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The feature-packed Samsung Freestyle is our top pick.
Home theater projectors have come a long way in recent years — with cinematic sound, streaming capabilities, voice controls, and high-resolution short-throw displays. And many have gone above and beyond to allow high-quality outdoor viewing.
Outdoor projectors are often durable, lightweight, and compact with rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth connectivity, and other on-the-go features. Whether you're planning a glamping trip, hosting a backyard movie night, or looking for a way to take your barbeque to the next level, there's an outdoor projector with your name on it.
We searched high and low to track down standout models for outdoor use. Our top choice is the Samsung Freestyle, a portable projector with 180-degree angle adjustments, auto-focus, and a built-in speaker that sends sound waves in every direction. If you're looking for something even more compact, the best possible sound quality, or a device that's great to use during the day, consider one of our other favorite outdoor projectors.
Samsung The Freestyle FHD HDR Smart Portable Projector
Why We Love It: The Freestyle boasts 180-degree rotation, auto-focus, base enhancers, smart controls, and streaming capabilities.
What to Consider: It works best after dusk, and you'll need to buy the battery base separately.
The Samsung Freestyle was one of Oprah's Favorite Things for 2022, and it's easy to see why. This portable indoor/outdoor projector boasts 180-degree rotation, meaning you can position it at any angle, then it'll automatically adjust the picture to a perfect focus. Not only that, but its built-in speaker calls on base enhancers and a wraparound design to send cinematic sound waves in every direction.
This home theater system can be controlled on a phone or tablet using the SmartThings app. You can adjust everything from the volume to the brightness to the color settings. It also works with Alexa, Siri, and other voice assistants.
The Freestyle can do just about everything a smart TV does, including streaming shows and movies, YouTube videos, and on-demand workouts. You can plug it in using a USB-C cable, but we should note that if you want to use it cord-free, you'll need to buy the battery base separately. Also, the picture will be best after dusk when using it outdoors.
Price at time of publish: $598
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 550 ASNI | Ports: USB-C | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Dimensions: 6.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
CiBest Mini Projector
Why We Love It: This budget-friendly projector connects to just about any device and promises sharp, bright images and stereo sound.
What to Consider: It doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
On a budget? The CiBest Mini Projector is a solid choice for outdoor entertainment. While it doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities, it connects to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, flash drive, Fire Stick, PlayStation, Xbox, or even a Blu-ray player.
This portable streaming device can project onto viewing screens up to 100 inches and promises sharp images 80 percent brighter than other models of its size. It also has a cooling system that keeps the fan noise at a minimum and built-in stereo speakers that provide full sound effects. To enhance the sound quality further, you can connect it to an additional speaker using the 3.5-millimeter jack.
Price at time of publish: $70
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: Not listed | Ports: MHL, VGA, USB, HDMI, 3.5 millimeter | Connectivity: Plug and play | Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches
Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Projector
Why We Love It: The Nebula Cosmos creates a perfectly fitting screen in seconds and generates a high-def picture you can see in broad daylight.
What to Consider: It runs on AAA batteries, which you'll have to replace often.
If you're open to spending more on a high-end model, the Nebula Cosmos won't disappoint. This 4K projector offers a bright, crystal-clear, high-definition picture you can even see in broad daylight.
It leans on IEA (Intelligent Environment Adaptation) technology to analyze the available surface and create a perfectly fitting screen in seconds. What's more, dual 10-watt speakers deliver an immersive sound experience. Just a heads up, the portable design runs on AAA batteries, so make sure you have extras on hand.
Price at time of publish: $2,200
Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Lumens: 2400 ISO | Ports: HDMI, USB | Connectivity: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth | Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5 x 6.5 inches
Kodak Luma 75 Portable Pocket Projector
Why We Love It: The ultra-portable, palm-sized Kodak Luma provides bright pictures with excellent color accuracy.
What to Consider: The resolution is somewhat limited.
If you’re interested in something smaller, check out the Kodak Luma 75. Measuring just 3 x 3 inches, this mini projector fits in the palm of your hand and slips conveniently into a backpack, purse, or even your pocket, basically making the whole world your theater.
