short throw projector for dorm room

The 8 Best Projectors for Dorm Room

When I decided to review my best projectors for dorm room, I was filled with excitement.

When I was in college, no one had a projector in their dorm rooms to host movie nights. That would have been the cherry on top for the days in my life that I always remember with fondness.

It might have been more than 10 years since I graduated but I’m still going to imagine what would have been like if I had one of the best projectors for dorm room to spend carefree evenings enjoying the best content.

8 Best Projectors for Dorm Room Reviews

There are a lot of things we need to consider when we’re choosing the best projectors for dorm room. Getting a projector tripod stand might be helpful since you can’t do a ceiling mount.

I will review some of the best models at the moment. Afterwards, we’ll talk about which specs you must pay attention to when making your choice.

My main focus will be on recommending more affordable projectors because most students are on a lower budget.

You don’t need to spend a whole lot of money to get awesome visual quality. I will also review a few pricier models for those who are lucky enough to afford them.

Moreover, I’d like to focus on smaller, portable projectors because no one wants to move in with a bulky device.

When I was living in a dorm, I barely had room for all my things so I want you to think of how much free space you would have.

Last but not least, another aspect to focus on is projecting distance, which is projector to screen/wall distance. If you want to make sure that your room is big enough for the image size that you want to project, you can make sure of that using this calculator. It’s always good to check everything.

However, projecting distance shouldn’t actually be a problem because most dorm rooms, in general, are quite decent when it comes to their size. You won’t need to focus only on short-throw projectors, which can be a bit more expensive. Ultra short-throw projectors are even pricier.

I will review my recommendations from the least expensive to the most expensive, it’s easier to go this way. The further down you read, the more the prices increase.

1. AuKing Mini Projector – Cheapest Projector for Dorm Room

This is one of the cheapest projectors that you could buy with the expectations that you’ll get good image quality.

I’m not into models under $100 but the AuKing Mini Projector is among the few exceptions I’ll make. If your budget is in this area, this is the first model you should check out.

Resolution

Given the very low price, the 480p native resolution is to be expected. But if you pair it with a 40-inch portable projector screen, the experience will be truly great.

In my reviews for the best projector for cookie decorating I even reviewed models that cost around $200 that had this low resolution so the AuKing Mini Projector is really great.

Even if we have a 480p native resolution, we can still play 1080p content. You will be able to enjoy everything that streaming services offer.

There’s also a 2000:1 contrast ratio.

I should also mention that there’s no lumens volume for the brightness of the AuKing Mini Projector.

What I can say is that you absolutely need to use it in a dark room to enjoy your content in bright colors and acceptable contrast.

LED projector

A lot of cheap or medium-priced projectors are LED.

Some will make the claim of having 50,000 hours lifespan. Those numbers are completely exaggerated. In reality, we should expect an average lifespan of 20,000 hours, which can amount to more than 10 years of use.

Connections

We get absolutely everything we need: HDMI, VGA, AV, microSD, USB, Audio out.

Built-in speaker as well. Plus a remote.

It lacks Bluetooth support so you’ll have to connect your external audio via a 3.5mm cable.

Size

It’s definitely portable. It won’t take up much space at all and you can carry it wherever you want.

The dimensions are 7.7 x 6 x 2.7 in. It weighs 2.87 pounds.

2. DBPower L22 WiFi Projector

I like the DBPower L22 a bit more than I like the AuKing Mini Projector when it comes to choosing the best projectors for dorm room. But it also depends on how much money you’re willing to spend.

If your budget can stretch to looking for projectors around $150, I recommend checking out the DBPower L22.

In my reviews for the best projector under $300, I also reviewed the DBPower RD828. Check out that article if your budget is around $300 because I recommend a bunch of models that you can choose from.

Resolution

The first thing you’ll notice is that this DBPower has a 1820 x 720 p native resolution.

The HD native resolution means that you can use a 60 or 80-inch screen. The 60 inch would be my preferred option in this case, just to ensure that the images are really crisp and popup.

We can play 1080p content.

There’s also a 3500:1 contrast ratio.

Brightness

It’s nothing extraordinary but it’s not bad either.

