If you’re looking for the best mini and portable projectors to purchase for your MacBook Air then you’ve ended up on the right guide. We’ve searched for the best mini projector for MacBook air candidates far and wide across the Information Superhighway so that you don’t have to. We made a shortlist of 4 quality Mac-compatible projectors you should definitely check out. Our standards for qualifications include which projectors are most ideal for traveling and which ones are easiest to set up when push comes to shove.
You may also like: Buyer’s Guide: Business Projector (The Best Business Projector)
All the projectors on this list are miniaturized and ideal for work or business travel. If you’re conducting presentations to colleagues or clients, these mini projectors will sure work with your MacBook Air when all is said and done.
What to Look for in a MacBook Air Projector
When shopping a new projector for your home theater or bedroom entertainment, you might get confused in light of how many technical terminologies you should first grasp. It’s for this reason that we’ve listed below all the key features you should take into consideration when buying a MacBook Air projector, aside from the typical features such as excellent contrast ratio and high resolution.
- Multiple Avenues of Connectivity: First off, the mini projector that you should purchase should have connectivity options. More to the point, you have to deal with many projector connection types such as DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and USB. Furthermore, there are some projector devices that have what’s known as the mini HDMI port. This requires a special cable other than the HDMI cable known as the mini HDMI cable. However, the good news is that if you have a mini HDMI adapter, you can connect to any laptop with an HDMI port (almost nearly all the modern projectors).
- HDMI to Thunderbolt and Wireless Connections: You can also use an adapter for a mini HDMI to Thunderbolt in order to access older MacBooks. Meanwhile, other portable projectors have a USB port that enables you to connect to devices and laptops with no sweat. For the latest MacBook Air models, all you need is a USB-C or Type C cable. As for mini projectors that allow the wireless connection, you can simply broadcast your content unto it through the Wi-Fi or something similar, like streamcasting with your smartphones and tablets.
- Battery-Operated Mini Projectors: While it is handy to have a projector you can plug in to give you a continuous energy flow, it’s even more practical to have a portable, battery-powered device that makes them easy to bring with you anywhere in the world while getting optimum image quality from their projection. The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector is a particularly good example of a battery-operated projector. It has a built-in rechargeable battery that can run for 6 hours. It can even charge devices with a USB-C port.
- A Projector with Built-In Speakers: In case your business presentation uses video with audio or you wish to watch a big-screen movie while on the go with your MacBook Air, it pays to shop for a projector with its own speakers. You also don’t need an extra Bluetooth speaker or soundbar if there’s already a speaker included with the projector. One good example of such a device is the VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector. It has a high-quality speaker you can use to get the most amazing experience possible for your multimedia content.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm for the Speakers: These are speakers for a mini projector. Therefore, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much regarding their quality. A built-in speaker of that size can only do so much. You can’t expect theater-like quality from its sound because a theater, unlike a projector, can place speakers all around you, thus giving you a literal surround-sound experience. What it is good for is give you a decent sound quality just short of using Bluetooth earpieces or speakers that’s akin to what you can get from a laptop. Invest in a sound system or Bluetooth speaker for a more substantial audio experience.
A Review on ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector
The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector offers more than just compatibility to MacBook Air and Pro models old and new as a mini projector. It also helps that it’s one of the best mini projectors out there even without belonging to that specific category. It’s the perfect example of what the best MacBook Air and Pro projector should be that goes beyond the ability to connect those devices to the display.
- On-The-Go Projection Perfection: One of the things that made us fall in love with the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector is that it really does work as an on-the-go projection solution. It’s an ultra-portable mini projector that uses LED as a lamp light source instead of metal halide or halogen. This makes it less likely to overheat or end up with a busted lamp when push comes to shove. Even at its size, it’s able to deliver quite the bright light required to ensure you have entertainment on-the-go wherever you go.
- Integrated Built-In Speakers: The ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector also offers decent integrated speakers built into the device that produces laptop-level clear sounds and crisp music for all your multimedia content requirements. It allows you to hear the sweeping orchestral BGM and various sound effects when watching a movie or TV show. It also makes your business presentations pop more since you can add SFX and background music there as well, which can make for cleaner and more memorable slide shows indeed.
