Nowadays, it’s easy to enjoy the thrill of the cinema at home. Projector equipment has exploded in popularity in recent years, with home cinema projectors now an incredibly affordable and reliable option for those looking to replicate the thrill of the big screen from the comfort of their living rooms. Our go-to guide has everything you need to know in order to make the best choice when buying new equipment for your home cinema setup, with all the essential information required to help you find the best budget projector under £500 that the UK market has to offer.
Key Types of Projector
Before we delve into the various projector designs available, we will take some time to explore the chief types that all model varieties fall under. The first is the so-called “short throw” projector. These types of projector are designed with smaller spaces in mind as they can positioned close to a projector screen or wall you’re using to project an image on.
Despite this, they can still produce a substantial enough image size and deliver impressive image quality. If you’re looking for a projector to use in pokey spaces or in the home, a short throw projector is almost always the safest bet.
You will also find many projectors advertised as “long throw” models. These are the opposite of short throw models, with the devices a much more suitable choice for use in larger rooms.
You have more freedom when it comes to placement and positioning here. Long throw projectors can be placed as close as fifty centimetres to a wall or project screen.
However, if you want a larger image to make the most of a long throw projector, you can place the device upwards of 10-15 metres from a surface. This is definitely the preferred option for those looking to project a significant image size onto a projector surface or screen, with a long throw projector a must if you’re keen replicate the appeal of the big screen at home.
Different Projector Models
Now that we have determined the difference between long throw and short throw projectors, let’s look at some of the most common varieties of projector model you can find on the market. Below, we have outlined some of the most popular options you can put to use at home or in the office.
For Home Cinema Applications
A home cinema projector is without doubt the preferred option for those looking to enjoy movies and television shows at home in style. A quality home cinema projector can be used to project in full HD clarity, giving you an incredibly clean and vibrant image.
A good home cinema model will allow you to project at reasonable size. Furthermore, home cinema projectors will provide easy connectivity to other home entertainment equipment.
You should have no trouble connecting your projector to things like your set top boxes and Blu-ray players, while most models will also include SD card slots and USB inputs for attaching dongles an other devices.
Fully Integrated Solutions
An all in one projector is well worth looking into if you are keen to save money on surplus equipment. The vast majority of all in one projectors will integrate speakers into their overall design, saving you the need to invest in separate audio equipment. This is not only a cost-effective solution, but also ensures you can count on an audio solution that’s been tailored and calibrated to the projector image itself.
The best all in one projectors will also allow for more enhanced visual technology, with 3D applications possible. With an all in one projector, you can look forward to vibrant and clear images, with plenty of versatility when it comes to placement and positioning. These devices are used to project indoors in low light and at shorter distances, so they’re a good choice for using in small rooms.
A Compact Alternative
If you’re after something that won’t take up much space, go for a compact take on a home projector. A compact choice will deliver all the standard features you’d expect from a mid-range home cinema projector model, although it benefits from being significantly smaller.
This makes it a good option if you are very strapped for space in the room you’re looking to project in. In fact, a good compact projector can be placed discreetly on a coffee table or bookcase if you’re looking to enjoy projected images in a tiny living room.
Admittedly, unless you are investing in something at a premium price point, you will probably have to put up with a few compromises to a larger model. However, if the appeal of compact design is top of your list of must-haves, these compromises won’t concern you too much.
As with compact home cinema projectors, portable projectors are far smaller than other varieties on this list. In fact, the smallest portable projectors can be picked up and carried in a single hand. This makes them a very good bet for travelling. If you’re looking to take your projector with you on holiday or on visits to friends and family, a portable model is well worth considering.
In addition to being incredibly lightweight and generally far smaller than conventional models, a good portable projector should include integrated batteries to allow for operation when you’re not within reach of a mains power socket. Provided you regularly maintain full charging cycles, you might want to consider investing in a portable projector in lieu of a home cinema alternative.
Resolution & Lumens
Image quality will of course play a significant part of your purchase decision when it comes to shopping for the best budget projector. To best understand resolution capabilities of a potential mode, bear in mind that resolutions will be measured in pixels.
An advertised resolution will tell you how many individual pixels are present in a projected image. The more pixels to an image, the sharper the overall image quality. Look out for Full HD (1020 x 1080p) for the best image results.
However, if you need to make some compromises to secure a cheaper model, a HD Ready resolution of 1280 x 720p should still provide you with quality image results.
Another key spec you need to bear in mind is lumens. The lumens number will let you know about what kind of brightness you can expect from a final projected image. As a rule, the more lumens, the brighter an image.
If you are looking for a home projector to use in well lit spaces, you will want a projector with a bright enough lumens rating to ensure adequate quality. Go for 3000 lumens in this case. However, if you are looking for a projector to use exclusively indoors in darker spaces, opting for something below 3000 lumens is entirely justified.
