Projectors have traditionally been used in indoor settings, often with dark or moderate ambient lighting. However, there are a number of occasions where using a projector outdoors is necessary. For these scenarios, it may make sense to use an existing DLP or LCD projector (if available) with high lumen brightness rating. Not so fast!

The outdoor environment presents different challenges from an indoor setting, which calls for a tailored projector design—a projector designed from the ground up for outdoor use. Compared to indoor models, these projectors are more rugged to withstand the elements, and have an optimized calibration for typical outdoor lighting conditions as well as the screen material.

Best Outdoor Projector Complete Guide

Top Outdoor Projectors Characteristics

Now you know indoor projectors do not cut it for outdoor usage. However, you are not certain of why the best outdoor projectors are any different from the best projectors for indoor usage. Let’s find out the features that makes a premium outdoor projector.

Brightness versus Resolution

The first feature is actually a dual factor, Brightness and Resolution. Indoor projectors could be forgiven for not being able to produce very high brightness (lumen) levels, but not the best outdoor projectors. Remember, the moon and stars give off light, which could potentially affect the projector’s image quality. The recommended minimum brightness rating for an outdoor projector is 2000 lumens. The best should have much more.

Resolution is important for crisp images and a terrific viewing experience. For the best home-theater outdoor projectors, 4k resolution stands above the rest, while 1080p seems to be the standard. However, you could get by with 720p HD, if you are on a budget.

If you are pressed to strike a compromise between brightness and resolution, always remember that brightness is higher up in the scale when compared to resolution. Therefore, brightness should be prioritized over resolution. No lower than 720p (resolution): but as far above 2000 in lumen rating (brightness) as possible.

3D: Passive versus Active

3D viewing experience for home-theater projectors is exhilarating, and always worth the extra dollars you have to shell out for the feature. Nevertheless, there are basically two classes of 3D systems—Passive and Active.

Between the two, passive systems are recommended for two reasons:

  • They are affordable
  • They produce brighter images

Throw Distance Rating

Throw distance is a tech-speak term for the optimum distance at which a projector can be placed relative to a specific screen size. If the distance between the projector and the screen is an issue, then you should factor in the specific distance you are limited to when shopping around for an outdoor projector and a screen. In many cases, a high-quality short-throw projector is necessary.

Outdoor Projector Setup

Earlier on, we made mention about the unique challenges presented during outdoor applications of a projector, which are virtually nonexistent for indoor environments. The major challenge is setup. Although, setup is not a challenge that summarily influences the kind of outdoor projector you buy, it is imperative to know the ideal setup for an outdoor projector to increase durability and for very rich viewing experiences.

Location

Sounds like a no-brainer—everything about the projector and application screams everywhere but inside a space. Actually, not all outdoor locations are good enough. Good luck with using your outdoor home theater on a 10-story rooftop: its outdoors, but the location is way off.

The idea is to have a surface that is level enough to set up a portable screen, projector, chairs, and loudspeakers without having to delve into a DIY construction project.

If there is no level space around, any flat surface will do. Furthermore, if flat surfaces are not available, you may want to take advantage of well-placed vertical supports (like trees) between which you would hang a screen.

A very good option is a driveway, which is appealing for the following reasons:

  • Level space, unless the mason who handled your driveway project did a poor job
  • There is a high possibility of there being a power receptacle in your garage
  • Easier to pack up if the weather changes suddenly

Another good option is to mount the screen on the outside wall of your garage. If flat surfaces and vertical supports are lacking in your immediate vicinity, you will have to use a portable or an inflatable screen.

Proximity to a Power Source

Power is essential to your outdoor projector setup. Aside the obvious fact that the projector needs electricity: your media source (set-top box or Blu-ray player) and external audio amplification setup also need electricity.

For this reason, getting a long heavy-duty extension cord (up to 25 feet) and a power strip are vital to your outdoor projector setup. Additionally, to cut out any nasty surprises, you should as often as possible choose an outlet on a circuit that is relative clear. Having an unexpected power outage in the middle of an intriguing blockbuster is always a huge bummer.

Audio Setup

For audiophiles, this is the most important component of the setup: for everyone else, it is ‘only so’ essential. Regardless of the group you fall into, the in-built sound system in your outdoor projector is not going to cut it.

For outdoor projector setups, we recommend external 2.1 audio systems or greater if the budget permits. They are more cost-effective, more practical, and incredibly easy to set up. Good options are full-range pairs offered by premium brands like B&W, Definitive Technology, Paradigm, Aperion Audio, and Polk Audio. All-weather loudspeakers from top brands like JBL are also good alternatives. These systems have two things in common, exceptional sound quality, and dependable protection from the elements.

