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Ready to go to the movies?

Julie Govan is the Brand Manager at Crutchfield, and has been writing about consumer electronics since 1999. Her areas of expertise include home theater, surround sound, digital cameras, and HDTV. In her spare time, she also writes book reviews and fiction. She earned a B.A. in English from Davidson College, and went on to receive a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia.

More from Julie Govan

I saw a cool article in Popular Mechanics this month on building your own rolling drive-in movie theater, and it reminded me of an idea I'd been meaning to pass on.

You see, the advent of inexpensive home theater front projectors means that projecting movies is once again a possibility. Now, for the most part, these projectors are designed for use in a darkened living room -- they offer better detail and motion handling than conference room projectors, and many are widescreen HD-capable models. I've had an InFocus model for several years, and I can tell you that it duplicates that movie-theater feel amazingly well -- and it permits one of the biggest pictures available to non-billionaires. That's great even if it's the TV you use for sporting events, not for everyday viewing.

Now, the PM article goes into some awesome and tweaky detail on how to mount a front projector to your car, connect it to a portable DVD player, and beam an audio signal to your radio via a plug-in FM transmitter. And that's a cool plan. But if you want the outdoor movie feel, you don't necessarily need to go to that level of trouble.

For instance, you can do this in your own backyard. (Incidentally, you run much less risk of accidentally hosting a public performance under the federal Copyright Act if you do this at home, with the same people who'd usually watch a movie with you inside.)

For instance, this 4th of July, in between the annual barbeque and the fireworks display at 10, you can drag a boombox and DVD player outside, set up the projector, and get your extended family camped out on picnic blankets to watch a favorite flick projected on a sheet hanging from the back porch. It's the kind of occasional treat that they'll remember for years.

Hope this idea adds some fun to summer evenings -- and let me know your own creative ways of using your projector!

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