Back in the 1970s, projectors were huge things only used in cinemas and business presentations. As digital technology advanced, the concept of having a projector small enough to put inside your pocket or bag became reality.
After all, we did the same thing with the phone care of the cellular phone, mobile phone, or smartphone. As projectors became smaller and smaller, battery-powered portable models have become highly demanded use in offices or home cinemas.
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With that said, what’s the best battery-powered projector for you? Which one can you use with the utility of a cellphone or smartphone?
- 1 Products to Review
- 2 What to Look for in a Battery-Powered Projector
- 2.1 Pico or Pocket Projectors
- 2.2 Mobile Presentations and Video Entertainment
- 2.3 The Main Pitfall or Drawback of a Pocket Projector
- 2.4 Palmtop Projectors
- 2.5 Brightness is Key
- 2.6 Multimedia Projector Trends
- 2.7 Brightness and Resolution Limitations
- 2.8 Pico, Palmtop, and Mini Projector Technology
- 2.9 DLP Types to Look Out For
- 2.10 Not Just About Compactness and Portability
- 3 A Few More Items to Consider
Products to Review
Here are the top battery-powered pico or palmtop projectors of 2021.
It’s a pocket projector that can serve as an outdoor projector because of its high brightness. It has an 800 ANSI lumen, which means that when you’re using it outdoors make sure you have ample shade (1,000-lumen mini projectors do better against direct sunlight).
It also works with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and apps.
In fact, it’s capable of working with 5,000 or so apps due to its use of Android TV 9.0.
This fully portable projector even features Harman/Kardon speakers to allow you to listen to the music and dialog of the video when you’re watching it.
Furthermore, remote control is even included in the package. For a projector its size, it’s remarkably bright.
- It’s lightweight at 3.5 pounds.
- It has a USB hardware interface.
- It also comes with its own remote control.
- It has a display resolution of 1080p Full HD.
- It works with Android TV 9.0 and 5,000+ native apps.
- It offers 800 ANSI lumen brightness (the highest on this list).
- It offers a clearer and brighter image with True 3D and Full HD projection.
- It has 2x5W Harman/Kardon speakers for a more immersive watching experience.
- Some customers claim its battery power is too short.
- Its volume is too low and its picture quality could be better.
As for the LG PH550 CineBeam, it’s an LED projector with a built-in battery, screen share features, and Bluetooth sound-out features.
It’s also made the world-renowned electronics giant, the LG Company, so that’s a bit of assurance in regards to its quality.
They like its consistency and dependability the most with impressive wireless support.
The LG PH550 CineBeam gets its name from being a mini beam type of LED projector with an HDMI hardware interface, a tabletop mounting type, 60 watts of wattage, and a display resolution of 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixels, to be more specific).
Additionally, it works with Android O/S, WiDI, with its wireless connection. Its brightness is also quite impressive for a pocket projector. Its battery also lasts up to 2.5 hours according to the manual and the Amazon specs. Compared to XGIMI, it has a better Bluetooth sound output.
- It has a 720p HD resolution.
- It offers Bluetooth sound out.
- Its battery can last up to 2.5 hours.
- Its LED RGB lamp can last up to 30,000 hours.
- It has a wireless connection feature due to its Android OS.
- It has a brightness of up to 550 lumens (the second-highest on this list).
- Poor image quality according to one customer.
- At least one unit stopped working after the third or fourth usage.
It’s another portable projector capable of bringing a native 720p resolution and a 30 to a 150-inch image. It’s good for both home entertainment and on-the-go movie projection.
As far as Anker is concerned, the brighter the projector the better. Therefore, the all-black Nebula portable projector offers 500 ANSI lumens of brightness. Sure, it’s about 50 lumens weaker than CineBeam.
However, this TV and movie projector has clear video quality, 10W audio drivers to deliver deep resonant bass and sensational sound when push comes to shove. However, it cannot project copyrighted content from YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu.
- It offers 10 watts of wattage.
- Its hardware interface is USB.
- Its brightness is 500 ANSI lumens.
- 30 to 150 inches in terms of image size.
- Its mounting type is table mount and tripod mount.
- It features 10W audio drivers of quality bass and sound quality.
