If you’re missing the movie theater, why not bring the big-screen excitement to your home or backyard? Consumer Reports just finished testing mini projectors and has all you’ll need to set up a fun family movie night at home.
The mini projectors included in the test range are priced from $100-$500. For the most part, consumers get what they pay for in terms of both image quality and features.
The projector with the best overall picture quality was the LG CineBeam PH550, which came in at $450. Among its most-useful features: Bluetooth connectivity and wireless mirroring, which lets you send video directly to the projector from a smartphone or tablet. And the LG has a built-in TV tuner, so you can connect an HD-antenna and get free over-the-air broadcast TV.
CR did find one bargain in the bunch, the Aaxa S2 Pico projector, which costs $280. It’s a very compact, no-frills model with decent picture quality and better-than-expected sound.
Because many mini projectors don’t have great sound, you’ll want to consider adding an external speaker or a soundbar.
When it comes to setting up your backyard movie night, you’ll also need a screen. There are portable ones with built-in stands and even blow-up models. A light-colored wall or even a plain white sheet work, though; just be sure to pull the sheet tight so there are no wrinkles.
Like home-theater projectors, mini models need a darker environment; movie buffs won’t really be able to see the picture in a brighter room or outdoors during daylight, especially with larger picture sizes.