. Despite having some prolific features, Epson has priced in such a way that it is affordable to many people who are in dire need of a highly efficient one.

Main Features:


• 3LCD 3-Chip projection technology.
• 3300 lumens of brightness.
• 1.07 billion color reproduction.
• Projection size: 33-320inches.
• USB Plug ‘n Play.
• 100000hours of lamp longevity.

Detailed Overview:

This is critically acclaimed one that is designed with 3LCD 3-Chip technology and poly-silicon TFT active matrix to put out an effective visual performance. It comes with the configuration of 1280 X 800 HD native resolution and 33000 lumens which yields a mindboggling photo quality. However, it’s 15000:1 contrast ratio assist the projector in taking the image quality to the next level by adding immense clarity and black depth.

It doesn’t even let down in color accuracy as its 1.07billion color reproduction engulfs every frame with excellent depth. It may get only aspect ratio option of 16:10, but this is sufficient enough for entertainment and business purpose.

Epson VS355 is all about considerable size viewing experience, and this is the reason it lets you expand the image size from 33inches to 320inches with ease. However, it doesn’t require much space to achieve a huge screen size, and all the credit goes to its 1.38:1 short throw ratio.
You will be startled to know that is blessed with 10000 hours of lamp longevity so you won’t require lamp replacement for at least three years, which is definitely a solution for them who have been struggling so far with low hours of lamp longevity. When it comes to audio option, it fails terribly as its 1-watt mono speaker doesn’t deliver the required quality and volume you will expect from an inbuilt speaker.

The compact structure of this one possesses many essential ports like HDMI, D-Sub, audio 3.5mm, composite, S-video and USB and these ports are sufficient enough to connect various type of devices. For fast and easy setup process, it also grabs the USB Plug’n Play facility which only takes a few seconds to play your visuals. If you face any error in the middle of movie session or presentation, you can use its 30-degree keystone, optical zoom and manual focus for correction.
Like every other Epson models, it also grabs a two-year labor and parts warranty coverage. Not only it also gets 3-month lamp warranty coverage which is a boon to the buyers.

Pros
  • The image clarity and quality are praiseworthy.
  • Good vividness in HD resolution.
  • The setup process is quite simple.
  • Wide projection range with short throw ratio.
  • It is quite comfortable to port.
  • It gets a two year warranty.
Cons
  • The fan noise could have been lower.
  • The 1-watt mono speaker is pretty useless.

See What the Customers are Saying

7. Sony Portable HD Projector

Is it a tablet? Is it a hard disk? No, it’s a projector!
Trust me you will say this when you see the best mini projector under 500.
This is an awesome travel companion. It is compact, almost weight-less and supports both, work and play.

Specs


• Projection system: Laser
• Battery: 3400mAh
• Native Resolution: 1920 x 720
• 32 Lumens
• Contrast ratio: 80,000:1
• Projection size: Up to 120″
• Video inputs: mini HDMI, USB
• Audio outputs: 3.5mm jack
• Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 3inches
• Weight: 7.4 ounces

Design

Usually, whenever we talk about the design of a tech product, the packaging is hardly mentioned. Unless it’s an Apple product, of course. But the packaging of MP-CL1A projector is definitely worth mentioning. If after Apple, I have seen anything that can compete with its packaging. It comes in a black, non-descript, thick, magnetic hinge case which is so sleek to look at. It gives that premium feel.

And this premium feel continues when you take it as well. The projector is largely made of black aluminum in a matte finish with plastic at the 2 edges. The overall construction is quite sturdy. The only difficulty with plastic edges would be when the projector falls. But you can be careful right?

The top is plain black with the Sony logo at one side and the power and battery indication at the other. The left side of the projector is smooth aluminum while the right-side has all the features and ports. It contains a USB port, a 3.5 mm audio jack, an HDMI port, menu buttons, power button and a micro USB charging port.

At the front, you will find another Sony logo beside the lens while at the back there is a hotchpotch of speaker grill, regulatory information, and stickers. But this portion will always remain hidden.

