If you’re searching for the best projector under $500, you’re in luck. The market is filled with several great options that can help you enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, and video games without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly model for your home theater or a portable option for outdoor movie nights, we’ve got you covered.
We understand that buying a projector can be overwhelming, especially with so many choices and technical jargon to navigate. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top projectors under $500, complete with all the information you need to make an informed decision. You’ll soon have a projector to take your movies or gaming experience to the next level. So sit back, relax, and continue reading our choices below. Please be aware that prices may change, click the links below for each product to view any current offers.
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Is $500 Enough To Get A Good Projector?
Many people assume that in order to get a decent projector, they need to spend a fortune. But the truth is, $500 can get you a quality projector from a reputable brand that will provide a great viewing experience. Of course, you won’t be getting all the bells and whistles that come with higher-end models, but you can still find a reliable projector that offers good image quality and functionality.
When shopping for a projector in this price range, it’s important to keep in mind that some models will be traditional light bulb projectors, while others will use LED-based lighting technology. LED projectors tend to have a longer lifespan and are more energy-efficient, but they may not provide the same level of brightness as traditional light bulb projectors. Regardless of which type of projector you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a better quality projector than if you were to go for a random $200 model.
I’ll begin with the BenQ TH575, which is a versatile entry-level projector with a traditional lamp replaceable design. With its low input lag, it caters to gamers looking for responsive gaming. This projector offers a good balance of performance and features, making it suitable for various multimedia applications at an affordable price point.
When it comes to picture quality, the BenQ TH575 projector shines with its impressive specifications. Boasting a brightness rating of 3,800 ANSI lumens, this projector ensures vibrant visuals that pop off the screen, even in well-lit environments. With a remarkable contrast ratio of 15,000:1, it adds depth and richness to colors, making every scene come to life with stunning clarity. The native 1080p resolution further contributes to a sharp and detailed image, bringing out the full potential of HD content.
The menu has two modes: Basic and Advanced. You can select the Basic mode if you just want a straightforward menu. However, if you select the Advanced menu mode, there are several additional image settings you can adjust, if you like to fine-tune your picture. This includes RGB color tuning, color management, gamma selection, and more. Watch the outstanding video below to see how this projector performs with a modern video game.
On the connectivity side of things, the TH575 boasts two HDMI ports, allowing you to effortlessly connect your favorite gaming console, media player, or streaming device. You can use the USB port to power your streaming stick to help reduce clutter. The Audio In/Out options provide the flexibility to connect external speakers or headphones, ensuring an immersive audio experience. The connectivity is simple but also versatile, you’ll have no trouble setting up your ideal entertainment system.
Now, let’s talk about the general features of the BenQ TH575. Gamers, rejoice! The dedicated game mode delivers an ultra-low 16ms input lag at 1080p/60Hz, which ensures a silky smooth gaming session. The TH575 also features auto vertical keystone alignment, eliminating distortion caused by uneven surfaces or awkward angles. This will help you enjoy a more hassle-free setup. Additionally, the TH575 is 3D-ready if you’re into watching that content, allowing you to indulge in captivating three-dimensional visuals from the comfort of your own home. These key features are what help make it a solid contender as the best projector under $500.
BenQ TH575 Thoughts
The BenQ TH575 projector is a great choice for those seeking high-quality visuals and a seamless gaming experience. With its brightness, contrast ratio, and native 1080p resolution, it delivers stunning picture quality. Gamers will especially appreciate its low input lag and dedicated game mode. Whether you’re a movie enthusiast or a gaming aficionado, the BenQ TH575 projector offers an excellent combination of performance and value.
Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01
The Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01 is an intriguing device that caters to those seeking an affordable and easy-to-use product. Ideal for individuals in search of a basic yet reliable projector, the Epson CO-W01 offers all-digital connectivity, ensuring seamless compatibility with a wide range of modern devices. While it may appear modest in its features, this projector packs a surprising punch, delivering impressive performance that exceeds its price point. But is there any sort of downside or tradeoff? Yes, yes there is, but will it be enough to dissuade you from considering it? Let’s find out.
