Portable or mobile projectors creatively referred to as pico projectors, are pocket-sized image projectors that are designed to be carried and used with mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Some operate on rechargeable batteries, but the smallest ones feed off USB power from the device that provides the media content, which is either included in the USB connection or requires HDMI, Lightning or another cable type to convey the data.
Although pico projectors usually cast their image at lower resolutions and brightness than their stationary counterparts, advancements over the years have elevated them well within the boundaries of pro-quality presentations.
Pico projectors are ideal for project leaders, teachers and conference organizers who find themselves relocating frequently for their presentations. They also work great for casting movie and gaming content, and they’re viable replacement solutions for full-fledged projectors in most cases.
Because today’s smartphones support 1440-2160p content at 60 frames per second in full-featured applications, there’s no longer a requirement for using desktop computers to complement projector setups. However, it’s essential to choose the best pico projector that suits your requirements as there are a handful of factors that define its usefulness such as resolution, responsiveness, and brightness.
Best Pico Projector Comparison Table
|Resolution||Battery Life |
|Max Image Size||Dimensions (HxWxD)/Weight|
|AAXA KP-600-01 P300|
|500||WXGA 1280x800||60||120"||5.9"x3.8"x1.5" / 0.97 lbs|
|iCODIS CB-300W||3000||Native: 1280 x 720|
|Plug||200”||1.1"x6.1"x4.1" / 1.27 lbs|
|iCODIS G1||2,000||Native: 854 x 480|
Supported: 1920 x 1080
|120||120"||5.8"x3.1"x0.8" / 1.61 pounds|
|RIF6 CUBE||50||WVGA 854 x 480||90||120"||8"x8"x2.5" / 1.8 lbs|
|Magnasonic PP60||25||640 x 360||120||60”||3.9"x3.0"x0.5" / 0.28 lbs|
|AAXA KP-101-01||25||qHD 960 x 540||80||60”||4.25"x2.36"x0.7" / 0.3 lbs|
|Miroir Micro M45||15||640 x 360||120||50”||4.9"x3.2"x0.63" / 0.51 lbs|
|Philips PPX4010||100||SD 640x480||120||120"||0.87"x2.6"x2.68" / 0.18 lbs|
|LG PH300||300||1280 x 720||150||100"||11.8"x6"x10" / 5 pounds|
|PocketPico||500||854 x 480||120||120"||5.8"x3.1"x0.6" / 0,5 lbs|
|ASUS S1||200||854x480||180||100''||4.3''x4''x1.2'' / 0.75 lbs|
|Sony Portable HD||40||1920 x 720||120||120”||0.5"x5.9"x3" / 0,46 lbs|
Best Pico Projector in Category
Magnasonic PP60 – Best Mid-Range
Advertising itself as the world’s smallest DLP projector, there’s an awful lot of punch in this small package.
While the image brightness sits at a mediocre 25 lumens, it does provide a great image in dark settings and comes complete with an inbuilt speaker and 3.5 mm headphone jack. What makes this projector even more remarkable is that they managed to tuck a 2,100 mAh battery inside the tiny chassis, complementing the incredibly portable form factor for any time, anywhere entertainment and presentation at an affordable dollar.
AAXA Technologies KP-600-01 P300 – Best Pico Projector With 1080p
If there’s one detail this projector aims to do best, it’s displaying the best possible 1080p image even if sacrifices have to be made to brightness and other factors.
The battery only lasts one hour, but there’s an onboard media player to interact with microSD cards, forgoing the need to connect a phone, tablet or laptop if you so choose. This projector features DLP technology to further improve the crispness of upscaled 1080p output, but just as important is the expansive gamut of connectivity options for just about any device that you own.
Miroir Micro Projector M45 – Best Affordable Model
For those who need a pico projector on a tighter budget, this little package delivers support for Android and iOS devices, an inbuilt speaker and 3.5 mm audio jack, and a two-hour charge to keep you lit on the run.
It features standard HDMI connectivity and brings Texas Instruments’ renown DLP technology to intelligently maximize image quality at the cost of bulb life. For the price, this is a great deal, but be aware that smartphones and tablets will require adapters to hook in and cast their content.
iCODIS CB-300W — Best Pico Projector for Gaming
If you’re gunning for the gaming scene with your mobile device, you’ll need a projector that yields the brightest, crispest image of the bunch, and that’s exactly what the iCODIS CB-300W is made to do.
