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The 6 best portable projectors for movies, gaming, and more

Samsung The Freestyle portable projector.

The best home theater projectors are great for your home cinema setup, but what if you want to take the projector around with you wherever you go? Well suited for camping trips, regular trips away, or any other opportunity where portability is everything, movie fans will love owning one of the best portable projectors. They can also be good for gaming or for quick presentations where there isn’t a dedicated projector for the task.

There are many different portable projector brands out there but it’s important to buy a good quality one from a reputable brand. While it might seem like a smart move to buy a cheap model, you’ll miss out on some of the best picture quality as well as extra features that prove super useful when enjoying whatever you’re watching. Below, we’ve picked out the best portable projectors you can buy right now. We’ve also looked at what you should consider before buying a portable projector so you can make an educated decision before springing for something. There’s quite a lot to learn about portable projectors so strap in while we guide you through everything you need to know.

The best portable projectors in 2024

  • Buy the for the best all-round experience.
  • Buy the for the best budget portable projector.
  • Buy the for exceptional picture quality.
  • Buy the for a great 4K picture.
  • Buy the for great sound quality.
  • Buy the for excellent battery life.

Samsung The Freestyle

Best all-round experience

The Samsung Freestyle Gen 2 portable projector.
Pros Cons
Excellent picture quality Little sluggish to use
Great auto adjustment
Easy to use

The Samsung The Freestyle is an excellent all-rounder for anyone who wants a reliable portable projector with an easy-to-use interface and a just as simple setup process. It weighs only 0.8kg so you can easily store it in your backpack for any trips you might be taking. Once you’ve reached your destination, it takes moments to set up with an auto leveling function that helps do all the hard work for you. Just place it on the ground or surface and the cradle stand gives you floor-to-ceiling flexibility with a rotation of 180 degrees possible.

The results are a great full HD picture with the Samsung The Freestyle also offering a built-in 360-degree speaker which is pretty loud. The Samsung The Freestyle is designed in a way that means using it is pretty much the same as using your Samsung TV with a simple to browse bunch of apps and even games, although it is occasionally a little slow on the uptake. Still, it’s reassuring to deal with an operating system that you likely have some experience with, giving you a more home cinema style feeling. Charging can be done via an USB-C compatible battery or charger.

Able to produce a picture between 30 inches and 100 inches, the Samsung The Freestyle will do a good job for most of your plans. Smart calibration means you’re only ever a few minutes away from a cinema standard of picture quality. Tools like Auto Focus and Auto Keystone work together to provide a clear picture and measure all angles to keep the 16:9 ratio.

Projection system DLP
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Brightness 500 lumens

Anker Nebula Capsule

Best budget portable projector

The Anker Nebula Capsule on a white background.
Pros Cons
Tiny size Resolution could be better
Good battery life Brightness also quite low

Only the size of a soda can, you can’t get a portable projector much smaller than the Anker Nebula Capsule. It’s perfect for tossing into your bag without worrying about the weight bringing things down. Well-priced too, the Anker Nebula Capsule understandably comes with some concessions. It only has 100 lumen brightness but it still looks fine in dimly lit environments if not quite as sharp as you might like. That’ll also be thanks to its 854 x 480 resolution but again, it’s perfect for those little adventures away from home where you still want to catch a movie.

Despite those limitations, the Anker Nebula Capsule is able to project a huge 100-inch image so it’s great for a big screen experience. There’s also a built-in 360-degree speaker so you gain multidirectional sound without needing to grab a separate dedicated speaker. The speaker isn’t the strongest but no portable projector has a particularly strong one, so this will suffice for your needs, especially if you’re outdoors where acoustics are likely to be less of a priority.

When it comes to ease of use, the Anker Nebula Capsule has Android 7.1 built-in so you can easily check out all your favorite apps. That includes Netflix, YouTube, and pretty much anything else you’re likely to use for streaming purposes. Thanks to having Android installed, it means you can always keep the apps up-to-date for new features. Throughout the experience, you can enjoy up to four hours of battery life from one charge which suits most movie-watching sessions. Two HDMI and USB ports mean a fair amount of flexibility here for any other plans you may have, while there’s image correction via manual focus and Auto V-Keystone.

