Here's a fun fact: my son was born on the same day as my dad, 55 years later - July 24. They've had a few joint birthday parties, and they were able to throw one in Turks and Caicos, and that was great.
Of course, 7 year olds need to have birthday parties with their friends, too... it's basically their primary social event. So this weekend, we threw a backyard movie night with about 25 kids.
To do that, you need a projector, a PA, and most importantly, a huge movie screen. Here's our review of the Airblown 12 ft. Inflatable Deluxe Movie Screen.
First off - full disclosure - we rented our screen from RentalMax.
For $165, you get the screen, a projector, a PA with two speakers and stands, and a DVD player.
And while there were a few hiccups getting the thing set up, the party went so well that I'm considering the cost/benefit analysis of buying one.
First things first - there are two fans that keep this screen inflated, and on this unit, one of them had a dead motor.
I don't know if that kind of motor burnout is common with these screens, or if it was a factor of the previous renter not taking care of the unit (it had clearly been left out in the rain, and the rubbermaid container we received it in had about 5 inches of standing water, with one motor essentially submerged!)
Regardless, I was in a position where we couldn't get enough air pressure to keep the screen standing, with 25 kids and their parents coming over in less than an hour.
We figured out that the one working motor COULD inflate the screen sufficiently - but the dead motor was acting as a huge leak. When the air pressure would reach a certain level, the dead motor's fan would start spinning backward as the air rushed out.
We were left with two options - hang the (admittedly nice, and removable) movie screen on the side of our house, or plug the leak. We went with option #2.
Covering the entire air intake on the dead motor with shipping tape, and then duct tape, solved the problem.
We staked the screen in place (it's basically a huge wind sail!) and set up the projector and PA.
One thing to keep in mind - you're going to need a LOT of power outlets outdoors. You need to get power to the screen (the fans need to keep running), to the PA, to the projector, and to the DVD player.
Our projector didn't have an HDMI input, and it wasn't showing the movie in widescreen. Still, we can't blame the screen for that - it's definitely a 16X9 screen - there was probably a projector or DVD setting I missed.
Keep in mind - it's essentially impossible to set system settings on an outdoor screen before sunset. You really can't see the screen at ALL before dusk. And after dark, it's tough to see the buttons on the components!
But this review is about the screen - and a 12 foot movie screen is *seriously* impressive in your backyard.
You'd expect to see a screen like this at your city's "Movies in the Park" or some such. But if you already own a projector, you can get the same effect, in your backyard, with a few minutes of setup.
And honestly, if I owned a projector, I'd definitely want this screen.
SCORE: 8/10 (EXCELLENT*)
*I'm giving high marks, even though the motor was burned out, because it was a rental unit that was obviously treated very roughly... and still had no leaks or holes.