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Best Projector Under $500

By: Jim Reddy | Updated 08.05.2024, 17:12

Are you looking for a home theater experience but don't want to break the bank in May 2024? Look no further than the best projectors under $500. With advances in technology, you can get high-quality projectors without spending a fortune.

Here I will review the top 6 best projectors under $500 and provide a buyer's guide to help you choose the right one for your needs.

Selecting a good projector is an essential part of achieving both your office presentations and home theatre screen imaging objectives. But, it can also be a nightmare finding one within your budget, especially if you don’t want to hinder your plans.

Nonetheless, you will be glad to know that the current projector marketplace offers numerous choices for selection. And to help you make a quicker choice, I have analyzed the most popular brands to get you this list of the best projector under $500. You might also like my review about projectors for small rooms. Read on!

If you're short on time and looking for the best projectors under $500, here's my top picks.

Editor's Choice
ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector for Home and Office
ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector for Home and Office
ViewSonic WXGA big screen projector has an impressive user-friendly design with high lumens, and resolution. This awesome combination guarantees the reproduction of superior and thorough image quality even under circulating lighting. It embraces SuperColor Technology to produce various displayable colors of the target image, giving it an authentic appearance. Highly recommended!

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Best Overall
OPTOMA HD146X Projector
OPTOMA HD146X Projector
The Optoma HD146X offers an affordable home entertainment experience with its large screen appeal, perfect for movie enthusiasts, gamers, and sports fans. Featuring a 1080p resolution, it ensures sharp and detailed images without compression issues. With a brightness of 3600 lumens, it provides flexibility for viewing in various lighting conditions, whether the lights are on or off. Additionally, its HDMI-CEC technology simplifies the control of the projector and connected devices using a single remote, enhancing user convenience and enjoyment.

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Table of contents:


Buyer's Guide for Projectors Under $500

Drawing from my experience, when shopping for a projector under $500, you're in the sweet spot between budget and performance, ideal for casual use in home theaters, gaming, or occasional presentations. Here are key factors to consider to ensure you find the best projector within this price range:

Resolution and Brightness

Look for at least 1080p to ensure your images and videos are sharp and clear. Higher resolutions like 4K are rare in this price range but sometimes supported via upscaling. Measured in lumens, the brightness needs to be adequate for your environment. For darker rooms, 1,000 lumens might suffice, but for well-lit rooms, aim for at least 2,500 lumens.

Contrast Ratio

A higher contrast ratio means deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. A contrast ratio of at least 3,000:1 is good, but higher is better, especially for movie lovers.

Connectivity

Ensure the projector has HDMI ports as a minimum. Additional connections such as USB, VGA, and WiFi are bonuses that enhance flexibility, allowing you to connect various devices like gaming consoles, laptops, and streaming sticks.

Projection Technology

  • DLP projectors can comfortably operate as standalone, they do not need maintenance, which makes them suitable for class/lecture room, and business environments.

  • LCD, on the other hand is a contemporary projector, with bright and rich colors. It is great for displaying videos, digital files, and even still images. But they need regular maintenance (filters cleaning). Therefore, they’re more popular among hobbyists and DIY fanatics.

  • Consider LED projectors for longer lamp life and lower maintenance costs compared to traditional bulb projectors.
best projector under 500 2024

Throw Distance and Screen Size

Understand the space where you will set up the projector. Some projectors are better suited for small spaces with short throw distances, while others require a long throw distance. Check if the projector supports the screen size you need without compromising image quality.

Audio Capabilities

If you intend to use the projector's built-in speakers, look for one with decent audio quality and power. However, for a home theater setup, consider external speakers for a more immersive audio experience. For example, Anker Nebula Capsule II with 8W Speaker or WiMiUS ‎P64 with 12W Hi-Fi Speakers.

Portability and Installation

If you need a portable projector for presentations or outdoor movie nights, look for lightweight options and check if the projector includes a carrying case. Some projectors offer ceiling mounting options, which are great for permanent home theater setups.

Lamp Life

Consider the longevity of the projector lamp. Longer lamp life means fewer replacements and lower long-term costs. Look for a lamp life of at least 10,000 hours.

Additional Features

Some projectors offer handy features like keystone correction, which helps adjust the image if the projector is placed at an angle, or zoom capabilities that allow you to adjust the image size without moving the projector.

By considering these factors, you can find a projector under $500 that not only meets your specific needs but also provides excellent value for your investment.

