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Summertime and the livin’s easy, or so the saying goes. And what could possibly be more sublime than watching a movie in your backyard, back patio or rooftop? The answer, of course, is nothing. Thanks to warmer weather, now is the perfect time to grab some friends, some food, some beach chairs and an outdoor projector to set up a movie night. We could speak at length about all the ancillary items that make a perfect outdoor viewing experience (from string lights to coolers), but we’ll save that for another write-up. Today we’re focusing on the number one item, the keystone piece to your summertime movie night, the projector.
Though we’ve covered projectors before, the following list is different in that these machines are well suited for outdoor use. Expect crisper colors, brighter whites and darker blacks. Expect robust machines that can handle the outdoors and fight whatever elements may try to ruin your movie. And expect to enjoy yourselves and your favorite films or shows like never before.
Before we start, let’s talk about Lumens. Every projector in our roundup lists the amount of lumens it brings to the table, which gives the level of brightness the projector can achieve. The higher the number, the brighter the projection. Therefore, if you plan on using your projector during the day, we’d recommend the absolute highest lumen count possible. However, you’ll have the best viewing experience if you start your movie, TV show or sporting event at sundown. Technology is good but it’s hard to fight the Sun head-to-head, so we’d recommend waiting until dusk before popping your popcorn and cracking open a cold one.
And while a blank sheet, or white wall should do the trick, we’d recommend picking up some Blackout Cloth or Projector Paint to ensure the best possible viewing experience.
1. ViewSonic PG800HD
It would be tough to top the ViewSonic PG800HD, which is why we put it first. This HD projector packs 5,000 Lumens and 1920 x 1080 resolution. If big, bright and beautiful is what you’re after with an outdoor projector, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than the ViewSonic PG800HD. Aside from the stellar picture quality, the PG800HD also features 1.3x optical zoom, which allows for more flexibility when installing, a massive speaker chamber for great built-in sound and a 3-year warranty, should any unforeseen issues arise. Though the built-in speakers pack a punch, we’d recommend connecting your PG800HD to home speakers via HDMI to feel the full effects of whatever show or event you’re watching. At just over $1,100.00, the ViewSonic is the most expensive projector on our list. But if it’s high-quality you want, you’ll find it with this device. Purchase: $1,161.35 on Amazon.
2. BenQ MH760
Coming in just a hair over $1,000, this projector from BenQ offers IMAX quality DLP projecting and 5,000 lumens at a reasonable price. The projector boats two 10W speakers that deliver solid sound from the unit itself. What’s more, this projector takes the pain out of setup with its centered lens and vertical lens shift. For those new to the projector game, this means that even if you’re set up the projector a little too close or too far from your screen, you can further tweak the lens without needing to up and move the actual device. For projector setup, installation can be a tricky maneuver and the BenQ all but eliminates that issue with their technology. Top it off with the fact that the device will shut off after 20 minutes of inactivity, because we all forget to turn off our devices sometimes, and you’re looking at a solid-bet for anyone looking to update their outdoor viewing experience. Purchase: $1,030.22 on Amazon.
3. Optoma HD27HDR
If you’re looking for a high-quality projector with 4K capabilities, especially one that is more fine-tuned for gaming, then this Optoma is right for you. Though not as bright as the BenQ or ViewSonic PG800HD, this Optoma boasts 3,400 lumens, an impressively long lamp life of 15,000 hours and impeccably crisp 1080p (1920×1080) resolution. Which is to say, for almost half the price of the ViewSonic above, you’re getting the same amount of resolution and six times the lamp life. And with its simplified installation thanks to Vertical keystone correction and a 1.1x zoom, you’ll find the Optoma is an easy projector to get up and running. Purchase: $579.00 on Amazon.
4. ViewSonic PJD7828HDL
Another great projector by ViewSonic, the PJD7828 boasts 1080p HD quality at 3,200 lumens, which, isn’t the highest on our list, but should hold up just fine under the cover of darkness. What’s more, like it’s pricer cousin above, this ViewSonic comes with a 3-year warranty for parts and labor and a 1-year warranty on the lamp. On top of the strong warranty and picture quality, this ViewSonic also has one of the best ratings of any projector on our list. At this writing, the ViewSonic PJD7828HDL has an impressive 4.5-stars on Amazon, with 74% of users giving the inexpensive projector a perfect 5 out of 5. If you’re looking for a sturdy piece of machinery with a quality warranty for an affordable price, this projector is a great option. Purchase: $549.99 on Amazon.
5. VANKYO Leisure 510
With 3,500 lumens, this projector from VANKYO isn’t as bright as our top selections, but at $189.99 out the door, it’s an unbelievable deal. For one fifth of the price as the ViewSonic or Optoma, you get 1280×768 resolution, a 3000:1 contrast ratio a, 3-year warrant and a 3-month money back guarantee. All of this is to say, you won’t get the top of the line specs from the projector, but you’ll get a quality projector that can handle outdoor movies, games and TV, for a price that is unrivaled by anything else we’ve found. And with a 4.6-star average rating on Amazon (with 76% of users giving it 5-stars) and 50,000hrs of lamp life, it’s hard to imagine a better starter projector. Purchase: $189.99 on Amazon.