We get 200 ANSI lumens.

However, we should consider that this is a LED projector. Even LED models that cost $500 or more can have 200-300 ANSI lumens. The really good ones will have a brightness of 500 ANSI lumens.

Thus, the DBPower L22 has a very good brightness for such a low price.

I still recommend watching it in the dark but you’ll like it.

Since it’s a LED, we can expect an average lifespan of 20,000 hours.

Connections

Plenty of people buy the DBPower L22 to enjoy it as an outdoor projector.

Those who use it as an outdoor projector, talk about screen mirroring their smartphone while the audio is taken care of by a Bluetooth speaker.

Thus, with this DBPower L22 we get the whole range of connections. After all, it’s a WiFi projector.

Screen mirroring will work with Android and iOS.

Still, even if we do screen mirroring, it will only work for content that you bought. It doesn’t work for streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) because of copyright.

Thus, most people will have to buy a streaming device like Roku so that they can enjoy a wide array of content with the DBPower L22. You can connect it via HDMI and that’s it, it’s the easiest way.

The ports are: HDMI, VGA, AV, USB, Audio.

We also get a bunch of very useful accessories: remote control, AV cable, HDMI cable, power cable.

There’s also a built-in 3W dual stereo speaker.

Size

It’s another portable model that weighs 3.13 pounds.

Its dimensions are 7.4 x 5.9 x 3 inches.

3. LG PF50KA – One of the Best Projectors for Dorm Room

With the LG PF50KA we’re heading towards another territory: very well known brands that even complete beginners, ready to buy their first model as the best projector for dorm room, will recognize.

We’re also heading towards higher prices. This is a projector that costs around $500-$600. We should expect big things.

Resolution

This is one of the best things that I like about the LG PF50KA.

We get a Full HD 1080p native resolution. It’s impressive.

The images we get are crisp and clear. The colors are really good.

With a 1080p native resolution we can use an up to 100 inches projector screen. I would say that an 80-inch one would be perfect.

It also has a 1.4 throw ratio and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

We only get vertical auto keystone correction but no left and right (horizontal) adjustments. Well, it was to be expected.

There’s no zoom but we get a dynamic contrast ratio of 100000:1.

Brightness

The LG PF50KA is a LED projector with 600 ANSI lumens, which is among the highest brightness we get for LED models. It’s another reason for really liking this PF50KA.

It’s also why it works as a projector for daylight, although the best enjoyment will be had in a dark room.

Connections

The very nice thing about LG projectors is that they come with Smart TV that includes an app store and browser.

There’s a remote control for navigating everything.

Thus, for this LG PF50KA you don’t need a streaming device. We already get to download all the apps we need thanks to Smart TV.

It’s also a WiFi projector. You can connect any other device that is connected to your WiFi network, whether it’s a phone, tablet, laptop or a wireless speaker.

Bluetooth support is included. Plus a built-in speaker that is not good at all.

The ports featured are: 2 HDMI, USB, Audio, LAN.

Size

Given that I recommend as my favorite for the best projectors for camping, you can expect ultra-portability.

It weighs 2.1 pounds. The dimensions are 6.7 x 1.9 x 6.7 inches.

Battery life

Besides portability, we get a built-in battery that can last for 2/2.5 hours for 1080p content.

4. Epson Home Cinema 880 – One of My Favorite Projectors

We’ve reached one of my top recommendations for the best projectors for dorm room. And we’re still in the $500-$600 price range.

Resolution

The Full HD native resolution is no surprise for anyone.

But what is surprising is that the overall image quality will make you think that the Epson 880 is a much more expensive device. We get fantastic image quality.

This is a 3LCD lamp-based device.

We get a lamp life of 6,000 hours in normal and 12,000 hours in Eco. You should expect to change the lamp in a few years. But it still lasts a good amount of time.

There’s a 16000:1 contrast ratio. It’s not the highest but we still get to enjoy life-like images. In dark rooms, you’ll see that the contrast ratio is more than good.

We also get 4 modes: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema, Natural.

What I really like is the +/- 30 degrees both vertical and horizontal keystone correction.

