Consumer Reports: Projectors for your perfect movie night at home

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.

"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," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports Tech Editor. "In general, we found you get what you pay for, both in terms of image quality and features."

The projector with the best overall picture quality in Consumer Report's test is the model from LG.

"It also has some useful features like Bluetooth and wireless mirroring, which lets you send video directly to the projector from a smartphone or a tablet," he said.

The LG also 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. It's a very compact, no-frills model, and it had decent picture quality and better than expected sound," he said.
Since 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 or even blow-up models if you plan to do movie nights all summer long.

"You can also use a light-colored wall or even a plain white sheet like I did. Just pull it tight so there are no wrinkles," Willcox said.

Consumer Reports said, like home theater models, mini projectors 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.

LG CineBeam PH550 / $450 USD

Aaxa S2 Pico Projector / $280 USD
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