Host a backyard movie night with a mini projector
A mini projector can turn your home into a theatre.
VANCOUVER -- Movie theatres have started reopening in B.C. and drive-ins are having a resurgence. But if you're not ready to mingle with other movie-goers just yet, you can set up a pretty great movie theatre in your own home.
Mini projectors are a good way to get that drive-in movie feeling without going anywhere. It's an activity Consumer Reports' Jim Willcox and his family enjoy together.
"When it's nice outside, my wife, son and I can set up the projector, make some popcorn and then have a fun family movie night," he says.
Willcox and the Consumer Reports team have tested a variety of mini projectors, ranging in price from around $100 to $500.
"In general, we found you get what you pay for, both in terms of image quality and features," he says.
According to Consumer Reports tests, the projector with the best overall picture quality was the LG CineBeam PH550, which costs about $600.
"It also has some useful features like Bluetooth and wireless mirroring, which lets you send video directly to the projector from a smartphone or tablet," Willcox says.
And it has a built-in TV tuner, so you can connect an antenna and get free over-the-air broadcast TV.
"We did find one bargain in the bunch, the Aaxa Pico projector," Willcox says. "It's a very compact, no frills model. And it has decent picture quality and better-than-expected sound."
It retails for about $400.
Since many mini projectors don't have great sound, you may want to consider adding an external speaker or sound bar. And when it comes to setting up your backyard movie night, you'll also need a screen. There are portable ones for sale online with built-in stands or even blow-up models – if you plan to do movie nights all summer long.
Or you could do what Willcox and his family do.
"You can also use a light-coloured wall or even a plain white sheet, like I did," he says. " Just pull it tight so there are no wrinkles."
And before you know it, you've got that movie-theatre feeling right at home. The only other thing you need? Popcorn.
With files from Consumer Reports