The Best Outdoor Projectors

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There is something so fun and magical about the idea of a backyard movie night, or a rooftop party with music videos playing, or watching Jaws out at the pool — OK, maybe not so much the last one but hang on a minute! Finding a great outdoor projector is no small task, but don’t worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you so you can get to those outdoor entertainment experiences as soon as possible.

When you’re using a projector indoors, odds are you have more control over the light in the room. The best condition for an in-home projector is total darkness; no light behind or in front of the screen you’re using. The great outdoors offers a variety of challenges to your projection possibilities that some pocket or indoor projectors simply can’t manage, so you’ll want to make sure you find one that is specifically designed to work outside.

We’ve pulled together a list of five projectors that will transfer your outdoor space into a cinematic destination with ease and efficiency. If you’re still unsure about what all the jargon means or what you’ll need for the environment you’re using it in, read on after the list and we’ll offer some tips and advice so you make the smartest, best purchase.

1. Editor's Pick: DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Video Projector

1. Editor's Pick: DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Video Projector
  • Maximum projection size of 176”
  • The fan is designed to be quiet so it doesn’t take away from your audio
  • Great value package option
  • Connecting your smartphone will require an adapter

Key Specs

Image Brightness: 50 ANSI
Image Contrast Ratio: 3800:1
Connector Types: TV BOX, HDMI, VGA, USB, AV, SD
Product Dimensions: 19.81 x 6.86 x 15.29 cm; 1.36 kg

If you’re looking for a one-stop purchase that will get you both an excellent quality projector and a projection screen, then look no further. These two items from DR. J Professional are both very lightweight and portable so you can get your entertainment station set up in no time. With virtually every input option available, there are so many ways to get content up on the screen. With a lamp life of 50 000 hours, this projector and screen combo will be a source of entertainment for literal years.

2. Runner Up: Bomaker Blutooth WiFi Projector

2. Runner Up: Bomaker Blutooth WiFi Projector
  • Comes with a tripod, carrying case, and projection screen
  • Takes five seconds to set up
  • Incredible contrast even when projected to the maximum 300”
  • Buyers report image issues after prolonged continuous use
  • Speakers are lacking in quality

Key Specs

Image Brightness: 150 ANSI
Image Contrast Ratio: 9000:1
Connector Types: VGA, AV Port, USB, HDMI
Product Dimensions: 25 x 20 x 9 cm; 2 kg

Do you want something with an easy setup without having to worry about all the extra stuff you have to plug into your outdoor projector just to be able to project something? Consider this sleek looking model from Bomaker. This projector comes with a Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter so that you can very easily cast anything from your phone directly onto a screen up to 50 times bigger.

3. Sleeper Pick: QKK Mini Projector

3. Sleeper Pick: QKK Mini Projector
  • The lamp can last for up to 13 years
  • Built in speakers offer stereo sound
  • Connecting your smartphone will require an adapter
  • Quality appropriately matches price

Key Specs

Image Brightness: 4500 Lux
Image Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
Connector Types: VGA, AV Port, USB, HDMI
Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 23.8 x 16.2 cm; 1.87 kg

This model from QKK offers a solid display of 32 to 176 inches, and with almost any port you could need, connecting anything from your phone to your video game console is possible with this outdoor projector. QKK designed a dual fan cooling system that quietly removes heat, so you won’t have to worry about the fan blocking out your content’s sound.

4. Best Portable: Bomaker 2021 Upgraded HD 1080P Projector

4. Best Portable: Bomaker 2021 Upgraded HD 1080P Projector
  • New upgraded model released this yea
  • Takes only three steps to mirror your phone to your projector
  • Comes with built-in 5W speakers, but easily supports external speakers
  • Netflix and some Apple exclusive apps block phone mirroring to projectors

Key Specs

Image Brightness: 6500 lumens
Image Contrast Ratio: 6500:1
Connector Types: VGA, Bluetooth, HDMI
Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 16.5 x 8.8 cm; 1.85 kg

Another outdoor projector from Bomaker, this is a great option for a hassle-free (read: cable-free) projection set up, as it’s both Bluetooth enabled (by way of complimentary dongle) and AirPlay compatible. While it’s a native 720p, it supports 1080p and can manage 4K. With a lamp life of 80 000 hours, you can rest easy that you’ll be able to have outdoor movie nights, video game nights, or parties for many years to come.

