What is the Best Projector Under 500? Install the Best Budget Option for your Home Cinema

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There are a lot of benefits to having a projector, and to get all the finer features such as a longer lamp life and a more optimal contrast ratio, one would expect to spend somewhere in the four figures. 

However, our experts have found the best projectors under 500 that will still meet your standards at a lower cost.

Best for Media Devices
Epson VS250 SVGA Projector
Best Overall
Epson Home Cinema 880
Best Budget Chocie
WiMiUS P18 Projector

Reviews of the Best Projectors Under $500

1.

Epson Home Cinema 880

The incredibly bright rating of 3,300 lumens is what gives this best projector amazing equal color brightness and white brightness level. The full HD projector resolution of 1920×1080 delivers stunningly clear images with advanced 3LCD projector technology.

The dynamic contrast aspect ratio of 16,000:1 will enhance pictures shot in a darker light source.

The Epson Home Cinema 880 connects to other devices via dual HDMI, allowing for a user-friendly, easy, and hassle-free setup. The 880 is one of the top 10 options for the best projector under 500 dollars for its robust design, longevity, and low fan noise performance. This is optimal to deliver the best performance it could.

There is even a skew sensor that instantly corrects the keystone when it detects slanted pictures without the need for manual adjustment.

Pros

Cons

2.

Epson VS250 SVGA

If you are looking for the best budget projector,  Epson VS250 is a great one for your media player and Blu Ray player devices. It is highly compatible with your phones or tablets and supports dual HDMI ports and USB type connection options. Although the SVGA resolution is 800×600, it is ideal for business presentations or office-related work. Plus, the small and lightweight profile is great for those on the go because it is easy to carry.

It’s also a high-quality projector for outdoor movie nights and the correction feature will offer more placement flexibility in any environment.

The VS250 Epson projector provides an incredible 3200 lumens color of brightness to enhance wide color and white brightness in any lighting condition. You can enlarge the projection size of the picture with the included zoom ring and ensure high-resolution picture quality.

Pros

Cons

3.

WiMiUS P18 Projector

It’s difficult to find a 1920×1080 native resolution projector as cost-effective as this one. Even with a lower price tag, the WiMiUS P18 Projector still generates high-quality pictures, high brightness, and color accuracy with superior precision. It also offers a higher color gamut, and our experts agree that it’s almost like a supercolor technology. 

The mini projector has a high contrast ratio of 15,000:1 made possible by its LED light. As such, it can deliver color brightness and contrast comparable to real life in any environment.  It also has hi-fi built-in speakers and mini USB type of connection. And when it comes to lamp life, the projector doesn’t disappoint with a lifespan of 30,000 hours.

The throw distance of 1.5-6 meters can classify this mini projector as one with a straight throw. The small and compact size makes it easy to use and to move this projector around to different rooms when watching a movie.

Pros

Cons

4.

Vankyo V630W Projector

The Vankyo V630W projector offers 5G Wi-Fi connection that ensures minimal to no input lag during games or when watching movies and TV shows. In terms of wireless connections, Wi-Fi outperforms Bluetooth by a mile in terms of reliability. 

The native 1080p resolution projector offers amazing features such as 4D keystone correcting to make sure you always get the best images. You can get a large screen size of 300-inches with the proper throw range, but it could be better if you’re going to use it for a larger venue.

The Vankyo V630W high-quality projector is highly compatible with multiple media players, as it’s equipped with a variety of connections to expand your input options.

Pros

Cons

5.

Acer H5382BD 720P 3D DLP Home Theater Projector

Acer is known for computers, but they’ve also made an impressive media room projector. The Acer H5382BD is a budget projector that has superior brightness, contrast, and resolution. It’s not full HD, but only HD, which makes this projector a better option for smaller spaces or presentations.

With a wireless HDMI projector kit, you can transform the Acer projector into a wireless unit and eliminate the need for extra cables. The small projector supports HDMI, USB, and VGA for high-definition connections that process content efficiently. 

The projector also features a background light sensor, which can detect external lighting and optimize the settings to ensure the picture is not affected. However, it only has a lamp life of less than 12,000 hours.