- Safety Feature and Easy Controls: Additionally, the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector has another built-in feature for safety’s sake. For example, it shuts down the lens automatically when objects are too near your display device. Not only is this ViewSonic projector easy to set up it’s also easy to control with ergonomic buttons and the like. It’s also plug-and-play. Just plug it into your MacBook Air or Pro and you’re good to go in displaying various pictures, videos, and presentations to your heart’s content.
- A Lengthy Battery Life: One of the main drawbacks found in lesser projectors is battery life. Many of them don’t last very long. This is a flaw that ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector intended to correct by having a built-in battery that can provide you a maximum of 6 hours of the continuous projector and lamp life at every charge. You can even charge your mobile devices like your smartphone or tablet with the M1. Alas, it’s not a perfect projector and suffers from being expensive, having a fixed zoom lens, and having low resolution.
A Review on VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector
What does the VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector bring to the table? What makes it different from the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector? For one thing, it’s the more home-theater-ready projector while its ViewSonic counterpart was more of a mobile business projector. If you wish to project your movies and TV shows straight from your MacBook Air to your VANKYO, it’s possible.
- Self-Cooling Projector Ideal for Home Theater: As its name suggests, the VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector (or Vankyo Leisure 3) was made for leisure purposes. This can be seen with its innovative cooling system that has heat dispersion technology. This indicates that the projector was developed with home cinemas and cramped dens in mind instead of wide conference rooms or a classroom full of 30-40 students. It can take the heat demands of a home theater just fine.
- Still Miniature But Also Noise Suppressing: That is not to say that this mini projector isn’t able to fulfill the responsibilities of portable business travel and presentations like the ViewSonic projector could. It’s just that ViewSonic’s mini projector offering is more business projector than home theater projector while VANKYO’s mini projector is the other way around in terms of priorities. At any rate, the Leisure 3 has noise suppression technology that cuts its fan sound without sacrificing its cooling features.
- VANKYO’s Twin Built-In Speakers and Easy Setup: Instead of only one built-in speaker like with ViewSonic, Vankyo features two built-in speakers for stereo sound purposes. It’s also quite easy to set up and has incredible picture quality for a projector its size or even when compared to larger projectors. It’s compatible with not only the MacBook Air but also the MacBook Pro, PS3, PS4, various gaming consoles from Nintendo to Microsoft, TV sticks, DVDs, BDs, and VGA/USB/AV devices. You can watch movies, play games, and do video seminars for business purposes. It can connect to mobile devices with its Mini DP Thunderbolt that can link to an HDMI adapter.
- More about Picture Quality and VANKYO Drawbacks: VANKYO has better picture quality and resolution than the ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector. This is because its LED lamp has a +60 percent level of brightness compared to projectors of its class. Moreover, it has a full 1080p or 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution that’s ideal for HDTV-tier entertainment for movies and TV shows in the HD era. Alas, it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t work with PowerPoint, its adapter is sold separately, and its built-in speakers sound more like monitor speakers.
A Review on TENKER Mini Portable Projector
The TENKER Mini Portable Projector is the best budget-friendly mini projector we could find. It connects to MacBook Air and Pro laptops just fine. However, its best and most apparent benefit is the fact that it fits most working-class budgets more than any of the other mini projectors on this list. We made sure that you’re buying something affordable instead of cheap and low-grade as well.
- A Good Quality Mini Projector for Its Price: TENKER Mini Portable Projector is a hand-sized projector that isn’t about the size of a pocket projector but it’s no bigger than a small lunchbox. It features a 170-inch display for something so portable. You can get a widescreen display size from it for all your MacBook laptop movie and presentation projection needs. Like the VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector, it has an LED solid-state light source. This means more brightness, less overheating, and a lengthier lifespan of about 20,000 hours.
- Safe and Won’t Inflict Optical Harm: Compared to tablets, laptops, and TVs that give off eye-damaging blue light radiation, the LED lamp technology of the TENKER Mini Portable Projector gives off less blue light than other projectors (this is the same deal as ViewSonic M1, actually). This makes the projector safer for the eyes even though by default projector is eye-safe already since you’re viewing its projection on a blank screen instead of staring directly into a bright TV or monitor screen. Furthermore, the projector also has dual stereo speakers like VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector instead.
