The 8 Best Outdoor Projectors

Updated December 04, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

8 Best Outdoor Projectors
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Enjoy your favorite films amidst fresh air and twinkling starlight with one of these outdoor projectors. The models we've selected produce enough brightness and contrast to overcome most light pollution, and some even run on battery power. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best outdoor projector on Amazon.

8. Dinley Wireless DLP

The rechargeable Dinley Wireless DLP can put out around 1,600 lumens of brightness despite its small size. It also has an onboard battery that can provide up to 120 minutes of playback, enough to cover the majority of films.
  • built-in android operating system
  • weighs just over one pound
  • can project up to 16 feet diagonally
Brand Dinly
Model Dinly
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

7. Ragu Z720 HD

If you're transporting your unit to and from a projection site, even if it's only going as far as your backyard, you risk damaging it with a drop or a bump along the way. That's why the designers of the Ragu Z720 HD built it with a durable metal exterior.
  • 3200-lumen output
  • lamp rated to last up to 13 years
  • not sharp enough for powerpoint
Brand Ragu
Model pending
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Optoma EH200ST Full 3D

If you're pressed for space either indoors or out, you'll appreciate the short throw capability on the Optoma EH200ST Full 3D. You can project an image measuring 100 inches diagonally from a distance of just 3.5 feet with its maximum size reaching nearly eight meters.
  • mobile high-definition link ability
  • eco-friendly power consumption
  • no zoom control
Brand Optoma
Model EH200ST
Weight 8.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Viewsonic LightStream

The Viewsonic LightStream has a large window through which you can easily adjust the lens elements controlling zoom and focus. Its 20,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio makes it ideal for situations where you need to start your film, but the sun hasn't completely set yet.
  • 3300 lumens of brightness
  • six-segment color wheel
  • 3-year warranty on parts and labor
Brand ViewSonic
Model PJD5555W
Weight 8.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

4. OCyclone 3D 1080P Portable Mini

The OCyclone 3D 1080P Portable Mini boasts a brightness of 2,100 lumens, one of the highest counts on the market for a unit of such diminutive stature. It also supports 3D playback, and comes with a pair of the necessary glasses.
  • dlp projection technology
  • android operating system
  • 1-year full replacement guarantee
Model OCY-VP-02
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Epson HC1450 Home Cinema

Given the professional caliber of the Epson HC1450 Home Cinema, you may not be too eager to take it outside. Its 4,200-lumen brightness and built-in 16-watt speaker make it one of the most capable options for taking in a movie under the stars.
  • 3-chip lcd color rendering
  • full 1080p support
  • up to 160 percent optical zoom
Brand Epson
Model HC1450
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. iCodis G6 Video

Considering the brightness of the image projected by the iCodis G6 Video, you'd be forgiven for doing a double-take when you see its price point. Its dual HDMI and USB inputs mean you won't have to waste time swapping devices.
  • 3200-lumen led lamp
  • simple on-body controls
  • fills screens of up to 280 inches
Brand iCODIS
Model G6
Weight 7.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Caiwei CW-A9+

With its impressive 4,200 lumens, the Caiwei CW-A9+ can project a bright image onto a screen situated outside, even if there's a fair amount of ambient light present. The unit's built-in Android OS means you only have to connect it to a Wi-Fi network to stream content.
  • 5000-to-1 contrast ratio
  • lamp rated to 50000 hours
  • supports 1080p resolution
Model CW-A9+android
Weight 12.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Magic Of The Outdoor Movie Night

About a decade ago, I was working all around Virginia with a buddy of mine, painting houses, performing light demolition work, and doing my best impersonation of an itinerant beatnik. One evening, after a long day of demolition, the two of us drove into the town on the outskirts of which we’d spent our day. It was a quaint place, a throwback to the Main St. days of post-WWII America — and yes, that means it was shamefully homogenous. It was an easy-going atmosphere, though, with an old mill slowly turning by a waterfall and a long, expansive park occupying the town center.

