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Best Outdoor Projectors for Movie Nights

There's nothing quite like a summer night showing movies outside with friends and family. An outdoor projector can make any backyard feel like a drive-in cinema. Here are our top picks (and in-depth reviews) for outdoor projectors.

Outdoor projectors have immense benefits over traditional television. Although televisions are cheaper, the various benefits derived from projectors justify their price. They are more portable than TVs, and they have larger images so are more comfortable for your eyes. They also can have high-quality pictures, customizable screen sizes, and they incorporate front-projection technologies for impressive picture quality (LCD, LCOS, and DLP).
Consequently, they come in handy for summer movie nights, outdoor celebrations and slideshows, and light shows around the holidays. However, it is difficult to choose one from the wide range of projectors available because some are low quality, there are various models, they differ in specifications, and some are customized for specific locations. 

How much should I expect to spend on an outdoor projector?

Budget models can cost less than $100, and premium models can cost more than $10,000.

What features should I consider when buying an outdoor projector?

There are important features for outdoor projectors to be aware of so that you can get the best experience. Since there is a large number of projectors available, identify and evaluate the features to get an excellent projector. Some of the important features include: 

  • Brightness lumensDue to their exposure to light, outdoor projectors require high brightness.  A minimum of 2000 lumens can give you excellent results when outdoors. If there is more ambient light, more lumens (at least 5000) will be required. 
  • Throw distanceHigh-quality projectors can project images to your screen regardless of the distance from it. Your projector can be placed at an optimal distance of about 12 to 18 feet. 
  • Input connections: Good projectors have important ports for various connections. Examples include AV, USB, HDMI, and VGA ports. WI-FI or Ethernet connections are also ideal for streaming from other devices. Memory card slots are also essential. 
  • PortabilityAn outdoor projector needs to be as portable as possible. Since it is not advisable to leave it outside after use, it is more convenient to have a small one.
Projectors are more portable than TVs, and they have larger images so are more comfortable for your eyes. 

 What are the more advanced features that I should consider in a high-end outdoor projector?

Advanced projectors have sophisticated features including high-quality images. Some have 3D projection that is useful for various projects like engineering. Other important features include: 

  • Keystone correctionThis makes it easier to view images from projectors regardless of the projector's position from the screen. Since it is hard to position your projector to fit the screen exactly, this feature gets rid of the hassle. 
  • ResolutionSome outdoor projectors are designed with low resolution while others have a high resolution. Outdoor projectors need high resolution for high-quality images on your screen. Showing HD movies and playing games also require a high resolution (minimum of 1920x1080 pixels). 
  • Audio system: An ideal audio system, particularly a surround sound system, is appropriate. A few video projectors have built-in speakers and an amplifier, but they will not be ideal for the outdoor environment. You can include a speaker setup, preferably separate from your projector.   
  • Video dimension: HDMI in high-end models result in high-quality videos. They have 3D capability, high brightness, and high resolution. 

Frequently asked questions

  • How many lumens do I need on an outdoor projector?
    Lumens are the amount of light emitted by a projector. In a darker environment, especially at night, lower lumen level is sufficient. If there is more ambient light, you require high lumen level (at least 5000 lumens). However, a minimum of 2000 lumens is essential for any outdoor projectors. 
  • What does rear projection mean?
    Rear projection is the process of projecting a still or motion picture onto a translucent screen from the back of the screen to function as the background for the images at the screen's front, This gets rid of distractions across the screen during a presentation, for example, someone passing in front of the projector. 
  • Can any outdoor projectors be used during the daytime?
    Not unless an improved model is invented, or you get a projector with at least 10000 lumens. 
  • Can you play videos on a projector over Bluetooth?
    If the projector has a Bluetooth adapter, then you can send the images to it using the Bluetooth transmission. 

1) Epson Home Cinema HC1450

Key features
  • Resolution: 1920x1200
  • Brightness: 4200 ANSI lumens
  • Built-in 16W speaker
  • Aspect ratio: 16:10

Epson Home Cinema HC1450 is a projector built by Epson America, Inc. It weighs 4.6 kg, and is appropriate for large spaces. It displays full HD content with clear pictures. 

