Imagine with us for a minute. A light breeze cools off the evening as you break out the blankets and folding chairs. The final lavenders of the sunset fade into the horizon as you toss a piece of freshly popped popcorn into your friend’s mouth. A soft whirring from the projector and the evening kicks off. It’s backyard movie night!
But how do you get set up for an outdoor theater? Buying a projector and its components can be tricky. Patio projector kits aim to make the process easier for you, but are they worth it? Here we’ve given an overview of the most common attributes of an outdoor theater setup to help you decide what your backyard theater will look like.
What Are Patio Projector Kits?
Patio projector kits are complete packages of outdoor theater equipment. They include all the materials you will need to set up a backyard movie night. While you can buy all the components individually and assemble an outdoor theater yourself, projector kits take some of the load off your shoulders. They offer a simple entry to an outdoor movie night with outdoor movie screens.
What’s Typically Included in a Patio Projector Kit?
Meant to be a one-stop shop to set up your outdoor movie theater, patio projector kits include everything you will need to start enjoying the big screen outside. Typically, a kit will include the projector, the screen, external speakers, and the necessary cords and mounting equipment.
Outdoor Movie Projector or Portable Projector
The most obvious component in a patio projector kit is the projector. Some offer full-sized projectors while others boast the convenience of a portable projector. Here, we’ll go into the pros and cons of each of these more general projector types.
When deciding between a normal-sized outdoor projector and a portable projector for your patio, you’ll have to weigh versatility versus image quality. On one hand, mini projectors have come a long way and can create sharp images. However, larger projectors simply have more room for specialized technology (like brighter bulbs) that prioritize video quality. Below is an overview of each type of projector so you know what to look out for when perusing patio projector kits.
Outdoor Movie Projector
A normal outdoor patio projector is often designed to be mounted. That means it works best when intended to stay in one place. While this means you sacrifice portability and the spontaneous nights of bringing your outdoor theater on the road, larger projectors bring quality to the table. To start with, larger projectors support higher quality images, like HD and 4k resolutions. Larger projectors also have a greater throw distance, so they work with a bigger space between the projector mount and screen.
- 🔥 【Native 1080P HD & Unique Big Lens Design】- Adopt unique large lens design, the latest Bluetooth projector provides 9500 lumen&12000:1 high contrast&16:9/4:3 aspect ratio, with a native resolution of 1920*1080. LCD color calibration and adjustment technology can restore more complex color details. All these functions and features make the VISOUD projector image sharper and more detailed than other portable projectors, which provides the ultimate outdoor home theater movie viewing fun for you.
- ⚡【WiFi Wireless Connection & ZOOM】- The latest Wifi wireless connectivity technology, not only can use your mobile network to connect, but the same router to screen mirroring, WiFi projector simplifies the settings of iOS & Android & laptop devices to make them more user-friendly and stable(No Need Cables or Adapters). With the ZOOM function, it can adjust image size from 100 to 75% display what size you want without moving the projector. (120'' Projector Screen Included)
- 🔑【Bluetooth Wireless Connection & Dual Stereo Speaker】- VISOUD native 1080P projector contained built-in dual 5W stereo speakers, it shows original audio fidelity and excellent sound effects, it feels like you are on the scene. Besides this, The Bluetooth projector has a wireless Bluetooth connection function, you can use the technology to connect your Bluetooth headsets, Bluetooth speakers and Airpods(Do not Support Dolby), simply with no more cables.
- 🎶【Wide Compatibility and Application】- This movie projector was equipped with various and riching ports, which included VGA / HDMI / USB / TF /AV / 3.5mm Audio port. ★It can be compatible with Laptops, PC, TV, Speakers, TV Sticks, PS4, USB flash, TF SD cards, Smartphones, making it easy to use for both family or work related purposes. Due to copyright issues, Netflix, Hulu and Disney are prohibited from playing movies from the projector, connecting with the TV Stick to enjoy the streaming Apps.
