If there are two things we’ve come to value more than ever after the past two years, they’re entertainment (thank you, Netflix!) and getting the F out of our houses. We’re not suggesting that the great outdoors weren’t, well, great pre-pandemic, but quarantine did kinda make them feel new again. Even if it just means drinking your coffee on your apartment balcony instead of the couch, there’s something refreshing about doing everyday things outside. And although we no longer have to rely on and drive-by birthday parties for gatherings (actually worse than the Zoom HHs), some outdoor soirees maintain their appeal. Yup, we’re talking outdoor movie nights.
There’s something super cozy about watching a movie outside, and with a disappointing lack of drive-in movie theaters out there these days, you’ll just have to take matters into your own hands. If you wanna channel your inner Grease character, why not set up your very own outdoor theater?! But you’re not gonna have to drag your laptop outside. It’s 2022, people! While projectors have long been used by teachers with squeaky AV carts, they’ve gotten a major upgrade and are definitely a necessary thing for chilling in your backyard during your next Euphoria watch party.
Before you choose a projector, you need to know what to look for so you don’t end up with lame video quality, muffled sound, and an overall less-than-ideal viewing experience. Your Ted Lasso marathon deserves more than that. A good projector should feature solid brightness levels, quality speakers, high-definition resolution, and maybe even connective compatibility with other devices—like your iPhone—and streaming services. Yes that is correct, you can stream directly from your projector! Told ya it wasn’t like your health class videos. All that said, here are nine of the best outdoor projector options you could possibly find.
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For storing in tiny spaces
Mini Display Portable Movie Projector
This option is super affordable (it’s top-rated on Amazon so you know it’s good) and doesn’t take up a ton of space if you’ve got a small apartment to work with. But don’t let this lil projector fool you—the ViewPro can project a screen size up to 14 feet. You can also use it with other plug-ins like your FireStick. You’re welcome.
For viewing in real-time
ViewSonic PX701HD 1080p Projector
The quick refresh time and HD quality on this ViewSonic makes it an ideal pick for streaming (and tailgating, obv) the big game or watching the latest action-packed movie when it’s released on HBO Max. Best of all, the image size is expandable up to 25 feet if you’ve got a huge crew stopping by.
For streaming all the Netflix
LG 4K UHD Laser Smart CineBeam Projector
Okay, so it’s an investment, but you can download all your go-to apps, including YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video, directly to this guy for a seamless streaming experience free of any HDMI cords or any of that sh*t. Or, you can opt to screen mirror from your other devices. It’s that simple! So, who wants to binge old Vines in my yard?
For chilling on apartment balconies
LG Ultra Short Laser Smart Home Theater Cinebeam Projector
It can sometimes be tricky to find a projector compatible with your space. This one features a “short throw,” meaning it can project within close distance and you can set it up basically right against the surface you’re projecting onto, aka you hang out on your apartment balcony and watch your movie on the wall inside your apartment. It also has Alexa built in, bluetooth connectivity, access to apps like Netflix, and super high resolution. Yeah, it’s the real deal.
For when there’s literally no outlets in the vicinity
Anker Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector
Say goodbye to extension cords! Since it has a rechargeable battery, you don’t have to worry about plugging this bad boy in. Plus, its built-in stand allows you to adjust the height and angle without having to use tripod or stand. And it comes complete with Dolby speakers, so you can expect A1 sound quality.
For the *full* outdoor experience
Portable Drive-In Movie Theater
Committed to the culture? This all-in-one portable projection system is a theater on wheels. Seriously, it has wheels and a handle like a suitcase. With an LED projector, 12″ speaker, wireless mic, and a remote control, you can turn your next block party into a movie night extravaganza. Plug it in for long-haul use, or it can go wireless for up to four hours on a full battery.
For projectin’ on the go
PIQO Mini Projector
This tiny lil cube weighs in at half a pound. It charges quickly and is compatible with millions of apps, including the usual suspects: Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. But the thing we like best about this projector is the offline storage. Yep, you can download videos and movie onto the PIQO, and watch them later, even without service or Wi-Fi. Think: downloading this week’s Bach episode so you can tune in literally wherever on your trip (your Airbnb back porch, perhaps!).
For an all-around good quality movie night
True 4K HDR-PRO Outdoor Projector
Though this one sadly isn’t compatible for streaming your shows, it’s a must for a movie night. It has 4K resolution for top tier picture quality, and low lag time makes it ideal for Mario Kart nights too. The sharpness, color, and brightness are *chef’s kiss* on a scene-to-scene basis, so you’ll hardly be able to tell you’re not watching on a real movie screen.
For daytime viewing
HD 1080P 5G WiFi Bluetooth Projector 4K with 450″ Display
Whether you’re streaming music videos poolside or hosting an all-day movie marathon, you’ll need a projector that is seriously legit in the brightness department if you want to use it during the daylight hours. Cue this one. It has 7,500 lumens (translation: a lot) which makes it one of the brightest projectors around, but also has full HD resolution. And just toss it right in its carrying case when you’re done!
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