Challenges In Shopping For A Portable Projector

in LeoFinancelast year


I didn't know shopping for a portable projector could be such a challenging and time consuming experience. Main reason for this was lack of understating projectors and all the features they may or may not have. But often don't need an understanding of a technology or category of products until there is a need for one. Of course in this day of age finding information about products and reviews is easy. But this takes up a lot of time. Even then when there are vast variety of options are available, chances are purchase will be done online and brick and mortars won't have all options available to see the physical product and its capabilities before buying.

It is great to have many options for certain product we would want to buy. It creates competition, brings prices down, and improves quality of the products. It also makes choosing one product more difficult. You may like one product at one moment, then you like another one, then another one. It complicates a simple decision making process.

Online shopping is norm today, but it wasn't a long ago that online shopping didn't even exist. Online shopping is great. It is more convenient, it provides more options, and often products are cheaper than buying at a store. But it has problems too. It takes days or weeks to receive the purchased item. Depending on the merchant and how it was shipping we are not always sure what we are getting. But most importantly we don't get to see the physical product before buying. Nowadays, even at brick and mortars it may not be possible to see the demo of how the product works or have an expert opinion as well. I guess it would vary from store to store and what kind of product we are looking for.

It all started with a need for a portable projector. Quick search online showed an interesting product Kodak Luma, a small portable projector size of a smartphone and a cool design. I didn't need a projector for an everyday use. Then as I scrolled through other search results, there many more options. It quickly became clear I had to create a list of criteria to go with. Otherwise it would endless time.

Here is the criteria I came up with:

  1. It will be used for travels.
  2. It has to be small and can be carried by one hand.
  3. It shouldn't take up too much space.
  4. It must have built-in battery.
  5. It should have decent picture in day-lit room.
  6. It should have speakers.
  7. It should have wi-fi connection and screen casting from a phone.
  8. It can be used with zero wires.
  9. Price should be under $500.

Basically, it can be used on the go when needed with little effort setting it up. Since it would only be used occasionally, maybe twice a month or so, spending too much money on a super quality projector wouldn't justify the purchase. While I expected the price to be in the range of $200-$500, I was ready to spend more if I really liked the projector and other options weren't as good.

With these criteria and expectations I started my search for the product, paying close attentions to customer reviews and watching product review videos. I saw reviews for at least a dozen of portable projectors. The ones in the image above I had serious consideration to purchase.

Kodak Luma has a great design, and is the smallest projector I saw. The problem I saw with Kodak Luma immediately was that it too had multiple options. There was Kodak Luma 150, Kodak Luma 350, Kodak Luma 450, etc. It seemed it had to do with the quality of the images and brightness. I just didn't like the fact that they had so many options. I was expecting just one Kodak Luma with a decent quality. So I had to keep looking.

Next one I noticed was Viewsonic M1+. This one was a little bit bigger than Kodak Luma, but had a better design. It had a built folding stand, really good speakers, battery lasted longer. I watched a review of three projectors: Viewsonmic M1+, Kodak Luma, and one more that can't remember the name of. Viewsonic M1+ was the best. It seemed I found the one I wanted to buy. Just before doing so, I came across AAXA P7.

The picture and brightness of this projector was just great. Any review, video, or comparisons I see kept showing AAXA P7 having great quality. But it had one problem. This problem wasn't even in my initial criteria list. It was too noisy. I saw several reviews stating the same over and over. Too noisy. I added noise to the criteria list and continued the search.

Since AAXA had good quality portable projector, I thought maybe they have something with the same quality but without noise. I found AAXA M7. This is a little bigger than P7 but better quality too. Unfortunately, it also had noise issues. At this point I absolutely did not want to have a noisy projector. I am ok to go with less quality, but no noise please. Search continues.

Next I found Piqo. It is small, design looks good. But I wasn't sure about the quality. By this time I have learned a little bit more about projectors and how the brightness is measures, and how some companies use deceptive numbers to sell their products misrepresenting their brightness in lumens. What I didn't like about Piqo is their website. It looked like an advertisement site. I started questioning what they were claiming about this product. It looked too good to be true. I don't know if my suspicions are true or not, I just didn't feel comfortable going with this product. Especially for its high price.

I started looking at Viewsonic M1+ again. It was released a couple of years ago, so I thought there must be a newer version. Indeed, there was. I found Viewsonic M2. I watched a full review video. Everything was great. A little bigger than other portable projectors, but still small enough. Has great speakers. Full HD 1080p native resolution. Amazing colors. Easy screen mirroring. It was a little over budget with a price tag of $700. But this was it. I really liked the projector and was ready to buy. One last final check before buying revealed it didn't have built-in battery. Oh no!

