The ProjectorThe largest expense that we found was the actual projector rental. I'll admit I didn't really do my research on this one, but instead just went straight to the place my brother in law rented one for Christmas. While the price was reasonable at $60 for the weekend or $40 for a single day, their speciality wasn't projector rentals. There was no manual, the cables needed to be replaced, and I had to plop down a $200 deposit! To top it all off, they made me sign a document stating that the replacement value of their item was $2000! This model projector can be found online for around $400! Needless to say I won't be renting from them again.
You may want to do your research and call around to local rental companies for rates and availability. Projectors typically become scarce around big sporting events because people want to watch their favorite event on a huge screen.
If you think that you would do this quite often, you may wish to consider purchasing a projector. If you rent one five or six times, you will generally surpass the cost for an entry level projection unit. You may want to check out The Projector People. Their website features all sorts of information on a wide variety of projectors. They offer entry level projectors up to HDMI capable HD and 3D projectors. Their site is easy to navigate and offer great pricing for an A/V novice.
Depending on who you ask, you might get different answers if you inquire about projector screens. These can be as simple as a white bed sheet hanging from your gutters, a vibrant highly reflective professional screen, or even no screen at all. Your picture quality will be effected by your decision, but if you're just hanging out in the backyard like we were, don't spend an arm and a leg on a display screen.
A simple solution that we found was to just hang a white bed sheet from the gutters with spring clips. We didn't have any plain white sheets so I ran out to buy a queen sized sheet from Walmart and a few spring clips from Home Depot. The entire setup only cost about $15, and we have it for next time we rent a projector.
Remember, I only rented the projector, so I needed to find a video source. I just grabbed my blu-ray player from the living room, and used a generic yellow RCA video cable. It's important to note that I had to actually setup the player to use the downgraded video output instead of the HDMI cable that I normally use. Worst case scenario, you can purchase a dedicated DVD player for around $20 brand new at Walmart, or even cheaper at a thrift shop.
Other ideas to actually get a video signal would be a laptop, as most projectors have a computer input, a Roku player, or even your cable box. Just remember if you use an online streaming device, your projector setup will need to be within wi-fi range, or your cable box needs a cable run to your projector to work.
I actually had a friend's old surround sound sound receiver and a few older thrift shop speakers that I dragged outside to use for the audio so I was good to go. I highly recommend trying to rent an audio unit like a PA speaker, so it's easier to setup. It was a bit of a pain in the next to drag out all the audio gear. Remember your outside and odds are you won't have 7.1 surround sound or anything, so you don't need to go all out. All you need is something with audio inputs. If you're planning on a drive in movie experience, you may be able to just use your car stereo if you have an audio input jack!
My Next Projector Rental Solution
So you know I wasn't very pleased with my previous rental company, and the audio portion was a bit of a pain in the neck, so I did some research and found a great rental company!
ATS Rentals actually rents not only projectors, but complete outdoor movie kits! This nation wide company can ship a projector to your door, for as little as $58! In many cases a deposit may not even be required! Shipping is extra, but when you purchase the rental unit, they also include return shipping so it's not so bad. Especially if you don't have a local rental place this would be a great option! A DVD projector kit complete with projector, portable audio solution, and a DVD player is only $85. They also offer Blu-Ray kits for $109 and even a PS3 Gaming package for $126. This is definitely the way to go! not too bad for an entire weekend of fun! You would receive it Friday night and return it Monday.
When you're done, you just box up the equipment and drop off at any location accepting UPS packages!
Minimizing Your Expenses
If you bring your own audio, or DVD player to the table so to speak, the cost will be cheaper. My suggestion is to plan a movie night with lots of friends and family! You never know, maybe someone will have an audio solution they can bring, or even a DVD player. If you think about it, you can even ask guests to make a donation to go twords the rental or split the costs with another family. Whatever you do, DO NOT CHARGE ADMISSION! This is a major violation, and could potentially lead to jail time, so be sure to stray away from that idea.
This is a great idea for a warm summer night, a birthday party, or a neighborhood get together! Now all you need to worry about is what you're actually going to watch!