- 💌【5 Years Warranty & Reliable After-sale Service】- VISOUD aim is to provide HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCT & COMPLAINT-FREE CUSTOMER SERVICE. If there is any problem with the product within 6 months, we promise money back or replacement. After you register for our Extra 5-Year Warranty Service, you can expect professional technical support if needed. We strive to ensure your product remains in excellent condition and that you are satisfied with your purchase.
Inflatable Projector Screen at Amazon
Mini projectors are, perhaps obviously, miniature – usually no bigger than 8”x8”x4.” They aren’t designed to be mounted. Rather, their portability is their draw. With a rechargeable battery and built-in speakers, they can turn any space into an ad hoc theater. The ease and flexibility do come at a cost to quality. Most portable projectors can’t support higher resolution images. But if you’re looking for an affordable, simple way to host an outdoor movie night, a mini projector is just the ticket.
- Remarkable Clarity and Contrast: DLP's advanced IntelliBright algorithms deliver a remarkably bright 100 ANSI-lumen image. (Recommended for use in dimmer environments.)
- 360° Speaker: Equipped with a powerful omnidirectional speaker, this mini projector pumps out sound all around.
- Home Entertainment: Enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, and more up to 100 inches big anywhere in your home thanks to Capsule’s soda can-sized design.
- Android 7.1: Run streaming and media apps flawlessly. Seamlessly display content from Netflix, Youtube, and more on your mini projector for endless entertainment.
- NOTE: Copyrighted content from Hulu, Netflix, and similar services CAN NOT be mirrored or screencast. Download and use the apps directly through Capsule portable projector to view copyrighted content from these providers. Chromecast is not supported. For peak performance, please update to the latest firmware.
Inflatable or Portable Patio Projector Screen
Projector kits will also come with a screen. There are quite a few factors that go into screen quality and we’ll dive into the fine points of projector screens later. In general, however, a patio projector kit offers either an inflatable movie screen or a portable movie screen. Deciding which option is best for you will depend on several factors, including your cost and space constraints as well as your personal preferences.
Inflatable Projector Screens
Inflatable movie screens have advanced quite a bit in the last few years. Their main appeal comes from their simplicity to set up and take down (making them very portable). Many options will inflate in as little as 60 seconds, so setup is truly a breeze. While the fan does make some background noise, a good set of speakers should be sufficient to not let it impact the audio experience. Additionally, because an inflatable screen is essentially a giant balloon, you will need to tether it to the ground once you’ve picked out a spot. Though it’s quite easy to move around, the fan needs to be plugged in, so access to an electrical outlet is also a must. If you are craving the occasional outdoor movie night and like having the option to bring the projector to a friend’s, an inflatable screen is a great choice.
- Simple assembly
- Packs down and stores easily
- Requires electricity to inflate
- Blower fan can be noisy
- Sways in windy conditions
- Often lacks rear projection option
- EASY SET-UP: The inflatable movie screen is easy for just one person to set up and no need other tools, finish in less than 10 minutes. The package included White Screen, Support Frame, High Power Blower, Carry Bag, Tethers and Stake. (NOTE: The blower need to remain on to keep inflated. Please ZIP UP the zipper before inflating.)
- FRONT/REAR PROJECTION: This inflatable projector screen is upgraded to front and rear projection, 160°wide viewing Angle, 16:9 screen ratio, high color reduction. A lot of outdoor movie screens are only setup for front or rear projection, this one gives you both options which is greatly flexibility, you can see clear pictures on any side.
- HIGH POWER QUIET BLOWER: This outdoor movie screen includes a high power 110v 180w blower included can blow up this movie screen in 2 minutes, unlike other built-in low-power blower that can't support the frame to inflate. And the blower was so hardly noticeable once the movie started, bring you an immersive movie-watching experience.
- PORTABLE MOVIE THEATER: This amazing, huge outdoor projector screen comes with a convenient storage bag that allows you to carry your inflatable movie screen wherever you want. This portable projector screen is lightweight enough to take it with you in every relevant occasion for impressive projections.
