The Best Outdoor Projectors For Movies and an Amazing Night In

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Joe
Written by Joe

Here Are The Most Important Things To Consider When Throwing An Old-School Movie Night In The Great Outdoors. Here’s The Best Outdoors Projectors And Screens Available Today. All YOU Need Is Popcorn!

Welcome to our buyer’s guide for the best outdoor projectors! In this article, we will give you a comprehensive product guide for deciding between the different outdoor projection options on the market. We will also provide a buying guide with all the relevant considerations you need to make the right choice.

When considering whether to purchase a cinema projector, it’s best to pay attention to what your needs are rather than what the price of the projector is. We don’t recommend that you buy a more expensive projector if you won’t be making use of all its additional features.

Getting Started: Basic Considerations

Before we get started, it is important to clarifya few basic confusion areas in regard to the way outdoor projectors are categorized. Most of these are in relation to image quality and picture. Read on in this section to learn all the basic info about the various specs that you will surely encounter when making your decision.

When companies refer to HD without qualifying it, they may be talking about several different standards of screens, picture resolutions, or broadcasting technologies: 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. The numbers refer to the horizontal rows of pixels in an image — its pixel height.

For 720p, each frame of video then has 1,280 columns of pixels. In the 1080i and 1080p standards, there are 1,920 columns of pixels. Resolution specifications such as 1,280×720 and 1,920×1080, therefore, refer to the width and height—in pixels—of an image, video, or screen.

The “i” in 1080i refers to interlaced scan, which first draws the odd horizontal lines of an image on the screen, followed by the even lines. This means that each frame has a resolution of 1,920×540, and two frames are required to make up a full 1,920×1,080 image.

This will be the most entry-level buyer's guide to what the specs mean. Let's start with resolution. What is resolution? When you are looking at your screen you will see the screen is made up of dots.

The more pixels on the screen, the better your picture quality is, so we want a high number of Pixels. Now we look at resolution 1920 x 1080, what does this mean? It means that this is a high definition 1080 p projector.

For you home theater guys, this is the spec you start looking for. The other is contrast ratio. What is contrast ratio? It is the measurement of blacks to whites. Always go for the higher number for those deep black images.

But in my opinion, the most important thing to look for is lumens. What is lumens? Lumen is the measurement of brightness. The bigger the number, the brighter the projector brightness. Again, go for the highest affordable number.

So Which Projector Should I Choose?

The only things you need when planning an outdoor movie night is just the projector screen, refreshments and sandwiches.

However, the process of purchasing an outdoor projector is very different compared to other consumer products. There are many variables that go into buying an outdoor projector. So to get you started, let’s look at the different types of projectors.

The aim of this article is to shed some light on what features you need to consider in buying an outdoor cinema projector. You will also learn which kind of product would have the features you would need most, while helping you spend less money.

We will take a comprehensive look at 10 of the best projectors for outdoor use. After that, we will give you a mini buying guide to help you make a decision based on the factors most important to you.

A List of The Best Outdoor Projectors

Sale
Epson PowerLite 1781W WXGA, 3,200 lumens color brightness (color light output), 3,200 lumens white brightness wireless 3LCD Portable Projector
Lightweight and travel friendly - thin as a laptop; weighs just 4 lb; Includes a high-speed LAN module for wireless connectivity
$671.28
ViewSonic PJD5255 3300 Lumens XGA HDMI Projector (2017 Model)
BIG SCREEN PROJECTION: Projects 120 inches from 15-feet 8-inches in 3300 lumens; LONG LAMP LIFE: Dynamic Eco-Mode allows the lamp to shine bright for up to 10,000 hours
$695.00
Optoma X341 3300 Lumens XGA 3D DLP Projector with Superior Lamp Life and HDMI
Luminous XGA projection with 3300 lumens and 22,000:1 contrast ratio; Extensive I/O support with HDMI, VGA-in, VGA-out, composite video, audio-in and more
$652.29
Epson PowerLite 1761W, WXGA, Wireless, 2600 Lumens Color Brightness, 2600 Lumens White Brightness, Ultra Lightweight 3LCD Projector
2600 Lumens Color Brightness.2600 Lumens White Brightness; WXGA 720p Widescreen resolution (1280 x 800)
$499.00
Gemmy 39127-32 - Airblown - Movie Screen - 120"x70" Widescreen Deluxe w/Storage Bag - Blue
123" X 70" Movie screen, 12' High by 11.5' Wide; 144" Screen measure diagonally, 16: 9 aspect ratio, raised screen for better viewing
$483.99

