Outdoor projectors can be a great way to enjoy movies, television, and other media in the comfort of your backyard. But with so many options available, it cannot be easy to know which projector is right for you. It’s important to consider a few key factors when shopping for an outdoor projector, such as brightness, resolution, connectivity, and portability.
Below are the key factors to consider when buying a new outdoor projector:
If you’re wondering what the term “lumens” means when shopping for an outdoor projector, here’s what you need to know. Lumens measure the projected image brightness. When choosing an outdoor projector, you’ll need at least 3,500 lumens for a good performance. While projectors with 6,000 lumens can be used in schools, corporate events, or larger gatherings, they are overkill for backyard movies. So, stick to something with a minimum of 3,500 lumens, and you’ll be good to go.
LED projection versus LCD projection versus DLP projection – what’s best?
As for DLP projectors, they use millions of micro-mirrors to offer highly detailed images projected onto your screen, which typically results in sharper movies with less pixelation when compared to LCD models. LCD technology came to the fore in the 1980s and used Liquid Crystal Displays and a 3-way mirror to cast images onto the screen. Modern LCD projectors now use updated technology to offer brighter images than they used to, though still not as crisp as DLP.
Outdoor movie projectors advertised as LCD won’t offer as clear a picture as DLP but will be significantly cheaper due to no moving parts or components. As for LED projections, they tend to have a longer life span and are considered to be more reliable due to not burning out as a standard lamp or bulb can do. LED projectors also don’t have hazardous mercury in them, making them more environmentally friendly than LCDs when it comes to disposal. LED projectors will also cost more, but it all comes down to budget.
Contrast and Throw Ratio are two important factors to consider when choosing a projector.
The Throw Ratio is the distance from the projector to the screen divided by the width. For example, if you have a 6-foot-wide screen and your throw ratio is 2.0, you should place the projector 12 feet away from the screen. The formula for this is ratio x width = distance.
Throw Contrast is the ratio of dark to light in an image. The higher the contrast ratio, the sharper and more vivid images, and video content appear. A 3000:1 ratio would mean that the lightest areas are 3000 times brighter than the darkest darks. However, any amount of ambient light will degrade contrast, no matter how high it is. Therefore, you’ll need a high contrast ratio in dimly lit areas.
When planning a backyard movie night, invest in a projector with a minimum price of $300. This should offer a long-lasting product with a high lumen rating to watch movies outdoors and decent HD resolution and port connectivity. Generally, the higher the price tag, the better the product – mini-projectors for less than $100, for example, are too weak for larger crowds and bigger screens.
Resolution is a term that refers to the number of pixels in an area and is often used to describe the quality of images and videos. The standard resolution for a Blu-Ray is 1280 × 720, while the most expensive projectors have an image quality to match 1920 × 1080.
Outdoor movie projectors usually come with built-in speakers that, in theory, should provide enough sound for an intimate gathering – but for larger groups and more noise-intensive environments, these speakers may need to be louder or may result in poor audio quality. Additionally, the noise from the movie screen itself (in the case of an inflatable model) can also interfere with sound quality. Our advice is to rely on something other than the built-in speakers and to supplement them with an additional external sound source for a successful backyard movie night.
If lugging a bulky projector from your house to your backyard whenever you want to watch an outdoor movie sound like a hassle, don’t worry. Plenty of portable mini options are effortless to set up and deliver high-resolution. Not to mention, you can throw your compact projector in your backpack and take it on the go for a 100-inch TV experience wherever you go. So, when it comes to outdoor projector options, we recommend a portable one.
Before hitting the buy button, determine whether or not you need/want something that can play movies without access to a power outlet. Not all portable projectors come with an integrated battery. If you do want the ease of not needing to set up an extension cord in your backyard or the ability to watch something in a rustic campsite with no power access, select one that comes with a built-in battery.
Remember that those projectors that have it will usually offer three to five hours of playtime, sometimes less, which implies a movie marathon may not be feasible. This is especially true if you intend to watch one of those three-hour-long movies. On the other hand, you can overlook the integrated battery option and invest in a power station, which should also have enough charge for your other devices, whether in your backyard or at a campsite.
Finding the right outdoor projector for your needs can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Considering all the key factors, such as brightness, resolution, connectivity, and portability, you can easily find a projector that meets your requirements. Remember to factor in the type of projection technology you want, too – DLP, LCD, or LED – as this can make a big difference in the quality of the projected image. You can enjoy the perfect movie night in your backyard with the right projector.