The Best Projector Under 500

When many people imagine finally owning their dream home, everyone always wants a big back yard, a pool, and of course, a living room with a big TV and amazing surround sound.  Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re the star of the latest action movie?  Why stop at a big flat screen TV, though?  Why not upgrade to a projector and use your entire wall as a TV?  For those that want the best in both sound quality and picture, the perfect combination is a blasting sound system and a great projector.  Bigger is always better, right?  When choosing a new projector, realize that they aren’t necessarily cheap, but you get what you pay for.  And in most cases, it is still cheaper than buying a brand new TV.

When choosing a new projector, you want to check out the price, what sort of hookups the projector has, and its minimum/maximum projection distances.  If you have a small room, pick a projector that doesn’t need much room to work, for instance.  Also, keep in mind the lighting situation in the room you plan to use your projector in.  Some can project bright pictures even with other light interference.  If you do a little bit of research, it is easy to find the best projector under 500!



5 Star Rating

Epson Home Cinema 20004.6
Epson PowerLite 1761W4.5
Optoma W316 projector4.5
ViewSonic PJD52334.9
BenQ's MW526 WXGA Projector4.6

Top 5 Great Projectors Under 500

An absolutely stunning choice for your best projector under 500 and home theater is the Epson Home Cinema 2000 1080p 3D Home Theater Projector.  Although at the absolute top of the $500 budget, Epson’s offering is an amazing projector that is sure not to disappoint.  The $500 version features a 1,800 Lumen brightness for both white and colors.  A 2,000 Lumen model is available for a $200 price increase.  Even though the base version is only 1,800 Lumens, be assured that you will still be thrilled with picture quality.  At eight feet back, the Epson gives you a 90 inch screen.  From twelve feet back, you get a 134 inch screen.  The largest recommended screen size is a whopping 300 inches.  The Epson offers the choice of both 2D and 3D.

It boasts two HDMI ports in addition to a multitude of others, so hooking up every device you own is a breeze.  It also has a loud speaker, though you may wish to upgrade.  In addition, the image quality is superb.  However, the Epson has a few shortcomings to keep in mind.    There is no lens shift on this unit.  In short, to reposition your picture to the perfect place on your wall, you must move the unit itself.  It isn’t a deal breaker, but it is something to keep in mind.  While it supports wireless, buying a separate wireless adapter from Epson is necessary.

Some users have complained that the fan is extremely loud, though others have said it is extremely quiet, so your experiences may vary based on your unit.  Epson offers a limited two year warranty against defects.  Despite a few shortcomings, it is still a great investment and a great choice for the best projector under 500.

If you find that Epson’s Home Cinema 2000 wasn’t bright enough for you, consider looking into the Epson PowerLite 1761W.  If you thought the 2000 was bright at 1,800 Lumens, then prepare to be blinded by the PowerLite’s 2,600 Lumen brightness for both white and colors.  The PowerLite also costs $500, so it is also in the running for the best projector under 500.  As you may have expected, at the same price with a brighter bulb, the PowerLite falls short in a few other areas.  Where the Epson 2000 boasts a crisp 1080p resolution, the PowerLite only offers 720p.

Still, in a room that can’t be completely dark, the PowerLite may prove to be the better choice.  This Epson can project an image size of 50 inches at approximately three and half to four and half feet.  The largest picture it can project is around 150 inches, but you need at least 11 feet for this to be possible.  A few negatives about the PowerLite is that it doesn’t have an audio out jack and that the projector is extremely remote dependent.  If you lose your remote, prepare to pay an extra $20 for another.

You can use the remote for a pointer on the projector, but it is somewhat unreliable.  Finally, some users have reported that the PowerLite can fail often.  While Epson is great at honoring their warranty, replacing this unit often could end up being more trouble than its worth.  Still, for its price, it offers extremely bright and large pictures that can’t be beat.

If you desire even more brightness at the expense of resolution (and for a cheaper price), check out the Optoma W316 projector.  It retails at $899, but is on sale at Amazon for $419, meaning that it is in the running for the best projector under 500.  The W316 offers a brightness of 3,400 Lumens.  At this brightness, you will get an extremely bright picture even with other light sources present.

