Are you looking for a great budget projector for your gaming, movie watching or just general day to day TV use? If you’re looking to spend shy of $200, then we’ve got you covered.
Years ago projectors of this scale used to be far too expensive, in the thousands, but now they are far more reasonable and even below the $200 mark you can still get a good quality projector that is suitable for everyday use.
In this article we’ve pulled together a detailed buying guide, so you can be properly informed before making a decision. After which, we have spent several hours researching the best projectors for under the $200 and provided a detailed overview with a look at some of the features for you.
If you want to skip to a certain part of the article, you can use the table of contents below:
- What should I look for when buying a projector?
- Are cheap projectors worth it?
- Should I buy a projector or TV?
- Types of projectors & there use
- Types of display / projection
- Our best projectors under $200
Before you jump into buying a projector or taking our word for what we consider to be the best projector, we want to fully inform you at what you should be looking at when it comes to finding one that is quality and suitable for your needs. Here’s an overview of a few of the main things that you should be looking for when buying a projector and specifically a budget one.
Get the right “Throw” Ratio
Throw Ratio is the figure that determines the ratio of the size of the image to the distance. It’s quite easy to calculate the throw, it’s the distance (D) x the size of display you want (D) = the throw ratio.
This is important because you need to get an accurate throw to be able to adjust the picture to what you want or expect. A lot of projectors may not specify their exact throw, but they should tell you what size screen you can expect between what distance from the device. The reason you may have to think about this is where exactly you want to place the projector, as you will have to determine what size picture you can get based on how far away it is.
Resolution is important, it dictates how many pixels your projector will be able to display in a given space, the more pixels, the higher the quality of the image, meaning it will be clearer.
Projectors offer a few different resolutions options
- Full HD – 1920 x 1080
- HD Ready – 1280×720
- WXGA – 1280 x 800
- XGA – 1024 x 768
- SVGA – 800 x 600
- WVGA – 800 x 480
Get the right brightness & ANSI lumens
The lumen is a figure that the projector description should tell you, it dictates how bright the projector will be, the higher the number the brighter the image will be.
Why is this important? Well in a brightly lit room, which most peoples living room typically is, you’ll need a fairly bright projector to compete with that.
Ideally, when looking at projectors, for an ordinary room, you want to ensure that the lumens are 3,000 or above, this will allow you to view in the daylight.
You don’t always need 3,000 however, it depends on what you are using the projector for. If you are planning on having a cinema experience for instance, then you’ll want to have the room dark most of the time, so you can get away with as low as 1,600 lumens.
Higher lumens doesn’t necessarily indicate the quality of the device, so it’s not the sole figure that you should look at when deciding which to go for. As mentioned, even the highest quality cinema projectors won’t have a large lumen count, as they don’t need to be that bright and if they have too many lumens it can actually mean that the blacks have a tougher time on the contrast.
Everyone uses projectors for different reasons. Some people use them as a replacement for a TV, others will use it for a laptop or computer, others might even look to connect their phone.
Different types of devices mean different types of connections. A lot of people automatically think, well, it’ll be HDMI, it’s 2021! That’s not always the case though, as they are for a diverse range of uses they can have a whole host of different connections, so you want to be sure you’re getting one that has the right connection for what you need.
Generally speaking, here are your connectivity options for projectors:
- VGA – Which will require a 3.5mm audio jack
You can get projectors for dirt cheap, I’m talking below the $50 mark and I wouldn’t go anywhere near them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of brands out there that will provide false specifications in terms of brightness, and not every project is built equal, so how do you identify a good one?
As we’re under the $200 budget mark, we obviously aren’t talking about the highest of quality projectors, as they span into thousands of dollars for the higher quality options, but there are good deals out there to be had.
Our advice is to look at the reviews, and really look at them. Don’t just take for granted that a projector has 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon, the problem is a lot of people don’t necessarily know what a good projector is and aren’t particularly familiar with higher quality models.