This is an expensive model, but it has good features such as:

  • Vivid images because of high color brightness. 
  • All devices can be connected to it, such as gaming consoles and satellite boxes.
  • Crisp picture displays regardless of location or ambient light. 
  • Ample inputs for presentation, for example, HDMI, MHL, USB-B, and ethernet. 
  • Split-screen video output means you can watch two simultaneous images from different sources. 
  • A high sound from its 16-Watt speaker. 
  • Low fan noise.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Compared to the Epson 1440, it has the same build, but some adjustments have been made. It is also less expensive and dimmer than Epson 1440. Its lamp lasts longer than many other models like Optoma HD39Darbee. Lamp's replacement is also cheaper. Its contrast is better than other projectors of the same price range. 

What's not so good about it?

Its remote is not backlit. The Auto Iris creates an unwanted noise and if turned off, it results in a poorer picture. For color and contrast, 4K would be better.

Pros:
  • Easy setup tools.
  • Excellent brightness.
  • Cheap replacement lamps. 
  • Portable.
Cons:
  • No handle or case.
  • A bit pricey.   
  • Can't pair with Bluetooth speakers.
  • Lacks 4K support.

2) Piqs TT Mini Video

Key features
  • Laser remote controller.
  • Auto keystone and Auto Focus.
  • Built-in App: PIQS Draw.
  • A resolution of HD 720p (1280x720)

Piqs TT Mini Video is a projector built by PIQs company. They come in two different colors: gold and silver tints. It is battery powered, light, and slim. It weighs 1.25 pounds and measures 7.5x4.9x1.2 inches. 

Compared to other models priced below $600, it is an expensive model.  Good features abound in this projector:

  • Its application "PIQS Draw" enables you to draw on the screen.
  • Its Android OS allows an easy and familiar apps download. 
  • Supports HD with enough brightness to watch your shows clearly. 
  • A built-in AR app can scan your hand, and then project various animations onto your skin.
  • It is also user-friendly because its remote features help you to interact with the screen conveniently.
  • It can play for three hours without connecting to power because of its powerful inner battery. 
  • A mouse and keyboard can be used to operate it.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

With a patent Virtual Touch and Auto Focus Technology, it becomes the world's first in using the Dual Optic System Technology. Different from some projectors, it can be used for front or ceiling projection using its rotatable stand. It has a laser remote control not found in other projectors. A mouse and keyboard can be used contrary to many other projectors.

What's not so good about it?

Auto Focus with large texts in the center of pictures is distracting during presentations. The floor stand is expensive and does not adjust to walls' and floors' use. There is also a noticeable fan noise. Its sound is not good, but it's appropriate for its price.

Pros:
  • Easy to use.
  • Portable.
  • Good connectivity.
  • Wireless streaming.
Cons:
  • Lacks short throw.
  • Not very powerful battery.
  • No official play store.
  • A bit pricey.

3) Optoma HD141X available for $589 on Amazon

Key features
  • Contrast ratio: 23000:1
  • Image quality: Full HD 1080p
  • Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens
  • Native resolution: 1920x1080

The Optoma HD141X is a projector built by the Optoma company. It weighs 2.45 kg and has dimensions of 4"x8.8"x12.4". It displays real 3D content from most sources. 

It is an expensive model compared to others below $900. The following are some of its impressive characteristics:

  • It has a simple, easy to follow menu which is friendly to new users. 
  • Excellent picture quality partly because of a DLP projection technology. 
  • With its price, the gaming performance is solid and impressive.
  • An optional Wireless HD allows connection to HDMI sources.
  • Impressive 3D projection even in the Eco mode. 
  • It supports Blu-ray 3D, HDMI 1.4a, and streaming sticks like the Roku stick.
  • You can connect your tablets and smartphones using MHL.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Compared to other projectors, design innovation is evident with its sleek, black shell. Also, it offers solid performance for a projector of its price. Different from many other models, it has two HDMI ports that allow connection to two sources simultaneously, and play any one. With an HDMI link, you can use a single remote control, to control more than one HDMI-CEC enabled devices.

What's not so good about it?

Content from different sources results in the system going haywire. It needs to be located in an appropriate position in your room because of its heat. Its brightness is not so good in a bright room.

