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The 10 Best Outdoor Projectors for a Backyard Movie Night

Updated July 7, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Backyard Projectors

As the sun goes down, fireflies come out, and temperatures cool to tolerable degrees, outdoor entertainment options open up. There's no experience quite like an outdoor movie experience. Ask anyone who has been to a drive-in theater. The sounds and smells of nature paired with the entertainment of a film and the company of friends make for a perfect evening.

Keep reading to learn about which outdoor projectors give you the best picture and the best overall movie experience.

What are outdoor projectors and how are they used?

Outdoor projectors are machines that project films whether they are from your television or your computer or another smart device. You can hook the device up to the projector and have an instant big-screen experience.

How to use an outdoor projector

You can use outdoor projectors both inside and outside. When you take the projector outdoors, you're creating a movie experience under the stars for anyone who wants to pull up a lawn chair. Consider the possibilities:

  • You can show your favorite classic movies on a big screen.
  • You can host films that celebrate special times like Black History Month.
  • If there's a final episode for a program you love, you can host a watch party in your yard.
  • You can stream the top TV programs on a big screen.
  • If you're into politics, you can host watch parties on election night or when there is a debate.
  • You can show the best movies ever made on a big screen without having to go to a theater.

What to consider when purchasing the best outdoor movie projector

Because outdoor movie experiences are becoming more popular, you can find all kinds of outdoor movie projectors on the market today. When looking at projectors, consider these qualities:

Portable: You need something that weighs between 2 and 20 pounds and something you can stash away. You want something you can take to a friend's backyard as well.

Flexible: You should be able to adjust your projector to multiple screen sizes. You should also be able to project on just about any surface.

Big Images: You want to be able to project movie-size images for an outdoor theater. The farther away your projector is from the screen, the bigger the image it casts.

Easy on the Eyes: You need at least 2,000 Lumens for a bright enough picture outdoors.

Cost: An affordable and yet quality outdoor projector and the 100-inch screen should run you under $1,000.

Screen: Screen options vary for outdoor films. You can purchase a screen made specifically for outdoor viewing, and you'll have the best background possible for an outdoor film. However, you can also use something as simple as a white sheet on the wall of your garage.

Infoplease's research process

We at Infoplease have a stated mission to help people find accurate, reliable information. We usually fulfill that mission by offering reference data, or by presenting educational articles. One area where there's a lot of confusion and misinformation on the internet is consumer reviews. So, we've decided to offer some useful tips and some reliable data for consumers.

As always, we want to give you the information you need. We’ve considered the experiences of people who use outdoor projectors and existing reviews on top websites. But, we want to focus in on expert opinions and on the hard facts about each product.

We are not sponsored by any outdoor projector manufacturers or retailers, But, if you make a purchase through one of the links on our site, we may earn a small commission for it.

Here are our choices for the top 10 outdoor movie projectors of 2020:

Anker Mars Nebula1. Nebula by Ankers Mars II Pro 500 ANSI Lumen Portable Projector

The Nebula comes in the middle of the road for the price but wins when you're looking at portability. It's a small box weighing only four pounds. Despite its size, the Nebula still has a robust sound.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "What seems to be most important for projectors is ANSI lumens. This one is 300 ANSI lumens which are twice as bright as what’s recommended for tracing outlines on canvass for painting. It is so bright that the image appears nicely even with a bright overhead light. The sound is very loud and decent. It’s a pretty incredible deal I think and I am very happy with it so far."

Amazon: "If you want something truly portable for outdoor movies or an occasional indoor movie night, you’d be hard-pressed to find something easier to use or with better picture quality in this price range."

Specifications:
Color: Black
Projection Technology: DLP
Brightness: 500 ANSI lumens
Resolution: 1280x720 (16:9, HD)
Projection Size: 30-150 inches
Operating System: Android 7.1
Speaker: 2x 10W
Video playtime: 3 hours
Connectivity: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Screen Mirroring
Focus: Automatic

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Optoma HD27HDR2. Optoma HD27HDR 1080p 4K HDR Ready Home Theater Projector

The Optoma has a new model each year for the past four years, so you can pick from the 3200 Lumens 2071 model up to the 3600 Lumens + 4K HDR Input 2020 model. This projector features 3,400 lumens of brightness. The 1080p resolution makes for a sharp and detailed image, which works great when you have lag-free gaming that the system boasts of providing

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "I purchased this with a 100-inch screen and a surround sound system and oh my God was it worth it. The picture is Crystal clear, the contrast is deep and the colors are rich and vibrant. Once you sit down, have a drink and some popcorn, you forget you are at home, you think you're watching a movie at the theater."