Last update on 2020-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With that in mind, this article will provide you with the following information:

  • Basic information on outdoor projectors
  • What to consider before buying
  • Information on gaming with outdoor projectors
  • The different types available
  • A review of the top 10 outdoor projectors
​Recommended reading:

What Is a Lumen?

A lumen is a unit of brightness derived from an old standard measurement known as a candle. The higher the lumens number, the brighter you can make your image. The contrast ratio is displayed as a ratio, such as 1000:1. In this ratio, one (the number on the right of the colon) is always used to represent the darkest black level of the image in which there is still visible detail.

The number on the left side of the ratio corresponds to the level of brightness at which an image still contains detail. This equates to what is often called the dynamic range of an image. generally speaking, the higher the number on the left, the more dynamic a picture you’re going to see, even with interference from ambient light sources.

lumens example

A lumen is simply a unit of measurement of visible light

You have to consider if you are going to use the projector in daylight as well as night time, as there are many variables that go into buying an outdoor projector. To get you started, let’s look at the different types of outdoor projectors for night time and daylight.

The only things you need when planning an outdoor movie night is just the projector screen, and chairs to get comfortable in. However, the process of purchasing an outdoor projector is very different compared to other consumer products.

Gaming on an Outdoor Projector

Gamers always try to make their gaming sessions more enjoyable, and for that, they buy an expensive monitor. One of the best things you can get is a gaming projector and play your favorite games almost anywhere.

Gaming projectors are not that expensive, and they can also be used for watching movies, videos and much more (and of course gaming!)But don't take my word for it. Try a gaming projector for yourself. 

You can transform your room into a theater, watch movies on the big screen and game on it too! When you're choosing a projector, you will want to prioritize high frame rate to reduce motion blur in action games. You want to pick a projector with a higher lumen count if you want to play in a room with a lot of ambient light.

There are a few more important necessities to keep in mind when you want to use your projector for gaming. The room you plan to have your projector in, and more specifically the amount of ambient light in that room can drastically affect the image quality of your game. If your room lets in a lot of light you’ll want a projector that outputs around 2500 lumens or more. A light-controlled room will be fine with a 1500-2000 lumen projector.

Essentially, you want to pick the best projector for your own gaming requirements. So sit down and evaluate where you will be playing, and what you require in terms of image and screen size. If you base the decision on what you need most, you won’t steer yourself wrong.

Types of Outdoor Projector

An outdoor projector is a sizeable purchase and as such, taking inventory of what you need and narrowing it down to a specific type is important. Here is a closer look at the different types of outdoor projectors.

DLP Projection

This utilizes millions of micro mirror technologies and standard lamp light source todeliver detailed images to your screening surface.

It is known for less pixilation and better projection. DLP projection is commonly used in movie and drive-in movie theaters and provides an enhanced viewing experience as compared to LCD technology, but at a higher cost.

LCD Projection

This technology was introduced in the 1980s and utilizes three mirror configuration as well as liquid crystal displays to cast video images onto a screening surface.

And while it may sound like an antiquated technology, it has been modernized during the past two decades and now offers brighter projection. It isn’t the crispiest of technologies but is a great option if you are on a budget.

LCOS Projection

This is a combination of LCD and DLP projection technologies.

It is designed to limit the deficiencies and maximize the best qualities of both technologies to offer the ultimate video viewing experience. LCOS projections offer the crispiest and brightest images and can be very costly for the average consumer. They are also hard to find.

So if you are willing to spend the money on ona very high-quality projector for outdoor use, this might be what you are looking for.

Wireless Connectivity

Many manufacturers are designing projectors that can be connected to your device directly without the need for USB or wires.

This function works more or less like a modern DVD or blu-rayplayer that hasWi-fi connectivity.

