Outdoor projector recommendation
I am looking for some recommendations for a projector. We just built a pool and I had four Rockustics Cherry Bomb speakers installed with a Yamaha R-N803 receiver. I purchased this 120" screen on Amazon. I currently have an Epson EX7240 projector right now. The distance from the projector to the screen can be anywhere from about 18 feet to 25 feet (the further away the better, given that the projector and screen are across the pool from one another, and having the projector further from the water is preferable).
Anyway my EPSON is 3200 max lumens and it looks good, but only when it's pretty dark out. But I'm wondering if there are any projectors anyone would recommend that would really pump out the light so that the image can be seen during the day or even just the evening. This is purely going to be a projector that is for occasional outdoor use (it won't be permanently outdoors) and doesn't need to be 4k HDR kind of quality or have great input lag. I have a long HDMI cord so it doesn't even need to be wireless HDMI or whatever. I just want bright with decent image quality. 1080p (or even 720p?) would suffice. Price really isn't a consideration (but I'd prefer not to spend multiple thousands of dollars). I'm going into this very ignorant, so I know nearly nothing about projectors. Are there any projectors that would be better than what I currently have for day/early evening viewing, or is this just a pipe dream? I can also get a bigger screen if that is necessary.
Thanks in advance for any device/recommendations.
Here are some general answers to your general questions: No projector works outdoors in daylight. Projectors work best in the dark which is why commercial movie theaters turn off the lights when the movie comes on. The more ambient light the more a projected image is washed out. The larger the image the dimmer it gets because you're spreading the same number of projector lumens over a larger surface. The brighter the projector and smaller the screen the sooner after sunset it will be able to produce a watchable image outdoors. Locking in a firm budget number would allow a more accurate estimate of how many lumens worth of projector you can afford. Locking in how soon after sunset you want to start viewing would allow a more accurate estimate of how large a screen that projector could handle.
Thanks for the reply.
I'm looking to run the projector as soon as possible after sunset. Budget is $2000 or less. I would like the projector to be portable enough to carry in and out of the house without much hassle. The projector will be 18-25 feet from the screen, so I don't know how that works with the "throw distance" of various projectors. Are there any projectors that would be a noticeable upgrade over my Epson EX7240? I have read that just going by number of lumens put out will not necessarily be an accurate representation as to how bright the projector is. There are just too many options out there for me to get a handle on what (if anything) will be noticeably better (brighter!) than what I currently have for my situation.
Would something like this be a noticeable upgrade in brightness, such that I can watch at dusk, rather than only at pitch black night? https://www.optoma.com/us/product/w512/#
The company has this listed as a work/business projector. Any downsides to using it as an outdoor movie projector?
Manufacturer claimed lumens are not always an accurate representation of how bright a projector actually is but independent lumen measurements by unbiased professional reviewers with calibrated test equipment can be quite accurate. For example, in independent testing many brands measure lower maximum lumens than claimed whereas Epson projectors like the one you have generally measure slightly more maximum lumens than advertised.
Also, 3LCD projectors like your Epson measure equal color and white lumens in maximum brightness mode whereas DLP projectors like the Optoma when in brightest mode do not produce as many color lumens as white lumens. In other words, your Epson EX7240 is likely producing an honest 3,200+ color and white lumens. It's one of the brightest compact projectors made. Anything brighter is going to be larger, though not necessarily so large that it would be difficult to carry back and forth from the house to the backyard.
Sticking with Epson 3LCD for maximum color and white lumens, while the 3,000-lumen Home Cinema 3700 is a higher overall quality projector model than the EX7240 it would not be any brighter. Staying under $2,000, the next step up would be the 4,300-lumen Home Cinema 1450. The 1,100-lumen increase over your EX7240 would be noticeable but not dramatic in terms of how much ambient light it could handle. The next step up moves you from home projectors to business models with the 5,000-lumen Epson PowerLite 2250U. Anything over 5,000 lumens is going to cost >$2,000.