This projector is noted for its performance with both laptop and phone gaming, and it excels with game streaming on the fly. The CB-300W also comes prepackaged with its own Android OS on board, which allows it to project its own content even without an external source. This may not be the ideal projector for iPhone users, however; the device has been noted as having connectivity conflicts with Apple products.
iCODIS G1 — Best Pico Projector for iPhone
What really sets this projector apart from the competition for Apple users is its inbuilt support for AirPlay, which allows your iPhone, iPad or MacBook to connect directly to this peripheral without the muss and fuss of cables and adapters that most pico projectors require.
Compounding this benefit is the 1080p support at a huge 120” with a bright 400 lumens to stay visible in lit settings. When you consider that Apple products excel at media creation, these are features that are practically required on any projector being used with them. However, beware of the hefty price tag — you get what you pay for.
iCODIS G1 — Best Pico Projector for Business Presentations
The G1 is back to win another round of Best Projector — this time, it’s the suit-and-tie presentations in focus.
When you’re planning ahead for a business conference, interview or other presentation that requires the projection of content to a room-sized audience, this is the projector to do it with. At an excellent 400 lumens across 120” of 1080p output, image quality should be ideal for information conveyance in professional style. The gold-and-black chassis adds an executive oomph to this device’s presentation power and is sure to leave an impression.
At a confident price tag, AAXA has delivered a pico projector with its own inbuilt media player and a bevy of connection options for your convenience:
- aux out
- composite A/V
The design is fairly standard and certainly nothing to write home about, but it blends into its environments in acceptable style. A 550-lumen DLP LED array keeps the images well-lit and sharp, and the bulbs are estimated to last 20,000 hours.
It’s worth noting that some of the bulkiness owes to the inclusion of a battery, but the charge life is a pitiful one hour tops, so don’t plan on using the P300 for long while away from an outlet. On the upside, you’ll get 120” coverage for conveyance to a large audience and a speaker to boot.
Next up: a beauteous full-featured projector solution from iCODIS. This projector won in our Best Pico Projector for Gaming category, nailing it on all fronts despite the hefty asking price.
If the cost is no object to you, you’re welcome to keystone-enhanced 1080p projections with 3D support and a full-fledged inbuilt Android operating environment — think full support for YouTube, Facebook and anything else your heart desires.
Of course, the CB-300W comes decked with the full array of connectivity options for enjoying media playback from just about any device you own, most notably AirPlay support for easy one-and-done hookups with compatible Apple devices. Tell us this thing doesn’t rock already!
However, a device of this power must have its drawbacks somewhere, and that’s where we reach the topic of no battery and lacking the pocket-sized portability of other pico projectors. That said, nobody should be surprised that it costs what it does and would come in such a form factor for the power that it offers, and we don’t believe that’s worth complaining about when you get down to it.
Winning Best Projector for Business Presentations, this tiny, premium-looking package boasts some crazy specifications despite its size.
The price is great for what you’re getting too. Included here are support for 1080p, output up to 120” screens, HDMI and WiFi connections, and enhanced DLP technology to bring exceptionally clear imagery that’s virtually untouched by other projectors that cast at the same resolution.
This projector also brings support for Miracast and AirPlay, so hooking up your Apple devices is an uncomplicated matter here.
The drawbacks to all this aren’t as nasty as you’d think: The initial setup for wireless devices is a little difficult at first, there’s no keystone, and the brightness is cited to be lower than advertised.
With all the charm of a perfectly cubed design language, this little two-inch technological marvel brings the whole host of HDMI and USB connectivity options for laptops, phones, and tablets of any operating environment.
With a mini-tripod on board and a built-in speaker, you can easily post the CUBE up by itself and angle your image projection to your heart’s content.
However, it’s worth noting that the weight is more than you’d expect: over 800 grams. Considering the average smartphone is around 150 grams, this isn’t exactly heavy, but there are lighter projectors out there if that matters to you.
The first detail that graces the eyes upon noticing Magnasonic’s offering here is the design, which is as sleek and functional as one could ask for.
With a set-top design language that sits flat in a dark, professional-esque chassis design, the only thing to ask now is whether it works the way it looks. Well, that’s a bit of yes and no.
The PP60 offers a high contrast ratio with support for 640 x 360 native resolution — not exactly crisp, but that’s why it was only designed to cast clearly up to 60” of screen real estate.
With the good news out of the way, the one major drawback worth mentioning right from the specs sheet is the mere 25-lumen limitation on the brightness, which is more than a little dim and the lightest — or should we say darkest — in this regard among all the projectors we reviewed. Now, this doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker if you keep the projector within its low-resolution constraints, and the price makes it easier to embrace, but don’t expect the most brilliant presentation with the PP60.
