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The 3 Best Projectors Under $500 - Spring 2024 Reviews

Best Projectors Under $500

Only a few good options are available if you're looking for the best projectors under $500. The TV market has many options under $500 that are good enough for most consumers, but the cheapest projectors tend to be small portable models, which are typically extremely dim. Still, some more affordable models can deliver a decent viewing experience, and many of them have great smart features, eliminating the need to spend more on an external streaming device. Typically, the more portable a projector is, the worse its image quality, so keep that in mind when shopping for the best projector for your needs.

We've bought and tested more than 35 projectors, and below, you'll find the best models to buy for under $500. For larger budgets, look at the best cheap projectors and the best projectors under $1,000. If you want to take your projector outside, consider the best outdoor projectors instead. You can also vote on which ones you want us to purchase and test.

  1. Best Projector Under $500

    The Epson Home Cinema 1080 is sold for slightly above $500 when not on sale, but when it's on sale, it's easily the best projector under $500 that you can buy. It has surprisingly good image quality for the price, as it projects a very bright 1080p image, so it can easily handle moderately lit rooms. It also looks bright and relatively punchy in dark rooms due to its okay contrast. Unfortunately, it doesn't have vibrant colors, but they're good enough for a pleasant viewing experience, and they're well-calibrated out-of-the-box. The projector doesn't support HDR, but HDR support on projectors tends to be sub-par anyway, so it isn't a great loss, especially at this price point.

    It's only 5.9 pounds, so it's easy to carry around if you need to, but it's too big and unwieldy for you to throw it into a bag, and you need to plug it into an outlet. It has automatic vertical keystone correction, so it adjusts its image automatically if you change its projection angle, and its optical zoom lets you adjust the projected image's size without moving the unit further. The projector has two HDMI 2.0 ports and a USB-B port, allowing you to control the projector through a computer. Unfortunately, the unit doesn't come with a smart OS. However, it does have Wi-Fi 5 and Miracast for screen mirroring, so all it is missing for full streaming functionality is an external streaming dongle, which you can power through the unit's USB-A port.

    See our review

  2. Best Value Projector Under $500

    If you're looking for the absolute best value under $500, look no further than the Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01. While it doesn't have any HDR support, it projects an extremely bright 1280 x 800 resolution image that is perfect for bright offices, and the projector's also no slouch for watching movies; its bright image makes content pop, and the projector looks great when watching content in a moderately lit room. Unfortunately, the projector's contrast is inadequate, so this projector is going to look its best when a few lights are on. Its color accuracy is decent out-of-the-box, certainly good enough for most people, but color purists can greatly improve it through the projector's 2-point white balance calibration.

    Like the Epson Home Cinema 1080, this projector isn't made for portability, but it's light enough to be carried around, although you need to plug it into an outlet. Unfortunately, unlike the Home Cinema 1080, it lacks any auto keystone correction and autofocusing, so you must manually adjust the image if you wish to fix any geometry issues. It also lacks any smart OS and doesn't even have Wi-Fi, so an external streaming dongle is a must. It does have a USB-B port to let you control the projector with a PC, and you can project a few file formats through the unit's USB-A port, but overall, it's rather barebones when it comes to ports, especially as it has only one HDMI port.

    See our review

  3. Best Portable Projector Under $500

    If you're looking for a projector you can easily carry around, check out the XGIMI MoGo 2. The MoGo 2 is a very small projector, and it weighs only 2.4 pounds, so you can easily throw it into a backpack. While it doesn't have an internal battery, it supports external charging via power banks through its USB-C port. It has many image correction features: full auto keystone, autofocus, intelligent screen alignment, and obstacle avoidance. To round up the package, it comes with the Android TV 11 smart interface, with Chromecast and AirScreen support, and has Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities.

    Unfortunately, the projector is very dim. You need to turn off all the lights to get a pleasant image, and even then, it's not exactly the most vibrant viewing experience possible. Its contrast is mediocre but good enough to provide a passable dark room viewing experience. It also has a wide color gamut and HDR support, but it's not bright enough to take advantage of them. Ultimately, you get this projector because of its portability, not image quality. If portability is what you're looking for, then the MoGo 2 is the best option at this price point.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Epson EX3280: The Epson EX3280 is a good productivity projector. It's very bright and has excellent color accuracy, but it projects a 1024 x 768 image, which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. That's a great aspect ratio for work, but the wider and more common 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratios are better for watching movies. The Epson EpiqVision Flex CO-W01 is more versatile due to its 16:10 aspect ratio and is cheaper than the EX3280. See our review
  • XGIMI Elfin: The XGIMI Elfin is a very small and light projector. It's even lighter than the XGIMI MoGo 2. While it's a better projector than the MoGo 2 due to its better contrast and image accuracy, it's over $500 when not on sale and is less widely available. See our review
  • XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro: The XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro is better than the XGIMI MoGo 2, but it's not worth the price difference. The Pro projects a sharper 1080p image than the cheaper MoGo 2, but it comes at the cost of a slight reduction in brightness. The Pro is also significantly less accurate than the MoGo 2, and while it has much better contrast, the base MoGo 2 is the superior value overall. See our review
  • Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen: The Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen is a bit better than the XGIMI MoGo 2, but it's also much dimmer, which is hard to believe considering how dim the MoGo 2 is. Still, the Samsung has better contrast and is much more accurate, but you'll find it for above $500 when not on sale, so the MoGo 2 is the better value. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best projector models under $500 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper projector wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no projectors that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of projectors available under $500. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no projector is perfect, many are good enough for most uses; however, avoid the worst models to ensure adequate quality.