Realistically going from your current 3,300 lumens to 5,000 lumens is probably going to gain you 30 minutes or less sooner starting time after sunset than you're currently getting with your EX7240 and 120" screen. If you go to a larger screen the image would get dimmer. For example, a 170" diagonal screen has twice the area of a 120" screen so with the same projector lumens it would appear only half as bright.
As for projector throw range it varies from model to model. For example your current EX7240 can only fill your 120" screen from a range of 11' 4" to 13' 7", so that combination would not work at your desired 18'-25' throw. On the other hand the Epson 1450 can fill a 120" screen from a range of 13' 9" to 22' 7", so it would work for you. The Epson 2250U would only work with the 120" screen in a throw range of 12' to 19' 10", so the 1450 would be best for the longest throw.
Now if you go with a larger screen you would be able to have any of these projectors further back. But then you get into the conundrum of the larger screen producing a dimmer image so you would lose some of the lumen advantage of a brighter projector in terms of getting a usable image sooner after sunset.
You just need to be realistic about what can be accomplished with a projector outdoors in ambient light. It's a big compromise about how large a screen you can have in how much ambient light with a bright enough projector that's within your price range. For many your 3,200-lumen EX7240 would be considered an adequately bright projector for backyard movie viewing on a fairly large screen in the dark, but not too soon after sunset.
There are about two dozen or so projectors in your budget which can hit a 120" diagonal from 18' lens to screen. Some can be a bit further back, but going with your minimum distance and price point, this is the list:
I would likely go with one of the Epson models from that list with 1920x1200 resolution.
Dave is giving some solid recommendations, but I would look through the list and make some considerations based upon your desires.
The 2255U, for example, can go back to 21'11" for a 120" diagonal, similar to the 1450 and pumps out 5,000 rated lumens.
TL;DR- 7000 lumens workable but still not quite enough for outdoor daytime use
I echo the above comment about no projector being perfect for outdoors even in the shade without a five digit price tag.
I've been modifying my outdoor setup for at least a decade, and am finally where I feel like I can just use it rather than think of ways to improve it, the last piece being how can I use it earlier in the day. I have identical mounts both in the garage and on the front porch, where I project onto a brick wall, which isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. For a long time, I used a 2000lumen Panasonic PT-AX100, but late dusk was about as early as I could go, and even then it wasn't great. I now have a 7000 lumen Christie LX700 face melter that I found on ebay for about $550 plus another $100 for a short throw lens. It's about 27lbs, and only 720p which doesn't matter on a brick wall, but I can fire it up a lot earlier. The Panasonic was useless during the day at all times/locations, but the Christie is perfect in the garage on a cloudless day with the door wide open and sunlight reflecting off of windshields. Even 7000 lumens isnt enough for the porch on a sunny day, even though its ceiling mounted and the entire porch is shaded including the wall. I can make out an image but not gonna invite the neighborhood over to watch the game. It's passable all day on a cloudy day, but still not great. Good news is it becomes worthwhile maybe around 5pm, which was good enough for my needs.
The one big thing to share from what I've learned as a non A/V expert (and barely a hobbyist) is that the harder it is to set up, the less often it gets used. I started off needing to set everything up, table for the projector, portable amp, portable speakers, plus whatever source, so I only did it for special occasions. My satisfaction with this whole set up peaked when I got the identical mounts, a Denon dual zone HDMI receiver plus 4 outdoor speakers from craigslist, and a harmony remote/hub. Now if I'm in the garage I hit one button on the harmony just like I'm in the living room. To move to the porch I just move the projector and hit a different button, and takedown just means hanging it back in the garage. Now we go out there just to flip channels or stream stuff if it's a nice night.
I spent a long time learning about heavy duty projectors, settled on a few, then set ebay alerts until I found one of them with low hours that came out of a college building getting overhauled. Took about 6 months, but I wasn't in a hurry
https://www.projectorcentral.com/Christie-LX700.htm (chrome won't let me make a link so you'll have to cut/paste)
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