This compact, portable and sleek projector is completely pocket-sized. It’s rectangular, thin and almost looks like a tablet or more specifically a phablet. It also comes with a lens cover which can be converted into a stand. Though it is made of plastic so make sure you don’t drop it or put it under pressure.

Performance

Just like the packaging, the projection of MP-CL1A is also impressive. Though it is not full HD, the 1920 x 720 resolution is not bad too. Watching an HD video is pleasant. Ideally, some people might be disappointed with its menu setting which only has 3 options of brightness, color, and saturation. On start up the video looked a little poppy to me but a with some tinkering, it became better.

Though with 40 lumens and 30% white area, this is a low powered projector. It works absolutely perfectly when it is dark but as the light starts increasing in the environment, the picture becomes almost impossible to watch.

So the projector cannot be used in sunlight. It is not an outdoor projector. In the dim light, a room where curtains are drawn or at night, the picture quality is quite powerful. In fact, I was able to watch Star Wars at night.

When the projector is at a distance of 4 feet, it can churn out an image of 40-inches. Take it farther away and the maximum you get is 120-inch display. As far as quality goes, you will not have anything to complain about. The autofocus does a great job.

The interesting feature of this projector is that it does not need a smooth surface to display. The laser diode does a praiseworthy job of focusing even on uneven surfaces like vinyl and drapes.

Connectivity

As I said before, the right side of the projector is stuffed with ports and jacks. The HDMI input supports the 1.4 standards and not UltraHD. Though it works with real HD Blu-ray and MHL standard. But using it is a real pain. The new and older versions won’t work together so you will need a special cable. Also, most phones have dropped MHL support now, so it is kind of redundant.

The projector also supports Miracast and Wi-Fi for a wireless display. Miracast works perfectly well with Android phones and Windows computers, but it will not work with Google Pixel.

There is a USB out port which is very confusing. It can charge other devices like phone and tablets. Your projector will turn into a power bank. But that is the only use I could find. It does not support a USB flash drive for reading the documents from it directly. The micro USB port is strictly for charging the projector.

There is also a 3.5 mm audio/headphone jack which will be used a lot because the single-watt in-built speaker is too weak. Considering the size of the projector, it is understandable. There is also a provision for Bluetooth speaker connection. You can use whichever you want. There is a volume control button next to the power button.

Summary

The MP-CL1A will give you a projection time of 2-hours for a continuous display on a full charge. Though I would not recommend this projector for a home theatre system. But with its great price and portability, it is not meant to compete with the big guys. It is outstandingly small and provides a sharp, focused picture with wireless connectivity. It has a few shortcomings, but those can be easily overlooked.

Pros
  • Perfect for anyone who is on-the-go
  • Pocket-sized, literally
  • Attractive and sturdy design
  • HDMI and wireless projection mirroring connectivity
  • Can charge another device through USB
Cons
  • Disappointing speaker
  • The display is affected by light
  • Low battery life

See What the Customers are Saying

8. BenQ MH530FHD 1080p 3300 DLP Home Theater

If you like bright display, huge screen size, and a tight budget, this is a great option for you. You will not have to spend thousands on Bravia, but you will still get the amazing home theatre experience or office presentation.

Specs


• Projection system: Bulb
• Native Resolution: 1920x1080p
• Brightness: 3300 Lumens
• Contrast ratio: 15,000:1
• Projection size: Up to 300″
• Video inputs: HDMI, S-video, VGA
• Audio outputs: 3.5mm jack
• Dimensions: 13.1 x 8.4 x 3.9inches
• Weight: 5.33 pounds

Design

There is something really old school about this projector when it comes to design. But that is not a bad thing really.

The rectangular box with a lamp inside has been decorated nicely in shiny plastic. It has been built keeping in mind permanent installation, but that does not mean that you can’t carry it with you. It can be carried around for meetings and presentations.

At the front of the projector, you will see the lens on the left side which has been fixed to a 107% offset. You cannot adjust the image physically but there is an option on the digital menu. The top of the projector has the controls like the zoom and focus. The back portion of the top also has control buttons including power, source, menu, back, auto, eco blank, and the OSD navigation. There are 3 status lights which indicate the power state, temperature and lamp life warnings.