You can stream Chromecast, Netflix or other services as long as you are near a strong signal. Consider the strength of thewi-fi signal in the backyard before purchasing a wireless projector.

Wired Connectivity

Many projectors require the use of external wired connection such as USB or HDMI connection to deliver visual content.

Such movie projectors receive content from third party devices including laptops and Blu-ray players that require wired connections.If you are on a budget, a projector that utilizes wired connection is a cheaper option compared to one that uses wireless connection.

Overview Of The 10 Best Outdoor Projectors

Nothing is quite like sitting down with friends and family to watch a movie. And when the weather is great, you can always take this adventure outdoors and utilize a projector screen to enhance the experience.

The good news is that there are many outdoor movie projectors available on the market that can be used in daylight and night time. But the question remains – which are the best outdoor HD projectors? And should I get a movie projector for use in daylight and night time?

Here are the reviews of the best that Amazon has to offer. Remember to read this list while keeping in mind what it is that you are looking for. The best projector for you is one that best matches your personal requirements.

Epson PowerLite 1781W WXGA, 3,200 lumens color brightness (color light output), 3,200 lumens white brightness wireless 3LCD Portable Projector

Other than being lightweight, this product is very portable, which is definitely a huge bonus. This is because of the fact that it is as thin as a laptop and projects wirelessly. With 3200 lumens projection and 3LCD technology, the Epson Powerlite 1781W will have everyone thinking they should have purchased a ticket.

It’s a bit pricey, but as far as home electronics purchases go, this is the best outdoor movie projector you can ask for. It doesn’t have wi-fi connectivity but where it matters most, it delivers. It has very bright projection and utilizes 3LCD technology to deliver sharp images.


Epson VS240 SVGA 3LCD Projector 3000 Lumens Color Brightness

This is a small sized outdoor projector that’s versatile and comes with advanced features.

This projector has been rated as the #1 Epson Image Quality Projector. Even though it isn’t completely wireless, it only uses one cable. What’s more, it is compatible with the newest media players and laptops as well as HDMI. 

It comes with 3000 lumens of white brightness and 3000 lumens of colored brightness, which allow for crisp, sharp images. It also offers up to 5000 hours of lamp use in normal mode and 10,000 hours in ECO mode.

And while it does feature manual digital zoom, it does so with exceptional clarity. The viewable imagesize with the VS240 is 30-350 inches.

It has built-in 3 chip technology that offers quality life-like image detail. USB and HDMI connections allow you to deliver content from phones, media players and laptops easily.

The Epson VS240 is an impressive outdoor projector that covers all the bases and which is a great option if you are on a budget.


Acer C120 FWVGA DLP Pico Projector, 100 Lumens

When it comes to exceptional outdoor screening experience, the Acer C120 is a serious contender.

Whether you are watching a movie or gaming, the images cast by this projector are stellar. It guarantees up to 20.000 hours of lamp use on extreme eco mode, meaning that it’s a great purchase for heavy users.

This projector is possibly the best option if you are constantly travelling, as it can fit in the palm of your hand and fit in your pocket with a mere weight of half a pound. It is also powered through a USB cable, which makes it handy, as you can use a phone charger. After all, we never leave the house without our charger!

And unlike other projectors that require an outdoor screen, this one is powerful enough to cast images on a wall. The Acer C120 uses ColorSafe Technology that takes advantage of DLP® technology to protect against color decay and guarantee a crisp, clear viewing experience despite prolonged use.

AcerSmartFormat Technology  supports comprehensive wide-format PC signals.You no longer have to worry about annoying "Signal not supported" issues, or you don’t have to change the resolution of your wide-format notebook.


BenQ DLP HD Projector (HT2050) - 3D Home Theater Projector with All-Glass Cinema Grade Lens and RGBRGB Color Wheel

BenQ is known for producing pricey outdoor projectors and, as such, it may come as a surprise that this particular model sells for less than $1000. The best thing about this is that the quality of video imagery is top notch. It comes with a nice lamp life of up to 10000 hours on eco mode.

In addition, the BenQ DLP has a Small form-factor and a variety of connection options, including HDMI and VGA.