You want to scroll through the reviews individually and find a few that specifically mention some of the features like the number of lumens in particular, as that is one of the things a lot of companies, well over exaggerate, to say the least.
It seems an appealing prospect to buy a projector ahead of a TV, you can get a 100″ display, as long as your wall is big enough, for a fraction of the price! But, is it all it’s cracked up to be?
The truth is that it depends, buying a projector isn’t for everyone and they do have their limitations, they aren’t for everyone. Assuming you know the pro’s and con’s of buying a TV, here are the pro’s and con’s of a projector when compared to a TV, so you can decide whether it suits you:
- You get a better screen size for your budget with a projector than you would with a TV. A super-sized TV, and you can even get projectors which offer 4K, so similar in quality.
- The cost, a projector is a whole lot cheaper than a TV. Buying the same screen size TV as you can project will probably double your spend.
- Many feel like projectors give a better viewing experience, as typically they’re not as bright.
- Competing with light. If you have a really bright room, even a good quality projector will likely struggle to display a clear picture you can see, no matter what they say.
- Sometimes your projector lamp will blow, and you’ll need to replace it, which is an additional cost you don’t have to contend with when buying a TV.
- You’ll often need to invest in extra sound, or speakers to go with your projector. Although some of them have a speaker built-in, there just not the quality you would want on a large screen.
There are so many different types of projectors you will come across when you’re in the market for one. Not all projectors are built equal, and they all have their different specialities which are perfect for different things. Here’s an overview of the types of projectors that you might come across and a brief description of each:
Home Cinema Projector
These are often Full HD projectors with a large crisp image, of similar quality to a TV. As these are intended for cinema use, which is typically in a darker room, they often don’t have the highest amount of lumens.
These projectors are compact, lightweight, and importantly portable, of course! These are sometimes referred to as Pico projectors, and some of them are small enough to fit in your palm! They often are powered by batteries to make them easy to move around.
These are suitable for office and educational use in schools, they’re designed specifically to work in all kinds of lighting conditions and they often have several external ports to connect a variety of different devices.
All-in-Ones essentially have all the features you would expect from a Home Cinema Projector, but also include integrated speakers and 3D capabilities. They often have higher contrast ratios and shorter throw’s.
Midway between a standard projector and a portable one, the compact is small enough to move around but not powered by batteries but has a lightweight design.
Now you’re fully familiar with the types of projectors you can get, in terms of what purpose they’re designed for, what about the types of display or projection options? We’ve detailed the different display types and what you can expect from them below:
DLP technology uses smaller micromirrors to focus and create the image which is through rotating a small wheel. The image quality is relatively good and offers excellent color contrast and time of response.
This type of projection is done through a crystal, silicone liquid crystal to be exact, an upgrade on LCD which we’ll touch on next. It combines the very best tech of the DLP & LCD methods with good brightness and color saturation which is great for gaming.
No moving parts, no adjustments needed, easy. This type of display is more efficient, provides a better brightness and picture in comparison to a DLP projector. LCD displays use liquid crystal displays.
The bit you’ve all been waiting for! After several hours of research and trying to find you the best possible deals, we’ve picked out what we consider to be some of the best projectors for under $200.
Here are our picks with a brief description of the product and it’s features:
This native projector is offering some seriously high specifications and features for the price point, making it the top of our list. This home projector offers a 1920×1080 pixel resolution (1080p) with an impressive contrast ratio of 7000:1. It shouldn’t have any issues with brightness in any room either, with 7,000 lumens to its name. One of the downsides we mentioned about projectors was the need to replace the lamp, well, Native clearly have confidence in their product as they offer a 3-year LED lamp replacement policy, and it boasts 60,000 hours of life, that’s a lot of TV.
You can adjust the screen size via a remote control allowing for between 75 – 100% screen size options making it suitable for smaller rooms to larger walls. You shouldn’t have a problem mounting this on a ceiling either, due to it mostly being controlled through a remote.