5. Also Consider: WiMiUS Outdoor Projector with WiFi and Bluetooth

5. Also Consider: WiMiUS Outdoor Projector with WiFi and Bluetooth
  • 4P keystone correction for better picture adjustment abilities
  • Comes with a free carrying case
  • Three-year warranty. If any problems happen in the first year, they’ll issue a replacement or a refund
  • Twice as heavy as others on this list
  • Casting streaming services are blocked by HDCP, but you can use an android TV stick plugged into the projector instead

Key Specs

Image Brightness: 7500 lumens
Image Contrast Ratio: 10000:1
Connector Types: VGA, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI, 3.5mm Audio
Product Dimensions: 39.7 x 29.3 x 16.4 cm; 3.29 kg

Finishing out our list is this awesome outdoor projector from WiMiUS. This is the ultimate wireless projector that stands apart for its wifi and Bluetooth capabilities as well as its native 1080p display (as opposed to 720p) and its support for 4K. It also has the strongest brightness and contrast we’ve seen, and a lamp life of a shocking 100 000 hours — also known as just over 11 years! You can easily watch anything from your computer or phone via Bluetooth or AirPlay, but you can also use Bluetooth to connect wireless speakers to achieve a better (and possibly surround) sound.

Tips & Tricks: Realities of Projection Sizes

One of the most attractive selling points with outdoor (or indoor) projectors is that they can reach display sizes up to, say, 300”. And I get it! Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl or see the new Hollywood Blockbuster at three hundred inches across? But there’s the pesky little issue of optics.

A projector sends out a cone of light from the lens to your screen (be it a wall, a bedsheet, or a dedicated projection screen), but the distance from the direct center of the cone to the screen is much shorter than from the edge of the cone. The dilemma is that the centre will always be able to be more focused than the outer edge of your picture.

To complicate this, most projectors will advise a distance to throw from — how far back from the screen to place your projector. Typically these distances will create a projection size much, much smaller than the maximum advertised size. For instance, if your projector comes with a screen that’s 100”, but advertises a possible 176”, odds are if you place your projector at the recommended throw distance, it will fit that 100”.

The reason they say they can reach these extraordinary large sizes is because they can, but the average viewer might not appreciate how fuzzy or washed out it may be. Projectors do come with adjustment dials to focus the image, but between the physical distance between the pixels as they spread out, and the fact that the light is only powerful enough to go so far, there’s only so much you can do.

For you movie or video game nights in the backyard, stick to the recommended sizes. Make sure your projector is less than 10’ from the screen, and try not to exceed 100”. You’ll want clarity in your picture and everyone will thank you. If you’re throwing a party and just want to have a slideshow of pictures or you wanna play music videos, go big! If the focus isn’t really the projection, why not go all out.

What Projection Screen to Use Outdoors

We’ll just say off the top that a real projection screen that is meant for projector use is ideal. They’re designed so that the front material is perfectly reflective so that the picture you see holds up the focus and the colour as well as possible, and they’re usually black-backed so that there’s no bleed through. As well, they’ll come with frames or grommets so that you can mount it and achieve the ideal tautness so that there’s no physical distortion.

If you don’t have the budget or want for a projection screen, a solid white wall is the next best bet, though that can be hard to find on the outside of a house. Basically what we’re saying is: a bedsheet is a cute idea but it will not look good, or at the very least, make sure there are many layers.

An outdoor projector is a great and fun way to share a movie or video game night, or to show off some pictures from that last vacation you took, with a big group of friends or family. With many great options that allow you to connect all of your favourite devices from your smartphone to gaming console, even your Bluetooth speakers, gathering outside has never been more easy and fun.

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