The white plastic has a textured finish which helps in preventing reflections and is perfect in a dark room or a home theatre. The rear end of the projector is full of digital and analog connections.

The bottom part of the unit contains 3 adjustable legs, one in the front and two behind. And for those who fancy mounting it on the ceiling inverted, there are some threaded holes too.

The projector comes with a remote, obviously. It is a tiny, palm-sized handset. The remote is white with distinctive dark buttons on it. The top 2 are, of course, power on and off. The center of the remote consists of the freeze, image blank, mute and auto-timing for VGA. The bottom part has specific controls related to installation and presentation.
Though it is a tiny remote, the IR signals are powerful. Even when mounted on the ceiling, the projector never has any trouble reading the commands.

Performance

Honestly, I did not expect BenQMH530FHD to provide such superior image. The colors are so accurate, it is highly impressive. Their contrast and black levels are less impressive but that is not a problem as such. The attention to finer details and fast motion rendering is so good, it literally overshadows the deep black. And then, when the light strikes, it is merely another level altogether.

When you project on a painted wall surface, the projector lets you offset the wall color. You can choose from pink, yellow, blue, green and blackboard. You have 4 picture modes, 2 user modes, and a 3D model to select from.

BenQ’s 3300 lumens is totally on point. In fact, even on Smart Eco mode when the brightness is set at 50%, I recorded it at more than 2000. The sharpness is also exceptional at 15,000:1 contrast ratio. The deep blacks are not as deep as a TV but all in all, the display is definitely of quite superior quality.

You know you have the ideal one when you can see each and every detail in the Deadpool’s costume. The red one is exactly right and you can see each and every hair on Ryan Reynolds’ head; even during fast action sequences.

MH530FHD is the best 3D projection I have ever had. There is a separate picture mode for it.

And guess what?

While enjoying 3D, the bulb’s normal mode offers almost 12fL brightness which is the highest I have measured in a projector till date. Of course, in 2D mode also the calibration is more than impressive but 3D is quite unexpected. The color and depth are killers. All the texture just pops out.

At a short range, the projector creates a 100-inch image which does not need any special environmental arrangement to watch. At a farther distance when the 300-inch image is created, there is a mild stretching and the viewing experience is better in dark conditions.

The fan is also super quiet. It is hard to even notice the humming sound once you have started with a movie. The lamp can last up to 4500 hours which is not bad. But on Smart Eco mode, it can reach to its stated 10,000 hours.

Connectivity

There are 2 ports, two VGA inputs, one S-video and a composite jack. Also, there is a mini USB type B port and an RS232 (DB-9pin) connection. The projector has a 2W speaker and 3.5 mm jacks for audio in and out.

If you are setting up the projector for virtual entertainment or home theatre system, using the HDMI port to connect it to your console is the best option. But if that is not the case, the projector has other provisions too.

There is an internal 2W speaker which is not loud enough. So it is better to connect the projector to an external speaker. There is no Bluetooth option available.

Summary

When a result so fine is delivered, it is hard to argue with its success. BenQ is one of the few companies committed to DLP displays even today. And the MH530FHDis a worthy piece of tech. if you are a theatre enthusiast but have a budget that you cannot forget, this piece of beauty pick for you.

Pros
  • Single-chip DLP projector with DarkChip 3
  • 1080p with 3D support
  • Huge projections
  • Exceptional brightness, sharpness,and saturation
  • Good performance even in daylight and well-lit rooms
  • Superb motion resolution
  • Quiet fan
Cons
  • Replaceable lamp
  • No auto-iris

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9. Epson Home Cinema 1060 HD

Trust me when I say this is the best HD projector under 500.

It is bright, deliver as promised and can read files directly from USB. I am smitten!

Specs


• Projection system: 3LCD
• Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080
• Brightness: 3100 Lumens
• Contrast ratio: 15,000:1
• Projection size: Up to 300″
• Video inputs: HDMI, USB, VGA
• Audio outputs: 3.5mm jack
• Dimensions: 11.9 x 9.8 x 3.4inches
• Weight: 5.6 pounds

Design

The Epson Home Cinema 1060 is a white rectangular plastic box design which is kind of usual. The basic design has thing extraordinary in it.

