How To Choose The Best Outdoor Projector

If you are considering an outdoor movie projector for your backyard, then you will have indeed come to realize the choices are vast, and the whale experience is like tiptoeing through a minefield.

Where to start and what your money will buy are indeed dubious. Even after reading reviews, you can still be left feeling dazed and even shell-shocked by all the information out there.

Do you need to get involved with the physics of showing a movie in your backyard?

Most of us like our recreational time to be precisely that recreation and time to relax with our loved ones. Not calculating distances and worrying if I have just wasted my money.

The truth is you don’t have to get involved with all the calculations used by someone who runs a movie theater. You don’t want that, and I don’t want that for you.

There are some foolproof ways you can purchase a movie projector for your backyard without getting stressed.

First, you need to find a retailer you can trust and make sure they have a tech guy who you can turn to for advice.

Don’t get me wrong, and you don’t need to be a NASA scientist to figure this out. For the main part, it’s plugin tho the leading electricity, and then load your movie and enjoy.

Where to Start

Decide on what you would like to achieve and what your actual budget is. If the two are not aligned, then you will be disappointed at some point through the process, and the only person to blame will be you. I’m just telling the truth, don’t shoot the messenger.

Aspect Ratio

No need to be put off. You deal with the aspect ratio every time you switch on your tv. So as not to bore you with the ins and outs of the aspect ratio.

You have two choices: 4:3 or 16:9, and you will get the best results from the 16:9 aspect ratio. If you need to know more than you can search online, you will always come back to my recommendations as they will give you the very best results.

Selecting the wrong aspect ratio may be like watching your favorite movie through a letterbox.

Most screens are 16:9 ratio for a good purpose. It’s the aspect ratio that is most common for giving the best results.

You know what, if you are not sure, your retailer will be able to give you an in-depth overview of aspect ratios and may even give you a demo on two different projector setups.

Lumens

At some point, we have to have a conversation about Lumens and what they mean to you.

Keeping things simple, a lumen is a measure of brightness, and you may compare this to buying a 20-watt bulb to a 100-watt bulb. The 100-watt bulb is brighter. It’s not twice the brightness because the Lumens scale is not linear, but it is brighter.

There are many tables and charts for you to look at online, and if you can remember anything about them after ten minutes, you are a better person than me.

Like you, I’m not concerned about Lumens. I am concerned about the picture quality of my outdoor projector.

You see, there needs to be an optimal range from my projector. I don’t want to watch a movie outside with my friends in the pitch-black darkness.

I imagine that’s not the best viewing experience for anyone stumbling around in a strange garden, tiptoeing through the flower beds, and finding the bathroom. 

So what I need is something that can be used in ambient light. I need enough Lumens to have a sharp image that is clear and visible to everyone without the risk of tripping over the cat. 

So, now we know Lumens has to do with brightness. The fewer lumens you have, the less likely you will be able to see a clear image on a screen in ambient light.

How Many Lumens Do I Need To Get the Most Out of My Projector?

 If I am candid with you, you probably don’t need to worry about Lumens for your backyard movie set up.

 Most projectors have ample Lumens to do what you want and give a pleasurable experience unless? You have an older projector. Bulbs lose some of their Lumens as they age, and now is the time that Lumens will become a critical issue for you.

 Using a bulb with insufficient Lumens will provide you and your friends with a less than perfect viewing experience.

That’s an overview of Lumens, and I am sure you will agree it’s pretty easy to understand.

Resolution

All of this will be familiar to you by now, and I guess you are familiar with the terminology.

 Resolution is the clarity of the image you are viewing. The resolution is the number of pixels generated by the projector.

 A point of interest, it makes no difference if the movie is shot in HD. If your projector cannot generate enough pixels, then the movie will have less resolution in line with the projector’s output.

The more pixels we have, the better the image.

When selecting a projector to select an HD 1089 or, even better, a 4K version if it’s available.

 Lumens and resolution will determine the quality of the image you are viewing.

Things can get a little tricky with resolution as some of the statements may seem misleading, this is why a reputable dealer is an essential part of the purchase.

You may think you have hit the jackpot with your 1089 projector but, is that the native resolution?

You need to have the native resolution at 1089 or higher. Anything else other than native will give you less resolution.

Will you be watching live events in your backyard through your projector? Then you need to have full HD native resolution. Anything less will detract from the image.