Projection system DLP
Resolution 854 x 480
Brightness 100 lumens

Anker Nebula Capsule 3

Best for great FHD picture quality

The Anker Nebula Capsule 3 on a white background.
Pros Cons
Full HD resolution Expensive
Dolby Digital support Could be brighter

For a fantastic full HD level of picture quality, check out the Anker Nebula Capsule 3. It’s not cheap by any means but it’s packed with great features. A combination of DLP and laser means you get a laser light source with 300 lumens of brightness in 1080p HD quality. The brightness could be a little higher but the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 will still look great. It promises to be 1.8 times brighter than LED with 90% brightness uniformity. Alongside that is a 500:1 contrast ratio with two times better contrast than standard LED. There’s also Dolby Digital support along with Dolby Audio so the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 looks and sounds a cut above the rest. Dual 8W Dolby Digital speakers certainly help on that front.

That’s pretty impressive for something that weighs just 900g or 2 pounds, making it perfect for slipping in your bag with no bother at all. Despite the teeny size, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 still has room for a battery that sports 2.5 hours of battery life. Sure it won’t get you through all of Oppenheimer without a charger but it should suffice for many other needs.

For software, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 comes with Android TV 11 installed so it’s simple to find all your favorite apps. There’s Google Assistant and Chromecast support, while you can also manage what you’re doing via the Nebula Connect app on your smartphone. In all, a 120-inch picture can be formed using the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 which is pretty impressive stuff. Arguably even better, such picture quality only takes a few seconds with auto-focus and auto keystone correction doing all the hard work for you. Even if you feel like gaming, it’s possible with the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 thanks to its 25ms game latency.

Projection system DLP + Laser
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Brightness 300 lumens

Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector

Best 4K projector

The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector on a white background.
Pros Cons
4K picture quality Very expensive
Includes a handle Little ugly looking

A 4K picture quality on the move isn’t cheap but the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector certainly looks great. It takes seconds to set up thanks to Intelligent Environment Adaptation which analyzes your room to avoid furniture and decorations, before adapting the screen to fit your space without any issues. It also has keystone correction along with autofocus. 2,200 lumens of brightness means the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector pumps out a bright image that’s sure to delight. It promises to be 1.8 times brighter than LED with two times better contrast. There’s also an impressive 1000:1 contrast ratio.

The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector is a little bulky for a portable projector weighing just over 10 pounds, but it comes with an ergonomically designed handle on the top so you can easily lift it and move it around. The size means it can handle up to a 150-inch display so this is truly a force to be reckoned with. It also has HDMI 2.0 support for hooking up consoles with 39ms low latency. It’s not the perfect gaming solution but it’s good to go if you’re traveling and want a portable solution.

For sound, the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector has dual 5W tweeters and 10W speakers along with Dolby Audio support, so it sounds pretty good. There’s Android TV built-in so Netflix and other apps are all ready to go for your streaming adventures. It all leads to the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector being a high-end projector that’s suitable for anyone keen to spend a little more.

Projection system Laser
Resolution 3840 x 2160
Brightness 2200 lumens

Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 Portable Projector

Best sound quality

The Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 Portable Projector on a white background.
Pros Cons
Built-in Harman Kardon speaker Short battery life
Neat design

The Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 Portable Projector works well as both a portable projector and as a great Bluetooth speaker too. That’s thanks to it having a built-in Harman Kardon Bluetooth speaker so you can use it for 12 hours as a speaker or for three hours as a portable projector. There’s a choice of either 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 resolutions depending on the content involved along with 300 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 400:1. That’s pretty good going for a projector which is coffee mug shaped and only ever so slightly bigger than one.

It’s capable of projecting up to 120 inches or a simple 40 inches akin to a regular TV. The Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 Portable Projector has plenty of connections too such as HDMI, USB-A, along with wireless connections like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The projector has apps pre-installed for streaming so you can easily find something to watch for your three hours of viewing time between charges. The software isn’t considered to be the best around among projectors but it works sufficiently for your main needs.

Reasonably lightweight at just under three pounds, the Asus ZenBeam Latte L1 Portable Projector is a good option to take with you on camping trips or similar. That goes even more so if you sometimes want to use a Bluetooth speaker rather than a projector.

