The 5 Best Outdoor Movie Projectors 2020 [By Experts]

Choosing a projector that you can use outdoors isn’t an easy task. You need to make sure you end up getting a good image quality with a certain brightness and contrast criteria.

Going through this guide will help you know how to pick an excellent outdoor movie projector so that you can invite your favorite people over, use some cozy blankets, and enjoy your evening.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss the best outdoor movie projectors that will allow you to have a satisfying movie experience.

List of The Best Outdoor Movie Projectors 2020

  • DR J Professional HI-04 1080P – Best Overall
  • ViewSonic PA503S – Best Brightness
  • Epson VS240 – Best Budget High-Quality Projector
  • Optoma HD142X – Best 3D Outdoors Projector
  • BenQ W1070 DLP HD 1080p – Best Projector With a Vertical Lens

Outdoor Projector Comparison Table

NameEpson VS240ViewSonic PA503SDR J Professional HI-04 1080POptoma HD124XBenQ W1070 
Lumens30003600200030002000
Resolution800 x 600 SVGA800 x 600 SVGA840 x 480Supports 1920 x 1080 Full HD1920 x 1080 Full HD1920 x 1080 Full HD
Contrast Ratio15,000:122,000:12,000:123.000:115,000:1
Display TechnologyProjector system: 3LCD, 3-chip technologySuperColor TechnologyLCD, Diffuse Reflection TechnologyDLPDLP

The Best 5 Outdoor Movie Projectors

1. DR J Professional HI-04 1080P – Best Overall

DR J Professional HI-04 1080P

Design

It is one of the most portable devices because it has a small size, which makes it easy to carry around anywhere you want. It is white and weighs 3 pounds.

One of the best features of the projector is that it supports all kinds of functions customers may need. It has an HDMI port, VGA port, TF cards, AV in/out, and it’s compatible with USB drives, PS4, XBOX, Blu Ray DVD player, SD cards, TV Box, and of course PCs.

Performance

The projector has a portable smartphone connection, so you will be able to connect it to your IOS or Android devices. This means that you will be able to use it outdoors, even if you forgot your USB at home just by uploading your files online.

Another primary reason why this projector is suitable for outdoor movies is the technology of the screen. It has a five-layer well-grinding LCD lens that provides a clear resolution in addition to the diffuse reflection technology, so even if you watched for a lot, your eyes wouldn’t feel fatigued.

Add to this, the advanced cooling system the projector has with the latest dual-fan cooling technology.

The last reason why we think this projector is suitable to use outdoors is the built-in stereo speakers. Unlike the four projectors mentioned below, the speakers are amazing, and you will be able to enjoy your movie night without connecting the projector to external speakers.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Supports HD
  • Diffuse reflection technology
  • Dual fan cooling technology
  • Built-in stereo speakers

Cons:

  • A little expensive

Final Verdict

DR J Professional HI-04 1080P is the best projector for outdoor movies on our list. It might be a bit pricey, but it is worth the money you will be paying, and you will get to have a joyful time with your family and friends.

2. ViewSonic PA503S – Best Brightness

ViewSonic PA503S

Design

This projector is not promoted as a portable projector because it weighs 7 pounds. It is on the list of heavy projectors, even if it is not the heaviest.

The design features a manual zoom, which makes it easy to set-up. There is a power cable included with the projector as well as a VGA cable and remote control.

Performance

The performance of the projector is the main reason it is suitable for your outdoor movie theater. You will love how bright the display is, coming at 3600 Lumens, it is the brightest projector on our list.

The lamp life is promoted as 15,000 hours. However, this is only true if you use it in Eco-mode. This mode allows you to use the projector in its lowest brightness, which negates its beast feature, so it is better to use it in the Normal mode even if it brings the lamp life back to 5,000 hours.

Also, it has a high contrast ratio and all this for a reasonable price, which makes it an exceptional value for money.

Again, just like the Epson VS240, the internal speakers are weak. The throw ratio is low as well, which means that you will need to set it up away from the screen to get the right image.

Pros:

  • Super bright display
  • Many connectivity options like HDMI, VGA, and mini-USB
  • A zoom in/out feature
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Weak internal speakers
  • Low throw-ratio

Final Verdict

ViewSonic PA503S is one of the best outdoor projectors. It is excellent for backyard movie nights because of its high brightness.