- It’s a highly rated image TV projector and movie projector for home entertainment.
- It uses the Android 7.1 operating system to allow you to watch (non-copyrighted videos from) YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.
- Outdated software renders it almost useless.
- Some customers returned Anker because of its shallow tripod mount and mirroring problem.
It’s less popular than XGMI, LG, and Nebula in terms of rating numbers. It’s a 2G + 16G projector with a native 1080p resolution.
Design-wise, it’s practically a high-quality Bluetooth speaker with a projector lens in design.
It works with 3D, Bluetooth, 5G Wi-Fi, and a DLP projector that runs on a battery.
It markets itself as an Android TV projector that works with 5,000+ apps. The many different Android apps available help in making the projector more viewable or beneficial, such as an app that enables Netflix mirroring and the like. Therefore, you can use it for office and home entertainment use.
- It’s a DLP pocket projector.
- 500 ANSI lumens of brightness.
- It’s capable of touchpad control.
- It has an HDMI hardware interface.
- It has a table mount mounting type.
- It comes with its own remote control.
- It works with 3D, Bluetooth, and 5G Wi-Fi Internet.
- It is worth about $500 (price might vary from region to region).
- It has both Autofocus Function and 4D Keystone Correction Function.
- It’s another projector with the Android TV operating system that works with 5,000+ apps.
- It doesn’t support Disney+ and it’s quite expensive.
- Some customers allege its 1080p resolution looks blurry and upscaled. It doesn’t look HD.
The pint-sized Anker Nebula Capsule Max is another speaker-like projector that’s largely a speaker tube with a projector lens in the middle, thus giving you a loud, more high-quality speaker compared to XGIMI.
However, in brightness terms, it’s on the low end with only 200 lumens of brightness.
In pocket projector terms, it’s more focused on smallness and portability than it is with features like brightness and resolution.
It’s decent enough with its native 720p HD, so at least it’s not lying about being 1080p when it’s actually upscaled. Its projection size is about 100 inches at maximum.
- It has an 8W speaker.
- Its wattage is about 45 watts.
- It has a resolution of 720p HD.
- It offers 4 hours of video playtime.
- Its brightness is about 200 lumens.
- It features Auto Focus and Keystoning Technology.
- Its mounting type is a projector that can be table-mounted and tripod-mounted.
- Battery longevity problems in some units.
- Other people claim they got defective or used projectors (quality control issues).
What to Look for in a Battery-Powered Projector
Here are the things you should keep in mind when shopping for the best battery-powered projector for you.
Pico or Pocket Projectors
A battery-powered projector is likely to be a pocket or pico projector (not to be confused with the palmtop projector).
In terms of size, they feature sizes similar to smartphones, only a little larger. Due to the majority of them having the ability to accommodate photos and videos digitally for on-the-go entertainment, you can consider them as MP3 players for video or MP4 players but this time you can see your videos on widescreen.
This is in contrast to large projectors of yore that required you to hook them up to media sources in order to work.
Mobile Presentations and Video Entertainment
A good battery-powered projector should be able to help you do business or classroom presentations by storing charts and slides as well as videos inside of it. Or it should have a USB port so that you can hook up a desktop computer, notebook PC, or USB flash drive full of content.
These models of projectors can be classified as multimedia display systems as advanced as your smartphone, more or less.
In fact, some smartphones have integrated projectors in them the same way cameras have been included in them.
The Main Pitfall or Drawback of a Pocket Projector
While pocket projectors—especially smart projectors—have arguably become handheld supercomputers all their own the same way the smartphone has, they tend to have low brightness in order to conserve the energy of the battery pack inside them.
They’re also relatively expensive in light of this flaw. You can buy a regular-sized projector with roughly the same ports for USB and HDMI for about the same price or cheaper.
You’re mostly paying for the pocket projector’s smallness and mobility, like how a laptop is cheaper than a desktop with the same specs.
Palmtop projectors are brighter and larger than their pico projector counterparts. Also, ironically, they fit a bit too large to fit into your hand, so it’s slightly bigger than your average handheld device.
It’s more of a tablet like the iPad to the smartphone or iPhone size of a pico projector. You can hold these palmtop projectors with both hands because they don’t fit in your hand even when you stretch your fingers.
