Before getting to my reviews for the best projectors under $300, I have to get something off my chest: finding affordable projectors that actually offer some good quality and nice specs is so hard.
What makes it so absolutely hard is that there are a lot of manufacturers that I’ve absolutely never heard of that sell some really cheap devices. At first glance, these models seem to have a long list of positive reviews but if you dig a bit deeper that’s not the case.
Basically, I had to research about 20-30 cheap projectors and read what seemed like thousands of reviews. Unfortunately, from such a high number, I was only able to settle on 8 devices as my picks for the best projectors under $300.
Well, the last of those 8 models is twice the price but I want to offer it as an alternative, just in case you can spend more to get something of higher quality.
Table of Contents
Best Projectors Under $300 Reviews
I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for here. If you don’t, as I’ve already mentioned, there are a lot of other cheap projectors to choose from. Just because I found them unappealing doesn’t mean you will too.
For the best projectors under $300, my favorite pick is the ViewSonic PA503S SVGA Projector. It only has a 800 x 600 pixels resolution but the overall image quality is fantastic. Plus, it has a very high brightness since it’s a data projector so it can be used in ambient light, as well.
If you have a slightly bigger budget, the ViewSonic PA503 series also features two slightly higher resolutions: XGA and WXGA. Of course, the WXGA is the highest resolution among the three so it’s really great. This is the ViewSonic 3800 Lumens WXGA High Brightness Projector for Home and Office.
My second recommendation is the DBPower RD828. Surprisingly, it has a Full HD native resolution so I like it a lot.
My third recommendation is the Anker Nebula Capsule, which is a portable projector with a lot of interesting features. The 854 x 480 pixels native resolution is not the greatest but it can work on a smaller projector screen quite nicely. Of course, it plays 1080p content.
1. ViewSonic PA503S SVGA Projector: Overall the Best Projector Under $300
I don’t think you can do better for this price, whether you’re looking for a home theater model or a data projector (for business or education).
Some users even use the ViewSonic PA503S as a projector for camping even though it’s not exactly designed for that. However, it’s really great to see that it can be used in so many different environments. It works for watching movies outdoors, too. Even when it’s not completely dark outside.
If you’re ready to spend a bit above $300, you can also choose two other resolutions from the same line: the ViewSonic PA503X with XGA resolution (1024 x 768, a bit below HD) and the ViewSonic PA503W with WXGA resolution (1280 x 768).
Let’s see what the PA503S offers and why I consider it to be overall the best in this price range. I also reviewed it as one of the best projectors under $1,000.
This is where the ViewSonic PA503S truly shines as one of the best projectors under $300.
It has 3,800 ANSI lumens. That’s so much.
It’s just so good when it comes to offering a very high brightness because it’s primarily designed as a data projector. Presentations are not given in dark rooms. Ambient light is present in business rooms and classrooms.
On the other hand, it means that it’s awesome if you get it as a home theater device. You can even watch TV during the day or use it outdoors as the evening sets it. You don’t have to use it only in completely dark rooms.
Obviously, if you use it for entertainment purposes, the best image quality with the most vivid colors will be enjoyed in dark rooms. That’s true for all models, no matter how cheap or expensive they are.
Since it’s designed as a data projector, we have a resolution that some of you might not have heard of.
The PA503S has a 800 x 600 pixels native resolution. This is lower than 600p, which is 1024 x 600 pixels.
However, it can project full HD content.
It has a throw ratio range of 1.96 to 2.15.
It projects 120 inches from 15-feet 8-inches. Well, 120-inch screens are huge.
Another thing I like quite a lot about this ViewSonic is the 22,000:1 contrast ratio. That’s quite decent and it will help create life-like images.
There are also 5 color modes with preset settings: Brightest, Presentation, Standard, Photo, and Movie Mode.
There’s also ViewSonic’s proprietary SuperColour Technology for more accurate and realistic colors.
4:3 aspect ratio
Because it’s a SVGA, it has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The same goes for XGA. WXGA resolution comes with 16:10 aspect ratio.
However, you can change the aspect ratio from the menu. There are instructions for that in the user manual.
So you can choose the 16:9 ratio to use it as a home theater projector for watching movies and TV. It will display movies and other 16:9 content without aspect alteration.
I love that part because it means that it works as a home theater projector without any problems, even if it was designed primarily as a device for presentations, businesses, classrooms, and houses of worship.
This is a lamp-based projector. That means that, unlike LED and laser projectors, at some point you’ll have to change the bulb for this model.
It has a 190W Metal Halide bulb.