It also has a built-in Picture Skew Sensor so vertical correction is done automatically. The horizontal is manual.

The throw ratio range is 1.21-1.63.

Brightness

The 3,300 ANSI lumens brightness is absolutely fantastic.

You can choose this as one of the best projector for dorm room that can be watched in ambient light. It also works as one of the best for watching sports.

Connections

It supports Mira casting for smartphones, laptops, tablets. That’s a wireless connection that is easily made for all OS.

The ports are: HDMI, LAN, USB Plug ‘n Play, USB Type A, Audio.

We get a tiny 2W built-in speaker. And it comes with a remote control but no HDMI cable.

There’s no Bluetooth support.

Size

It’s not a huge projector but it’s too big either. Just in the middle.

It weighs 5.95 pounds. The dimensions are 11.9 x 9.3 x 3.2 inches.

5. ViewSonic PS600X – Cheapest 3D Projector for Dorm Room

A last recommendation for the $500-$600 price range is this ViewSonic. Why did I want to review this ViewSonic PS600X as one of the best projectors for dorm room?

This is actually specially selected for people who are looking for a certain technology: the possibility to watch 3D content on a projector. Well, you’ll be able to do that as soon as you buy 3D glasses, which are sold separately.

Resolution

The resolution is not the greatest in this price range but this is the sacrifice you’ll have to make if playing 3D content in your dorm room is crucial for you. Otherwise, I prefer the Epson Home Cinema 880.

We get a 1024 x 768 pixels native resolution.

However, keep in mind that this is also a business projector that works as a home theater device, too. That’s why we get a XGA native resolution.

We can play up to Full HD content.

Brightness

Since it’s a data projector, the 3,700 lumens brightness is quite expected. But it still manages to be one of its top features.

It really shines brightly. It works in ambient light without problems.

Connections

The ports featured are: 2 HDMI, LAN, USB, mini USB, Audio.

If you connect a 3D Blu-ray player via HDMI and you buy 3D glasses, you’ll be able to watch 3D movies.

There’s a 10W built-in speaker and a remote control.

There’s no Bluetooth support.

Size

It’s not advertised as a portable projector but it can be viewed as one since it weighs only 5.7 pounds. You can carry it everywhere.

6. BenQ HT2150ST – Best Gaming Projector for Dorm Room

With BenQ HT2150ST we’re reaching ballpark budgets in the area of $1,000. This is certainly not a cheap device and I don’t imagine that many students will have the budget for it.

However, if we reviewed so many affordable best projectors for dorm room, you should also review some more high-end ones.

3D and gaming projector

Plus, it’s yet another model that offers us the option to view 3D content, as long as we buy the glasses.

The 3D glasses are sold separately. The recommended ones are DGD5 3D glasses, which cost around $60 per pair.

Moreover, gamers will be highly interested in this model. It has a 16ms input lag.

BenQ mentions that the HT2150ST is designed for video gaming with outstanding colors, low input lag, customizing game modes and built-in speakers.

What I love most about this BenQ HT2150ST is how truly popular it is and it’s one of the few models that has so many glowing positive reviews. There are some bad ones, too. Make sure to read from both camps.

Short-throw

It’s a short-throw projector with a 0.69-0.83 throw ratio.

If your room is really tiny, which I doubt that it’s that tiny, this projector can form an image from a very small distance.

You get to form an image on a 100 inches screen from 5 feet 6 inches. The distance decreases the lower the diagonal of the screen is.

Resolution

Obviously, we get a Full HD native resolution.

We also have a 15,000:1 contrast ratio, which is decent but nothing extraordinary.

We get a lot of picture modes to choose from: 3D, Cinema, Game, Game Bright, ISF Day, ISF Night, User, Vivid.

Surprisingly, we only get a +/- 40 degrees keystone correction. I’m surprised to see that we don’t get a horizontal one within this price range. But that’s easy to fix, especially if you put your projector on a tripod stand.

Brightness

A brightness of 2,200 lumens is not low at all.

Still, at this level for lamp-based models, the images are best enjoyed in all their brilliance in a dark room, which will suit gamers or 3D lovers just fine.