You might need to set it up away from the screen because it has a low throw-ratio yet, once you set it up, you will be able to have an outstanding movie experience.

3. Epson VS240 – Best Budget High-Quality Projector

Epson VS240 SVGA 3LCD Projector

Design

The projector is white and black. It has rounded corners and weighs only 5.29 pounds, which makes it a portable projector that you can use outdoors. The only disappointing thing when it comes to the design is that it lacks a carrying case, which makes it more vulnerable.

Performance

Generally, the colors are bright enough for you to watch a movie outside. It has a resolution of 800×600 SVGA. There is no distortion in the images whatsoever, thanks to their 3-chip technology. The projector is easy to set up and can display images within 30 to 40 seconds, reaching full brightness.

Unfortunately, the sound system isn’t one of the best out there, and you will need to connect it to external speakers to have a better experience. However, it is free of rainbow artifacts, which is something that a lot of users admire.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Low cost for replacement bulbs
  • USB plug

Cons:

  • Weak audio output
  • No optical zoom
  • No 3D capability
  • No carrying case
  • Doesn’t come with an HDMI cable

Final Verdict

The Epson VS240 is an entry-level projector that covers all the bases you need when you are setting your outdoor home cinema. It’s portable, and you can easily fit it in a suitcase. And it does it all at a perfect price.

4. Optoma HD142X – Best 3D Outdoors Projector

Optoma HD142X 1080p

Design

Optoma doesn’t change its designs a lot, and their projectors all have a black color with a grated plastic on the top. It is 5.5 pounds, which makes it on the list of our portable projectors that you can use outdoors.

Performance

The projector has five modes and HD resolution. What makes it stand out from the other projectors is the excellent 3D performance. The colors feel natural, and the contrast ratio is quite impressive.

The only disappointing thing about its display is the DLP rainbow effect.

As expected with most projectors, the audio experience the Optoma HD142X provides isn’t impressive.

If you have external speakers, then this projector is an affordable option and will do a great job outdoors because it keeps a good contrast in ambient light.

The fan can be loud, especially if the temperature reaches the 80s.

Pros:

  • Well defined shadows and highlights
  • Impressive 3D performance
  • Bright display with natural colors
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • DLP rainbow effect
  • Audio quality
  • Fan noise

Final Verdict

Optoma HD142X is an entry-level projector, and you can have a great movie night experience using it. It doesn’t have the best speakers, and the fans may get a little loud, but it has an impressive HD resolution, and the contrast is steady in ambient light.

5. BenQ W1070 DLP HD 1080p – Best Projector With a Vertical Lens

BenQ W1070

Design

The BenQ w1070 has an attractive design with silversides. It is maintained on a roof port. The reason it is on our list is that it has a vertical lens shift, which is something that most projectors at this price range lack.

It supports HDMI input ports, Audio in/out Blu-Ray videos and S-video.

Performance

It provides a brightness range of 2000 lumens, which made us a little skeptical. However, the visuals are quite impressive.

There is a SmartEco mode on which the shadows are well defined, and the color tones feel more natural. The 3D image is clear, and the contrast is still strong in ambient light.

Pros:

  • Vertical lens shift screw
  • Natural colors
  • High image quality
  • Excellent 3D performance

Cons:

  • Manual focus is hard

Final Verdict

Even though the BenQ W1070 has only 2000 lumens, it is one of the best outdoor projectors for movies because the contrast can resist ambient life enough for you to get a clear image.

How to Pick a Projector for Outdoor Movies?

Brightness (lumens)

The brightness of the projector should be the first thing you look for when buying a projector for outdoor movies. Not all projectors can handle ambient light. In fact, a lot of projectors will do a decent job indoors but a surprisingly awful job outdoors.

The brightness is expressed in “lumens.” If you’re planning to use a projector outdoors, it is better to choose one with at least 3000 lumens, and you can go up to 6000 lumens.

You will find that projectors with 6000 lumens are much more expensive than the projectors with 3000 lumens. You don’t need to spend that much money to get a decent display. Usually, these projectors are used at schools and companies and are a bit too much for backyard movie nights.

Resolution

The resolution of the projector depends on the pixels it uses to create a picture. The more pixels your projector has, the better the display it will provide and the more details you can see in the image. If your projector has little pixels, the image will be “pixelated.”

