Our smartphones and tablets are fantastic devices for media consumption, but with relatively small screens, sharing content isn’t easy. That is where a nice portable projector comes in. Be it to showcase a presentation at work or school, or enjoy a movie night with friends and family, here is a roundup of some of the best portable projectors currently available!
The JmGO View Portable Projector first showed up on Indiegogo, with the company comfortably surpassing their $100,000 goal by raising over $256,000. The JmGO View is one of the best thought out portable projectors we’ve seen, with a design that is unlike anything else that is currently available in the market.
While its cylindrical design may seem like a bad idea at first, with it looking like it would be susceptible to rolling around, the device is paired with a magnetic stand that holds it firmly in place. The real advantage of this design is in the fact that the body of the projector unit can be tilted to any angle, allowing to find the best position for the projected image with ease. This is definitely a far better implementation than other projectors that have a set of pre-fixed angles, with the options often not exactly what you’d want.
Like the other projectors on this list, the JmGO View comes with a keystoning feature, which prevents the image from warping even when the angles aren’t perfect. However, what really makes this projector special is the fact that it is running Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. The software is heavily customized to provide a clean and simple experience when navigating through the available apps like YouTube, Netflix, and more.
Everything can be controlled with a small remote that is included, and is always a welcome addition with projectors. Videos can be loaded using a USB flash drive that can be plugged into the USB port, or via HDMI. You can also stream videos from your phone, by either using Miracast, or streaming services like Netflix.
As far as the image quality of the projector is concerned, it has been really good. It may not be the best that we’ve seen, but it certainly gets very close. It gets brighter than most portable projectors in this price range at 250 lumens, features a resolution up to 720p, and offers good color reproduction, even if the contrast could be less extreme.
A good movie watching experience is nothing without good sound, and the JmGO View is miles ahead of its competitors in this department. A large pair of speakers is found on each side of this cylindrical projector, and sound fantastic. They do not sound tinny at all, and even have a good amount of bass to them. The JmGO View is the first projector with which I haven’t found the need to plug in a pair of external speakers to have an enjoyable time, and is definitely a huge positive.
There is one final trick the JmGO View has up its sleeves, and that is its 3D video capabilities. If you have access to a 3D movie or video, you can pair the JmGO 3D glasses with the projector to enjoy an even more immersive experience.
The great picture quality, functional design, loud speakers, and 3D capabilities will come at a price though, with the JmGO View coming with a price tag of $620. If the availability of features like high-quality speakers and 3D video aren’t particularly interesting for you, there are certainly cheaper options available that offer even better picture quality. However, if these additions pique your interest, the JmGO View portable projector is worth every penny.
At first glance, you may mistake the Sony MP-CL1 to be a smartphone, with Sony’s classic rectangular design to be seen here. The projector is as compact as a phone, allowing you to easily slip it into your pocket. It is also quite thin and light weight, making the MP-CL1 a truly portable option.
The Sony MP-CL1 projects using laser technology, which means that it will behave a little differently. The brightness is just 32 lumens, which sounds like you would barely be able to see it. However, the human eye perceives laser projections a little brighter than your standard LED projections at the same lumen count. That being said, the projected image with the MP-CL1 is still a lot darker than the JmGO View, but bright enough to enjoy at any distance less than 40 inches away.
This projector doesn’t need to be very far away to project a huge image though, and only being 40 inches away will create a 120 inch image with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Keystoning is also available, but rather strangely, no focusing capabilities, be it automatic or via manual controls. Thanks to this being a laser based projection system however, the image always remains pretty clear, regardless of how close or far you are.
The plastic stand it comes with seems a little flimsy, but gets the job done. It can clip onto the front or back, but at a fixed position, so you may need to use some extra books or other objects to prop it up perfectly. Like most projectors, you will be able to stream media via Miracast, plug in a USB flash drive, or connect a Mini HDMI or MHL cable. There are built-in speakers available, but they are pretty weak, so you’ll be better off using the auxiliary jack to use an external pair of speakers.
There aren’t a whole lot of extras with this projector, like a remote, but if portability is key, the Sony MP-CL1 is the device for you. The price doesn’t hurt either, with the MP-CL1 currently priced at around $350.
ASUS ZenBeam E1
If a little more bang for your buck is what you’re after, the ASUS ZenBeam E1 is the portable projector for you. It is an LED based system just like the JmGO View, and even though it isn’t as bright at 150 lumens, it’s definitely much brighter than the Sony MP-CL1. The ZenBeam is compact and lightweight as well, with dimensions of 83 x 29 x 110 mm, and weighing just 307 grams. It may not be thin enough to carry around in your pocket, but is still portable enough.
There no bells and whistles here either, and it just projects an image via Miracast, HDMI, or a USB flash drive. Picture Settings are easily accessible via the menu button, and there is also a volume rocker and input selection button. There is also a physical focus dial, which is the best way to be a hundred percent accurate with the focus.
Keystoning is available as well, which is a must have feature for portable projectors, but there is no stand, making books and other objects a necessity to prop up the device to the right angle. The quality of the speakers is about the same as what you’d get with an average smartphone, but an aux port is included to let you plug in an external set of speakers.
The image quality and color reproduction are pretty nice, although darker scenes will be best viewed in a room that is pitch dark. The only problem here is that the maximum resolution is just 480p, which really limits how big the projected image will be. That is why this projector is ideally suited for activities like presentations, and watching movies isn’t going to be as enjoyable, unless you get a little closer to the wall.
This may not be the best projector out there, but given its ultra portable nature and affordable price point of just $249, the ASUS ZenBeam E1 does have its advantages.