Lamp-based DLP

The BenQ HT2150ST uses a lamp as a light source, which means that you’ll have to change that said lamp when brightness decreases.

Another thing you have to pay attention to when it comes to DLP lamp-based models is that some of you might notice the rainbow effect.

Not everyone’s brain picks up on the rainbow effect so there’s no way to know if you’re unlucky or not until you get this device powered up, especially if this is your first projector.

The lamp lifespan is estimated at: 3500 hrs for Normal, 5000 hrs for Eco and 7000 hrs for SmartEco.

Connections

We get a lot of ports: 2 HDMI ports, PC, DC, USB, mini USV, RS232, Audio out/in.

There are also 2 built-in speakers 10W.

Size

Surprisingly, it’s not that heavy. It weighs almost 8 pounds. It’s a bit heavier than any of the above models but it’s still portable.

7. LG HU810PW – Best 4K UHD Projector for Dorm Room

If you want to know what to expect from this 4K UHD projector for dorm room, you only need to read this first line that I picked from a user’s review: performs like a $10,000 dollar project.

It might be 4-5 times cheaper than $10,000 but it’s still expensive. I don’t imagine that many students have such budgets for projectors. That’s why I’ll review just 2 expensive models as the best projectors for dorm room, with prices around $2,000-$3,000.

It’s not that I don’t absolutely love close to true 4K models, it’s just that I believe that even a budget of $500 or $300 or less can buy us a pretty top-notch device for some amazing viewing experiences.

Laser

With higher budgets, we’ve reached a different type of devices as the best projectors for dorm room: the laser models.

We don’t have any lamp to change, the light source lifespan is estimated at 20,000 hours.

However, with laser devices, the decrease in brightness is less noticeable. If you spend all that money, at least it will be all worth it.

It’s a DLP so there’s still a risk of rainbow effect. It’s a risk that you’ll have to take.

Resolution

Let’s see what the difference between 4K UHD and true 4K is, besides a couple of thousand of dollars.

You should know that 4K UHD comes very close to true 4K but they’re not the same thing.

4K UHD is a 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution, which amounts to about 8 million pixels. True 4K amounts to about 8.3 million pixels. As you can see, not a huge difference.

It’s HDR compatible, which is not something we see often in the world of these majestic devices.

All I can say is that the LG HU810PW handles HDR beautifully, as well as one might expect.

Both vertical and horizontal shifts are included.

The throw ratio is 1.3-2.08.

Brightness

Once again, the LG HU810PW makes sure to bring its top game.

We get a 2,700 lumens brightness, which is high enough for this to be able to play in ambient light, as well.

Connections

The Smart TV, a complete OS on our own projector, makes an appearance yet again. It’s the same as on the much cheaper LG PF50KA.

Besides that, we get wireless connectivity and Bluetooth support.

There’s also screen share and Airplay.

The ports are some of the most impressive, too: 3 HDMI ports, LAN, 2 USB A ports, Audio, HID.

One last thing to blow your mind: this is Dolby Atmos compatible. Until discovering the LG HU810PW, I thought that Dolby Atmos compatible projectors were not a thing. It’s nice to be wrong.

Size

This is a heavy model, a near monstrosity that weighs 24.3 pounds.

Its dimensions are 13.3 x 16.1 x 5.7.

Even if you can afford it, make sure that it actually fits where you’re planning to live.

8. Epson Home Cinema 5050UB

For my final recommendation for the best projectors for dorm room we have another almost true 4K model.

However, this Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is not a laser projector. Since the LG HU810PW is a laser 4K UHD projector, I would say that the LG is a slightly better choice.

Even so, this Epson 5050UB is still an extraordinary model.

Plus, it’s also a 3D projector. And one with a 4K PRO-UHD resolution on top of that.

Resolution

We get a 4K PRO-UHD 3840 x 2160 pixels native resolution. It comes very close to true 4K, which is 4096 x 2160 pixels.

The 4096 x 2160 pixels is also the max supported resolution.

A contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 is really incredible.

If you want to see for yourself how such an expensive projector performs, you can check out this video.

