How To Set Up An Outdoor Movie Night: Best Projector, Screen, Speakers - Rolling Stone
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5 Essential Gadgets to Pull Off a Theater-Quality Outdoor Movie Night

Create a movie theater-like experience in the comfort and convenience of your own property

AAXA P6X

Facebook / AAXA

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When the weather gets warmer, it’s natural to spend less time indoors. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, you can gather friends and family together to watch a movie or TV show outside of the house. That may sound like lugging a bunch of heavy equipment around, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s possible to set up and break down an outdoor home theater system in roughly half an hour with a little prep work.

If you want a true home theater experience, one that you can use both inside and outside of your home, it’ll take longer, but we’ve collected the essential gear and accessories you’ll need for an outdoor movie night without much fuss. Our goal was to enable you to watch movies and TV shows in HD at home, in your backyard, or anywhere else. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, you’ll be all set.

1. AAXA P6X Portable Projector

AAXA P6X Projector

Amazon

AAXA’s P6X is the ideal projector for an outdoor movie night. It’s battery-powered, and can last up to four hours on a single charge, so you’ll be able to get through one or two films before it needs to be plugged in. The projector’s native resolution is HD, so your picture will look clear, and it can produce a 160-inch screen if you have enough space. The P6X’s best technical feature is its 1000 lumen lighting system, which is bright enough to produce a clean image when there’s some light pollution.

One of our favorite features is its manual focus dial, which lets you make micro adjustments for yourself instead of relying exclusively on an auto-focus system that may be a little off. You’ll find other control that let you navigate the P6X’s simple menu system on top of the projector, so you won’t need to use the remote as much.

The P6X doesn’t have any built-in apps, so you’ll need to plug in a media streamer to play movies off services like Hulu or Netflix. It does have a MicroSD card slot and USB port, so you can play video files off a flash drive. This projector has a speaker system that gets surprisingly loud, but we found there was a little less bass than we’d like. That’s less of an issue because you can connect external speakers through its headphone jack.

If you want a reliable, portable projector for outdoor movie watching this summer, AAXA’s P6X is our top pick.

Buy: AAXA P6X at $359.99

2. TaoTronics 100-Inch Projector Screen

TaoTronics 100-Inch Projector Screen

Amazon

You can project a movie onto any surface, but you’ll get the best results if you use a dedicated screen. This one from TaoTronics is made out of a wrinkle-free material, sits on a tripod, and is large enough to display a 100-inch image. The company says you can set it up in two minutes without any tools, and includes a storage bag to keep it safe when the screen is not in use.

Buy: TaoTronics 100-Inch Projector Screen at $109.99

2. Edifier R1700BTs Speakers

Edifier R1700BTs

Edifier

 

If you want to upgrade the sound of your outdoor movie night, your best bet is to get a pair of Edifier’s R1700BTs powered speakers. They contain an amplifier, so you don’t need to connect them to a stereo receiver, but do need to be plugged into an outlet to work. The R1700BTs have two drivers (the part of a speaker that creates sound): a four-inch woofer to handle bass and midrange frequencies, and a .75-inch tweeter to handle treble.

Spreading frequencies between the two drivers results in better balanced sound. You can make little tweaks by twisting the bass and treble knobs on the left-hand side of the right speaker if you prefer.

You can connect the R1700BTs to your projector via a Y-Cable, which goes from the AAXA PX6’s headphone jack into one of its RCA (red and white) inputs. The speakers have an additional RCA input and Bluetooth support, so you can plug an additional home theater component, or stream music to them wirelessly. Edifier includes a remote with the R1700BTs, so you can adjust their volume and switch inputs on the fly if the video you’re watching gets too loud or soft.

Edifier’s R1700BTs are a great tech piece of audio gear for your outdoor movie night, indoor home theater, or computer.

Buy: Edifier R1700BTs at $159.99

3. Bose TV Soundbar

Bose TV Speaker

Amazon

If you prefer soundbars to stereo speaker systems, Bose’s TV Soundbar is the right pick for your outdoor movie night.

At 23.3 inches long and 6 pounds, it’s easy to carry this soundbar in and out of your home. It has a pair of drivers (Bose declines to mention their size), and a specialized Dialogue Mode, which makes voices sound clearer. The Solo 5 TV Soundbar has an AUX input, so you can connect it to the AAXA P6X’s headphone jack with a standard 3.5mm audio cable. The sound bar also has one HDMI, optical audio, and coaxial input, and supports Bluetooth 5.0, so you can stream music to it wirelessly.

Bose bundles this sound bar with a remote, which you can use to adjust its volume, increase its bass, enable dialogue mode, and even control your TV. You cannot control the AAXA P6X with this remote, though. The Bose TV Soundbar’s small size and large feature set make it one of the few soundbars well-suited for outdoor use.

Buy: Bose TV Soundbar at $249.00

4. Fire TV Stick Lite

Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon

The AAXA P6X doesn’t have any built-in apps, so if you want access to streaming services, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is the right call. The small media streamer can stream video in up to 1080P (Full HD), and enables you to watch content from over 100 channels (most channels and services require a monthly subscription to work).

The Fire TV Stick Lite has an HDMI jack on one end, so you can plug it directly into the HDMI port on the AAXA P6X. You can power the media streamer by connecting the MicroUSB cable Amazon includes with it into the USB port on the projector. Once connected, you can select or download different streaming services by pressing buttons on the remote, or hitting the microphone button on top and asking for your request.

If the movie or TV show you want to watch during your outdoor get together is available to stream, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Lite makes it easy to find, pick, and watch.

Buy: Fire TV Stick Lite at $29.99

5. Eero WiFi Routers

Amazon eero mesh WiFi

Amazon

The last thing you want to watch during your outdoor movie night is a buffering screen, which is why you need a strong, reliable, far-reaching WiFi network. This set of three routers from eero is rated to cover an area of up to 3,500 sq. ft. (square feet) with an internet connection up to 350mbps (megabytes per second).

This is a mesh WiFi system, which means one router needs to be connected to your cable modem, and the others can be placed anywhere there’s a power outlet. The three routers send a consistent internet signal between one another, and your device connects to the router it’s physically closest to, which reduces congestion.

It’s easy to take fast internet speeds for granted when you’re streaming videos in your home, but stepping outside puts quite a bit of physical distance between your WiFi router and outdoor home theater setup. The upside is that getting a set of eero routers will improve the quality of your outdoor movie watching experience and create a better WiFi network you can enjoy indoors.

Buy: Eero Mesh WiFi System at $199.00

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