What do they say?

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Yeah. It applies to this quite aptly. The front of the projector has the bulb, quite obviously. And on the right end of the front side is a very beautiful design for an outlet. The top portion has all the controls and switches. The indication lights are soothing blue which offset the shiny body quite beautifully. The controls include power, menus, enter, volume and even settings.

The rear end of the projector is where all the action is packed. There are an array of ports and jacks on the left side and a speaker on the right-side. The bottom portion has legs and holes for attaching it to the ceiling upside down.

The projector comes with a black remote control which works on AA batteries. It is a small unit with lots of nicely placed white and blue buttons. This is not exactly portable but it is not that heavy too. You can take it with you for your presentations or a movie night at a friend’s house.

Performance

The Epson guys are quite modest, I must say. The projector uses the widest lens angle which provides a lot of brightness. They say the projector has 3100 lumens rating, but when I measured it, it passed the level and delivered a whopping 3300 lumens. The Eco mode reduces the brightness by 38% which is quite well for the life of the bulb but does not affect the brightness quality. It is like a perfect balance.

While watching a movie, the color balance can also be perfected with a little tweaking. For the display size of 145” in a moderately lit room or 230” display in a dark room, the 1.0 gain screen is more than enough.

The HC 1060 projector delivers accurate contrast even in default settings. Because the emphasis of this projector is on maximum light output, it does not deliver the dark level as a DLP projector. Most of them, especially DLPs, face difficulty when there is light. But the brightness of HC 1060 stands up to the ambient to the heavy lighting of the room. But in dark conditions, shadow detail and depth are left at the last place.

The display has a consistent 79% brightness which is very beneficial. But at the same time, the input lag is 52 ms. That could be a disadvantage for serious gamers.

The 2W inbuilt speaker performs exceptionally well. I found it louder than some of the 10w speakers too. It can fill up a moderately sized room with audible sound easily. The quality might not be great but an external speaker does not become a compulsion.

Because the projector stands first for brightness, it stands last for fan noise. You know the brighter the lamp, louder will be the fan. They are obviously inversely related. In full power mode, it is impossible not to notice the humming sound of the fan at 37 db. That happens with a lot of options. But with HC 1060, you will notice it even during Eco mode.

The throw angle of 1060 is quite unusual as compared to the competition. The unusual angle makes it suitable to keep the projector on a shelf behind you when you are sitting. But that will make you quite close to the projector. So, on a flat surface, it is better to tilt up the screen. If you are mounting it on the ceiling, you will need to add an extension so that it drops down and you don’t have to tilt the screen.

Connectivity

There are a host of connectivity options but let us discuss my 2 most favorite ones of HC 1060. Firstly, this is the only projector which can read directly from a USB key. And secondly, it has a built-in Wi-Fi.

Yes! You read it right.

It’s a cause for celebration. Other than that, there are 2 HDMI inputs, one of which has MHL support. There is also an RCA composite video input, 2 USB ports, and an old-school stereo RCA audio input.

Summary

Epson Home Cinema 1060 stands out in many ways. It has an excellently affordable price but apart from that, it is the only projector for built-in Wi-Fi and USB reading for ease of use. It is the brightest one I have seen by far and also the loudest at the 2W mono speaker. The only drawback that is big enough to put me off is that it does not support 3D.

Pros
  • Best brightness uniformity at 79%
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for phone and tablet connections
  • Reads files directly from USB memory keys
  • HDMI with MHL support
  • 1.2x zoom feature
Cons
  • Does not support 3D
  • No audio output for the external audio system
  • Input lag of 52ms

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10. ViewSonic PJD5353LS 3200 XGA Projector

Don’t have a long room to set up a projector? Don’t worry. PJD5353LS is your pal.
With a short throw ratio of 0.61:1, this one projects large images when positioned near the screen too. It also prevents the presenter shadow, which is amazing.

