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A blank screen, speaker and mini projector are the only pieces of gear it really takes to turn your living space into a full-functioning home theater.
The best mini projectors are more portable — and affordable — than many standard home theater projectors, or your big-screen smart TVs. Most of the top mini projectors are simple to control, and pair easily with your favorite streaming devices, too. Plus, their lightweight designs make them easy to set up and start streaming both in your apartment or outdoors in minutes.
Before you start planning what you’re going to stream next, read on for our guide to the best mini projectors to buy right now.
Mini Projector Buying Guide
How much space do you have? Are you going to mount your projector or put it on a bookshelf? Can you connect a speaker to the projector? These are just a few of the most important questions to ask when you’re choosing the best new mini projector for your home theater. Here’s what we looked at when researching this buying guide.
Size and Weight: Taking the mini projector’s size and weight into consideration is one of the most important shopping decisions to make. Before you buy your mini projector — sometimes also referred to as a pico projector — make sure it can fit in your space, but also pay close attention to how much it weighs if you’re planning to use, say, a hanging shelf to support it. Luckily, most of the mini projectors you can buy online are lightweight enough that you shouldn’t need to worry about it.
Mount: Where are you going to watch a movie or show with the projector? Think about where you’re going to put your projector, and make sure there’s a clear, unobstructed line from the projector to the wall or screen.
If a side table or bookshelf are too low to place the projector on, a wall mount or floating bookshelf might be your best bet. There are a handful of mountable projectors out there, but a quick, easy solution is to use a floating shelf that you can buy online at Amazon, Target, IKEA or Walmart. Floating shelves give you a bit of extra flexibility in your living space, letting you remove the shelf whenever you’re not using your projector. This is also a great option if you want to watch videos in your living space, but don’t want to mount a TV on the wall.
Connectivity: We’ve included a range of mini projectors in this guide, from wired models that require a power source, to wireless projectors that feature HDMI connections and Bluetooth connectivity. Depending on the projector, you may need to adjust where you place it in your room or home theater to move it closer to a power source.
Sound and Speaker Volume: The last thing you want while projecting your movie is hearing the projector’s fan over the speaker volume. Some projectors have built-in speakers, though we recommend going with a projector that can connect to an external speaker or sound system. That way, you’ll be able to hear what you’re streaming, almost like you would in the theater.
What Are the Best Mini Projectors?
From Anker to Kodak, here are our top picks for the best portable mini projectors to upgrade your movie nights, whether you’re in a studio apartment or projecting on a bedsheet outdoors.
1. Kodak Ultra Mini Portable Projector
This portable projector from Kodak might be able to fit in your pocket or pack, but it’s more than capable of casting a theater-like picture on a screen or your wall. It can project up to a 100-inch display that you can see even in dim lighting, and it can stream in 1080p HD, which is on par with your phone or TV’s screen resolution.
It also comes with both HDMI and USB inputs for connecting to your streaming gadgets, like your iPhone, Apple TV or Roku Stick. While it has a built-in speaker, you can also plug in a speaker using the 3.5mm input on the back of the projector.
2. Anker Nebula Capsule Smart WiFi Mini Projector
Instead of a flat, square shape, this wireless, can-sized mini projector comes with its own 360-degree speaker. The built-in speaker makes it easy for an entire group to hear the movie, no matter where you’re sitting. And thanks to its impressive four-hour battery runtime, it’s ideal for streaming outdoor films or anywhere you’re not near a power source.
Like the Kodak projector, it can project a bright, 100-inch display. Meantime, you can stream everything from what’s on your phone to your Netflix queue using Bluetooth or Airplay, and it’s also equipped with an HDMI input. You can even control the setup all from your phone using the Nebula Connect app.
3. Vamvo Mini Projector
Unlike other projectors on the market, you can use this one to stream a show on a wall and on the ceiling using the included tripod.
With a 3 x 5.8-inch frame, this tiny projector can produce a 130-inch screen for streaming your favorite films, though the brand suggests using it within five feet of your screen for a clear, 80-inch projection. It’s seriously portable and lightweight, weighing just over half a pound, and it ships with both a power cable and remote, though you can control everything using the buttons on top of the projector.
The projector has an audio port for headphones or a speaker, as well as HDMI and USB ports to connect DVD players, your Fire TV or Roku sticks and even your smartphone.
4. PVO Mini Portable Projector
While it might not be the slimmest or most portable projector in this guide, this Amazon best-seller gets top marks for its affordable price tag and easy-to-operate design. It has a 4.4-star rating (out of 5 stars) on Amazon right now, with more than 10,000 user ratings. In short, it’s a popular choice for an outdoor movie setup that won’t break the bank.
Now, it isn’t wireless and doesn’t have Bluetooth, so if that’s important to you, you may want to consider one of the other projectors above. However, it’s still simple and straightforward to project, and it comes with an array of ports, including HDMI, USB and a headphone jack for pairing with an external speaker or your wired headphones. To use it, you simply need to plug in the power adapter that comes included with the projector.