Whether you’re gearing up to watch a big event like the Olympics or just need to see Chris Harrison from the Bachelor (and Bachelorette) dole out roses in larger-than-life glory, investing in a projector is a gift that keeps on giving, regardless of your motivation for purchasing.
I’ve had my ViewSonic projector for years and can say with certainty the investment was worth it: inviting people over is no longer “gather around my computer to watch this YouTube video” but a proper viewing party. Within seconds, I can instantaneously turn even the smallest living room into a home theater and, importantly, as someone who lives in a size-challenged apartment, restore it back to normal with the touch of a button. By plugging straight into your computer (or phone, for certain projector models), it’s easy to find and stream content, which is an advantage over something like the Apple TV where search functionality can be a nightmare.
To be clear, projectors aren’t for everyone. They take a bit of legwork to get set up in the beginning: from researching which model is right for you to finding the right blank wall (or buying a reasonably priced screen) to project on, to figuring out if you need an audio system to complete the package. But the initial effort pays off.
Finding a projector to suit your needs boils down to why you’re buying: if you have a specialized purpose for your projector or need your viewing space to be top of the line, you’ll likely be investing in a projector that costs upwards of $500. If this is the case, delve into the world of “lumens” and travel down the rabbit hole of projector options courtesy of Amazon’s top-sellers. But if you just want to watch your favorite shows or screen the big game a bit larger—and are looking for a more digestible price tag—there are plenty of affordable projectors that will get the job done. Here are a few that Amazon (and some research) say are worth it.
DBPower T20, $99.49
This is the top seller on Amazon, and it’s price tag and portability explain why.
At a mere 0.5 pounds, this projector is ready to travel and can connect with your computer, tablet or phone.
Most Amazon customers agreed that for the price, this projector is awesome, but that if you’re looking for super crisp images you’ll likely have to shell out a bit more.
The Epson VS250, $299.99
This projector is a bit more expensive, but you’re getting quality for the price. It’s got a brighter and more powerful display compared to the first projector, though it’s not as portable at 5.3 pounds.
Compared to some top-of-the-line projectors, this seems to be a very reasonable middle ground. Plus, it’s been vetted for sports-viewing thanks to Ross on Amazon who reported watching the “Warriors/Spurs game on it with an HD Stream last night. It was beautiful.”
CiBest 2000 Lumens Projector, $79.99
This small and affordable projector is #1 on Amazon’s New Release section, and early reports from users tell us why: it’s shockingly powerful for its small size and even smaller price tag.
DBPower T22, $158.99
This mini projector boasts a lot of the same capabilities as larger projectors, and for a lot less money. It’s HDMI/SD/AV/USB compatible, and has a built in speaker system. It can be easily connected to game systems, your phone or computer. The reviews all tell a pretty similar story: it’s not the best quality, but it’s pretty damn good for the price.
ViewSonic PJD5155, $299
This is one of the most popular projectors on Amazon, and though there’s a newer version, most reviewers agree that this slightly older model is the one to go for.
While it’s one of the more expensive options listed here, it’s a very good deal for this powerful and compact system. Compared to the other projectors listed here, this one will give you a crisper and cleaner image, which reviewers say is great for screening movies outdoors.
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Whether you’re buying a projector as a casual TV or movie watcher, or because you specifically want to watch the Winter Olympics in full-screen glory (cheers to a month of being momentarily super invested in skiing!), it’s an investment that you’ll appreciate far beyond these specific sporting events.
Plus, projectors last: unlike your phone or computer, this gadget isn’t going to nag you with software request updates or plague you with a cracked screen. Maintenance for most projector models looks like changing the light bulb after extended use, but in my five-plus years of owning a projector I haven’t had to do anything of the sort.
Truly, once you’ve set up your projector, you’ll have a home entertainment system that you—oh, and your friends!—will use and love for years to come.
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