There are several projectors designed for indoor use but are also bright enough to work well outdoors and are small enough to carry a short distance. To overcome any ambient light and make colors look vibrant on a large screen high brightness is critical.
The universal standard for listing projector brightness is ANSI lumens. Some manufacturers use other measurements for their brightness claims, like LUX, Light Source Lumens, or LED Lumens. However, it is not possible to compare the brightness of projectors unless they are measured to the same standard. We talk about this in great detail in our recent article, LUX vs LUMENS.
The higher the lumens, the brighter the projector, and the easier it will be able to cut through ambient light.
Although these units do not include a battery option so you will need to plug into a power outlet to enjoy these projectors - we still think these are great options for outdoor viewing. Here are a few great budget-friendly projectors that are more than bright enough for awesome backyard movie nights.
The BenQ TH585 is a 1080p unit with dual HDMI inputs and a USB input. It is a lamp-based DLP projector that offers excellent brightness at 3500 lumens. If your goal is to project outside on a very large screen, the BenQ TH585 has the power to produce a vibrant picture, even with some ambient light.
BenQ says the TH585 can produce 95% of Rec709 due to its RGBW color wheel. It has 8 preset picture modes and several delivered good color reproductions out of the box including the CINEMA, LIVING ROOM, and two USER modes.
While most new panel TVs do not support 3D, many projectors are still 3D capable. It is nice that Benq TH585 supports 3D at its low price point because there are some users who still want to take advantage of the 3D movie and gaming content that they already own.
If you are into outdoor gaming, you will want the lowest input lag possible. In our own tests, the BenQ TH585 measured in the 16-17ms range, which is really outstanding. Time to invite the neighborhood kids over for epic pawnage, gamers are going to get smooth gameplay in even fast-paced games.
The BenQ TH585 is relatively compact, measuring 4.33” high and 12.38” wide. It weighs about 6.2 lbs. This projector will sound better when connected to a larger sound system, but it does have 10-watt built-in speakers for a fairly decent sound out of the box.
he Epson Home Cinema 880 can produce up to a whopping 3,300 lumens of brightness and delivers good color accuracy. It can project a screen size up to 130 inches.
You can easily connect a cable box, Blu-ray player, gaming console, or streaming device to the HC880 via its HDMI input. The HC880 has a USB-A input that can be used to display content stored on a USB memory device. The Epson Home Cinema 880 projector can also support Mira casting with mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets. The Miracast feature lets you project or mirror a device wirelessly without any additional software.
This projector does have a built-in 2-watt mono speaker, located on the left rear side of the projector. However, the speaker is not very powerful and lacks bass. If you are using this projector in a large, outdoor area, you will likely want to use the Audio Output connection to connect a more advanced /powerful sound system.
The unit is fairly compact – Width: 11.9 inches (302mm) Height: 3.4 inches (87mm) Depth: 9.8 inches (249mm), weight 5.95 lbs (2.7kg).
The Home Cinema 880 is a very basic projector, it utilizes a lamp-based light source, and it doesn’t have many smart features. However, at $599, it is very affordable and produces good picture quality for its price. With an ANSI Lumens rating of 3,300 and a lamp life of 6,000 hours (12,000 hours in ECO mode), you will get years of outdoor enjoyment.
Epson Home Cinema 880 Specifications
3300 ANSI lumens
1920 x 1080
Light Source Lifespan
12,000 hours (Eco)
1 HDMI, 1 USB Type -A, 1 USB Type-B, Miracast
Less than 6 lbs
2-watt mono speaker
The HC880 walks a fine line between convenience, performance, and value. The projector delivers a bright picture with accurate colors. With a resolution of 1920×1080, combined with 3,300 lumens, it is a great addition to home entertainment system or backyard theater.
When there is less ambient light or your screen is smaller, you can sacrifice some brightness for more compact package. The Epson EF12 brings a maintenance-free laser light source, upgraded sound system, and smart features to your outdoor adventures.
