Tips for a Backyard Theater System

With your own backyard theater, never again will you have to choose between enjoying a good movie or basking in the beautiful weather outside. How you set up your theater will depend on your yard and your budget, however there's no reason to take out a new loan for the components you need. A portable projector, a video source and a decent set of wireless speakers will make you wonder why you ever watched movies inside.

Choosing a Setup

Most backyard theater systems use a projector connected to a laptop or a DVD or Blu-ray player. While you may be tempted to bring your flat screen TV outside, most TV manufacturers generally warn against this. Drastic changes in temperature and humidity can ruin a TV. If you have the budget, you can get a TV designed to be used outdoors or purchase a case that will protect the TV from the elements. If you are upgrading your living room, you may decide it's worth putting the old TV outside for the summer, however you will need an enclosure to protect it.

Selecting a Projector

Portable business projectors are ideal for an outdoor theater. A few years ago, you could probably get a home theater projector for your backyard, but they are becoming more difficult to find these days. The specs to look for in a projector are brightness, contrast, resolution and aspect ratio. Older projectors are limited to a 4:3 aspect ratio, which gives you a reduced screen size if you are watching a widescreen movie. A decent, inexpensive projector will offer a resolution of 800-by 600 pixels with 1500 lumens and a contrast ratio around 500. Higher resolution, more lumens and higher contrast ratio will cost more, but will give you a brighter, crisper image on the screen.

Choosing a Screen

For an outdoor theater screen you can buy a large pull-down screen or an even larger inflatable screen. However, any large, white surface can be used as a screen. If your house has a flat white wall, you may not need to erect a screen. Otherwise, you can make a screen from painted plywood, white vinyl sheeting or cardboard. Even a white bedsheet hung from a clothesline can do the job if you weight down the bottom. If you are using a semi-transparent material like a bedsheet, you may want to try placing the projector behind the screen to shine through it, rather than trying to reflect the image off the material. The image will be reversed, but you can see the movie better.

Adding Sound

Unless you plan to limit yourself to silent movies, your backyard theater will need a decent sound system. For a small setup, you may want to look at a set of small portable speakers. For much better sound, without breaking your budget, consider a sound bar with a set of wireless speakers and a subwoofer. Make sure your Wi-Fi® router is directed to the backyard, and you shouldn't have any problems connecting the speakers. The range of a Wi-Fi router typically doubles outside, meaning you can get a clear signal within 300 feet. If you are using Bluetooth speakers, they have a range of 30 feet from your video source. Many sound bars come with a DVD or Blu-ray player too, meaning less time setting up your theater and more time watching your movies.

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