Best Projector Under $500 – Expert’s Guide

Modern homes are evolving in modern times. The days of a box T.V to light up the evenings are beginning to drift into the past.

In its place, projectors have risen to become one of the most popular ways to bring a cinematic experience to your home. You can receive a theater-like experience in the comfort of your own home with the use of some higher-end projectors.

Beyond theater use, you can play your favorite video games on a 300-inch screen – all in HD. You can bring professional presentations anywhere you want with the right on-the-go mini projector. They’re even great for keeping the kids entertained in the back seat on your summer road trips.

But, what is the best projector you can get without breaking the bank? Some ultra-high-end projectors will run thousands of dollars. It just isn’t a realistic purchase for the average Joe

Luckily to you, I’ve come with a handy-dandy guide to show you the best projectors on the market for under $500.

Affordable, quality, products for all your projector needs are the name of the game.

 Let’s dive in.

The Five for Less Than 500

I’ll start with an overview of the five best projectors for under $500.

The type of projector and the model you buy will depend on what you’ll be using it for.

Every projector is not made equal, so be sure to take note of the features that will benefit you the most.

Let’s get into some highlights and benefits to each of these projectors. We’ll break them down and get into the details below.

The Details

If you want the specs, you’ve got them.

Each of these projectors was identified for its fantastic benefits at such an affordable price range.

Whether you want a projector for business or pleasure, you’ll find the best one for you here.

ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector

The ViewSonic M1 brings mobility to the projector.

If you find yourself constantly on the go, this may be the projector for you.

The M1 is designed for use in a professional setting – classrooms, conference rooms, personal offices will all be appropriate places to put the M1 to use.

It comes with dual Harmon Kardon speakers as well as a stand you can mount it on. The stand is recommended as it can bring many different presentation angles for you to use.

This mini projector will fit conveniently in one hand, or your purse or vehicle. You won’t even lose a lot in performance for it.

It utilizes a short-throw lens to project up to 100-inches of image. This means that compact spaces won’t be a problem for you when using the M1.

The M1 can also be optimal if you find yourself using a lot of devices with your projectors. The M1’s charger can also double as a power bank for other devices. It makes life a little bit easier and can help keep everything organized.

You can expect the fully-charged battery to last up to six hours, so long, on the go use isn’t an issue.

The M1 does lack in resolution, especially when compared to the other projectors on this list. It’s not HD capable, so don’t expect to bring a cinematic experience with you to the office. However, it can be extremely useful in a professional setting.

Pros

  • Extremely portable
  • Good speakers, especially for the price range
  • The power supply also doubles as a power bank for other devices

Cons

  • Lacking in resolution
  • Ideally meant for professional use, not entertainment

ViewSonic PS501X 

The ViewSonic PS501X, like the M1, is intended for personal use. It’s larger than the M1, but, while it can be moved relatively easily, it’s not meant for being a portable projector.

What it lacks compared to the M1, it more than makes up in performance and high-quality features.

The PS501X can project up to 120 inches from four feet and 10 inches away. It does this by utilizing its power as a short-throw projector. This makes it perfect for educational purposes or small business environments.

It also provides a large variety of connectors for you to use. It supports PCs, Macs, mobile devices, HDMI, VGA, USB, and others. No matter what device you find yourself using the most, the PS501X will be able to handle it.

The lumens get stepped up with this model as well. It features 3,500 lumens and is HD compatible. If you’ll be using this in dim, or poorly lit, environments, fret not. The quality image and brightness associated with the PS501X will ensure that it shines through.

One downside is the lamp life of this product. Even with a DynamicEco feature, the PS501X’s lamp life is approximately 15,000 hours. While this may be a lot, projector junkies may find themselves with a dimly-lit projector after only five or six years.

Pros

  • HD compatible
  • Features 3,500 lumens
  • Flexible connectivity

Cons

  • Relatively low lamp life

VIVIMage C680 

The movie, video game, and entertainment lovers, you’ve found your projector.

The VIVIMage offers stunning quality at an affordable price point for the movie fanatic in all of us. It offers 1920 x 1080 resolution and 6,000 lumens of brightness (almost comparable to the brightness found in movie theaters.)

The specs on this bad boy will be more than enough to make your home theater system the envy of the neighborhood. It’ll also bring video game lovers the joy of seeing expansive details on the big screen.

If you want to bring the movie theater to your living room, this projector will help achieve that. Day or night, light or dark, this projector can provide quality images all the time.

The lamp life on this projector is amazing. You can expect around 60,000 hours of lamp life. For example, to achieve 60,000 hours of lamp life, you’d have to watch 20,000 three-hour movies. That’s also like watching the final Lord of the Rings movie 20,000 times. It’s almost a challenge.

