Digital LED projectors are great for business people who frequently have to show presentations to groups of people in offices or other professional settings. Some LED projectors are small enough to slip into a generous pocket. Others are small enough to toss into a briefcase. Some have internal memory or can read files from a memory card or USB drive so you don't have to also lug around a laptop.
These projectors are called LED projectors because they use an LED light source rather than a lamp. This has a number of advantages, including lighter weight, less heat and a much longer expected life span for the light source. There are some drawbacks to LED projectors, however. The biggest drawback is that most LED light sources have low brightness -- typically just a few hundred lumens (a lumen is a measure of brightness). That limits their usefulness to small groups -- or to one-on-one presentations in the case of the smallest pico projectors, which can produce 100 lumens at best -- and often much less.
For larger gatherings or bigger venues, look to a portable projector with a standard lamp. These are larger than LED projectors but only weigh a few pounds themselves, so they aren't too much of a burden to carry around. Keep in mind that with a conventional portable projector, you will need to replace the lamp periodically -- typically after 3,000 to 4,000 hours of use. Experts say a 1,500-lumen projector will satisfy the needs of a typical business presentation -- one in a conference room with low to average lighting and seating eight to 10 people. Most conventional portable projectors have capabilities well beyond that -- 2,500-lumen projectors are suitable for use in a large meeting room about the size of a lecture hall; 3,000-lumen projectors should work in a small auditorium.
Portable projectors -- LED or otherwise -- aren't the same as projectors geared for home theater use. Home theater projectors are optimized to deliver the best viewing experience when watching movies and other entertainment. Many project high-definition images with deep, rich blacks, but brightness -- while generally good -- is a secondary consideration. If you're looking for a projector for serious movie watching on a big screen, check out our report on home theater projectors.
There are two main projector technologies on the market: digital light processing (DLP) and liquid crystal display (LCD). The differences between these two have generally disappeared over the years, but bear in mind that DLP projectors are susceptible to "Rainbow Effect" (see the Buying Guide for more on that). Most LED projectors use DLP technology.
Digital projectors come in myriad resolutions and aspect ratios. Since most can be used in conjunction with a laptop, resolution will typically conform to a common standard like SVGA (800 pixels by 600 pixels) or XGA (1,024 pixels by 768 pixels), though projectors with widescreen resolutions are available as well. See the Buying Guide section of this report for more in-depth discussion of projector resolutions.
Given how complex portable projectors can be, finding the right one for your business needs can be a frustrating task. To help make it easier, our editors dig through dozens of expert and user reviews to find the top choices. This report breaks down the best projectors by specific criteria: performance, ease of use, features and value. We name top picks for the best LED projectors overall, as well as the top pico and value options. Portable projectors with conventional lamps are also discussed.