Best outdoor projector: the best backyard projectors for your next movie night

The best outdoor projectors to kick your backyard get-togethers up a notch

BenQ GS50 1080p Wireless Projector
(Image credit: BenQ)

The best outdoor projectors are an easy way to make your backyard into your very own garden movie theater, taking in some entertainment with friends during a cookout or under the stars. And they're versatile, lending themselves to use on warm summer nights as well as cozy fall evenings with a mountain of blankets and a steady supply of hot chocolate.

The things that you need to keep on out for when shopping for the best outdoor projectors are brightness (measured in lumens), resolution, and the minimum/maximum screen size. The higher the lumens the better, and a brighter picture will be more visible in daylight. If you plan to use your projector only at night, you can get away with lower brightness.

Resolution is measured in the same way as TVs are, and will typically range between 480p (standard definition) and 4K. Screen size is also self-explanatory, and what you choose will depend on what you plan to use your projector for. The size of the projection is also impacted by how far the device is from the screen, so factor this into your decision-making.

But whether you've bought a dedicated screen or you're improvising with an old bedsheet, we've pulled together a list of the very best outdoor projectors around right now. The selection includes easily portable projectors as well as options with built-in speakers and streaming such as Android TV.

You can see our chosen products below or, if you're more interested in options that can be used to create a home cinema indoors, take a look at our guide to the best projectors. Keep reading for our top picks and more buying advice.

The best outdoor projectors in 2022

ViewSonic X10-4K UHD Short Throw Smart Portable LED Projector

(Image credit: ViewSonic)

1. ViewSonic X10-4K UHD Short Throw Smart Portable LED Projector

Best outdoor daylight projector

Specifications

Brightness: 2,400 lumens
Native resolution: 4K
Screen size: 200"
Dimensions: 10.7 x 10.3 x 6.5in
Weight: 9lbs

Reasons to buy

+
UHD picture quality
+
Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
+
High Dynamic Range creates enhanced color and contrast ratios

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No built-in battery
-
Not very compact

The ViewSonic X10-4KE is wildly expensive if you just want a projector for the occasional backyard movie night, but if Ultra High Definition picture quality is your priority and you’re prepared to pay a bit extra, this projector will transition well between indoor and outdoor settings.

It doesn’t have a built-in battery so you’ll need a power source close by when setting up your backyard movie theater, however, it does come with two 8W Harmon Kardon speakers that offer a convenient integrated audio solution.

As you’d expect, it’s got autofocus and auto-keystoning and you can stream content directly to the projector via mobile devices. The integrated SmartTV also gives you the option of downloading apps directly to the projector for easy viewing.

It’s designed with a carry handle which makes it pretty portable even if it’s not the most compact projector. Overall it’s a great option if you want an indoor projector that you can also use in the backyard.

WEMAX DICE 700 ANSI Lumens 1080P FHD Portable Outdoor Movie DLP Projector

(Image credit: Wemax)

2. WEMAX DICE 700 ANSI Lumens 1080P FHD Portable Outdoor Movie DLP Projector

Best outdoor projector for brightness (runner up)

Specifications

Brightness: 700 lumens
Native resolution: 4K
Screen size: 120"
Dimensions: 6.1 x 4.9 x 6.3in
Weight: 4.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Bluetooth remote control
+
Built-in Dolby speakers
+
Doubles as a power bank

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most compact projector

With autofocus and auto keystone correction, the WEMAX Dice sets up the perfect viewing image so you don’t have to spend ages messing around with the settings in the cold. The built-in battery will give you an adequate three hours of viewing before you’ll need to connect to a power outlet – enough for the majority of movies – and if you don’t need all the power you can use what’s left to charge your devices.

Built-in android TV allows you to download all of your favorite streaming apps, alternatively, you can plug in your device via the HDMI or USB2.0 ports. And with a screen size of up to 120 inches and a clear 1080p resolution, your backyard movie theater will feel like the real deal.

With two 3W Dolby speakers, it offers onboard audio that’ll save you from having to bring a separate speaker outside. And if you need any more convincing, the pleasing gray exterior and a useful carry handle make this a good-looking little projector too.

BenQ GS50 1080p Wireless Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

3. BenQ GS50 1080p Wireless Projector

Best outdoor projector for camping

Specifications

Brightness: 500 lumens
Native resolution: 4K
Screen size: 112"
Dimensions: 6.1 x 7.3 x 5.8in
Weight: 5.1lbs

Reasons to buy

+
2.1 channel Bluetooth speaker with extra bass
+
Splash-proof and drop-proof from 2.3 ft.
+
Parental control settings make it ideal for families

Reasons to avoid

-
Maximum 2.5-hour battery life 
-
Expensive 
-
Other models have higher lumens 

This is the ideal projector for outdoor settings that aren’t in the comfort of your own backyard. It’s designed to be drop-proof from table height (2.3 ft) and the splash-proof coating means it’s not the first thing you’ll need to rescue in a sudden rain shower. Plus, it comes with a soft carry case for a bit of extra protection on the way to your outdoor movie location.

The 2.1 speaker setup offers better audio than you’d expect to get from a small portable projector and it’s got optimized sound modes for everything from gaming to sports. Intuitive controls plus autofocus and auto keystoning make it simple to set up. And with Airplay or Chromecast you can stream directly to the projector or use the built-in Android TV to access movies and shows via your favorite apps.