Projection system DLP
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Brightness 300 lumens

ViewSonic M1 Projector

Best battery life

The ViewSonic M1 Projector on a white background.
Pros Cons
Excellent battery life Low resolution
Plenty of ports Relatively low lumens

The ViewSonic M1 Projector has a great battery life of up to six hours in a field where half that number is much more common. That’s a huge selling point if you’re not near power too often, although you’ll need to adjust accordingly with eco-saving settings and similar to actually get that full figure. Either way, the ViewSonic M1 Projector looks reasonable for the price. While it may have a relatively low resolution of 854 x 480 with 300 lumens of brightness, what it does is good for the price.

It has a shorter throw lens than some of the competition so you can easily place it anywhere around your home. Auto keystone correction and auto-focus saves you from needing to set things up manually. There are also many connection options with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HDMI 1.4, USB-C, USB-A and a microSD drive. For an audio-only solution, a built-in Harman Kardon Bluetooth speaker fulfills that role separately from the projector. That’s instantly convenient if you don’t want to take a separate speaker on your travels or you just want to listen to music once in a while.

Elsewhere, there’s Cinema SuperColor+ technology with 125% Rec.709 for vivid imagery, while the integrated stand makes it simple to get the best angle at any time. Using the ViewSonic M1 Projector involves the Aptoide UI which isn’t as smooth sailing as Android but it’s intuitive enough and has a built-in app store which has all the apps you could need like Netflix and Disney Plus. You can also cast content or screen mirror from your phone or tablet. As mentioned, the ViewSonic M1 Projector has all the essentials at a keen price.

Projection system LED
Resolution 854 x 480
Brightness 300 lumens

How we chose these portable projectors

Whichever portable projector you buy, you want the right one for your needs. No portable projector is cheap so you want to invest well. When collating our list of the best portable projectors, we considered some key factors based on what we think everyone should think about when buying one.

One important consideration is how portable do you need the projector to be? All the projectors listed above are portable but some offer longer battery life while others are more lightweight and easier to toss in your bag. If you’re looking for something to take on a camping trip, you want good battery life. You also might need to consider how lightweight it is. For instance, if you’re driving to your campsite, more weight is no big deal, but if you’re hiking, even the slightest bit of extra weight soon adds up.

Once you’ve figured that out, think about the resolution. In an ideal world, we all want a 4K projector but such technology will cost a lot more. If you’re camping, you’ll likely be fine with a lower resolution but it all depends on your preferences with picture quality. It’s also worth reading up on contrast ratios and any additional features like a Dolby Digital picture or more advanced color quality.

Also, while using your projector, you want easy access to its features. See what apps are supported on the projector and lean towards Android-based operating systems as these tend to be more adaptable for the latest apps and streaming services. Being able to cast content across from your other devices like your smartphone is a useful bonus too. Similar to that, consider the ports and connectivity options on your projector. There are usually USB ports and HDMI sockets, but look out for HDMI 2.1 if you want to hook up a games console, while USB-C is the faster and sometimes more convenient option depending on the device you want to hook up. A microSD slot or internal storage is useful if you want to install content rather than rely on streaming all the time.

A lot of portable projectors miss out on great quality sound but others incorporate a built-in speaker so you can use it in audio-only mode as well as in projector mode. This might not be essential to you but while traveling, it does give you another form of media to enjoy which can be convenient. If you’re using the portable projector at home, it’s best to use speakers that are already located at home to get the best sound quality.

Finally, consider durability. This is two-fold. You want a portable projector with a bulb that will last a long time so check the figures on that. If you’re traveling, you also want a portable projector that can easily handle the journey. That means one that can slip into your bag well such as a soda can sized one or one that’s not much bigger than a coffee mug. Related to that, projectors with carry handles can be useful as you can easily carry it around.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Allen is a technology writer with over 10 years of experience. She primarily writes about the best deals coverage for Digital Trends but also has a keen interest in Bluetooth speakers, smart home technology, wearables, and all things gaming.

As well as writing for Digital Trends, she regularly contributes at TechRadar, Lifewire, Mashable, and numerous others. She's also featured on the BBC. In her spare time, she watches many movies, plays many games, and enjoys the outdoors.

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