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 in price from $100 to $500. And CR found that you get what you pay for, in terms of both image quality and features.
The projector with the best overall picture quality in CR’s test is the LG CineBeam PH550, $450. It also has some useful features, such as Bluetooth 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 antenna and get free over-the-air broadcast TV.
CR did find one bargain in the bunch, the Aaxa S2 Pico projector, $280. It’s a very compact, no-frills model. And it had 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 sound bar.
And 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—if you plan to do movie nights all summer long. Or you can also use a light-colored wall or even a plain white sheet and just pull it tight so that there are no wrinkles. And before you know it, you have that movie-theater feel right at home.
CR says that like home-theater projectors, these mini models need a darker environment. You won’t really be able to see your movie or TV show in a brighter room or outdoors during daylight, especially with larger picture sizes.