Best Portable Projector

A portable projector gives you the option of taking big-screen entertainment with you wherever you go. Even if you’re just staying at home, a compact and lightweight projector is easier to take outside or move from room to room, giving you more versatility than bulky projectors designed to stay put once they’re installed.

If you’re looking for the most portable projector, the lightweight Wemax Dice can run on battery power, expanding where and when you can use it. The ViewSonic M2e is the absolute lightest option on the list, weighing just 2.2 pounds and with a slim 2.1” profile. If you want a portable projector with a high picture quality, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 is a great choice.

The truth is, there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best portable projector for your needs. Let’s look at the key considerations so you can decide which model is the right fit.

Best Portable Projector – Top Picks for 2021:

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11 Wemax Dice Kodak Luma 450 ViewSonic M2e Epson Home Cinema 880
Projector Size (HxWxD) 5.30" x 6.90" x 6.90" 2.60" x 6.90" x 6.90" 6.1" x 4.92" x 6.3" 1.26" x 4.90" x 4.90" 7.2" x 7.2" x 2.1" 3.20" x 11.90" x 9.30"
Weight 4.7 lbs 2.7 lbs ‎4 lbs 2.6 lbs 2.2 lbs 6.0 lbs
Resolution 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080
Brightness (Lumens) 1,000 1,000 700 200 400 3,300
Contrast Ratio 200,000:1 200,000:1 350:1 3,500:1 3,000,000:1 16,000:1
Throw Distance 2.2' - 10.9' 2.2' - 10.9' 3.5' - 10.5' 7” – 12’6” 2.6' - 8.8' 2.2' - 34.0'
Screen size 30" - 150" 30" - 150" 40" - 120" up to 150” 30" - 100" 25" - 386"
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Brightness

One concern with many projectors designed for travel is that they’re not very bright, especially models that use battery power. This may not be an issue if you only plan to watch at night or in completely dark spaces. For daytime and lights-on viewing, though, you’ll want a projector that can produce at least 3,000 lumens to avoid picture wash-out.

The Epson Home Cinema 880 is the only option that exceeds this standard, putting out 3,300 ANSI lumens that will maintain a high picture quality in most indoor light levels.
Brightest Projector: Epson Home Cinema 880

Throw Distance

The throw distance of a projector tells you how far from the screen it needs to be to produce a large image. Most standard-throw projectors will give you a 100” screen with between 8 and 10 feet of distance. A shorter throw distance won’t just be better for small spaces but can be more convenient in any space, giving you more flexibility in where you place the projector.

The Kodak Luma 450 can be placed less than 1 foot from the screen and still produce a clear image. That image won’t be very big, however—roughly 20” diagonally, with that little space. If you want a big image with the least distance possible, you’ll be best-off going with one of the Epson EpiqVision Mini models. While neither can be considered a “short-throw” projector, their unique lamp design gives you a 100” screen from about 7 feet away.
Shortest throw distance: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11 and EF12

Sound

When you’re on the road, it’s convenient to not have to bring external speakers. All of these projectors have some kind of sound built-in, though in many cases this is a single speaker with 5 watts of power or less. That’s enough for basic TV watching but won’t give you immersive sound.

The exception to this is the EpsonEpiqVision Mini EF12. Its custom speaker enclosure and use of Dolby Audio processing give it both better sound quality and more volume than other projectors on the list.
Best built-in sound: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Streaming Capabilities

Similar to the sound, built-in streaming capabilities spares you the need to travel with thumb drives or streaming sticks. Most of these projectors come with Android operating systems for direct streaming. The systems on the Kodak Luma 450, Wemax Dice, and Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 are relatively robust and easy to navigate. However, the ViewSonic M2e has a slightly different streaming system, using an Aptoide user interface that supports native streaming through Netflix as well as services like Amazon Prime and Disney+. It also supports screen mirroring from devices, expanding your options for wireless entertainment.
Best streaming: ViewSonic M2e


Best Portable Projector: Full Reviews

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

The Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 is designed to be a portable, all-in-one entertainment package so you can enjoy shows and movies anywhere. The built-in Android TV system lets you download most popular streaming apps, sparing you the need for external content sources. You still have the option of connecting streaming sticks, gaming systems, and other devices, with 2 HDMI ports and a USB input.

