Home theaters don’t need to be confined within the walls of a home itself. Sometimes, when the weather allows, there’s nothing like a backyard or outdoor theater experience. Unfortunately, many of the products targeted at the dedicated outdoor AV market are expensive, but we recently found an affordable projector which, while lacking state-of-the-art features, may just be the perfect center of a backyard theater for many families: the ViewSonic PJD5255 DLP Projector.
The ViewSonic PJD5255 isn’t marketed specifically as an outdoor projector, but it will perform just fine in moderate weather, and with a price tag of just $370, it’s an easy way to get started when it comes to moving family movie night to the backyard.
Features & Specs
- DLP technology
- 1024 x 768 resolution
- 3.3 – 32.8 foot throw distance
- Up to 3,300 ANSI lumen brightness
- HDMI, 2 x VGA, Composite Video, S-Video inputs, and 1 x VGA output and Audio in/out
- Built-in 2-watt speaker
- 32-104º F (0-40º C) operating temperature
- 10-90% humidity tolerance
The ViewSonic PJD5255 is plug and play; we had it up and running and showing videos in under 5 minutes. The projector lacks lens shift capabilities, so you’ll need to have it centered with your screen for the best overall experience. It has keystone adjustment buttons right on the top of the projector, so you don’t have to hunt through menus to make your image square on-screen, assuming the projector is a bit above or below the center of the screen. Zoom and focus are manual adjustments as well. The whole prep time for first use was very simple. We didn’t need the manual nor the remote, and barely need to use the menus when getting started.
One of the first things you notice with the PJD5255 is that it is quite bright. The specs boast a 3,300 lumen output and it doesn’t disappoint. We used it on several different screens and even projected the image directly onto a white wall and every time had a nice, vivid movie experience. The brightness does feel like it comes at a cost though, as the color representation appeared a bit washed out. It’s a DLP projector, and DLP has its drawbacks, but we weren’t overly distracted by any of them.
The only area that disappointed us was resolution. Admittedly we knew going into it that we bought the projector on the cheap and it was only XGA (1024 x 768) native, so we shouldn’t have been expecting too much, but after getting used to the native 1080p projectors we both use in our indoor home theaters, the inferior resolution was quite obvious. For a quick and easy projector, it absolutely fit the bill. If you plan to use it to play back DVDs or streamed content, you should be fine. If you want it for HDTV or Blu-rays, you may want to pay a bit more to get a native 1080p resolution projector.
On the audio side the ViewSonic PJD5255 is designed with ViewSonic’s proprietary SonicExpert technology, which combines an enlarged speaker chamber and a more powerful amplifier to deliver a full 20Hz – 20Khz sound range. The integrated speaker isn’t any worse than other projectors we’ve tried with built-in speakers, but it doesn’t necessarily lead the pack either. The built-in audio will work in a pinch, but unless it’s totally quiet, you’ll want some speakers with more power and volume to really delight an audience. We ended up hooking up come Creative speakers and sub to juice the volume level a bit.
The ViewSonic PJD5255 reviews incredibly well at Amazon; it has a 4.5-star rating across 367 customer reviews. For applications like we’ll be using it for, it was a toss-up between choosing a DLP model or a 3LCD model. The Amazon reviews pushed us over the edge and we decided to bite the bullet on the PJD5255. We don’t have the others to compare with, but we’re satisfied with the ViewSonic PJD5255 for sure. It isn’t meant to be installed as the centerpiece of your home theater, but if you want a projector you can store in the closet for a quick backyard movie, or a garage movie, or a bedroom movie for a sleepover, it’s worth taking a look at.
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