Movie Magic Under the Stars

By

Steve Kindig

Steve Kindig has been an electronics enthusiast for over 30 years. He has written extensively about home and car A/V gear for Crutchfield since 1985. Steve is also a volunteer DJ at community radio station WTJU, where he is a regular host of the American folk show "Atlantic Weekly," as well as the world music program "Radio Tropicale."

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Spring arrived early in central Virginia this year. On one especially nice evening, our projector diva, Julie, gathered her three kids and a few of their friends from the neighborhood for a backyard movie night. We hung the jumbo-sized screen off the back of her deck, set up the projector on a small table, and waited for dusk. As the first stars began to dot the sky, Cars 2 lit up the screen, as well as the faces of the enthusiastic audience.

“Do I need a special projector for an outdoor theater?”

An outdoor theater doesn’t require an expensive high-performance projector. You want one that’s rugged, portable, and easy to set up. And look for a projector with plenty of light power. High brightness is essential if you’re showing movies in less than total darkness, or if you’re using a really big screen (the one used here measured 159"!). Epson’s MegaPlex MG-850HD was the star of the show, producing a crisp, vivid, high-def picture that put a smile on every face.

Get your iPhone® or iPad® into the act

Another reason we chose the MG-850HD is its built-in dock for Apple devices. Share all those fun video clips and photos stored on your player, and stream movies from Netflix® and iTunes®. In fact, Julie used her iPad as the video source for her outdoor theater.

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3D viewing in the great outdoors
There’s something about projected images that works especially well with 3D. The Epson Home Cinema 3010 is a 1080p LCD projector that will wow any crowd with its vivid picture, whether the source is 2D or 3D. Includes two pairs of active 3D glasses.

Big sound to go with that big picture
A 3-piece Sound Ordnance amplified PA system features two mounted speakers and a subwoofer. The system is powered by a 400-watt RMS amp.