Home Science and Nature The best projectors for daylight viewing in 2024

The best projectors for daylight viewing in 2024

by News7

Brandt Ranj / Popular Science

Published Feb 22, 2024 4:00 PM EST

You don’t always need a dark environment to use a projector. We shine a light on the best choices for brighter environments.

Best overall

Epson Pro EX7280


A relatively inexpensive projector with excellent quality in daytime viewing scenarios.

Best for gaming

BenQ TK700 4K HDR Gaming Projector


An excellent quality projector for gaming in daylight scenarios.

Best budget

DBPOWER Native 1080P 5G 4K WiFi Projector


An inexpensive projector that will do a decent job for daytime viewing.

Published Feb 22, 2024 4:00 PM

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Projectors can give your home a real theater feel with a huge screen and cinema-quality visuals. Unfortunately, daylight viewing can be a challenge. For most projectors, you need a very dim or completely dark setting to optimize the image quality. In other words, if you were showing it indoors, you had to show it in a movie theater-like setting, or if you wanted to show it outdoors, you needed to wait until nighttime. But today’s projector technologies and features continue to evolve, allowing some of them to be effective in scenarios that let you project a movie when it’s not completely dark. The best projectors for daylight viewing have the power they need to upgrade your midday Price is Right viewings as well as your movie nights.

Best overall: Epson Pro EX7280 3-Chip 3LCD WXGA Projector 

Best outdoor: Nebula Mars 3 Outdoor Portable Projector

Best for gaming: BenQ TK700 4K HDR Gaming Projector

Best splurge: BenQ HT5550 True 4K UHD Home Theater Projector

Best budget: DBPOWER Native 1080P 5G 4K WiFi Projector

How we chose the best projectors for daylight viewing

When considering the best projectors for daylight viewing, I relied on my own experience as a technology journalist and testing expert who has worked with and consulted many professionals in the TV and AV worlds to find out which ones they prefer. I also read various trade journals and websites and looked through forums, comments, and user reviews to see typical real-world experiences. We obviously focused on the price of the product as well as image quality, but we also considered other important specs and features, such as brightness, color, and contrast, and also what kind of technology was used to generate the image. Size and weight played a role, particularly in units meant to be portable.

The best projectors for daylight viewing: Reviews & Recommendations

Picking an outdoor movie projector and/or one for daylight viewing requires some specific considerations. The following list is our choices for the best. 

Best overall: Epson Pro EX7280 3-Chip 3LCD WXGA Projector 


Resolution: 1280 x 800 

Inputs and connectivity: HDMI, USB 

Product dimensions: ‎11.9 x 9.3 x 3.6 inches

Product weight: 5.7 pounds


Rated for 4,000 lumens 

Uses advanced 3-chip 3LCD technology for excellent color

Has 16,000: 1 contrast ratio

Price: $599


Resolution might not be as detailed as others in its class.

Can’t connect wirelessly

For a projector to compete with the sun’s power, it generally needs to have a rating of either 3,000 lumens or 1,000 ANSI lumens. By and large, you’ll need to spend more than $1,000 for such a projector. But this Epson is a great value because it has 4,000 lumens yet is priced well below $1,000. It also comes with Epson’s advanced 3-chip 3LCD technology for excellent color. It’s not perfect, though. It has lower resolution, just 1280 x 800, than other top-rated models in its class. It also doesn’t offer wireless or Bluetooth connectivity. So, you’re limited to wired connections, but that’s likely what you’ll prefer anyway for judder-free playback. 

Best outdoor: Nebula Mars 3 Outdoor Portable Projector


Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Inputs and connectivity: HDMI, USB-C, USB, Aux Out, Wi-Fi

Product dimensions: 6.29 x 10.23 x 9.84 inches

Product weight: 6.6 pounds

Price: $979


Provides excellent image quality in outdoor settings 

Has a water- and dust-resistant exterior

Includes a built-in rechargeable battery 

Comes with a powerful speaker


Nothing significant 

Rated at 1,000 ANSI lumens, it provides enough brightness for daytime viewing. It also has a built-in, rechargeable battery that allows five hours of projection and a built-in 40-watt, multidirectional speaker that includes Dolby Digital Plus for excellent quality audio. Additional features reinforce how this projector is designed to work in many outdoor settings: It has an IPX3 water- and dust-resistant exterior. Plus, it comes with a built-in stand, a lens cover, a camping light, a power indicator, integrated controls, and a convenient carry handle (while not a mini projector, it’s highly portable). It even has keystone correction and autofocusing capabilities.

