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Home Theater & A/V

Best Projection Screen

When you're in the market to buy a projection screen, there are a few things you'll need to decide before you buy. Do you want a screen that you can mount to your wall or ceiling, or do you want something that is portable and can carry with you? Once you know what you're looking for there, then you have the option of a manual or electric screen. These are pretty self-explanatory, and while a manual screen is your only option if you're looking for something portable; the mounted screen gives you options of a pull-down spring loaded manual option or an electric screen that lowers and rises with the use of a remote control or wall switch.

After you've figured that out, you'll want to consider the fabric material of your screen and the two most important things to think about are Gain and Viewing Angle. These two items are related to one another; the higher the gain of your screen, the more your viewing angle is minimized. Gain measures the brightness of your screen and how much it reflects or absorbs the light coming from your projector. Most screens are rated around 1.0-1.3 Gain but there are screens that are rated lower and are best for use in rooms where ambient light can be controlled or shut off altogether. The brightness of your screen affects your Viewing Angle, in that depending upon where you sit in front of the screen, the image can be darker or brighter. The image can be much brighter in the middle of the projection and darker on the edges, so if you're seated to the side you'll be seeing a dimmer picture.

Finally, you'll need to decide what size screen you need. A square screen of 1:1 ratio is good for projected presentations, while a 4:3 video format ratio is great for projecting television and computer monitors. Then there's 16:9, which is the accepted ratio for letterbox and widescreen. HDTV's are the same ratio and best for high-def TV and motion pictures.

STR-169100-WAB Silver Ticket HDTV Projector Screen

This 100 inch projector screen from Silver Ticket offers picture quality comparable to substantially more expensive models at a budget-friendly price. The screen is quick and easy to assemble, and comes in multiple sizes; most are native 16:9, but some larger sizes are also available in 2.35:1 aspect ratios. With a good projector, the image quality is excellent before even considering price.

The screen has an even texture and excellent color accuracy with only a slight blue tint. It’s claimed 1.1 gain puts it in the ideal range for typical viewing conditions with a modern projector while the wide viewing angle makes for easy setup. Although this fixed frame projector screen might not seem fancy, it proves there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars for good performance.

EliteScreens SableFrame Fixed Frame Projection Screen

The Elite Screens SableFrame 100 in CineWhite is a good choice for a budget-friendly screen comparable in performance to the excellent Silver Ticket screen, but less easy to assemble and slightly more expensive. The Elite Screens SableFrame in CineWhite comes in at a 16:9 aspect ratio, and available in diagonal sizes ranging from 92 inches to 135 inches. This screen has been designed for use with modern projectors and offers an excellent image quality, although higher gain would be better for 3D performance since it’s rated at a 1.1 gain.

The Elite Screens SableFrame has an aluminum frame surfaced with black velvet to absorb light overshoot and improve overall picture contrast. This versatile screen has a smooth texture and good uniformity, making it an excellent entry-level screen. Although it takes some effort to assemble, this screen offers top-notch performance once put together and can be washed to remove dust buildup.

Epson Duet Ultra Portable Projector Screen

The Epson Duet Ultra Portable is a true multipurpose projector screen, with the ability to serve as a business presentation tool or as an affordable entertainment screen. This screen is unique in that it deploys side-to-side rather than the standard top-to-bottom so you can choose between two aspect ratios - 4.3 for a 65-inch size, and 16:9 for an 80-inch viewing area. Although picture quality will not stack up to that of dedicated home theater screens, it is solid overall, and usable for a wide variety of purposes.

There is a slight blue tint, but paired with a good projector the image is bright and detailed with a very wide viewing angle. This portable screen is easy to set up, with the option of hanging it on the included floor stand or mounting it on the wall. When not in use, it folds up and can be stored in a protective carrying case; although at nearly 27 pounds, it’s not exactly lightweight.

A common problem with the Epson Duet Ultra Portable is the tendency for the screen to curl in at the top and the bottom since there’s no support; this is a relatively minor issue but it can be an annoyance for perfectionists. However, this projection screen offers excellent overall value with a compelling combination of solid performance, portability, and affordability.

Elite Screens M85UWS1 Manual Series Projector Screen

The Elite Screens M85UWS1 is a solid and economical option for those who don’t want a fixed screen. The rated 1.1 gain allows for a wide viewing angle, making this screen a good choice for a variety of applications whether for business, education, or at home. Some buyers have experienced issues with ripples in the screen, but overall image quality us good. The screen is black-backed to reduce light penetration and uses black borders to absorb any light overshoot.

This 85-inch projection screen is durable and retractable and comes with all the necessary mounting hardware to install it on the wall or from the ceiling. Although not a high-end screen by any means, image quality is good, with vivid colors, sharp contrast, and a bright overall image overall. For under $100, this versatile screen is a good budget-friendly choice.

