As the crushing heat of summer eases into the pleasantly chill evenings of autumn, this feels like the perfect time for outdoor movies. No, really! The mosquitos are dying off, the blackness of nights comes sooner, and the smell of hot cider is in the air. We’re hitting the ideal point in the year for curling up with friends and watching a big-screen movie in your outdoor space.

You might be thinking, “Why do I need a special screen? Isn’t a white sheet from Target sufficient?” You could go that route if you’re a cinema savage. But trust me: using a screen like the Yard Master 2 is both easier and more satisfying. It’s relatively simple to set up and secure, and the picture will be much better for it.

$234 $179 at Amazon

Elite Screens’ Yard Master 2 folding outdoor projection screen is light, bright, and easy to set up. For city folks with limited outdoor space, it strikes a good balance between size, stability, and quality.

Christopher Allbritton/CNN Underscored

The Yard Master 2 comes in a black duffel bag with everything you need. There’s a fast-folding, light aluminum frame that, with a cursory glance at the instructions, was easily assembled.

The frame is made up of three main components that snap together quickly and easily, although those instructions helped make sure I had them all in the proper positions.

You then snap the screen — which takes a bit of stretching and grunting — onto the foldable frame. That’s it. I was able to set it up in under 10 minutes, and with practice, I’ll bet I could get it under five.

Once assembled, the frame is just over 92 inches wide and 78 inches high, with the distance from the bottom of the frame to the ground measuring about 28 inches. You can get leg extensions ($39) that will add 26 inches to the screen height if you’re entertaining a large group. These were sold out on the Elite Screens site at the time of writing this review.

After that assembly, you’ll want to secure it. I set it up on a friend’s balcony in Washington, DC, with a gorgeous sunset. It was kind of magical. But the wind didn’t agree, and the screen caught the breeze like a sail. Thankfully the screen comes with stakes, support rope, and rings to help secure it. We weren’t able to use the stakes since we were on a concrete roof, but we put some boxes of books on the frame legs, and it was steady as a rock after that. Elite Screens says it’s rated only up to breezes of 7 mph, so you’ll definitely want to stake this thing down if you can.

underscored yard master 2 body

Amazon

The screen itself is a solid 100-inch (diagonal) rectangle of fabric made from the company’s CineWhite UHD-B material, with about a two-inch black border all around the 16:9 screen that frames the image. If I looked closely from a few feet away, I could see slight folds in the screen fabric, but once I turned the projector on, those melted away. The tension from the snaps on the screen did a good job of holding the material tight.

How’s the picture? Brilliant. While a lot will depend on how much light your projector is putting out (it’s rated for all projectors, from standard to ultra-short throw), the bright white screen offers a 180-degree viewing angle, uniform brightness, and vibrant and accurate colors. The back of the screen has a thick black covering that prevents behind the screen light leaks from spoiling the show.

The screen is made of mildew-resistant, multi-layer PVC that is easily cleaned with soap and water. It’s not really rated for extended outdoor use, however, so you don’t want to leave this out over several days. This whole kit is highly portable (just under 24 lbs) and designed to be set up and stowed quickly.

Honestly, not much. The whole thing is easy to set up and take down, the instructions are clear, and the picture is bright and accurate. It would be nice to have more options for securing the thing in a breeze if you’re not on a lawn where stakes are helpful. Something other than some rope and piling heavy books on the stand would be helpful.

The Yard Master 2 is an inexpensive, lightweight, high-performance screen for your outdoor entertainment system that produces an excellent picture with near-zero distortion. There is no light leakage from behind, and assuming it’s tied down properly, it can withstand light breezes with little difficulty. Bring on the apple cider.

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