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The most important factor when considering a projector screen purchase is the size of the screen. The size of the screen is dependent on the projector model used. This is because image size and projector brightness rating are inverse in proportion. In clear terms, when the size of an image is increased, the brightness of the image decreases should all other factors remain the same. The culprit for this pattern is the finite brightness levels of all projectors (measured in lumen).
As a steady industry standard, premium modern projectors—inclusive of pico/pocket projectors easily project 100-inch images at sufficient brightness levels. Ultimately, the screen size you go with will depend on the size of your space and the location at which your center channel speaker will be placed.
Per the size of your space, it is not desirable for the bottom of the screen to touch or be too close to the floor, as it might interfere viewing. It is necessary to let these limitations guide you to make your decision of a project screen. If you are tight on space but want the best you can get as far as image quality, you may need to check out a short throw projector.
The term ‘gain’ in tech-speak refers to a property of all screens that reflects a measure of the excess light reflected relative to a uniform reflecting surface—the Lambertian surface. To be clearer, we would use an example—a 2.0-gain screen reflects two times as much light as a 1.0-grain screen.
In real-time usage, however, it would be discovered that a 2.0-gain screen does not exactly increase the brightness of a projector’s image by a factor of two. There will be an increase no doubt, but it would not of a fixed predictable nature. This is because the impact of screen gain is dependent on a variety of factors.
Furthermore, as screen gain increases, screen uniformity decreases because screens do not reflect uniformly with increasing gain. This is why, an occurrence referred to “hot spotting”—a condition where the projected image is significantly brighter at the center than at the edges—is observed in high gain screens.
An extension of hot spotting is that in a wide viewing area, people seated at the extremes/side seats will receive images that are considerably less bright than comparable images viewed by people seated at the center of the viewing area. This is because the reflected light is focused more to the center of the viewing area.
These scenarios unravel the limited application of high-gain screens, and why ultra-high-gain screens are not recommended in general. They may be able to perform well for some people, but across the board, with the decent brightness levels of most projectors, it is even more endearing to have a smooth, consistent image.
In a similar vein, although for different reasons, ‘negative’ gain screens are not recommended. In the past, negative gain screens had sizeable impact in digital projection. In that, they improved the black level, which was a brilliant way to eliminate gray screens. Thanks to recent improvements in native black levels and contrast rations, negative gain screens are no longer necessary.
All told, the specific screen gain you should take note of is dependent on the dimensions of your room, the projector, and your desired screen size. It is recommended to contact a screen dealer, who will estimate the specific screen gain rating you need.
The ratio between the width and height of the screen is referred to as an Aspect Ratio. In general, all HDTV broadcasts are 16:9: that is, for a screen whose width is 16 feet, its corresponding height will be 9 feet. Another representation of the 16:9 aspect ratio is 1.78:1—either can be used.
The aspect ratio of many big movies is about 21:9 (2.35:1), thus the width is larger. In comparison, virtually all projectors are preset to 16:9. For a 16:9 projector to project a 2.35:1 on a 16:9, any of a number of methods is employed.
By far the simplest method is to zoom out the projector. This way, the 2.35:1 image is magnified to fill the wider screen. A caveat with this method is that there will be measurable light spill above and below the screen. However, with most projectors, this does not negatively affect the viewing experience, as the regions (above and below the screen) that receive the light spill are the black bar regions in the movie.
The second most common method is also more technical than the first. It requires the use of an anamorphic lens. In this method, the first step is to stretch the image vertically—this causes the details in the image (for example people) to be excessively tall and skinny. After this, the anamorphic lens is made to slide in front of the projector to stretch the image horizontal—which make the details in the image to appear normal. This stretched-out image fills a 2.35:1 screen.
There are two significant gains and one downside to the anamorphic lens method. The gains are increased detail and added brightness, while the downside is slight loss of contrast ratio. In our tests, we found that the gains make up for the small downside.
It is noteworthy to consider how the aspect ratio may affect usage. For big-screen movies, produced at native 2.35:1 aspect ratio, having a projected 10-foot wide image is amazing on a wide 2:35:1 screen. However, for gaming projectors, the situation is much different. Games are virtually always developed to generally work with 16:9. Therefore, if gameplay was projected on a 2.35:1 screen, the game would occupy the center of the screen. The consequence is that there will be sizeable portions of the screen that are not in use.
Colloquially referred to as black bars, these may not bother some, however for others it may be cause for huge concern. For those who find this upsetting, but still want a wider screen, there is a brilliant easy solution in masking. Masking entails having a material placed on the sides of the screen that are not in use. Some projector screen projectors provide a motorized masking setup that covers the sides of the screen not in use by dropping a material over the unused sides.
The nature of the material used for the screen is also important. In general, basic screens are made with a smooth material—often vinyl—on which a reflective surface coat is applied.
The kind of coat and material type used may lead to subtle improvements in the performance of a projector screen. However, these improvements are not often substantial in real-time usage, although they may be under lab conditions. Specifically, you can either go with a variant of the basic screen design above, or go for a more refined screen type that may be either a perforated or a woven screen.
