Home movie projectors are an affordable way to get the sensation of watching a film on the big screen without actually standing in line and putting up legions of text-obsessed teenagers. Just pop your DVD or Blu-ray into the home movie projector, set up a screen (or point it at the wall), and turn down the lights: That’s all there is to it. It’s perfect for families who want to quickly convert their living room or den into a makeshift movie theatre. Many folks also get a kick out of setting up inflatable screens in the backyard and having a movie party for the whole neighborhood.
Of course, like any piece of home theatre equipment, top-end home movie projectors can cost an arm and a leg. But I’m here to tell you that cheap DVD and Blu-ray projectors are available, especially if you know where to look. I scoured a number of websites to find the best prices on home movie projectors, and now it’s time to share my findings.
It should be noted that I don’t own a home movie projector myself. I do, however, have a buddy who owns one and likes to set it up in the backyard. He lives way out in the country, so there are no neighbors to complain about movies blaring at one in the morning. Believe me, you’ve never lived until you’ve watched Die Hard outdoors while drinking a beer and relaxing in a swimming pool. And horror movies really seem to freak people out when they can hear crickets chirping and real-life coyotes howling in the distance (which is a perfect excuse for getting closer to your significant other).
Affordable Home Movie Projectors
LCD Movie Projector – Whether you’re looking for a projector to watch movies or play video games, this affordable option from Amazon (via the folks at Lonestar) gives you plenty of options. The cost is a reasonable $220.98, and it’s a fine way to experience the excitement of home movie projectors without taking out a second mortgage. It features 640×480 pixels, 5” LCD technology, and works with all major video game consoles (as well as DVD players). It weighs a total of 6.4 pounds, and the lamp should be good for 5000 fun-filled hours of cinema and gaming.
Optoma DLP Home Theatre Projector – I found this product at Best Buy, and the current sale price is only $199.99. Highly portable (only 1.7 pounds), you’ll get sharp images with 854×480 resolution, plus a contrast ratio of 800:1. Wide images can be counted on to always be displayed in the correct proportions, whether the projector is 2 or 12 feet away from the screen. Compatible with any DVD player, this model also allows you to hook up to your PC for more viewing options. And don’t worry about the lamp burning out anytime in the future; it’s guaranteed to last for at least 20,000 hours.
Optoma PK-102 Pico Pocket Projector – Radio Shack doesn’t carry a ton of home movie projectors at their online store, but this tiny model caught my eye. The price also drew my attention, as it’s just $249.99. With a VGA connection, it can be run straight from a laptop or PC, and you’ll be able to display up to 4GB of information (including 8 hours of video). Your movie can be displayed on any surface, and this pint-sized product will project up to 60 feet. And for those who hate lugging around heavy pieces of equipment, please note that the Pico Pocket Projector only weighs 4.6 ounces (and that’s including the battery).
Dg-737 HD Video LCD Projector – Another find from my trip to Amazon, this $214.49 home movie projector allows you to choose from an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9, and the projection range can be anywhere from 3 to 10 feet. Two speakers are built-in, and it’ll play any movie labeled NTSC, PAL, or SECAM. Another option for those seeking an affordable home movie projector.
Optoma GT700 3D Game Time Projector – At the moment, there’s no such thing as a cheap Bu-ray movie projector. Still, this version from Optoma was the most affordable that I could find. It normally lists for $749 on Amazon, but a third party seller on the site was offering it for $699. You could also roll the dice on a refurbished version for only $499.99. The display technology is made by Texas Instruments, so you can count on the picture being crystal clear every time. And let’s not forget the fact that it plays Blu-rays, DVDs, video games, Internet content, and even 3D Blu-ray movies. The latter are becoming increasingly popular, so getting a setup like this will help keep you on the cutting edge of home theatre entertainment. There’s also a built-in 10-watt speaker system, so you’ll never have to strain to hear what Benicio del Toro is mumbling about.
HDMI Video Theater Projector – This piece of equipment lists for $324.95 on Amazon, and it’s suitable for playing DVDs, video games, cable, or anything off your computer (heck, it can even be plugged into a VCR). The ratio can be adjusted from 4:3 to 16:9, and the lamp life averages 6000 hours. There’s a built-in speaker and television tuner, and a remote control comes as part of the package. And while $324 isn’t chump change, it’s considerably cheaper than the Amazon home movie projectors that run in the $1000 to $2000 range.
Digital Galaxy LCD Movie Projector – I’ve never heard of Digital Galaxy before, but anyone who’s looking for cheap home movie projectors can’t afford to be too picky. With a price of $258.95 from Amazon, it’s a great entry level product that plays DVDs and also works for video game consoles. Includes 5” LCD technology, 50” to 150” diagonal projection, built-in speakers, and a lamp life of 5000 hours.
Home Movie Projector Accessories
Once you’ve purchased your home movie projector, you’ll need something to display the images on. Sure, you can always use a bare wall, but these items are even better (and way cooler).
Sima XL-72 72″ Inflatable Home Theater Kit – Priced at $133.54 from Amazon, this inflatable product is ideal for backyard viewing (it’s what my previously mentioned friend owns). The screen, once inflated, measures 72” diagonally, and it includes two sets of 16” pontoons for increased viewing elevation. The latter feature really gives you that drive-in movie feel, and the included air pump keeps you from having to run to Wal-Mart to buy yet another piece of equipment. Front and rear projection models are supported by this model, and the whole thing inflates within five minutes.
Epson Duet 80-Inch Dual Aspect Ratio Projection Screen – If you’re looking for a movie screen that can be set up quickly and disassembled just as fast, give this model from Amazon a try. It’s listed at $121.19, and it’ll work for any business projector or home movie setup. Even better, the screen adjusts to display movies in either a 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio. It forms a carrying case when closed, and it can be mounted on the wall or kept upright with an included floor stand. Weighs just over 25 pounds.
So the next time you’re searching for cheap home movie projectors of DVDs or Blu-ray movies, be sure to take a gander at the products listed above. Each time I watch a movie on a projector, I’m reminded of going to the drive-in as a child or viewing movies in elementary school (my favorites were the animated Lord of the Rings and Jacques Cousteau documentaries narrated by Rod Serling). If you’d like to capture a little of that childhood magic for yourself, you could do a lot worse.