ViewSonic PA503S offers a lamp life of 5,000 hours in normal mode and 15,000 hours in power saving mode. 5,000 hours is the number that interests us. It’s not the highest, that’s for sure.
That doesn’t mean that the image will suddenly go completely black. It’s just that the brightness and the overall image-quality become subpar.
This is an extra cost for later years. If you’re using it daily for long hours, the time for a bulb change will come sooner.
It’s built using the DLP chip technology.
There is no horizontal lens shift (no left to right). That’s a bit disappointing but it’s not exactly unexpected for the best projectors under $300.
We get +/- 40% vertical lens shift.
If you use it on a tripod stand then you can center it easily by moving the tripod left or right. However, if you do a ceiling mount, you’ll have to establish the best position, find the center, before drilling the holes into the ceiling.
Surprisingly, this cheap projector actually includes immersive 3D viewing.
Its HDMI port allows users to project 3D content from 3D Blu-ray players and HDMI-enabled devices like tablets, laptops, media players.
It features: HDMI, dual VGA, mini USB, and Audio in/out.
If you’re buying the PA503S for using it at home, I recommend getting a streaming device for enjoying all your favorite content without any problems. You just connect the device via HDMI and each streaming device comes with its own OS. My favorite is Roku.
Obviously, you can also use DVD/Blu-ray players, laptops, PCs, gaming consoles, tablets, etc. as separate sources for the projector.
It also has a very tiny 2W speaker. For the best entertainment experiences, you absolutely need external speakers.
Where to Buy?
2. DBPower RD828 1080p WiFi Projector: Good Projector under $300
Just these two obvious facts sound awesome. We’ll see just how true that Full HD resolution is.
However, let’s see why it’s not my favorite when it comes to choosing the best projectors under $300. I am fully aware that you might think differently and decide that this is the device for you.
We’re told that the DBPower RD828 has a brightness of 8,000L. The L doesn’t stand for lumens and nowhere do they mention that these are ANSI lumens or lumens. Those 8,000L are not ANSI lumens.
However, people who are not aware of ANSI lumens as the international standard measurement for brightness are going to automatically believe that this model is impressively bright, which is definitely misleading.
Frankly, we have no way of knowing which is the brightness in ANSI lumens. We can’t understand how it compares to other projectors.
From my research, I came to the conclusion that the brightness is nothing impressive and you definitely need dark environments for bright images.
It’s nothing bad, most projectors don’t do well with ambient light.
If you’re using it for the outdoors, you should wait until it gets completely dark outside.
It’s supposed to have a 1080p native resolution. However, I read a review where someone mentioned that when they connected their MacBook to it, the only resolution available was 1280×720. That would mean that the native Full HD is not exactly true.
Frankly, I believe that it’s a native 1080p. The writing looks great, too. There’s no issue about reading text.
I’m pleased with the overall image quality, even though you can’t expect to get a fantastic contrast ratio.
If it didn’t have an overall good image quality, I wouldn’t review it as my second recommendation for the best projectors under $300.
LED LCD projector
I saw a user review from someone who was confused about the two being mentioned together. LED is the light source. LCD is the chip technology used for creating the image that we see on the screen. DLP is another chip technology used for the same purpose.
That’s why we also have laser LCD or DLP projectors. LCD and DLP are not chip technologies used only by lamp-based projectors. They’re chip technologies used across the board by lamp-based, LED, and laser projectors.
It’s a LED projector, which means that there’s no lamp to change in the future.
However, DBPower claims that this model has a 50,000 hours lamp life. That’s outrageous because I haven’t seen LED projectors that are able to claim such a high life span. It’s misleading advertising.
For example, LG PF50KA Full HD LED only claims to have a lamp life of up to 30,000 hours. That’s the maximum I’ve seen for LED models.
Not even laser projectors that cost thousands of dollars can claim that.
You can easily connect an Android or iOS phone via screen mirroring as long as they’re on the same network. It also works for laptops and tablets.
Wireless connections are easy to establish. You can watch this YouTube video that describes how it works in a few seconds.
The featured ports are: HDMI (2 of them), USB, AV, Audio out. You’ll connect your speakers via the Audio out port.
You can also play movies from a USB stick or play PDF, PowerPoint presentations.
We also get a 5W dual speaker.
If you don’t want to do a ceiling mount, you can use a tripod stand.
Let’s start with the first con that is quite common for these less-known projectors manufacturers. You’re going to come across this complaint for a large number of cheap projectors like the DBPower RD828.
