Best outdoor projector 2022: liven up your backyard parties with the best outdoor movie projectors

The best outdoor projectors to take your sports nights and movie marathons with friends and family to the backyard

ViewSonic M1+ Wireless Smart Projector sitting on wooden outdoor table
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(Image credit: BenQ)

We might not all enjoy the good weather required to have outdoor gatherings all year round, but something we've learned recently is that getting together with friends in the backyard can be as great as any house party or gathering at the bar.

And why not make your upcoming summer parties even better with one of the best outdoor projectors?

All you'll need to achieve the ultimate outdoor or rooftop movie marathon is a blank wall (or projector screen), and you're set. Still, there are a few things to consider before you buy.

The most important thing to pay attention to with outdoor projectors is the lumen number, which we have outlined for each of the entries below. Generally speaking, the higher the lumens, the more versatile the projector, as a low number will only be visible when it's dark. 

We've chosen seven of the best outdoor projectors available right now, so scroll down to see what we thought. And to boost your viewing even further, take a look at our guide to the best outdoor speakers

The best outdoor projectors

Samsung The Freestyle Smart Portable ProjectorSilver badge

(Image credit: Samsung)
Best smart outdoor projector

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 550 lumens
Contrast ratio: 300:1
Screen size: 30-100in
Distance: 2.6-8.7ft
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby, SmartThings
Speakers: 5W
Dimensions: H6.8 x W4 x D3.7in
Weight: 1.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby built-in
+
Lightweight
+
Good sound quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Not battery powered (though you can use an external battery)
-
Lowest contrast ratio

If you're looking for an outdoor projector that basically packs the experience of a smart TV into a smaller, more portable package, then the Samsung The Freestyle isn't a bad choice. The projector has Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby built-in for use as part of a smart home, and auto leveling, auto focus and auto keystone correction means less messing around before you can enjoy your movie.

You will need to purchase an additional external battery to make the Freestyle truly portable but, as long as you have an extension lead, it's lightweight enough to carry outside for the evening's entertainment. The contrast ratio is also a little weak, but while testing we found that it was more than good enough to enjoy in darker conditions. The sound quality was impressive, and streaming options are built-in for easy access without an additional streaming stick.

Gardeningetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars - read our full review of the Samsung The Freestyle Projector

BenQ GS50 Wireless Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

2. BenQ GS50 Wireless Projector

Best portable projector for outdoor movies

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 500 lumens
Contrast ratio: 100,000:1
Screen size: 80-100in
Distance: 6.9-8.9ft
Battery life: 2.5hrs
Speakers: 2 x 5W
Dimensions: W7.3 x H6 x D5.7in
Weight: 5lb

Reasons to buy

+
IPX2 Splash & Drop Proof
+
2.5 hours battery life
+
Good contrast ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
A little awkward to carry around
-
Quite slow to charge

The top truly portable outdoor projector on this list, the BenQ GS50 Wireless Projector is perfect for those backyard viewing parties with 2.5 hours of battery life and an IPX2 splash & drop proof rating. The 1080p Full HD picture, autofocus, and picture modes all make the image top-notch, as long as your viewing space (indoors or out) is as dark as possible.

The leather handle on the projector's side is designed to make it simple to carry around, but in reality, it's a little awkward. It also takes quite a while to fully charge, so you must make sure you've planned ahead if you want to use it. Still, the higher contrast ratio helps to compensate for the lack of brightness, and it's easy to connect your own streaming device or HDMI lead.

EPSON EF-12 Full HD Mini Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

3. Epson EF-12 Mini Laser Projector

Best Epson outdoor projector

Specifications

Type: LCD
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 1,000 lumens
Contrast ratio: 200,000:1
Distance: 2.1-11.1ft
Screen size: 30-150in
Works with: Google Assistant
Dimensions: H5 x W6.9 x D6.9in
Weight: 4.7lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Google Assistant built-in
+
Good brightness
+
Good contrast ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not good for small spaces
-
Not battery powered

Designed to be portable and suitable for smaller spaces, the Epson EF-12 Mini Projector is ideal for use during your next backyard party. Projecting up to 150" in full 1080p HD, it also sports various smart features for more streaming options.

The EF-12 runs on Android TV, giving you full access to the vast library of content on Google Play. But you're not restricted, either, with Chromecast and Miracast functionality built-in so that you can stream pretty much anything from your PC or phone. If you don't want to cast, an HDMI port connects your devices.

There are also multiple modes to choose from when fine-tuning your image – vivid, natural, and cinema allow you to switch up the brightness and color settings based on the weather, what you're watching, and anything else that could make an impact.

XGIMI MoGo Pro

(Image credit: XGIMI)

4. XGIMI MoGo Pro

Best camping projector

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 300 lumens
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Screen size: 60-100in
Distance: 4.7-8ft
Works with: Google Assistant
Battery life: 2.5hrs
Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 3in
Weight: 1.9lbs

Reasons to buy

+
2.5 hours battery life
+
Lightweight
+
Works with Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower brightness
-
Lower contrast ratio

Our top pick for the best outdoor projector when you want to watch something away from home, the XGIMI MoGo Pro boasts 2.5 hours of battery life and a lightweight build that won't add extra bulk to your luggage. It doesn't have the best contrast ratio or brightness, but the Full HD image and up to 100-inch screen mean you'll still be able to enjoy it in the evening or at night.