Though the resolution is limited compared to other models, it provides bright pictures with excellent color accuracy. The plug-and-play design is easy to set up and user-friendly, but you might consider getting the tripod and remote for enhanced portability.
Price at time of publish: $180
Resolution: 640 x 360 | Lumens: 25 ANSI | Ports: USB, HDMI, MicroSD | Connectivity: Plug and play | Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 1 inches
BenQ GS50 1080p Outdoor Projector
Best for Daylight
Why We Love It: It offers full-resolution viewing with balanced brightness any time of day.
What to Consider: The battery life is only about two and a half hours.
If you want to screen movies in broad daylight, the BenQ GS50 is your best bet. This outdoor projector offers a full-resolution picture with balanced brightness, CinematicColor technology, and HDR (high dynamic range) details. Thanks to dual-channel Bluetooth speakers with a subwoofer and extra bass, the sound is pretty incredible too.
The rugged design is drop-proof and splash-resistant to prevent damage in outdoor environments. It can be plugged in using the included power cord or used cord-free, but the rechargeable battery only lasts about two and a half hours.
Price at time of publish: $799
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 500 ANSI | Ports: HDMI, USB-C | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Dimensions: 11.5 x 9 x 7.5 inches
XGIMI MoGo Pro
Best for Streaming
Why We Love It: You can download streaming apps directly onto the MoGo Pro, then use the mic button to play your show of choice.
What to Consider: The battery only lasts about two hours.
The MoGo Pro does pretty much everything a smart TV does, except you'll need to provide your own screen. You can download streaming apps like Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and Google Play directly onto this portable projector. Then use the mic button on the included remote and ask it to play your movie or show of choice.
With full-resolution picture and auto-focus, you can count on a clear viewing experience on screens up to 120 inches. The built-in speakers generate high-quality audio, and you can connect it to any Bluetooth speaker for even better sound. If you want to use it cordlessly, bear in mind the rechargeable battery only lasts about two hours.
Price at time of publish: $499
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 300 ASNI | Ports: HDMI | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Dimensions: 5.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
Wemax Dice Portable Projector
Best for Travel
Why We Love It: This compact and lightweight projector has a rechargeable battery and two Bluetooth speakers that deliver theater-like sound.
What to Consider: It's not water-resistant, so don't leave it outside when it's not in use.
The Wemax Dice was built for on-the-go use. This outdoor projector has a rechargeable battery that can run continuously for the duration of up to two movies. Measuring just 6.5 x 6 x 5 inches and weighing only 4 pounds, it's super compact and lightweight with a carrying handle for enhanced portability.
This bring-anywhere projector can be positioned at any angle, while an auto-focus feature ensures instant clarity without having to adjust the settings. What's more, two built-in Dolby speakers deliver theater-like sound no matter where you set it up. You can also use it as a standalone Bluetooth speaker.
Price at time of publish: $700
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 700 ANSI | Ports: HDMI, USB, 3.5 millimeter | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Dimensions: 6.5 x 6 x 5 inches
Anker Nebula Mars II Pro
Why We Love It: It has two built-in speakers that provide truly immersive sound with deep, resonant bass.
What to Consider: The battery lasts about three hours on a full charge.
The Nebula Mars II Pro uses DLP IntelliBright technology to project videos with razor-sharp clarity and impressive detail, even when you're outside. It also has dual 10-watt speakers that provide immersive, cinematic-level sound with deep, resonant bass.
You can plug it into your device of choice or connect via Bluetooth for cord-free screen mirroring. It runs on a rechargeable battery, which lasts about three hours, but you can also keep it plugged into an outlet if needed.
Price at time of publish: $550
Resolution: 1280 x 720 | Lumens: 550 ASNI | Ports: HDMI, USB | Connectivity: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth | Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 5 inches
Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Projector
Why We Love It: The Mini EF12 uses laser diode technology to project stunning 4K picture quality on screens up to 150 inches.