With its 3,000 lumens of both color and white brightness, this projector delivers dazzling visuals that make your content truly come alive. While its native resolution is actually 1280×800, offering a solid 720p HD picture, it is capable of supporting 1080p sources. Visual clarity partially relies on the quality of the system’s optics, and Epson projectors do have great edge-to-edge clarity in my opinion. Just keep in mind that it won’t match the razor sharpness of a major, more expensive, native 1080p projector. Epson does make a sister model boasting a native 1080p for a price that’s a little more than $500. I’ll include a link below if you’re interested in considering that as well.
The Epson CO-W01 boasts extended lamp life, providing up to 6,000 hours when running in normal mode and a super lengthy 12,000 hours in Eco mode, ensuring long-lasting performance. And here’s where the downside comes in, or rather, a possible negative for you. The lamp is not replaceable at all, unlike other traditional projectors. I’d really only recommend getting this projector if you’re fine with always running the machine in Eco mode. But there are a few positive to doing that. One, the fan noise goes from 38dB down to only 29dB, making it much quieter. Two, you’ll have a max of up to 12,000 hours of use out of the projector.
Doing some quick math, if you used the projector for 20 hours per week on average, it would last up to over 11 years. You’ll honestly probably upgrade to something newer and even better before that happens. You might not even use it 20 hours a week! But if you are a heavy user and only want to run the projector in its normal mode, you’ll definitely get fewer than 11 years. This factor is really going to come down to how you’ll personally be using the machine. It might not be that big of a factor, since Eco mode will still be way brighter than several common LED-based projectors available. This is just something important to note before making your decision.
This is a device that’s seemingly made to be simple and straightforward to use. Because of that, there aren’t many bells and whistles to be found here. You have a single HDMI port available, which will handle the majority of your media devices. There’s no wireless functionality or Bluetooth, so things are quite barebones here. However, the essential port you need is an HDMI, and this model has it.
The manual focus wheel allows for precise image adjustments, ensuring optimal sharpness. With the keystone function, aligning the picture against your desired wall or screen becomes effortless, eliminating any distortions and providing you with a perfectly rectangular image. Furthermore, the built-in 5-watt speaker provides decent audio output, immersing you in your content. If you prefer an external audio setup, consider utilizing something called an “HDMI audio extractor”, which splits the audio signal into various output options such as 3.5mm audio, optical, or analog white/red connections, giving you the flexibility to tailor the audio to your preferences.
Epson CO-W01 Thoughts
It seems like the CO-W01 can be found for well under $500, and for the price, this projector offers some good performance and value. It’s barebones in terms of connectivity but quality-wise it’s what you’d expect from the Epson brand. I’d only recommend getting this if you don’t mind switching the projector into Eco mode to extend its life. Getting 10-11+ years out of it could make it a good value overall and allows you to upgrade next decade to whatever wild technology is around then.
As I mentioned, Epson does make a native 1080p version called the CO-FH02. It typically costs a bit more than $500 but I think that price is getting too close to other options that offer more features, while still retaining replaceable light bulbs. I’ll included a link below anyway just in case you’re interested in learning more about either of these models.
Epson Home Cinema 880
The Epson Home Cinema 880 is an impressive projector that is very similar to the Epson CO-W01, in my opinion. But you’ll be pleased to hear that the light bulb can actually be replaced and it runs at a native resolution of 1920×1080 (Full HD), giving you crystal-clear details and sharpness in every frame. With a brightness rating of 3,300 lumens and a dynamic contrast ratio of up to 16,000:1, this projector clearly has some very capable specifications. Perhaps this is the best projector under $500 then?
The projector’s advanced image enhancement technologies gives you accurate color reproduction and a high contrast ratio, resulting in striking visuals and improved clarity, whether you’re watching dark or bright scenes. This model doesn’t have a “rainbow” effect like some DLP models, which might be a nice benefit if you’re bothered by that visual quirk. Unfortunately 3D videos aren’t supported, but perhaps that isn’t much of a concern for you. However, it does render at a full 1920×1080 resolution, giving you a true Full HD picture.
To further enhance the viewing experience, the Epson 880 offers easy focus and keystone adjustment. This allows you to fine-tune the image sharpness and correct any distortion caused by angled projection. With these adjustable features, you can achieve a clear and well-aligned image. In fact, this model does have an auto alignment feature for the vertical axis, which does help to make setup a little bit easier.
