Previously confined to the corporate boardroom, compact portable projectors are becoming a popular option for those who want to temporarily set up a big-screen display either inside or outside their home for a movie night or gaming. And with many new models featuring built-in streaming, it’s now easier than ever to get things up and running once you find a blank wall to beam images at.
We saw a number of innovative new projectors at CES 2023, including models from Xgimi, Formovie, and of course Samsung, which was showing a new and improved version of its The Freestyle, the top model on our list of the best portable projectors. Following in the wake of the Las Vegas tech-fest, LG has announced its own new portable, the PF510Q, and while the new LG isn’t as attention-grabbing as Samsung’s offering, it nonetheless looks to be a substantial addition to the compact on-the-go projector scene.
To be honest, the PF510Q actually looks like it just stumbled out of the IT department. But beyond its basic square white case, there are a number of compelling features that should make using this 1080p HD-resolution projector a fun ride.
First up is LG’s webOS 22 smart TV interface, which provides built-in streaming from apps such as Disney Plus, PrimeVideo, YouTube, and AppleTV Plus. AirPlay support is also onboard, letting you stream directly to the projector from your iPhone or iPad. If you’re not an Apple person, you can use the Screenshare feature to wirelessly cast content from an Android device.
LG’s projector features a 2 x 5-watt built-in speaker system, but more interesting is its dual Bluetooth audio output. This will let you stream sound to a pair of Bluetooth speakers for improved audio, or to two separate Bluetooth headsets for private listening while watching.
On the hardware side, the PF510Q’s LED light source is specced for 450 ANSI Lumens output, and will last for 30,000 hours. You can beam an image from 30 inches up to 120 inches, and there’s automatic keystone adjustment to make the picture perfectly rectangular after setup plus a manual focus adjustment. Two HDMI inputs are provided for connecting sources like a game console or Blu-ray player.
Analysis: Compact projectors are the new bedroom TV
While we were surprised by the number of cool compact projectors shown at CES, in some ways we shouldn’t have been – this category has been gaining traction for some time, and manufacturers are jumping at the opportunity to put their unique tech spin on it.
I gave my daughter a portable projector to use at university, and when she’s not playing games from Xbox Game Pass on the Xbox Series S with it, she’s streaming movies directly from one the best streaming services. (And also studying and doing well in classes, I hope.)
Being a video and movie geek, I of course made sure she had a 4K projector, though that’s probably overkill for dorm room use. But the gaming angle is the important one to discuss here, since gaming seems like the more obvious and better use for compact portable projectors.
At CES 2023, Samsung announced that the new version of The Freestyle would gain the same Gaming Hub found on the best Samsung TVs for cloud-based gaming via apps such as Microsoft Xbox, Utomik, and Amazon Luna. Two Freestyles can also be paired to create an ultrawide 21.9 display, a picture aspect ratio that works best for immersive gaming.
LG’s new PF510Q doesn’t appear to be similarly equipped with gaming features, though its 2023 TV lineup announced at CES does feature a Game Optimizer menu that lets users easily select and switch between gaming-related features. Maybe we’ll see the same thing introduced on the company’s portable projectors, but in the meantime the PF510Q, which is priced at $599 and available now, looks like a good, affordable option for console-based gaming.
Another option could also be the new cheap Emotn N1 projector that looks like it might be the budget home theatre upgrade you need.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.