How to Choose a Projector Screen in 2019?
Ultimate Guide To Projector ScreensOften when people get their first projectors, they are stoked and forget to invest in a projector screen as well. And the few that do remember choose to skip buying one to save money. Instead, they use a free wall instead. Now, while it’s true that a high-quality home theater projector screen will ramp up the initial set up for a home theater projector set up, it’ll also improve the picture quality and the overall theater experience. For this reason, investing in a projector screen is essential.
But unfortunately, choosing a projector screen isn’t a straightforward process. There are several factors you need to consider. But before we sink our teeth deep in these, here’s the reason why projecting on a screen is better than on a wall. The projector screens price are different and they are made from vinyl material. They are smooth and reflect quality images. On the other hand, walls are rough and tend to distort picture quality. Wall projections give washed out images.
With that said, let’s get into the projector screen guide.
Types of Projector ScreensThe first step of choosing a suitable projector screen for your home theater is picking a screen type. The screen types we are about to review differ in retraction and mounting style. How permanent do you want the screen to be? Do you want to have a permanent wall fixture in your home or a small and portable screen?
You should also think of the type of retraction you’d want with your screen. Projector screens are categorized into:
- Motorized electric screens
- Manual Screens
- Fixed frame screens
Electric Projector Screens
These screens can be ceiling or wall mounted. They can also be floor mounted or concealed in the ceiling (recessed ceiling). They feature an electric motor which lowers and raises the screen through a wall switch or remote control.
Installing these projector screens is easy. Actually, most have a plug and play design. However, if you’ll be doing a recessed screen installation, you’ll have to hire a professional electrician to do it right.
Given that the retraction operation is manual, these screens tend to be heavy. This means that the projector screens are large. For this reason, they are best for classrooms, conference rooms, auditoriums, and large home theaters. These screens offer a modern and sleek solution to projection. They do not interfere with a room's, usability, and décor.
These screens are further categorized into tensioned and non-tensioned screens. The non-tensioned versions are common and are the standard. They hang free and are prone to creasing and imperfections. On the other hand, tensioned screens provide uniform screen surfaces and maximize light reflexivity and resolution.
These are smaller more affordable versions of electric projector screens. They are easy to install and use. But unlike electric screens, that are raised and lowered via remote control or switch, manual screens are retracted manually. You simply pull it down using your hand and lock it in the height you desire.
Manufacturers added a nifty feature to these projector screens. To keep the screens from retracting too fast into their casing, manufacturers added a controlled screen return feature. And like their motorized counterparts, they come with ceiling recessed casing or tensioned screen.
In comparison to motorized screens, manual screens are smaller and cheaper. They are perfect for home theaters, classrooms, and conference rooms.
Fixed Frame Screens
These are the most common. They are used in home theaters and pretty much any room needing a permanent wall projector screen. Their assembly process is a little bit more tasking that of the other two types. During installation, they are treated like picture frames and are hung on the wall using brackets of anchors.
Fixed frames are split into two categories; curved and flat frames. Though flat frames are most common, curved frames are quickly catching on. Curved frames add style to a home theater set up.
Projector Screen Material
Once you know the type you want, you can proceed to pick the material. This is important as screen material affects texture, color, and gain. To choose the best projector screen material and projector screen stand, you’ll have to first understand these three terminologies. What's more, you can diy a projector screen for yourself.
This is the amount of light from the best projector under 200 reflected back to the viewer. High gain infers more light is reflected and the resulting image is bright. The coatings on the screen affect the level of gain a screen has. A room with a lot of ambient light needs a screen with high gain.
But on the flip side, when the gain increases, the viewing angle decreases. For this reason, with a high gain screen, viewers are forced to sit directly in front of the screen for a great experience. Also, screens with higher gains tend to suffer from hot-spotting. This means that some parts of the screen will appear brighter than the rest.
The screen’s color affects the contract of images projected. White screens are loved for their brightness while gray screens have proven to be better in handling dark colors. Gray screens are also better in controlling the effects of ambient light.
Even the cheapest screen on the market has a smooth texture enough to yield excellent image quality. They can handle 1080p from the best cheap projector. However, for 4K projectors, the screen needs to be super fine for the image details to manifest.
Different spaces have varied screen requirements. Below is a general overview of what you’ll need to consider.
Small meeting rooms
In meeting rooms, people seat randomly. It’s not always that they’ll be directly in front of the screen. For this reason, the screen you choose has to have just enough gain but not too much. It also needs to be sizeable – not too big or too small. Also, you’ll need to consider getting a ceiling retractable screen to save on space.
Large conference halls
The projector requirements for these are similar to those of small meeting rooms. However, given the size of the conference rooms, you can afford to go big on the screen. You could invest in a motorized home theater projector screen if need be.
In a classroom, you need every inch of floor and wall space. So for starters, the screen should be retractable. Moreover, if the screen is small and will be rarely used, you can invest in one mounted on a tripod for portability purposes.
Home living room
No need for permanence with this. And since there isn’t a lot of room to accommodate a large projector screen, a manual screen will do. It’s sizeable and convenient.
Also, to counter the effects of ambient lighting, choose a gray screen with a fine texture. This way you can view high-quality images from your best cheap projector.
Now, since home theater projector rooms are often dedicated to the big screen experience, there’s a lot going for you. There is minimal ambient lighting and one side of the room is dedicated to movie projections.
For this reason, you can invest in a fixed frame screen. It could be curved. You could also choose a manual or electric motor depending on the size of your home theater. You could get either get a white or gray screen (whichever you prefer). The screen should be super fine to handle 4K resolution.