Grill out, chill out and don't let the lawyers bill out because you failed to install adequate outdoor lighting.
Updated July 13, 2023 6:00 a.m. PT
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James BricknellSenior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
Expertise3D printers, maker tools such as Cricut style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, traditional paper printersCredentials
6 years working professionally in the 3D printing space / 4 years testing consumer electronics for large websites.
You can (and should!) go down the rabbit hole on other outdoor tech like grilling accessories, outdoor security cameras and other things, but this list is all about entertaining in an outdoor space. If you spend your summers with your friends and family, have a large enough backdoor space, and want to make the most of it, then any or all of these great tech choices are for you.
Pizza ovens are an outdoor cooking sensation. Smaller than your average grill, this propane-powered pizza preparer is simple to use and can evenly cook pizza, and other dough-based deliciousness at a rapid pace.
The hot stone in the center of the oven is heavy and needs a good amount of preheating before you put your pizza on, but once it's ready, a homemade pie takes about six minutes to cook to perfection. The stone rotates so there's no need to take the food out to move it or worry that it will be undercooked on one side.
The liftable lid is the other feature that really sets the Halo Versa apart from most pizza ovens. Once the food is cooked you tilt the lid up, giving you far more access and making it easy to get the food out without dropping it (something I've occasionally done on a normal oven).
This is easily the most extravagant thing on this list, but if you spend hours in your backyard like we do, having a TV designed to last is well worth it. This entry from Sylvox is water resistant against rain and splashing from the pool, can work in freezing temperatures as well as hot weather and is smart too.
The Google TV integration makes the entire TV very snappy and you get all of your favorite apps to play with. The volume is decent, though nothing to write home about, but the screen is incredibly bright. Even on the brightest day, I was able to watch Miraculous Ladybug with my daughter without any issues.
I have two dogs, Kota and Indiana Bones, and both of them love playing fetch. This ball launcher -- currently available through Indigogo -- is right up their alley, as it not only launches the soft balls up to 80 feet, but it can fire them in random directions as well. Hours of fun. It also has a fantastic detection function so if the dogs get a little too close it won't fire a ball straight at their little snoots. The Uahpet iRetriever is now a mainstay in my pups' daily activities.
For the last two years, we've rounded up coolers across the price spectrum, from $10 disposable models to $300 coolers made of rotomolded plastic. The Igloo MaxCold isn't the most amazing performer, but it's in the top five, above coolers that cost more than $200. If you want to splurge, Cabela's, Orca and Yeti all have rotomolded designs that will keep their contents colder for longer, but the small gap between those models and this $100-ish Igloo MaxCold make it hard to justify spending more.
Roasting marshmallows over a fire pit is a tried-and-tested good time, I think we can all agree. But what if we want to take it to the next level? This cowboy fire pit from Pit Boss lets you cook hotdogs, burgers and chicken legs over a fully open flame as if you were hanging out in the wild west.
The entire fire pit is very sturdy, and though it's designed for pellets, it can easily burn logs too. It isn't smokeless like some of the other fire pits we've tested, but you want some smoke to add to the flavor and ambiance when cooking food over a flame.
Having a solar generator with you when you go places is great. I recently took my family to the local lake, and by setting up the Ecoflow River and its solar panel, I could keep all our devices charged and even help out some of our lakeside neighbors. I could also power the pump for all the inflatables on the beach!
The power station is helpful even at home, where I have outlets near. I have it set up at the other end of the yard with lights and seats for people to escape the noise and keep their phones charged.
While many Bluetooth speakers suffer from poor bass reproduction, the HD-Force from Treblab sounds deep and rich at any volume. The battery will last the length of any outdoor gathering, and the flashing lights on top add a party atmosphere in the evenings.
The HD-Force also has an IPX6 water rating, meaning it can survive an extended blast of high-pressure water or splashing. You won't want to drop it in the pool, but it can handle all the splashing or sprinklers you could want.
The best way to listen to whatever you please and also be a good host
I'm not saying a middle-age white dude should be embarrassed for liking Lizzo. I am that guy, and she's great. What I am saying is, it's nice to be able to hear whatever music you like without earphones and without anyone -- family, friends, neighbors -- judging you or asking you to change it, especially when you've taken on the semi-isolating responsibility of working the grill at an outdoor social event. That's what these Bose Frames, essentially sunglasses with a decent microspeaker built into the arms, will let you do, and without totally cutting you off from human interaction like headphones or ear buds will. Battery life isn't great, but they charge fully in less than two hours.
Outdoor lighting can be very boring, but it doesn't have to be. These smart lights from Govee are designed to be staked into the grass along pathways, and they work great to highlight your path in assorted colors. I used them a little differently, though.
Using command strips I attached them around the rail on my balcony. Now, because they are controlled by your phone and can dance to the music, I have an awesome light show when I have friends over to party.