Let’s face it, we all wish we had a home cinema room, and never more so in the past year when a trip to the theater has become nothing but a distant memory. But there’s an affordable option - creating an outdoor theater in your very own backyard with a great outdoor projector. Capable of offering support for 4K, HDR and more, they really are the next best thing.
We’ve rounded up some of the very best projectors on offer right now, and each of them offer something that makes them recommendable. Does audio quality matter a lot to you? Or do you want the very best picture quality (or both?!)? Some also have 3D capabilities that will take your movie night to the next level and, if you’re keen on smart home products, then make sure to take into account connectivity. Scroll down to see what we thought.
Of course, if you’re not sure about incorporating an outdoor theater into your set-up quite yet (or you’re not enjoying the right kind of weather), then take a look at our guide to the best TVs for your lounge, so you can still enjoy your next Netflix binge at home.
The best outdoor projector 2021
This projector boasts an amazing 4K resolution, boosted audio, an intense brightness and a focus on sports broadcasts, which really helps it to stand out from the crowded projector market.
True 4K UHD with HDR-PRO
This projector is a top pick for sports enthusiasts, as well as anyone who appreciates a very impressive picture. You can replicate the football games in your living room, or backyard, to create the ultimate stadium experience. This model even comes with Custom Sports modes, with powerful sounds, for that all around home cinema experience.
The HDR-PRO technology works with the 4K HDR to enhance the viewing experience, offering a wider field of contrast to bring out every detail of the scenes as they unfold.
When the projector must be placed off-center, for example, placing it on a table on uneven ground, the vertical keystone function will adjust the image so it is ideally aligned for viewing.
Featuring a powerful 10-watt chambered speaker, this projector will enhance the sound of your games, movies and favorite shows, whether you're in or outside the house.
This is an excellent budget option if you're looking for something to set up for the occasional movie night in the backyard. It has one of the highest ratings on Amazon (4.8 out of 5) with reviewers raving about the image quality, how easy it is to set-up and are impressed with the audio, especially at this price.
Clear, bright image
This compact projector packs a big image. It has a 720P Native Resolution and Full HD 1920 x 1080 Support which will display a clear, dynamic, and realistic reproduction of your media content.
And it's a bright image at that, too. It's been upgraded to feature 4500 Lux image brightness and, using the latest Eye-Protective technique and Higher-Definition glass lens, dark areas on the 100in screen are minimized for the ultimate immersive viewing experience.
You can connect your smartphone, tablet and / or Mac to this video projector so you can stream content directly from your device. You'll just need to buy an additional cable to do this, unless you already have one.
Alternatively you can connect to your laptop, DVD player, MicroSD card or USB for playback of your favorite movies, series, and games. The best part? When running your content you can control it from a separate remote control but, as one reviewer points out, you'll need to buy a couple of AA batteries for this, too.
With a brightness upgrade and dual stereo speakers, this projector from DBPower gets our vote for the best projector for audio outdoors.
With a brightness upgrade from 4200Lux to 5000Lux, the DBPOWER L21 offers incredible image clarity with bright, bold colors and deep, dark hues which will rival comparable projectors on the market.
It also features a native resolution 1280*720p and 1920*1080p supported, and the latest LED source technology, without inflicting the same optical harm as TVs, laptops, and tablets.
Hi-Fi stereo sound
Boasting integrated dual stereo speakers you'll have a surround sound style experience, even outdoors, which makes it an awesome choice for parties (post-lockdown) and movies nights.
If you're looking for an outdoor projector from a top brand at a price that won't set you back thousands, this BenQ projector is a popular model that's half the price of our top pick.
Enjoy your favorite films in 3D
Calibrated for cinematic color, this projector is perfect for watching films, and with 3D compatibility you can even watch your favorite characters pop out in your backyard, too.
Impressive sound system
The projector comes with powerful 10W MaxxAudio speakers installed. With both HDMI and USB imports, this projector is great for Blu-rays and smart sticks.
This projector is another good option if budget is tight, and it comes highly recommended on Amazon with reference to an easy setup and good picture quality, too.
This model is an upgrade from one of the best selling projectors at GooDee, and they've upgraded the lumens to make it a whole lot brighter. Together with the 3000: 1 contrast ratio and wider viewing, you'll be able to enjoy this bigger, brighter image in low light or in an outdoor spot like the backyard.
Large viewing screen range
This projector works on a wide variety of screen sizes, with a viewing screen range of 44"-230", at distances of 4. 9ft - 18ft. It works optimally with a 98" screen at a distance of 10 ft. away.