“Home Theater in a Box” systems may have the appeal, but they are not a fit for an outdoor projector setup. In clear terms, they do not have either the power or projection necessary to go in tandem with the large picture with which they are paired. Two-channel systems, already mentioned above, are better since they have better bang for the buck quality, and deliver an excellent audio experience.

What is the Best Outdoor Projector?

1. BenQ W1070 1080P 3D Home Theater Projector Review

BenQ DLP HD 1080p Projector (W1070) - 3D Home Theater Projector with...

 

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First Impression

Inexpensive and top-performance does not always go in the same sentence, but for the BenQ W1070 it does. This is the top reason why we recommend the W1070 as our top outdoor projector, but is not the only reason. 3D is baked in, and the build is compact enough to be carried about in a small bag.

The image quality is on the high end of the spectrum, and we are certain getting anything better at the same price point from another model is off the cards.

Features

  • DLP DarkChip 3 Chipset
  • Brightness rating of 2000 lumens
  • Intelligently implemented 3D capabilities
  • Onboard speakers

Image Quality

Picture

The picture quality on the BenQ W1070 is outstanding. It performed exceptionally in tests, including in black levels. Compared with the Epson 3020 which is a more expensive and fully-featured alternative, most testing results were the same. Slight differences were recorded when reproducing more-natural colors especially in darker areas and on shadow detail. Thankfully, the W1070 did not require the Iris, known for its noise, like the Epson 3020.

Video

Video processing on the BenQ W1070 is excellent. So much that we had to take out the receipt to confirm the numbers, when we discovered how close to full-on home cinema quality the video viewing experience was.

Fair to say, some LCDs and Plasma do not have the bandwidth or processing capability to provide such top-quality video processing, like in eliminating banding when there is a smooth gradation of color.

Compared with the Epson 3020, the BenQ was better able to parse a 1080i film with a stable image. Blu-ray support was also excellent in the native 24 fps format.

3D

3D video playback on the BenQ W1070 is as good as it gets—even better than 3D support on most TVs. The W1070 requires the use of BenQ 3D glasses, a pair can be bought separately at Amazon.

Salient Selling Points

  • Compact
  • 3D Availability
  • High brightness rating
  • Excellent image quality
  • Terrific pricing

2. Optoma HD141X Review

Optoma HD141X 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector

 

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First Impression

The Optoma HD141X makes the argument of purchasing LCD TVs weak. It offers full HD 1080p resolution at terrific brightness levels of 3000 lumens, for only about $600.

The high brightness rating with its impressive list of interesting features, gives the HD141X ample capabilities to deliver top-grade outdoor performance. To better the offering, Optoma optimized the HD141X for top-notched gaming, and for support of the MHL standard for robust functionality.

Features and Performance

  • Top-performance gaming mode with very low input lag numbers
  • Double HDMI inputs for both standard HDMI connectivity and mobile HDMI (MHL) connectivity. The MHL connectivity allows for increased flexibility; such that the HD141X can be paired with mobile media hubs like the Roku for streaming content from the Internet (say YouTube for example).
  • Decent in-built sound system, which is an interesting backup for when an external audio system is not available, or for a portable application, like an outdoor movie night
  • Manual zoom lens, which permits adjustments of the projected image on the screen for better viewing
  • Backlit remote control, which is very useful when used in a space with dark lighting conditions

Extensive Feature List

  • Compact size
  • Brightness rating of 3000 lumens
  • Better contrast levels, possible with the implementation of lamp dimming
  • Extensive functionality and substantial energy saving with an offering of three brightness modes
  • Better placement flexibility thanks to horizontal keystone correction and 1:1:1 zoom lens
  • Ability to zoom digitally
  • Extended functionality with support for all current HDMI 1.4 3D standards
  • In-built color wheel is 2X
  • Decent 10-watt speaker for increased flexibility

Salient Selling Points

  • Full 1080p HD resolution
  • Very high brightness rating
  • Extended functionality
  • Decent Pricing

3. Epson Home Cinema 2150 Wireless Review

Epson Home Cinema 2150 Wireless 1080p Miracast, 3LCD projector

 

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First Impression

With the Epson Home Cinema 2150, you can forget about those bothersome “wires” and enjoy an easier setup and varied placement .. Because there are no cables criss-crossing each other, it also only means a tidier setup.

The option of choosing between wired and wireless connectivity is a plus. Yes, not everyone is a “wireless aficionado,” and Epson gets it. They allow for both wireless and wired mirroring with this projector.

Brightness

Outdoor projectors need to outperform their indoor counterparts when it comes to brightness; the Epson Home Cinema 2150 is sure to fit the bill here. With 2500 lumens of white light output and an equal measure of color light output, the gadget offers vibrant images. No, it doesn’t matter whether the ambiance is bright or dark.

Image Quality

Enjoy crystal-clear pictures of your videos and games thanks to the 1080-pixel native resolution. You can easily display Full HD content for a seamless viewing experience.

