Are you planning to buy a projector that cost under $300 but, having difficulty in finding the right one for your home use? Do you want a quick guide tip to buy a good projector under budget?
If the answer is “Yes” then this article will help you to answer all the question including what is the best projector for home use? How much does a right projector cost?
After reading through this article, you will be able to gauge any projectors in term of its specs, price and value delivered.
To make thinks brief and explanatory, I have divided this article into the following sections.
Top 6 things you need to know before buying a projector in 2018
Projectors use three types of display technology [DLP, LCD, and LCoS] to project images. Which one suits you more, solely depends on your needs and budget. To scale it, let’s talk about these technologies along with the pros & cons of owning one.
DLP [Digital Light Processing] technology
A DLP technology is powered by a DMD [Digital Micromirror Device] chip. A DMD is a semiconductor chip that is comprised of many tiny mirrors arranged in a particular pattern to boost reflection.
Each mirror represents a pixel in the projected image. Hence, the number of mirrors in a chip relates to the native resolution of a projector. There are two types of DLP projector:
Single-Chip DLP projector
This type of DLP projector uses one DMD chip and spinning color wheels with color filters to project images. Most low to mid-end DLP projector uses this technology. They are comparatively cheap and lightest of all projectors technology.
For a reason, this mechanism uses a mechanical spinning wheel; it has the lowest lifespan.
Three-chip DLP projectors
Three-chip DLP projector uses three DMD chips one each for primary colors (Red, Green, and Blue) and a prism instead of spinning color wheels to project the images.
Three-chip DLP projector has one of the best color saturation, brightness, and contrast ratio.
Three-Chip DLP projectors use three different DMD chips for each primary additive colors [Red, Green, and Blue] and prism instead of spinning color wheels [used in Single-Chip DLP projector] to project the image.
Because of the high level of intricacy involved, this type of projector is found in higher-end home theater projectors including one that is used in a movie theater.
Many traditional DLP projectors use a lamp as the light source, however, now you can find the one with the LED or Laser as the light source. LED or Laser DLP projectors are expensive but have a long lifespan with almost zero maintenance cost.
Comparing DLP projector to LCD and LCoS, a DLP projector has a better response time, good brightness with the limitation over its low contrast ratio and proneness to rainbow effect.
Under this price range, you will find decent Single-Chip DLP projectors.
LCD [Liquid Crystal Display]
LCD technology uses a lamp or LED as a light source. To project images, LCD technology uses two sheets of a polarizer with a liquid crystal solution between them and three primary colors [Red, Green & Blue] filters.
Since it doesn’t use moving color wheels instead it uses color filter or prism, it will last longer than single-chip DLP projector.
It is the oldest technology of all. Most LCD projector use LED light source to extend its lamp life. Depending on the manufacturer, its price varies from $50 to thousands.
Comparatively, LCD projectors have better contrast ratio, lower noise level, and better color saturation.
LCoS [Liquid crystal on silicon]
LCoS is a hybrid technology that uses best of both DLP and LCD technology. LCoS uses the tiny reflective mirrors of DLP and blocks the light using the liquid crystal of LCD to project the images.
Compare to DLP and LCD technology, LCoS have the best contrast ratio and has no rainbow effect but is expensive and are heavy.
Resolution is the most familiar spec for all the projector buyers, yet projector manufacturers will bluff you by intentionally misleading you to believe its native resolution as its maximum resolution.
Many projector manufacturers deliberately highlight their maximum resolution and don’t even bother to mention its native resolution. When we are on tight budget, many of us fall for the marketing hypes like support for 1080P, 4k.
You should know the difference between Native and Maximum resolution. Even they both have a resolution at the end of the word; they are entirely different.
A native resolution of a projector is its actual physical resolution. Its simple no projector can project more pixels than what it has. So, why you can find a 1080p on a $100 projector and $500 projector? What is the difference?
The difference is $100 projector can support 1080p, which is their maximum resolution but there is no way a $100 projector packs 1080p native resolution. Hence, to understand maximum resolution, you have to ignore the numbers.
Instead, maximum resolution refers to the highest signal format processed by a projector. Since devices like laptop, smartphones, gaming console have a different signal format, projectors are tailored to recognize this variety for the compatible purpose.
Also, when it comes to resolution, the number is replaced by their abbreviation like 1080P for FHD. To make things simple, please take a look at the table.
