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Build a Backyard Theater

by Terrence O'Brien on May 25, 2010

Open Air Cinema Home outdoor inflatable screen

Open Air Cinema Home outdoor inflatable screen

Ever wanted to kick back on your lawn and watch your favorite flicks? It may seem daunting, but it’s actually not hard to build. All you need is a projector and a screen. In fact, with summer almost here, watching movies or playing video games outdoors is a great way to spend time with friends and family.

You can easily build an outdoor theater system for well under $1,000. The most expensive and important piece of your set-up is the projector. Lots of companies, including Epson and Optoma, sell reasonably-priced, portable (under ten pounds) projectors that are perfect for an outdoor theater.

Look for a projector that has an image brightness of at least 1,500 lumens, and ideally more than 2,000 lumens, since it will be competing with the light of the moon and neighboring houses. And check for a VGA or DVI port, in addition to the regular audio and video connectors for a DVD player, so you can connect a laptop. This will enable you to use the DVD drive in your laptop and take advantage of downloaded or streaming movies.

The other major consideration is the big screen. If your home is painted white or off white, you could project directly onto it. For the best results, though, you'll want a screen. A bed sheet can be perfectly serviceable, but you’ll get better results with a blackout drapery liner (a 105 x 80-inch panel costs about $60). Or you could spring for an inflatable outdoor movie screen, if you want to have more control over where you place the screen and better image quality.

If you decide to use an inflatable screen, make sure will you have room around the screen to tie it down. And if it's windy, choose a protected location; these screens are rated for a maximum wind speed of about 15-20 mph.

As for sound, many projectors have basic speakers built in, but that old boom box you have lying around, or an inexpensive pair of powered speakers with a sub-woofer will do quite nicely as well. If you're looking to create a more permanent installation, consider using outdoor speakers.


Music and Video, Video Players & Recorders, TVs & Video Players, Outdoor Living


Epson MovieMate 60Epson MovieMate 60 Portable Projector DVD Combo
With built-in speakers and DVD player, all you need to create your theater is a screen. You can also connect a gaming system, computer or even a USB stick loaded with picture or movies to this 2,000 lumen projector.
Price: $699. Check the price at

Optoma HD 66 projector
Optoma HD66
Good brightness (2,500 lumens) and great size (5.1 pounds) make this projector stand out. It will accept input from your laptop as well.
Price: $699
. Check the price at



Airblown Inflatable Widescreen Deluxe Outdoor Movie Screen Airblown Inflatable Widescreen Deluxe Outdoor Movie Screen
This 12-foot screen comes with two fans to keep the screen inflated. Front projection only.
Price: $230. Check the price at

Open Air Cinema Home outdoor movie screenOpen Air Cinema Home screen
This 9-foot screen comes with a fan to keep the screen inflated.  Screen is permanently attached to base, making setup easy.  Front projection only.
Price: $499. Check the price at

Sima XL Theater 72-inch Widescreen inflatable screenSima XL Theater 72-inch Widescreen
This 6-foot screen comes with 2 sets of 16-inch pontoons for increased viewing height and a pump to inflate the screen. Can be used for front or rear projection.
Price: $199. at

Discussion loading


From Free Tv Shows on June 11, 2010 :: 10:26 am

Wow, this thing really looks good, that 12ft screen for $230 is awesome, I wish the projectors where little bit cheaper!


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