This sturdy little projector has a lot going for it, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

4. Nebula Solar Portable 1080p Projector

Best slimline projector

Specifications

Brightness: 400 lumens
Native resolution: 4K
Screen size: 120"
Dimensions: 2.3 x 7.6 x 7.6in
Weight: 3.1lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Dual 3W speakers and Dolby Digital Plus 
+
HDMI, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity 
+
Remote control 

Reasons to avoid

-
Brightness not as good as some others 
-
Not the most stylish appearance 

While it won’t win any awards for its appearance, the Anker Nebula Solar offers higher lumens and resolution than other, arguably better-looking Anker portable projectors. The slim design means it’ll slot easily into your bag and with up to three hours of battery life you can set it up anywhere.

The built-in stand allows you to set it at the perfect angle and with auto keystone correction and autofocus, getting the best image won’t require a lengthy setup. Plus, with built-in Android TV 9, you can stream TV directly from your favorite apps or mirror content from your smartphone. Either way, you won’t struggle to find something to watch.

The 400 ANSI lumens and 1080p resolution will offer good picture quality in darkness and it can project an image up to 120 inches, which is perfect if you’re planning a backyard movie party or you’ve got a crowd coming over to watch the big game.

KODAK Luma 450 HD 4K Connected Projector

(Image credit: Kodak)

5. KODAK Luma 450 HD 4K Connected Projector

Best compact projector

Specifications

Brightness: 200 lumens
Native resolution: 4K
Screen size: 150"
Dimensions: 4.9 x 4.9 x 1.26in
Weight: 2.6lbs

Reasons to buy

+
One of the most portable projectors available with full HD 
+
Mobile app lets you use your phone as a remote 
+
HDMI and USB inputs 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low brightness 
-
Limited battery life 
-
Expensive for its size 

Sometimes size matters, if you’ve got limited space in your RV or you want a projector that you can take backpacking, the tiny Kodak Luma offers full HD image quality from a projector that’ll fit in your back pocket. It also comes with a tripod mount included in the box to save you from balancing it in awkward places.

The HD image will be best viewed in darkness due to the low lumen rating. And the battery will give you just enough juice for 90 minutes of viewing time, so it’s short movies only unless you’re near a power source. It does however offer an eco mode to extend battery life up to three hours.

You’ll get adequate audio from the dual 1W speakers and to expect anything better from a projector of this size would be unfair. While it does have some drawbacks it still comes complete with an Android OS so you can download apps and it has screen mirroring capabilities too. Given the size, this is an impressive little projector.

LG CineBeam PH30N HD Ready Mini Projector

(Image credit: LG)

6. LG CineBeam PH30N HD Ready Mini Projector

Best budget outdoor projector

Specifications

Brightness: 250 lumens
Native resolution: 720p
Screen size: 100"
Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.1 x 5.1in
Weight: 1.1lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable and compact 
+
Comes with a remote 
+
Built-in battery 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low lumen rating 
-
 No built-in apps 
-
Built-in speaker is small 

If budget is the overriding factor in your hunt for a projector and you’re not looking for the best available picture quality, for around $350 you can get this compact little projector. The 720p resolution won’t give you a super sharp image, especially given the low lumen rating. But for small intimate outdoor movie setups, it’ll do the job – as long as it’s dark out.

This projector doesn’t come with Android TV but it does support wireless smartphone mirroring, or you can connect via the HDMI or USB ports. And although there is a built-in speaker, it’s small so we’d suggest connecting to an external speaker via Bluetooth.

Not only is it an affordable option, but it’s also super portable and the built-in battery will last up to two hours so for the occasional outdoor movie night it’s worth considering.

How to choose the best outdoor projector

ViewSonic X10-4K UHD Short Throw Smart Portable LED Projector

(Image credit: ViewSonic)

To get the perfect projector that’ll be bright enough, fill your screen with a crisp image, there are a few features to look out for.

Screen size

Your projector will have a maximum screen size, so if you’ve already got a screen, make sure you buy a projector that’ll project an image large enough to fill the screen.

Throw distance

This tells you the distance that the projector needs to be placed from the screen – check this against the size of your backyard or the spot you intend to set up your outdoor movie theater.

Brightness and resolution

To make sure you buy a projector that’ll be bright enough, check the lumens or ANSI lumens, this is a measurement of the intensity of light projected. If your projector will be close to the screen or you’ll be using it in total darkness you can get away with lower lumen ratings, but the further away from the projector or if you want to use it during daylight, you’ll need a higher lumen rating.

Resolution is measured in pixels and the minimum resolution you should look for is 720p, but the higher the number – the better the resolution, so ideally look for 1080p. The absolute best for projectors is 4K which will deliver top-notch UHD picture quality.

Audio

Consider how you want to listen to the movie, some projectors have built-in speakers. For those that don’t, you might want to use a wireless speaker that’s portable so look for Bluetooth connectivity.

Keystone correction

Also known as keystoning, this feature means that if your image shape is distorted due to the projector position being much higher or lower than the screen or set off to the side, you can use keystone correction to switch it back to a rectangular image.