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The 5 best outdoor projectors of 2024 are ready for your summer movie nights

The 5 best outdoor projectors of 2024
Nebula, BenQ

A fun way to get the most out of your backyard is to set up an outdoor projector and host a movie night. An outdoor projector, combined with wireless speakers, a popcorn machine and a few comfy lounge chairs (or portable hammocks) are all you need to enjoy your favorite Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows or live sporting events under the stars.

The best outdoor projectors offer a large and vibrant picture, with accurate colors and smooth action. And while there are a few outdoor projectors that are water resistant, any portable projector will work great outside, as long as it doesn't get wet. 

We recommend a 4K resolution outdoor projector that's super-portable, easy to set up and that relies on the latest laser projection technology with a fast refresh rate -- like the new LG CineBeam Q, which we recently reviewed. It's perfect for indoor or outdoor movie nights. 

What is the best outdoor projector?

Our in-house team of technology experts has researched and tested some of the best outdoor projectors on the market. Some of these outdoor projectors are water resistant, some offer an integrated battery pack and a few provide the ultimate in easy setup and portability. So there's definitely an option here that'll take your outdoor movie nights to a whole new level of enjoyment this summer.

Best outdoor projector overall: LG CineBeam Q

LG CineBeam Q

Resolution: 4K | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels | Projection type: RGB tri-laser | Internal battery: No | Dimensions: 3.1 x 5.3 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Water resistant: No | Operating system: WebOS | Internal speakers: 1x 3 watts | Max. brightness: 500 ANSI lumens | Projection size: Up to 120-inches

The recently released LG CineBeam Q is one of the few projectors that can be used indoors or outdoors. It sets up in minutes and offers 4K resolution using a tri-laser projection system. While not waterproof, the CineBeam Q can be set up anywhere there's electricity. It then connects either directly to Wi-Fi or can be paired with a computer or mobile device to provide an endless supply of movies, TV shows and live sporting events.

What we love about this projector is that it displays a sharp and bright picture (especially at night) and features both auto-focus and digital keystone correction, so there's no need to tinker with buttons or dials to achieve a sharp and vibrant picture. No matter at what angle you set up the projector, it displays a rectangular image that's perfectly proportioned and showcases a 154% DCI-P3 color gamut.

The single mono speaker built into the projector is adequate, but you'll probably want to connect Bluetooth speakers or even a soundbar to enhance the audio volume and quality. There's no built-in rechargeable battery, but the projector can be used with a portable power bank or plugged into any AC outlet. We're huge fans of the CineBeam Q's overall design, performance and picture quality. To achieve the sharpest picture, we suggest using it outdoors at night or inside in a darkened viewing space.

For more information about this powerful projector, check out our in-depth review.

Best value outdoor projector: Samsung The Freestyle (2nd Gen)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen

Resolution: 1080p | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels | Projection type: LED | Internal battery: No | Dimensions: 4 x 6.8 x 3.7 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds | Water resistant: No | Operating system: Tizen | Internal speakers: 1x 5-watts (360-degree sound | Max. brightness: 250 ANSI lumens | Projection size: Up to 100-inches

The two coolest things about this projector are its compact size and that you can position it at almost any angle to generate up to a 100-inch image. While not waterproof, it can easily be used outdoors and set up in minutes. You can either plug in the projector or use it with its optional 32,000mAh battery base ($190) that'll work for up to three hours between charges.

The FreeStyle (2nd Gen) offers 1080p resolution and can be set at any angle; the rectangular image automatically focuses and levels. Built into the projector is one 5-watt speaker that generates 360-degree audio, but for louder and more robust sound, you can pair it with one or more Bluetooth speakers.

This new second-generation version of The Freestyle offers a built-in Game Hub, so when you connect a console gaming system, it automatically adjusts to present the best picture quality and smoothest animations possible. You can also play cloud-based games via services like Xbox Game Pass, Nvidia GeForce and Utomik using just a wireless controller (no console needed).

When connected to Wi-Fi, you can access any of your favorite streaming networks and channels through the Tizen OS. Or, you can connect the projector (wirelessly or with a cable) to your mobile device or computer to access video content. Because the projector's maximum brightness is only 250 ANSI lumens, we suggest using it outside at night (with minimal ambient light in the area) to achieve the most vibrant picture quality. Inside, it works best within a dark viewing space. Now that Samsung has reduced the price of this projector, it offers great value for the money.

Best ultra-small outdoor projector: Nebula Capsule 3 Laser

Nebula Capsule 3 Laser

Resolution: 1080p | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels | Projection type: Tri-laser | Internal battery: Yes (up to 2.5 hours of playtime) | Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.3 x 6.7 inches | Weight: 1.98 pounds | Water resistant: No | Operating system: AndroidTV | Internal speakers: 1x 8-watts | Max. brightness: 300 ANSI lumens | Projection size: Up to 120-inches

This projector is about the size of a soda can, yet it projects an image up to 120 inches in 1080p resolution using a triple laser system that generates a sharp picture with accurate colors. The Capsule 3 Laser supports Dolby Digital sound and has a built-in battery that works for up to 2.5 hours between charges. 

Since the Capsule 3 Laser's maximum brightness is just 300 ANSI lumens, plan to use it outdoors at night, with minimal ambient light present to see the most vibrant picture. Along with the projector and battery, the Capture 3 contains a built-in speaker. When connected directly to Wi-Fi, it gives you full access to the AndroidTV OS and all of the streaming video services you subscribe to. This means it's a complete movie and TV projection system built into a single unit that fits in your hand. No additional equipment or accessories are needed to use it (except for a screen or white wall for it to project onto).

