Purchasing a front projector unit is only half the work in setting up a projection-based home theater. The screen also needs to be taken into account as it will affect video quality and the aesthetic look of the room. Screens can affect how much light is reflected, the viewing angle, and the contrast ratio of any projected video. Regular painted walls are not recommended to use as screens since they will reflect light inaccurately. See below for more details on “what to look for” in screens.
What To Look For
- Type of screen mounts
- Portable – easy to move screens that typically stand on tripods.
- Manual – Install on the ceiling or wall. The user manually pulls down the screen.
- Electric – Install on the ceiling or wall. An electronic motor automatically pulls down the screen.
- Fixed – permanently installed on the wall. Could add a frame border for aesthetic look.
- Painted – that’s right, specific paint is available to paint your screen right on the wall.
- Screen size
- Screen surface and color
- White – the all purpose color that provides a uniform gain and a large viewing angle.
- Grey – The darker the color is, the less light the screen will reflect. Grey screens are good for rooms with some ambient light as it will improve the contrast ratio. However, grey screens can reduce your contrast ratio in completely dark rooms.
- Silver – great for low light projectors as it has a large gain and reflects a large amount of light back. However, it does have a tendency for hot spotting and low viewing angles.
How large do you want your screen to be? Include a worst-case aspect ratio is your decision. Traditional 4:3 images will be taller than 16:9 images, while 16:9 images will be wider than 4:3 images.
The type of material and color your screen is will affect your gain, viewing angle, and contrast ratio. Common screens colors are:
There are also many types of material available. For the most part, the material will affect how much gain you get. In other words, the material will affect how much light is reflected back. Some materials let light through the screen to diffuse the video and reduce pixilization. Other materials reflect all light back.
Front Projection Tips
- Cover up those windows, stray light will affect the quality of video in front projector units. Use grey screens if your room has lots of ambient light.
- Pixelization and other artifacts will become more noticeable as the screen size increases. This is especially true for standard definition TV.
- Look for projectors with a large light output (measured in lumens).
- To avoid a trapezoidal screen, install your projectors with the lens as parallel to the screen as possible.
- The darker a screen color is, the less light a screen will reflect.
- For optimum performance, do not use a regularly painted wall as a screen.