How to Set Up the Best Outdoor Home Theater
Who doesn’t love watching a movie? And what can make it even more exciting is taking that cinema outside and creating a home theater.
Whether you’re in the city and planning a rooftop watch party, or living in a house and planning a backyard family movie night, there’s an option that will fit your lifestyle. You still have a few months in 2021 to set up that dream cinema.
First Things First, Plan Your Location
When you’re outside, you now have an ultra factor to consider: the weather. When finding a spot to set up your cinema, you want to find a place that’s insulated.
This can protect against light rain and drizzle, as well as the wind. The last thing you want is a small breeze to topple over your outdoor projector and screen. The insulation will also help the images seem brighter and the audio sound crisper (more on these later).
Consider Your Projector
This is the most important decision you’ll make when creating your outdoor home theater. Yes, we know we’re biased as a smart projector company, but What Hi-Fi is among several media outlets that say the same thing.
How Bright is the Projector?
Video projectors come with lots of features and specs, but the most important aspect is brightness. Unlike the indoors, you can’t control everything outside. There are street lights, your neighbor’s lights, and even your own house lights. Your picture quality won’t look as bright as it does in your living room, which is why you’ll want to find a projector that’s bright above all else.
A wired movie projector is brighter than a portable movie projector, but the main advantage of portable projectors is that they have a built-in battery and are designed to move. Their small design makes them easy to carry to an ideal spot outside without worrying about tangled wires and extension cords.
You’ll also want to review the display technology. For instance, an LED projector seems brighter than lamp-based projectors, even though it may have a lower ANSI Lumens rating. Lamp-based projectors using DLP technology also have benefits. We cover that in detail in our article, “How to Find the Best Home Theater Projector.”
How Does the Projector Sound?
The second biggest consideration with a projector is sound quality. Indoor speakers are not meant to be played outside.
When you’ve got a wide-open space, the sound doesn’t have enough things to bounce off of, so that deep resonant bass is going to sound flat compared to your living room where you hear that true 3D audio.
Look for portable projectors that have built-in speakers with high wattage to ensure your sound makes the impact you want. You can also look for projectors that can connect to Bluetooth speakers.
UHD vs HD
When considering your projector, you want to make sure that you have crystal-clear image quality. A good industry standard is 1080p HD for high-quality smart portable projectors. If you don’t mind a wire, you could upgrade to an Ultra HD home theater projector that displays your film in 4K resolution.
You may also want to look for projectors with high dynamic resolution (HDR). This feature enriches your image to show off that dazzling array of color.
Can You Connect to Wi-Fi?
You’ll also want to check if your projector has built-in Wi-Fi. Thick walls can really dampen the signal, and you may need to get a booster if your projector lacks this feature. But if your projector has built-in Wi-Fi, it can easily connect to the Internet without issues.
How Easy Is It to Set Up?
Finally, a quality-of-life question to ask is, “How easy is it to set up the projector?” Look for projectors with features like automatic keystone correction so that you can get a perfectly aligned screen in seconds.
You’ll also want to consider the user interface to easily navigate menus. Projectors like Solar Portable feature Android TV, which provides thousands of apps, including Netflix and TikTok, for you to stream to your heart’s content.
Some projectors also allow you to use Bluetooth technology to connect mobile devices and cast content onto a big screen, making it even easier to watch what you want.
Screen vs Screenless?
If you’re asking yourself whether you should get a screen, the answer depends. If you care about quality, then the answer is yes, you do need a screen.
A projector technically works without one, but it also highlights your fence's wood panels or the stucco on your house. You’re going to notice all those grooves in the picture. Plus, the screen reflects light and will make your projector seem brighter than it actually is.
When buying a projector, you want to consider something sturdy that you can bolt to the ground. Screens are flimsy, and if a gust of wind comes, your screen could take off into the night sky. Giving your screen some support will help it stay upright throughout the entire movie.
If you want to avoid a high price or have a DIY mindset, you could construct a screen, but it may lack some of the reflective material found in ones you could buy.
The most basic screen is a white bedsheet that you can hang from a clothesline. You can also try building your screen.
Purchase some fabric and place some lumber at the top and bottom of the sheet. Then, sew it together, put some screw hooks in the top piece of lumber, and hang it from that perfect location outside.
Consider Getting a Tripod
As mentioned earlier, the weather can sometimes get a little gusty. A tripod is one way to protect your projector from toppling over. A tripod also makes your projector easy to adjust.
You can move the tripod forward or backward to adjust the screen size (check your projector’s distance calculator to find the right throw ratio). The tripod also allows you to raise and lower the projector to a perfect height.
The green grass isn’t as inviting as you think. It can be firm, plus you could get bug bites or stains from the dirt. Thankfully, the easy solution is to lay out a blanket.Give yourself some extra comfort by placing extra blankets, pillows, or bean bags for padding. You can even bring chairs or set up a hammock for an ultimate chill vibe.
You’re All Set
We hope these tips help you get started setting up your outdoor theater. We hope we were able to give you some inspiration. If you are looking for a projector or accessories, you may want to check out an Anker Nebula projector.You don’t need to buy from us, but we are proud of our products, and we know they’ll enlighten your outdoor cinema experience.
Happy movie watching!