Specs


• Projection system: Bulb
• Native Resolution: 1024×768
• Brightness: 3200 Lumens
• Contrast ratio: 13,500:1
• Projection size: More than 100”
• Video inputs: HDMI, S-video, VGA
• Audio outputs: Smaller jack
• Dimensions: 9 x 12.4 x 4.1inches
• Weight: 5.51 pounds

Design

The all-white model with tapered sides is quite good to look at. Of course, it is a budget projector without all the bells and tinkles, so it is quite usual visually. But that does not mean it has to be boring. The projector lacks a carrying case but at 5 pounds it is quite portable. It is not exactly pocket-friendly but can be carried anywhere easily.

The front of the projector has the lens on the left side, of course, and besides it, there are ventilation groves which strike up a nice design attribute. There is no lens control, zoom or focus features in this basic projector. But the top of the projector does have a proper keypad for menu and settings.

There is a groove for easy access to the lamp for maintenance and replacement of the lamp when needed. The back of the projector has a host of ports for cables and USBs. But sometimes that becomes a lot of clutter on display. To avoid that there is an optional cable management hood at the back so that the cables all get covered and the setup looks clutter-free.

Performance

At 1024 x 768 resolution, this is no HD but then it is not supposed to be. This product is perfect for educational and business use. For that you don’t need full HD, you need no shadow. And that this projector definitely delivers.

The PJD5353LS has a 3200 lumens bulb which is quite bright. The picture quality is really impressive. The fine details are nicely visible and the contrast ratio is good too. There are 5 presets available for viewing – Brightest mode, Dynamic mode, PC mode, View match mode, and Movie mode.

These preset modes help a lot during the daylight viewing. When there are a lot of lights, I found that the brightest mode works great. The DynamicEco feature reduces the power consumption by 70% and increases the lamp life to up to 10,000 hours. If you can control the light in the room, I would suggest using the projector on Eco mode. It really helps increase the lamp’s lifespan.

Because the projector is not made for gaming or high-action movies, you will find that black images are quite flat. Also, the motion rendering and finer details like textures are not that sharp or visible.

ViewSonic has come up with a proprietary technology called the SonicExpert which incorporates a large chamber for speaker and an amplifier more powerful than normal. That helps in creating an immersive sound so that it does not torture your ears and is loud enough for everyone to hear. The sound range is a 20Hz – 20Khz.

The projector also supports 3D which is quite impressive considering that this is a budget, simple projector. It can be connected to any 3D Blu-ray player for watching 3D or can be viewed through PGD-350 Shutter Glasses. Any other compatible glasses work. And it blew my mind away.

Obviously, it is no gem of a 3D but I did not expect to work at all.

Connectivity

The connectivity ports include an HDMI port, two ports, audio in and out, AC in, a video in, an RS232 and a mini USB.

The mini USB will turn the projector into a power bank but that is all. It cannot read any USB memory key and display it directly. There is no built-in Bluetooth or wireless technology for streaming. I have found the in-built speaker enough for a presentation.

But if you want to watch a video or a movie, you will need better speakers for which there is a provision.

Summary

Everything said and done, the projector serves its purpose. All those budget projectors provide all the basic functions but don’t provide the quality. Of course, the PJD5353LS is not that basic but it is no LED TV replacement either. Don’t think about having a movie marathon on this one. But if you have a small business of your own or have students all day presenting their projects, this one might be your best partner.

Pros
  • 100” screens from short distances
  • Very bright display
  • SonicExpert audio technology
  • Clutter-free back hood
  • Compatibility to all platforms
Cons
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No lens or focus adjust

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Wrap Up

    Well, there it is. I know you need to find a projector under 500 dollars and here is a detailed review of the top 10. That is half the job done. You have to match your requirements with my review and decide on the best one for you.

BUYING GUIDE FOR THE BEST PROJECTOR UNDER $500

A projector is used in our everyday life for various activities like a presentation of a PowerPoint in a company or school or colleges, and watching movies on the bigger screen than a laptop or a TV. We have to agree that a projector is on the higher side of the investment.

But if you are on a really bad budget, don’t fret because we are here to help you in selecting the best projector under $500. It is not essential that the higher priced projector has the best qualities. With some little patience and research, you can have the best projector with excellent specifications at your budget too.
The crucial step that you need to follow when you are selecting for the best projector is to keep a budget in mind before starting your research. If you have a certain number of bucks in your mind that you would want to spend then, narrowing down your choice and choosing a great one that fits your budget would be a laid-back work.