Best Projectors under $500 - TOP 6

Looking for a high-quality projector that won't break the bank? Check out my top 6 picks for the best projectors for under $500:

Editor’s Choice ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector
ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector
  • 3600 Lumens brightness
  • WXGA 1280x800 resolution
  • Connectivity: HDMI, VGA and Audio in/out
Best Overall Optoma HD146X High Performance Projector
Optoma HD146X High Performance Projector
  • 1080p Resolution and 1600 lumen brightness
  • Enhanced Gaming Mode with 16ms input lag
  • Automatic power on/off with HDMI-CEC technology
Premium Choice BenQ TH585 Home Entertainment Projector
BenQ TH585 Home Entertainment Projector
  • 1080p Resolution and 3500 Lumens brightness
  • Loud 10W speaker
  • Stream Netflix & Prime Video
Best Budget WiMiUS ‎P64 Projector
WiMiUS ‎P64 Projector
  • Resolution 1080p and 600 ANSI Lumens brightness
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth/WiFi/HDMI/USB/AV/3.5Audio
  • Built-in Speakers
Best Portable Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini ...
Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector
  • 720p Resolution and 200 ANSI lumen brightness
  • 8W Speaker, 5,000+ Apps
  • Connectivity: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Chromecast
Best for Office ViewSonic PA503S High Brightness Projector
ViewSonic PA503S High Brightness Projector
  • 800 x 600 (SVGA) Resolution and 3800 Lumens brightness
  • Super EcoMode: Energy saving
  • Quick Power Off

Best Projectors under $500: Comparison

Here is a more detailed overview of each of the selected video projector models under $500:

Projector Model Resolution Lumens Contrast Ratio
ViewSonic PA503W  1280 x 800 (WXGA) 3600 Lumens 22,000:1
Optoma HD146X  1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 3600 ANSI Lumens 25,000:1
BenQ TH585  1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 3500 ANSI Lumens 10,000:1
WiMiUS ‎P64  1920 x 1080 (Full HD) & 4K video support 600 ANSI Lumens 20,000:1
Anker Nebula Capsule II  1280 x 720 (HD) 200 ANSI Lumens 600:1
ViewSonic PA503S  800 x 600 (SVGA) 3600 Lumens 22,000:1

ViewSonic PA503W Projector for Home and Office under $500

Editor’s Choice

ViewSonic 3600 Lumens WXGA is one of the best budget-friendly projectors in the market. The ViewSonic PA503W makes an ideal choice for homes, small businesses, and educational environments. Its color accuracy is highly authentic to giving you stunning images, thanks to ViewSonic’s exclusive SuperColor technology.

Also, the 3600 lumens projector produces bright pictures in any environment. You can dim the projection brightness to suit your preference, which in return extends the lamp life. The package includes the latest 3D Blu-Ray HDMI, which can be comfortably connected to any HDMI enabled devices for convenience.

It weighs only 4.9 pounds, making it a great companion for on-the-move sessions. The vertical Keystone Correction feature of this projector helps eliminate unnecessary image distortions to give you a flawlessly proportioned end-image.

Pros:

  • Lightweight to carry around
  • True to life colors
  • Amazingly sharp images
  • Crispy Clear Night images

Cons:

  • You might need extra external speakers to boost sound quality

Summary: The ViewSonic 3600 Lumens WXGA is ideal for home, small business and educational environments. It provides high color accuracy with 3600 lumens of brightness and vertical keystone correction.

ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector
ViewSonic PA503W High Brightness Projector
  • 3600 Lumens brightness
  • WXGA 1280x800 resolution
  • Connectivity: HDMI, VGA and Audio in/out

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Optoma HD146X High Performance Projector 

Best Overall

The affordable Optoma HD146X is a genuine definition of cinematic home entertainment. Its big screen makes it popular among projector users, who love the thrill of movies, gaming, and sports at their favorite space.

Its 1080p resolution enhances the sharpness of images while displaying comprehensive details. So you can enjoy high definition pictures without worrying about compression.

You can enjoy viewing with lights on or off, from whichever room you prefer thanks to the 3600 lumens. Its HDMI-CEC technology allows single remote control of the device and all its connections making life blissful.

Pros:

  • Crispy and vibrant pictures
  • Easy to set-up and navigate
  • Actual color display: you don’t have to adjust out-of-the-box

Cons:

  • No component input
  • Watch out for rainbow artifacts

Summary: My research indicates that the Optoma HD146X projector has a large screen, making it a popular choice for users. Its 1080p resolution also enhances image clarity with 3600 lumens of brightness. So you can enjoy high-definition images with high definition and brightness.