- EASY MAINTENANCE: It's black frame was made of 210D oxford cloth which is durable and does not fade. The white screen is removable for easy cleaning and safe storage. Thus, it is really convenient to clean it. What's more, it support wash by machine. (It is recommended that the screen and frame be stored separately to prevent the white screen from getting dirty)
Portable Projector Screens
Many outdoor projector kits come with a portable projector screen. While initial assembly takes longer than their inflatable counterparts, the effort pays off in other ways. Most portable projector screens are made from a higher quality material, which may improve the viewing experience. Additionally, since they don’t require power, you have more flexibility in placement without fear of extension cord trip hazards. Most screens will also have both standing and hanging options, letting you curate your outdoor theater to your specific space. Once set up, the higher durability of a portable projector screen allows you to leave it up for future use! If you are a movie buff who wants a more permanent patio theater, this option may better fit your needs.
- Simple cleaning and maintenance
- Doesn’t require electricity
- Higher quality screen material
- Hanging or standing options
- More complex assembly
- Higher price point
- Less easily transported
- CONVENIENT TO STORAGE AND CARRY - Compact one-piece,lightweight and folding design. You can fold the screen in small size and put it in your backpack or suitcase
- WIDE APPLICATION - Ideal choice for home theater movie,office,education, conference room presentation, public display, outdoor movie and more
- ANTI-CREASE AND HIGH ABSORBANCE MATERIAL - Made with natural Polyester fabric that The projection is sharper and brighter than most other projection screens, The Projection Screen are thicken and smooth, no wrinkle when folded / crushed.
- EASY TO SET UP – The Projection Screen can be fastened easily with hooks, ropes, bracket, nails, double side tape on the wall/mount.
- FORMAT AND SIZE - 16:9 screen format, diagonal 120" offer 104" x 58" viewing area
Some of the more comprehensive patio projector kits include separate speakers. Getting a set of quality outdoor speakers in your patio projector kit can take the movie theater ambiance to the next level. In patio projector kits, the included speakers usually connect with either an HDMI cord or Bluetooth.
- CREATED TO LIVE AND PLAY OUTDOORS, your Atrium Speakers can be installed in any open space—by a pool, in the patio or a sunroom, or tucked away somewhere in the backyard. They will deliver EXCEPTIONALLY GREAT SOUND
- WIDER SOUND DISPERSION & SURPRISINGLY POWERFUL BASS driven by a 4 1/2" mineral filled Dynamic Balance polymer cone and a 3/4" anodized aluminum dome tweeter with rubber surround. 80W power CUTS THROUGH LOUD, JARRING BACKGROUND NOISES
- Recognized as ONE OF THE BEST-LOOKING OUTDOOR SPEAKERS, Polk Atrium 4 speakers come with a steeply-angled baffle design filling open spaces with big full-range sound. The outer profile EASILY BLENDS INTO THE CORNERS OF THE OUTDOOR WALLS
- ONE-CLICK SPEED-LOCK MOUNTING BRACKET offers EASY, ANTI-SLIP ONE-HANDED INSTALLATION allowing you to mount these speakers vertically or horizontally, to deliver the best possible sound in a variety of situations. Simply mount the swiveling C-bracket
- THE SPEAKER FOR ALL SEASONS – it’s rugged durability, high environmental endurance and superior quality has helped Polk Outdoor Speakers earn the all-weather Certification. EFFORTLESSLY WITHSTANDS EXTREME TEMPERATURES AND HEAVY RAIN year after year
Necessary Cords and Mounting Equipment
Last, but certainly not least, a decent patio projector kit will come with all the necessary cords and mounting equipment you need to get your home outdoor movie theater up and running. The specific cords will depend on which ports the projector has (more on those later). They should correspond to video and audio transmission with instructions on how to connect a variety of devices.
The Important Features of a Patio Projector Kit
Here’s where we’re going deep. From details on projector quality to the nuances of a decent screen, this section is an overview of all the important features in a patio projector kit.