The Ben Q is perfect for professionals who are always on the go.

As you would expect from a mid-range priced outdoor movie projector, this one compromises on a few things. It has SVGA resolution and aspect ratio of 4:3/16:9/16:10.It does come with 3D mode. When using a 3D blu-ray or just a regular Blu-ray the BenQ DLP will not disappoint.

This is a great option for a backyard movie night. It will compete with any 1080p native projectors under $1000 any day.


ViewSonic PJD5255 3300 Lumens XGA HDMI Projector (2017 Model)

This is a small projector that is designed for more than just outdoor use. It features five viewing modes for an enhanced viewing experience.

The Viewsonic projects 120 inches (15 feet and 18 inches) away and can last up to 10,000 hours on Dynamic Eco-Mode. It also comes with an industry-leading warranty: 3 years for limited parts and labor coverage as well as a year of lamp coverage. You also get access to their US-based customer service team, which can especially be helpful if you’re facing some kind of issue with it.

The projector comes with 3200 lumen lamp as well as 1024x768 resolution to deliver crystal imagery. The projector can be connected to multiple devices thanks to its USB, HDMI and VGA port connections. It also comes with Exclusive SuperColor Technology that offers a broader color range for a richer, viewing experience.

The downsides of this projector include low quality sound and high fan noise.


Optoma X341 3300 Lumens XGA 3D DLP Projector with Superior Lamp Life and HDMI

This is the upgrade of the Optoma X316 and is jammed with impressive features that are sure to score points among consumers. At just five pounds the Optoma X341 is relatively portable.

A nifty feature of this projector is that it adjusts the gamma output to match the color of the projection surface, with wall color adjustment to ensure accurate color projection.We all have experienced at some point where the colors are a bit off due to the surface used, and this projector fixes that.

It is powered by a Texas Instruments 3300 lumens lamp, whose life is clocked between 5000 and 10,000 hours depending on whether you use the projector on eco or normal viewing mode.It offers several connectivity options including VGA, HDMI, Composite, Audio in/out and USB. As such, you can connect several devices including your laptop, smartphone, amplifier and media players.


Epson PowerLite 1761W, WXGA, Wireless, 2600 Lumens Color Brightness, 2600 Lumens White Brightness, Ultra Lightweight 3LCD Projector

If you are in the market for the best wireless outdoor projector that your money can buy, the Epson PowerLite is a great investment.

What makes this projector so popular is the fact that it is compatible with most media devices, including Apple Mac interfaces. In other words, Mac users can rejoice as they won’t feel left out.

Also included is an iProjection app, which ensures that this projector can work with any device.

It offers several connectivity options such as HDMI and USB. It comes with a white USB dongle stick and offers standard wireless connectivity. Its portability and quick set up make it popular for a variety of uses.


Gemmy 39127-32 Deluxe Airblown Movie Screen Inflatable with Storage Bag, 144" Screen 12 FT TALL x 11.5 WIDE

So far in this list we have covered the best projectors. But everyone knows that no outdoor theatre is complete without a reliable screen as well!

This is the best outdoor movie projector screen that you can invest in. It is an inflatable movie screen that inflates automatically once plugged in. It comes complete with tethering ropes, fans and stakes for maximum durability.

Two people may be required to set it up and all the air has to be removed before it can be put into the storage bag. The main downside of this outdoor movie screen projector is that it can’t be used far from the house, as it requires an electric power source to work. However, a quiet generator can easily solve that.

And while it may require more room compared to other movie screen projectors on this list, you can rest assured that it’s good value for your money.


Visual Apex Projector Screen 144HD Portable Indoor/Outdoor Movie Theater Fast-Folding Projector Screen with Stand Legs and Carry Bag HD4K 16:9 format

The Visual Apex Projector Screen is a portable movie outdoor projector screen that measures 8 feet 7 inches high and 11 feet wide when assembled, making it the perfect solution for outdoor movie nights. It has a large projection size, which will even be suitable for hosting outdoor viewing parties.

And while the increased size is better, it also requires an extra pair of hands to stand after assembly. The manual outlines the assembly instructions clearly in visual illustrations, making setup easy and a straightforward process. And to go the extra mile, there is a set-up video you can watch on the official website of Video Apex.

