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Dorm Room Wireless Home Cinema: Easy With Portable Projectors

A portable projector in the dorm room to create a wireless home theater in college

Previously, we listed the most essential devices for making your dorm-side life a lot more fun and rewarding. A mini projector or portable projector was one of the things we recommended you get. That’s because unlike back at home or in your future post-graduation apartment/house, space definitely comes at a premium in a dormitory-style living environment. You can’t plonk a huge screen with lots of cables everywhere. Dorms are just too small, plus there’s other people to consider.

But that doesn’t mean you have to settle on watching TV and movies on a tiny smartphone screen or your laptop. Portable projectors with wireless capability leverage technology you already use in your dorm to make big screen, cinematic experiences a reality for even the most timid collegiate dweller. All you need is a portable projector with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and a screen in the 75”-100” range. Unlike TVs, projector screens fold easily so when you’re not using them, they’re not in the way. And the wireless aspect means no cables, plus it’s perfect for the open-plan, limited space of a dorm. Sure, in large houses wireless may be problematic due to range and obstacle issues, but if there’s one upside to living in a small space is that the Wi-Fi is terrific. 

So How Does It Work?

Portable projectors with Wi-Fi connect to your dorm network like your laptop, smartphone, or game console. Takes seconds and works like a charm every time. Once the portable projector is on the network, you can start using it to watch services like Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Hulu, and Disney Plus on a big screen. So much more impressive and definitely easier to co-enjoy with friends. Since you already have a router or a dorm network provided by your school, the investment is only in the portable projector and nothing else. If you think that’s a bit much for your budget, maybe get your roommates and other friends to chip in. After all, portable projectors are by design a very communal experience.

Connection-wise, it couldn’t be simpler. Power and HDMI. That’s it. No multi-colored A/V tangles, no power brick. Everything’s compact and neat. 

What to Look for in a Portable Projector?

We have a dedicated piece on what aspects to look into when choosing a mini portable projector. but let’s recap. Since we’re talking portable, try to get a so-called mini portable model. The smaller and lighter the better. But speaking of light, don’t be tempted by cheap and overly small models. Those have very basic optics and don’t provide enough of a brightness range. You need a high luminance portable projector that’ll perform well in bright and dark environments. At a dorm you have less control over lighting preferences, so the logical thing to do is choose a versatile projector. Having said that, you want a portable projector that passes the backpack test. If you can fit it in a backpack without feeling like someone laid a ton of bricks on you, then you’re on the right track. So, too small/light is likely bad. Just right is good. We call them portable because they’re easy to pack and carry, and that’s great if the movie session is at a friend’s place.

We recommend a DLP or LED-based portable projector. These technologies offer superior image quality to cheap LCD-based products. To enjoy a good movie or show you may not need super duper image perfection, but you shouldn’t compromise too much. Of course portable projectors can’t compete with large screen TVs and, more importantly, full scale home theater projectors, but they still offer a compelling experience if you choose right.

It should go without saying in an article dedicated to wireless portable projectors, but please read the spec sheet carefully. Again, the cheap models only support 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, but you want 802.11n at the very least. Good portable projectors like the BenQ GV1 (yes, we’re very modest) support higher speed wireless connectivity. Not only that, but you get a cellular network option since a good portable projector does wireless not only via Wi-Fi but also 4G/5G, as does the GV1. Make sure your choice covers both bases, because sometimes Wi-Fi goes down temporarily, but the cellular network is much sturdier and less prone to outages. 

The Little Cinematic Helper

Adding a portable projector to your dorm life makes many worlds of difference by giving you whole new way to enjoy the content you love. Streaming, discs, gaming, even classwork. Hey, some people actually enjoy classwork. All of those look and feel much better on a large, good quality screen. Heck, with a good portable projector you can even cast on a wall and it’ll look good, saving you the need to get a screen if you’re so inclined.

Just make sure to not compromise on the wireless aspect. A bunch of cables running through a cramped space populated by college kids may not be the best idea. Mostly for the cables, but also for you. So go wireless, and go portable. 

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