Best for gaming: BenQ TK700 4K HDR Gaming Projector


Resolution: Resolution: 3840 x 2160

Inputs and connectivity: HDMI, USB 

Product dimensions: 12.3 x 9.7 x 4.3 inches 

Product weight: 6.8 pounds

Price: $1,298


Has detailed 4K resolution 

Excellent response time, with very little lag

Compatible with most gaming systems


A bit pricey

Lacks Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity

Although it’s a tad pricey, this model gives you a lot for the money, and if you’re looking for a projector for gaming, it’s ideal. That’s because you want to ensure it’s very responsive when playing. In other words, it doesn’t have any lag when playing games: it has just 16ms at 4K resolution settings. This projector is also rated at 3,200 lumens, which means it can project a bright enough image during daytime settings. What’s also nice is that this projector is designed to be compatible with various gaming consoles, including Sony PS4 and PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, and more. However, it lacks the ability to connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Best splurge: BenQ HT5550 True 4K UHD Home Theater Projector


Resolution: 3840 x 2160

Inputs and connectivity: HDMI, USB, Ethernet, audio out

Product dimensions: 23.3 x 19.5 x 11.7 inches

Product weight: 14.3 pounds

Price: $2,424


Projects superb 4K resolution video

Excellent color fidelity 

Includes support for HDR, for better detail in darks and highlights

Has a 100,000:1 contrast ratio


Very expensive

Lacks Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity

This model is very pricey, but if you’re looking for a projector that provides a great home-theater experience with exceptional 4K-quality video in daytime settings, this model is ideal. For starters, it has an 1,800 ANSI lumens rating, which means it has a very bright image that won’t wash out, even when the sun is shining. It also comes with BenQ’s cinematic color technology for rich, vivid colors. It also has HDR support and an incredibly wide contrast ratio of 100,000:1. However, it’s not perfect and does fall short in a few areas. For instance, it doesn’t include Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. But if you want true 4K playback, that won’t really come into play anyway.

Best budget: DBPOWER Native 1080P 5G 4K WiFi Projector


Resolution: 1920 x 1080 

Inputs and connectivity: HDMI, USB, audio out, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Screen Mirroring

Product dimensions: 10.2 x 9 x 4.3 inches

Product weight: 7.17 pounds


Very inexpensive 

It has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio

Wireless connectivity

Includes keystone correction


Image isn’t as bright as more expensive projects

Unless your projector is rated at 1,000 ANSI lumens or 3,000 lumens, you’ll have a difficult time using your projector in daytime settings since the image won’t be bright enough. However, with this inexpensive Full HD-resolution projector, rated at just 500 ANSI lumens, you can still get a relatively bright image since it comes with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, allowing you to achieve a somewhat brighter image. It can’t compete with top-rated 4K models like the XGIMI Horizon Ultra (which is 2,300 ISO lumens but $1,400 more—making it another excellent splurge option). But it will fit the bill for those shopping under $500. It also allows you to connect wirelessly with your smartphone, which can be handy. Plus, you get a 4-point keystone correction control and the ability to digitally zoom.

The same features you’ll look for in regular projectors are those you’ll find in projectors you’ll use for daylight viewing. However, some features will be more important during daylight viewing than others. But before we examine the important features you’ll find on various projectors, here’s a short list of abbreviations and names of projector types that are currently available in the market:

LCD: Liquid Crystal Display projector

DLP: Digital Light Processing projector

LED: Light-Emitting Diode projector

Laser: Laser projector

Now that you know what kinds of projectors are available, here are some of the features you’ll want to know about before you buy one: 


When you’re looking for a projector to use for daytime viewing, brightness is particularly important because it needs to compete with sunlight. In other words, your projected image is always in danger of being washed out by the powerful illumination of the sun. So, to determine the brightness of a projector, look at how many lumens it’s rated at, specifically using the standard for ANSI lumens. The higher the number, the brighter the projected picture will be. But you’ll generally need a projector that has at least 3,000 lumens or 1,000 ANSI lumens.  