As we drove past the park around sunset, the orange sky turning the trees a deeper green than I’d ever seen, we noticed a crowd of people standing at roughly the center of the grass. We decided to park and go investigate. When we got to the crowd, we saw that people were taking their seats in front of an outdoor projection system, complete with a projector, a small speaker system, and an inflatable screen.

The mood in the crowd was almost saccharine, but there was nothing abrasive about it despite my young poet heart’s yearning for constant adventure. Perhaps it’s because the days of the drive-in were long gone before I was even born. Perhaps it was a sense of community I hadn’t felt much of during my long journey through the south. Perhaps it was just spending a nice night outdoors after being cooped up in a crumbling house all day. Whatever it was, that screening was magical.

These are the kinds of experiences you can foster with an outdoor projector: mysterious nights of light and shadow, the thick, flowery air of a summer evening mingling with the sights and sounds of the cinema.

What Qualifies A Projector For Use Outdoors?

One look at the projectors on our list will confirm that there isn’t some exceptionally rugged design that makes outdoor projectors more durable in the elements than their indoor counterparts. In fact, outdoor projectors are usually just more powerful than indoor projectors. The reason that the extra power is necessary requires a little understanding of the projection process.

A projector screen is designed to reflect light back at an audience in as much detail as possible. There are a lot of things that can interfere with that relay, however, and the most common culprit is ambient light.

Picture yourself in a movie theater. The show’s about to start after what seemed like an hour of previews. Before the previews started, you might have noticed the house lights in the theater getting a little dimmer. By the time the main event begins, those light are completely out. That’s because particles of light can collide, and any light that gets in between the reflection coming off the screen and your eyes will dilute the clarity of the picture.

To battle against this, movie houses screen their films in darkness. Outdoors, however, you can’t simply turn off all the streetlights, close off all the roads, and reverse the constant hum of light pollution. With a projector that only has the specs to work indoors, in a controlled environment, your movies will look pale and milky on an outdoor screen, lacking detail and sharpness.

In order for a projector to be useful outdoors, it has to have the ability to create a brighter image with more contrast than what comes out of more conventional projectors. These two features of an image can do a better job cutting through ambient light, and will help ensure that your movie is as enjoyable as possible.

Some outdoor projector are also capable of running on batteries alone. These are ideal for outdoor movie nights where there isn’t access to AC power. It’s rare to see any kind of weather sealing added to a projector, even if it’s marketed as an outdoor unit. Traditionally, rain, fog, wind, snow, and other inclement weather events don’t make for the most comfortable movie nights, so manufacturers don’t expect you to run their devices in such conditions.

How To Choose The Right Outdoor Projector

As we mentioned above, brightness and contrast are among the most important features to consider when evaluating a projector for outdoor use. Manufacturers relay these two variables to consumers by a pair of numbers called lumen output and contrast ratio.

A lumen is a unit of brightness derived from an old standard measurement known as a candle. The higher the lumens number, the brighter you can make your image. Contrast ratio is displayed as a ratio, such as 1000:1. In this ratio, one (the number on the right of the colon) is always used to represent the darkest black level of the image in which there is still visible detail. The number on the left side of the ratio corresponds to the level of brightness at which an image still contains detail. This equates to what is often called the dynamic range of an image. Generally speaking, the higher the number on the left, the more dynamic a picture you’re going to see, even with interference from ambient light sources.

If you narrow down your choices to two or three projectors that have very similar lumens ratings and contrast ratios, it might provide you some peace to know that these numbers aren’t terribly exact. It’s smart to think of them like television measurements, which are divided into classes. You might get a 46-inch class TV that’s actually 45.6 inches as easily as you can get a 46-inch-class TV that’s actually 46.7 inches. Lumens and contrast ratio are figures designed to loosely classify brightness and dynamic range.

After that, you can look at these projectors like any other. What’s the minimum distance between the unit and the screen? How large of an image can you project without losing detail? How adjustable is the keystone? In most cases, shorter throw distances, larger screen capabilities, and more keystone adjustments are all good things.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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