With a brightness of 3,300 lumens you’ll be able to use the projector almost anytime during the day. This is a traditional style projector, with a replaceable lightbulb, and the replacement bulb is very reasonably priced. At the time of this writing, only $65 on the official Epson website. Under normal operation the light will last 6K hours, and under the Eco mode it jumps up to 12K hours. That matches the CO-W01 model, but you’ll actually be able to replace the bulb when it burns out.
Here’s another barebones projector that delivers simplicity and functionality in its features and connectivity. There’s one HDMI and one USB-Type A port, these are what you’ll use most often, but it would have been nice to see maybe two HDMI ports. It comes equipped with a built-in speaker, but be aware that it’s only rated at 2-watts of power. At least there’s an Audio Out port on the back so you can more easily plug in external speakers. Despite its minimalist design, the Epson Home Cinema 880 doesn’t compromise on essential features. With its smart interface and intuitive controls, navigating through settings and making adjustments is a relatively easy thing to accomplish.
Epson 880 Thoughts
If you’re looking for a hassle-free projector, the Epson 880 is worth considering. Its basic yet functional design makes it ideal for those who prioritize simplicity and ease of use. Whether you’re a casual home viewer, or a gaming enthusiast, this model delivers solid performance without overwhelming you with unnecessary complexities. I’d frame this as a user-friendly projector at an affordable price point.
Just be aware that if you’re a gamer, the input lag is around 50ms, which isn’t as good as the responsive BenQ TH575 mentioned above. If you play a lot of video games I’d recommend you choose that model instead. I’ll also point out that only a renewed model is under $500. A brand new version of this will cost a little more, so consider that factor when deciding what the best projector under $500 is.
Anker Nebula Solar
Moving onto the Anker Nebula Solar, a compact smart projector that brings entertainment wherever you go. Its portable design and built-in battery make it perfect for outdoor movie nights, camping trips, or personal gatherings. With multiple connectivity options and an intuitive user interface, this projector caters to tech-savvy individuals who value both performance and functionality. Whether you’re a frequent traveler, an outdoor enthusiast, or a movie lover seeking on-the-go entertainment, the Anker Nebula Solar is your reliable companion for immersive viewing anytime or anywhere.
The Nebula Solar projector offers impressive image quality with its native 1080p resolution, delivering very detailed visuals. With 400 ANSI lumens brightness, it ensures colorful and well-defined images, even in moderately lit environments. One notable feature is the autofocus and keystone correction capability, which automatically adjusts the image for optimal sharpness and alignment, eliminating the need for manual adjustments. No matter what content you’re watching, the projector provides a satisfying visual experience with its clarity and vibrant colors.
Here’s another versatile aspect of the Anker Nebula Solar projector: its connectivity options. With built-in Android TV, you have access to a vast library of apps and streaming services, allowing you to enjoy your favorite content directly on the projector. Its Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities enable seamless wireless connections to external devices, such as speakers or headphones, enhancing your audio experience. Plus, you can easily play movies and videos directly from a USB flash drive, which is a super convenient way to keep movies available at all times. As you’d expect, there’s HDMI here as well for your latest gadgets.
When it comes to features, the Anker Nebula Solar doesn’t disappoint. Notably, it is battery-powered, offering up to 3 hours of playtime on a single charge, making it ideal for outdoor movie nights or on-the-go use. This portability opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to enjoy your favorite movies and shows virtually anywhere. Whether you’re camping, hosting a backyard gathering, or simply want to relax in different rooms of your home, the Anker Nebula Solar ensures uninterrupted entertainment with its impressive battery life.
Nebula Solar Thoughts
With two versions available, one with a built-in battery and one without, you can choose the option that suits your needs best. The Nebula Solar is perfect for individuals who value convenience, versatility, and stunning visual quality. Its compact size and clean interface make it effortless to set up and enjoy your favorite content with ease. Whether you’re looking to elevate your camping trips, or host backyard movie nights, the Anker Nebula Solar projector is the perfect companion for those seeking portable entertainment without compromising on performance. If you want an “all-in-one” type of device, that’s also portable, this could truly be the best projector under $500 for you.
