Thanks to surging advances in mobile technology, there are few differences between in-home and portable entertainment options. Mobile apps support access to media content you enjoy indoors, and a variety of electronic devices can be used to transform ordinary, outdoor spaces into open-air entertainment meccas. A backyard dance party or an outdoor movie screening packs an impressive punch but requires minimal effort and little-to-no tech savvy. After you employ a little creativity, you'll be hard-pressed to persuade your guests to go back inside.
Bring the TV
Your favorite television shows and movies are hardly restricted to your living room, especially if you already own a Web-enabled smartphone or tablet. These mobile devices provide portable access to a variety of entertainment options including your favorite music videos, the latest prime time episodes and new cinematic releases. Many cable and satellite providers offer app-facilitated programming, and a variety of third-party streaming apps also facilitate playback. With an adequate data connection—and perhaps a nominal subscription fee—you'll have a portable entertainment center anywhere you go.
Traveling Dance Party
Music enhances any event, and a single source of audio—like a smartphone or MP3 player—can be transformed into a portable dance club when paired with a wireless Bluetooth speaker. Most provide adequate sound for small beach or poolside gatherings, but high-quality units are capable of broadcasting over a wide outdoor area without loss of clarity. Look for one with a lithium-ion polymer battery, which supports continuous playback for anywhere from six to 12 hours. For predominantly outdoor use, choose one that's weather-safe and waterproof so it withstands unexpected elements or an accidental dip in the pool.
Backyard Movie Night
A large-screen projector creates a portable movie theater, transforming the simplest pool party into the ultimate in backyard entertainment. You'll need a projector, a power outlet and a streaming source such as a computer or Blu-ray player. Kirk Ritari installs outdoor audio/video equipment for Tampa-based firm Projector People. He suggests fabricating a DIY screen using a sheet, the side of your house or your garage door. If your budget allows, opt instead for a weatherized outdoor screen. To minimize the risk of environmental damage, Ritari recommends storing the projector indoors. "They're just not able to be kept outside safely," he says.
Mobile Photo Booth
In the world of event planning, photo booth rentals are all the rage, but you can create your own with little more than a photo booth app and a mobile device. If you lack the construction skills to build a custom enclosure, mount your app-equipped tablet or smartphone at eye level and offer guests a blank wall, a sheet of fabric and a basket of props. With a tap on the touch screen, guests are guided through posing, shutter countdown, previews, optional printing and social network sharing.
Using a home-automation app, you can program custom remotes and then manipulate any wireless device from your tablet or smartphone. This technology can be implemented outdoors or on the go as well, and with a wireless receiver hub, you can add wireless functionality to electronics that don't currently support it. Tap out a light show, for example, with a string of Christmas lights or control a music player for a rousing game of musical chairs.
Photo Credits: Anne Dale/Demand Media
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