Reasonable Price Ranges
Wondering why movie theater kits can be expensive? On the flip side, you might also find options for startlingly cheap. Are these actually any good? While patio projector kits range from around $100 to several thousand, you will likely find a solid kit with decent and comprehensive components for around affordable prices of around $1,000. The kits on the cheaper side often have projectors with very few lumens. While they may include a projector and screen, many of the cheaper options don’t provide external speakers or the necessary hardware.
A Compact Projector With All the Right Features
When you dig into the details, there’s a lot to consider in a projector. Understanding the different features and deciding what is right for you can be tricky. We want to help you parse through the muck. Here, we provide some background on projector resolution, lumen rating, and throw ratio, along with a guide to all the different ports you will find on your device.
Resolution Type and Picture Quality
Resolution (sometimes referred to as “native resolution”) is defined as the number of pixels (i.e., individual points of color) used to create an image on a projecting image. It’s expressed as the number of pixels on the horizontal axis by the number of pixels on the vertical axis. The higher the resolution of a projector, the more pixels it depicts in images. Resolution can also be known as the image’s aspect ratio, defined by the ratio between the two lengths (4:3, 16:10, 16:9).
The table below highlights the most common projector resolutions on the market today with HD being the most popular.
|XGA (Extended Graphics Array)||1024 x 768||4:3|
|WXGA (Wide Extended Graphics Array)||1280 x 800||16:10|
|FHD (Full HD)||1920 x 1080||16:9|
|4k UHD||3840 x 2160||16:10|
Most projectors come with a “fixed resolution,” meaning that if the video content doesn’t match the projector’s resolution, the projector will “scale” the video. The projector will respectively enlarge or compress the image to approximate the display.
Lumen Rating and Color Accuracy
Along with resolution, other measures of image quality include the number of lumens and color accuracy of a projector. Light is measured in lumens (similar to how sound is measured in decibels). A single lumen is approximately as bright as a single candle, and more lumens will be increasingly brighter. The projector’s bulb will advertise a certain number of lumens that effectively measures the brightness of the image.
The best lumen amount will depend on how much ambient light you have in your space. In general, if a projector is rated for 3,000 lumens or more, that will provide sufficient brightness. Less than 2,000 lumens might leave you wanting, unless your yard is appropriately dark with little light pollution.
While a brighter bulb will provide better contrast and more accurate colors, more lumens are not always better. At a certain point, the brightness can hurt your eyes. Additionally, higher lumens can start impacting the color accuracy of your image.
Most out-of-the-box projectors come with decently calibrated colors. However, hiring a professional calibrator is always an option for the dedicated movie buff. Additionally, most projectors have calibration settings that can easily be adjusted by the user, like brightness, contrast, color saturation, and grayscale.
A projector’s throw ratio is the image width (W) in relation to the distance of the projector from the screen (D), calculated as D/W. Most projectors have a throw ratio of 2.0, meaning that the throw distance should be twice as much as the image width. For example, if the image width is five feet, you’ll want to position the projector ten feet away.
Most projectors have a zoom lens with two different throw ratios so you can adjust it to best fit your setup. As long as you know the measurement for either D or W, you can use the throw ratio to arrange your projector.
Array of Ports
One appeal of projectors is their compatibility with many different devices. However, this means that they often have quite a few ports, and it can be tricky to know what plugs are where. To get some clarity, use our guide to the common projector ports and their typical functions.