It’s a great projector for gaming, movies and more with its real-time mirroring of multi0media devices, allowing you to get that high-quality large screen experience. To mirror an iPhone or Android however you might need an extra lightning cable or Micro USB / USB C to HDMI adapter to connect it properly.
You can achieve up to a 200″ display with this projector! It works at a distance between 1.5 and 6.5m, but the best viewing distance is about 10 to 13 feet. The projector also supports Dolby sound and has a built-in speaker, but we would suggest potentially upgrading this if you care about sound quality.
This projector supports iPhone, Android, iPad, TV Stick, HDMI, USB, PC, Laptop, Chromecast, Xbox, Playstation, DVD players & more! It has an HDMI port, 2x USB ports, VGA port, AV port and an audio out port.
They also show further confidence in their product, offering a 24-month replacement or refund.
- 1080p projector that spans from a 50″ to 200″ display
- Easy to use focus and keystone correction
- 7,000 lumens, so more than suitable for most rooms, even if they are light
- 7,000:1 high dynamic contrast
- Wired mirror screening supported
This native 1080p projector by the brand WiMiUS operates in full HD at 1920×1080, just like the option we mentioned above, but has a twist, supporting 4k video playback. It’s an LCD projector and offers one of the newest available LED light sources which helps it run smoothly and with a fantastic picture.
This project offers very similar specifications to the first projector in our list but is priced just slightly higher. The S1 has a keystone which can adapt the angels to 50 degrees, so you can easily adjust the screen to display a rectangular clear picture and change the zoom on the remote from 75-100% which makes it convenient for any size of the room and you can mount it without having to move it due to the convenience of it being remote controlled.
For a projector, this also has an impressive built-in speaker, which operates at 10W making it suitable for home use for movies and even gaming, depending on how much you care about your sound clarity. You also have the option, if you want, to connect a more powerful viewing speaker or surround sound.
Impressively this projector will start at a screen size of 45″ and expand to a giant 300″ screen, although it’s best viewing size is between 100″ to 120″ and to achieve that you should have the projector at a distance between 11.5ft to 13.1ft.
It’s a widely compatible unit as well, with x2 HDMI ports, 2x USB ports, a VGA port, AV port and 3.5mm audio out which makes it compatible with a wide range of devices including your PC, Laptop, set-top box, DVD player, Xbox, Playstation, and so much more.
They’re pretty confident in their product too, offering you a no-hassle money-back guarantee and a 3-year free repair service as well as lifetime tech support if you require it extra help.
- Contrast ratio of 10,000:1
- Lamp life of 100,000 hours! That should likely never need replacing
- 45″ – 300″ screen size which is 1080p and offers a frequency of 30Hz – 50Hz
- Built in 10W speaker – which is impressive for a projector
- Very easy to focus and can be controlled through the remote
This projector by TOPTRO is a native 1080p just like the others we’ve featured, it offers a 8,000:1 contracts and can even support 4k to provide a far clearer image that most projectors you can get for the price point.
The projector should sit around a 10ft distance from where you’re looking to project, and the screen can vary between 45″ and 100″ depending on what your preference is. Brightness also isn’t an issue, with this TOPTORO projector packing 7,000 lumens and they claim that they also have a 30% uplift and sharpness when compared to some of the other 1080p projectors on the market. Seeing in the light isn’t an issue with its dynamic luminance scaling, which can go between 0 and 100 so essentially you can adjust the brightness for day time and night time use.
It features a keystone correction, like most others in this price point, with a 50-degree correction and 4D correction for vertical and horizontal adjustment to always ensure the image is a rectangle, as standard.
The zoom function to adjust screen size varies from 50 to 100%, and you can control it via a remote, so wall mounting or ceiling mounting shouldn’t be an issue.
For a projector, this comes with pretty impressive speakers, 2x 5W stereos with SRS sound system, although like we always mention you should look to upgrade these if you care about a better sound experience.
The unit also has a built-in circulation cooling system with 3x intelligent speed control fans. Why is this important? Well, it helps prolong the projectors life but it also minimizes its energy consumption. The lamp shouldn’t be an issue either, with around 90,000 hours of life.
