SAN ANTONIO – Break out the popcorn! As families spend more time at home and out of movie theaters, backyard movie night is an entertaining option. To help you set one up, Consumer Reports put mini projectors to the test.
The projectors tested run from about $100 to $500.
“In general, we found you get what you pay for both in terms of image quality and features,” said Jim Willcox, CR tech editor.
The projector with the best overall picture quality in CR’s test was the LG CineBeam PH550, priced at $450. It also has some useful features, such as Bluetooth and wireless mirroring, which lets you send video directly to the projector from a smartphone or tablet. And the LG has a built-in TV tuner, so you can connect an antenna and get free over-the-air broadcast TV.
CR did find one bargain in the bunch, the Aaxa S2 Pico projector, priced at $280. It’s a very compact, no-frills model.
“And it had decent picture quality and better-than-expected sound,” Willcox said.
Because many mini projectors don’t have great sound, you may want to consider adding an external speaker or a sound bar.
When it comes to setting up your backyard movie night, you’ll also need a screen. There are portable ones with built-in stands and even blow-up models, if you plan to do movie nights all summer long. Or you can also use a light-colored wall or even a plain white sheet and just pull it tight so there are no wrinkles.
Like home-theater projectors, these mini models need a darker environment. You won’t really be able to see your movie or TV show in a brighter room or outdoors during daylight, especially with larger picture sizes.