- It had to be able to project a large enough image to fit the size of my attic room wall (100 inches across exactly)
- It had to be bright enough to see if the lights were off (and if possible, when they're on)
- It had to fit my budget of $100.
Now, for the price, it would sound near impossible to find a projector that fit my needs. But, I turned to perhaps the greatest website in existence - ebay.com
But first. Let me demonstrate the poor quality of a $100 "eyeclops mini projector" we got at ToysRus. And yes, I know it goes on sale all the way down to $35 bucks sometimes. But i'd rather buy 35 dog bones at Petco than waste my money on something so poorly designed. Behold:
Lights off. You can barely see it, and the quality is horrendous.
Lights on... No comment.
So after much research online, I found the specs of an acceptable projector:
- It must be at least 1000 lumens, but 1500 is ideal for the best quality and brightness.
- If you're buying it used - which if you're reading this guide, I would think so! - then make sure the site says how many hours are on the bulb! This is key, for if there are too many hours, the projector isn't even worth buying. You can check to see how many hours the projector's light bulb life is by simply typing in the model and chances are, projectorcentral.com will appear with all the specs you should look at. Then simply compare the life to the amount on the projector.
- If you're buying a projector without a bulb - often they're much cheaper - make sure the light bulb replacement is as cheap as the projector and lasts a fairly long time! You dont want to buy a $20 dollar projector to find out the bulb is $250. And yes. Those are realistic numbers.
That's it! But the catch is to find one that's the right price!
On ebay, there are two categories for projectors. Here is the ideal example of a search in both:
In each section, I set the price, condition of the projectors, and excluded unwanted words such as parts. Both sections are equally as useful to look through, there are plenty of good picks if you really do look through.
Here's what I ended up choosing: The Hitachi CP-RX60
It came used with only around 9 hours of lamp use out of the 2000 the bulb lasts for. It was exactly $60 (I used the "Best Offer" feature to bring the price down just a tad! It's a wonderful feature to save a few bucks!) and the projector has a pretty 1500 lumens. It projects to the size I wanted, fit the price, and works beautifully even with the lights on!
Same TV show as the mini projector, only this time, you can actually see the show!
Lights off, crystal clear!
Lights on, my camera doesn't even do a good enough job at showing the quality.
So why anyone would waste their money on a pricey projector only to find out that it's crap is actually pretty funny. Because now I'm getting HD quality picture for far under $60. And they're not. Win.
I can even bring up HD televisions! These things cost above $1000 for a 55 inches and I'm sitting here with double that and the same quality for 6% of what they spent. Cheers!