Enjoying a movie with your family is great. Enjoying it outside, relaxing under the stars, is even better. As projectors get smaller, brighter and cheaper, setting them up is easier than ever. You can choose between easily models or cable models with built-in streaming and plenty of brightness.
Ideally, you will have a screen of some kind, but even a large sheet or poster can be enough. All the projectors on this list have speakers, but if you have a large garden or want the movie to be heard over the commotion of some young people, it would be best to connect. If your Wi-Fi is not strong enough to reach the place where you want to show the movie, you can turn your phone into a hotspot. In a few cases, you can download some content to the projector itself, but don’t expect it from every model or every streaming service.
Here are the best outdoor projectors we’ve tested.
The tiny Mars II Pro isn’t the brightest, smallest, or cheapest projector on this list. It’s not even the easiest to use. But it combines a pleasant image with decent sound at a good price. It’s an all-around great choice without the serious drawbacks of many other portable projectors.
The main problem with the Mars II Pro is that it doesn’t use the full version of the Android TV streaming service like some newer models. As such, it’s not that easy to use and you won’t get all the streaming services. The big ones are of course like Netflix and Disney Plus, but no HBO. You can of course plug in a streaming dongle and there’s a USB connection right on the back for power.
The battery lasts about the length of a long film.
Check out our in-depth Mars II Pro review.
The AAXA P6 emits an impressive amount of light and lasts up to 4 hours with the built-in battery. You’ll need to add a streaming dongle to watch anything, but there’s a USB connection for power, so that’s easy to do.
Overall, the picture quality is okay, but not great. Colors are muted, contrast ratio not great, and its 1,280×800 pixel resolution is noticeably softer than 1080p and especially 4K projectors.
That means it’s light and cheap, which is a great combination.
Check out our full AAXA P6X review.
The Vimgo P10 regularly hovers around $250 and often drops even cheaper. It’s a strange product, it does a few things right and a lot of things wrong. The picture it produces is watchable and has an impressively high contrast ratio, but the colors are absolutely terrible. Brightness and sharpness uniformity are some of the worst I’ve ever seen, meaning everything not dead center in the image is fainter and softer than the center. It also has no upward throw, so it needs to be placed at the same height as the center of the screen, which, as I said, is odd for a budget projector.
The biggest downside to this list is the lack of battery. But for the added cost of the extension cable, it’s still cheaper than most of the other projectors on this list.
But for the price, it’s hard to beat. But if you can spend more, you get more.
Check out our full Vimgo P10 review..
The adorable capsule is the size of a soda can, but has a built-in battery, streaming and even a speaker. It’s perfect for something to take on an overnight trip.
The main downside is that it is very, very matte. While the other options here can easily produce images the size of a TV or more, the Capsule image is more like the size of a computer monitor. Not necessarily a deal breaker if size is your main concern.
Check out our big review of the little capsule…
The AAXA P8 is small, like the Nebula Capsule, but rectangular compared to the projectors’ cylindrical shape. It’s significantly brighter than the Capsule, but lacks that projector’s battery.
Like its big brother the P6X, the P8 doesn’t have the best image quality either. However, it’s cheap and bright, two things we like a lot. For similar money, the Vimgo P10’s image quality is slightly better, but this projector has its own serious drawbacks.
All ultra-cheap projectors have price concessions, but with the P8 those concessions don’t include brightness and size.
Check out our full review of the AAXA P8..
The claim that the Laser 4K is portable and “outdoorsy” boils down to the huge handle built into its design. It lacks a battery, is quite heavy and is really expensive.
However, it is exceptionally bright. One of the brightest projectors we’ve ever tested. It also has built-in Android TV. It’s more portable and better suited for outdoor movie nights than, say, the Epson 5050.
However, the Optoma UHZ50, BenQ HT2050A or Epson Home Cinema 2250 are better overall. All are light, cheaper and easy to carry, although they lack a stylish handle.
Check out our Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K review.
Other products we tested
: The Solar’s sibling, the Mars II Pro, is better. The Solar’s main drawback compared to the others on this list is its relatively dim image, meaning it can’t project as big an image and still look good. However, if you want a sleek, affordable 1080p laptop and plan to keep the picture on the small side, this is a good choice. Read our Anker Nebula Solar Portable review.
: The tiny LG PH30N is only slightly larger than the AAXA P8. However, it’s not particularly bright, and it doesn’t even have built-in apps. The battery doesn’t last as long as the AAXA P6X, even though it’s a bit cheaper. Read our LG CineBeam PH30N review.
: The small, stylish, cylindrical Freestyle is an interesting idea, but it’s not very bright, lacks a battery and is quite expensive. Read our Samsung Freestyle review.
: There is another relatively expensive small projector that could be better. You might appreciate the compact size, 1080p resolution and built-in Android TV streaming, but it’s pretty weak, especially for the price. It also lacks a built-in battery and USB power source compatibility, so it’s not truly portable. Read our Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 review.
How we test outdoor projectors
In terms of testing, we treat outdoor projectors no differently than any other projector. Just because a projector is convenient, portable, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t perform to reasonable standards. The biggest difference is the power control on battery versus plugged in. This almost always only results in a difference in light output.
The most frequently asked questions about the outdoor projector
Can any projector work outdoors?
Yes! Well, sort of. No projector should live outdoors. Moisture and temperature fluctuations will quickly destroy a projector, just as it will a TV. But if you plan to bring it inside after each use, which we highly recommend, you can use any projector outside.
What if my Wi-Fi can’t reach outside?
Most phones can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot and use your mobile data instead. However, if you don’t have an unlimited data plan, this may deplete your available data. Also, consider some free or low-cost upgrades to your home wireless network. That could extend the reach enough.
Do outdoor projectors have streaming apps? Netflix, Disney, etc.?
Sometimes. Most of the projectors on this list have either a full or partial streaming interface like you’d find on a modern smart TV. However, they may not have all streaming apps. Netflix is pretty much a given, but other than that, it’s different.
All the projectors on this list have an HDMI input, and all but the Capsule also have a USB connection, so you can plug in any streaming dongle and get all the apps you’re used to.