Goo Systems GooToob

Goo Systems GooToob

Goo Systems’ GooToob is a DIY option for those who don’t mind putting in extra work to save some money. This projector screen option is essentially a painted on screen with the option to make it as big as 128 inches (16:9) or trim it down smaller. This screen offers even gain (rated at 1.0), a smooth screen surface, and good color accuracy.

It comes with a sheet of paper and everything else needed to install the screen, but the process will usually require the help of at least one other person, and can be quite time-consuming. The fact this method will be very difficult to remove and take with you should you move, this screen option won’t be right for everyone. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, the affordable Goo Systems GooToob offers excellent image quality.

STR-169100-WAB Silver Ticket HDTV Projector Screen

This 100 inch projector screen from Silver Ticket offers picture quality comparable to substantially more expensive models at a budget-friendly price. The screen is quick and easy to assemble, and comes in multiple sizes; most are native 16:9, but some larger sizes are also available in 2.35:1 aspect ratios. With a good projector, the image quality is excellent before even considering price.

The screen has an even texture and excellent color accuracy with only a slight blue tint. It’s claimed 1.1 gain puts it in the ideal range for typical viewing conditions with a modern projector while the wide viewing angle makes for easy setup. Although this fixed frame projector screen might not seem fancy, it proves there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars for good performance.

StudioTek 130: Luxus ScreenWall

The StudioTek 130 G3 is Stewart’s best-selling screen material despite the high price, and one of the most popular home theater screen materials ever made. This white screen was originally for use with CRT projectors, but was found to work well with modern digital projectors as well. Gain is rated at 1.3, producing a bright image with minimal center hot-spotting.

There are  minimal reflections back from the projected image, and with an adequate viewing environment there won’t be color issues; however, this screen does require a dark room to perform at its best. While this is a pricey screen, it offers good construction and an outstanding image; not surprising considering Stewart makes screens for theaters and other commercial applications. This has made them the go-to brand for custom installers, with their screens having been used for decades.

Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Projection Screen

Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Projection Screen

The Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge is suited for casual users and cinephiles alike. The darker screen means better image quality when there’s ambient light due to less reflections from light sources and it also requires less recalibration to suit different conditions. The dark color of the screen, combined with its thin black bezel, makes it look very similar to a flat panel HDTV when not in use, making it more family room-friendly.

Like most screens, however, the Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge screen comes alive in a dark room. The image appears to float, with none of the surroundings made visible from light reflecting back into the room. There is the option to add an LED backlighting kit, which features a programmable LED strip built into the back of the bezel.

Although viewing angle is somewhat narrow, this issue has been vastly improved from previous versions. Image quality in the dark is outstanding with punchy colors, very dark blacks, along with bright and detailed images. However, if you pump up brightness settings on the projector too high, the screen can become prone to hotspots.

Seymour-Screen Excellence Reference Series Enlightor-4K

Seymour-Screen Excellence Reference Series Enlightor-4K

Although acoustically transparent screens are not the right choice for every home theater, the Seymour-Screen Excellence Reference Series Enlightor-4K is outstanding enough to be worthy of an overall recommendation. With ISF image quality certification to back up performance claims, this projector screen comes close to overcoming issues typically seen with acoustically transparent screens.

This screen uses a woven technique - as opposed to perforated - which potentially makes it more difficult to properly adjust focus. To combat the potential for light reflection problems, an optional black backing material can be purchased to prevent light from passing back through the screen from the back. However, with the addition of more material, this reduces the acoustic transparency. The potential for issues will depend on your individual setup.

The Seymour-Screen Excellence Reference Series Enlightor-4K is easy to set up, and produces an image with excellent uniformity, accurate colors, and good resolution even with the screen’s texture. Compared to another top-performing screen such as the Stewart StudioTek 130 G3, the Seymour has a lower gain, so be sure to use this screen with a bright projector. With the proper setup, this screen can replicate a true movie theater experience in conjunction with a properly installed center channel for fully immersive surround sound.

Epson Duet Ultra Portable Projector Screen

The Epson Duet Ultra Portable is a true multipurpose projector screen, with the ability to serve as a business presentation tool or as an affordable entertainment screen. This screen is unique in that it deploys side-to-side rather than the standard top-to-bottom so you can choose between two aspect ratios - 4.3 for a 65-inch size, and 16:9 for an 80-inch viewing area. Although picture quality will not stack up to that of dedicated home theater screens, it is solid overall, and usable for a wide variety of purposes.

There is a slight blue tint, but paired with a good projector the image is bright and detailed with a very wide viewing angle. This portable screen is easy to set up, with the option of hanging it on the included floor stand or mounting it on the wall. When not in use, it folds up and can be stored in a protective carrying case; although at nearly 27 pounds, it’s not exactly lightweight.

A common problem with the Epson Duet Ultra Portable is the tendency for the screen to curl in at the top and the bottom since there’s no support; this is a relatively minor issue but it can be an annoyance for perfectionists. However, this projection screen offers excellent overall value with a compelling combination of solid performance, portability, and affordability.

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