Amazon: "The projector has all it takes to be user friendly. The price is less than six hundred bucks which for a novice like me is good to justify a very infrequent use. The picture quality is good, sharp, I installed about 18 feet from the screen to obtain an optimum screen size of 120inches."

Specifications:
Brightness: 3,400 lumens
Resolution: HD 1080p (1920x1080)
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI (2.0 with HDCP 2.2), 1 x HDMI (1.4a), audio-out, 3D sync port, USB power
Contrast ratio: 50,000: 1
Zoom: 1.1x
Throw Ratio: 1.48-1.62:1

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BenQ MH535FHD3. BenQ MH535FHD 1080P Home Theater Projector

The BenQ provides a bright picture with 3500 ANSI Lumen and a 10,000 to 1 contrast ratio. This makes gaming a whole new experience even in a well-lit environment. The low-lag feature makes this projector appealing, with a 16ms low input lag and microsecond DMD fast response. While the BenQ features itself as a projector best for gaming, the built-in speakers and crisp image make it a good choice for movies and television viewing as well.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "Very good. I got this for my shop and there is some stray light. The first projector I got was horrible. Claimed 4000 lumens. Not even close. And the clarity of the text is amazing. The contrast is amazing."

Amazon: "Very Very sharp and great picture. 1080p seems legit. Bright - I was worried about lumens at first as this was my first projector. The 3300 was plenty bright. For Outdoor movies, at dusk light, it looked great. Menu Interface - It was very easy to navigate and set up the settings I wanted."

Specifications:
Native Resolution: 1080p
Brightness: 3500 lumens
HDTV Rec. 709: 95%
Low Input Lag: yes
Throw and Zoom Ratio: 1.5 to 1.65/1.1x
Connectivity: HDMI x 2
Built-in Speakers; 10w x 1

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Optoma HD1434. Optoma HD 143 Affordable High-Performance 1080p Home Theater Projector

This Optoma projector comes in on the higher end of price but made our list because of its great reviews. Optoma boasts of the projector's clear and detailed images and stunning picture quality. The system also has a low lag for gaming and a super-bright picture, making it an excellent outdoor projector.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "This projector exceeds my expectations and looks magnificent. The blacks are black and the whites are white. Color is suburb and I didn't even have to adjust out of the box which surprised me.

Amazon: “I have cable, which is usually not the best when it comes to picture quality because of the feed my cable company provides, and yet this projector nails it! My PS4 on blu-ray however is what blew my mind. The quality of the picture was crisp and vibrant, it looks like I should have paid thousands of dollars!Easy to set up and very user friendly I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for an inexpensive projector but wants top-quality performance."

Specifications:
Picture Quality: 1080p resolution, 23,000:1 contrast ratio
Brightness: 3,000 lumens
Throw Distance: Standard throw: project a 120" image from 13 feet away
Installation Flexibility: 1.1x zoom
Connectivity: 2xHDMI, audio-out, 3D Sync port, 12V trigger, USB power

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ViewSonic PG800HD5. ViewSonic PG 800 HD 5000 Lumens 1080p HDMI Networkable Projector with Lens Shift

The ViewSonicPG 800 is featured on of the brightest pictures on our list. It projects up to 300 inches in 5,000 lumens with a 50,000: 1 contrast ratio. It will light up your neighborhood on a night.

You can use this projector at home in your house or the backyard, but it also works great for larger venues like conferences and business and education environments because of its excellent projection picture. It also uses an exclusive 6-segment color wheel and dynamic lamp control capability. As a result, the projector shoots out the stunning images reviewers rave about.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "This projector is fabulous. The picture is crystal clear and can even be viewed easily in a well-lit room. The only negative I have is the volume control. We keep the volume at 1 which is the lowest setting and it is still too loud. I wish that we could turn it down lower."

Amazon: "Received great tech help from Viewsonic for this projector I use with a golf simulator. It requires a bright picture & quality video. Both were beyond my expectations. Setup was simple with easy to follow menus. Couldn't be happier with my purchase as the bang per buck factor is extremely high."

