The perfect projector for us
August 20, 2018 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I am exhausted by looking for a projector. Please just tell me which one to buy?

We live in a small apartment and do not have a television. We'd like to start family movie nights, and sometimes use a projector to watch television from the computer. Our idea is to just project onto a white wall (maybe paint it with projector paint?) We have no room for a screen. We cannot mount the projector to the ceiling.

My ideal would be a small projector that I could set up on a low table in front of the sofa. I'm not sure if i need a "short throw" one but I suspect I do because the room isn't really that wide, and it would have to be in front of the sofa (maybe 5 feet from projector table to wall?) My wish list is:
1. wireless (play from netflix, etc.)
2. ideally ideally could run on battery so we don't have to worry about cords. (Does this even exist?)
3.The picture quality does not have to be amazing -- the room is fairly dark and there are heavy curtains -- but I'd hope it would be good enough for us to enjoy a film and not just be annoyed.
4. Not sure about speakers, but built in ones to make it easy would be great, or some easy way to connect it to other speakers (ideas for this would be wonderful as well.)
5. small-ish would be good.

I have no idea what the budget is, really. Ideally it would be less than $500? I live in the UK, but am in the US on business at the minute so could get one here if it is cheaper (and can use an adapter plug in the UK -- is that OK given voltage?)

I know I could just get a big TV but I don't want a TV for Reasons.

I have gone down a rabbit hole reading reviews and I don't understand most of what any of them say or what the cost differential really means. Any ideas, mefites?
posted by heavenknows to Shopping (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Wirecutter is my go-to place when I'm looking for "the best " and don't have the time or brainpower to sort through hundreds of conflicting reviews and rankings online. They make it very simple, and I've always gotten results going with their recommendations.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:06 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have a Nebula Mars which meets all your criteria. This is what WireCutter had to say about it:

"We loved the Anker Nebula Mars and wanted to make it our top pick, but Anker discontinued it while this guide was in production. The company launched an updated version in May 2018, the Nebula Mars II, which also runs on Android OS and allows you to stream content directly from apps such as Hulu and Netflix. We plan to test it soon."

The Mars II is now available, and you can still buy the Mars. I am really impressed with the video and audio quality of it. It's a great portable projector.
posted by AaRdVarK at 9:23 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have a Yuancin Android-based projector. It was fairly cheap and cheerful, and we project it onto an off-white wall from a little table next to the couch. The in-built speakers are pretty useless, so we replace them with a Bluetooth speaker sitting in front of us when we watch.

The pros: no wires, battery life is OK, no TV, Netflix, iPlayer, and Amazon work fine. And it's like a cinema at home!

The cons: resolution is not high, although it's not a big deal for enjoying films. We need to close the blinds to watch in daytime. Controls are a nightmare - typing your long email address and password is super awkward on a remote control. If I was doing it again, I would be thinking hard about getting the touchscreen version to save on that.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 10:03 AM on August 20, 2018

We have the Nebula Capsule, and it has been great. It's only 480p, which some people think is not enough, but it handles movie night for us no problem and looks good on a garage door. Netflix, Hulu, Plex, and other streaming apps are all built in to the device, there's a battery that lasts over 3 hours, and the speaker is built in.

We used to do a convoluted little dance every time we wanted to have outdoor movie night. Now we turn the thing on and go.

It's listed at $347 but it's frequently on sale. I used camelcamelcamel to get a price alert.
posted by AgentRocket at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2018

I used to have a projector pointed at a wall, and found that I got pretty nice results (good contrast, deep blacks) by painting the wall with a metallic silver paint something like this. You have to paint it pretty carefully to minimize brushstrokes, but it's a pretty cheap and easy solution otherwise, and looks kinda cool even when you're not using the projector.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:19 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have the Nebula Mars 1 and it's fairly decent. There was a second version of the 1 (I forget the name) that was a little cheaper but not as bright. Unless your budget is really tight, I'd recommend the brighter version.

I also have the Nebula Capsule (yes, I have a lot of tech). It's really neat for what it is but I would not recommend it for your purpose. It shines for when you need something you can bring with you on travel or a client visit, but is dim, soft, and low resolution for home use.
posted by Candleman at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2018

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