Optoma HD146X High Performance Projector
Optoma HD146X High Performance Projector
  • 1080p Resolution and 1600 lumen brightness
  • Enhanced Gaming Mode with 16ms input lag
  • Automatic power on/off with HDMI-CEC technology

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BenQ TH585 Home Entertainment Projector under $500

Premium Choice

BenQ TH585 1080p is the best definition of a default setting projector. Its big-screen offers befitting both business and home-entertainment. You can also use it in your class presentations. The BenQ TH585 projector uses a native resolution of 1080p, complete with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio to enhance your entertainment/presentation experience, even when in a bright room.

It comes with built-in speakers for clear loud sound to turn your watching time into a full-swing entertainment session. The projector offers automatic screen-size adjustment depending on what’s being displayed. BenQ offers a 3-year warranty on this device to allow you to enjoy your purchase worry-free.

Pros:

  • Bight eco bulb mode
  • A quick install button on the remote control
  • Excellent combination of HD, Blue-ray, and Video broadcasting
  • Automatically switches between inputs

Cons:

  • No lens cover

Summary: The BenQ TH585 is suitable for both business and home entertainment. The projector uses 1080p resolution and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio to enhance entertainment and presentations, even in bright rooms.

BenQ TH585 Home Entertainment Projector
BenQ TH585 Home Entertainment Projector
  • 1080p Resolution and 3500 Lumens brightness
  • Loud 10W speaker
  • Stream Netflix & Prime Video

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WiMiUS ‎P64 Projector Under $500

Best Budget

The WiMiUS P64 Projector is a state-of-the-art smart projector that eliminates the need for manual adjustments with its auto-focus and auto-keystone correction capabilities. This feature ensures sharp image quality automatically, even when the projector is moved or angled, enhancing user convenience and reducing setup time.

Key features include native 1080P resolution with 4K support, which, combined with a high lumens count and a 20,000:1 contrast ratio, delivers vibrant colors and deep shadows for an immersive home theater experience. Whether it's for outdoor movie nights, sports viewing, or binge-watching series, the P64 offers exceptional visual performance.

Connectivity is a breeze with ultra-fast WiFi 6 and two-way Bluetooth 5.2, ensuring stable and quick transmission suitable for gaming consoles like Xbox, Switch, and PS5. Additionally, the projector can function as a Bluetooth speaker, thanks to its built-in 12W Hi-Fi speakers, which provide rich, immersive sound.

The projector's user-friendly interface includes a smart touch screen for easy adjustments even in low light, and a 50% zoom function allows for flexible image sizing without needing to physically move the unit. It supports a massive 300-inch display, ideal for large spaces and can be ceiling mounted or placed on a stand, making it versatile for any setup.

Pros:

  • Native 1080P resolution and compatibility with 4K
  • WiFi 6 for stable and fast streaming and two-way Bluetooth 5.2
  • Auto-focus and auto-keystone correction
  • 12W Hi-Fi speakers
  • Large Display and Zoom Function

Cons:

  • Potential for Light Leakage

Summary: As indicated by my tests the WiMiUS P64 Projector excels in delivering an enhanced viewing experience with its automatic features such as auto-focus and auto-keystone correction, ensuring sharp images without manual adjustment. It supports native 1080P resolution and 4K content, enriched by a high contrast ratio for vivid visuals. This projector integrates cutting-edge WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 technologies for fast, stable connections and versatile use with various devices. Designed for convenience, it includes a touch screen interface and offers a large projection size with zoom functionality, making it suitable for both home entertainment and outdoor screenings.

WiMiUS ‎P64 Projector
WiMiUS ‎P64 Projector
  • Resolution 1080p and 600 ANSI Lumens brightness
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth/WiFi/HDMI/USB/AV/3.5Audio
  • Built-in Speakers

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Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Portable Projector for Under $500

Best Portable

Nebula Capsule II is a mood setter for home theater lovers. It easily changes the seriousness of any space, ushering in fun and adventure. It’s best suitable for homes, as you can use it to watch favorite movies, educational videos, or take online classes in the comfort of your space.

At 1.6 pounds, this device is one of the best portables in the market, without compromising quality. Anker Store embraces DLP technology to give this device impressive 720p and 200 ANSI lumen pictures. So, you can use it at night on the rooftop or in poorly lit spaces.

This projector allows you to personalize it with over 5000 Apps, so you got a wide range of entertainment options.

Pros:

  • Very small, and light for easy portability
  • Produces bright images
  • Has a full-sized HDMI
  • Loud enough for personal/small group entertainment

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a 3D function
  • Lacks quick access option

Summary: The Nebula Capsule II is a mini and portable projector that is ideal for both home and travel. The projector has an impressive 720p picture and 200 ANSI lumens. 

Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector by Anker
Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector by Anker
  • 720p Resolution and 200 ANSI lumen brightness
  • 8W Speaker, 5,000+ Apps
  • Connectivity: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Chromecast

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ViewSonic PA503S Projector for Home and Office under 500

Best for Office

ViewSonic PA503S Lumens is an ideal choice for budget-conscious buyers, who desire a balance between price and quality. It offers versatility at home and work, with its amazing visual features. This projector comes with extensive audio-visual features to offer bright and accurate colored images, reflecting the actual picture to the audience.

Also, its flexible connectivity options give you the convenience of staying connected and up to date wherever you are. You can use it at home, small office, or in educational environments. And if you’re an environmental enthusiast, you will be glad to know that this device is dimmable by up to 70%. So you get to play your role in saving the environment.

Pros:

  • Clear pictures even in darkness
  • Flawless image projection
  • Simple to set-up

Cons:

  • The 2W internal speakers might be a little weak

Summary: The ViewSonic PA503S is a beautiful eco-friendly projector with 3800 Lumens image quality. It offers versatility for home and work with its flexible connectivity options.

ViewSonic PA503S High Brightness Projector
ViewSonic PA503S High Brightness Projector
  • 800 x 600 (SVGA) Resolution and 3800 Lumens brightness
  • 3D Blu-Ray Ready HDMI Input
  • Quick Power Off

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FAQ about projectors under $500

Here are some frequently asked questions about projectors under $500:

best home theater projector under 500

Can I get a good quality projector for under $500?

Yes, you can definitely get a good quality projector for under $500. With advances in technology, there are many projectors available at affordable prices that offer excellent image quality and features.

What should I look for when buying a projector under $500?

When buying a projector under $500, look for a projector with a brightness rating of at least 2000 lumens, a resolution of 720p or higher, and a long lamp life.

Can I use a projector in a well-lit room?

Yes, but you'll need a Best Bright Projector for Lighted Room rating to ensure the image is visible in a well-lit room.

Do projectors under $500 come with built-in speakers?

Yes, many projectors under $500 come with built-in speakers. However, for the best audio quality, it's recommended to connect external speakers to the projector.

Can I connect my phone or tablet to a projector under $500?

Yes, many projectors under $500 come with built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, allowing you to connect your phone or tablet wirelessly.

Can I use a projector for gaming?

Yes, projectors can be used for gaming. Look for a projector with a fast refresh rate and low input lag for the best gaming experience.

best 1080p projector under 500

How long do projectors under $500 last?

The lamp life of projectors under $500 can vary, but most have a lamp life of at least 12,000 hours. However, it's important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for lamp replacement to ensure the projector lasts as long as possible.

Are projectors under $500 easy to set up?

Yes, many projectors under $500 are designed to be easy to set up and use. Most come with a user manual and quick start guide to help you get started.

Can I use a projector under $500 for outdoor movie nights?

Yes, you can use a projector under $500 for outdoor movie nights. Look for a projector with a high brightness rating and consider using an outdoor screen or a white wall for the best image quality.

Which under $500 projector is the best for home usage?

The choices might be many, but my best choice on this list OPTOMA HD146X outranks the rest for both home and small business usage

Is there any 4K resolution projector under $500?

No, I didn’t find any. So, you will have to spend more on this :( If you're interested, we have a review article on laser projectors that I can offer you to read. Or you can pay attention to the WiMiUS ‎P64 with 4K support.

How much should I spend on a projector with? 

Everything depends on your needs. If you prefer one for outdoor use, then a projector of around $500-$1000 will suit well. But, if you’re an indoor person, consider a projector under $500. 


Best Projector under 500: Conclusion

So, purchasing a projector under $500 can be a cost-effective way to enjoy big screen viewing in the comfort of your own home.

When shopping for a projector in this price range, it is important to consider important factors such as resolution, brightness, contrast ratio, distance to the projector, connectivity, lamp life, size, portability, brand, and customer reviews.

These factors will help you choose the right projector that fits your needs and budget. That way, you can be sure you're getting the best value for your money, as well as a projector that delivers a clear and vibrant image.

A good projector such as the VIEWSONIC PA503W, OPTOMA HD146X or WiMiUS P64 will make your movie nights, sports games, gaming sessions and other forms of entertainment more exciting and enjoyable.

Always remember that the projector you choose should perfectly suit your needs, not burden your budget. Hopefully, after going through my list of projector reviews, you have already decided on the best projector under 500 dollars for you.


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