Best Portable Wi-Fi Projectors for Indoor, Outdoor Use: Reviews - Rolling Stone
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The Best Portable Wi-Fi Projectors for Indoor and Outdoor Use

These portable projectors can instantly produce a cinema-sized screen, without the need to plug in

Vankyo V630W

Amazon

Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

With more and more media now accessible on streaming services and viewable from different devices, our homes are quickly turning into entertainment hubs. A big screen TV can only get so big, but if you’ve got a blank wall, a projector is an option to consider that can stretch your screen significantly.

Home projectors have come a long way in the last decade, making them a lot more viable for the average person. One of the biggest changes is the adoption of Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows projectors to operate independently for cord cutters.

If you’ve been curious about making the jump from a TV to a projector, or plan on hosting outdoor movie nights this summer, we’ve researched and tested the best Wi-Fi enabled projectors you can get right now.

What Are the Best WiFi Projectors?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right Wi-Fi Projector for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi projectors’ key feature is the ability to access the internet (aka streaming services) without a media streamer. Some also allow you to send media to the projector from your phone or tablet.

Ports: If your home Wi-Fi network isn’t very strong, or you want to plug in A/V accessories like a game console, you’ll need to use a projector’s inputs, which are commonly called ports. The most important port is HDMI, which is the current universal standard for sending digital audio and video from one piece of gear to another. Every Wi-Fi projector in this guide had one or more HDMI ports.

Native Resolution: All of the projectors we’re recommending have a native resolution of 1080P, which means they’ll display a full HD image. Some projectors say they’re 1080P projectors because they can accept an HD signal before compressing it down to a lower resolution.

Portability: All of the projectors below are small enough to fit inside a backpack, or light enough to bring from room to room. We’ve chosen smaller projectors because they’re easier to transport in and out of your home.

Speakers: Some of our picks have a built-in speaker system, so you don’t need to connect them to an external pair or A/V receiver. Some of these speakers sound surprisingly good, but we still recommend plugging in a higher-end pair if you’re setting up a home theater system.

Brightness: A projector’s brightness will determine how well you’ll be able to see its picture when there’s other light in the room. This is especially important to consider if you plan on using a projector outside, where there’s more light pollution.

1. Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12

Brandt Ranj / Rolling Stone

Epson’s EpiqVision Mini EF12 is not only our favorite Wi-Fi-enabled projector, it’s one of the best we’ve ever tested.

The cube-shaped projector runs AndroidTV, a version of Google’s mobile operating system that supports every major streaming app. The Mini EF12 comes with some of these apps pre-installed, but you can add more by accessing Google’s Play store. Smart projectors can be a little slow, but that wasn’t a problem with the Mini EF12. We could navigate from app to app, and stream HD or 4K video without any stops or stutters.

Epson partnered with Yamaha to build an impressive 2.0 stereo speaker system into the Mini EF12. It’s loud and sounds well-balanced, so if you don’t want to plug speakers into your projector, this is the one to get. This was especially impressive during frantic scenes (think car chase), when a lot of different things were happening at the same time. We could clearly hear everything that was going on without one element of a scene overpowering another.

The Mini EF12’s video system is just as impressive. The picture remained ultra sharp regardless of what we were watching, though higher-resolution videos (especially 4K) looked the best. The Mini EF12 supports HDR (high dynamic range), so colors on newer TV shows and movies really popped. The projector’s 1,000 lumen lighting system showed a pretty bright picture that only faded in a room filled with natural sunlight. If you plan on watching videos outdoors, this is a must-have feature.

The EpiqVision Mini EF12 has a pair of HDMI ports, which is plenty for a projector, plus a headphone jack for connecting speakers and a USB port for playing media off a flash drive. The USB port is a nice touch because it allows you to play videos when you’re totally offline.

If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi projector with virtually no compromises, Epson’s Epiqvision EF12 is the one to get.

Buy: Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 at $999.99

2. Nebula Cosmos

Nebula Cosmos

Amazon

Nebula has made some of our favorite projectors in the past, and the Cosmos is its best one yet. We’ve been testing the 1080P model, but there’s a 4K option and a portable version, which we’ll get into a little later.

The Cosmos shares a lot of the same great features as Epson’s EP Mini EF12. It runs Android, and was super responsive when we were picking apps and streaming high resolution footage. Its 2.0 speaker system wasn’t quite as good as the one in Epson’s projector, but it never distorted during loud action sequences, and was especially good at presenting dialogue clearly.

Its 900 Lumen lighting system held up well when light leaked through our blinds during the daytime, but we wouldn’t recommend trying to watch a movie outside in broad daylight. One of the features that impressed us the most about Nebula’s Cosmos was its color reproduction. Your experience will vary based on whether or not the videos you’re watching support HDR (high dynamic range), but they looked vivid in our tests.

Part of what makes the Nebula Cosmos great is its remote, which has a dedicated autofocus button. This may not sound like a big deal, but it makes operating the projector so much better. If its image gets a little blurry — this can happen if you accidentally bump the projector, or when it’s first turned on — you can make it look sharp without navigating into obscure settings. If you’re new to projectors, Nebula took a great deal of time making sure it’s as user friendly as possible.

We’re also fans of the Cosmos’ array of ports: Two USB ports (use one to play videos off a flash drive and the other to charge your phone), a headphone jack, and an optical audio output. You can use the optical audio output to plug the Cosmos into an A/V receiver instead of HDMI if your equipment is a little older.

As we mentioned earlier, this 1080P version of the Cosmos is one of three projectors in Nebula’s new lineup. If you crave ultra-portability, we recommend the Nebula Solar, which has a built-in battery that lasts up to three hours on a full charge. If you’re setting up a serious home theater, consider the Cosmos 4K, which has a brighter lighting system, and four built-in speakers.

You can’t go wrong with any of Nebula’s new projectors, but we feel the 1080P Cosmos hits the sweet spot.

Buy: Nebula Cosmos at $799.99

3. Vankyo V630W

VANKYO V630W 

Amazon

 

Vankyo’s V630W is a budget-friendly Wi-Fi projector that will work well under optimal conditions.

It has a few limitations: a dimmer bulb, no speakers, fewer ports, no native smart features, but you can fix most these issues pretty easily. But plugging a media streamer into its HDMI port and speakers into its headphone jack, the experience of using the V630 becomes a lot more comparable to the more premium projectors above.

You can even avoid getting the media streamer by sending video to the projector over Wi-Fi directly using a feature called screen mirroring, or plugging a flash drive into its USB port. It may take a little more effort, but Vankyo’s projector can hold up under the right conditions.

One feature the V630W has that our other recommendations lack is a manual focus system. You can adjust the projector’s focus and screen size by turning dials on top of the projector, letting you make micro adjustments instead of relying on the competence of an auto-focus system.

If you understand its limitations, and don’t mind putting in a little bit of effort to work on them, Vankyo’s V630 is a very good Wi-Fi projector.

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