What to Consider: It doesn't have a rechargeable battery.
Epson's Mini EF12 offers one of the best viewing experiences you can get with a projector. It delivers stunning full-resolution, 4K picture quality on screens as big as 150 inches. With laser diode technology, it generates images with impressive brightness and enhanced black density.
This indoor/outdoor projector also has a high-end Yamaha audio system that rivals most modern soundbars. When you're not screening movies, you can use it as a standalone Bluetooth speaker. We should note the Mini EF12 doesn't have a rechargeable battery, so make sure you have plenty of AAAs on hand.
Price at time of publish: $860
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 1000 | Ports: HDMI | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 5 inches
DR. J Native 5G Projector with Screen
Best with Screen
Why We Love It: This set includes a Bluetooth-enabled projector and a 120-inch screen you can mount indoors or outside.
What to Consider: It doesn't have a built-in speaker.
Looking for a projector-screen combo set? This bundle from DRJ comes with a portable projector that provides bright, full-resolution displays, plus a 120-inch screen you can hang indoors or outside. (The projector can actually create pictures up to 300 inches, but you'd need a bigger screen, of course.)
This Bluetooth-enabled gadget connects wirelessly to Apple and Android devices, or if you'd rather, you can plug it in with an HDMI or USB cable. One drawback is that it doesn't have built-in audio, but you can easily sync it to any Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
Price at time of publish: $133
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 9500 | Ports: HDMI, USB, VGA | Connectivity: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth | Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 6.5 inches
Tips for Buying an Outdoor Projector
Consider the environment in your intended use area
When shopping around for an outdoor projector, think about where you plan to use it and any potential environmental factors. Some models work in broad daylight, but most offer the best picture quality after dark.
A good sound system is important, too, as you'll be dealing with outside noises rather than playing movies in an enclosed indoor space. Additionally, if your projector isn't moisture-resistant, be sure to use it only in dry conditions — and always bring it inside when it's not in use.
Weigh portability with picture quality
Some of the best outdoor projectors are compact and lightweight, with viewing experiences that rival high-end TVs. However, smaller models don't always have the same resolution or brightness. If you're not willing to sacrifice picture quality in the name of portability, check all the specs (including resolution and lumens) before buying anything to ensure the projector is up to par.
Think about your app and input needs
You'll also want to pay attention to the connectivity and inputs. Modern models often have built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or both), making it easy to connect wirelessly to your phone, tablet, or smart hub. You can also connect with a USB or HDMI cable, but make sure the projector has the proper ports before buying it.
Don't forget about a stand
Many portable projectors are standalone units that can be placed on nearly any flat surface. However, some call for tripods or special stands that allow you to adjust the angle and position it toward your screen of choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many lumens do I need for an outdoor projector?
<p>Portable outdoor projectors should have at least 500 lumens of brightness. This will provide a high-quality display in most outdoor lighting conditions, though models that work in daylight are sometimes closer to 2000 or even 3000 lumens.</p><p>You'll usually see lumens labeled as ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization). ANSI lumens are about 2.4 times larger than ISO, so you can expect brighter illumination if you see this abbreviation next to the number.</p>
How do I make a screen for an outdoor projector?
<p>You can make your own outdoor projector screen with a white blackout cloth. This is the type of opaque lining found on the backings of blackout curtains, and you can <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Blackout-Drapery-Percent-Waterproof-Sunshade/dp/B06XRVWWVC/?tag=travelandleisure-onsite-backup-20" data-component="amazon" data-source="affiliate" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1" rel="sponsored nofollow noskim">buy one online</a> or at a fabric store. (A drop cloth glued to a tarp can work too.)</p><p>Once the cloth is cut to size, roll the top over a wooden dowel and sew or staple it in place. This will allow you to hang the screen from two hooks or brackets (similar to a curtain rod), which you can attach to a fence, patio cover, or another outdoor structure.</p>
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer specializing in consumer tech and lifestyle. She researched dozens of outdoor projectors for this story, narrowing it down to the most portable, user-friendly options with great picture quality and sound.
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