The Epson EF12 has pretty good onboard sound, too, with a custom-designed Yamaha sound system and Dolby Audio support. The two 5-watt speakers are housed in a 3D enclosure that maximizes output, giving them a lot more oomph than you’d expect for the size and power. It’s especially strong in the mid-range, producing crisp, clear dialogue.

For the picture, the Epson EF12 uses a MicroLaser array with 3-chip color processing. This is paired with Adaptive Color Correction, which automatically adjusts the image scene by scene for natural, realistic colors, and the image overall is crisp and detailed with good contrast. Our only issue from this perspective is the brightness. The lamp puts out about 1,000 lumens, enough for a clear picture in a dark space but too low to compete with ambient light. As long as you’re able to control the light level, though, you’ll get a cinema-quality picture from the EF12. Read our more detailed review of the Epson EF12.

Pros

  • Vibrant, accurate colors with no rainbowing or hot spots
  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Android TV interface supports direct streaming
  • Yamaha sound system is impressive for the size
  • Durable casing stands up well to travel
  • Supports 4K content

Cons

  • Low lamp brightness
  • Doesn’t support content mirroring

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11

Another option from Epson’s EpiqVision line, the EpiqVision Mini EF11 is a slightly streamlined version of the EF12 above. Its strengths and limitations are similar. On the plus side, it uses a high-quality multi-array laser with 3LCD chip technology and Adaptive Color Correction. In layman’s terms, that means you’ll get full HD detail with rich colors and sharp contrast. Its main weakness is that it’s not very bright, so you’ll only be able to enjoy that beautiful picture in a completely dark space.

Like its larger counterpart, the Epson EF11 has surprisingly great sound for its size. Its dual-speaker system includes a bass-reflex speaker that’s dedicated to the lower frequencies. While its low end can’t compare to what you’ll get from a full subwoofer, it’s far superior than the sound from most home theater projectors.

At less than 3 pounds, the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11 is one of the most compact projectors you’ll find. That said, it’s not as self-contained as the EF12. You can’t stream content directly to the EF11. Instead, it’s designed to work well with a range of streaming sticks and services like Android TV, Apple TV, FireTV, and Roku. That limits its versatility a bit, especially considering you’ll only get one HDMI port for your content. Click here for our more detailed review of the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF11.

Pros

  • Super-compact design
  • Adaptive Color Correction optimizes color automatically
  • Vibrant full HD picture with rich black levels
  • Built-in sound is strong enough you won’t need external speakers
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Great value for the picture quality

Cons

  • Wired input options are limited (1 HDMI port)
  • Doesn’t support direct streaming
  • Lamp isn’t very powerful

Wemax Dice

WeMax Dice

For portability, the Wemax Dice checks all the boxes. It’s compact and lightweight, with a built-in handle that makes it easy to carry around with you. The built-in speakers and streaming interface give it all-in-one operation, cutting down on the devices you need to bring with you. It can even run completely on battery, with a 3-hour run time long enough for a full feature-length film.

The Wemax Dice uses a standard throw distance, needing around 9 feet for a 100” screen. Its main limitation from a space standpoint is its low lamp brightness, only putting out around 700 lumens. Basically, it requires a completely dark space. On the plus side, it has a fast, easy set-up process with smart 4-point keystone correction and automatic focus so you can get a great picture without a lot of hassle.

In terms of picture quality, the Wemax Dice is acceptable if not exceptional. It supports 4K content but plays it in full HD, and the contrast isn’t as crisp as other projectors on the list. Convenience and value are the main strengths of the Dice, and it’s a great option for those who want big-screen entertainment on the go but don’t have a huge budget. Click here for our more in-depth Wemax Dice review.

Pros

  • Ultra-portable design
  • Built-in battery with 3-hour run time
  • Smart 4-point keystone correction
  • Accepts 4K content
  • Android 9.0 streaming interface
  • Google Assistant voice control

Cons

  • Dim lamp requires dark space to use
  • Picture not as sharp or detailed as other projectors

Kodak Luma 450

Kodak Luma 450

As road-worthy projectors go, the Kodak Luma 450 is one of the best. It’s one of the few full HD projectors that can run on battery power, with a rechargeable 7,500 mAh battery built-in. That’s enough power for about 3 hours of viewing per charge, plenty for a whole movie. The Kodak Luma 450 is easy to set up anywhere, too, with an included tripod stand ideal for camping, RVers, and other outdoor applications.