It also offers a 3D mode for those who want the option.  The resolution is 800 x 600, so picture quality is somewhat worse than some of the other projectors that cost a bit more.  Another negative of the W316 is that it needs much more room to give a large picture.  For a display of 100 inches, it is recommended to have approximately 25 feet.  For a display of 60 inches, around 10 feet is necessary.  The W316 really shines in rooms that can’t be extremely dark.  In situations like these, the trade off for a bright picture may very well be worth the downgrade in size and resolution.  The lamp life is great and is easily replaceable.  Additionally, the build quality of the W316 is great.

With this model, you won’t have to worry about a replacement unit.  While Optoma recommends the W316 for classrooms and meeting rooms, it still functions great for other uses, such as television and games.  Just remember that your resolutions may be a bit less than you are used to and you will be satisfied.  It’s a great budget friendly projector that will look great in rooms where other projectors might fail.

Another great choice for $500 is the ViewSonic PJD5233.  It offers brightness and high resolution, but suffers in the fact that you need more room for a larger picture.  The PJD5233 has a brightness of 2,700 Lumens, offering a nice and bright picture up to 1080p resolution.  This combination can give you a stellar, crisp picture even with outside light sources clouding your vision.  It is 3D ready, but does not support it out of the box.

If you are interested in 3D capabilities, prepare to pay around $250 more for an adapter.  Many people don’t care about 3D, but for those that do, this is something that can obviously be a deal breaker.  ViewSonic also offers a great warranty on their products.  If something fails with your ViewSonic, you are covered for up to three years for parts and labor.  If your lamp burns out in less than a year, you are covered, as well.  Additionally, during your first year, you have free access to express exchange.

If something fails, instead of waiting for a repair, simply send it back and get a new unit.  While the ViewSonic excels in brightness, resolution, and warranty, it falls a little short in projection distance.  For a 96 inch projection, prepare to position your unit up to 15 feet away.  If you don’t have much room, this projector may not be a viable option.  However, if you have the room for this projector and want an outstanding warranty, the ViewSonic PJD5233 is one of the best projectors for under 500.

If you are looking for a bright projector while on a budget, check out BenQ’s MW526 WXGA Projector.  Retailing at $399, it can be a way to save a considerable amount of cash while still getting a nice projector.  The WXGA offers a staggering 3,200 Lumen brightness and 1080p resolution.  In addition, it also supports full 3D with 3D Blu-rays.  BenQ also boasts a 10,000 hour long lamp life, which is almost double the life of many other projectors.

With a price of around $100 less than other projectors, it does suffer in a few areas.  It only has one HDMI input and less inputs than many other projectors.  If you plan on using it for gaming, expect some motion blur, despite its resolution.  The fan is loud and the speakers are quiet, but this can be remedied by buying an external sound system.  Also, it doesn’t have a USB port, which is a big negative.  To get around a 90 inch screen, expect to set up the WXGA around 11 feet away.

A final point to notice is that some users have reported a small rainbow effect while using the WXGA, but it isn’t largely distracting.  Unfortunately, BenQ’s warranty and customer support are lacking.  Still, despite all of its shortcomings, the WXGA is still a solid choice for the best projector under 500.  If you are desiring high definition resolution and brightness, BenQ’s offering can be your answer.  It is up to the user to decide if the positives outweigh the negatives of this unit, but it is certainly a unit that should be considered.

best projector under 500

Your New Home Theater

All five of these choices are excellent projectors for your home theater.  Each projector has its pros and cons and it is up to the user to determine which features are the most important to them.  Brightness, resolution, and screen projection distance are the most important, but price is also a huge factor to consider.

There is no perfect projector in this price range.  If you don’t find one of these projectors meets your needs, consider upgrading your budget.  As it stands, any of these five projectors could be the cornerstone of your new home theater and each are a viable choice when searching for the best projector under 500.

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