While there aren’t any projectors specifically made for the great outdoors there are models that work well as outdoor theater projectors featuring portability with carrying cases and a bit smaller in size.
There are two general types of projectors, full size which gives you a comprehensive list of functionality and superior picture quality, and pico, or handheld projectors that are very small, portable, and generally less expensive but a bit less powerful
This article will provide an overview on both with the backyard movie theater in mind. You’ll be having a 6 o’clock showing of Frozen for the neighborhood kids or watching Sunday Night Football with the gang in no time!
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There are a few features that make up full-size projectors that you’ll want to understand. Don’t worry…we’ll keep it simple and focused on an outdoor environment.
Simply put Lumens are the unit of measurement for a projector’s brightness. The larger the image the brighter the projector needs to be for a clear image, therefore, the more lumens a projector can put out, the clearer the images will be especially when ambient light is present. For backyard theater projecting 10 – 15 feet away from the screen is common. Look for a projector with 2000 lumens or greater for good picture quality.
It’s best to try to coordinate a projector’s resolution with the media player or source you’re going to be projecting. Most Blu-ray players output 1080P HD. Cable or satellite providers generally output 720P to 1080P. We recommend a projector’s resolution be 720P or greater for your backyard theater.
Self-explanatory lamp life represents the average life of the lamp in hours. 2000 to 4000 hours is a good rule of thumb depending on how often you’ll going to use your projector.
Connectivity / Video Sources
The last thing to consider is the number of options the projector has for connecting video sources. Remember this is for outdoor use so the less you have to connect and lug out to the backyard with cables and all ie. Blu-ray players the better.
What To Look For – At A Glance
Price Range: In general good entry level home theater projectors will run $300 – $500 and mid-level projectors from $600 – $900. Mid-level projectors will provide everything you’re looking and more for in an outdoor theater.
Lumens: at least 2000
Resolution: at least 720P (1080P preferred)
Light Source: LCD, DLP
Inputs: HDMI, USB, VGA
Lamp Hours: At least + / -2000 hours depending on frequency of use.
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Pico / Handheld Projectors
The advantages to Pico Projectors are that they are so portable. On the downside, they images of about 140″ is as large as they’ll project. Most had held or Pico projectors only weigh a couple of pounds and feature HDMI or VGA inputs.
There are plenty of manufacturers who’ve built LED and DLP capabilities into the latest projectors which can put out an image at around 100″ in low light. The higher end projectors reach upwards of 140″ which isn’t bad for hardware that is the size of your palm.
We like these in a backyard setting because they are battery powered and can run from 1 – 3 hours depending on the model. They are also obviously very portable making them an easy solution for your outdoor movie theater if you don’t mind the smaller picture size.
What To Expect – At A Glance
Price Range: $50 – $450 depending capabilities
Weight: 1 – 3 pounds
Battery Run Time: 1 – 3 hours
Light Source: LED, DLP
Inputs: HDMI or Mini-HDMI, VGA, USB, MicroSD Slot
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As you can see you don’t need to break the bank on projectors that will give you everything you need for your backyard theater. So find an outdoor theater projector and start enjoying while the weather is still nice!
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