Specifications:
Connectivity: HDMI
Image Contrast Ratio: 50,000:1
Dimensions: 5.51 x 18.50 x 12.44 inches
Weight: 13.67 lbs
Brightness: 5,000 lumens, 1920 x 1080 resolution
Flexibility: 1.3x optical zoom

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Nebula Capsule II6. Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector

The Capsule II's size stands out with this projector. It is a palm-sized projector that projects 200 ANSI lumens, making it bright and portable. It also can cast a 100-inch picture and comes with 5,000 plus apps. This combination of details makes the Capsule II an impressive and viable home entertainment option.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "I like this projector. It is fairly easy to use and looks very good. The Sound quality is very good and can be heard well in the 12' by 10' by 8' room I have it in. It has much better resolution when compared to the first-gen and is good for gaming like Stellaris, HOI4, nongraphic critical games."

Specifications:
Brightness: 200 ANSI lumens
Resolution: 280x720 (16:9, HD)
Projection Size: 20-100 inches
Operating System: Android TV 9.0
Speaker: 1x8W (270 degrees)
Video playtime: 2.5 hours
Connectivity: HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast
Focus: Automatic

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BenQ MH7607. BenQ MH 760 1080P Business Projector

The BenQ MH 760 comes in a little more pricy, around $1,100. It has one of the brightest pictures on our list with 5,000 NSI Lumens, making it ideal for large screens. It also has a high native contrast ratio, which makes it easy to use just about anywhere.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: "Love this projector! Bought for home theater even though it's a presentation projector. I've owned several HD projectors and this one is by far the best, brightest, and quietest. You can have a very large image in a very short distance."

Specifications:
Brightness: 5,000 lumens
Weight: 10.36 pounds
Dimensions: 23.62 x 15.75 x 9.06
Contrast: 3,000:1
Flexibility: Centralized management system and wireless presentation features
Resolution: 1920x1080 (Full HD 1080p)
Connectivity: HDMI, Ethernet

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Epson VS3558. Epson VS355 WXGA

The Epson VS355 WXGA has a whopping 3,300 lumens which means it's bright enough for outside projecting but also affordable. It boasts of being able to project an accurate, vividly colorful picture even in well-lit rooms, which means it works great outdoors as well. This projector has two times the resolution than SVGA which makes it great for projecting images from widescreen laptops.

Reviews to Consider:
"This is a great little projector, quite portable and bulb replacement easy/cheap (we keep a few on hand). We've used this all over - great for PC display at matching resolution, but just recently found out that for movies (Netflix/etc) better to send 1080p signal to it, ala Roku or similar - than streaming via PC - The projector seems to process (i.e. adapt) the 1080p to its native resolution well - project it on a nice screen and it is pretty exceptional for a WXGA."

Specifications:
Connectivity: VGA, USB, HDMI
Display Technology: 3LCD
Image Brightness 3300.0 lumen
Image Contrast: 15,000:1
Dimensions: 11.9 x 3.2 x 9.3
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Resolution: 1280 x 800 (WXGA)

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ViewSonic WXGA9. ViewSonic 3600 Lumens WXGA High Brightness Projector for Home and Office (PA503W)

ViewSonic boasts of a bright picture and easy setup with its WXGA Projector. With 3600 lumens, you should have enough brightness to project even dark scenes outside.

Reviews to Consider:
"The projector is very bright, and the high definition picture is a real treat. I barely hear the fan noise (I actually don't notice it when watching movies). I am so glad I traded portability for image quality given that the projector doesn't rever leave my media room. The projector is about 14 feet from the screen and fills it completely."

Specifications:
Resolution: SVGA (800x600)
Brightness: 3,600 Lumens
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Throw Ratio: 1.96 - 2.15
Connectivity: Mini USB Type B, 3.5 mm Audio Out, 3.5 mm Audio in, Control (RS232), HDMI 1.4, VGA In (x2) VGA Out, Composite

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GooDee 202010. Goodee 2020 Upgrade HD Video Outdoor Movie Projector

This Goodee projector comes in significantly lower-priced than other projectors in the list. The 2020 model has an upgraded brightness, with GooDee claiming it is 80 percent brighter than other ordinary projectors.

Reviews to Consider:
"I love this projector. Wow, this projector really surprises me! Now I can set up my home theater. The display is very clear, bright, and sharp. I connected it with my Android TV box and they work perfectly! The display is impressive, especially in the darkroom! I am using it to watch a movie almost every night."

Specifications:
Native resolution: 1280 x 768
Contrast: 3,0001
Max Screen Size: 230"
Connectivity: HDMI, USB, VGA, AV. connects to TV Box, Fire Stick TV, Chromecast, PC, laptop, tablet, external speakers, multiple gaming systems, and more.
Focus: Manual

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