The Kodak Luma 450’s main strength is convenience. It includes a smart Android operating system that lets you stream directly to the projector when you’re in range of a Wi-Fi network. Its image adjustment features include instant image focus and automatic keystone correction, so it’s as easy to set it up as it is to find content.

Unfortunately, the picture quality of the Kodak Luma 450 doesn’t quite measure up to what you’ll get from the other projectors on this list. The lamp isn’t very powerful and the contrast is on the low side, so while it does have full HD resolution and a wide color gamut, the image you see isn’t as vibrant or sharp. Still, for casual viewing when you’re on the road, it gets the job done.

Pros

  • Native Full HD resolution with support for 4K input
  • Smart Android 7.1 operating system
  • Battery operation (3 hours per charge)
  • Comes with a tripod for easy set-up anywhere
  • Automatic keystone correction and instant focus
  • Low-maintenance with long lamp lifespan

Cons

  • Picture quality suffers due to low lamp brightness
  • Some users report issues with the Bluetooth connection

ViewSonic M2e

ViewSonic M2e

The ViewSonic M2e has a slim profile, just over 2 inches, and only weighs a little over 2 pounds. That’s small enough to slide into a briefcase for work meetings, or carry along in your backpack on road trips. Its Aptoide UI supports direct streaming through popular services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, with a memory card slot for saved shows and movies along with an HDMI port and wireless connectivity options.

Both the sound and picture quality are high on the ViewSonic M2e. Its full HD resolution is backed by HDR support and a wide color gamut, exceeding the Rec. 709 spectrum. The Harman Kardon speakers aren’t hugely powerful, but they get louder and sound better than the majority of portable projector speakers, with great dialogue clarity and decent low-end depth.

We also appreciate how easy the ViewSonic M2e is to set up. Its instant automatic focus keeps the picture clear, with both horizontal and vertical keystone to maintain a square picture when the projector is at an angle. The only major downside is that it uses an LED light source, and only puts out around 400 ANSI lumens. That means you’ll need a completely dark space and the picture washes out easily during lights-on viewing.

Pros

  • Ultra-lightweight with slim profile
  • Vibrant, realistic color with sharp contrast
  • Good sound with Harman Kardon speakers
  • Easy set-up with automatic focus and 2D keystone
  • Intuitive Aptoid streaming interface
  • Low maintenance with long lamp lifespan

Cons

  • Low lamp brightness
  • No built-in voice control

Epson Home Cinema 880

Epson Home Cinema 880

For budget-conscious buyers, the Epson Home Cinema 880 is one of the best values you’ll find in a portable projector. It’s one of the most affordable Full HD projectors you’ll find on the market, and you don’t have to sacrifice a great picture for the price. It uses much of the same picture technology Epson employs in their other models, including the 3LCD display technology and full HD resolution.

The plug-and-play operation of the Epson Home Cinema 880 means you’ll be able to start watching not long after you take it out of the box. It has the same automatic keystone correction you’ll find on the Epson 1080, giving it a good amount of placement flexibility and making it easier to align the image. Its main limitation from a set-up perspective is that it only has 1 HDMI port for content, something that can be especially annoying if you ceiling-mount the projector and can’t easily access the HDMI port.

We have no quibbles with the picture quality of the Epson Home Cinema 880, especially considering the price. While it’s not the brightest projector on the list it’s lamp is powerful enough for lights-on viewing, with fast processing that keeps action sequence from blurring. Read our more detailed review of the Epson Home Cinema 880.

Pros

  • High dynamic contrast for rich black levels
  • Fast data processing prevents motion blur
  • Bright and realistic colors
  • Automatic picture skew adjustment
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Limited connection options
  • Long throw distance

The Verdict

Choosing the best portable projector ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for. All of the projectors reviewed above have their strengths, from the all-in-one capability of the Epson EF12 to the ultra-compact design of the Kodak Luma 450 or the battery operation option of the Wemax Dice. We hope this review and comparison has helped you decide which one is the best fit for you!

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING: