7 Best Projectors for Backyard Movies

Outdoor

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Picking the best projector for backyard movies is nothing short of a Herculean task—especially if you’re on a tight budget—but it’s well worth the effort. After all, outdoor projectors make movie nights so much more thrilling than they are in your living room—what’s better than watching your favorite flick under the stars, soothed by the night breeze?

However, you’ll only get the best backyard movie experience if you go for a good outdoor projector. Regardless of your budget, there are projectors at every price point that offer stunning visuals to really make the latest blockbuster pop.

best projectors for backyard movies

When choosing the right projector for backyard movies, there are a lot of things to consider. Some projectors may offer impressive specs, but be the wrong fit for your setup, and we hate the hassle of returning and repurchasing until you find your perfect fit as much as you do.

That’s why we’ve done the legwork and selected some of the best projectors for backyard movies in this list just for you.

Before we start reviewing our picks, though, we’ll look at the things you need to consider when buying a projector for outdoor use to ensure you pick the best outdoor projector for you.

What to Consider When Buying A Good Projector for Outdoor Use

Below is a collection of important things to consider before spending a dime on an outdoor projector to help you make the right pick based on your preferences.

Brightness

The brightness of a projector is a very important thing to consider. A brighter projector will provide clearer pictures and more immersive experience. The lumen number of a projector determines how bright the projector will be; the higher the lumens, the brighter the projector. The brightest projectors offer above 3000 ANSI lumens. You can set up these projectors e before sunset, and still get a clear picture. Perfect for cookout viewing!

Resolution

Resolution determines the picture quality of the film being projected on the screen. To enjoy a movie outdoors, you will need a projector with a good resolution—in an indoor environment, this would be 1080p. However, the beauty of outdoor projectors is that being further away from the screen means the picture will still be clear enough to watch even if you go below 1080p. Nevertheless, you should always go for something that produces clear, bright images.

Throw distance

When buying a projector, you need to consider how far it will be placed from the screen. This is known as the throw distance. The setup of your outdoor theater will determine the required throw distance of the projector. Outdoor projectors with a short throw distance must sit close to the screen, while those with a long throw distance can sit further away from it.

Connectivity

Choosing a projector with a lot of connectivity options allows you to connect all your favorite devices during movie night. When picking a model, check whether your devices need HDMI, VGA, or USB ports for connectivity and ensure your chosen projector can support that. For maximum versatility, why not purchase a projector that boasts all three?

Projection Type

There are three types of projection; DLP projection, LCD projection, and LCOS projection. LCOS projectors are the best quality options to go for, but they are also the most expensive options. DLP projectors also provide great-quality projection, but they too are very costly for the average consumer. LCD projectors are the most affordable option available, but you do sacrifice some quality for the lower price point.

Projection Size

Some projectors can project movies up to 300 inches. While this might sound just right if you’re hosting a large crowd, you might want to consider the drop in brightness and image quality at this screen size. Usually, the ideal projection size is just below 250 inches for most projectors. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you may have to think a little smaller, as most budget-friendly projectors have an ideal projection display of 120 inches.

Audio Jack

The 3.5mm audio-out jack is a very important connectivity option you should not overlook. Outdoor projectors do come with inbuilt speakers, but most of these speakers are not powerful enough to offer good audio during viewing.  For this reason, many users opt to use independent speakers to boost the sound quality, but you can only do this if the projector has an audio jack or supports wireless connectivity. Some projectors, especially those with LCD display technology, do not support the 3.5mm audio-out port or wireless connectivity, so a cheaper option may not give you the cinematic sound you deserve.

Best Projectors for Backyard Movies: Our Top 7 Picks

1. Epson Home Cinema 730HD

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI
  • Display Technology: LCD
  • Image Brightness: 3000 lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 12000:1
  • Resolution: 720p 1280 x 800
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • Wide throw distance.
  • Great image quality.

Cons

  • The projector lacks connectivity options.

Our Review

With an image brightness of 3000 lumens, the Epson Home Cinema offers you premium picture quality, even in daylight. You can set up this projector on your lawn while the sun is still up, and lose yourself in your favorite movie marathon.

The Epson Home Cinema can project up to 300 inches, which is great news if you’re one for large gatherings. At 720p, the resolution isn’t the highest but is still ample to provide a clear picture in long-range projection setups.

The projector makes use of LCD display technology—though not as advanced as other projectors, it gets the job done, and should offer you a great viewing experience during use.

Sadly, this model also lacks some of the distinct features you can find in many advanced projectors. One of those features is multiple connectivity options, but fortunately for you, the HDMI port in this projector can handle most of your data transfers.

The Epson Home Cinema also lacks an audio-out jack, meaning that boosting your audio experience with independent speakers isn’t possible. Nevertheless, it is still a great projector with an affordable price tag, and a level of quality and performance that is guaranteed by its 2-year warranty.

2. BenQ HT2050A 1080P Home Theater Projector

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Image Brightness: 2200 lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 15000:1
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Warranty: 3 years (limited)

Pros

  • Lots of connective options.
  • Great image quality.

Cons

  • On the expensive side for most households.

Our Review

The BenQ HT2050A has almost everything a great outdoor projector should—1080p resolution, accurate color, DLP display technology, superior picture quality, and flexible connectivity all make this projector perfect for backyard movies. However, it’s not quite too good to be true.

For a projector, the level of brightness—demonstrated by the lumen number—is everything. The higher the lumen number, the brighter it will be, and the brighter it is, the clearer the images will be in daylight. The BenQ HT2050A has 2200 lumens, and doesn’t meet our 3000-lumen recommendation for an outdoor projector.

Fortunately, this doesn’t affect the performance of the projector, as its DLP technology and 1080p resolution produces only crystal-clear images. It can project on a 100-inch screen from exactly 8 feet away, which should allow you to host a large crowd. If you need a bigger projection, don’t sweat it! The BenQ HT2050A can project up to 300 inches; just make sure your setup allows for the projector to be further away to make it happen.

While its projection capability is similar to the projection size of many other projectors, the BenQ HT2050A stands out due to its higher image quality—which is exactly why it made our list.

The BenQ HT2050A also offers a wide range of connectivity options, and supports most media players.

While its high image quality and accurate color rendering are definite reasons for you to fall in love with this projector, its low lumen number could pose a problem for those that like to watch movies outside during the day. Despite this, though, it’s a great outdoor projector with a reasonable price tag for the quality.

3. ViewSonic PJD5555W 3300 Lumens WXGA HDMI Projector

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI, VGA, USB
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Image Brightness: 3300 lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 20000:1
  • Resolution: 1280×800
  • Warranty: 3 years (limited)

Pros

  • Produces bright pictures even in daylight.
  • Lots of connective options.
  • Great image quality.
  • Exceptional contrast.

Cons

  • Quite expensive.

Our Review

The ViewSonic PJD5555W is a great projector to go for, especially if you’re willing to spend a small fortune on a high-quality projector. With it, viewing has never been better. Its 3300 lumens ensure you get the brightest picture, even in broad daylight. When this is partnered with its DLP display technology, clear, bright images that can offer you a thrilling viewing experience are guaranteed.

The projector also supports various connectivity options, including HDMI, VGA, and USB. The ViewSonic PJD5555W is able to project up to 110 inches from 12 feet away, and 270 inches from 30 feet away. So long as you have a spacious setup, you’ll still get sharp, clear, and bright images no matter the screen size.

The ViewSonic PJD5555W is compatible with most media players—including DVD players, Amazon FireTV, Blu-ray players, AppleTV, and Google Chromecast. You wouldn’t get that level of connectivity and versatility from lower-cost projectors that use LCD display technology.

With so many amazing features, you might begin to wonder if the ViewSonic PJD5555W will live up to the hype, so we decided to look deeper into the reviews left by people who have used the projector. When we did, we were definitely impressed!

The ViewSonic PJD5555W is just as good in real life as it is on paper. Although it boasts a heftier price tag, you’ll be sure to experience superior quality and durability in return, including innovative features like fast rotating color wheels and advanced color technology to make the rainbow effect that plagues most DLP projectors a thing of the past.

Overall, the pros of this projector far outweigh the cons. If you can make your budget work, go for it!

4. Epson VS240 SVGA 3LCD Projector

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI
  • Display Technology: 3LCD
  • Image Brightness: 3000 lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 15000:1
  • Resolution: 800×600 (SVGA)
  • Warranty: 2 years (limited)

Pros

  • Quite affordable.
  • Produces clear pictures even in daylight.

Cons

  • Relatively few connectivity options.

Our Review

Epson is known to produce some of the best quality projectors on the market today, which is why we have more than one of their products on our list.

The Epson VS240 uses LCD display technology to display images, and while it can’t be compared to that of DLP projectors, the Epson VS240 produces sharp, clear picture quality from a good distance away

This projector is able to project movies up to 100 inches without any impact on picture quality. While we love the image quality and color accuracy on this projector, we didn’t love the sound quality offered by its internal speakers; we highly recommend using external speakers if you want to get good audio quality from this projector, but they will need to be wireless—it lacks audio output, which we’ve found to be quite common with Epson projectors.

The Epson VS240 offers the perfect brightness level, with a lumen number of 3000. This means you can set up the projector in broad daylight and still get a clear, bright image.

With a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, this projector will give you high-quality pictures, especially when used in the dark. While there are other projectors on this list with better resolution, the VS240’s is ample due to its brightness levels.

Looking at all the features and the price tag of this projector, we consider it to be one of the best picks for an everyday user looking for a projector that produces bright, clear images without costing a fortune. However, if you plan to use this projector for more than just projecting movies outdoors, then the resolution may be more of a drawback—especially if you’re planning to use it for presentations or surf the web with it.

5. Epson VS330

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI
  • Display Technology: LCD
  • Image Brightness: 2700 lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 10000:1
  • Resolution: 1024×768 (XGA)
  • Warranty: 1 year (limited)

Pros

  • Quite affordable.
  • Good brightness levels.

Cons

  • Few connectivity options.
  • Lack of versatility.

Our Review

The Epson VS330 is another great projector from Epson—and yes, like its siblings, this projector uses LCD display technology, but Epson’s great reputation speaks for itself.

While LCD display technology doesn’t match up to the likes of DLP, Epson’s offerings remove the worry of the rainbow effect that has become increasingly common with DLP projectors. Most users love the image quality, brightness level, and the longevity of the bulbs on in Epson projectors.

The Epson VS330 is no exception to this, offering 2700 lumens both for color light output and white light output. While this lumen number is lower than our recommended brightness level for an outdoor projector, you should receive bright images while using this projector in the dark, and again, it’s sufficient given the low price.

A resolution of 1024×768 (XGA) promises clear, high-quality movie projections. However, if you’re projecting detailed diagrams or chunks of smaller text—in a presentation, for example—we suggest opting for a projector with a higher resolution.

The main connectivity option on the projector is the HDMI port. This should handle all your viewing needs…and even allow you to play video games through the projector!

If you’re on a tight budget and you need an affordable projector that will give you a satisfying outdoor movie experience, then you must give the Epson VS330 a try.

6. DR. J Professional HI-04

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI, VGA, USB, TV BOX, AV, SD
  • Display Technology: LCD
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
  • Resolution: 1080p supported

Pros

  • Very affordable.
  • Supports multiple connectivity options.
  • Provides excellent image quality.

Cons

  • Brightness levels need improvement.

Our Review

The DR. J Professional HI-04 is one of the most popular projectors on the market, and one of the reasons for that is its insanely affordable price. At its price range, you would expect this projector to come with impacted features, like low-quality images, low brightness levels, and few connectivity options. Surprisingly, the DR. J Professional HI-04 offers much more than a projector at its price tag otherwise might.

Judging by the reviews, most users can’t help but wonder how they got so much value for such a low price. Breaking the mold of an affordable projector, the DR. J Professional HI-04 supports a resolution of 1080p, which we have otherwise only seen from the more expensive projectors on this list. It also supports multiple types of inputs and outputs, including HDMI, USB, and audio-out.

For a mini projector, the DR. J Professional HI-04 sure can handle a lot of surface area! It can project up to 170 inches, though the optimal screen size for best display and image quality is 120 inches.

Just like most outdoor projectors, the built-in speakers on this projector leave a lot to be desired, so we’d recommend using external speakers to give your movie night a truly cinematic feel.

The brightness levels of this projector are good enough to project bright images in the dark, but it may not be the best pick for you if daytime viewing is your bag.

Despite this, the DR. J Professional HI-04 remains one of the best low-cost options out there for every user on a tight budget to consider.

7. Optoma HD26

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Features

  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI, MHL, Wireless
  • Display Technology: DLP
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 25000:1
  • Resolution: 1080p, 1920x1080p pixels
  • Image Size: 8 inches-305 inches
  • Lamp Life (Hours): 6,500/6,000/5,000

Pros

  • Powerful inbuilt speakers.
  • Supports multiple connectivity options.
  • Offers excellent image quality.

Cons

  • Rainbow effect present.

Our Review

The Optoma HD26 offers features that make it one of the most exceptional projectors on our list. If you are willing to spend more on a high-quality projector, then this is definitely a strong contender for you to consider.

When it comes to brightness, the Optoma HD26 packs 3200 lumens, supported by a contrast ratio of 25,000:1. Together, they produce bright, clear images that create stunning visuals even in broad daylight. A 1080p FHD resolution ensures that these stunning images are sharp enough to do the clarity justice.

The Optoma HD26 is able to project up to 300 inches, but its ideal projection display is about 220 inches, which is still plenty to broadcast a blockbuster at your next gathering. The projector offers two HDMI ports to connect your video playback devices, and you can also use these ports to play videos from your smartphone, laptop, and tablet.

The projector also comes with a 3.5mm audio output port that supports independent speakers, but we think its 10W internal speaker should be loud and clear enough to give you a satisfying viewing experience on its own.

Unfortunately, we did notice some flaws in this projector, including some unnatural-looking color settings, and a rainbow effect during projection, which is very common with DLP projectors, However, we wouldn’t say this was a deal-breaker by any means.

Compared to other projectors offering the same features, the Optoma HD26 stands out, making for the perfect pick for those who can invest a little more into a top-quality viewing experience. In addition to that, this particular projector is more affordable than most options with exactly the same (or even fewer) features, meaning it might well be your perfect match.

In summary you can expect clear, sharp pictures, multiple connectivity options, high brightness levels, and a wide-ranging capability for projection screen sizes if you decide to go for this projector.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best projector for you can be tough, especially when there are a lot of manufacturers offering attractive specs and prices to wade through.  Hopefully, our top 7 picks will help you beat the jargon to identify the features you really need and offer a few examples of various features and price points in an effort to narrow down your search for the best projector for backyard movies.

The options listed above should cover something for every buyer, including those who are on a tight budget, and those seeking a projector that will serve them well for many years—and movies—to come.


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