Your projector can support HD (1080p) resolution without having an HD resolution. Check the native resolution and make sure it is high definition HD to have a better watching experience.

Lamp Life

The lamp life of the projector is one of the things the brands always advertise. This is because, throughout the usage of the projector, the lamps may explode and need replacement.

Of course, a more durable lamp is better to chase, and you will see different brands claiming their projectors have bulbs that last for 30.000 or 70,000 hours.

However, if you look at this from another perspective, if a lamp life is 50.000 hours, it means it will last about 5.7 years until it needs replacement. It is quite unlikely that you will use your projector that long.

And also, for most brands, replacing the lamp won’t cost you more than $50.

So, we conclude that it is only necessary to make sure you have a projector with a good lamp that won’t explode and require replacement every other month. It doesn’t really matter how long the company claims the projector lamp can go before you need to replace it.

Built-in Speakers

Almost all projectors on the market come with built-in speakers. Yet, you can’t entirely depend on them for an excellent outdoor movie night experience.

The reason is, most of these speakers are of small size and low wattage, they provide low audio quality, and you can hear buzzing with most of them.

The thing is, projectors are all about the visual output, and that’s where most brands invest. Most of the time, you will need to connect the projector to an external sound system.

However, DR J professional HI- 04 has one of the best built-in stereo speakers, and a lot of customers use it without hooking it to any external speakers.

Size and Portability

It’s common sense that a portable projector is better if you want to use it outdoors. Preferably, with a carrying case.

All the projector mentioned above have a lightweight, and you can easily carry around except the ViewSonic PA503S, which we recommend you to use because of its brightness, not portability.

However, as mentioned, the ViewSonic PA503S isn’t the heaviest projector on the market.

Most projectors are portable. It’s all about the weight, and whether you will be able to take it with you to different places or not. So, it differs, depending on how often you need to move it and if you have a car or walk a couple of blocks to your friend’s house. You do the math.

Projector display: DLP vs. LCD vs. LED

Which is the best? In short, DLP, but let’s discuss these display technologies in more detail.

DLP: Digital Light Processing Technology

This is an old technology that depends on a chip which is made up of millions of microscopic mirrors. The best feature about this technology that makes it stand out is that it’s immune to color decay, and it’s not affected by the misalignments that occur with other technologies like LCD.

The only downside is that DLP projectors are not compatible with zoom lenses or lens shifting functions. This makes them only suitable for small environments.

LCD: Liquid Crystal Display Technology

This is the most frequently used technology because it is less expensive than their DLP counterparts. The image is created in a more complicated way. To start with, it uses liquid crystal.

When the light source produces white light, it passes through dichroic mirrors that reflect it and add colors as well. Then the light beam is fed to an LCD panel that interprets it and projects it onto the corresponding screen.

The technology has been developing over the last couple of years and is capable of producing a stable image that is an excellent alternative to traditional DLP technology.

Still, some issues need to be handled, like the increased maintenance cost and how dust particles interfere with the quality of the produced image. Another issue that needs to be resolved is that pixels can burn out.

On the bright side, LCD technology is compatible with zoom lenses and is much easier to set up than DLP counterparts.

If you are looking for a budget technology that is also user-friendly, then LCD is the way to go.

LED: Light-emitting Diode Projectors

Surprisingly, LED technology isn’t an entity on its own, and it can use either LCD or DLP technologies. The technology refers to replacing the traditional projector lamps with much more durable, and more efficient ones.

The LED technology will give you up to 20,000 hours Lamp Life. The technology is a great add up to your projector because it significantly cuts down the maintenance cost, and the projector can last for years without needing to replace the lamp.

Final Verdict

Choosing the best outdoor movie projector can be a little overwhelming. However, it is a much easier task once you realize what you should be looking for.

If you want a projector that you can use outdoors without the need to connect it to any external speakers, then you can go with DR J Professional HI-04, but it is a little expensive.

On the other hand, if you already have external speakers, you can look for something more affordable, like ViewSonic PA503S or Epson VS240. The ViewSonic has a better display because of the higher brightness, but the Epson VS240 is less expensive.

And lastly, if you want to have a fantastic outdoors 3D movie experience, then the Optoma HD124X or the BenQ W1070 are your best options.

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