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Best Projector Under $500 – 8 Best Options

by Lisa Hayden
Best Projector Under $500

When it comes to choosing a projector, there are many things you need to consider. If you’re on a budget, your options may seem limited. Fortunately, there are plenty of great projectors available for under $500. When choosing a projector, there are a few key features you’ll want to keep in mind. 

Related: Best Hidden Projector Screen – 5 Top Picks in 2022

Projector’s most essential features

To help you make the right choice, this article reviews eight projectors under $500, narrowing down on the following features:

Brightness

When choosing a projector, brightness is one of the most critical factors. Whether you’re watching a movie or giving a presentation, they can help to make things pop. However, not all projectors are created equal. Some are much brighter than others.

After all, what’s the point of having a projector if it can’t provide enough light to see the screen? There are a few different ways to measure brightness, but the most common is known as lumens. This measures the amount of light that is emitted by the projector. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the projector will be. Most projectors have a brightness of around 2,000 lumens. However, some are much brighter than this. Some high-end models can have a brightness of up to 10,000 lumens. Of course, brightness isn’t the only thing you should consider when choosing a projector. You’ll also need to think about the resolution.

Resolution

The resolution is important when choosing a projector for your home theater. There are a few things to consider when considering projector resolution, such as the size of your room, the content you’ll be projecting, and your budget. With so many different options on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. This blog post will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about projector resolution.

Regarding projector resolution, there are two main things to consider: pixel count and aspect ratio.

Pixel count

Pixel count is the number of pixels that make up the image on the screen. The higher the pixel count, the sharper the image will be.

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio is the ratio of the image’s width to height. The most common aspect ratios are 16:9, and 4:3.16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for HDTVs, so it’s a good choice if you’re planning on watching many movies or TV shows on your projector. 4:3 is a more traditional aspect ratio, and it’s a good choice if you’re planning on projecting a lot of non-widescreen content, like photos or presentations.

Once you’ve decided on an aspect ratio, you must decide on a pixel count. The most common pixel counts are 720p, 1080p, and 4k. 4k is the highest resolution currently available, so it’s the best choice if you want the sharpest possible image. However, it’s also the most expensive option. If you’re on a budget, 720p is a good compromise between quality and price. Now that you know projector resolution, it’s time to start shopping! Check out our selection of projectors to find the perfect one for your home theater. 

Contrast ratio

The contrast ratio is the difference in luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. A higher contrast ratio means a more significant difference between the light and dark areas, resulting in a more distinct image.

For projectors, the contrast ratio is typically measured by shining white light onto a black screen and measuring the brightness of the white light. The higher the contrast ratio, the brighter the white light will be.

A projector with a high contrast ratio will produce more distinct and easier-to-see images. This is especially important for images with many dark colors or low-light scenes. 

So what is a good contrast ratio for a projector? That depends on your needs and preferences. Using your projector for business presentations or movies, you’ll probably want a higher contrast ratio. On the other hand, if you’re using your projector for general-purpose viewing, a lower contrast ratio may suffice.

To get an idea of what kind of contrast ratios are available in today’s market, let’s take a look at a few popular projector models:

The Epson PowerLite 1705C has a contrast ratio of 2000:1.

The BenQ MW526 has a contrast ratio of 10000:1.

The Optoma HD142X has a contrast ratio of 23000:1.

As you can see, a wide range of contrast ratios are available, so it just depends on what you need for your specific situation. When in doubt, go for a higher contrast ratio to ensure the best possible image quality.

Throw ratio

A projector’s throw ratio is the relationship between the projector’s distance from the screen and the width of the image it produces. In short, it tells you how far from the screen you need to place your projector to get a specific image size.

This is important to know because it will determine how big of a screen you can use with your lumens particular projector and how close to or far away from the screen you can place your projector and still get a clear image.

To calculate a projector’s throw ratio, simply divide the projector’s distance from the screen by the image’s width. For example, if your projector is 10 feet away from the screen and produces an image that is 8 feet wide, then the projector’s throw ratio would be 10/8, or 1.25.