(This projector is very versatile, you can even install the projector in your living room with this simple guide)

Pros

Cons

Projectors Under 500 Buyer’s Guide

There are so many items to consider when you are looking for a projector. Many people look for the best budget projector, but others look at different products with functions such as eco-mode, keystone correction, and even something with 3,300 ANSI  lumens ratings.

To help you narrow down the best choice, check out our buying guide where our experts dive deeper into features you may want in the best projector under 500 dollars.

Design and Build

The first thing to think about is the size. The size considerations pertain to the projector footprint and the size of the screen. Depending on your setup and the room size, the size of your LED projector or LCD projector will vary, but more on that in a little bit. You can use a home theater room size calculator to help you decide how much space you need for your projector.

What are you planning to use a projector for? The best home theater optimized projectors under 500 are best for watching a movie, while a different type like business projectors will be enough for small offices or business presentations. 

The purpose of the projector will also influence the price range and the placement. Our experts recommend ceiling-mountable models for a home theater projector under 500. For presentations and graphics, a projector that is placed on a flat surface will suffice.

The best projectors will have extra features such as eco-mode, which reduces energy consumption.  Some projectors can also come with a remote control, while others have built in battery.

The latter feature gives a projector the ability to correct the angle. For example, vertical keystone correction will right the angle using vertical lens shift when the projector is askew. 

Having vertical keystone correction could be a factor that plays into the cost of the projector, so if it’s an important characteristic to have, you may be looking at a higher price tag.

Projector Type

There are two leading types of projectors on the market today – an LCD and a DLP projector.

A DLP projector is known for higher resolution picture quality compared to its counterpart. They have high brightness and sharper images, which extend to fast-moving objects onscreen. For good resolution, 3D support, and realistic imaging, DLP is the way to go.

However, that’s not to say DLP projectors don’t have their disadvantages. A DLP model has issues with dark scenes, especially in a well-lit room where you might encounter the rainbow effect.

An LCD unit is not as bright, which can pose an issue with background light. It’s also because of the wide color gamut seen in the DLP that raises the issue of dark color rendering, which is unseen in LCD units.

A major pro of LCD units is their price range to get a projector with good resolution. They are often more affordable but the full 3D pictures and fast-moving objects portrayed onscreen doesn’t match up to DLP models.

Is one really better than the other? Each video projector has its benefits and drawbacks, so depending on your application and purpose, the video quality might be more suited to your needs than the other.  For example, DLP is better for movies and Blu Ray player content, while LCD is enough for presentations and slideshows.

Screen Size

A projector screen will have a maximum and minimum screen size it’s able to cast on the screen. The best projector under 500 dollars will need to match the screen or the surface you intend to cast the image onto. Measure the wall or white screen to decide on the best range. 

(For affordable options, you can make a DIY projector screen to save money but still enjoy an amazing viewing experience)

However, the max and min screencasting will also depend on the throw range, which our experts will also cover in a bit. In short, the screen sizes will depend on how far or how close you place the projector to the screen or wall.

The screen size is an important feature to look for in a projector because it could affect the pictures if you go beyond the throw ratio.

For a DIY screen, you can read this guide to walk you through in choosing the ideal projector screen paint for you. 

Brightness, Contrast, Resolution

The brightness, contrast, and resolution come together to create a quality image for the best home theater projectors. For exceptional color accuracy and white brightness, you need to look at these characteristics. Working together, these will create the ultimate entertainment in your home theater system.

Let’s start with the brightness. When turned up to the max, the brightness of a portable projector can give you eye fatigue and a headache. This is why simply turning up the backlight is not the solution in a bright room or well lit rooms. What you can do is determine the amount of ambient lighting that will be present in your viewing space to determine the brightness levels.

The brightness is measured in lumens, or ANSI lumens, a more detailed lumens standard. Yes, in general, a higher lumens rating in a portable projector will equal a brighter picture, but that doesn’t always mean better.

If you intend to watch movies or TV shows in a dark room with no lighting to match a Dolby Cinema or IMAX movie theater experience, then something as low as 1000 lumens will be enough for your home theater. However, in a living room where floor-to-ceiling windows are present, you will need upwards of 3000 lumens or even 3600 lumens to combat the daylight.

When picking out the best projector under 500 bucks, 3000 lumens for a pitch black room is not needed. If you go for a projector this bright, the experience won’t be a pleasant one. Not to mention, it might cost you extra cash you could have saved.