The MoGo Pro has Android TV 9 with thousands of streaming apps, autofocus, and a manual 4-point keystone correction to make the projection look just how you want it. There's also support for Google Assistant and a pair of in-built 3W Harman Kardon speakers for great sound.

Nebula Solar Portable Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

5. Nebula Solar Portable Projector

Best camping projector (runner up)

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 400 lumens
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Screen size: 40-120in
Distance: 3.4-10.4ft
Works with: Google Assistant
Battery life: 2-3hrs
Speakers: 2 x 3W
Dimensions: 7.6 x 7.6 x 2.3in
Weight: 2.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Up to 3 hours of battery life
+
Lightweight
+
Works with Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower brightness
-
Lower contrast ratio

The Nebula Solar Portable Projector has one of the better battery lives on this list, so it's ideal for taking a trip or enjoying a particularly long movie or game in the yard. The built-in stand means you can adjust it without needing a special surface, and the built-in dual 3W speakers reduce the need for external speakers.

The Solar is equipped with Android TV 9, which gets you over 7,000 apps, including YouTube and Hulu. There's also Chromecast and smartphone mirroring, or you can use your own streaming device if you prefer. The brightness and contrast ratio isn't the best, but this is a good option if you want something wireless.

NEBULA Cosmos Laser Projector

(Image credit: Nebula)

6. NEBULA Cosmos Laser Projector

Best outdoor projector for daylight

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: Full HD
Brightness: 2,400 lumens
Screen size: 60-150in
Distance: 5.5-13.8ft
Works with: Google Assistant
Battery life: N/A
Speakers: 2 x 10W
Dimensions: 10.3 x 6.5 x 8.5in
Weight: 11lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent brightness
+
Works with Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Not battery powered
-
Not good for small spaces

You may have noticed a theme among the entries on this list – they lack the brightness you might expect from premium indoor projectors. This is largely because they are battery-powered and available at a more affordable price. The NEBULA Cosmos Laser Projector trades these elements for impressive brightness at 2,400 lumens – making it better for viewing during daylight.

You'll need an extension lead to use it outdoors, but the carry handle makes it suitable for transporting to the backyard whenever you want. You'll also need a fairly large garden to get the best experience, as the minimum throw distance is 5.5ft for a 60-inch image. It's not cheap, but you're getting Dolby Digital Plus audio, Android TV 10, and a more flexible experience for the money.

ViewSonic M1+ Wireless Smart Projector

(Image credit: ViewSonic)

7. ViewSonic M1+ Wireless Smart Projector

Best budget outdoor projector

Specifications

Type: DLP
Resolution: 480p
Brightness: 300 lumens
Contrast ratio: 120,000:1
Screen size: 23.6-100in
Distance: 3.3ft min
Battery life: 6 hours
Speakers: 3W
Dimensions: H1.6 x W5.7 x D5in
Weight: 1.7lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
6 hours battery life
+
Good contrast ratio
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower brightness
-
Standard definition picture
-
No built-in streaming

The most affordable outdoor projector on our list, the ViewSonic M1+ Wireless Smart Projector is also the projector with the best battery life. You can enjoy wireless watching for up to six hours with a screen size up to 100-inches, built-in 3W speakers, and HDMI, USB, and microSD slots for connecting your media.

There's no in-built streaming, so you will need your own streaming stick or laptop to enjoy your chosen entertainment. The resolution is also less impressive than some pricier projectors in this guide, hitting 480p standard definition, but if this doesn't bother you, it's a great pick.

How to choose the best outdoor projector for you

close up image of the Samsung Freestyle projector on a garden table

(Image credit: Beth Murton/Future)

Do outdoor projectors work in daylight?

The best conditions for watching anything outdoors will be the dark of night, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on daytime movie marathons and get-togethers for the big match altogether.

The trick is choosing an outdoor projector with good brightness, measured in lumens. We have included the lumen number for all of the projectors listed above, and, generally speaking, the higher the number, the better. Those with a lower brightness will still be fine for viewing at night (and they tend to be cheaper), but if you intend to fire it up during the day, consider it more carefully.

Do I need to buy external speakers?

Most of the best outdoor projectors come with in-built speakers for an easier set-up, which makes sense for a product that's supposed to be portable. However, this isn't always the case, and even if your chosen projector does include speakers, they may not be up to your standards.

The size of outdoor projectors means that the power of in-built speakers can be a little lacking, and this is, after all, a secondary concern for manufacturers. Our advice will be to choose your projector based on other specs such as brightness or weight and use an external Bluetooth speaker if you're not happy with the audio.

How large will the projection be?

Projectors are the easiest and most affordable way to get big-screen thrills at home, and outdoor projectors allow you to create the outdoor cinema of your dreams for a fraction of the cost of a 75 or 85-inch TV.

The maximum size of your movie or TV show (or whatever else) will depend on which projector you choose, but to give you an idea, the examples of this list range from between 100"-350". What's best for you should be measured against the size of your outdoor space.

Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Writing for Gardeningetc as its smart homes editor since the start of 2021, Caroline is passionate about how an outdoor space can complement interior style and how technology can help people achieve this. In her own time she is creating her own little oasis on her small balcony, or adding yet another houseplant to her extensive (and ever-growing!) collection.