Number of Pixels
640 X 480
800 X 450
800 X 600
1024 X 768
1280 X 720
1280 X 800
1280 X 1024
1280 X 1080
3840 X 2160
The standard market resolution for the $300 projector is SVGA resolution. Other things being equal, anything above SVGA resolution will derive better value at this price range.
The brightness of a projector is determined by its lumens. Having a high lumen projector is good to have feature. A high lumen projector can emit more light than low lumen projector which is a good thing if you are planning to use it in a bright room.
However, it does not necessarily deliver the best quality. The picture quality of projectors depends on many other factors including the types, quality and quantity of lens used.
1400 lumen is the sweet spot for a projector to use in a dark room, and for the bright room, you will need a projector with at least 2500 lumens or more.
Under this price range, 3500 lumen is the benchmark. I think it is suitable enough for both indoor and outdoor usage.
The contrast ratio is the measurement of the difference between projectors’ black and white. To put that in perspective, a projector with 2000:1 contrast ratio means, its white images are 2000 times brighter than its black.
The more the gap between black and white, projectors more likely to have better color saturation and image sharpness.
Under this price range, anything above 15,000:1 contrast ratio will be above market standard.
Nowadays, the HDMI ports, USB ports, and VGA ports, Audio out input are the standard even under $100 projector. You can easily find these types of the ports under $300 projectors.
Some of the projectors under this price range do carry Bluetooth and WIFI capabilities. It is not the must-have feature but good to have features.
It is wise to focus on the core aspect of a projector which is picture quality rather than fancy new features. Projector manufacturers have this tendency to add lots of fancy features by reducing the spec associated with picture quality to keep the cost down.
Also, you can always use TV stick like Amazon Fire TV stick which is both WIFI and Bluetooth capable for as low as $30.
The range is simply an ideal image throwing distance of a projector. There are either short throw projector or long throw projector.
The range may not be irrelevant for all of us but for those who are on tight space you should consider the range of a projector before buying one.
Short throw projector only needs distance as near as 4 feet to project the screen of 80 to 100 inches where as long throw projector can do the same in around 7 to 15 feet.
Generally, short throw projector is expensive than long throw because of its space saving attributes.
Under $300 you will be able to find a decent short throwing projector.
Best projector under $300 of 2018
Before going any further lets take a peek at our list first:
3600 lumen| DLP | 22000:1 contrast ratio| 15,000 hrs lamp life
3600 lumen| LCD | 4000:1 contrast ratio| 50,000 hrs lamp life
3200 lumen| DLP | 15000:1 contrast ratio| 10,000 hrs lamp life
3600 lumen| DLP | 15,000:1 contrast ratio| 15,000 hrs lamp life
250 lumen| LCD| 12,000:1 contrast ratio| 30,000 hrs lamp life
Now, let us go through our list of 5 best projector under $300.
1. ViewSonic PA503S
Best home theater projector under $300 2018
If you are looking for the best projector on a budget for your home needs, then look no further than ViewSonic PA503S. Powered by Single-Chip DMD [Digital Micromirror Device] chip, this DLP projector is designed to achieve the best color accuracy under this price range.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, ViewSonic is only a handful of brands that have been proving their superiority via best value rendered. The ViewSonic PA503S is not an exception, It is backed by three years limited parts and labor coverage and 1-year of lamp coverage
With the SVGA [800 x 600] native resolution, you will be able to watch decent images on a 120-inch screen.
Its 3600-lumen brightness makes it a perfect contender for low and bright environment. Its 22,000:1 contrast ratio delivers stunning color saturation.
Its 3D support is a great plus for those who want to experience the 3D movies at the comfort of home.
With the HDMI, 2 x VGA, VGA out, audio out inputs, the port selection are standard. You can connect to almost every device without any hassle.
Its 15000 hours lamp life is not a lot compared to its competitors but it is ok. It doesn’t have good internal speakers which is only the downside to this projector. However, most of us will use external speakers anyway. So, it might not be a big problem.
2. CiBest FHD Projector
Best 1080p projector under $300 2018
When you want a 1080P native resolution projector for $300, probably this is your only option. Powered by LCD display technology with a LED light source, this projector has almost no maintenance cost and can last many years to come with its 50,000 lamp lifetime.
Loaded with 3600 lumens and 4000:1 contrast ratio, you will get a decent image quality and sharpness with this projector.
Cibest claims it can project 120-inch screen from 12 feet. The support for HDMI port, VGA port, and audio output jack makes this compatible with a wide range of peripherals including Apple and Android smartphones.
