The 5 Best Projectors Under $500 in 2020 [By Experts]

There are a lot of reasons why you might be considering getting a projector. For a lot of people, this is an issue because they realize that the standard display isn’t their best option anymore yet, they think it is hard to get a good projector for less than $500.

Fortunately, this is not true. Whether you need a new projector for your office presentations or movie nights and gaming, we can help you find the best projector under $500 that suits your needs. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it.

List of the Best Projectors Under $500 in 2020

  • ViewSonic PA503W – Best Overall
  • Optoma HD143X – Best Contrast Ratio
  • ViewSonic PX700HD – Best Projector for Artists and Gamers
  • Epson VS250 – Best for Presentations
  • BenQ MS535A – Best Business Projector

Our Favourite Picks for Projectors Under $500

NameViewSonic PA503WOptoma HD143XViewSonic PX700HD Epson VS250 SVGABenQ MS535A 
Lumens36003200350032003600 
Resolution1080p1080p1080p800 x 600 800 x 600 
Contrast Ratio22,000:123,000:112,000:115,000:115,000:1 
Display TechnologyDLPDLPDLPLCDDLP 

The 5 Best Projectors Under $500 in 2020

1. ViewSonic PA503W – Best Overall

ViewSonic PA503W

This projector is the best home projector under $500 on the market with no competitors. To begin with, it is 3600 Lumens, which makes it one of the brightest projectors below or above $500.

But, that’s not just it. Almost all of the projectors on our list have a bright display that falls between 3500 – 3600 lumens. The thing is, this projector has a contrast ratio of 22,000:1, which makes the overall display the clearest and brightest for this price range.

Another thing that makes this projector stand out is its maneuverability. The throw range of this projector is absolutely amazing, starting from 3.9 feet up to 43 feet! This means that you can use it for short-distance as well as long-distance projection. Not to mention, the display is suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage.

Some customers won’t like that the bulb life is only 15,000 hours; however, with these capabilities, and this price, we couldn’t ask for more. Actually, it is kind of impressive that it can last that long with such brightness before you need to replace it, even if it is not the most extended bulb life out there.

Lastly, the projector has a lot of choices for connectivity, which makes it even more flexible to use. It supports VGA, HDMI, and RCA hook-ups. So, you will have no issues connecting it to your PC or Mac as well as DVD and Media Players.

Pros:

  • Bright and sharp display
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Wide throw range
  • Multiple connectivity options

Cons:

  • Bulb life could be longer

Final Verdict

ViewSonic PA503S is a flexible projector that you can easily fit in a room or use outside without having to pay tons of money, and at the same time, you won’t be compromising the specs so that you can enjoy a good movie night with your friends and family.

2. Optoma HD143X – Best Contrast Ratio

Optoma HD143X

Optoma HD143X is another outstanding and affordable projector on our list. What makes it stand out the most is the contrast ratio. It has a contrast ratio of 23,000:1, which makes the display as sharp as can be – the most definite on our list – even if it is not as bright as the ViewSonic PA503S.

This projector is a better option than the ViewSonic PA503S is that the 3D model is more flexible, and you can easily customize it.

The projector has built-in speakers that are only 10W, and unfortunately, they’re not enough for a large room. However, you will be able to connect it to an external sound system without facing any issues whatsoever.

The main disappointment when using that projector is that power consumption is a little higher than expected. Also, it is a bit bulky, but a lot of people don’t consider this to be a drawback.

Pros:

  • The 3D model is user-friendly and modifiable
  • Bright and sharp image
  • You can connect it to external speakers

Cons:

  • Speakers are weak
  • Power consumption is more than average
  • It is bulky

Final Verdict

Optoma HD143X has one of the best projectors under $500 and displays because of the high contrast ratio. The projector is affordable, easy to use, and you will end up having a bright and sharp image.

It consumes more power than average, and the speakers are weak, but you can connect it to an external sound system, and it will work perfectly.

3. ViewSonic PX700HD – Best Projector for Artists and Gamers

ViewSonic PX700HD

ViewSonic PX700HD is a compact mini projector that standout in a lot of ways. It supports a full HD display on a 300- inch display, making it perfect for a digital artist to present their work on a large screen with high resolution and also a bright 3500 display.

The colors of the projector are quite impressive, especially at this price range. They are vibrant and bright, regardless of the environment.

Also, the projector doesn’t experience any input latency, which is great news for all the gamers out there who can enjoy a large screen with the desirable graphics without having any lags.

The only drawback is that the contrast ratio of the projector isn’t the best. It is only 12,000:1, so this projector is better only used indoors and preferably in a dark room setting.

Pros:

  • Bright display
  • Large Screen size
  • Vibrant colors
  • No lag time

Cons:

  • Affected by ambient light

Final Verdict

ViewSonic PX700HD is the right choice for you if you are a digital artist or a gamer who is looking for the best projector under $500 that they can use. The only precaution you will need to take is to use this projector in a dark room because it is affected by ambient light, so it is not a decision to use it outdoors.