There are kind words to say for a pico projector that tries its hardest to complete the package in a pocket-sized form factor, and to be honest, AAXA succeeded with this specimen.
You’re getting more of the usual with HDMI and composite support, a speaker, USB connections and even microSD support. There’s also an 80-minute rechargeable battery on board to keep things going while you’re away from an outlet, complementing the all-portable utility of the KP-101-01.
The device is cited for its reliability and all-in-one functionality, working wonderfully with both connected devices as well as memory cards. Although the bulb isn’t all that bright, the image projects more clearly than you’d expect from a device like this.
With that said, the only weirdness to keep in mind is the odd charging setup, which uses dual hookups instead of the usual one-and-done design that you’re used to with most devices. You also don’t get any adapters out of the box, but that’s expected, so Apple users will need to go a little further to wire up their iPad or iPhone.
Talk about inexpensive! Miroir has a mobile content-projection solution for the thrifty, including a speaker, 3.5 mm jack and two-hour rechargeable battery in a reasonably slim chassis that comes complete with a clear DLP projection bulb.
With support for HDMI, you have an easy connection to laptops and some tablets, but you’ll more than likely need to invest in an adapter for most smart devices. The M45 also supports image casting of up to 50”, which is on the low end of the spectrum but more than acceptable at the given price.
This USB-powered, HDMI-compatible pico projector is one of the tiniest ones you’ll find.
The PPX4010 handles HD content projection like a champ with an image real estate of up to 120”, keeping with the tradition that most projectors of this caliber do. With support for micro USB and USB-Y, you have a handful of unique connectivity options for your laptop, netbook, smartphone or tablet.
Despite the brightness being a mere 100 lumens, the device is prone to overheat on maximum brightness, which is a shame considering you’ll probably need to use it in such a setting frequently. Users have frequently cited that a higher brightness is necessary to project the image visibly, especially at larger sizes; you should ideally use this little box in a room-temperature environment.
In an uncommon twist, LG has provided something other than DLP here for your purposes — LED, that is.
LED takes an edge over DLP in power consumption and color reproduction, but the imagery can be a little less clear at times, especially with the lower brightness that tends to come with LED solutions.
The decision to use this light source probably explains the 150-minute battery life, which is the second-longest of any projector we’ve reviewed here. You’re also getting an impressive 300-lumen projection, which is unexpected of an LED setup, and native 720p output with the usual HDMI and USB plugins to hook up all your media devices for playback.
The inbuilt speaker is also said to be a bit lacking compared to other projectors, but it makes up for it in sheer volume. You also get a sweet little surprise when angling the image at a surface — auto keystone, anyone?
A stylish chassis, included tripod and portable mouse, and a plethora of preloaded applications makes this a sweet deal right out of the box.
Auto keystone, 500 lumens, support for 5 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, 16 GB of inbuilt storage and upscaled 1080p projection for screens up to 120” make this offering ideal for gaming, multimedia playback and everything in between.
However, PocketPico’s product isn’t perfect. Users cite difficulties with the focus toggle, stutter during video playback and occasional audio cut-outs. In fact, the focus knob is so bad that you could just as well forget it exists, but with patience, you can work the kinks out and get your image projected just right.
ASUS is known for delivering exceptions to the rule at times, and if battery life is an object of your concern, let’s just say that a 6,000 mAh juicer keeps this monster running a solid three hours straight.
Included is a reasonable 200-lumen DLP bulb for bright and crisp imagery, and you can blow the image up to 100” for large-audience presentations. Uniquely, ASUS has packed their own proprietary Sonic Master speaker tech for excellent sound quality, a trait that other pico projectors tend to overlook. In this way, ASUS stands where it stands out, and it does an excellent job at it.
While you have the usual array of connections to hook up your phone, tablet or PC, you’ll need a Lightning adapter to key Apple devices into the S1 for playback. However, the real drawback is the resolution, which throws at a native WVGA (854 x 480) — not the finest in its field here. It’s a pleasant surprise to see a manufacturer trade some video quality for audio playback and battery life, however, as not everyone values sharper outputs.
Sony now enters the arena with its own mobile projector, featuring premium additions such as WiFi and Bluetooth support along with native 720p content and a unique laser scanner that prevents focal spots in the projected image.
Sony clearly wanted a complete alternative to the option of hauling in and hooking up a TV wherever you happen to be, but the portability stops where the notion of battery power enters the picture: You’re always going to have this thing hooked up wherever you use it.
