Buying an outdoor movie projector can be complicated if you’ve not done it before. There is so much jargon and technicality involved. But honestly, it not always massively important, and HD is one aspect which backyard movie beginners can consider ignoring if budget is an issue.

I am going to tell you why you shouldn’t worry too much about the type of HD resolution your projector has if you are just starting out or planning a cheap backyard movie night.

Backyard Movies Will Never Have Optimum Viewing Conditions

HD or high definition has become more prevalent due to the amazing development in modern TVs. It has vastly increased the professionalism and quality of our home entertainment viewing experience.

When you’re sitting at home close to your TV you’re going to get a very, very good picture with HD. It’s brilliant to have that sharp image and detailed crisp picture.

Why? It’s because you have optimum conditions.

But that will never be the case outdoors or in your own backyard.

This is because when you watch a movie in your backyard, you are not going to have the best conditions for doing so.  And I don’t think any of your guests would expect that either!

The image is going to suffer from things like ambient light which can come from windows or other artificial light sources. There will also be problems of natural light pollution, for example if it’s sunset is can leave a haze on the screen.

Not only that but your outdoor movie screen might have creases or wrinkles on it which will affect the picture. If projecting onto a wall, that wall could have marks on it. It is also very likely that there will be kids and people walking around in your backyard casting shadows onto the screen. There are so many variables involved with watching movies outside that can degrade the picture quality.

So, is it important for your outdoor movie projector to have a high-level format of HD or not?

I would argue not, because it’s not going to be something that is scrutinized by your guests plus you won’t have control over it as much as you might like.

But this is thing…

Most outdoor movie projectors on the market come with HD now anyway, so it’s chances are you are going to get an HD anyway no matter what you budget for buying – HD projectors are now very cheap to buy. So it’s really just a question on what type of HD format you go for when buying.

There are different levels of HD format, and this where it can get complicated and confuse people, as they don’t know what to buy, what they need, or what’s the best to go for.

What HD Format Should I Choose for a Backyard Movie Projector?

If you are just planning on showing a backyard movie at a party night then don’t’ get too caught up on HD formats. As I’ve already described, you won’t be watching the movie in optimum conditions.

But if you do want to get more detail on what it all means, or get the very best set-up possible, then please read on. 

What HD Format is Important When You Buy an Outdoor Movie Projector?

The type of resolution you have on your outdoor projector will depend on how many pixels it can project. Ones you see with higher resolution will offer a crisper and sharper movie – no doubt about that.

If you do want the best image possible, then the best HD resolution format for backyard movies would be to match that at which modern movies are produced at which is 1920×1080 – or 1080 HD format.

You can also consider 1920×1200 which is also referred to as WUXGA. These types of projector will also play standard movies at the correct and full HD resolution without any scaling issues.

These types of movie projector will be more expensive, so if spending less money is important then you could shop at a lower price for a 720 HD resolution projector. This will still play modern movies at a 16:9 aspect ratio, but the image won’t be as crisp or sharp – you will save money on the projector price though. 

What is HD Resolution?

In simple terms, HD refers to the amount of detail of a screen. In other words, how many pixels are displayed. You have probably heard of pixels – they are just the smallest visible thing you can see on a screen – the dots.

With regards to outdoor projectors, the resolution refers to the number of pixels that it will be able to display and project onto your screen.

There are three different types of HD resolution though, and this is where it gets a little murkier when buying online.

Just because it has an HD sticker on, it doesn’t mean the outdoor movie projector will be the one you actually want to buy, if HD is important to you of course.

Outdoor projectors that are advertised as coming with HD (high-definition), could be Full HD, 1080p HD, 720p HD, or something else altogether.

But to complicate matters further, you need to take aspect ratio into consideration as well.

Confused? You should be!

To keep this simple, consider how most movies are shot in the modern age.

They are filmed in a widescreen 16:9 format. That means, for the best viewing experience when watching a movie in your backyard, you should make sure that any HD projector you buy is at a 16:9 aspect ratio. By doing so you won’t get any odd borders on your projected movie up on the screen.

What this means is that you could buy a 16:9 outdoor HD projector with any of the following HD formats and be absolutely fine.

ResolutionPixels HorizontallyPixels VerticallyTotal Pixels
720p1,280720921,600
1080p1,9201,0802,073,600
4K Ultra HD3,8402,1608,294,400

Go take a look at my recommended projectors in the gear section – you will see that they all have the resolutions from the above table, and are simply different in pricing and cost.

My Final Thought

To conclude, when buying an outdoor movie projector to use in your backyard movie night, don’t get too hung up on the HD format. The most important thing is to choose one which has a 16×9 aspect ratio as this is the format which most modern movies are shot at – and ultimately have fun!

The movie projectors that you see for sale on websites such as Amazon are all going to come with HD anyway, so it’s just a case of deciding which HD format to choose from.

If you can afford to buy a full HD projector then by all means go for it as it will look better.  But if you are shopping on a budget, a 720 HD projector is probably going to be absolutely fine for a backyard movie party.

For more help in choosing a projector in your backyard movie night or party, then please check out my recommended gear section. In there I have put together a comprehensive list of guides and set-ups to suit all budgets.

I also recently wrote a guide as to how you can put together your own backyard movie night for less than $400. You might find of interest if you really want to keep prices down.