If I were to describe this Epson Home Cinema 5050UB, I would simply say that it’s so much more than what a TV in this price range can offer. I’ve always loved projectors more and expensive models like this truly showcase what’s so brilliant about these devices.

The color modes for 2D are: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural, Cinema, Digital Cinema, Black & White Cinema.

Moreover, the color modes for 3D are: Dynamic, Cinema.

The throw ratio is 1.35-2.84.

We get vertical and horizontal lens shift.

Brightness

2,600 lumens is a really good brightness.

Since it’s a lamp projector, the lamp life is estimated at: 5,000 hours Eco mode, 4,000 hours Medium mode and 3,500 High mode.

I think it would have been a perfect projector for absolutely anyone were it to be a laser model with 20,000 hours lifespan.

But you won’t have to change the lamp for a few good years so it’s all not that bad.

Connections

The ports are: 2 HDMI, 2 USB, mini USB, LAN, RS-232c.

It’s all pretty basic, no Bluetooth support.

However, what bothers me the most is the lack of Audio ports. That, I simply can’t comprehend. Of course, you can link your audio external source to the device that is connected to the projector for playing content. It’s not difficult.

Size

This is another big model that weighs 24.7 pounds.

Its dimensions are 20.5 x 17.7 x 7.6 inches.

Best Projectors for Dorm Room Buying Guide

Now that you’ve checked out my reviews for the best projectors for dorm room, it’s time to talk about the specs that you must consider when making such a purchase.

If none of the above models work for you, just follow this short buying guide and you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Price

I tried my best to review the best projectors for dorm room for all budgets because everyone should be able to enjoy these devices that can transform our nights into some of the best of our lives.

I started by recommending a projector under $100, the AuKing Mini Projector.

Next, I moved on to the DBPower L22, which is one of the best for less than $150.

Obviously, those who have a budget around $500-$600 can choose from plenty of wonderful models. Three of my favorites are LG PF50KA, Epson Home Cinema 880, and ViewSonic PS600X. I consider these three to be some of the best projectors for dorm room because they have top-notch specs coupled with some of the most affordable prices.

As we approach the $1,000 mark, our choices become even better: BenQ HT2150ST is one of the models you should check out.

Above $2,000 things get very interesting because we move into 4K UHD or PRO-UHD territory, both coming close to true 4K. We have models like: LG HU810PW and Epson Home Cinema 5050UB.

Resolution

What do we do first when we look for devices that are used for projecting images?

We look to see their resolution. It’s the same thing we do for monitors, tables, smartphones, laptops, etc. Projectors are absolutely no different.

However, when it comes to projectors, there are two types of resolution to watch for: native resolution and max supported resolution.

The one we’re interested in is native resolution.

Max supported resolution is the one that tells us that even though we have a HD native resolution, we can play Full HD content. Or if we have a 1080p native resolution, we can play up to 4K content.

Obviously, my preference is for Full HD 1080p projectors for dorm room.

However, those with lower budgets will have to settle for 720p or even lower. Even those with lower native resolution can be very good, especially if you don’t project an image bigger than 40-60 inches.

4K models will set you back by $2,000-$3,000 at the least.

Lumens

Another crucial spec that we must look at when searching for the best projectors for dorm room is lumens volume.

This is the spec that indicates the brightness of a projector.

If we only want to watch content in completely dark rooms, then getting a model with a very high lumens volume is not that important.

However, some of you might want to watch in ambient light, too. The easiest way to tell if a projector can work in ambient light without its images being too washed out is to look at lumens volume.

A brightness higher than 2500-3000 ANSI lumens is the best for lamp-based and laser projector that can be played in ambient light. A LED model with 500 ANSI lumens is awesome.

Lamp-based, LED or laser?

This classification is made based on the light source of the device.

For lamp-based models, lamps are the light source. These are still some of the most popular projectors but the downside is that you’ll have to change the lamp after a few years of use. If you only plan on using your projector for 5 years at most then it won’t matter that it’s a lamp-based device.

