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Projectors vs Mini Projectors: Everything You Need to Know

There are many projector models that serve different functions. Choosing the right one can be a daunting task due to confusing marketing and similar product-types and titles. Many users have questions about the differences between important devices, including whether TVs or projectors are better (my thoughts on this, in case you’re wondering).

One such question revolves around the differences between projectors and mini-projectors.

The primary difference between projectors and mini projectors is that full-size projectors aim to provide the highest quality image at the largest possible size, in comparison to mini-projectors which are geared more toward convenience and portability.

How are Mini Projectors Different From Normal Projectors?

Small Projector with dark wall in background

Mini-projectors are capable of creating sharp crisp images, but they don’t compare to the larger more powerful models for a few key reasons. On account of their larger size, bigger projectors tend to have more room for finely-tuned technology and inner components that serve better in the creation of higher-quality images, however, they also have larger fans which means they can be louder, which we’ve explained before.

For instance, larger projects tend to have brighter bulbs and LED components, and as a result, they can project an image much further and with more power. They’re also known for being better on your eyes as well, which we explained in our other tutorial. You may find some overlap in the exact specifications of high-end mini projectors and cheap normal projectors, but the average full-size projector will easily produce a higher quality projection, but not 3D images in case you were wondering (our explanation why)

We know that mini projectors are not able to produce the most size and quality when compared to normal projectors, but they differ in other ways. Typically, and most notably, mini projectors cost much less and can be found between the price of $50 and $500, depending on the quality of the model.

Mini projectors often utilize a built-in, rechargeable battery and with their smaller, lighter frame they are much easier to carry and use on the go. However, this also puts a time limit on how long you will be able to use the device without interruption, and the restriction of internal components often results in a dimmer image with less contrast.

They are designed for quick and easy connection and disconnection, as well as efficiently sharing vital information with other people. However, the sacrifice in size leads to a sacrifice in quality as a result of reduced inputs and lower-quality components.

Mini Projectors

A mini projector is a non-mounted projector that’s typically no bigger than 8″x8″x4.” They usually do not have a dedicated position and any included mount is usually a stand of some kind. These projectors are designed to be used on the fly with any semi-solid flat surface as the screen and do not require as much adjustment and precision as a mounted projector.

When compared to normal projectors, it can be tough to see the true value of smaller projectors, but there are plenty of applications perfectly suited for them. Some of the high-end options can be used as stand-ins for the cheap or low-end full-size projectors, in the case of a strict budget.

You may not get the crisp image, but they should be bright and large enough for midsize classrooms or conference rooms, as well as providing longer battery life for extended use. 


Mini Projectors generally feature: 

  • Lightweight and slim design
  • Portability
  • A Rechargeable Battery
  • A Lower cost
  • Quick connections
  • New designs boast bulb lifespans of 20,000 to 30,000 hours
    • Typical bulb life for a normal projector is 2000 hours or up to 50,000 with an LED projector
  • Built in speakers


Some drawbacks from the normal to the mini projector model include: 

  • Dimmer images
  • Smaller images
  • Less contrast
  • Less visibility
  • Battery life and recharge time
  • Fewer inputs
  • Fewer image control settings

Overall, mini projectors are great for more portable uses or for use in smaller rooms, especially when coupled with the right soundbar like some of the models from our list. Here’s a recommended mini projector (on Amazon).

Normal Projectors

Normal projectors are generally mounted and tuned to stay and project an image in one place on a regular basis and are staples of all conference rooms, classrooms, and movie theaters.

They are generally bulky hefty machines, averaging around 20 pounds, designed very specifically to give high-quality images, ranging from cheap usable models around $500 to the elite $2000-3000 models, though there really is no ceiling as projector prices can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars.

Large lamp projectors feature bulbs that last about 2000 hours, though some advancements in LED projectors can claim 50,000 hours of life and boasts longer-lasting brightness and less maintenance. If you think your lamp is dead, take a look at our checklist. 

Available since 2015, these laser projectors are becoming more affordable and available to the general consumer and may make lamp projectors a specialty item as time passes.

Full-size projectors are recommended when you are looking for maximum image size at the best quality, and not just compared to mini projectors but to TVs as well. If you are looking for that cinematic feel without the hazards of the movie theater, or to ensure the most socially distant viewer, normal projectors are the best option.

With more lumens – light created by a bulb – the crowd is sure to see every detail of the movie or every word of your presentation, even if lighting conditions are not ideal.


Designed to do what they do well, projectors offer:

  • Bright images
  • Large images
  • High quality resolution
  • The best contrast
  • The best visibility 
  • Minute image control settings
  • Traditional inputs
    • RCA
    • HDMI
    • Optical Cable
    • DVI
    • USB
    • VGA
  • Secure mounting means your image will never be tarnished and your projector will never be in your eyeline
  • Longer life
  • Larger components and bulb replacement make maintenance possible
  • Better for your eyes


If it could do everything there would be no need for the mini version. Some drawbacks to the traditional projector are:

  • Immobile
  • Wired connection is the best connection
  • Requires screen and additional audio sources
  • Bulky
  • Cable management
  • Maintenance
    • Whether self performed or taken to a professional (recommended) eventually it will cost time and/or money
    • Traditional bulbs need to be replaced every 2000 hours
    • LED projectors have a projected life of 20,000 to 30,000 hours
  • High initial cost

When Should You Buy a Mini Projector?

Hopefully, this article helped to illustrate the differences between a regular projector and a mini projector, as well as the benefits and value of both. However, if you’re still unsure what device is the best for you, understand that anyone who needs a home theater system or a professional presentation will need a regular projector, rather than a mini-projector.

Mini-projectors are commonly used for small conference rooms, offices, or travelers who want an entertainment system on the go. A mini-projector is a great tool for creating a theater system while traveling due to its portability and convenience.

Word to the Wise

If you do choose to purchase a mini-projector for entertainment purposes, consider purchasing a high-quality speaker to pair with it. A quality speaker will improve the overall experience due to a higher quality sound and at a much louder volume.