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We’re mixing things up, and today we’re listening to Geoffrey Morrison and Adrienne Maxwell, our friends at Wirecutter, a product recommendation website owned by The New York Times. They have tips on how to create a backyard cinema this summer.
Creating your own outdoor cinema at home can be a lot of fun for your family, but while setup is easy (you only need a few things), costs can add up quickly.
A good projector can run a thousand dollars or more, and a dedicated outdoor display is easily a few hundred – and that’s before you add a media player or sound system. If you want to keep the cost of the entire system around $1,000 (we know that’s not cheap either), this is what we’d go for.
(If you can afford to spend more, check out the full Wirecutter article we recently published for more product recommendations).
Many home projectors these days are small and light enough to be carried outside and placed on a table, but they are bright enough to produce large images (100 inches diagonal or more).
The BenQ HT2050A ($750) is our favorite budget projector for home theater, and the same traits that make it great indoors also make it great for a movie night outdoors: It offers bright, detailed images with better colors and contrast than others in its price class.
For a smaller backyard where the distance from the projector to the screen is less than 10 feet, the similar BenQ HT2150ST ($800) is a better choice because it uses a short throw lens to produce a larger image from shorter distance.
If you’re looking for something less expensive and even easier to set up outdoors, you can go for a portable projector like BenQ’s rugged GS2 ($600), which has a built-in rechargeable battery and a internal streaming app number (so you may not need to attach a media player below). But be aware that these lower-priced portable projectors are noticeably dimmer, so you won’t be able to get a large image like with a full-size projector.
A large, white panel is the most affordable outdoor display solution that can still deliver a good picture. (You can also project the image onto the wall, but you’ll see bits and pieces of the wall texture.) We got surprisingly good performance from these Target panels (from $50) when we tested them. for the outdoor cinema screen manual, but any clean, white sheet of paper you have should work.
You may need to budget for supplies to protect the paper so that it won’t peel or form wrinkles. This can be as complicated as building a wooden frame or as simple as tightening a few screws or gluing panels to the wall.
A media player
Gone are the days when you had Take your Blu-ray or DVD player out into the yard with the projector. You can still do that, but the streaming stick is a much simpler option as it connects directly to the projector’s HDMI input, draws power from the USB connection, and uses your home’s Wi-Fi. to stream movies from your Netflix, Hulu, or other services.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is our favorite stick design ($50). Some projectors, like the BenQ GS2 mentioned above, have a built-in streaming app, so you may not need to connect a media player at all.
One person speaks better
All of the projectors we highlighted above have built-in speakers, but the performance is rather lackluster (to put it mildly). We don’t expect anyone to take a full surround sound system out into the yard, but a good portable speaker would be a big improvement.
We recommend a variety of portable speakers for music to fit any size, but the Soundcore Rave Neo ($100) stands out as an affordable option that has good dynamics and a little extra bass to play with. movie again.
You can run an audio cable between the projector and the speakers or, depending on the projector you choose, wirelessly stream audio via Bluetooth. More and more projectors offer Bluetooth output: the BenQ GS2 does, but the HT2050A and HT2150ST do not.
You can add Bluetooth easily with a separate Bluetooth transmitter like the 1Mii B03 ($55), or if you’re using a Roku Streaming Stick+, you can output audio via the Roku app on your phone and pair it with speak. One potential downside to the Bluetooth approach is that it can create lip syncing problems, where the audio and video don’t match up perfectly.
That’s it. Even if you buy the most expensive items we’ve listed, your total will be $1,000; Choose a cheaper projector and your costs drop even more. Building your own outdoor theater doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money, and the reward is a great setup that can bring you and your family joy for many seasons to come.
Before we go…
Your Zoom may not kill the planet: New research shows that most technology use doesn’t suck as much energy as pessimists feared because efficiency improves rapidly, writes Steve Lohr, my colleague. But yes, the researchers say that the energy drain from Bitcoin mining can be a problem.
Is this spy work? The Wall Street Journal writes about an app called Premise that pays people in most lower-income countries to perform small tasks like counting ATMs or taking pictures of religious sites. The data is provided to commercial customers, the US military, and foreign governments for basic reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. (Registration required.)
A collective protest on TikTok: To raise awareness of what they see as a lack of credibility and influence on Black creativity, some widely followed Black TikTok users are refusing to post dances set to a The new song is essentially designed to cause a dance craze in the app, write my colleagues Taylor Lorenz and Laura Zornosa.
A baby swan (cygnet, internet tells me) riding on the back of the mother swan.
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