Before you can know how to choose the best, have the slightest idea on the purpose of the projector and how you are going to use and the location of the projector. This analysis can help you in knowing the best type that you can pick in your budget.

How to choose the best projector in your budget:
There are some of the most important specs that none need to look out like the resolution, size, etc. Let’s look into the specifications of each one the aspects that you can expect at your budget.

1. Resolution:

The resolution is one of the foremost specifications that you need to concentrate on. The main objective of a projector is to display a bigger image, which can be made probable only by having an advanced resolution i.e. 1080p. A resolution that is anything less than 1080p cannot be found in today market due to much more advancements. The spec can differentiate the quality and the sharpness of the picture. There are some resolutions like SVGA, WXGA, 1080p.

There are some projectors with less than 1080p with are less likely recommendable especially for commercial purposes. Another recommendation is that use the projector which has a resolution similar to that of you connecting system like the laptop or the desktop. This ensures that there is no difference in the projection and even though the resolution is less, the quality would be much better.

2. Brightness:

This specification depends on the environment in which you would like to install the projector. Brightener the environment, brighter must be the brightness of the projector. It is recommended to have a brightness of at least 1000 lumens for the darker areas and the brightness must be at least 5000 for a slightly brighter area. This can even increase if the brightness of the area increases.

It is not advisable to use the brighter projectors in the darker rooms because the brightness makes cause irritation and stress to your eyes due to which you may not be able to look at the screen for a larger time. For a budget of fewer than 500, you may get an adjustable color temperature, which might also influence the brightness.

3. Type of technology:

The technology in the projector can impact many specifications of the device from resolution to zoom factor. There are three main types of technologies on which the projectors run – DLP, LCD, and LED. Maximum of the projectors run on DLP (digital light processing) technology as it is highly recommended over LCD (liquid crystal display) and LED (light-emitting diode) this is because the former projectors are comparatively expensive, long-lasting, and environmental-friendly, and do not suffer from the infamous rainbow effect.

While a huge number of projectors run on DLP technology which uses tiny mirrors to reflect image this technology is considered to be one of the best technologies at your given price range.

Though you can get LED and LCD at this price range, it is recommendable not to buy one because they might lag in one of the other specifications which are not desirable. So, for a budget of $500, do buy the DLP projectors which can give the best image with all the other desirable qualities.

4. Zoom Factor:

The zoom factor may not be considered when you fix the projector in one place. But if the projector in more susceptible to movement and the screens on which the images may be projected is different, then the zoom factor can play a vital role. Although the zoom factor may exist in all the projectors, with the usage, the quality might change. For example, if the viewing audience is large in number which might need the bigger screen one might tend to use the zoom factor.

When this is done, the pixel ratio may decrease which can ultimately lead to a decrease in the quality. At a budget as low as 500 dollars, it is hard to find an excellent zoom factor. So, buy a projector that has a satisfactory zoom ratio and tries to fix it in one place where the picture is more clear and sharper.

5. Contrast ratio:

If you are seeing for the realistic viewing experience, then pay extra attention to this contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is the alteration between the black and white levels that a projector can transport which influences the quality of the picture. The contrast ratio must be higher for a better picture viewing experience.
Even too much contrast ratio is not recommended. 23000:1 is the contrast ratio that gives the best picture that is available in a large range of projectors today. There are several other projectors with the contrast ratio of 10000:1 and 1000:1 which are less likely to be used.

There are some other aspects that you can keep in mind while buying one for your specific need like audio which would be suggested to be good as possible as you might never know when you will need a projector. Also, try to invest in 3D technology. They do not give a full theatrical experience as in the theatres, but they might be just satisfactory for the budget.

Purchasing a projector is not a conventional thing, and many people may be deliberate in purchasing it, as many are happy with their TVs.
However, it would be astonishing to know that the average cost of projectors has fallen extremely in the last few years due to which you can get a large number of best yet comparatively cheaper picks.

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