Purchasing an outdoor projector with 1089 full HD will be more than enough for your backyard. You will be able to watch high-definition playbacks and watch with the same quality as an LED or LCD screen.

Bulb Life

Bulbs can be expensive, so having a bulb that will give you the performance and longevity you are looking for is essential when purchasing an outdoor projector.

What do the working hours of the bulb mean, and should I get hung up on the numbers?

Well, in my opinion, don’t get too engaged with the numbers, and here’s why.

A 30,000 hours bulb is going to last for almost three and a half years of continual watching.

40.000 hours will last for four and half years, and a fifty thousand hours bulb has almost the life of five years. Keep in mind this is continual usage. Your projector could become a family heirloom with these life spans!

On a serious note, when buying your outdoor projector, bulb life is a secondary consideration for most purchasers.

No one else will tell you that bulbs lose some of their Lumens output so, if you are still watching outdoors in a couple of years, you may want to change your bulb regardless of the life.

Projector Parts

You will need to understand how you are going to watch your movies in terms of how you will connect your mass storage device to the outdoor projector.

Select a projector that can have a wide range of port and adaptor connections.

  • USB sticks
  • Firesticks
  • Flash drives
  • External hard drives
  • Laptops and Computers
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • DVD players
  • BlueRay players

If your cab connects with any of the above, you have all avenues covered and will not have any problems with your connection.

Bluetooth

Projectors are evolving and with evolution always comes different benefits. An up-to-date outdoor camera will have Bluetooth connectivity, and Bluetooth takes a lot of hassle from connecting to the projector.

Not only can we achieve seamless storage device connections, but at some point, you will need to think about the audio system you will run.

Your projector will have inbuilt speakers, and in a small space, these may be adequate but not perfect.

Adding a Bluetooth audio system will make your life easier, and your backyard will look better with fewer cables trailed around and potential trip hazards.

For my money, Bluetooth is an important feature and should not be overlooked or discounted. Don’t sell last year’s stock, Do your research and know what’s current and the features available.

The additional cost is worth it, you will be able to live stream Netflix or Google Chromecast if you are close enough to a strong wi-fi connection.

It certainly costs more, but the benefits outweigh the additional cost just by setting up your surround sound system.

LED or LCD

Both have been around for some years and prove to be reliable. The LED has been around the longest and has provided excellent service.

LEDs tend to last longer, and when it comes to disposing of the bulb, the LED is more environmentally friendly than LCD.

Both offer excellent service, and for some reason, LCD is more common than LED, I guess LCD technology has moved faster. There is another option,

If you can afford DLP or think you will get value from it, then this is the ultimate in projection,

it is just a case of your choice and preference.

Portability

After you have a successful night showing movies in your backyard, you can almost be guaranteed that you will be approached to do another in one of your friend’s backyards. Maybe a kid’s party or sporting event.

It’s certainly a great honor and confirms the enjoyment and success of your outdoor movie event.

With this said, it’s a good idea to have the portability factor. If you can load your outdoor projector into a custom carry case, it will make life perfect.

There are lightweight units available that are perfect for moving around to different venues.

Keep in mind you will need to transport the screen, albeit inflatable, draped, or on a frame, but, with consideration, you can transport all of the equipment in the trunk of a family vehicle.

What Brand Should I Purchase?

I would normally tell you to buy the best brand that fits your budget, but with so many products just badged these days, you can find some unbranded units valued for money with all the features you require.

There are so many significant Chinese variants available that work fine, but what happens if they go wrong? Well, that will be between you and the retailer. If the retailer can’t support the product, then don’t buy it.

Back to factory warranties are useless if the factory is outside of your home country.

The upside of branded products is the guarantee means something. If the retailer cannot service the unit, a service center will be close by or within a reasonable shipping distance.

Final Thoughts

Selecting an outdoor projector is a minefield. There is no getting away from that fact. The best way to approach the issue is to look at your budget. If your budget is healthy, you may decide to purchase a branded projector with all the bells and whistles, and no one would be able to say anything against that decision.

My advice is to read online reviews from real users and read what their experiences are.

I can tell you there are some excellent projectors on the market with all the features you would want from an outdoor projector at a fraction of the cost of a branded unit.

Find a good retailer, speak with them, and find out what support they can give if the unit develops a fault and how long it will take to get repaired.

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