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Best Outdoor Projector: Open air cinema


Why not take your home cinema out of the living room and plonk it in an open-air setting?

Most projector can be used outside, but there are some things to consider for using an outdoor projector, one of which is brightness. We’d recommend projectors with a brightness of 2000 lumens and more. When it comes to outdoor cinemas, the brighter the better.

How we test

How we test projectors

We test projectors by, well, watching lots of movies on them. But not just movies: we watch sports and TV programmes to get a sense of how they work in terms of motion, sharpness, detail and overall image fidelity.

Depending on the projector, we’ll test them in a bespoke home cinema room or in our own rooms and gardens to see if they live up to the manufacturer’s claims about their performance.

If it’s an HDR projector, we’ll watch plenty of HDR content to determine if colours are correct and whether the projector can do a decent approximation of HDR. If it’s a gaming projector we’ll test the latency to determine how responsive it is.

We’ll also assess the projector in terms of its size and whether it needs a dedicated installation, as well as how much noise it makes during operation and whether that can be a hindrance to watching content. Are they easy to use? And do they require more expert knowledge to operate are considerations we also take into account.

With our reviewers knowledge of previous projectors tested, they’ll be considered to what’s come before to determine whether they offer good value, regardless of how much or how little they cost.

BenQ W2700

Great vale 4K HDR projector
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  • Great value for what’s on offer
  • Easily the best HDR picture we’ve seen at this price point
  • Crisp, clean 4K playback


  • Slightly high input lag for gaming
  • Black levels only fair to middling for SDR playback
  • Minor rainbow effect

This 4K HDR projector from BenQ offers tremendous value, and with a brightness of 2000 lumens its suited for outdoor use.

While not a native 4K projector, it puts in a crisp and clean performance, with colours showing nuance and depth while HDR content looks outstanding. It’s also more than capable with HD and SDR images, offering natural-looking colours and punchy contrast. You may want to turn off the Wide Colour mode when watching HDR content in a bright environment, as this makes images look brighter.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: BenQ W2700

ViewSonic X-10 4K

A very portable projector
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  • Bright and punchy images
  • Effective HDR performance
  • Excellent motion handling
  • Sound system surprisingly good
  • Long-lasting LED light source
  • Portable and easy to install
  • Extensive smart features Stylish and well made


  • Weak black levels and shadow detail
  • Resolution isn’t native 4K

The ViewSonic X10-4K’s features make it ideal for use in an outdoor cinema set-up.

For one it’s a short-throw projector, so can be placed close to a screen, producing a 120-inch image from just 2m away. It’s easy to set-up, portable (thanks to its handle) and with built-in Wi-Fi and access to the Aptoide store, you can stream from apps such as iPlayer and Netflix.

It delivers a bright, punchy picture – its brightness of 2400 lumens is another tick on the outdoor list – and the integrated Harmon Kardon sound system has real size and depth. For movies though, you’ll may want to seek a better sound system.

Reviewer: Steve Withers
Full review: ViewSonic X10-4K

Optoma UHD40

Affordable 4K performance
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  • Pictures genuinely look 4K
  • Surprisingly and consistently enjoyable HDR pictures
  • Remarkably good value


  • Black levels are average
  • Occasional rainbow effect
  • No real support for wide colour technologies

An affordable ‘4K’ projector, the Optoma UHD40 can display images up to 300-inches wide.

Lumens is rated at 2400, which is brighter than some more expensive efforts. It only supports the Rec.709 colour standard, so it can’t extract as much out of wide colour gamut content if you plan on watching HDR content.

Black levels are a bit weak too, but it does a reasonably good job with Ultra HD, producing a picture full of detail, as well as rich in texture and clarity.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Optoma UHD40


What should I be looking for in an outdoor projector?

The most pressing need for an outdoor projector is brightness. A projector with a brightness of 2000 lumens so the image isn’t washed out by ambient light when projected on a screen.

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Specs compared

Size (Dimensions)
Release Date
Model Number
Projector Type
Brightness Lumens
Lamp Life
Contrast Ratio
Max Image Size
Types of HDR
Refresh Rate
Audio (Power output)
Throw Ratio

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