|Visual Ports||HDMI||Most common connector for sending digital images and sound.|
|Visual Ports||DVI-D||Receives digital image signals. Cable screws in at two points.|
|Visual Ports||VGA||Receives analog image signal. 15-pinned connector screws in.|
|Visual Ports||Component Video||Green, red, and blue connectors. Transmits analog video signal. Needed for Nintendo Wii.|
|Visual Ports||Composite Video||A yellow connector that delivers lower quality than a component connection, but is necessary for connecting older video cameras.|
|Visual Ports||S-Video||Sends analog video signal via older computers.|
|Audio Ports (Input)||RCA||Most connectors just receive image signals, so a separate audio connector is needed. The red and white RCA connector works alongside a component or composite input.|
|Audio Ports (Input)||3.5mm input||More commonly called an aux input, the 3.5 cable sends sound from your device to the projector.|
|Audio Ports (Input)||Optical||Less common, an optical connection sends higher quality digital sound.|
|Audio Ports (Outport)||3.5 mm output||An aux cord to connect the projector to external speakers.|
|Misc.||RS-232||Sends control signals to the screen.|
|Misc.||RS-232||Sends control signals to the screen.|
|Misc.||12V trigger||If the screen has the same connection, turning the projector on/off will trigger the screen to go up or down.|
|Misc.||USB||A USB port can play files stored on a USB flash drive or hard drive. Additionally, the USB port can power a smartphone or WiFi adapter .|
Need more insight to decide on a projector? Check out this article on the five best outdoor projectors.
An Outdoor Screen With Reliable Attributes
Maybe you are completely sold by the easy setup of an inflatable screen, or you’re attracted to the durability of a hanging display. Whichever you choose, you want a reliable screen that will provide the best viewing experience for your audience. Furthermore, in both of these categories, you will still need to pick the size and color of a screen that best matches your space and preferences. Follow our tips for choosing the best screen size for your patio and deciding if you should splurge or save on the screen color.
Appropriate Screen Size
Screen size will be somewhat subjective. First, you must consider your space. How many people can fit in your patio or yard? How far away from the screen will they be? Your answers to these questions will help you decide how big of a screen to get.
Though perhaps an antiquated practice, screens are often measured diagonally. This can be a bit confusing if you just want a clear idea of how a screen will fit in your space. Because of this, try to find the height and width dimensions for more clarity.
Deciding Screen Height
Sitting too close to the screen can be uncomfortable. To calculate how close you should sit to your screen, multiply the height of your screen by two. If you sit within that distance, you might find yourself craning your neck to see. On the flip side, farther than four screen heights might diminish the experience. To choose your screen height, measure the distance between your preferred screen location and seating, then divide by three.
Deciding Screen Width
Once you’ve determined your screen height, the width will depend on the aspect ratio of your projector. For example, a 100” tall screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio will be 160” wide. For more on choosing the screen size for your projector, check out this article.
Standard Surface Color
The standard color for a projector screen is white. However, there are a few other options on the market. Gray screens gained popularity at the turn of the century because the darker shade helps improve the contrast of the projector, especially in places with ambient light.
Less common (and often more expensive) are the silver screens and black screens. Back in the day, black and white films were projected onto silver screens (hence the antiquated name for the movies). The silver material reflects more light and provides more contrast to the projections. Black screens naturally provide more contrast and will provide a clear image with ample ambient light.
Strong Screen Material and Equipment
When choosing your screen, you also want to make sure you’re getting a durable material that can stand up to the elements. Even if you choose an inflatable screen that will come down after each use, you never know when a windy day or light sprinkle will spring up. Most screens are made from either fabric or vinyl. Fabric screens often have a reflective coating sprayed onto their surface and are more affordable than other textile projection screens. Whatever the material, make sure it’s resistant to mildew and easy to clean.
Check out the best outdoor projector screens for any budget.
Outdoor Speakers With Clear Sound Capabilities
The quality of the projector and screen obviously impact the visuals of your backyard movie night, but don’t forget that the power of audio can make or break the experience. When choosing a speaker system for your outdoor projector setup, consider its portability, durability, and sound quality.