Perforated and woven screens are more useful if you want to mount speakers behind the screen. If you are not interested in such a setup, then you may as well ditch them all together. Brightness is not the same; it is not the same as on basic vinyl screens. Also, a viewer may detect the texture of woven screens without really making an effort (usually at close distances or on very huge screens). Finally, perforated and woven screens will reduce the audio intensity from the speaker, although for well-designed screens, this is hardly an issue as intensity loss is negligible.
Some manufacturers offer treated screens that are designed to “reject ambient light,” these screens are referred to as “ambient-light-rejecting-screens.” Though, they have better performance than a regular 1.0-gain screen, their performance is limited to certain light intensities. Hence, sunlight and/or very light room lighting are not adversaries these screens can conquer.
1. Silver Ticket 100 Inches Review
The Silver Ticket is our top pick for this list of best projector screens, because it delivers terrific performance at an affordable price point. We like to call this “bang-for-the-buck quality.” Sure enough, there are pricier projector screens. Often, these screens do exceptionally well in one regard but fall off on other important aspects like setup or image quality.
The Silver Ticket performs well in all regards offering a screen that fits the needs of most people without costing the earth. This makes it the best “bang-for-the-buck” projector screen in the market. It is inexpensive, easy to setup/assemble, and the surface is relatively neutral.
The Silver Ticket is offered in either the 16:9 or the 21:9 (2.35:1) aspect ratio; and has a range of sizes from 92 to 175 inches. You would find a screen and an aspect ratio combination that fits your need with the Silver Ticket screens.
This is where the Silver Ticket shines through. In our tests, it performed better than models that cost seven times as much. In plain terms, image quality on the Silver Ticket is not only terrific for its price, it is also awesome for a projector screen at any price.
Detail and texture were brought up in full view for HD images including 720p HD, 1080p Full HD, and 4k variants. The viewing angle of the screen is very wide, and there is neither hot spots nor sparkles during viewing. If you want better quality, you would have to purchase Stewart screens, but they cost as much as top-grade projectors (starting at seven times and rise to as much as twelve times the cost of Silver Ticket screens).
You would not have to invest a lot of time and energy to assemble the Silver Ticket. That is a welcome break from having to curse and whine with models that cost much more with similar performance, but take upwards of three times as long to assemble as well as take a huge toll on your energy reserve (like the Elite Screens SableFrame). Even better, it is possible to setup the projector by yourself; you need not organize an ad-hoc “Screen Assembling Team” of friends or family.
Salient Selling Points
- Top-grade Performance
- Easy to assemble
- Lots of options
- Very Affordable
2. AV Prime Inc. 100-inch Projector Screen Review
The AV Prime projector screen model is another top-performance screen available in the market. Its flagship size is 100 inches measured diagonally. At this size, the screen offers a viewing area of up to 87 inches in width, and 49 inches in height. Its other size variant is 92 inches, for users who do not require as much viewing area as is on the 100-inch variant.
The AV Prime is designed from the ground-up for top performance. Its front is given a white matte finish for even diffusion of light rays on the surface. On the back, a back screen is fixed to prevent penetration of light through the rear: this enhances picture contrast and focus, which ensures that colors and image detail remain vivid and sharp.
Setup and Durability
Installation of the AV Prime is very easy, making use of lightweight steel in its assemblages and having a self-locking variable height adjustor for flexibility. The screen can be mounted on either the wall or the ceiling, as it is a pull-down screen. The screen material of the AV Prime is easy to clean which confers on it high durability.
Salient Selling Points
- Top-grade performance
- Easy to assemble
- Enhanced durability
3. Camp Chef OS120L Review
The Camp Chef OS120L is a terrific projector screen with top-grade performance outdoors as well as indoors. It is a portable screen and features a simple clip screen design. This makes the OS120L one of the easiest to install screens available. Also included in the pack are setup and maintenance instructions as well as four frame stakes to keep the screen stable.
The OS120L performs exceptionally well with HD content on its 120-inch diagonal screen, which offers lots of viewing space for an immersive viewing experience. As a portable screen, it has low weight (31 pounds), so that it can be carried about with ease.
Salient Selling Points
- Excellent outdoor performance
- Portable for easy setup and easy mobility
- Extensive viewing area
4. Excelvan 72-Inch Projector Screen Review
The Excelvan 72-inch projector screen is an excellent midsize screen that packs a lot of features with matching awesome performance. It offers a viewing area of 62 inches in width and 35 inches in height. This is adequate for a variety of applications, for training conferences, home theater movies, and classrooms.
The Excelvan screen boasts of first-rate performance with its front being made of a white PVC matte fabric that uniformly diffuses the projected light on its surface. This ensures that color reproduction is jaw-dropping while image clarity is not sacrificed.
Assembling is easy, many thanks to the adhesive Velcro strips included in the package. For maintenance, the surface of the Excelvan can be spot-cleaned with a non-abrasive cleaning solution when necessary.
Salient Selling Points
- Terrific performance
- Variable applications
- Easy to setup and maintain