The market in 2019 is full to the brim of budget-priced “home cinema” projectors. Many of these cheapies promise full HD, when in fact their native resolution is worse than VGA. It’s a bit of a nightmare. Obviously, making a high quality audio visual kit costs money, and you should be suspicious of anything which promises high quality for a low cost.
But are there any inexpensive video projectors out there which provide you with something you could credibly describe as “Home Cinema?”
The Artlii HD Portable Projector is a sturdily-built budget-level HD LED video projector. And we have one unit to giveaway. Read on for more details.
What Is It?
In the box you will have the projector, a remote, an HDMI lead, a power cable and a composite video adapter for the AV port.
The remote control has glow-in-the-dark rubber buttons, is not too small and fits nicely in my hand. The body of the projector has infrared receivers on both the front and the back, so you can access the controls wherever you are in relation to the projector and screen.
The device also has control buttons on the top of the case if you can’t find the remote and need to turn it off or pause a video.
The Artlii projector has a genuine native resolution of 1280×720, which is regular HD and not full 1080 HD. It supports playback of 1080 but downscales it to 720 for display. The quality doesn’t suffer too badly from this process. Its brightness is 2800 lumens, according to the documentation, so it’s bright and watchable. You can see it in daylight, but it’s much better in a suitably darkened room.
There is a dust cap for the lens when not in use, and behind the lens focus wheel on top is a keystone wheel to adjust the tilt of the lens to straighten the edges of the frame. Under the case is an adjustable screw foot to raise the front of the projector.
The case is smooth white plastic and looks attractive when sitting on a coffee table or a shelf.
Home Cinema for Families
I’d wager most people aren’t ultimately concerned about quality of projection and are mainly just looking for HD. Most likely they just want to grab the projector and some popcorn and roll the movie, and this projector suits that purpose. This is not a high-end projector, as it’s really just meant for families who want to set it up, stick in a movie and huddle together on a sofa.
This projector is not aimed at high-end hobbyists who are building a dedicated room with cinema seats and a curtain over the screen. This is a projector for normal everyday people who want to grab the projector and watch movies in small groups in medium-sized living rooms with little or no setup and technical fuss.
It’s easy to set up, doesn’t run too hot, and although the cooling fan is audible and reasonably loud (as with almost all projectors except really high-end ones), the sound of it is easily drowned out by upping the levels of the internal speakers or sitting slightly further away.
On the subject of the internal speakers, these are surprisingly powerful, considering they are only 3W, about the same as a pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker. You have to watch the volume levels sometimes, as the case will vibrate, but all you have to do in that instance is turn it down a little.
The only real downside of this being a budget projector is the optics. The lens is adequate for the task but not very expensive, and the keystone control is mechanical rather than digital. This means the edges of the picture go soft if you use the keystone control to tilt the image plane and straighten the edges of the frame on your screen. The way to combat that is to make sure the projector is level with the screen and keep the keystone control as close to zero as possible.
The manual gives the minimum throw distance to be 1.2m or about 4 feet. At that distance you should get a picture of 40 inches, and at 1.8m or 6 feet you should get a picture of about 60 inches. I tested it at a distance of about 6 feet, and I can confirm the picture is almost exactly 60 inches on the diagonal. Refreshing honesty.
As well as displaying any HDMI and VGA computer source, the projector also has a built-in media player which plays videos in a wide variety of common formats. Videos can be played from SD card, USB stick and even composite video devices via the AV socket and the provided composite video and stereo sound adapter. This means it can be a display for your HDMI devices or just a standalone home movie projector with just a power cable, a coffee table and a suitable screen.
At a price of $130, this is a perfectly decent quality HD projector. It’s entirely watchable, provided you have a proper screen material. If you add in the ability to set the projector up as level as possible with that screen, you will get the best resolution this projector can muster. It’s easy and fun to use, and while it has its limitations, the entertainment value it provides is good.
The Artlii HD Portable Projector is available from all good online stockists (as well as the UK) and costs just $129 (or around £109). If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below.