- NO AMPLIFIER NEEDED: This outdoor Bluetooth speaker features one active speaker and one passive speaker for a simplified setup. Connect the active speaker to power and the passive speaker using standard speaker wire
- INDOOR OUTDOOR READY: Rainproof seals keep water from damaging input ports and cable wire connection. Stain protection and waterproof speaker grills keep the speaker and stand up to weather in any season
- ELEGANT & STRONG: Compact with prime gold plated binding post, it presents an elegant white look especially when it comes backyard or indoor ceiling cabinet enclosure wall
- 6.5 WOOFER & 3.5 millimeter WIRED INPUT: Enjoy long range theater 2.0 stereo sound with crisp highs and deep lows system built to be heard outside. Also, connect any non bluetooth device
- POWERED WIRELESS BLUETOOTH CONNECTION: This electric pair of portable marine amplified weatherproof speaker works in your iPhone, Mobile, Smartphone, iPad, Tablet or PC with a range of 30 feet
Similar to screens, the question of portability comes into play when deciding on speakers. Do you want to ability to take your full patio projector set up on the go? If so, you’ll want speakers that are easy to carry and pack away. If you’re creating a more permanent outdoor theater space, opting for speakers that can be mounted along with the projector will enhance the backyard theater ambiance.
When bringing any technology outside, considering its durability is critical. Even if you intend to bring in your speakers after each use, there’s no guarantee against a spontaneous rainstorm or topple to the ground. Any speaker system you choose should be able to take some damage. Many digital devices are given an IP (ingress protection) rating that rates how well it does when exposed to the elements. An IP rate will have two numbers rating the resistance of the device to dust and water, respectively. For outdoor speakers, look for options that have an IP rating of at least a six.
The durability of outdoor speakers doesn’t have to mean sacrificing sound quality. In fact, many outdoor speaker sets rival their indoor counterparts. A typical speaker has both a woofer, that handles the lower frequencies and a tweeter that produces the mid and high-range sounds. Some speakers may also come with a subwoofer that carries the even lower bass pitches.
Buying a Patio Projector Kit vs Buying Products Individually
Do you spring for an entire kit or do you elect to build your perfect theater?
The Advantages of an Outdoor Movie Theater Kit
Far and away, the advantages of an outdoor movie theater kit lie in its convenience. In one fell swoop, you get everything you need for your patio movie nights. Once the kit arrives at your door, set up begins. No waiting on different packages or back-ordered material.
Additionally, the components in an outdoor projector kit are vetted by the company that sells them and are compatible with each other. From a reputable brand, you will likely receive a high-quality projector and screen with the appropriate hardware. As a result, the setup is simple. All you have to do is follow an instruction manual to mount the projector and screen and connect the relevant technology. If you opt for a kit, you won’t find yourself digging through that tangled cord box in the garage to find a lost or stray HDMI cable.
The Disadvantages of an Outdoor Movie Theater Kit
On the flip side, buying an outdoor projector kit may feel limiting. For the cinephiles who want more control over the image and sound quality of their movie experience, buying a projector in a kit can be restrictive. In general, most kits come with standard features and offer less flexibility.
The Advantages of Buying Individual Projector Products
If curating the premier backyard theater is your jam, you might be swayed by the advantages of buying individual projector products. Similarly, if you already have a solid set of external speakers and an array of cables, it might make more sense to invest in the projector and screen individually. Some folks might even choose to paint a wall instead of using a screen. In any of these cases, it would be more advantageous to buy individual products rather than a kit. You can realize your wildest patio projector ideas.
The Disadvantages of Buying Individual Projector Products
While you can get more specificity by buying individual products, the process can require time and a lot of background knowledge. Understanding the ins and outs of projector lingo and which cables go where can be intimidating. Nothing is more disappointing than getting your hopes up for a fun movie night only to realize you don’t have the right cord.
Are You Ready For a Backyard Movie Night?
Overall, if you value simplicity and efficiency, investing in a patio projector kit makes sense. If you already own some of the parts or want a greater say in the quality of different components, piecing together your own setup would be the right choice. Either way, once you’ve unfurled (or inflated) your screen and powered up the projector, you don’t need to worry anymore. It’s time to dish out the popcorn and grab some blankets. Backyard movie night is about to begin!