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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
232 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best inflatable outdoor projector screens

Last Updated December 2019

Take the excitement of a crowded theater, add in the convenience of watching entertainment from home, and sprinkle it with some natural ambience, and you’ve got an outdoor movie screening. You just need an inflatable outdoor projector screen to make it happen.

An inflatable projector screen is less about the screen itself and more about the frame that holds it up. The frame is the inflatable part, and the white viewing screen is attached. When shopping for inflatable screens, you’ll find differences in the frames — how they set up and stay in place — but not in the white screens themselves, which are essentially uniform and differ only in size.

Screens are inflated by internal fans or external air pumps to achieve their maximum size. Tethers and stakes are often included to keep the entire unit stable, though sometimes additional weight and protection against the elements are necessary.

Investing in an inflatable projector screen can be pricey, so it’s important to take the time to figure out your own optimal setup and learn what’s required to create the best outdoor movie experience.

Most people think of movies when it comes to inflatable outdoor projector screens. But with the proper hookup, you can project any digital media onto the screen, including video games.

Key considerations

Stability

One of the biggest potential deterrents to enjoying an outdoor movie night is weather. Because of their light weight and large surface, inflatable screens are especially susceptible to being caught in wind gusts and knocked over. Consider both where you intend to use the screen and the ways in which it is tethered. Open areas will attract more wind than closed-off patios. While most screens come with hardware to keep them grounded, extra reinforcements — such as additional ropes and stakes, strategic positioning, or weights — may be required.

Air pump

Inflating the frame will require either an internal or external fan. Internal fans may be more convenient for travel and inflation, but if something goes wrong, replacing or fixing a faulty unit may be complicated. An external pump will require a bit more work to set up but is more easily replaceable.

Audience size

How many people will be enjoying your outdoor movie exhibition? In general, the more people attending your feature film event, the larger the screen should be. For more intimate affairs, a 6-foot screen should suffice; larger gatherings may demand a screen as large as 16 or 18 feet.

The projector

It’s important to consider the other half of the outdoor movie setup: the projector. Make sure to match the screen to the features and capabilities of your projector. There’s little sense in buying a giant screen if your projector doesn’t have the power to fill it. If you don’t have a projector yet, be sure to consider what goes into buying one — such as cost — before investing in a screen.

EXPERT TIP

Because the screen attaches to the inflatable frame, you may be able to use it in isolation. With the right tools, you can affix the screen to a wall or fence without the inflatable parts.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Rear projection

Some projector screens have the same white material on both sides. That means not only is there not necessarily any front or back, but the image projected on one side of the screen will appear on the reverse as well. This is ideal when you have a lot of people watching, as you can create seating areas on both sides of the screen. Rear projection also allows you to more or less hide the projector one side of the screen while people view from the other; this also prevents people from walking in front of the projector and blocking the image. (Note that images on the rear side of the screen will be reversed, so subtitles will not be readable.)

Extra stability

While most screens come with some sort of hardware to keep the unit grounded, there are companies that offer extra support and stability. Some feature stakes and tethers not only for the screen but also for the pump so it doesn’t get caught up in any movement — a valuable bonus, as pump movement could lead to a deflated screen. Often, screens are tied down from the base, but some receive support from the top as well. Wind gusts can be a huge annoyance, so look at all the ways you can make your screen stable.

Movie trinkets

While these aren’t at all necessary, they can be fun! A lot of companies like to throw in some accessories and items to evoke a cinema atmosphere. From fake movie tickets to popcorn buckets — or even some actual popcorn — you may find some cute little extras to enliven your movie night experience.

Companies like to take advantage of any advertising opportunities they can. Your inflatable screen will likely proudly sport the company’s name on the frame.

Inflatable outdoor projector screen prices

For under $200 (but likely not less than $150), you’ll be able to purchase a relatively small screen (under 16 feet) that comes with stakes and tethers. Rear projection and extra stability may not be included.

Between $200 and $250, you’ll have more choices with regard to size and features. Many products in this range come with accessories and a storage bag.

For over $250, you’ll be looking at much larger screens that are ideal for big outdoor movie events. Some of the prices can be inflated due to marketing toward businesses, which may be able to spend more money than the average consumer.

EXPERT TIP

Pumps require power! Make sure you have an outlet within reach via an extension cord if electricity is required.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Frame size is different from screen size. Most companies advertise the frame size more prominently than the screen size — in part because it’s bigger, which makes the item more appealing. Make sure to determine the screen size, which will be a couple feet smaller.
  • Consider wind gusts. Some companies may boast wind resistance up to a certain speed, but it’s wind gusts that are problematic. They come up suddenly and last a short time, but gusts by definition exceed average wind speed by anywhere from 10 to 15 miles per hour.
  • Check the height of the screen bottom. It’s easy to get so caught up with the size of the screen that you forget to note how high the screen is off the ground. If the bottom edge is relatively low, people sitting farther back may have trouble seeing everything.
  • Pair with the right projector. The screen provides the viewing opportunity, but the projector powers your experience. Inflatable screens may promote a 16:9 aspect ratio, 3D viewing potential, and other features, but if your projector doesn't possess those abilities, the screen can't make them happen.

Other products we considered

NOZZCO offers a few different options, including this 16-foot inflatable screen that comes with an air pump, tethers, stakes, and a carrying case. It’s toward the higher end in terms of cost, but it also comes with 10 movie ticket templates that can make a neat addition to your movie night fun. Elsewhere, Star Paraselene Amusement offers this slightly larger 18-foot screen. It features a black backing meant to brighten the front projection and an air fan the company claims is quiet. Lastly, Smart for Life promotes its SmartLife Outdoor Inflatable Screen. The unit is 16 feet, while the screen is 12 feet. It comes with a blower and stakes, and the frame is touted for its durability.

In addition to a screen and projector, consider speakers, outdoor seating, blankets, food, and drinks to make your movie experience unforgettable.

FAQ

Q. How loud is the fan?
A
. For better or worse, this can really only be determined once you set up. Consumers will leave their reviews, and companies will claim quiet fans, but volume is somewhat subjective. Most will have a slight din that, chances are, is easily ignorable.
 

Q. How quick and easy is it to set up?
A.
Most companies boast inflation time at about two or three minutes. Often, customers will recommend having two people put the screen together, as staking and tethering the frame is easier with more than one set of hands.
 

Q. How should I clean the screen?
A.
Detach the screen from the frame before you wash it. The best way to clean it is to use water and soap on spots as needed. Allow the screen to air dry completely before storing it.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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