Review: Best pocket projectors 2020

Home cinema in your pockets

You do not have to be at home to watch movies. You do not even have to be indoors. All you need is a pocket projector.

Published 2020-10-02 - 12:00 am
Best pocket projectors 2020
Geir Nordby

Products in this test

Movie experiences are often synonymous with sitting on the bench in front of the TV screen in the living room. Or you go to the cinema, or even have a dedicated home theater room with a projector at home. None of the parts are very tempting in the summer heat, then you would rather pull outdoors.

Normally, it means taking the movie experience out, staring at your mobile or tablet. And as an “ego solution” it works fine. But what if there are several who want to take part in the experience? Or that you simply think the mobile screen is getting too cluttered? The solution is a portable projector. Imagine watching the football match outdoors in the summer evening, on the “big screen”! The possibilities are many.

A portable projector can project a much larger image than you get from a tablet or laptop, something even people on the go should appreciate. It is handy during the flight or train ride, where you can watch movies directly on the back of the chair in front of you. And when you get to the hotel room, you can enjoy a 100-inch picture directly on the wall. The small hotel TV is fading in comparison! Just be aware that the image is slightly more coarse-grained than you are used to from the PC screen and tablet, as the pixel resolution is lower than HD.

Better sound?

If you want better sound than the rickety built-in speaker, you can use the audio output and connect a portable speaker. Just make sure the speaker has such a 3.5mm analog audio input, or if the projector has a Bluetooth connection, it can be connected wirelessly to a Bluetooth speaker. As always, the larger the speakers, the larger the sound, so you get to consider between portability and sound pressure.

Pocket Projector: Different functions

Portable projectors come in different sizes and shapes, and then it is often the case that smaller can be more practical, while the slightly larger ones have better brightness and are thus more useful in more situations. Some have a built-in player that can be fed with movies stored on memory cards, others have wireless playback from a smartphone. Some have Bluetooth connectivity to wireless headphones.

The requirement we have set in this test is that the projectors must have an HDMI input that works with both media players and smartphones. They must have a built-in battery or the possibility of this, otherwise they can not be called portable. Everyone in this test has a built-in speaker, and most have headphone output.

The pocket projector candidates

We have tried to get as many projectors as possible. It turned out not to be very easy. Many manufacturers have cut out such, others are in the middle of replacing models. For example, we expect to get the Sony MP-CD1, but it did not arrive in time for this test.

Then we ended up getting a whole bunch of Philips projectors. They may have the largest width of such among some others, so if you think this looks skewed, know that the number we got was even larger, whereupon we selected the ones we considered most relevant.

We already know the Asus ZenBeam E1, and we do the same with the BenQ GS1, which has better brightness and resolution than most. And also with an extremely short throw distance, for the largest possible images from the shortest possible distance.

This is how we tested

We have tested all the projectors with movies from Netflix via Apple TV. An HDMI splitter is used so that several projectors can display the same image at the same time. Projectors that have other functions such as wireless mirroring from mobile, video files on memory chip, etc., we have not tested this time.

Products in this test

Philips PicoPix PPX5110

Entry ticket to mini projectors

Philips PicoPix PPX5110 super-compact mini projector can stream video wirelessly directly from your smartphone.

The projector is very light and compact, with powerful enough sound to work in many situations. Low mechanical noise.
Low brightness requires a dark room, and the image should be kept below 60 ". The colors seem supersaturated, with clear reddish faces.
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Asus S1

Well-chosen compromise

Asus S1 has only one goal in mind: to provide the best picture quality for the money from a very compact format.

Good brightness and short throw distance make the projector usable in many contexts. Here you get a lot for your money!
The black level is limited, and what you get out of this resolution is limited. HDMI is the only connection.
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Asus ZenBeam E1

Pocket cinema for the trip

The Asus ZenBeam E1 is no bigger than an old-fashioned Walkman, and it does for the home cinema what the portable cassette player once did for the stereo system.

Ultra-portable projector that can show movies and slideshows anywhere. Add an HDMI source and a white wall and you're up and running.
There really is not much brightness in it. And you miss the possibility of playback via Miracast or USB / SD media.
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Philips PicoPix PPX3417W

Many tricks up its sleeve

Whether you want to watch video from your mobile, PC, memory card or USB - or even wirelessly - Philips PicoPix PPX3417W is a projector you can count on.

Most formats are supported and battery life is ok. The image quality is good, with enough brightness for most things.
The projection distance is very long, with only 24 inch image from one meter. Lots of noise from fan and color wheels.
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Philips PicoPix PPX4835

Just good on paper

We were expecting more from Philips PicoPix PPX4835, especially at this price.

Good brightness is combined with high pixel resolution, and with the ability to project fairly large images.
The image is never completely sharp, and the whole thing becomes quite flat and lifeless. Color banding is also a problem, and the fan is a bit noisy.
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BenQ GS1

Watch movies wherever you want

BenQ GS1 is a Columbi egg of a projector, which makes it possible to take the great movie experiences out into the world.

Takes up less space than even a small TV, but provides a great image with a short projector distance. Can play directly from USB key or Android mobile, thanks to built-in Android media player.
It costs like a full-fledged projector. It is not possible to play all types of movies, and a mouse and keyboard are often required. The brightness is limited - but hey, it can run for three hours on batteries!
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