The Epson EF12 is a Smart, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), laser-powered home media projector that can deliver 1000 ANSI lumens of brightness. Most compact portable projectors in the EF12 price range utilize an LED light source. The EF12 has a multi-array laser diode light source that can deliver 1000 ANSI lumens from a very compact package. The light source has a rated life of 20,000 hours, which ensures years of maintenance-free operation. When the laser light source is combined with the 3LCD imagers, the result is more accurate colors and better blacks than most of the competition.
It offers Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution, and its 1,000-lumen laser light source has a rated life of 20,000 hours in normal/quiet mode. While the EF12 is a 1080P projector, it can accept a 4K signal which is downconverted to HD before it is displayed.
Since it has built-in Android TV, it is packed with all the features of a Smart TV, as well as Wi-Fi. To deliver all the convenience of a Smart TV, the EF12 utilizes an Android TV interface that provides easy access to streaming apps like Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+. In addition to the pre-loaded streaming apps, there is also a wide variety of other apps available in the app store.
You can also use Chromecast to share content from your tablet, phone, or computer on the screen. If you have a Google Home ecosystem, you can connect the projector and use Google Assistant voice control to control it via the remote or any compatible Google Home device. The projector also has a built-in media player that can access files via its USB inputs. There are two USB inputs that can be used to play all types of media (Videos, MP3, Photos, etc.).
Epson EF12 Specifications
1000 ANSI lumens
1920 x 1080
Light Source Lifespan
HDMI x 2, USB x 2
less than 5 lbs
Built-in Android TV, Chromecast, apps
5-watt built-in Yamaha design stereo speakers
The EF12 includes a speaker system designed by Yamaha that sounds better than most flat-panel TVs and can rival many small soundbars. The sound system utilizes twin drivers and a custom 3D acoustic enclosure to produce room-filling sound from a compact cube. You can also connect a mobile device to the EF12 via Bluetooth and use it as a standalone speaker.
As far as portability, the Epson EF12 is very compact, weighing only 4.7lbs and measuring 7 inches by 7 inches. The fun-size EF12 is a fully self-contained unit that requires no additional or external devices to function. It can very easily be moved from room to room, or to the backyard, or packed to take on a trip to anywhere in the world with a power source and a projection surface.
The Epson Pro EX10000 which is a 4500 lumen 3LCD Full HD Wireless laser projector was designed for business applications, its high brightness and excellent picture quality also make it a great option for an outdoor theater.
The Pro EX10000's compact size makes it easy to move from room to room or campground to backyard. To solidify that fact, the Pro EX10000 includes a compact soft-sided carrying case which provides added protection for the Pro EX10000 while in transit. The carrying case also provides storage compartments for all the required cables and accessories.
The Pro EX10000’s laser diode light source can deliver 4500 ANSI lumen for up to 20,000 hours. This ultra-high brightness projector measures an incredible compact 12.70” W x 4.10” H x 11.70” D and weighs just 9.5 pounds.
Since projectors project colors, Epson stresses that the ability to just deliver bright whites is not enough. The Pro EX10000, like all Epson 3LCD projectors, can output an equal amount of color brightness (color light output) and white brightness (white light output).
Due to its Best-in-Class color and white brightness, the EX10000 is ideal for displaying presentations, and videos on a large screen, even in ambient light. Epson states the Pro EX10000 can project vivid images up to 300-inches; yes, that’s a 25-foot image.
The Pro EX10000’s single 16-watt speaker is loud enough for viewers to hear content clearly,
Epson PRO EX10000 Specifications
4500 ANSI lumens
1920 x 1080
Light Source Lifespan
HDMI X2 1 USB Type -A, 1 USB Type-B, Miracast
Screen Mirroring with Miracast
16-watt mono speaker
In addition to the two HDMI inputs, the Pro EX10000 includes screen mirroring with Miracast which allows for content to be displayed from Miracast equipped laptops, smartphones, and tablets to the projector.
When you are not using the Pro EX10000 for its primary purpose – productivity; this business projector's picture quality is good enough to watch movies and play video games. The Epson Pro EX10000 can project bright vivid images as small as 40-inches and as large as 300-inches making it a great solution for displaying video and presentations indoors or outside.