4. Epson VS250 – Best for Presentations

Epson VS250

Epson is one of the leading companies when it comes to projector technology. If you are looking for a Projector for your office or conference hall, the Epson VS250 is a great option.

First, it is a bright projector with 3,200 lumens, which makes it suitable to use anywhere you want. The resolution of the projector is 800 x 600 with a 3LCD display, which produces a clear image, which is more than enough for your presentation. However, it is not the best option to go to if you are looking for a projector to use for your games and movies.

The projector has a contrast ratio of 15,000:1. It allows you to have excellent clarity in dark rooms. Also, the throw distance of the projector will allow you to use the projector in both small and large spaces without having any difficulties. It is extremely easy to set up, and you can connect it to a variety of devices.

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • A lot of connectivity choices

Cons:

  • The low resolution that is not the best for movies or gaming

Final Verdict

Epson VS250 is more of a professional projector. It is a perfect add on to your office for media, graph, and word presentations. It is worth its price and allows you to accomplish your work without paying a lot. On the other side, it is not a good option for movies because of the low resolution that makes a lot of other projectors with the same price range a much better option.

5. BenQ MS535A – Best Business Projector

BenQ MS535A

BenQ has launched this projector as a business projector with all the specs you need for your meetings and evaluations. Its specs have a lot in common with the Epson VS250, with few differences that we will talk about right away.

Both projectors have a contrast ratio of 15,000, but BenQ MS535A has a better brightness of 3,600, which makes it much brighter than the Epson VS250. Also, BenQ supports 1080p, so; you can easily use it for movies and gaming as well.

The reason why the Epson VS250 came before this projector is not the display; it is the flexibility of the projector. BenQ MS535A has a modest set of connectivity options, which makes setting a presentation hard for some customers.

However, if this is not an issue for you, we think this would be a better option for you because it has a better display that you can use in ambiance without getting a blurry image.

Sadly, and as expected, the speakers aren’t its best feature.

Pros:

  • Bright display
  • Supports 1080p resolution
  • Can be used for watching movies
  • Good for gaming

Cons:

  • Connection options are a little limited
  • Weak audio

Final Verdict

BenQ MS535A is a good projector that is primarily used for business purposes. You can still use it for gaming and watching movies, but it won’t be as good as other projectors on our list. The reasons we recommend you consider other options for movies and gaming are the SVGA resolution and the weak audio output. Also, it has limited connectivity options.

What to Expect From a $500 Projector?

Buying a projector under $500 doesn’t mean you’re compromising the quality. It only means that you are limiting the features so that you use your money to buy exactly what you need for a particular task and nothing more.

How to Pick The Best Projectors Under $500?

Brightness

A lot of people think that the brighter the display is, the better. However, that’s only partially true.

Let’s look at things from a different perspective, okay? What happened when you wake up in the middle of the night, and the entire place is absolutely dark, then you light up your phone to check the time? You feel this blinding pain in your eyes, right? It is the same here.

The brightness of your display is better adjusted to suit the place your in and the usual time of the day that you use the projector. A dim display can be just right if you use the projector at night to watch a movie while an extremely bright display will leave you with a blinding headache.

Display Technology

The display technology is one of the essential things to consider before buying your projector.

There are two main display technologies available on the market. DLP and LCD. DLP is more common and basic. LCD is a newer technology, yet it has its downsides as well, so before you make a decision, read about both technologies and figure out precisely what you need.

Screen Size

Knowing the minimum and maximum screen size of the projector you get is important because you should make sure that it is suitable for the place you will set it up. So, it is better to consider the measurements of the screen is matched with the image projected on it.

Throw Distance

The throw distance is the distance between the projector and the screen. It’s crucial to consider this because some projectors only work in large halls so they’re not a good option if you are looking for a projector that you can use in a small room or your office. On the other hand, a long throw projector is used in large spaces.

Contrast

The contrast of the produced image of the projectors will affect your experience in so many ways. To begin with, let me explain to you what the contrast ratio is. Simply, it is the difference between the dark colors and the bright colors in the image.

The lower the contrast of the image is, the paler it looks. A projector with a high contrast ratio is always a better option to go with because, at the end of the day, we all want the crisp, colorful image. Also, a projector with a low contrast ratio is easily affected by ambient light, which means that you will only use it indoors.

Resolution

A high resolution is always better. Most of the projectors available on the market have a fixed resolution. They produce images with this resolution regardless of the resolution fed to them. This is why it is important to choose a projector with a wide fixed resolution array, especially if you are a digital artist who uses the projectors to show your work to clients.

Final Verdict

It’s not an easy job to find a good projector at this price range. This is why we decided to make you a buying guide with the best projectors under $500 and highlight what each of them is capable of and why you should buy it.

If you want to get a projector for your office work or business then your best options are Epson VS250 and BenQ MS535A.

On the other hand, ViewSonic PA503S and Optoma HD143X are more suitable for your home theater and movie nights.

Lastly, ViewSonic PX700HD is the perfect projector for digital artwork and gaming.

Now you can make an informed decision about which is more suitable for your activities.

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