They have a built-in HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection). I have no idea why that is because you won’t encounter this about ViewSonic, Optoma, Epson or other well-known brands.
This HDCP blocks you from streaming content from services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. if you’re using your laptop, tablet, smartphone to launch various streaming services.
The HDCP doesn’t apply if you connect a DVD player or Blu-ray player or play bought movies that are stored on your laptop. It just blocks content from streaming services.
There’s only one solution: using streaming devices like Roku, Chromecast, FireStick, etc. These devices are connected via HDMI and have their own apps with their own OS so the HDCP won’t get activated.
Thus, even though it comes with wireless screen mirroring, it’s pretty useless.
Some user reviews mention that there’s no Bluetooth but I don’t even know where they got the idea that the DBPower RD828 supports Bluetooth because I couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere.
The fan is loud and the device can overheat after being used for long periods of time.
Where to Buy?
3. Anker Nebula Capsule
It’s not that I don’t recognize that it has some nice specs. The thing is that there are some cons to go with them. Let’s see what I’m talking about.
Anker calls their 100 ANSI lumens capable of delivering a remarkably bright image. However, it’s absolutely clear that this model is not made for ambient light, you need your environment to be as dark as it can get.
Even if it’s a LED projector, 100 lumens is still very low.
Lamp life is estimated at 30,000 hours.
The resolution is low, 854 x 480 pixels with 16:9 aspect ratio.
The maximum supported resolution is Full HD.
If you want a portable projector with HD resolution from this manufacturer, you’ll have to spend double the price and get the Nebula Capsule II. It’s their newer model that also comes with Android TV 9.0 It also has double the brightness.
You can project up to a 100-inch image. However, I would recommend getting a 60-inch or 80-inch screen.
The vertical correction is done automatically but the horizontal correction (left and right) will have to be done manually.
You can get up to 4 hours of video playtime. It has a 5,200 mAh battery. This kind of portability can be exactly what you’re looking for in the best projectors under $300.
Charging time is 2.5 hours.
It weighs 14.8 oz, very light.
The Nebula Capsule comes with Android 7.1 OS, which is outdated. It’s to be expected from a projector that has been around since 2018.
You might be able to launch some apps from the OS but I expect it to be very limited and to have some outdated versions of the apps. Some will not work at all so you can basically forget about this function that should replace a streaming device.
The only solution is to update it to Android 9, if it’s possible.
The easiest way to watch content still remains to cast from your phone, connecting it wirelessly for both iOS and Android devices.
You can also connect various devices via HDMI.
Plus, one of the easiest methods remains getting a streaming device. The most basic of them can cost around $30. You don’t need 4K streaming devices for projectors like the Nebula Capsule.
It also offers Bluetooth support.
It also comes with 1 5W 360 degrees speaker.
Some users complain about the brightness, while others claim that it’s really good. However, 100 lumens is low so you might only be able to use it in pitch black rooms for the best image quality.
Some connectivity issues also appear in some negative reviews but that’s pretty much something you’ll see for most models. It’s still a good idea to keep that in mind.
For some, the picture quality is not good at 100 inches. That’s why I recommend projectors with lower resolutions, like the Anker Nebula Capsule, to be used for 60 or 80 inches images.
Where to Buy?
4. WiMiUS K1 Projector
There’s a YouTube video that made me want to review this WiMiUS K1. This is one of those models that has some infuriating things about it, like not mentioning ANSI lumens, which is the standard, but using lux to measure the brightness. That’s totally not okay.
However, I decided to mention it as one of best projectors under $300 because it has a nice image quality. The fact that it has a native Full HD resolution is the biggest reason for selecting it. There are cons to it and I’ll mention those, too. You’ll have to decide after balancing it all out.
It’s not my favorite by a long mile but maybe there are people who don’t agree with my other recommendations and would like to try out this one.
I’m not even bothering with mentioning whatever numbers this manufacturer supplies because those are not ANSI lumens.
Actually, they don’t provide any exact numbers.
Judging by the user reviews and from what I’ve seen, the image quality is best in darker environments. That’s something to be completely expected.
This is absolutely astounding: WiMiUS mentions that the LED lamp life is estimated at 100,000 hours. I have never heard of such a thing.
Full HD native resolution, just like the DBPower RD828.
The image quality is good, it’s quite satisfactory, otherwise I wouldn’t have reviewed the WiMiUS K1.
It can connect wirelessly to phones/tablets/laptops via your network.
It also comes with Bluetooth.
HDMI is the most useful port.
There are also dual built-in surround speakers.