Consider Device Connectivity
We have already talked a little about connectivity with other devices, but it’s worth stressing again. If you are looking for a projector model to become an effective element of your home cinema setup, you certainly want one that can be readily connected to all manner of audio-visual equipment. At the very least, you will want a HDMI connection so you can hook your projector up to your set top boxes, DVD players and Blu-ray players.
You will also want a USB input so you can insert dongles and connect to streaming services or access stored media on flash drives. A VGA port is also a good idea if you plan on using your home projector for office applications or presentations.
A 3.5mm audio jack should also be accounted for so you can connect wired headphones and speaker units to your projector. If you are looking at more premium models, consider going for a projector with Bluetooth connectivity as standard. This will make life far easier when it comes to connecting wireless speakers and supporting devices, saving you the hassle of cable cutter.
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Product Reviews of 5 Best Budget Projector under £500
Now you know what to look for, we have put together our pick of the best budget projector models you can currently find on the UK market. You will find a healthy selection of options to accommodate all budgets, with quality picks from some of the best manufacturers in the business for that cinema quality viewing.
The DR.Q HI-04 HD Projector is a great choice for those looking for an all in one solution they can put to work straight out of the box. This projector delivers an impressive contrast ration of 2000:1, while the latest 7P LC technique is utilised in the projection to ensure a crisp and clear image in full HD.
It’s also incredibly bright choice when compared with similar models on the market, making it ideal for ensuring a sharp and vibrant image in darker spaces. If you are hoping for larger images, this projector will not disappoint.
When placed at an optimal distance, this projector will produce images measuring 170 inches in width. Connectivity is also assured here, with inputs for HDMI, USB, TF Card, VGA and AV.
As such, you will have no trouble connecting all of your favourite devices and flash drives so you can ensure all of your media. Additionally, this projector comes complete with a projector screen, meaning you don’t need to prepare a clean wall surface beforehand.
Best Home Cinema Projector | Full HD Resolution
If you are after incredibly dynamic and vibrant images, this QKK Projector is the way to go. This particular model comes equipped with a dynamic RGB colour output, while also utilising the innovative LCD 5.0 technique to deliver superb image quality, every time.
Brightness is also superb here, with upgraded white and colour brightness. In fact, this projector boasts a brightness of 3800 lumens, making it a much brighter alternative to similar models available on the market. Combined with Full HD resolution, this makes it a must for those after top-tier image quality with no compromises.
This projector unit also comes complete with a projection screen so you can immediately start savouring home cinema. This quality screen can be used indoors and outside, making the whole package a very versatile option.
A budget-friendly choice that won’t break the bank.
Home Cinema Projector | Full HD Resolution | Cinema HD
You will never need to worry about subpar viewing with the VANKYO Leisure 510. This premium projector delivers high-quality HD images at all times, with a full HD resolution and impressive brightness levels to hit the high notes of colour temperature and vibrancy.
This projector also includes two integrated speakers, delivering superb audio performance as standard. When it comes to projection size, you’ve plenty of flexibility. With a range of 44 to 200 inches, this projector can be put to use in any size of room with ease.
Other nifty features here include the advanced cooling system that utilises two fans to ensure overheating isn’t something you need to worry about. This dual fan design will also keep operational noise down to a minimum.
It’s also a compact and user-friendly choice, making it a great entry point to the world of home cinema projection.
The APEMAN LC350 Projector is a great choice for those looking to realise home cinema applications or project gaming action onto a larger screen.
There’s incredible brightness levels on offer here, with 4500 lumens and an impressive contrast ratio of 2000:1 on hand to ensure you get stunning projected images in most spaces. Sharpness and vibrancy is further enhanced by innovative 4.0 LCD technology and integrated LED light sources.
This projector will support 1080p Full HD viewing, while projected screen size ranges from between 34 inches and 180 inches. You also have ample choice of connection inputs. You can combine this projector with your favourite consoles, set top boxes, USB drives, dongles and more.
Best Mini Projector | Small Projector
If you are after a very affordable option with plenty of premium spec, this DR.Q L8 Mini Projector is the way to go. This projector uses the latest dynamic RGB light output technology, delivering vibrant images in full HD clarity.
You can also look forward to enhanced colour and white brightness, ensuring your favourite media need never be compromised in terms of quality. Accessibility is also assured with wide points of connectivity.
The L8 Mini Projector can be connected via USB, HDMI, TF Card, VGA and AV. Therefore, all your favourite devices can be readily connected for projected viewing pleasure.
One of the biggest draws of this mini projector is of course its compact size. Easy to carry single-handedly and carry from A to B, it’s a good choice if you are after a portable projector that you can travel with.
However, with 4500 lumens brightness and impressive HD support, not to mention a stunning lamp life, you don’t need to worry about making compromises to enjoy compact convenience.