Now, users report a mixed bag of results. At its best, it’s a great little projector that should answer all of your requirements, but it’s noted for its high-pitch fan whine, lack of a tripod and the WiFi’s tendency to play mind games with Apple devices. The projection is also too dim for any but the darkest of environments, so forget using this in an office setting with the overhead lights turned on. Some say that it also struggles to hook up with Android handsets, and it ironically doesn’t support Sony’s own PlayStation consoles at times, so expect a little finagling out the box when you get your hands on this projector.
Best Pico Projector Buyer’s Guide
What’s the difference between DLP and LED
Digital light processing (DLP) projectors produce sharper images and are more responsive at conveying data input, which makes them ideal for real-time applications such as gaming.
Light-emitting diode (LED) projectors emphasize accurate color reproduction and low power consumption, which in turn keeps them cool and prolongs the lifespan of the components; this makes them ideal for movies and video playback.
The third type of illumination, liquid crystal display (LCD), is used on standard projector variants and isn’t found on pico projectors.
Why does Resolution Matter / Difference Between Input and Output Resolutions?
Resolution describes the density of the pixel matrix that composes the image on a screen. A higher resolution results in a sharper, more detailed image while a lower resolution results in jaggies, fuzzy images and noticeable pixelation.
Because of size-based hardware limitations, many pico projectors can receive 1080p content from a connected device but can only output this content at a lower resolution such as 480p or 720p.
What is Keystone Feature?
Normally, if a projector is pointed at an angled surface, the resulting image will also be angled. Keystone describes a feature that allows the lens to shift, correcting the angular offset and making the image appear as though the projection is cast evenly on the surface.
This is ideal for situations where you can’t position the projector exactly where it can shoot the image directly onto the screen. Keystone comes in manual and automated forms, the former requiring you to adjust the lens angle yourself while the latter auto-detects the angular offset and adjusts accordingly.
Is Battery Power Really Important in a Pico Projector?
Because projector batteries usually don’t last very long — think 2-3 hours at most on a full charge — the battery is only important for specific niches such as outdoor presentations or short presentations that occur repeatedly in different rooms.
Because most applications for a projector will involve setting it in one place and letting it run for hours, you’ll more often than not have the means of plugging it in somewhere, which is easy to do when you have outlets and USB devices that can readily support a charge for it.
Why do Projectors Require Adapters to Work with Apple Products?
Apple is a stickler for proprietary connection formats, and as such, universal connections such as HDMI, USB, and A/V composite will work with nearly any device while Apple requires AirPlay support, Bluetooth or WiFi connections, or a Lightning adapter to mediate between the HDMI or USB hub and the iPhone, iPad or Macbook that send the signal. If you want to avoid this hassle, just stick with a projector that supports wireless connections.
Best Pico Projector FAQ
How Does a Pico Projector Work?
Like any other projector, a miniature projector works by using an inbound HDMI, USB, WiFi or Bluetooth connection to receive media from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. This media is then projected using an LED or DLP illumination array to cast it to a wall or drop-down white screen, serving as an alternative form of displaying content.
How Do You Set Up a Pico Projector?
Most pico projectors are a simple matter of plugging them into a wall outlet or USB power sources such as a phone, tablet or PC, then turning the projector on and aiming the lens at the surface where you want the image to be projected. Then, you connect a media device to the projector using HDMI, USB, A/V composite cables or a wireless connection, which allows the projector to receive media and project it to the desired surface.
How Do You Use a Pico Projector?
Aside from the initial setup, there are other factors to consider such as:
- Lens focusing
- Manual keystone adjustments
- Volume control
The buttons and knobs for these features are located in various places depending on the projector that you have. Generally speaking, all projectors will require that you adjust their exact distance from an angle at the wall or screen to minimize angular imaging and out-of-focus blurring. They work much like a TV set in that you must have some form of media input from a device or WiFi connection in order to project content.
Although pico projectors may feel needless and redundant compared to their full-sized brethren, they’re excellent as convenient replacements for stationary projector solutions. Stationary versions are also more costly, and while they do offer more power for the price, we’re reaching a horizon in technology where we no longer need them to achieve usable resolutions and brightness in a pocket-sized package. This will only become more apparent with passing years as pico projectors progressively work their way into 2K and 4K territory.
That day can’t be far off when our phones already shoot in 4K video at 60 frames per second and pack gorgeous 2K displays to show it off with. For now, portable imaging and computing power are slowly taking the throne, and smartphone-sized projectors will undoubtedly become the future of projection technology. Smartphone manufacturers are even working on including projectors in smartphones themselves, providing an all-in-one solution for gamers, business-owners and movie aficionados alike.