Knowing the throw ratio of your projector is essential for choosing the correct screen size and placement for your needs. Use our calculator below to determine what size screen you can use with your projector, based on its throw ratio.

When choosing a projector, brightness, contrast ratio, resolution, and throw ratio are the most important factors to consider. Keep these in mind when making your purchase, and you’ll be sure to choose the best projector for your needs.

The article also investigates the projectors’ dimensions by giving you the pros and cons of every projector to help you determine the best fit for your needs.

8 Best Projectors Under $500

The following are 8 of the best projectors currently available for less than $500.

Best overall: BenQ HT2050A 

Best for Home cinema: Epson Home Cinema 2100 

Best for Outdoor use: Optoma HD143X 

Best 4k: ViewSonic PX747-4K 

Best under $300: YABER Y31 9800L

Best for Daytime use: Optoma UHD60

Easiest to use: Epson Home Cinema 1060 

Best durability: Epson Home Cinema 880 3-Chip 3LCD 1080p projector 

Related: Best projectors under $1000

1. Best for Home cinema

Epson Home Cinema 2100

Epson Home Cinema 2100 1080p 3LCD projector

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The Epson Home Cinema 2100 is an excellent option for a projector under $500. It features full HD resolution, 3200 brightness in lumens, and a 60,000:1 contrast ratio. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  • An outstanding image quality: The Epson Home Cinema 2100 produces an image that’s incredibly sharp and detailed. Colors are also accurately reproduced, making it great for watching movies and TV shows.
  •  HDR support: The Epson Home Cinema 2100 supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, which results in even more vibrant and realistic images.
  • Easy to set up and use: The Epson Home Cinema 2100 is very easy to set up and use, thanks to its straightforward controls.
  • Affordable: The Epson Home Cinema 2100 is very reasonable, making it an excellent option for those on a budget.

Cons

  • Limited connectivity options
  • No 3D support

Check the Epson Home Cinema 2100’s latest prices on Amazon

2. Best overall

BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A 1080P Home Theater Projector | 2200 Lumens | 96% Rec.709 for Accurate Colors | Low Input Lag Ideal for Gaming | 2D Keystone for Flexible Setup

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The BenQ HT2050A is another excellent option for a projector under $500. It features full HD resolution, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and a brightness of 2200 lumens. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  •  Outstanding image quality: The HT2050A produces some of the clearest and most vibrant images I’ve ever seen from a projector. Colors are accurately reproduced, and the detail is crisp and clear.
  •  Brightness: Even in well-lit rooms, the HT2050A’s 2200 lumens ensure that images will be visible.
  • Short throw: The HT2050A has a short throw ratio, meaning you can place it closer to the screen or wall than other projectors. That is ideal for small spaces.
  •  Flexible connectivity: The HT2050A has HDMI, VGA, and USB inputs, making it compatible with various devices.

Cons

  • The Benq HT2050A does not have features on more expensive projectors, such as lens shift and a built-in speaker.
  • The Benq HT2050A is not compatible with 4K sources.

Check the BenQ HT2050A ‘s latest prices on Amazon

3. Best for Outdoor use

Optoma HD143X

Optoma HD143X Affordable High Performance 1080p Home Theater Projector, 3000 Lumens, 3D Support, Long 12000 Lamp Life, for Indoor and Outdoor Movies, Built In Speaker

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The Optoma HD143X is a great option for those looking for an outdoor projector for under $500. It features full HD resolution, 3000 lumens of brightness, and a contrast ratio of 23,000:1. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  • Stunning image quality: The Optoma Hd143x offers 1080p Full HD resolution, delivering incredible image quality that is perfect for movies, TV shows, and video games.
  • Bright and vibrant colors: The projector uses DLP technology to deliver bright and vibrant colors that pop on the screen.
  • Excellent contrast: The projector has a high contrast ratio, meaning that black levels appear deep and dark on the screen.
  •  Affordable price: The Optoma Hd143x is affordable for those looking to get a great projector without spending much money.