This is another one of those devices that won’t play movies from streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and so on if you’re running those apps from a source device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.).
That was also the case with the DBPower RD828. These 2 are the only two best projectors under $300 that have this particular big con.
As I’ve already mentioned, the only solution is to get a streaming device and run that one for your favorite apps via the HDMI port.
Other cons involve black spots or white spots on the screen.
For another user, the projector quit working within 30 minutes after turning it On for the first time.
Where to Buy?
5. Optoma LV130
My first impression about the LV130 was this: Optoma certainly didn’t go out of their way to make this model one of the best projectors under $300. However, some users definitely love it.
If you get it on sale, it has a price that’s very close to $200. Being cheap remains its primary pro. Let’s see if we can find some more.
It’s absolutely tiny, palm-sized. It also weighs 14 oz, less than a pound.
To complete its portability feature, it also includes a 6,700 mAh battery that is supposed to last about 4.5 hours.
300 lumens brightness, which is pretty low but this is a LED projector. Even if they register a lower volume of ANSI lumens, their brightness is still good.
The LV130 has decent brightness but it’s still better used in the dark.
Even if you take it outdoors, wait until it gets dark to play some movies. You won’t probably have to wait until it’s pitch black but the picture quality will get better the darker it gets outside.
Lamp life is estimated at up to 30,000 hours.
854 x 480 pixels. It’s a low resolution, characteristic of cheap pico projectors. The price range definitely matches other pico projectors like the Kodak 150 and Akaso Focus.
It will project up to an 80-inch image, which is to be expected for this low resolution. A 60-inch screen might be better for sharper images.
It has a 1.1 throw ratio, which is good.
The primary means of connection is the HDMI input with MHL 2.2. You can use it to connect mobile devices, laptops, and gaming consoles.
For your phone, you’ll need a MHL adapter that will on one end connect to your phone’s micro USB port and to the HDMI port on the projector on the other end.
For me, the easiest way is to use streaming devices that are directly connected to the HDMI. But casting from a laptop/tablet/media player also works easily via HDMI.
The USB port is used just for charging. There’s also an Audio out for speakers.
We also get a built-in speaker.
There’s one user review that complained about the projector dying after only being used once. I think that can be a pretty big con.
Where to Buy?
6. ViewSonic M1 Portable LED Projector
I really like the stand on the ViewSonic M1, it’s a nice addition and I don’t think that I’ve seen it on other models. The smart stand, as it’s called, enables easy placement in a variety of positions and angles. And it doubles as a lens cover.
Frankly, it’s a pretty device but let’s see if the specs are on par with its prettiness. And if it’s worth being included among the best projectors under $300
250 LED lumens. I’m disappointed with ViewSonic that they’re using LED lumens and not ANSI lumens. It’s not the standard.
Even if you’re planning on using it outdoors, it will help if it’s completely dark outside before powering it on.
Lamp life is estimated at 30,000 hours.
It has a 45W power consumption, which is really low. That could also tell us that the brightness is indeed not very high.
854 x 480 pixels. It’s quite low. It supports up to Full HD content.
Even so, the image quality is quite nice. I certainly don’t have any complaints in this area. I believe that it’s suited for 60 or 80 inches screens.
The manufacturer describes it as a shorter throw that can project up to 100 inches from 8-feet 9-inches.
It has a 1.2 throw ratio.
There’s also an auto keystone function for projecting perfectly proportioned images at every angle. Well, they’re not exactly right because it’s only vertical, no horizontal correction is included.
This sounds impressive: 6 hours of power. The power consumption is very low so it’s plausible. Realistically, I would give it about 3-4 hours on battery at maximum brightness.
It can also charge other devices via USB C when the power adapter is plugged in. But that would mean that the battery life for the M1 will be gone quite quickly.
The featured connections are: HDMI, MicroSD, USB-C, USB Reader, Audio out.
Even ViewSonic recommends that the easiest way to enjoy these portable projectors and their capabilities is by using a streaming device. I agree.
We also get dual integrated Harman Kardon speakers that manage to offer a solid sound. This is a reputable audio manufacturer.
If you’re buying it to use with an SD card, then it seems that the maximum supported size is 32GB. Due to this size limit, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it to those who want to use a SD card. They do mention this maximum size of 32GB in their specs sheet so they’re not trying to mislead potential buyers.
It seems that movies played from a USB flash drive can have some weird delays during fast action scenes.
For some, another con is there’s no wireless connectivity.
I would recommend using the USB C port for connecting your phone or tablet to replace the lack of a wireless connection.
