It’s summer and everyone is home – now’s the time to go big with your movie watching. The Apeman LC650 is a bright, high-quality projector gives you everything you need to create a personal drive-in theater on your garage, a screen or just a crisp white sheet hung from a line. For under $200, you’ll get native 1080p Full HD Resolution (1920 x 1080) and 6,000 lumens of brightness.
For backyard movies at home, we looked mainly for three things in a projector: a great price, high brightness and excellent display quality. Our goal was under $200, and the Apeman LC650 comes in at $187 from Amazon .
Let’s talk a little about the image quality – looking at LCD projectors you’ll come across the terms “1080p supported” and “native 1080p”. Everyone wants to have a Full High-Definition (HD) resolution, which is what the 1080p stands for.
The difference between “supported” and “native” is a big one. Our Apeman LC650 is “native” which means the projector had the full 1920 x 1080 lines of resolution in the display. This is the best you’ll get without paying thousands of dollars for a professional grade projector that handles 4K.
“Supported” means that the resolution of the projector could be as low as Standard Definition (SD, 800 x 480) or 720p High-Def (1280 x 720). These projectors will accept an input source (like your DVD player) that is Full HD and display it. But what you see is only as good as the resolution of the projector.
In the case of the 720p, that’s about 40% lower picture quality than you’ll get with Apeman LC650. Don’t even consider the SD these days! It’s true, you can save $50 to $100 by going with the lower native resolution, but you’ll most likely be disappointed especially if you like blockbuster action movies and are used to your big-screen TV.
Bonus – the LC650 supports 4K video. So if you have a 4K player you can use it with this projector although the resolution will still max out at the Full HD 1920 x 1080.
Brightness is really a big thing with outside projectors – the more the better.
First off, LCD projectors can’t compete for brightness with sunlight. It doesn’t matter what projector you buy, you can only watch outside when the sun goes down. Anyone that’s ever been to a drive-in movie knows that the show doesn’t start until dusk. And remember they use massively bright bulbs in those projectors.
But the brighter your projector the sooner you can start when the sun starts going down, and the better the image will be on the wall. We feel that 3,500 lumens is about the minimum you should get. The LC650 is at the high end of personal projectors at 6,000 lumens.
FYI – Lumens measure how much light is shown on a given area, which basically is measure of how “bright” something is. As a guide, a 100W incandescent light-bulb / 22W LED bulb (which gives off light in a sphere versus a projector which lights in a beam) is about 1,500 lumens. In this comparison, the LC650 is similar to a 400W light-bulb.
We like the brightness of the LC650 and feel it’s provides a good picture in low light conditions, and it’s truly spectacular when it gets dark. This projector could be used for your indoors viewing as well, as long as you don’t have a lot of uncovered windows that would wash out the image in the daytime.
Here’s some images to help see how it looks at different times:
30-minutes before sunset:
15-minutes before sunset
15-minutes after sunset
30-minutes after sunset
Along with brightness, the contrast levels are also important. This is how well the projector displays different objects / images that are near each other. Image a night sky with bright stars against a dark background. Or a white golf-ball rolling over green grass.
The contrast between objects is what lets us distinguish what is actually going on in the movie. With a low contrast, everything would blend together. A high contrast gives us a clear, crisp image.
For our pick, we choose a minimum contrast ratio of 3,000:1 and the LC650 comes in at 6,000:1 which is rather good. Projectors for outdoors can get as good as 15,000:1 (and cost over $500) while indoor projectors like the Epson Home Cinema can be 1,000,000:1 (about $3,000).
Other things we looked for are the input connections, speakers, keystone adjustments, etc.
The Apeman LC650 will connect to most sources (DVD player, laptop, gaming consoles, etc.) using either the HDMI, USB or A/V inputs. It also comes with a convertor cable for L/R stereo & video to 3.5mm. What you won’t find is a dedicated VGA input – but it’s unlikely you’d be using a source that old (e.g., pre-2010 laptop).
We like there are 2 USB inputs so we can have a Firestick in one and a cast-adapter in the other.
For iOS devices you’ll need an Apple Lightning to HDMI connector (about $18). Similarly, for Android devices, get a USB-C to HDMI connector (about $10). The Apeman doesn’t have Bluetooth or WiFi, so you can’t directly screen-cast or mirror you devices wirelessly without a USB Chromecast / Miracast dongle.
It does have 2 x 5W internal speakers for stereo sound, and a 3.5mm audio output jack to connect to external speakers. The sound quality is fine, but if you want to fully enjoy surround sound with an action-adventure movie, you really need a sound system (check out the VIZIO SB3651-E6C 5.1 Soundbar Home Speaker).
On the flip-side, the cooling fans inside the projector are some of the quietest we’ve found. You won’t even notice it once your movie gets going!
The remote controls features like electronic keystone correction for +/- 25 degrees, both horizontal and vertical. You can also make adjustments for the brightness, contrast, etc. We recommend changing the brightness from the factory default of 50 to the full 100, and the same for the contrast.
Lastly, at the maximum set-back you can project a screen 300-inches. Wow!
Dave Taylor has a great video for the Apeman LC650 projector :
Get the popcorn and start your outdoor cinema with the Apeman LC650 projector before Amazon sells out.