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The best outdoor projectors you can buy: Expert tested

We found the best outdoor projectors from Samsung, Anker, and others that offer clear picture, easy setup, and excellent audio so you can watch under the stars.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Samsung Freestyle 2 | Best outdoor projector overall
A white Samsung Freestyle 2 projector on its battery base next to a pink Xbox controller
Samsung Freestyle 2
Best outdoor projector overall
View now View at Samsung
Anker Nebula Capsule 3 | Best compact outdoor projector
Nebula Capsule 3 next to a can
Anker Nebula Capsule 3
Best compact outdoor projector
View now View at Amazon
Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 smart streaming laser projector | Best outdoor projector for color
A black, cubed Epson projector
Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 smart streaming laser projector
Best outdoor projector for color
View now View at Best Buy
Optoma UHD38 4K Gaming Projector | Best outdoor projector for gaming
The front of a white projector
Optoma UHD38 4K Gaming Projector
Best outdoor projector for gaming
View now View at Amazon
XGIMI MoGo Pro | Best portable outdoor projector
Black portable projector
Best portable outdoor projector
View now View at Best Buy

Spring nights are the perfect time to snuggle up outside with a blanket and a fire, and it's a good time to take your entertainment outside as well. If you want to level up your movie nights this season, an outdoor projector can do just that. 

Outdoor projectors are built to be portable, durable, and with high-resolution displays since the outdoors has its host of challenges. Plus, with the high-tech options available today, outdoor projectors can even come preloaded with streaming services, making connecting and playing a movie easy. 

Also: The best projector screens

What are the best outdoor projectors right now? 

To help you find an outdoor projector that gives you both comfort and cinema-quality streaming, ZDNET staff tested and researched the best outdoor projectors available. Our pick for the best outdoor projector overall the Samsung Freestyle 2 projector thanks to its vivid picture quality and portability. Read on to see how it stacks up against models from Anker, Epson, and more based on features like sound, streaming options, and price. 

Best outdoor projectors of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Can stream movies or play games
  • Auto-focus feature
  • Extremely portable
  • Expensive
More Details

I tested the Samsung Freestyle 2, and was impressed by its quality as both an outdoor projector and also a gaming console of sorts. What's very cool about the Samsung Gaming Hub is that you don't need a physical console to play a game: You just need the Freestyle 2, internet access, and a game controller. You'll have to subscribe to cloud streaming like Xbox, GeForce Now, Luna, and others, as well as video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

It is super easy to set up and get going -- all you need is a Wi-Fi connection. And you don't need to lug an extension cord around since its portable battery easily connects to the device, letting you use it virtually anywhere (which is perfect for a backyard movie night).

Review: This brilliant Samsung projector can replace your TV and gaming console altogether

The Samsung Freestyle 2 impressed me with both image quality, the ability to auto-focus -- projecting onto a slanted ceiling or a projector screen -- and the overall experience of setup and streaming. One Best Buy reviewer noted that it's an "amazing product, does everything for you, the quality is amazing, speakers are loud… super happy with my purchase." 

Samsung Freestyle 2 tech specs: Resolution: Full HD (1080p) | Lumens: 550 | Contrast ratio: 1000:1 | Speakers: 5W 360-degree speaker | Connectivity: HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Pros & Cons
  • Intelligent environment adaption
  • Cinematic sound
  • Excellent Netflix integration
  • Battery life of 2.5 hours isn't that long
More Details

The Anker Nebula Capsule 3 is described as a "Pocket Cinema," thanks to its small form factor (just a tad larger than a soda can), but you'll get booming audio with this little gadget. The projector features an 8W Dolby Audio Speaker, providing a surprisingly cinematic sound. An Amazon customer described the mini projector as "smaller than a soda can, but packs a punch that's anything but mini."

Aside from its small size, it also comes built-in with the software benefits of Google TV, meaning the projector supports Netflix right out of the box.