Anker Nebula Mars II Pro
I’m a bit hesitant to add this model, since it only hits $500 when there happens to be a coupon available, but the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro is worth considering if you’re looking for a feature-packed portable projector. With its compact design and built-in handle, it’s easy to carry around and set up wherever you go. The projector offers a native 720p resolution, delivering clear visuals for your media content. Its 500 ANSI lumens provide saturated colors and good visibility even when there’s some minor ambient light around. So, why is it a contender as the best projector under $500? Mainly its portability and powerful audio, but let’s continue.
The projector supports a wide color gamut, making the color reproduction appear more immersive and deep. Additionally, the IntelliBright algorithm optimizes brightness in real-time, providing consistent and well-balanced image quality. This model, with its 500 ANSI lumens, will look its best under dimmer lighting conditions. It would be nice if the native resolution was 1080p, but Anker’s optics are good quality and the 720p image seems to look clear across the edges.
Furthermore, the Mars II Pro offers advanced features that help contribute to its image quality. The autofocus function automatically adjusts the focus for an instantly clear picture. With the auto vertical keystone, the system will take over and align the picture vertically, without any input from you. The horizontal alignment does require you to manually adjust, but it’s a nice addition that can make setup quicker. These features combine and work in tandem to provide you with the best possible image quality, enhancing your overall viewing pleasure.
Running on Android 7.1, this projector provides an easy to use interface, allowing you to access a variety of apps and content right from the device. With WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily connect your smartphone and tablet to stream either movies and music found on your phone. The projector also supports screen mirroring, enabling you to mirror your device’s screen for a larger viewing experience.
In terms of features, the Nebula Mars II Pro offers some convenient functionality. Equipped with dual 10-watt speakers, it delivers rich and powerful audio, eliminating the need for external speakers. Whether you’re enjoying a movie night inside or outside, the projector’s built-in speakers provide clear and compelling sound. The HDMI port ensures simple connectivity with various devices, as usual. Plus, with up to 3 hours of battery life in eco mode or 1.5 hours in standard mode, you can enjoy your entertainment on the go without worrying about power outlets. You’ll also be pleased to know that the fan operates at a relatively quiet level, less than 32dB, keeping distractions to a minimum. With the USB flash drive support, you can conveniently play back music and movies directly from the drive, expanding your media options and making entertainment even more accessible.
Nebula Mars 2 Pro Thoughts
If you want a battery-powered projector that also provides exceptional audio performance, the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro is a fantastic choice. It’s perfect for individuals that are looking for a portable machine with immersive sound quality. Just consider all the different features inside: dual 10-watt speakers, WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to play music and movies directly from a USB flash drive. You can clearly see that this projector offers a ton of versatile entertainment options. That’s why it’s on this list of best projectors under $500. However, if you don’t care about the powerful built-in speakers, I’d recommend you pick the Anker Nebula Solar as it’s newer and offers Full HD resolution.
The Best Projector Under $500 To Choose?
This section might be why you’re actually here. When it comes to choosing a projector from this list, the BenQ TH575 stands out as the top recommendation overall. Its native 1080p resolution, 3800 lumens of brightness, and high contrast ratio deliver stunning image quality. It has dual HDMI ports which will allow for easy connection to multiple devices at once. The TH575 is also fantastic for any gamers due to the super low 16ms response times. This model offers the best performance and features for the widest range of consumers in my opinion, all while staying under $500.
For those in need of a portable projector, the Anker Nebula Solar is a second recommendation for you. Since it’s battery-powered you’ll be able to be far more mobile with it, easily taking it outside or to other rooms. With its Android TV interface, users can enjoy a wide range of streaming services and apps directly on the projector. The inclusion of wireless functionality gives you the option to pair Bluetooth speakers or share content from your phone. And the option to watch movies directly from a USB flash drive adds a big convenience. Just being able to use the projector for up to 3 hours on battery life gives you a ton of flexibility you won’t get with a standard projector.
Consider your own specific requirements and preferences to select the projector that best fits your needs. Everyone may have a different choice as the “best projector under $500” depending on what factors are important to them. I’ll include links below to these two products so you can read more information about them and check if there are any deals or offers currently running. Prices can change wildly on Amazon, I’d recommend you add the product into your shopping cart in order to keep track of the total cost.