We normally review premium projectors for gaming, made by BenQ and others, but today we’ve got something different: a £100 mini-projector, designed for portability while still having a good laundry list of features. It’s called the DBPOWER T20, and it’s on the review bench today. Let’s get started!
- TFT LCD imaging technology
- 1500 lumens brightness
- 1000:1 contrast ratio
- 16:10 aspect ratio
- 1.4:1 projection ratio
- 800 x 480 native resolution
- 1920 x 1080 supported
- 15 degree manual keystone
- 1.5 to 5 metre throw distance
- 32 to 176 inch screen size
- Comes with remote, AV cable, HDMI cable, manual
As expected, the T20 is a smaller and cuter version of the projectors we normally test, measuring 19 x 15 x 7.5 centimetres and weighing just under a kilogram. That makes it quite portable, although unfortunately the low price point has necessitated that no carry bag has been included. Let’s take a brief tour around the projector.
On the front side we have the lens off to the left, with dials for adjusting the focus and keystone just above. There’s an IR window that allows the remote control to operate on the right side, so don’t cover this up. Finally, there’s a removable screw foot in the centre, allowing the projector to be set at an angle. You can also screw the projector onto a camera tripod or another kind of screw mount, if you prefer.
On the right side, we have an air vent and a nice collection of ports. That includes a pair of USB ports, an HDMI port, an SD card slot, a 3.5mm port and an ‘AV port’. This last one connects to the included 3-in-1 AV cable, allowing for composite inputs.
The port selection is rounded out by another IR window and a VGA port on the back.
The only thing on the left side is the cloverleaf AC input. All three cables provided are quite short, at 1 metre each for HDMI and power, so you may need to invest in longer cables for some setups.
The remote is small but sensibly arranged, with a power button, an input toggle, a menu button, a d-pad, an OK button, a back button and volume controls. Unfortunately, the remote does not come with the two AAA batteries it requires. A user manual is also provided.
We used the T20 for a few days and nights, testing it out with games consoles, PCs, video files on USB sticks and more. In general, we found that the projector did all that it claimed, but its performance wasn’t exemplary by any means.
While the projector supports 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), this is not its native resolution and you can certainly tell. Even when pointed straight at a flat white wall and well focused, text and other small details are obscured. This is mostly fine for watching YouTube videos or films, or even playing some games, but surfing the web, showing slides or navigating game interfaces and inventories proved challenging.
The projector unsurprisingly provides its best performance at low light levels; we found that blinds or curtains needed to be completely drawn during the day for the picture to be easily visible. At night, the projector easily produced a bright enough picture, even if it still lacked detail due to its low native resolution.
Using the manual keystone controls was challenging, as even being a few degrees off meant that the top and bottom of the projection weren’t in focus.
Another issue was the amount of noise produced by the projector, which was more than we expected given its small size. The whine of the projector required moderate volume levels or the use of headphones to counteract it, or perhaps merely more tolerance than we were willing to dish out.
One thing we really liked was the ability to connect smartphones directly to the projector, without needing an HDMI adapter or dongle. On Android 5.0+, you can connect the phone using a USB cable, enable USB Debugging Mode in Developer Settings, and trust the projector when prompted on your phone. Once enabled, you’ll find full screen mirroring, allowing you to play games, watch YouTube videos and more, all while recharging your smartphone from the projector. This is a really nice option if you wanted to use your projector on the go; as long as you have a single mains socket you can set up almost anywhere with this ability.
You can also use USB drives directly, which is a little faster to set up if you’ve downloaded the video files beforehand and allows you to use your smartphone for other things. The projector had no problem playing 1080p video files in a variety of formats.
The interface of the projector is simple but sensible, with clearly labelled settings that allow you to switch quickly between inputs, change the colour temperature, switch between modes and so on.
Overall, we’d recommend this projector most strongly if you want to watch videos on a large screen and your budget is limited to £100. The T20’s small size and plethora of ports make it quite adaptable; it can fit almost anywhere and work decently as long as there isn’t much ambient light.
However, its low native resolution and low brightness make it a poor choice for presentations and most games with complicated interfaces or small text. For gaming or presentations, we’d recommend a projector with a higher native resolution (at least 1280 x 720p, ideally 1920 x 1080p). This will cost much more, at least £300, but the improvement in quality should definitely be worth it.
However, given its low cost, the T20 should still find its fans.