Review: I tested the world's smallest projector with Google TV, and it blew me away

ZDNET editor Sabrina Ortiz went hands-on with the Nebula Capsule 3, and said she was most impressed by its intelligent environment adaption, specifically the Autofocus and Auto Keystone Correction, which is especially beneficial for outdoor viewing. 

"Together, you can place the projector wherever is the most convenient for you, and the projection will automatically adjust its angle and size to the area you are casting to," she wrote. 

Anker Nebula Capsule 3 tech specs: Resolution: 1080p | Lumens: 200 ANSI Lumens | Contrast ratio: 500:1 | Speakers: 8W Dolby Audio Speaker | Connectivity: HDMI, USB-C, USB-A, AUX, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Pros & Cons
  • 4K UHD
  • Easy to set up
  • Built-in Chromecast
  • Limited brightness
  • Lacks 3D support
More Details

With the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 smart streaming laser projector, visuals take top priority with a pronounced focus on color and clarity. Epson MicroLaser Array Technology joins a 4K picture for incredible brightness and coloring. Yamaha supplies audio for exceptional sound, and the built-in speaker is Bluetooth-compatible. 

A Best Buy customer noted in their review that "while the price point is a bit high for my taste, the quality and features of this projector make it worth every penny."

Plus, the built-in Android TV takes care of content, allowing you to use voice search and Google Assistant to access your favorite programming. 

Epson EpiqVision Mini tech specs: Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 1,000 | Contrast ratio: 200000:1 | Speakers: 5W Yamaha speaker | Connectivity: HDMI

Pros & Cons
  • Enormous imaging
  • Excellent brightness
  • Stunning clarity
  • Pricey
  • Lacks short-throw ability
More Details

If you are a gamer, the Optoma UHD38 4K home theater and gaming projector is your best bet for an outdoor projector. Designed to be used for gaming, it offers a brilliant picture in 4K Ultra HD with both HDR10 and HLG technologies. 

An Amazon customer said they liked the gaming projector so much they went back to their original review to give their one year update. They said they are "still loving it and highly recommend it," that it is the "Best display I've ever used, don't even need game mode it's not laggy. Possibly the best purchase I've ever made."

The UltraDetail picture has more than eight million on-screen pixels, with Enhanced Gaming Mode to eliminate lags and enable interruption-free gaming. You can enjoy multiple inputs and the ability to stream via your computer or mobile device. 

Deal alert: This projector is $110 off at Amazon for a limited time. 

Optoma UHD38 tech specs: Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Lumens: 4000 | Contrast ratio: 1000000:1 | Speakers: 10W speaker | Connectivity: HDMI, VGA, USB

Pros & Cons
  • Simple to set up
  • Chromecast integrated
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Lackluster user guide
  • Lacks SD card support
More Details

The XGIMI MoGo Pro can project a 100-inch screen wherever you go. From the built-in battery to the embedded Android TV, the thoughtful design is meant to simplify use. 

You'll be able to stream all your favorite movies thanks to the 1080p picture that has 400 ISO lumens. 

A Best Buy customer described their overall experience as a good one, and said "I recommend enjoying movies lying in bed at night. It's a truly enjoyable experience."

Review: XGIMI MoGo Pro projector: Compact and portable with built-in Chromecast

ZDNET contributor Eileen Brown went hands-on with the XGIMI Pro projector and was impressed by its built-in Chromecast and superb autofocus. 

"You have access to all of your apps and channels, and you can customize the channels you want to see on screen," she wrote."Google Assistant easily navigates through all the options if you are not a fan of using the remote control to type."

XGIMI MoGo Pro tech specs: Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Lumens: 400 ISO lumens | Contrast ratio: N/A | Speakers: Two 8W speakers | Connectivity: HDMI, USB, headphone jack, Bluetooth

What is the best outdoor projector?

With the ability to be a complete gaming hub without the console and impressive sound and picture to boot, the Samsung Freestyle 2 wins ZDNET's pick for best outdoor projector overall. Here is a bird's eye view of the best outdoor projectors to see how the top performers compare.