No Bluetooth support either.
Where to Buy?
The other ViewSonic M projectors
There’s a slightly more expensive M1+ that looks identical to this one. What justifies the higher price? The M1+ allows wireless connectivity and it supports Bluetooth. You can do wireless screen mirroring from your phone, tablet, laptop and connect speakers via Bluetooth.
You can easily confuse the M1 with the M1+ and vice versa so be careful what you buy.
In addition, there’s also the M1 Mini+, which is almost half the price of the ViewSonic M1. In terms of price, there’s a huge difference between these two. It has the same resolution but a lower brightness. It also has a battery that only provides 1.5 hours video playtime but, for a projector under $200, it’s not too bad.
Where to Buy?
7. Vankyo Leisure 510PW
Vankyo is a famous brand when it comes to cheap devices so I couldn’t leave this one out from my best projectors under $300. I chose their 510PW because I regard it as the model that stands out from their various devices.
This is one of those manufacturers that is not as well known as the others but that actually measures the brightness correctly.
Their Leisure 510PW has 299.14 ANSI lumens. I am amused by this precise measurement but I’ll take it. Let’s just call it a 300 lumens brightness.
This lumens volume is decent for the price range, I can’t complain about it at all.
Users are also satisfied with the brightness it offers. Since Vankyo advertises it as perfect for the office, I would assume that it’s good enough for ambient light.
The native 1920 x 1080p is surprising but it’s one of the main reasons why I like this Vankyo. I’m still amazed that we can get Full HD native in this price range.
You must pay attention to that because the Leisure 510 (no PW) only has a 1280 x 768 pixels resolution.
Surprisingly, it offers electronic keystone correction both vertically and horizontally. I like that a lot.
The recommended projection size is 90-inch at 9.84 feet. I would say that an 80-inch screen is perfect but a 100-inch can be good, too.
It’s actually a model that allows wireless connectivity.
Moreover, there are plenty of ports: 2 HDMI, USB 2.0, VGA, AV, Audio out, SD slot. It will work with all sorts of devices if the wireless connection is not established successfully.
The 510PW also has built-in office software. Most of the basic office files can be displayed directly.
Where to Buy?
8. Epson Home Cinema 880
This is not actually a projector under $300 because it costs double that. However, it’s my alternative to all these models as the best projectors under $300. If you have a higher budget you should compare this Epson with all the other cheaper devices.
The Home Cinema 880 is the cheapest model from the Home Theater series. It’s absolutely worth the money, the quality we get is definitely higher than what the affordable price suggests.
I also reviewed it as one of the best projectors for bedroom. Overall, it’s one of my favorite devices.
We have 3,300 ANSI lumens, which is very high. It can be considered a perfect affordable projector for daylight use, too.
Due to the high brightness and the 1080p resolution, it can also be picked as a data projector.
Lamp life is 6,000 hours for normal use or 12,000 hours in Eco mode. It’s really good for a lamp-based projector.
This is a home theater projector with Full HD native resolution.
The overall image quality is really fantastic. And it comes from one of the most famous projector brands.
It’s a 3LCD lamp-based projector. The 3LCD chip technology certainly has a few advantages over DLP: brighter colors, wider color gamut and no rainbow effect. To put it simply, it’s pretty awesome.
The contrast ratio up to 16,000:1 might not seem too much but it guarantees the displaying of life-like images. It will be a pleasure watching movies in completely dark rooms.
There are 4 modes: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema and Natural.
I also love that we get both vertical and horizontal keystone correction, +/- 30 degrees for both adjustments. They’re both done automatically and it has a Built-In Picture Skew Sensor for that.
There’s no lens shift.
The HDMI port is the easiest way to establish a connection for Blu-ray/DVD players, PCs, laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, cable boxes, streaming devices, etc.
It also supports Mira casting for smartphones, laptops, and tablets. You can connect these types of devices wirelessly, which is awesome. It works as a projector for the outdoors, as long as you have a power source for it.
Another helpful connection is the LAN port, which allows users to navigate the Epson Home Cinema 880 from a PC when they’re both connected to the same network.
We also get a built-in 2W speaker. It’s tiny.
There’s no built-in Android TV. You’ll either have to cast from your laptop, PC, tablet, smartphone or you can get a streaming device and navigate from the remote control all the apps that you enjoy.
No Bluetooth support either.
Where to Buy?
All in all, even though I didn’t have an easy time picking the best projectors under $300 and it took me almost a week to complete these reviews, I’m totally satisfied with the models I ended reviewing, I hope you feel the same.