Performance

The Epson Home Cinema 2150 makes for a decent big-screen experience, according to users. With an agreeable resolution and brightness, and a 60000:1 contrast ratio, you are sure to enjoy high-quality content. The frame interpolation gives sharp, clear, images, too. And the built-in 10-Watt speaker is a bonus.

Thanks to the integrated 3LCD technology, you won’t experience the bothersome rainbow artifacts.

The projector’s HDMI ports support MHL so you can connect to compatible gadgets. While this enables wired mirroring, charging may not be supported depending on your MHL gadget.

According to users, you might experience some noise from the fan. Buyers also reported the Epson Home Cinema 2150 doesn’t include some accessories, including 3D glasses, which you can purchase separately, though.

This projector costs between $800 and $950, and it garners an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Salient Selling Points

  • Wireless mirroring
  • Full HD resolution
  • Acceptable brightness

4. ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector Review

ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

 

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Ideal for business and classroom use, the PJD5132 works well from small meetings to bigger conferences. It has excellent brightness and contrast which make it highly recommended for outdoor use too. The following impressive features of the ViewSonic PJD5132 make it a clear choice.

Sharp and Vibrant Colors with Precise Detail

The picture quality of the PJD5132 projector is impressive and exquisite. It is built with BrilliantColor technology that is capable of multi-color processing. Unlike LCD technology that makes use of 3 primary colors, Viewsonic’s projector utilizes 6 different colors. You will see the big difference when you put a regular LCD projector and the PJD5132 side by side.

More Lifelike with 3D Playback

Make your presentations a thousand percent better using the PC 3D-Ready functionality. Viewsonic uses Advanced Digital Light Processing technology or DLP. It’s the same technology used in Hollywood which is really impressive. It’s clear like crystal and as sharp as a razor.

Shine Bright with 3000 Lumens

Your presentation is guaranteed to shine in any kind of setting, including outdoors, with ViewSonic PJD5132’s 3000 lumens rating and 15000:1 contrast. This means bright presentations with lesser watts per lumen, much less than other projector brands.

Long-lasting Lamp Life of 10,000 hours

Another impressive thing about the ViewSonic PJD5132 SVGA DLP Projector is its lamp life that lasts up to 10,000 hours. Viewsoniç advanced lamp technology helps save money on otherwise costly lamp replacement.

Other Key Features

With all these incredible power and impressive features, Viewsonic manages to keep the PJD5132 projector lightweight and portable at 10.5” x 3.3” x 8.7” dimensions. Specially designed to be filter-less, the PJD5132 does not require cleaning. It is completely maintenance free. Also built with DynamicEco technology, the projector can be set on a standby mode by simply decreasing brightness. Focus can be readjusted without having to restart the projector.

It is offered with a 3-year limited parts and labor as well as 1-year lamp warranty. Customers who avail of the PJD5132 can also enjoy Express Exchange service for free for the first year.

5. ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA Portable WXGA Projector Review

ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA 3D DLP Home Theater Projector

 

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If you are looking for a high performance outdoor projector, you might want to consider ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA Portable WXGA Projector.

This machine only weighs 4.6 pounds, and measures 8.7” x 10.5” x 3.3.” It is small enough to fit in a laptop carrier bag and durable enough to withstand constant travel. It is perfect for transporting outdoors, or to different locations. It also comes with 3 years warranty on parts plus labor.

With this projector, there is no need for bulky setups, or heavy paraphernalia. All you need are: a level, steady table to place the projector on, and a wide, flat, and white surface — and a nearby electrical outlet, of course.

Powerful Lamp

Made for 10,000 hours of viewing, the ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA Portable WXGA Projector lamp can project brighter imagery, even in not-so-ideal situations. If the room or place isn’t dark enough, or when you are using this outdoors in broad daylight, the lamp can still project high definition or HD pictures and videos. The lamp has a 1 year warranty on its own.

Based on 6-segment optical color design, the ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA Portable WXGA Projector yields optimum picture quality and color performance. It is 3D capable on both PC and Blu-Ray settings, with up 1o 120 hertz powered by DLP Link Tech. It has HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface, with 1,280 x 800 resolution for 720 HD brilliance on widescreen settings.

It also has 3,000 ANSI lumens for bright imagery, combined with BrilliantColor Technology. With its filter-less design, it is virtually maintenance-free. It has auto source detection, integrated speakers, and support HD (High Definition) signals.

The machine also comes with a VGA (Video Graphics Array) power cable connector that makes it compatible with most computers, laptops, and other visual and auditory gadgets.

DynamicEco Technology

The ViewSonic PJD5533W WXGA Portable WXGA Projector comes with DynamicEco technology that optimizes energy. It automatically decreases its electrical consumption by 20% on stand-by mode, which helps extend the lamp’s life by 50%.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]