As a rule of thumb, the larger the image you’re looking for your projector to create, the higher the resolution you will need. So, if your projector is 10 feet away from the screen and the resolution is in 4K (3860 x 2160), the footage will potentially look more detailed than a projected image in 1080 (1920 x 1080) projected from the same distance from the screen. However, if you move the project closer to the screen, the size of the image decreases, but the detail increases. Conversely, moving the projector further away from the screen increases the image size. 

Contrast ratio 

The contrast is the ratio of dark to light in an image or video footage, affecting how sharp, vivid, and detailed a movie appears. The technical specification is generally presented in the following format: “3000:1.” This means that the image’s whitest area is 3000 times brighter than its darkest dark. 

Throw distance 

This term refers to the distance between the projector and the image on the screen. If you have two projectors, one that has a short throw lens and one that doesn’t, a projector that uses a short throw lens (which is a projector that’s positioned anywhere from 3 to 8 feet away from the screen) can produce a larger image than one that doesn’t use such a lens. There are also projectors that come with ultra-short throw lenses (a projector positioned anywhere from 0 to 4 feet away from the screen).

Other features to consider: 

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can sometimes find a projector with wide array of features that you might never use. However, although the following aren’t essential, they’re still important for most. Here are some additional features to consider: 

Audio: Hollywood film directors often say that audio is one of the most overlooked elements of the movies they make. So, before you buy a new projector, consider what audio features are built-in and if there are ways to connect an external speaker.

Portability: If you plan on traveling with your projector, consider its size and weight. Some models are very compact and lightweight that they can easily fit into a backpack. Also, see if it has a rechargeable battery in case you don’t have access to a power outlet. 

Connectivity: Examine the Wi-Fi settings and wired (HDMI or other) connections on the model you want to buy. If you’re going wireless, make sure you have a good signal if you intend to stream media to your device. Wired connections allow you to hook up to a host of devices, including your laptop or a Blu-ray player.


Q: How can I improve my projector image in daylight? See if you can increase any brightness settings on your projector. Additionally, use a white projector screen, which can also help improve the quality of your projected image. Then, if possible, place your projector screen in a shaded area in order to reduce exposure to direct sunlight, which can wash out your projected image. Also, it’s helpful to clean your projector’s lens–a dirty lens not only reduces image quality but also the brightness of an image.

Q: What are the best projector settings for daylight? In most cases, it’s best to have a projector rated at least 3000 lumens or 1000 ANSI lumens. 

Q: Can I use a projector for daylight viewing at night?  Yes, you can. Like most projectors, a projector for daylight viewing will function even better at night, either indoors or outdoors, since you’re more likely to have a darker setting or even one with complete darkness, provided you can control any artificial lighting that might affect your projected image. However, if you’re using your projector outdoors, check the weather to see that it won’t be raining. Most projectors aren’t waterproof. 

Q: How much does a projector for daylight cost? This depends on its features, but our recommendations cost between $TK and $TK.

Final thoughts when picking from the best projectors for daylight viewing

Best overall: Epson Pro EX7280 3-Chip 3LCD WXGA Projector 

Best outdoor: Nebula Mars 3 Outdoor Portable Projector

Best for gaming: BenQ TK700 4K HDR Gaming Projector

Best splurge: BenQ HT5550 True 4K UHD Home Theater Projector

Best budget: DBPOWER Native 1080P 5G 4K WiFi Projector

If you’re considering using a projector in outside settings, see if the model you intend to buy has features that make it rugged and waterproof. Some models even have water- and dust-resistant exteriors, which can help extend the life of your projector if you’re using it outdoors. Also, see if your model comes with a rechargeable battery: Even indoors, you may not always have access to a power outlet for your projector. So, a built-in rechargeable battery can be very handy in such scenarios.  

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

Source : Popular Science

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