When Wi-Fi is not available, you always have the option of pairing the projector with your mobile device or computer to provide video content. This can be done wirelessly or using a cable. Since the projector runs using AndroidTV, it automatically supports Chromecast (which works with all Android and ChromeOS devices).

Nebula offers several Capsule projector models, but the Capsule 3 Laser is the only one to offer tri-laser projection technology with autofocus and auto leveling. This latest model is 55% smaller, 1.8 times brighter and offers twice the contrast as previous models. It's perfect for hosting movie nights in your backyard or while on a camping trip.

Best water-resistant outdoor projector: BenQ GS50

BenQ GS50 Outdoor Projector

Resolution: 1080p | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels | Projection type: LED DLP | Internal battery: Yes (up to 150 mins. playtime) | Dimensions: 5.75 x 7.32 x 6.06 inches | Weight: 5.07 pounds | Water resistant: IPX2 rated | Operating system: AndroidTV | Internal speakers: 2x 5-watts, 1x 10-watt subwoofer | Max. brightness: 500 ANSI lumens | Projection size: Up to 120-inches

Because it's IPX2 rated as water and drop-resistant, this is the outdoor projector you want to take on camping trips where it'll need to withstand a more rugged environment. The GS50 has a built-in battery pack that lasts up to 150 minutes.

Set up is super simple and you can stream content directly via Wi-Fi thanks to the AndroidTV OS, or pair the projector with your smartphone, tablet or computer to provide video content. Out of all the outdoor projectors featured in this roundup, this is the only one that offers two, built-in, 5-watt stereo speakers and a 10-watt subwoofer, so sound quality is impressive.

We like this projector because of its durability. It can generate a 1080p resolution projected image that's up to 120 inches. With its maximum brightness of 500 lumens, the projector performs best outdoors at night, with minimal ambient light. For binge-watching TV shows, movies or live sports, we suggest plugging it into an external power source, such as a portable power bank or electrical outlet. Using its built-in leather handle, the 5.07-pound projector is easy to carry around and set up almost anywhere. 

Best outdoor projector with a battery pack: Nebula Mars 3

Nebula Mars 3 Outdoor Projector

Resolution: 1080p | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels | Projection type: LED DLP | Internal battery: Yes (up to 5 hrs. playtime) | Dimensions: 6.3 x 10.24 x 9.84 inches | Weight: 9.92 pounds | Water resistant: IPX3 rated | Operating system: AndroidTV | Internal speakers: 2x 5-watts, 10-watt subwoofer | Max. brightness: 1,000 ANSI lumens | Projection size: Up to 200-inches

Although it doesn't offer 4K resolution, there's a lot to love about the Nebula Mars 3 outdoor projector. It's portable and has a built-in battery pack that keeps the projector running for up to five hours between charges. What we like best is the projector's maximum brightness of 1,000 ANSI lumens, which makes it the brightest option in this roundup. This means it'll perform nicely in dimly lit or dark indoor or outdoor spaces. 

Set up takes just minutes. The Mars 3 runs using the AndroidTV OS, so when it's connected directly to Wi-Fi, you get easy access to all of the streaming channels and networks you subscribe to. Although, it's just as easy to pair the projector with your mobile device or computer to provide video content. 

Between the two 5-watt speakers and a single 10-watt subwoofer, the sound that accompanies whatever video content you watch will be heard in stereo, with plenty of noticeable bass. The built-in handle makes the projector easy to carry around, while the adjustable kickstand allows you to set it at the optimal angle for your screen.

What makes a projector good for the outdoors?

If you plan to use a projector outdoors, seek out a portable model with the option to run using a battery pack (as opposed to an electrical outlet) that has the highest maximum brightness possible (at least 500 ANSI lumens). When it comes to resolution, 1080p works fine, but for the sharpest and most detailed projected image, we recommend 4K resolution and a projector that uses a tri-laser projection system that can generate an image of at least 80- to 100-inches.

Some portable projectors are water-resistant and designed to be drop-resistant. These are the best models to take on a camping trip. However, for an outdoor movie night in your backyard, any projector offering a compact size with easy setup will work just fine. Just don't expose it to water and handle it gently, just as you would a tablet or laptop computer. 

Most portable projectors can connect to Wi-Fi, which means that they can stream content directly from a popular video streaming service, like Netflix or Paramount+. All of the projectors can be used with a mobile device or computer to provide content wirelessly or using a cable. And finally, since you plan to use the projector outside, choose one that offers one or more internal speakers that generate enough volume to be heard clearly from several feet away. Otherwise, you'll want to use the projector with optional wireless (Bluetooth) speakers to enhance audio quality and boost volume levels.

Can you leave an outdoor projector outside overnight?

If a portable projector has an IP rating that indicates it's water-resistant, this means it can be exposed to a small amount of water and not get damaged. That said, we suggest never leaving any projector outside overnight. Set it up when you plan to use it and then pack it up and bring it indoors when you're done. (If you're camping, keep it inside your tent or RV when it's not being used outside.) And for added protection, consider investing in a carrying case designed for your projector.

Need more projector suggestions for your home? Check out our coverage of the five best home projectors for 2024. If you're seeking a new TV, we have you covered with our roundups of the four best 8K TVs in 2024, the best OLED TVs for 2024, six best TVs for 2024 and five best TVs for video gamers. Also, be sure to read our full review of the incredibly popular Samsung Frame TV. And you can always find the latest info about the most in-demand consumer technologies by staying up-to-date with all of our comprehensive tech coverage.

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