In summer the open-air cinemas in Hamburg and Berlin fill up

In theory, the perfect projector for outdoors offers an integrated battery, can connect to a WiFi network, works with Google or Android TV to play Netflix or TV streams, has powerful speakers integrated and, very importantly: it offers enough brightness to use it outside and of course at least at Full HD resolution.

Unfortunately, this perfect projector doesn’t exist yet, because they always die a death. Battery-operated devices generally do not offer the brightness of projectors that draw their power from a can. And the sound of a portable projector can never keep up with that of a system. Let’s look at the different specifications one by one and how to solve any problems.

Daylight is problematic for most projectors. As soon as the ambient light is brighter than the projector, you can hardly see what is happening on the screen. And the sun in summer is always brighter than any projector during the day. As a guideline, a projector for outdoor use should produce at least 3000 ANSI lumens.

Important: The brightness of a projector decreases the greater the distance from the projection surface. You should also set up the projection surface where it is protected from light if possible. The screen feels particularly comfortable under a pavilion with opaque side walls. The darker the projection surface, the better projectors can cope with it.

Manufacturers have several options for how they declare the brightness of their projectors. Ansi lumens are common and what they mean is how bright the image is on the surface that the projector is illuminating. This is what you should pay attention to when purchasing. There are also manufacturers who specify the luminosity of the lamps with which the projector works. Logical: The lamps are always brighter than the image on the surface, which is why manufacturers want to disguise the fact that the projector is not particularly bright.

Let’s take a closer look at three models for outdoor use. Important: Not all projectors offer IP certification and are therefore protected against rain or splash water. To protect the electronics from damage, you should always set up the outdoor projector protected from rain. Enough theory, let’s have fun.

A proven outdoor projector is the Mars 3 from Nebula. Unfortunately, it only offers 1000 ANSI lumens, which is too little for daytime use if the projector is not projecting onto a screen protected from light. If you are looking for a projector for the evening hours, the Mars 3 is a comfortable solution because, according to the manufacturer, it offers up to five hours of playback thanks to its battery. It is also IPX3 certified, which means it is protected against dust and splash water.

The projector should survive a short rain shower. You do not need to connect a TV stick or external boxes to the projector. Android TV works on it. So you can use Netflix, Disney Plus and any media libraries of public broadcasters if you have connected the projector to the Internet.

For example, when you’re on the go, you can set up a hotspot with your smartphone if you have unlimited data volume. Thanks to its 40-watt speakers, you don’t need to connect the Mars 3 to a Bluetooth box. However, with a price of just under 1100 euros, it is not cheap considering its moderate brightness.

The second battery-powered projector is a size smaller and slightly less powerful, but also cheaper in comparison. The XGIMI Halo only costs 700 euros and still offers a lot. When it comes to the image, it has a Full HD resolution like the Mars 3, although it is a little darker than its competitor with 700 ANSI lumens. The battery, which according to the manufacturer provides enough power for 2.5 hours of playback, is also weaker.

You can connect external speakers to the Halo using an aux cable or Bluetooth, but the projector also comes with two 5-watt speakers. Once connected to a WiFi network, Android TV 10 does its job on the projector. So you don’t need to connect a TV stick or laptop to it. However, it should be said that the projector is by no means bright enough to be used outside in daylight. And it is also not protected against dust and splash water.

Let’s come to the second problem that the first two projectors do not know in comparison and that is the power source if you want to use a projector with 3000 or more Ansi lumens. In the garden, the simplest and cheapest solution is of course a cable drum. A power storage device with a solar module like this model from Jackery would be more expensive and somewhat more flexible. However, such an investment is only worthwhile if you have another use for the electricity storage system. According to the manufacturer, when fully charged it provides enough juice to run a projector for around seven hours.

The Benq TH585P is a bright and fast projector. According to the manufacturer, it offers a maximum brightness of 3500 ANSI lumens with a refresh rate of up to 120 Hertz. It is suitable for a movie night as well as for gaming because it has a comparatively low input lag. Designated game modes should also produce a particularly fluid image. Perfect if you want to connect the projector to a console. Speaking of connection: Android TV is not present on the projector. A streaming stick like Amazon’s Fire TV makes sense here. You connect it via HDMI and USB directly to the projector and then to the WLAN to watch Netflix

The Benq TH585P does have integrated speakers, but they don’t really have a strong sound. Therefore, connect the streaming stick to a sound box via Bluetooth. When it comes to resolution, the projector achieves Full HD. In the projector comparison by Stiftung Warentest 2022, the BenQ TH585P took first place among the full HD projectors. Important: The projector does not offer protection certification. Be sure to place it away from rain and dust when using it outside. By the way, Benq puts the lifespan of its lamps at 4000 hours in normal mode.

The Optoma GT2000HDR is similar to the BenQ TH585P in many ways. Like its competitor, it offers a brightness of 3500 ANSI lumens with Full HD resolution. However, it differs in the way it projects the image onto the screen. The Optoma GT2000HDR uses a laser diode that offers a significantly longer lifespan than a normal projector lamp. For comparison: Benq puts the lifespan of its lamp at 4000 hours in normal mode.

The bulbs of the GT2000HDR, on the other hand, are said to last 30,000 hours. This in turn naturally results in a higher price. Otherwise everything remains the same as with the Benq projector. Thanks to a USB power supply, you can connect a streaming stick to the projector, which you should pair with a sound box via Bluetooth. Provided you have a power source, nothing stands in the way of an outdoor cinema in the garden – if you have a suitable screen and the projector is protected from rain and dust.

All that’s missing is the right canvas. There are models that can be inflated, but they also take up a lot of space. Screens that are held on to a simple tripod are slightly smaller. They also fit easily under an awning or gazebo if you need a shady spot. The tripod including screen can be set up relatively easily by just one person in just a few minutes and is adjustable in height.


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