Cons

  • The LED light source may not be as bright as traditional lamp-based projectors. That means the HD143x may not be suitable in rooms with high ambient light levels.
  • The projector does not come with an integrated speaker system. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to connect an external audio source to enjoy the sound with your movies or games.

Check the Optoma HD143X’s latest prices on Amazon

4. Best 4k

ViewSonic PX747-4K

ViewSonic True 4K Projector with 3500 Lumens HDR Support and Dual HDMI for Home Theater Day and Night, Stream Netflix with Dongle

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The ViewSonic PX747-4K is an excellent option for those looking for a projector under $500. It features a native 4K resolution, 3600 lumens of brightness, and a contrast ratio of 500,000:1. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  •  Ease of Use: The on-screen display (OSD) options are simple and easy to understand. The buttons on the back of the monitor are also clearly labeled and easy to press.
  •  Picture Quality: This monitor produces beautiful 4K images with accurate colors and incredible detail.
  • Connectivity: This monitor has multiple input options, including USB 3.0, Display Port 1.2, and HDMI 2.0.
  •  Price: The Viewsonic PX747-4K is very reasonably priced for a 4K monitor.

Cons

  • Noisy Fans: The Viewsonic PX747-4K has some loud fans, which can be a bit of a distraction when focusing on the screen.
  •  Limited Connectivity: The Viewsonic PX747-4K only has 2 HDMI ports and 1 DisplayPort, so you may need to use an adapter if you want to connect more than two devices.

Check the ViewSonic PX747-4K’s latest prices on Amazon

5. Best under $300

YABER Y31 9800L Native 1920 x 1080P Projector

YABER Projector 8000 Lumen 1080P Native LED Projector Full HD Support 4K &±50° 4D Keystone 1920 x 1080 with 350 Display

 

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You can enrich your entertainment life by investing in one of the budget-friendly projectors. The YABER Y31 9800L Native 1920 x 1080P projector is an affordable and feature-packed model you will like.

The YABER Y31 is an LCD projector that provides unmatched viewing brightness supported by 98000 lumens. This model’s brightness and a high dynamic contrast ratio of 10000:1, even if it’s a low-budget model, make images appear realistic and refined.

Thanks to the short throw technology, this projector can offer projection from 50″ to 300″ at a 10 ft viewing distance. You will also like the native 1920 x1080 resolution the model provides without changing the image quality. The projector supports playing 4K videos with remarkably detailed images.

You have a unique YABER projector model that supports an innovative one-click to brighten & manually ± 50° 4D keystone correction function. Therefore, it is easy and quick to correct the images whenever possible. Plus, you can use a remote control to fulfill needs for image adjustment, especially when the projector is suspended from the image. 

The YABER Y31 comes with HIFI stereo sound & latest advanced cooling system, making the projector less obtrusive and quieter. 3W dual stereo speakers with an SRS sound system give this model the edge over other under $300 models. It guarantees an excellent auditory sense experience without the need for external speakers.

This projector embraces the latest SmarEco technology to extend the lamp power to a maximum of 100,000 hours of continuous use. Lastly, it has USB, HDMI, VGA, and AV ports. Hence, it efficiently connects to smartphones, laptops, game consoles, USB drives, and more for video games, outdoor events, and home theater.

Product Specs

  • Brand– YABER
  • Recommended Uses– Home Cinema, outdoor events, and gaming
  • Display Resolution– 1920 x 1080

Pros 

  • Flexible connectivity
  • Budget-friendly
  • Advanced cooling system
  • Quiet and slower fan
  • Excellent brightness for low light conditions

Cons

  • Blurry corners
  • Few image control settings

Check the YABER Y31 9800L

 

6. Best for Daytime use

Optoma UHD60

Optoma UHD60 True 4K UHD Projector, Bright 3000 Lumens, Entertainment and Movies, Rec.2020 with DCI-P3 for Wide Color Gamut, HDMI 2.0 and HDR10

