Best outdoor projector 2020: top buys to create your own garden cinema

Buying the best outdoor projector? Smart idea. Movie nights in the garden are calling

Best outdoor projector: Anker Nebula Apollo Projector on screen outside
(Image credit: Anker)

Investing in the best outdoor projector? Movie nights in the garden are officially a thing. Why not take advantage of warm summer evenings and watch your favourite movie outside? Providing you have an outdoor socket – or a very long extension lead – you're good to go. All you need to find is a blank wall (you can alternatively hang a plain sheet) and somewhere to sit and you're all set. Bring the cinema to you.

When buying the best outdoor projector, be sure to bear in mind its lumens. This is the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from the outdoor projector – the higher the number the stronger the projector. Outdoor projectors that are above 3,000 lumens should work when it's bright outside whereas, with ones that are 1,000 and under, you'll need to wait until it's completely dark to use them. 

You'll also want to consider the size of the outdoor projector when it comes to both using and storing. Lastly, it's handy and faff-free to buy an outdoor projector that has built-in speakers. We've popped our top five recommendations below. Roll opening credits...

The best outdoor projector

Best outdoor projector: Apeman Portable Mini Projector

(Image credit: Apeman)

1. Apeman Portable Mini Projector

Best outdoor projector: an inexpensive outdoor projector that ticks every box

Lumens: 4,500
Size: 19.69cm x 16.59cm x 5.99cm
Speaker?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Inexpensive+Built-in speakers+1 year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest quality-Doesn't work with Netflix

The Apeman Portable Mini Projector is our best pick and for good reason. It's budget-friendly and easy to use. It's also 80 per cent brighter than other projectors – great for outside watching. This 1080p full HD projector works with over 10 devices from smartphones to laptops, game consoles and TV sticks. It has HMDI, VGA, USB, Micro SD, RCA and AV ports. With built-in speakers, it offers great sound quality especially when you consider the low price tag. It's easy to use with a range of buttons at hand and an easy-to-adjust focus. It also comes with a remote control so you can adjust the volume from afar.

Best luxury outdoor projector: Epson EB-S41 Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

2. Epson EB-S41 Projector

Best luxury outdoor projector: a high-end option that offers impressive image quality

Lumens: 3,300
Size: 30.19 x 23.69 x 8.19 cm
Speaker?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Durable+Built-in speaker+2 year warranty
Reasons to avoid

The Epson EB-S41 Projector is a great pick if you have enough money to spend. It has a light output of 3,300 lumens and offers up to three times more colour brightness. Not only that, but it's incredibly long lamp life means it can be used for years and years. This outdoor projector provides an impressive 300-inch display once set up and it's also incredibly easy to use. 

Simply position the image with keystone correction and pick what you want to watch – via HDMI or from a smart device – use the iProjection app to share content. With a built-in two-watt speaker, this outdoor projector can also be plugged into other speakers for better quality. In the box comes a carry case and a keystone slider for easy setup and transport.

Best compact outdoor projector: Anker Nebula Apollo Projector

(Image credit: Anker)

3. Anker Nebula Apollo Projector

Best compact outdoor projector: this wireless outdoor projector is small yet feature packed

Lumens: 200
Size: 131cm x 65cm x 65cm
Speaker?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+6-watt speaker built-in+Wireless+Small and easily portable
Reasons to avoid
-Low lumens

Buy the Anker Nebula Apollo Projector if you're after something compact and easy to use. This outdoor projector is suitable for screens up to 100-inches in size while it plays at just 200 lumens, so you'll have to wait until it's completely dark outside to use it. It's also wireless and one charge gives it four hours of playtime. 

You can download and stream Youtube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more straight to this projector and browse more entertainment with its touch sensor control. It has a transparent touch panel that's easy to use. With a built-in six-watt speaker, this outdoor projector certainly packs a punch. It also has a HDMI port. Super compact in size, this mini projector can be taken on staycations, to friend's houses or popped in a handbag no problem.

Best budget outdoor projector: ELEPHAS Video Projector

(Image credit: Elephas)

4. ELEPHAS Video Projector

Best budget outdoor projector: wallet-friendly and 4,500 lumens

Lumens: 4,500
Size: 19.99cm x 13.99cm x 6.99cm
Speaker: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Portable +Quiet+Lifetime warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best sound quality

The ELEPHAS Video Projector is a great budget-friendly option. This outdoor projector claims to be 80 per cent brighter than other projectors at similar sizes. It supports 1080p and in terms of lumens, boasts a whopping 4,500. This Elephas projector works with TV sticks, laptops, tablets, DVD players, game consoles, smartphones and more. It also as a HDMI port. Watch it from 30-inches to 200-inches big and from 3.9 feet to 8.2 feet away for best results. Sporting built-in speakers for ease of use – though you may want to plug in your own – it's lightweight at just 2.25 pounds. Also, its updated cooling system cuts the fan noise in half for a better experience.

Best 3D outdoor projector: BenQ W1080ST 3D Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

5. BenQ W1080ST 3D Projector

Best 3D outdoor projector: for the full experience

Lumens: 2,000
Size: 31.19cm x 24.39cm x 10.39cm
Speaker?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Eco mode+Quiet fan+3D mode
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

If you're after the full experience – we're talking 3D and all – buy the BenQ W1080ST 3D Projector. It's HDTV compatible and offers a range of picture modes from dynamic to standard, cinema, 3D and more. It projects in Full HD, 1080p and has a SmartEco mode to adjust lamp power to maximise power saving. It benefits from several easy to use buttons and it has two HDMI ports. It comes with a remote so you can control it from afar, too.

How to buy the best outdoor projector

Consider how many lumens an outdoor projector gives off before buying it. The lower the number, the darker it'll need to be when you use the projector. Some picks that are in the thousands can be used during the daytime.

If you're after something compact and easy to store, bear in mind the size of the outdoor projector you're buying. Some are very small and handbag-friendly, while others are bulky.

Built-in speaker
It's important for us to note that not all outdoor projectors have built-in speakers. Some are designed to be used with external speakers. If you're after something easy to use once a week in the summer, definitely opt for a model with built-in speakers. Otherwise, if it's sound quality you're after and you'll be using it as a permanent set-up, definitely invest in some great speakers for the best experience.

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