Regardless, they’re still lightweight enough to be considered mobile or portable, like something you can store in your backpack or bag.
Brightness is Key
A pico projector can only be so bright so it has limits to where you can view it. You can use it darkened rooms with the curtains closed or the lights turned off, like in a home theater or cinema setting.
In a conference room, you’ll have to switch off the lights too or go to a room you can close and shut off the blinds. A palmtop projector is brighter than its pico counterparts.
It also offers more connection options by virtue of being bigger, so more ports can be placed all over it.
Because it’s brighter, it can even be used in well-lit rooms or even outside for backyard movie viewings in the afternoon.
Multimedia Projector Trends
Some multimedia projectors have Bluetooth capabilities. This means they can use Bluetooth speakers to have a better-sounding video presentation or movie night.
They can even double as Bluetooth speakers themselves if they have a built-in speaker of their own. When you switch such projectors in Bluetooth mode, they can operate exclusively as a speaker.
You can stream Spotify on them or listen to podcasts. Of course, it’s better to use them with video or even separate Bluetooth speakers around your room to simulate a surround-sound cinematic environment.
Brightness and Resolution Limitations
Because pico projectors have 50 to several hundred ANSI lumens in brightness (pretty low) and 480p resolution (854 by 480 pixels) with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, they’re best used in home theaters with the curtains drawn.
The darkest or most low-light rooms benefit them. This makes even the dimmest of light much brighter by contrast thanks to the darkness.
It’s because when there’s daylight, artificial light, or any ambient light around, their light looks weaker and more washed out in comparison. They also fill out smaller screens of about 24-48 inches.
Pico, Palmtop, and Mini Projector Technology
You can get high-brightness, pocket-sized projectors, but they’re the laser-based variety usually.
You can also buy the LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) type of projector for the best of both worlds when it comes to DLP (Digital Light Processing) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology, but those are exorbitantly expensive as portable handhelds.
Related: Projector Display Technology
The vast majority of palmtop and pico projectors are of the DLP type. They also have lamps that are LED-based. LED (Light-Emitting Diode) is known for its long lifespan compared to their halogen counterparts.
DLP Types to Look Out For
You can get DLP tech for your pocket projector cheaper if you opt for the single-chip DLP models.
However, it’s at the cost of dealing with annoying rainbow artifacts, like there’s a rainbow afterimage from what you’re watching when they’re moving too fast and whatnot.
The three-chip models get rid of the rainbow effects and give you a better picture quality overall when push comes to shove.
As usual, they cost more than their single-chip counterparts. If you want more quality you better be prepared to shell out more dough and whatnot.
Not Just About Compactness and Portability
You can also avail of mini projectors that really do fit in the palm of your hand yet don’t suffer from brightness issues found in smartphone-sized pico projectors.
Pico projectors mostly fall under the 200-600 lumen range of brightness. There are also palmtops that have 480p or lower resolution.
A few can go up to 1080p but most are native 720p in resolution. 4K is mostly a resolution reserved for regular-sized projectors unless you want to pay extra for a portable 4K mini projector.
The optimal image size for these projectors can go from 36-60 inches depending on the resolution and brightness.
It’s a Balancing Act Ultimately
You have to choose between compactness and usability. Viewing quality versus mobility. It’s either one set of features over another set of features.
If you want both you have to pay extra. Mini projectors that are slightly larger but still run on their own batteries have a brightness of 1,000 lumens or more, which makes them ideal for the backyard or outdoor movie viewings with a large inflatable screen since you won’t need as many extension cords to make them work like with a standard projector with a plug.
3,000 lumens are available with standard-sized and thin-and-lights portable models for a hefty price.
A Few More Items to Consider
Portable battery-powered projectors have truly come into their own as they shrunk in size. Thanks to them, it’s now possible to project your movies, TV shows, data, graphs, slideshows, and so forth anywhere you go.
This is so even if nowadays anywhere means places in your home in light of the global pandemic. Portable pocket, pico, or palmtop projectors encompass a huge range of sizes as well as features and brightness.
In this article, you now have a better idea of what the best battery-powered portable projectors out there are, all of which weigh about 2 pounds or so.