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The Optoma UHD60 is an excellent option for those looking for a projector under $500 for daytime use. It features a native 4K resolution, 3000 lumens of brightness, and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  •  Outstanding image quality: The Optoma UHD60 uses DLP technology to project incredibly sharp and detailed images. It also has a high dynamic range (HDR), resulting in richer colors and deeper blacks.
  •  Low input lag: For gamers or anyone who wants to use the projector for fast-paced action, the low input lag of the UHD60 is a big plus. That means there will be a very little delay between what you’re doing and what’s showing on the screen.
  • Easy to set up and use: The Optoma UHD60 is designed to be easy to use, with straightforward controls and an intuitive menu system. It’s also easy to set up, with a quick-start guide that walks you through the process step-by-step.
  •  Affordable price: For all its features and performance, the Optoma UHD60 is very reasonable.

Cons

  • Optoma UHD60 may not be compatible with certain 4K HDR content.
  • The projector may require professional calibration to get the best picture quality.

Check the Optoma UHD60 ‘s latest prices on Amazon

7. Easiest to use

Epson Home Cinema 1060

Epson Home Cinema 1060 Full HD 1080p 3,100 Lumens Color Brightness (Color Light Output) 3,100 Lumens White Brightness

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The Epson Home Cinema 1060 is a great option for those looking for a projector under $500. It features full HD resolution, 2800 lumens of brightness, and a contrast ratio of 35,000:1. Additionally, it has two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect multiple devices.

Pros

  • The Epson Home Cinema 1060 is an affordable projector that still offers a great viewing experience.
  • It has high brightness and contrast levels, making it ideal for rooms with ambient light.
  • It’s effortless to set up and use, even for first-time users.
  • The small projector makes it easy to transport and set up in different locations.

Cons

  • Not the best for gaming
  •  No 3D support

Check the Epson Home Cinema 1060’s latest prices on Amazon

8. Best durability

Epson Home Cinema 880 3-Chip 3LCD 1080p Projector

Epson Home Cinema 880 3-chip 3LCD 1080p Projector, 3300 lumens Color and White Brightness, Streaming and Home Theater, Built-in Speaker, Auto Picture Skew

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The Epson Home Cinema 880 3-Chip 3LCD 1080p projector is a high-definition projector with excellent picture quality and a wide range of features. It has three LCD chips that deliver full HD 1080p resolution and supports 3D content.

The projector has a native aspect ratio of 16:9 and a brightness of 2200 lumens. Unfortunately, it also has a contrast ratio of 35,000:1, which means that it can produce intense black levels. The projector has two HDMI inputs and one USB port and comes with remote control.

Pros

  • Epson Home Cinema 880 has excellent color accuracy and brightness.
  • It has excellent connectivity options with support for various input sources.
  • The build quality is quite good, making it a durable projector.
  • Its user-friendly controls make it easy to set up and use.

Cons

  • Short lamp life: The Epson Home Cinema 880 has a short lamp life of only 4,000 hours. That is much shorter than comparable projectors on the market, which can have lamp lives of up to 10,000 hours. Unfortunately, that means you will need to replace the bulb more often, which can be costly.
  • No built-in speaker: Another con of the Epson Home Cinema 880 is that it does not have a built-in speaker. You will need to connect it to an external sound system to hear the audio. That can be an additional cost that you may not have anticipated.

Check the Epson Home Cinema 880 3-Chip 3LCD 1080p projector’s latest prices on Amazon

Overall Best Projector Under $500

If you’re looking for the best projector under $500, you’ll want to check out the BenQ HT2050A. With its high brightness and contrast ratio, the HT2050A is perfect for watching movies or giving presentations. It’s a great option for home and office use and delivers excellent image quality.

Conclusion

There are a lot of great projectors available on the market, but the best one for you will depend on your specific needs. If you’re looking for an affordable projector that can still deliver a great viewing experience, then the BenQ HT2050A is an excellent option. It’s perfect for home use and can even be used for gaming.

 If you need a projector with a longer lamp life, then the Epson Home Cinema 880 is a good choice. However, it doesn’t have a built-in speaker, so you’ll need to connect it to an external sound system.

Whichever projector you choose, ensure it meets your specific needs and budget.

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