We’re living in a globalized world where a day of travel can easily land us in a different country for a business meeting or presentation. In the same way as you can easily carry laptops, tablets and smartphones with you, there are mini projectors that make giving presentations completely hassle-free. Mini projectors aren’t a headache to carry because they’re small enough to fit into your carry-on. And they’re powerful enough to make your presentations look good to an audience or to help you enjoy a movie night with your near and dear ones. But considering the sizes, brightness, connectivity and other key factors and features, it becomes quite overwhelming for buyers to pick a mini projector which suits their individual requirements the best. In terms of applications as well, mini projectors have hugely evolved over the years.
On our website MPW Reviews, we keep receiving tons of comments and questions regarding the use of various small size/mobile projectors and how to get the best deals on them.
Though we publish plenty of mini projector reviews and informative articles on a frequent basis to help readers, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a quick buying guide too. We’re sure that this guide will prove to be of utmost importance for anyone who wishes to expand their knowledge about mini/pico/pocket projectors and use them for multiple professional and personal reasons, sooner or later. Most importantly, this quick guide is aimed at helping you make a well-informed buying decision.
Video projectors are not a latest invention. For a long time, they’ve been in use as a presentation tool for business or commercial purpose. But the average consumer was unable to use them until mini projectors appeared on the scene. Today, apart from their weight, there are multiple factors that differentiate one mini or small projector from another. There are multiple types and uses of mini projectors, and you can always choose one as per your specific use, budget and other preferences.
Regardless of their size, mini or pico projectors can be used for a wide range of purposes and in different environments –
- Delivering lectures
- Giving business presentations
- Watching movies/TV shows
- Video game playing
- Big screen web surfing
You can use mini projectors not just in classrooms and conference rooms but also as part of your home theatre systems. As the technologies continue to mature, you’ll see more and more sophisticated mini projectors being available in the marketplace at more affordable prices.
Technology Used in Video Projectors
Broadly speaking, the technology used in video projectors can be categorized into – transmissive and reflective. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) projectors fall into the transmissive category while the DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors fall into the reflective category. However, there’s also a third type of projector called the LED (Light Emitting Diodes) projectors. Actually, an LED projector doesn’t use a new kind of technology but it’s differently named only because of the light source that it uses.
LCD Projectors: Being in existence since the 1980s, LCD projectors use a patented technology termed as 3 LCD. In terms of reliability, the technology used in these projectors is much better than that of film projectors. But you’ll still need to look after LCD projectors really well because dust particles can easily hinder the quality of images produced.
DLP Projectors: One of the most important technological features of a DLP projector is that it uses DMD (Digital Micromirror Device). It’s quite interesting to note that the DMD comprises of as many as 2 million tiny mirrors. Compared to LCD projectors, these projectors require a lower level of maintenance because of their unique sealed-chip design. Still, maintenance is required or else dust can settle on the color wheel.
LED Projectors: Named as per the source of lighting it uses, an LED projector comes along with a longer lifespan unlike a traditional projector. As a matter of fact, the LED light source works as long as the projector does. Replacement of the light source is not required. Overall, LED projectors don’t only require less maintenance, but they also save you money.
Other Factors that May Affect Your Buying Decision
Technology type is just one factor you should keep in mind while planning to buy a mini projector. There are several other factors (or features) that must be considered to make the best choice.
Portability: When it comes to buying mini projectors, what plays the biggest role is portability. If you spend most of your time traveling or on the road, you may want to go for a video projector that’s lightest enough to carry around. There’s a good range of mini projectors available to suit your diverse needs. For example, there are projectors that weigh less than 5 pounds for people who are on the road a lot. On the other hand, there are projectors in the 7-10 pound weight range for those who frequently travel from one place to another. There are also those projectors that will literally fit into your pockets.
Resolution: The image quality or the resolution is an important factor on which a buying decision is based. Therefore, you should understand how much resolution you actually need and which resolution is right for you. Which resolution you should choose or go for depends on your typical application. You should ask yourself whether you’re looking for a presentation tool or have a need for precise display of graphical/visual elements.
Before you choose a mini projector, you should find out what it’s native resolution is and then match the same to the resolution that you frequently use. Pico projectors offer better resolution choices.
Brightness: As far as mini or pico projectors are concerned, brighter is better. The brightness for most small projectors begins at 10 lumens, which is suitable for projecting a 24-inch diagonal size image. Similarly, a mini projector with a capacity of 200 lumens is bright enough to create a diagonal image of 40 inches on the low end and 70 inches on the high end. Projectors with a brightness of less than 2000 lumens are small in size and high in portability.
To choose the right brightness, you should consider –
- The number of viewers in the room
- Light in the room
- The type of projection screen
- The application
When you’re fully aware of your specific requirements, it will become easy for you to determine the optimal brightness.
Contrast Ratio: Though a projector’s specifications can’t be complete without mentioning the contrast ratio, it’s not much of a big deal. But you should understand that a contrast ratio refers to the ratio of the brightest and the darkest areas a projector can create. In any case, the contrast ratio a projector comes with has to play an important role in a darkened room to ensure exact display or graphics or visuals.
Connectivity: How you plan to connect a mini projector is also one of the most important concerns. Though a couple of pico and palm-top projectors come along with only composite video, most of them are provided with both SVGA and composite connectors. Before you buy a mini projector, you should always make sure that the ports available on the projector are enough and compatible with those on your computer/video equipment.
Brand/Model: Among other selection attributes, the brand and the model of a mini projector is also of great importance. In case you’ve already used a particular brand earlier, you can be sure of the quality you’ll get. Your family or friends may also suggest you some specific brands. If a particular brand has a history of delivering real value in the past, there are maximum chances that it will stick to its policies in future as well. However, you should also be open to experiment with new makes/models because you never know when one of them will turn into your most liked brand for future.
Cost: Any mini projector that you choose to buy should match your budget as well. It’s always advisable that you check out the prices really well before placing an order with a local or online retailer. Most importantly, you should consider all the above mentioned factors and features (speakers, batteries, SD cards, internal memory etc.) so that you can get the best deal on the mini projector you buy for outdoor or indoor uses.
Whether you plan to turn your room into a romantic, radiation-free environment with movies playing on the wall, give a presentation to the client or the board of directors, present your kids with a fun video game playing experience or something even more creative and fun, you can never ignore the benefits of a mini or mobile projector. They’re not just affordable, but also available in multiple colors, sizes and weights. Based on technology used, protability, resolution, lumens, contrast ratio, connectivity, brand and cost, you can always select and buy a mini projector that will be a joy to use.