It is impressive that Cibest offers a 1080p projector for $300 while most of the reputed competitors like Epson, Viewsonic, Optoma will charge you at least $500. How it is possible for them to beat the competition?
Well, after digging through it is no surprise that they had cheap out on the picture quality aspects. One of the disadvantages of owning this projector is its focus.
Even with the features like keystone manual correction of +/_ 15 degrees, it is a tedious process to set things up. The next shortcoming is its image zooming feature.
If you are working with tight space, zooming is one of the best features to have. But with this projector, the only option is to move your projector. The last drawback is not much as it is common among all the projector but let me tell you it has one of the poor audio quality.
Despite its shortcoming in a few areas, it still packs a serious punch for the price.
3. Epson VS250
Best outdoor projector under $300 2018
Epson VS250 is a projector perfect for PowerPoint presentations or outdoor usage. It is arguably one of the best projector capable of delivering stunning image quality in this price range.
With its 3LCD display technology fused with 3200-lumen brightness, it is the projector for bright light conditions. The native resolution of this projector is SVGA [800 x 600].
It can project screen between 30 inches to 350 inches from the distance of 3 to 34 feet.
The contrast ratio on this projector is 15000:1, which is better than most of its competitors.
Its +/- 30 degrees keystone correction is easy to use and offers plenty of adjustment to fit your needs and preferences. It packs a 210w lamp that can go up to 10,000 hours.
Its built-in 2W speakers can get surprisingly loud with crisp, clear audio quality. The fan noise is a little audible but it can get extremely hot just after few minutes of use.
You will need to ventilate it correctly if you are planning to use it for a long session. It has an HDMI input, VGA connector, both USB type A and type B and composite audio/ video input as port selection. The only thing it lacks is it doesn’t have 3.5mm audio out.
Your only option to connect external speakers is either by HDMI or composite cable. If you are ok with this, then it sure is going to be your next favorite thing.
4. BenQ MS535A
Best gaming projector under $300
If your sense of style is gaming on a big screen, then BenQ MS535A is for you. BenQ has been excelling in the gaming industry with many devices mainly monitors for years now.
BenQ MS535A covers every bells and whistle when you want a decent projector within affordability. It offers 3600 lumens to address the ambient light conditions.
Its Single-Chip DMD [Digital Micromirror Device] chip, is capable of playing your console games in a lag-free environment. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for hardcore PC gamers who prefer higher frame rates.
It has 15000:1 contrast ratio and 15,000 hrs of lamp life. For the port selection, BenQ MS535A comes loaded with 2x HDMI, 2xVGA, and Audio in/out.
It doesn’t have USB type A; instead, it has a mini USB port. You will need an adapter if you are someone who uses USB.
The built-in speakers are low-end comparing to its competitors. BenQ MS535A is still using mono sound. It would have been great to see stereo sound. But I guess BenQ cheap out to keep the cost under $300.
5. ViewSonic M1
Best short throw projector under $300
ViewSonic M1 is ultra-portable LED projector with its compact palm size weighing less than 2 pounds. It is a pico projector so it will trade off some of its picture quality for its high mobility.
It has 250lumen and 12000:1 contrast ratio. Compare to other products it is the lowest in our listing. But the portability derived from 6 hours of battery life and use of USB type C to charge it will make for its shortcoming.
Some of its notable features include the use of micro SD card slot, USB Type A and Type C, extended 30,000 hours lamp life and 16GB of internal storage.
It has a fantastic sound quality from its dual Harman Kardon speakers. It is an impressive short throw projector. It can project 100-inch screen from only 9 feet.
Projectors are the economical way to watch movies or videos on a big screen. Despite its shortcoming in many areas compared to TV, the extra real state offered by projectors are hard to ignore.
Not long ago, the products in this listing would have cost you twice as much today. The projectors under $300 will not offer you the best projector experience, but it is the best price range to start your projector experience.
There are projectors out there which offered 1080p native resolution, but for top brands, SVGA resolution is the standard. I recommend buying a projector from the brand like ViewSonic, Optoma, Epson.
Even the specs seem comparatively lower than some of the new manufacturer like CiBest; these brands have much more experience and learning curve which you can see via its excellent image reproduction.
I hope my article about the best projector under $300 was brief and instructive. If you agree with me, please share it or if you have any question and comment, use the comment box below. Good luck with your purchase.