Really? All the previous versions had built-in batteries, but this better version doesn't have it. What a disappointment. I was ready to go over budget, but having no battery made me scratch this projector off the list as well. Now what? So many hours spent reading reviews, watching reviews, researching and end result I had no clue what I would be buying.

After some consideration I figured, maybe I will not go for the best product, but buy an average but decent one for about $300. I decided to go with Viewsonic M1+. I didn't hesitate anymore and ordered the projector. After placing the order I realized that I bought Viewsonic M1, and not M1+. I thought it was just listing error in the name, because the images looked identical. Well, even all that research didn't show me that M1 and M1+ were two different products. They had all the same feature, but one didn't have wifi capability and smartphone screen casting. Well, that didn't work out as planned either. I immediately cancelled the order.

Then, determined to buy M1+, I placed a new order from a different merchant/platform. This time everything seemed to go through smooth. Except after three days, my order got cancelled because the product was out of stock. I guess this is not happening, I thought. I had to try one last time. I placed the third order again from a different merchant/platform. I haven't heard anything yet. Hopefully, order went through without any issued and the projector will be delivered on time. At this point I am not expecting anything. If this one somehow goes wrong too, I think I am done buying projectors. lol.

In conclusion, there are so many use cases for portable projectors. They can be used for watching movies, playing video games, presentations, educations, collaborating with teams, or even as an additional monitor. Use for any individual will be different and everyone should consider what they will be using the projector for before buying. Based on that we can decide on all the features that projector must have. It is also important to understand how ANSI is calculated to determine brightness of the projector, and not trust lumen numbers advertised. There are so many options out there. Usually it is good to have many options to choose from. In my experience though it just created a little bit frustrating experience. But overall it was positive experience. I know a little bit more about projectors. Next time I am in the market for one, I will know what to consider.

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I own the viewsonic M1+ its the best! It helped me to do this mural!
The best thing about it was it can run on battery, no need to find power plugs. All u need is a usb or connect it wirelessly to your phone or laptop. And the speaker of course its Harman Kardon. 😁

I should have just talked to you, and that would have saved me a lot of time.
I did forget to mention the use case for artists. Thanks for sharing.
When/if it arrives I will probably be asking you if I have any problems with it. :)

No problem! Glad to help! :)

Ahah! I have certainly gone down this rabbit hole before. This was a big question that was hanging over my classroom when the bulb went in my last one. The bulbs being excessively overpriced!

In the end, I might have another option for you. A large TV.
Using a HDMI, plug in your laptop, off you go.

Made my life a whole lot more simple, and until writing this reply now, I had completely forgotten my consistent rage at the message: projector overheating, it is being turned off.


I needed a portable solution. A large TV wouldn't help. :)

I think this is valid for almost all electronic devices. For example, I would like to buy a new smart phone, but I couldn't decide yet. As you said there are many options with well-known or new brands, thus I think that the problem is trust itself as well.

That's true. That's why I use iPhone.

I hope you will get your projector eventually. Please let us know ;)

I honestly never paid any attention to this topic. Projectors were available in all places I needed them (at work, in various institutes for seminars, etc.) and I never had to worry about them. The quality was very often there, but however not always... But again, this was a minor issue to me as I was an occasional user of a specific projector (and the one in our institute, which I used the most, is a pretty good one).

It sounds like an annoying process but I have given up for the most part when it comes to online shopping. I just pick one, verify the reviews then get it. It just took way too much time and I found myself wasting too much time trying to figure out what is the best.

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Yes, it takes too much time to figure things out.

I Hope you get that projector you ordered. Things sure have changed, projector wise, in the past few years.. I remember these monsters..


Shopping has become a much greater challenge since Covid!

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I was looking for a rear projector a few years back and the biggest concern was the replacement lamps. I found the cheaper you went the more costly the replacements were. This is where purchasing quality pays off and expect the same with the portable projectors. Do your homework on replacement bulbs/lamps as that is the most costly part of the entire kit.

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Having a portable projector is good, specially when we are in a commercial journey, then we can avail this to works like seminar and sympo,and those meetings that need highlighting or illustration.
Nice to read the epic designs, and how you observed, from the price to designs and added new features, resolutions and updated criteria coming on the new version.
Good one, 💖

I love shopping online for the most part. But there are some things that would be better to buy in person. Also, reading reviews can be a pain. They are all over the map and sometimes the written reviews are often inconsistent with star ratings.

So true.

This makes me want to go and research for a home projector so I can compare the portable ones with the in-home one. We used to use projectors all the time to watch movies, and we need to bring that back. We all had so much fun. It was like a theater inside our house. Thanks for sharing about this, maybe I could just go this route instead. How does it hook up to sound though?

It has good speakers but also can connect to other speakers via bluetooth.

Awesome, this very great especially the price and the functions

The criteria you mentioned is pretty good to purchase especially with the functions and price

Wow ,that is really great, I will do my own shopping too. I like it.

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