The best outdoor projectors

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Outdoor projectors

With summer around the corner, you might want to start planning more outdoor activities. Watching home videos or movies under the stars is a fun, memorable way to spend an evening. It’s like having a drive-in theater all to yourself and we’re here to help you pick the perfect one.

Things to consider when buying an outdoor projector

Lumens

One thing you’ll want to pay attention to when choosing an outdoor projecting is how many lumens you’re machine handles. Lumens are the full measure of visible light produced by a projector and you’ll want your projector to be 2,500 lumens or higher for best outdoor visibility.

High-definition

HD projectors generally work better outside, though an outdoor projector doesn’t necessarily need HD to get the job done. Be aware that some projectors accept HD content but don’t display it in HD. 

Throw ratio and contrast ratio

The throw ratio refers to the size of the screen you’re using in relation to the projector’s distance from that screen. The greater the distance and the bigger the screen, the higher the throw ratio will need to be. A “short throw” projector is a unit that can project onto a very close surface without distorting the image. 

Contrast ratio, on the other hand, refers to the light to dark quality of an image. The better the contrast, the more vivid the colors will appear. The lighter your screening environment, the more you’ll rely on strong contrast to see everything. 

Light bulbs

Some systems come in hybrid formats, but there are three primary types of light a projector may utilize. It is important to remember that you cannot put any bulb in any projector. Specific models can only handle certain bulbs, so it’s important to know what you’re working with before trying to attach anything.

Metal Halide lamps are heavy-duty lamps that give off a white light and are for medium or high-end projectors. They last longer than halogen bulbs, but they don’t maintain their brightness the way halogen lights do. 

Halogen lights only last 40-70 hours, and the light given off is yellower than that from the metal halide lamps. While they are not as long-lasting, the brightness quality will last the duration of the bulb’s lifespan.

LED light can last a long time while utilizing much less power than metal halide lamps. However, they aren’t as bright as higher-performance bulbs.

Are laser projectors different? 

Laser projectors last a long time and are reasonably reliable. They don’t use bulbs, which means that you will have to replace the entire projector instead of just the bulb if there is a dip in projection quality.

The top outdoor projectors

Best overall outdoor projector

YABER Y31 1080p HD Indoor/Outdoor Projector

YABER Y31 1080p HD Indoor/Outdoor Projector

What you need to know: An LED HD projector with 7,000 lux and has HDMI, USB ports, VGA and AV ports. It is compatible with smartphones, Xbox, Amazon Fire Stick, and Chromecast.

What you’ll love: There’s 4K resolution and built-in dual stereo speakers. The necessary cables and remote are included.

What you should consider: This projector has to be plugged in, so an alternative power source is required if no outlet is readily available. You will also need AAA batteries for the remote.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for the buck projector

TMY V08 1080P Full HD Supported Video Projector 

TMY V08 1080P Full HD Supported Video Projector 

What you need to know: A 6,500-lumen LED portable projector that includes a TF card slot plus HDMI, VGA, AV and USB headphone ports.

What you’ll love: The AV & HDMI cable is included, plus this unit comes with a 100-inch screen, which is not bad for the price. 

What you should consider: No wireless connection, and the screen does not come with a mounting frame for outside. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best projector for movie nights

VANKYO Leisure 510 HD Movie Projector

VANKYO Leisure 510 HD Movie Projector 

What you need to know: A 3,600-lumen LED  HD projector that includes an SD card slot plus HDMI, USB, VGA, AV and USB ports.

What you’ll love: Compatible with a variety of devices, including smartphones, laptops, Chromecast and Xbox. This easy-to-use model includes high-quality dual built-in speakers and comes with a carrying case. 

What you should consider: Consumers may find the set-up instructions confusing at first. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best projector for gaming

BenQ TH671ST 1080p Short Throw Gaming Projector 

BenQ TH671ST 1080p Short Throw Gaming Projector 

What you need to know: A 3,000-lumen HD projector that is 3-D capable with very fast low-input lag that allows for smooth, hiccup-free gaming. Compatible with most media players.

What you’ll love: It can be used indoors or outdoors and has excellent picture quality, plus it’s compatible with most media players. 

What you should consider: Requires additional transmitter to be used wirelessly, and the transmitter is not included.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best portable projector

BIGASUO Full HD Bluetooth Projector with Built-in DVD Player 

BIGASUO Full HD Bluetooth Projector with Built-in DVD Player 

What you need to know: A 4,5000-lumen LED HD portable projector featuring a Micro SD Card slot and built-in DVD player. 

What you’ll love: This option works well for both indoor and outdoor use. It’s Bluetooth capable and includes a built-in stereo surround speaker.

What you should consider: It does not play Blu-ray DVDs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best pocket-sized projector

Kodak Ultra Mini Portable Projector

Kodak Ultra Mini Portable Projector

What you need to know: A tiny LED projector that fits in the palm of your hand.

What you’ll love: This little unit has built-in speakers and includes HDMI, USB and Micro SD hookup.

What you should consider: This projector is not ideal for gaming and has limited capabilities given its size. It’s also important to consider that the cost is comparable to larger, more versatile units.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond 

Additional gear to consider

Depending on the projector you’re using and where, you might want to consider additional speakers, seating, connectors and outdoor screens.

TaoTronics Projector Screen with Stand

TaoTronics Projector Screen with Stand

A reliable, 100-inch, wrinkle-free screen for screening 4k HD. It’s easy to clean and the setup is simple enough to figure out, but you might want to reinforce the structure once it’s assembled to keep the screen from wobbling. It comes with its own tripod and carrying bag.

Sold by Amazon

Breakwater Bay Trevion Extendable Patio Sofa with Cushions

Breakwater Bay Trevion Extendable Patio Sofa with Cushions

A sofa/daybed combo with 11.75-inch solid wood frame and blue cushions with machine-washable covers. Assembly is required.

Sold by Wayfair

Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler

Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler

For camping or travel, you might want to bring along your own folding chair for when it comes time to watch a movie. This chair comes with side pockets, adjustable arms and a carrying bag.

Sold by Amazon

Sonos Move

Sonos Move

A pricey but top-quality Bluetooth speaker with voice control and wi-fi connectivity that can go up to ten hours between charges. While you can use this speaker outside, you should not leave it outside to charge as the charging base is not weatherproof. If connected to your phone, it must be disabled there first to connect to a projector.

Sold by Amazon

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 

A 110-volt and 200-watt portable generator that is easy to carry with two USB ports. It uses a lithium-ion battery and has solar capabilities (though the solar panel is sold separately).

Sold by Amazon

Diamond Wireless HDMI Extender Kit

Diamond Wireless HDMI Extender Kit

This wireless transmitter allows you to stream HD 1080p and works with an HDMI output. This plug ‘n play device doesn’t require any extensive set up and you can stream content from various devices such as a laptop, play station, Xbox, and cable box.

Sold by Amazon

 

Emily Ruth Verona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

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