I'm setting up an outdoor theater for a family member with a VERY large yard and big pool. I designed and installed his dedicated home theater (JVC, Black Diamond, Gallo Reference, Marantz, Emotiva, Oppo). However his outdoor location presents some unique challenges. He does not have any fixed shelter buildings like an arbor or extended overhang where I could mount a projector and screen. So we're looking for a portable set up that can be integrated with the fixed outdoor sound system that I've installed and can be broken down for storage between movie nights. We have identified two potential install locations in his back yard:
(1) Set the projector on a custom platform mounted to a short retaining wall about 8 feet behind the far side of the pool. Place a REAR projection screen at the edge of the pool and have the guests watch movies from across the pool in a large patio seating area For this, I looked for a 160 inch 16:9 screen and a projector with very short throw lens and 3,000+ lumens/contrast. I considered the BenQ MX812XT ($1,200). It's a business projector with 7 ft. throw at 160 in. screen and would get me 17 fl. on a 161 in. portable Draper rear projection screen. Unfortunately, it's native resolution is only 1024x768 and would not produce the same light output on movies.
(2) Set the projector at the patio edge of the pool with a 25-30 feet throw distance over the water to a 160 in. FRONT projection screen on the far side of the pool by the retaining wall. For this I've looked at the Epson 310 and the Panasonic AR100 ($2,000). The Panasonic seems to have more lumens, but at 26 feet throw distance it's pushing max range for a 160 inch image. I could up the screen to a 220 inches and go with a higher screen gain but it would still stretch the brightness capability of this projector with ambient landscape lighting. I also looked at a few BenQ's - AW 6000 or 7000 ($1,300) and BenQ SP891 ($2,200). The 6000 had a solid reputation on the net, but it's an older projector that has been replaced with the 7000 which users report problems with contrast/black level. The SP891 has 4,500 lumens / 3000 contrast and is a newer projector but has one tepid Cnet review and no user reviews that I can find.
I'm not married to Draper and would consider any screen suggestion that's cost effective, stable, and easy to break down. The Elite's are very cheep but I'm afraid of durability (plus their rear projection Yard Masters won't be shipping until 2Q-2013). Stewart is built solid but very pricey. I looked at the large inflatable screens on the web but they may not fit our space restrictions and besides I'm afraid the fan noise would be distracting. I'm more concerned finding the right projector and then matching the screen.
For sound we're using two portable 1,000 watt self powered QSC K10's on either side of the screen for center channel duties and a portable 1,000 watt self powered QSC Ksub for the main LFE. We installed six Definitive Technology AW 6500's with their passive radiators reflecting off the house walls for Rear Right/Left channels and four Polk Atrium Subs sound reinforced by corner locations along the house for supplemental LFE. We put twelve Rockustics rock speakers on the surrounding hillsides for the Side + Front Right/Left channels. All of this is driven by eight Audio Source AMP 300's (150 watts x 2) for the subs and rock speakers, with two Adcom GFA 6006's bridged (175 watts x 3) for the Definitive Tech's, powered by three dedicated 20 amp circuits. We bought a 100 ft Rapid Run Multimedia Runner with two RGB + stereo RCA leads to drive the projector and QSC's (I needed to tie into the house A/V network and didn't want to deal with HDMI over cat5 for long distance runs in an outdoor environment)
Now I just need to settle on a projector and location so I can install a 110v receptacle and run 1 in. PVC conduit to pull the low voltage. I have some experience with indoor theaters, but this is the first time I've ever tackled an outdoor theater. His starting budget is between $1,000 - $2,000 for the projector but he would consider going up to $3,000+ for the right solution. Any help suggesting the best projector/screen combo would be greatly appreciated. Find me a 1080p 16:9 light cannon with decent blacks, a 25-30 ft throw at 160-220 in. diagonal under $3,500 and I'm a Happy Camper!