Best outdoor projector




Samsung Freestyle 2


1920 x 1080

550 lumens

Anker Nebula Capsule 3


1920 x 1080

200 ANSI lumens

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12


1920 x 1080

1000 lumens

Optoma UHD38 4K Gaming projector


3840 x 2160

4000 lumens



1920 x 1080

300 ANSI lumens

 *Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that prices may vary based on retailer and available promotions, sales, or discounts.

Which is the right outdoor projector for you?

Here are our expert recommendations to help you find the best outdoor projector for your needs.

Choose this best outdoor projector...

If you want...

Samsung Freestyle 2

The best overall option. It comes with the Samsung Gaming Hub to stream games to play and has impressive movie-theater quality sound and picture. 

Anker Nebula Capsule 3

A compact projector with big sound. It also has intelligent environment adaptation to make it easy to watch anywhere outside.

Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 

An incredibly bright picture. This projector is extremely easy to set up, and you can use Google Voice Assistant to access your favorite programming. 

Optoma UHD38 4K Gaming projector

To use your projector for gaming. The Enhanced Gaming Mode eliminates lags and enables interruption-free gaming. 


To take your projector on the go. It can project a 100-inch screen from anywhere. 

How we choose the best outdoor projectors

ZDNET does extensive research into outdoor projectors, taking into consideration user reviews and competitor analysis. 

For products we recommend, we write a product spotlight review that we update periodically with new features and pricing information.

Factors to consider when choosing an outdoor projector

Before investing in an outdoor projector, you'll want to consider the following factors: 

  • Streaming: How you stream content will make a huge difference in how you can use an outdoor projector. Many of the best outdoor projectors offer access to popular apps like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO Max. 
  • Picture: This is one of the most important factors to consider during your search for the best outdoor projector. Brightness and clarity can make or break your viewing experience, making it well worth it to invest in an outdoor projector with an excellent picture, such as the ones listed here.
  • Sound: Some outdoor projectors have sound incorporated into the designs. For example, the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K includes Dolby Audio for a premium, all-in-one package. 
  • Cost: The price of an outdoor projector can vary significantly, as seen here. Prices can run the gamut, so look for a model that fits your budget.

How we test outdoor projectors

We considered several factors during our search to find the best outdoor projectors. We looked at top brands, customer reviews (good and bad), and considered our own experience in using some of these projectors to select our top picks. When we go hands-on with an outdoor projector, we consider ease of setup and use, image quality, sound quality, and value for the price.

How many lumens do I need for an outdoor projector?

We recommend looking for an outdoor projector that has about 500 lumens or more for a full-size projector. However, less than 500 lumens will still provide reasonable brightness if you're looking for a portable outdoor projector, like the XGIMI MoGo Pro.

What types of lumens are there?

There are two types of lumens: ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization). ANSI lumens are more than two times larger than ISO lumens, so be sure to keep this in mind as you shop for your best outdoor projector.

Do outdoor projectors work in the sun?

Although it's recommended to use most projectors at night, for daytime use, it's best to stick to a projector with at least 3,000 lumens. 

The brighter the projector is, the more it can compete with sunlight and ambient light. 

Do you need a screen for an outdoor projector?

For a projector to display the highest quality anywhere, it's recommended to use a screen projector. 

But not to worry, displaying an image with any of these recommended projectors against a wall or garage door will get the job done for your next family movie night. 

How much does an outdoor projector cost?

Outdoor projectors can vary significantly in cost, depending on your specific needs. For example, a small portable speaker can be far more affordable than a large setup. That said, the best outdoor projectors range in cost from $500 to $2,200, depending on the model you choose.

Are outdoor projectors worth it?

What's better than bringing a classic drive-in movie theatre to your backyard? The portability and convenience of an outdoor projector are unmatched. Whether it's in your backyard or going on a road trip, you can consider one of our listed outdoor projectors as a great way to watch streaming services and make it easy to play a movie anywhere you go. 

Are there alternative outdoor projectors worth considering?

During our search, we found many outdoor projectors that could also fit the bill. These are some more quality picks worth considering. 

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