Pros:
  • Easy setup and use.
  • Good looking.
  • Light and portable.
  • Backlit remote control.
Cons:
  • No input variety.
  • Speaker muddy at loud volume.
  • On a bright mode, fan is audible.
  • Has a rainbow effect.

4) iDGLAX iDG-787W available for $87 on Amazon

Key features
  • Native resolution: 800x480
  • Contrast ratio: 600:1
  • Projection throw distance: 5.2-17.65 feet
  • Brightness: 1500 lumens

The iDGLAX iDG-787W is a black projector built by i Digital Galaxy Ltd. It weighs 2.7 kg and has a dimension of 320x249x95 mm (LXWXH). Its power consumption is 80W and it has two built-in speakers. 

With a price below $100, it is a budget model. However, it has impressive features that include:

  • The ability to scale images depending on your preference.
  • High-definition picture quality because of its resolution.
  • High-quality images due to its brightness.
  • Longer working hours enhanced by an average 20000 hour lamp life.
  • It works for streaming movies from a Roku stick or from Chromecast.
  • You can use external speakers.
  • It can connect to various playback devices. 
  • It also has an excellent sound.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

With its price, it is the cheapest. It is more petite compared to other premium models. Compared to the Epson 3020, it has no sharp image. Unlike some models, a third party speaker is not necessary.

What's not so good about it?

The projector comes with caveats that limit your use, like that it's not ideal for PPT and business presentations. It's recommended for use in a dark environment.

If you want to connect it to your laptop or PC, make adjustments to your PC or laptop's resolution to 1024*768 or 800*600. It does not support audio decoding due to Dolby copyright. You have to connect your iPhone, tablet, or smartphone using the HDMI adapter (not included). The USB port supports USB flash drive, but not data transfer or cord connection.

Pros:
  • Affordable.
  • Light and portable.
  • Support 1080p.
  • Low maintenance cost.
Cons:
  • Lacks zoom functionality.
  • Limited warranty.
  • A bit loud fan.
  • Not a very good image.

5) ViewSonic PA503W available for $379 on Amazon

Key features
  • Contrast ratio (SuperEco Mode) : 22000:1
  • A native resolution of 1280x800.
  • Its brightness is 3600 lumens.
  • Image size: 30" - 300"

ViewSonic PA503W is a projector built by ViewSonic Corporation. It has a user-friendly design and advanced audiovisual features. It is ideal for the business environment and for education purposes.

At its price, it is a budget model compared to other models, costing at least $500. It has good features including:

  • An extended lamp's lifespan, and you can choose between Eco Mode and SuperEco Mode to save power. 
  • An automatic sleep timer that switches the projector to sleep mode when inactive. It also gives you the option of selecting a certain period after which the projector will switch off.
  • It automatically powers off when no signal is detected.
  • It produces bright images in all environments.
  • You can choose preset viewing modes customized for your usage and environment.
  • HDMI port enables you to project 3D content from HDMI-enabled devices and 3D Blu-Ray players.
  • Presentation timer helps with time management during a presentation. It signals you after reaching a specified time limit.
  • It is also durable and dust resistant.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Different from other budget models,  it has a better performance in home cinema settings. Its technology ensures a wide variety of accurate and realistic color in any environment, contrary to other models. 

You can find the most appropriate projection installation distance using its projection distance calculator.

Compared to other cheaper models, its aspect ratio and WXGA resolution stand out. 

What's not so good about it?

Very ideal for presentations, but poor for movies. It has a noticeable fan noise which impedes watching movies. It has no outstanding performance in any metric, but it's moderate in all. For sound quality, an external speaker may be required.

Pros:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy setup.
  • Bright image.
  • Light and portable.
Cons:
  • Poor colors. 
  • Unclear menu.
  • Poor adjustability.

6) Wowoto T8E

Key features
  • Brightness: 2000 lumens
  • Native resolution: 1280x800
  • Keystone correction: 40 degrees
  • Contrast ratio: 10000:1

Wowoto T8E is a projector built by the WOWOTO company that develops and manufactures LED projectors. It weighs 563 grams and has a dimension of 7.8"x4.8"x1.6". It is also called an "Android OS Home Theater" and features a 7800 mAh battery. 

Compared to other models costing more than $500, it is a budget model. However, it has good features such as:

  • A 20000 hour lamp life, so you are ensured of five years use without bulb maintenance or replacement.
  • Useful in education and business environment,
  • It has a touchpad on it to enable you to manage it with one touch. 
  • Provides the best quality images because of its DLP technology
  • Allows you to stream video content through YouTube, Netflix, Miracast, and Airplay.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Compared to other projectors with a noise of 24 dB, its noise reaches 32 dB. Its battery capacity is 7800 mAh which is more than other mini projectors. The lamp's lifespan is lower considering that some projectors have 50,000 hours. It incorporates 3D, Bluetooth, and WI-FI; other projectors do not have all of these options in one machine. It is also smaller and lighter than many other projectors.

What's not so good about it?

There is no option of upgrading the Android software. Its video resolution does not measure up to today's standards. 

Their sales page states that it supports 1080p resolution, but the resultant Full HD 1920x1080p content ends up being lower in quality,

Pros:
  • Beautiful design.
  • Light and portable.
  • Good packaging.
  • Mirroring.
Cons:
  • An older Android version.
  • An external speaker may be required for quality sound. 
  • Maximum speaker's noise: 32 dB.

7) GooDee 200" LCD

Key features
  • Native resolution: 1280x800
  • Aspect ratio: 16:10
  • +70% upgraded brightness
  • Factory leading 3-year warranty

The GooDee 200" LCD is a projector that creates a unique cinematic experience at home. It incorporates an upgraded brightness and more accurate and vivid color. It is ideal for presentations, movies, graphics, and games.

Compared to other models with a minimum price of $200, it is a budget model. However, it has impressive features including:

  • Its HDMI ports support MHL. Consequently, you can play videos from your phone or use streaming sticks like Chromecast.
  • Supports video formats like AVI and MP4. It also supports many other formats such as JPEG  slideshows and play back MP3 collection. 
  • Its LED lighting guarantees 30,000 hours of use before being replaced.
  • Accurate video quality and brighter image.
  • Larger projection size (44 - 200 inches). It projects light between 4.9 - 18 feet.
  • An excellent cooling system and inaudible noise level.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

It has various connectivity options including two HDMI ports, different from any model with a single HDMI port. A 70p resolution leads to clear and detailed HD content not found in other projectors in the same price range. Contrary to high-end models, you will notice pixels at 1080p on large displays. It also has 3200 lumens which is not common at this price point.

What's not so good about it?

When watching a movie, a tiny black bar can be noticed at the bottom. The 3200 lumens are measured at the bulb; the actual images are dimmer contrary to expectations. Its built-in stereo speakers are not impressive, and an external speaker is recommended.

Pros:
  • Impressive resolution.
  • High-quality sound.
  • Sturdy construction.
  • Turns on quickly.
Cons:
  • A bit heavy.
  • No batteries in remote control.
  • Poor keystone correction.

8) iCodis G6 available for $449 on Amazon

Key features
  • Brightness: 3200 lumens 
  • Native resolution: 1280x800
  • Ports: HDMI, AV, USB port and VGA ports.
  • Projection size: 60 - 120 inches diagonally.

The iCodis G6 is a projector built by the Hong Kong Codis Electronics company Limited. It is perfect for classrooms, offices, home cinemas, and auditoriums. It uses DLP technology. 

Compared to projectors priced at more than $200, it is a budget model. It has some good features such as:

  • Clear and bright images for videos and other media. 
  • Several ports that can connect to several devices simultaneously.
  • An LED  light source that lasts 30,000 hours. 
  • A one year warranty, with an option for a replacement or refund within the period.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Different from most projectors, it adjusts pictures appropriately with its keystone function. The resolution and brightness are superior in comparison with other budget projectors. Compared to projectors of the same price, its light LED technology saves more energy. It has more brightness than the iCodis G7, but the same lamp lifespan. However, it is heavier than the iCodis G5 mini projector.

What's not so good about it?

The built-in speaker is good, but for outstanding results, an external speaker will be better. There's no analog connection, so equipment with an RCA jack is not compatible. It requires a dark environment. The fan noise is slightly audible.