The next item to consider is the contrast. Contrast is the difference between the brightest and darkest colors in your content. 10,000:1 is our experts’ recommended standard, but the higher it is, the better.

In addition, contrast affects the realism of the color accuracy and warmth and coolness they portray. The contrast ratio needs to be optimal and not too extreme. Also, consider a good ratio between the deep black levels and the shadow details.

You need to also factor in the ambient lighting and the location of your home theater projector to determine the contrast ratio.

Lastly, the resolution is the most crucial point for picture quality. The better the resolution, the better quality the picture and images are.

It’s quite simple, the higher the number, the higher the resolution of the quality images. Most of the best projectors under 500 will offer at least 1280 x 800p resolution or 1920 x 1080p resolution. Our experts also do not recommend going below 1280 x 800 as this will affect the quality of the images.

Remember to look for full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and not just HD, because 720p projection size is considered the baseline for high definition. Still, it doesn’t compare to a 1080p projector.

If you can find a projector under 500 that can bring you Blu Ray, 4K, or even 8K quality content to the big dark screens, then definitely pick up that model.

Projector’s Throw Distance

Our team touched upon the throw distance above, but let’s explain it in more detail.

The throw range is the distance the projector is from the screen to cast the best quality picture, or the range the projector needs to be within without compromising visual clarity. It basically means how far you can distance the projector from the screen without the pictures going blurry.

To understand if the projector’s throw distance and throw ratio are suitable for your setup, you need to look at the placement and size of your room. To get a big screen size, your projector will need to be pretty far away. You can find options that have a throw range of 5 feet [1] all the way up to 30.

If you have a small room, a shorter throw ratio is recommended. If you plan on a hosting movie night outdoors, you will need to find a home theater projector with a longer throw ratio.

Lamp Life

The lamp life, sometimes referred to as bulb life, is how long the projector can operate before it needs replacing. Projectors with a long lamp life of 10,000 hours or 20,000 hours are ideal to make sure you get the most out of your money.

Projector lamps are costly components, which means a long lamp life will equal lower maintenance fees. Don’t worry, because even a basic bulb can offer you up to 10,000 hours of bulb life, but if you can find one with 15,000 hours of lamp life, then our experts fully support this option. 15,000 hours can grant a longer time of watching movies compared to something with 10, 000 hours of bulb life.

Connections

Connectivity options are something many consumers forget. The right connections can result in reduced input lag latency, and contribute to a more efficient viewing experience.

There are wired and wireless connectivity options offered by projectors in the form of HDMI, USB, VGA, Bluetooth, and even Wi-Fi – which is what our team strongly suggests.

There is no debating the convenience of Bluetooth as a perfect choice, as it allows for a wireless setup. Broadband is another wireless option that is more reliable and stable than Bluetooth as it is not contingent upon the distance.

For Bluetooth to operate at optimal speeds for stability, you need to be within a range of at least 30 feet or less. Wi-Fi projectors connect directly to your home network. This means the projector delivers well and you can enjoy uninterrupted connection anywhere in your house as long as the connectivity is strong and stable. 

For 500 dollars or less, you want the best wired connection for the big screen, and HDMI input is can offer that. Look for the HDMI ports on the back of the unit. One of the best things about using HDMI input is the low latency and HD processing.

You may also find other wired connections on the back of your device, but for the highest quality content, our team always recommends the HDMI route. 

 If you want a clutter-free setup, this is how to make your projector wireless. It can save you space, too! 

FAQ

What is a good inexpensive projector?

The Epson Cinema 880 is a good inexpensive projector. This projector delivers stunning picture quality, good throw and contrast ratio, and HDMI connectivity options so you can enjoy the ultimate home theater projector experience in no time at all.

Our Top Pick For a Projector Under 500: Epson Home Cinema 880

Our team’s top pick for the best projector under 500 is the Epson Home Cinema 880. This projector would sense when the angle is tilted it will correct it accordingly. The throw ratio and high definition picture make the Epson Cinema 880 an excellent choice for movie content enjoyed at home. 

It’s easy to set up and has a built-in speaker, saving you the hassle of hooking up external units. This projector is highly compatible with other devices. And with 3300 lumens of brightness paired with the 16,000:1 contrast ratio, it will definitely improve your overall movie experience.

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Writer

Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.