It comes with stakes and a lightweight aluminum frame with ropes for added stability. It also comes with its own carry bag and weighs 36 pounds when parked, making portability easy. The black backing eliminates light from behind the screen to provide a better viewing experience.


Considerations To Make When Buying An Outdoor Movie Projector

Unlike other consumer products, buying an outdoor HD projector is not necessarily going to put you in the poor house. You probably need to do a little budgeting during the winter if you wish to have an outdoor projector by summer.

Whatever the case, you will realize that purchasing a quality outdoor projector is a worthwhile investment.Regardless of the financial investment, keeping the following factors in mind will guarantee you a great purchase.

Brightness & Daylight

You want to make sure that your projector has a high level of brightness, and this is measured in ANSI lumens. The brightness for outdoor projectors generally ranges from 1000 lumens all the way up to 10,000 lumens.

Of course, the higher the lumens, the higher the cost of a projector. The best range for outdoor projectors is between 2200 and 6000 lumens. A 4400 ANSI lumen project will suffice if you intend to start screening your outdoor movie in the daylight.

Connection

Your outdoor movie projector should be easily connected. This means considering two secondary factors – content delivery and mobility.

Your projector should be mobile if you are solely relying on it for outdoor entertainment. And while many projectors are big and awkward, you can find something that is reasonably sized. Anything whose size ranges from an iPad to a reasonably sized cable box will do.

In this day and age, your projector should at least have provision for HDMI connection so that you can deliver content from a streaming stick or laptop. Some projectors come with Wi-fi connectivity as well as internal storage units.

Projection System

Outdoor projectors utilize one of three projection systems i.e. DLP, LCD or LCOS.

LCD projectors utilize three mirrors and liquid crystal display technology to cast video imagery. They are the cheapest.

DLP projectors, on the other hand, utilize a color wheel and millions of micro mirrors to cast video images on the screen.They cast sharper images and are pricier as compared to LCD projectors.

LCOS combines the best qualities of both LCD and DLP technology to cast the crispiest, sharpest images onto the screen.Due to the superior quality of the images they cast, LCOS projectors are extremely expensive and not recommended for average home use.

Our best recommendation here is to weigh your requirements against what you are willing to spend. Find out where the best tradeoff is for you in regard to image quality vs. price. At a certain point, the extra quality will not be worth the extra price.

Size

Of course, size is an important consideration for any outdoor theatre. However, one thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the projector you get is not too big. If the screen is too big, it might be uncomfortable to view if you are sitting too close.

Ideally, you want a projector that fits neatly into your yard (or wherever you are putting it), and that will not be too large so that it is uncomfortable to view when up close.

Usage

We saved this for last, but it is perhaps the most important. You need to consider how you will be using your outdoor theatre in order to make the best choice.

Consider how many people will be watching, how much space you have, whether you will be gaming or watching movies, and more. All of these considerations will help you decide which choice is best for you based on all of the factors above.

At the end of the day, the best choice is the one that works best for you. So sit down, think carefully about what you want, and make a choice that will make you happy.

Conclusion

I have watched hours of TV, movies, and test patterns, and even done some gaming. I have tested dozens of projectors just to figure out which model best fits your needs. Whether you're outfitting a small space for an occasional movie night or taking your movie night outdoors, you have to take a few factors in consideration.

In order to create a large image, I have found that most projectors need to be positioned far from the screen. This distance is called the throw distance and can be anywhere from 8 to 15 feet.

If you have a projector, you should definitely consider getting a screen. Most modern projectors are bright enough to throw a decent image on just about any white surface, but you won't get accurate colors without a proper screen. A screen has less texture than a wall, plus it will add pop to the image because paint almost always has less gain (meaning, it reflects less light) than a screen. Therefore, the image will appear dimmer and thus you will not experience the full potential of your projector.

So that's our take on the best outdoor projectors, and hopefully this guide makes things clearer.
The process of purchasing an outdoor projector doesn’t have to be hard or stressful if you have a quick overview of the top projectors available now. We hope that this guide has put you on the right path in choosing the right projector for you.

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