Cheap and "good enough" projector for backyard?
May 12, 2015 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I would love to find an LCD projector for occasional outdoor use (one movie a week in the summer). I am on a tight budget and wonder what people would recommend.All I really care/need is...

- HDMI input for BluRay player or laptop
- 1080p is ideal but 720p is ok too (viewing distance would be about 6-12 feet away)
- low price (is under $250 Canadian realistic?); used is ok too
- suitable for a dark backyard and screen that is 4 by 7 feet (16:9)
- speakers are nice but totally optional
- ideally able to project to a screen whose bottom edge is about three feet off ground (but I could lower it if necessary)

I've seen some no name models on eBay for 60-80 dollars but find it hard to believe they are worthwhile. Then again, it really is just for occasional movie nights so I don't need it to be great: just reliable and cheap.

I am located in Toronto. A previous thread was useful but presumably out of date (2011). Any help would be appreciated!
posted by The Hyacinth Girl to Technology (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Realistically any modern projector will do the job, unless you want to show movies when there is ambient light. If it's not completely dark, you're going to need to look for higher brightness models.

If you're buying used keep in mind the primary factor you'll need to watch out for is the number of hours on the bulb. Most projectors have a hour-counter in the settings. Projector bulbs don't have an endless lifespan, and replacing the bulbs often costs more than the projector is worth. Most of the projectors I've bought have bulbs that run around $300 to replace. Moving the projector while it's on, or not letting it cool down properly can dramatically shorten the lifespan of a bulb.

As always, is great place to get information on whatever model you decide on.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:20 AM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's outside of your price range, but I absolutely adore this model, the Optoma HD141X. It checks off literally all of your list aside from price: 1080p, built-in speaker, HDMI input. It's super bright (3k lumens), so it'll project really clearly outside even if there's some ambient light, and the bulb is both long-lasting (5000-6500 hours), and comparatively cheap to replace (under 200 bucks, which is expensive, but a lot cheaper than bulbs for comparable projectors). It can also play movies in 3D if you have glasses, which you probably don't care about (I didn't), but is honestly kind of nice to have.

It's expensive, but you can pick them up cheaper used (I got mine used for $475), and it's definitely the best for its price range.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:01 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're going to have a hard time finding 720p for that price. I've looked!

Almost all of the projectors in your price range are 800x600 resolution (typically analog inputs only, too).
posted by neckro23 at 3:17 PM on May 12, 2015

Find an AV rental house and rent it instead of buying one.
posted by tomierna at 3:53 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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