- A Home Theater or Even Backyard Outdoor Projector: It’s mostly a multimedia movie player that can play most any 16:9 or HD widescreen aspect ratio video found on your cable or satellite box, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Most of the videos in your MacBook Air that you want to play with the projector can be played there. It offers an amazing theater experience with its display size that ranges from 35 inches to 100 inches and beyond to a maximum of 170 inches at a 1.15 meters to 3 meters distance.
- So Is It a Budget ViewSonic M1 or VANKYO LEISURE 3? It’s more or less, give or take a budget version of the VANKYO LEISURE 3 while featuring LED tech available in the ViewSonic M1. It’s easy to use and install, it serves as a multimedia movie player, it’s easy to carry because it’s lightweight, and it’s safe on the eyes due to its LED lamp. It even has noise suppression like VANKYO with its low fan noise. It has the same drawbacks as Leisure 3 as well, with it not being recommended for use with PowerPoint or similar programs. It also lacks a zoom in and out function since it’s a limited budget device.
A Review on AAXA P7 Mini HD Projector
The AAXA P7 Mini HD Projector is the most modern, cutting-edge business projector we can find that’s compatible with the many iterations of the MacBook Air. It gives the classic ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector a run for its money as the best projector for presentations on-the-road in 2020. Could it ultimately dethrone the king? Let’s find out by reviewing its many quality specs.
- On-the-Road Business Presentations: While the TENKER Mini Portable Projector serves as the budget counterpart of the ViewSonic M1 Projector, the AAXA P7 Mini HD Projector instead serves as the 2020 modern version of the M1 instead. The AAXA P7 is more like the ViewSonic M1 than the TENKER in that it’s a business projector capable of interfacing with slideshow apps like PowerPoint. It doe a decent job of playing music, showing the video, and displaying photos on the go.
- Native 1080p Full HD Resolution: The P7 is superior to the ViewSonic M1 in terms of resolution quality. The P7 has native 1920 x 1080 pixels of resolution. The M1 has a native resolution of 854 x 480 instead that’s blown up or made to fit the 1080p resolution. Naturally, the P7 is more than double the price of an M1. M1 is an older tech too, so you can get it at a discount. The AAXA P7 won’t drop prices anytime soon since it’s a relatively new 2020 release with native 1080p. In a sense, the ViewSonic M1 is the budget version of the AAXA P7.
- A Hulking Brute of a DLP Projector: It’s the most “massive” mini projector out there but still definitely smaller than projectors the size of printers, VCRs, or the PS5. The extra bulk for a portable device is what allows the AAXA P7 Mini HD Projector to have state-of-the-art features like an onboard media player with TF and USB ports, smartphone mirroring, 30,000-hour LEDs (that’s 10,000 hours more than an ordinary LED lamp), and a 38W rechargeable lithium-ion battery that allows 90 minutes of runtime.
- The Main Drawbacks for P7 are Size and Price: Customers who’ve reviewed the AAXA P7 Mini HD Projector mainly complain about how it’s not as tiny as advertised. The pictures for it on sites are allegedly misleading, but it’s a bit heftier for a mini projector. It’s still smaller than the average printer-sized or bigger projectors of yore, but it’s not as lightweight as you’d expect. Apparently, that native 1080p requires some bulk to support it. Its 90-minute battery lasts even shorter than the ViewSonic’s 6-hour battery!
Further reading: What is a Smart Projector? Why Do You Need a Smart Projector?
When All Is Said and Done
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops share compatibility with loads of projectors, especially if you have an adapter for HDMI or Lightning/Thunderbolt on hand. However, the best projectors have outputs compatible with the MacBook without the need for a converter.
ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector is the best USB-C mini projector for the latest MacBook Air models from 2016 and beyond (use adapter for best results). For older MacBook Air (and Pro) generations that support HDMI and Thunderbolt, you can go with VANKYO Leisure 3 Mini Projector instead. The rest of the projectors here are good for MacBook Air usage in various ways depending on the vintage of your Air model. This assured compatibility ensures that you won’t waste time fiddling around with cables and connections while your audience awaits your slideshow presentation.