Consumer Reports: Best projectors for watching movies at home

If you're missing the movie theater, why not bring the big screen excitement to your home or backyard? Consumer Reports just finished testing mini projectors and has all you'll need to set up a fun family movie night at home.

Mini projectors are a fun way to get that drive-in movie feeling right at home. It's an activity Consumer Reports Tech Editor Jim Willcox and his family enjoy doing together.

"When it's nice outside, my wife, son, and I can set up the projector, make some popcorn and then have a fun family movie night." Willcox said.

Consumer Reports just finished testing mini projectors, ranging in price from around $100 to $500.

"In general, we found you get what you pay for, both in terms of image quality and features," Willcox said.

The projector with the best overall picture quality in Consumer Report's test a model from LG.

"It also has some useful features like Bluetooth and wireless mirroring, which lets you send video directly to the projector from a smartphone or a tablet," Willcox said.

And the LG has a built-in TV tuner, so you can connect an antenna and get free over-the-air broadcast TV.

"We did find one bargain in the bunch, the Aaxa Pico projector, Willcox said. "It's a very compact, no-frills model. And it had decent picture quality and better-than-expected sound."

Since many mini projectors don't have great sound, you'll want to consider adding an external speaker or a sound bar.

And when it comes to setting up your backyard movie night, you'll also need a screen. There are portable ones with built-in stands or even blow-up models if you plan to do movie nights all summer long. Or you could do what Jim did.

"You can also use a light-colored wall or even a plain white sheet like I did," Willcox said. "Just pull it tight so there are no wrinkles."

And before you know it, you've got that movie-theater-feel right at home.

Consumer Reports says, like home theater models, these mini projectors need a darker environment. You won't really be able to see your movie or TV show in a brighter room or outdoors during daylight, especially with larger picture sizes.

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