A projector can be an excellent alternative to a video monitor, and it can also be a great tool for artists. You can use one to enlarge drawings and project them onto your work surface, where they can be easily traced. Projectors are also handy for mural painting, video art, and showing your portfolio. Portable projectors are particularly convenient if you’re short on space or need a unit you can easily travel with. Small enough to pop into a tote bag, these devices aren’t as powerful as full-size machines but are certainly capable enough for everyday studio use. Find the portable projector of your dreams in our picks below.
1. Anker Nebula Capsule
Weighing just over 1 pound, this soda can–shaped projector offers the best combination of price, performance, and portability. It has a brightness of 100 ANSI lumens, which is approximately 700 lumens—pretty impressive for a projector of this size—and can run for about 4 hours on a single charge. The beamed image can reach up to 100 inches on the diagonal, and details appear crisp and color accurate. The sound is also impressive, as the cylindrical design features 360-degree built-in speakers. We like that this projector can focus manually but also has automatic vertical keystone correction to eliminate distortion at the image’s top and bottom, which will occur when the projector is set at an angle to the wall or screen. The device is compatible with an HDMI cable, USB cord, Bluetooth, and WiFi, but not Micro SD cards.
2. ViewSonic M1 Mini Portable LED Projector
If you’re looking for a projector you can slip into your pocket and almost forget about, consider this mini one. It measures about 4 by 4 inches with a 1-inch thickness and weighs just under 11 ounces. Still, it’s capable of projecting an image up to 100 inches on the diagonal, which self-corrects thanks to the vertical keystone adjustment. It comes in just behind our top pick because of its brightness level of just 250 lumens. Because this projector can fit a standard USB and a micro USB, you can always connect it to a power bank to extend its running time. Other ports include one for an HDMI cable and a slot for a Micro SD card.
3. PVO Mini Projector
This small but mighty projector is the least expensive one on our list, with a price tag well under $100. It creates an excellent, high-resolution image, with a maximum diagonal of 150 inches, and responds to the included remote without a hitch. It’s also compatible with many connection types, including USB and HDMI cables and MicroSD cards. That low price does come with some limitations, however: The projector doesn’t have a built-in battery, so you have to use it with a power adapter or portable battery, and it lacks automatic vertical keystone adjustment, which means you’ll have to place it perfectly perpendicular to your projection surface. If you can forgo those two features, the PVO is an all-around reliable, no-frills option that takes up little space.
4. KODAK Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector
This sleek projector is only slightly larger and heavier than the ViewSonic M1, making it a close contender in the pocket-size projector wars. With a brightness of 350 lumens, this is a versatile device you can use both indoors and outdoors, and it connects to devices via either USB or HDMI ports. Like most of the other projectors on this list, it offers auto vertical keystone correction and built-in speakers that produce decent sound in small environments. What makes this one stand out is that it is capable of projecting images up to 200 inches on the diagonal without compromising on crispness. This does come at the cost of battery life: The Luma can run on its battery for just 1 hour, but you can also power it with an AC adapter.
5. Sony MP-CD1 Portable Pico
Sony’s pocket-size projector is too expensive to be our top pick, but it’s a powerful and sleekly designed one worth considering if you’re ready for a splurge. With a maximum brightness level of 105 ANSI lumens, it can project incredibly bright and dynamic visuals measuring up to 120 inches on the diagonal. It also auto focuses to a crystal-clear picture, with distortion done away with by the auto vertical keystone correction. With a short throw distance of 3.77 feet, this is a projector that works well in practically any situation. The battery life of 2 hours is not as impressive as that of our top pick, but you can run the projector while it’s charging. Easily access your media through the HDMI input.