Pros:
  • Bright image.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to use.
  • Good quality pictures.
Cons:
  • Slightly heavier.
  • No batteries in the remote.
  • Instructions not in English.
  • Doesn't support Bluetooth,

9) BenQ HT2550 available for $1223 on Amazon

Key features
  • Brightness: 2200 lumens
  • Contrast: 10000:1
  • Resolution: 4K UHD 3840X2160
  • CinemaMaster Audio + 2 technology

The BenQ HT2550 is a projector built by the BenQ Corporation. It measures 353x135x272 mm.

When compared to projectors costing less than $1000, it is an expensive model. It has the following good features:

  • Excellent 4K HDR images for a stunning cinema experience. 
  • Impressive image integrity and accurate colors.
  • High-quality sound without distortion.
  • Extended lamp life (up to 10,000 hours) that minimizes lamp maintenance and replacements.
  • Auto keystone correction adjusts appropriately to counter the trapezoid effect. 
  • You can get the actual distance to place the projector from the screen using the "Throw Distance Calculator".
  • Its design is functional and nice looking. 
  • The remote is easy to use and brightly backlit.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

Compared to some high-end models, it is not the brightest. It has an outstanding color accuracy, different from some models. The Optoma UHD50 is slightly cheaper, but the BenQ HT 2550 is better-built. Different from the Epson 4000, it is lighter and smaller, but the Epson 4000's 3D capability is brighter and higher.

What's not so good about it?

The USB port is not suitable for streaming files from a USB drive or hard drive. Although it is easy to set up the projector, mounting it from the ceiling requires a professional. Other devices cannot be connected through WI-FI. The contrast is not high enough. The fan has some noise, but it's not too excessive.

Pros:
  • Excellent colour accuracy.
  • Outstanding brightness,
  • Light and portable.
  • HDR support.
Cons:
  • Lowest contrast rating at its price range.
  • Limited port selection.
  • Expensive.

10) LG HU80KA

Key features
  • Resolution: 4K UHD 3840x2160
  • Brightness: 2500
    ANSI lumens
  • Screen size: Up to 150"
  • Supports HDR10

The LG HU80KA is a projector built by the LG Electronics. It weighs 14.8 lbs and measures 6.5"x18.5"x6.5" (WxHxD). 

Compared to projectors costing below $2000, it is an expensive model. Good features abound in this projector, like: 

  • Suitable for an environment with varied ambient lighting conditions.
  • Its laser lamp life is 20,000 hours without bulb replacement.
  • Allows wireless screen-sharing of videos from other compatible tablets or smartphones (over WI-FI).
  • Auto keystone corrects image distortions in seconds.
  • Varied audio options such as Digital Optical and Bluetooth.
  • Provides excellent sound system.
  • Due to its versatility, you can mount it to a wall, ceiling, place it on the floor, or conveniently carry it wherever.
  • It has some built-in apps including YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other outdoor projectors

At 2500 lumens, it is brighter than any other LG projectors. Its technology (Trumotion) enables you to watch movies and sports with greater clarity. At its price, it is the cheapest projector with laser light engine, HDR, and it's 4K compatible. Compared to others, its remote makes for timely navigation due to its gyro type technology. It has an unusual design, different from other projectors. It also has a good speaker and surround sound circuitry, contrary to some entertainment projectors. It is bigger and more expensive than the LG MiniBeam PF1000U.

What's not so good about it?

In bright rooms, there will be picture quality loss unless you include a good ALR screen. Laser projection is used, and as lasers are irreplaceable, if the lasers burn up, you will need a new projector. Also, its video-optimized lumen output is appropriate for viewing in a dark environment only.

Pros:
  • Portable.
  • Excellent 4K HDR image.
  • Easy setup.
  • Built-in smart TV feature.
Cons:
  • Complicated menu.
  • Not 3D compatible.
  • Lacks deep bass range.

In conclusion...

Outdoor projectors have many benefits and are ideal for your presentations or events. You can choose carefully from the broad range of models available by looking at your intended use for the projector and your budget. Consider appropriate features in a projector that are useful for your needs. For example, for a long lasting bulb, get a LED projector, and if you are in an ambient light environment, get a projector with more ANSI lumens. With these benefits, there is no reason to not utilize the benefits that outdoor projectors offer and get the best cinematic experience in your environment.