Pros

  • Provides the cinematic experience you deserve
  • Great for video games
  • A stunning amount of lumens
  • Full HD 1080p
  • Amazingly long lamp life

Cons

  • Not ideal for professional use
  • No optical zoom
  • Only one HDMI port

Optoma HD143X

The Optoma HD143X is also meant to add to your home theater collection. However, it offers a few different benefits.

The HD143X stands out for its extremely high contrast ratio for its price range. The ratio is 23,000:1 so you can expect perfect colors and picture quality when using it.

The HD143X advertises itself as being great for the outdoors. If you, or your family, enjoy watching the Chiefs game on the big screen across the side of yours, this would be ideal.

Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64 on the back porch? Done, and easy.

It also features a low lag time for those who are interested in gaming with it. It’ll provide a smooth connection, whether it’s from a high performing PC or the latest console systems.

However, the HD143X falls off with the expected lamp life of the product. You can expect up to 12,000 hours of lamp life with this product. This can be fine and well for someone who doesn’t frequently use a projector. But, if you find yourself glued to it, you may want to invest in a longer-lasting product.

Pros

  • Great for outdoors and indoors
  • Great contrast ratio
  • Full HD supported

Cons

  • Relatively low lamp life
  • Only 3,000 lumens

Epson VS50 SVGA

The Epson VS50 SVGA projector takes some of the best of both worlds and puts it into a marvelous product.

You can use it for either professional use or around the house as well.

It features 3,200 lumens of brightness, making it great for outdoor or indoor use. Your presentations, or movies, will pop out easily.

It can project an image up to a whopping 350 inches from only 30 inches away. Lecture rooms, or the side of a barn, your image will be perfectly visible for crowds of more than 100. Of course, you can resize it to the best image for you at the time.

It supports both laptops as well as standard media players, including HDMI. However, it may not be ideal for intensive video games.

The VS50’s resolution is a bit lacking, coming in at only 800 x 600p. Movies, presentations, or office use will be fine. But, don’t expect to buy a bag of popcorn and feel like you’re at the theater. Video games will also be fine, but you won’t receive nearly the same quality as you would on a standard HD-TV or modern computer.

Pros

  • A good all-in-one projector
  • Huge image display of 350 inches
  • Good for outdoor or indoor use

Cons

  • Relatively low resolution
  • Not as flexible concerning connectivity

Best Projector Under $500 Buyer’s Guide

Now that you know the best, which is best for you? It’s a tough question.

Understanding what you should be looking for when finding the best projector for you is important to make a well-informed decision.

We’ll break down two of the most important factors that you should be looking for to find the best projector for your needs.

Projectors Under $500 Lumens

Lumens mean, in short, a light output. Lumens measure the total amount of visible light, to the human eye, from the source of the light.

Having higher lumens means you can expect increased brightness.

This can be important if you find yourself using the projector in brighter or darker environments.

If you find that you’ll typically be using your projector in the evening or a dimly lit room, then you won’t need as many lumens to increase your brightness. You can safely run a projector with just 1,000 lumens, or less, and still, maintain a quality image as long as you’re in a darker environment.

However, if you decide that you’ll primarily be using your projector in an office setting or in areas that receive a lot of light, the lumens associated with your projector will matter a lot more.

You’ll want to ensure that your project runs several thousand lumens at a minimum so you can achieve great quality pictures in an already light environment.

What Type of Projector is Right?

The world of projectors will offer you varying models to choose from. Mostly, you’ll run into short-throw projectors, long-throw projectors, and mini projectors.

Long-throw projectors are more common and are found for the average Joe user. You’ll require a little more space than short-throw projectors to get a good image quality, but for home use or use in a large environment (such as a lecture room), they’re ideal.

Short-throw projectors typically don’t project as large of an image as a long-throw projector. However, they make up for it by reducing the amount of space you need to project a quality image.

You’ll be able to project images of 100-inches to 150-inches from a distance of just several feet. If space is of concern, a short-throw projector may be right for you.

Mini projectors are exactly what they sound like – mini. This makes them extremely portable and easy to carry with you wherever you go. You sacrifice some of the higher-end qualities like HD resolution and huge screen size, but you’ll gain a powerful tool to bring your presentations anywhere you’d like.

In Summary

Finding the right projector for your needs is hard. Especially with the versatility of the projectors shown in this list. So, make sure you know what factors you should look out for when making a purchase.

From gaming to movies, to office use, this list presents the best of the best projectors for under $500.

By now, you’re an expert in finding the best bargains for the best projectors.

Modern technology is wonderful, but it’s even better when it’s affordable.