LED projectors use light-emitting diodes as a light source. This type is becoming more and more popular for two major reasons: affordable prices and portability. Basically, if you’re looking for a device that ‘s not much bigger than your hand and won’t break the bank, that’s going to be a LED projector. Their lifespan is estimated at 20,000 hours on average. It will last for years and there’s no lamp to change.

Laser projectors are the most expensive of the three. Usually, you’ll find a lot of absolutely impressive laser projectors if you’re looking for 4K models. They’re maintenance-free and their lifespan is estimated at 20,000 hours on average, as well.

Watching content on a projector in a dorm room

Basically, there are two main ways to project content via a projector: by connecting a source device (laptop, tablet, PC, etc.) via HDMI or by connecting a streaming device via HDMI.

Some really affordable projectors, usually with prices under $300, might come with a thing called HDCP, which stands for High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection.

What does that mean? Basically, if you want to watch content from streaming services like Netflix and the rest you won’t be able to do so from a source device (laptop, tablet, PC, smartphone etc.). The HDCP is not interfering if you bought the movie or the TV series, it’s only related to streaming services.

If that happens, there’s a simple solution: buy a streaming device and connect it via HDMI and you’re good. You can enjoy whatever apps you want because streaming devices come with operating systems so the HDCP won’t be a problem.

Get a streaming device like the Roku Express, which is one of the cheapest, and you’re all set.

You can also play games on your projector by connecting your Xbox or PlayStation via HDMI.

There are multiple ways to watch content on a projector in a dorm room, you just have to experiment with the one that works for you. We get a lot of flexibility.

There are also portable projectors that come with their own OS or Smart TV, where you’ll find all the apps that you want (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc.). Those are fantastically easy to use, as long as you pay for the streaming service.

Should you buy a portable projector screen?

My advice is to get one. I know that this is another thing you have to spend money on so it’s totally fine if you can’t at the moment.

However, getting a projector screen really makes a huge difference in overall image quality.

Projector screens are designed to show the full potential of these devices, when it comes to brightness, color gamut, color vibrancy and contrast.

You won’t know what your device is truly capable of until it projects on a screen and not on a wall. The images projected on a wall will be good if the projector has high specs but it’s still not the same.

For cheaper projectors it’s even more important to pair them with a screen because they already don’t have top-notch specs as models over $1,000-$2,000 do.

If you do decide to spend money on a screen, I would recommend portable projector screens because they’re easy to stash away, they fold into a tiny thing. And they come with a support.

To put it simply, a projector screen with stand is the perfect sidekick for the best projectors for dorm room.

Other portable screens can be hung on a wall using hooks. These are the ones that don’t come with a stand.

You can get a 40, 60, 80, 100 or even a 120 inches portable projector screen.

If you get a projector with a lower resolution than HD (720p) don’t buy a screen bigger than 60 inches. You need to keep the image smaller to maximize what the lower resolution is capable of projecting. You could even get a 40-inch portable projector screen, like the Pyle PRJTP46.

For a HD model, you can go with 80 inch.

Full HD projectors work well with 80 or 100 inches screens.

How to get the best sound quality in a dorm room

Pretty much all models that I recommended in this article come with built-in speaker(s). For audiophiles, that might not be enough at all. Especially if you organize movie nights with a bunch of rowdy students. You might want to look for an external audio source.

For projectors that come with Bluetooth, the easiest way to get amazing sound quality is to pair your projector with a Bluetooth speaker. You can check out my reviews for the best Bluetooth speakers for projectors, in case you already don’t have one.

If you don’t have too much money to spend, I recommend the Tribit XSound Go.

A soundbar also works very well for a dorm room setting. After wireless speakers, a soundbar is the next best choice because it won’t take too much space at all. You won’t even notice it there. One of my favorites is the Yamaha SR-B20A, which is also one of the most affordable.

Last but not least, it doesn’t matter if your projector doesn’t offer Bluetooth support. Almost all have an Audio out port. Just make sure that your chosen speaker or speaker system can be connected via a 3.5 mm audio cable.

All in all, I hope that my reviews for the best projectors for dorm room have shown you that these devices are absolutely fantastic for watching your favorite entertainment, no matter your ballpark budget.