This video projector can easily connect to a range of devices: Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, PC, laptop, tablet, and so on, via the HDMI, USB, VGA and AV ports. (Phew! That's a lot of entertainment coverage, right there!) So, with this in mind, you can not only stream content from a range of devices but you could also set up some surround sound with 2 built-in 3W speakers, too.
If you're looking for a portable projector to use around your house or backyard then this projector from Vankyo should fit the bill.
Big, bright picture
This 2019 model underwent a tech update, so it now projects a 6 percent brighter picture than what it achieved before. It's also been updated with the 2018 revolutionary renewed 2400 lumens for an incredible picture quality.
You can choose to watch your favorite movies on any screen sizes from 32in, right up to a massive 170in. And you can pretty much position it anywhere within viewing range thanks to a projection distance of between 4.9ft to 16.4ft.
Setup is mega easy with a HDMI lightning cable for iPhone, plus a MHL cable for Android, although you will have to buy these separately to take advantage of the connection.
Alternatively you can easily stream content from the Amazon Fire TV stick, video consoles, PCs, laptops (etc) with the HDMI input.
If you're looking for the best 4K viewing outdoors, and you're prepared to pay the hefty price tag, then this is the projector for you.
Enjoy a truly stunning visual experience
For your money, you're guaranteed to receive stunning 4K quality and incredible color contrasting. This means enjoying your favorite film and TV series in the best possible quality.
And impressive sound
As well as a stunning visual experience, this model also boasts impressive stereo sound. This is where the Optoma UHD60 really makes an impression compared with other models on the market.
Arguably, this is the kind of stereo you buy for your cinema room (it’s hard to justify the outlay otherwise), but when you want to benefit from the full 4K quality of your Blu-ray DVDs outside, this is the kind of money you’re going to have to spend.
Read next: the best patio furniture sales to finish off your outdoor oasis
How to choose the best outdoor projector
Where to buy the best outdoor projector
When it comes to choosing the best outdoor projector to suit your needs, there are a few factors worth careful consideration.
For a projector to provide a quality image outside, 2,000 lumens is the lowest you can go in terms of brightness. Outdoor projectors should also playback in at least HD resolution to ensure the picture is of reasonable quality.
Aside from those fairly important tech specs, consider whether you’ll need to purchase a screen or whether the side of the house or your garage door will do.
Film source and sound
Consider the source of your film – will you need to bring a laptop or games console outside? Many outdoor projectors have limited volume so some good outdoor speakers will also always help, especially if you are broadcasting to a crowd. Browse our list of the best outdoor speakers to connect with your projector.
Also note: most outdoor projectors are not compatible with Dolby Digital, so if you find that you're having trouble with sound, turn off Dolby Digital on your device.
How to create a cosy outdoor cinema
If you want to recreate an outdoor cinema from summers past then all you really need are a few things which are probably already in the house. Technically, a sheet, or a white wall and an outdoor projector is all that's required, but we think it's the extras that make it all the more special plus a little imagination...
Step one: set up the outdoor projector
It's best to do this first because it might determine where you can set up your outdoor cinema. You will have to have it connected to a video source so do that first so you can work out how far away from the source you can have it. Pop it on a side table and a stool and then you can move on to sorting out your screen.
Step two: rig up your sheet
Obviously, if you have a blank white wall in your backyard you can skip this step because you will be projecting straight onto that. If you are using a sheet, we think the least damaging way to get it up is to peg it to a washing line – you could try using a very strong masking tape to tape it to a wall too.
Turn on your projector now and check it's straight and the picture is central.
Step three: get decorating
So with the essentials sorted now comes the fun bit, making it look like the most Instagrammable thing you have ever created in your life. Basically that means string up A TON of fairy lights, the more the better. We love the look of festoon lights and you could also add some lanterns to create even more of a lovely glow. And if you are feeling really extra, bring out you duvet and hang up a net canopy to create an almost outdoor bedroom. Dreamy!
Make sure your garden furniture is extra comfy by adding plenty of cushions and roll out an outdoor rug to create an even more outdoor living room feel. Pop some blankets in baskets and over the back of your furniture, and if you want to get really cosy add a fire pit or a chimenea. You could even toast some marshmallows – kids and adults alike would love it!
What is the best outdoor projector?
If you want the best outdoor projector (in our opinion) then we wouldn't hesitate to buy the BenQ TK850 Projector. It has an out-of-this-world 4K resolution, boosted audio, an intense brightness and a focus on sports broadcasts so, really, it has the complete package for a fab movie marathon in the backyard.
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