September 09, 2011
| by Grant Clauser
Backyard home theaters come with a big wow factor. Imagine warm summer nights, friends on the patio, and a large projection screen showing a new Blu-ray release. That’s the kind of scenario that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.
But outdoor theaters are tricky things to pull off, and one of the trickiest parts is locating and installing a projection screen. This week Vutec showed of a clever solution in the form of a retractable awing screen. The product combines a sturdy motorized patio awning with a built-in motorized screen. During the day the awning can protect you from the sun or be folded away to let the sun shine on your deck. At night, launch the awning and lower the built-in Vu-Flex Pro screen then turn on your projector.
The awnings can be built in sizes up to 23 feet wide with screens up to 123 inches (diagonal). The awning frame is constructed of sturdy aluminum with a durable powder coat finish. A variety of fabric colors are available for the awning. The screen can be configured for either front or rear projection.
So where do you put the projector? That depends on you and your installer. A quick fix for occasional viewing would be to use something like a portable Epson Movie Mate that includes a built-in DVD player and speakers. For a more professional installation, the projector could be built into a soffit under the awning or shoot through the patio door.
Check out some other outdoor theaters here.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.