Building a backyard theater for cord cutters


Cord cutting and having a backyard theater actually go hand in hand

It’s summer and for many that means soaking up as many sunny days, and pleasant cooler nights as possible before fall sets in. If you’re a cord cutter, you are likely spending part of 2016 grinning ear to ear about the hundreds of dollars you’ve saved by dumping cable. Why not brag a little by inviting your friends and family over to watch some movies outside in your own backyard theater? Setting up a backyard theater in cord-cutter style is a great way to watch movies, take in a baseball game or play a few video games on a massive outdoor screen. Follow this short guide to get you started and pretty soon you’ll be watching movies under the stars.

What projector should I get for a backyard theater?

For a big crowd, you want a projector that puts out at least 2,000 lumens. Lumens matter more than resolution, and if you’re going to hook up a Roku Streaming Player or Amazon Fire TV to your projector, you need to get a model that has HDMI inputs. Check out the ViewSonic LightStream Home Entertainment Projector. ViewSonic has been in the projection business for years and with 3300 lumens, you’ll get a bright, crisp picture that will make you look like the neighborhood tech guru.

The BenQ HT3050 3D uses DLP (digital light processing) so there’s no motion blur and it’s especially remarkable when you pair it with streaming devices. The DPL adjusts lamp brightness based on content to project richer blacks and increased content. Start streaming your Netflix account on an Amazon Fire TV or Roku, or even a movie off of HBO Now and pretty soon, your backyard theater will be the new neighborhood hangout on Friday nights. The BenQ delivers 20 watts of immersive stereo cinema quality sound.

What’s the best Blu-ray player in 2016?

To stream or not to stream? If you’re worried about not having a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to power a decent streaming experience, you might just want to stick to the basics. A Blu-ray player will give your guests exceptional picture quality and you a lot less worry about whether your wireless signal is strong enough in your backyard. You don’t have to give up your streaming options altogether.

Sony makes Blu-ray players with the best of both worlds. You can play your favorites from your Blu-Ray disc collection or tap into more than 300 streaming entertainment services with Sony BDPS3500 or Sony BDP5500 3D which both have Wi-Fi capabilities. If you’re worried about Wi-Fi range, you can always boost your signal with a NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi range extender, which works with any standard router, can double as an Ethernet port. The N300 carries up to a 300Mbps.

What do I use for a backyard movie screen?

Depending on your budget (and perhaps your proclivity for saving a dollar), you might just want to take a stab at building your own screen. On sites like eBay, you can find some fairly inexpensive options like buying 158” section of projection screen for a little over $45. If you don’t a do-it-yourself project, there are a number of screens specially designed for outdoor movies or you can just get a white bedsheet, iron out the wrinkles and hang it for a screen.


You’re going to want at least one extra speaker even if your projector set up comes with one. The NYNE Bass Portable Bluetooth Speaker has a rich sound with a built-in active subwoofer and USB charging. If you want to really go high end, the Sony GTKXB7BC High Power Home Audio System will outfit you more like your local Cineplex. It connects to a projector, media streamer or Blu-ray via Bluetooth or with a standard audio cable. With extras like club-like LED lighting and DJ effects you can host a dance party on your block when the flick is over.

Gut Check

Before you invite over your friends and neighbors, try out your setup and see how it works. Try to keep wires out of the way so guests don’t end up tripping on them in the dark. To gauge what kind of distance you should have from your projector to screen, take a look at the Projector Central website. You can also spend hours drooling over other backyard movie theater set ups over at the Backyard Theater page.

Good luck and if you have some knowledge to share, leave it in the comments below.

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