Another feature this projector has, which isn’t particularly common at this price point is that it has a removable dust filter. This allows you to easily take it out and clean it, to eliminate any internal dust and again, prolong its life.
- 45″ to 300″ screen size which you can control through a remote
- 7,000 lumens & dyanmic luminace scaling to improve picture in bright rooms
- 2x 5W speakers built-in
- Internal cooling system with 3x fans to prolong the projectors life
- 90,000 hours of life in the lamp
BRILENS Native 1920X1080P Movie Projector 6000LUX Full HD Video Projector 300” Display 4K Input Supported Home Theater Mini Projector
It’s easy to adjust the screen size and shape, with wide keystone angels to get the perfect rectangle and clear picture. It can display a sharp picture up to 300″ in size, but it can go as low as 45″. The ideal projector distance is between 9.5ft and 11.25ft depending on the size of the screen you want.
This projector also comes with great and clear balanced speakers which are built-in HiFi stereo speakers so you don’t have to buy separate speakers, although we do suggest it if you want improved quality. There is also a system in place for suppressing the noise of the fans, so it doesn’t interfere too much with the integrated speaker system.
As for connections, it’s a multimedia projector, so it has several, including a HDMI, USB, AV, 3.5mm audio jack. All of these connections means it can easily connect to your PC, laptop, phone, iPad & more. It’s a great projector for day to day TV watching, gaming, or just about anything else you might require.
- 45″ – 300″ screen size
- 50,000 hours of life in the lamp
- Ultra low noise design that helps amplify the built-in speaker
- HDMI, USB, AV & 3.5mm audio jack ports
- 1080p full HD projector that is suitable for a multitude of uses, including home, office, education and cinematic
Full HD 4K Video Projector, Portable Bluetooth WiFi 800×480 3D LCD 3500 Lux Home Theater Projector Beamer
This is a projector by the brand Serounder with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and has a resolution of 1920x1080p. It also states that it has a minimum throw of 2.6ft, which shouldn’t be an issue for most!
This projector is stated as portable, due to it’s lightweight at only 1.41kg, which might explain some of the slightly lower specifications than the others we have featured in the list, we did, however, want to add this one due to its lightweight as it might be suitable for those who regularly need to move the projector such as for an office or education use.
This device projects to a screen size of 150″ and at the lower end, it can go to 35″, which has an optimal projection distance of between 3.9 – 6.6ft. The lamp has an adequate 30,000 hours of life, which should more than get you through a few years, dependant on your usage, of course.
The system itself is also fully optimized to ensure it lasts with its turbo-cycled airflow heat dissipation design that ensures it always runs smoothly and doesn’t overheat. It also has a keystone correction allowing you to get a more rectangular image with about 15 degrees. Furthermore, it has a remote control, which makes it the ideal projector for wall or ceiling mounting.
This projector also has a built-in large speaker, which again, is adequate but as you’ll see has been a running theme, if you do want higher quality sound we would suggest adding external speakers. A further selling point that the product mentions is it uses diffuse reflection on its imaging which is to help your eyes, and ensure that they are protected even with prolonged use, this projector shouldn’t cause you to have any eyesight fatigue which makes it suitable for watching in regards to younger children.
The connections it supports are VGA, headphone interface, AV, HDMI, dual USB and TF card, so you’ll be able to use it on most devices including you PC, Laptop, Phone, Playstation, Xbox & more.
The only word of warning I would say about this device, it doesn’t actually specify how many lumens it has, so it might not be suitable for bright rooms, although unconfirmed.
- Screen has a size of between 35″ – 100″ with an optimal throw of 3.9-6.6ft
- Portable and lightweight device, so suitable in situations in which you might want to move it around a lot
- 1000:1 contrast ratio
- VGA, 3.5mm audio jack, AV, HDMI, TF and dual USB connections
- 30,000 hours of life stated for the lamp