Between case, fabric, size and style options, there are thousands of projection screens on the market for you to choose from. We can help. Below you'll find a basic guide to selecting a projection screen, along with explanations of various projector screen options.
Step 1: What kind of screen do you need?
Projection screens are available as manual, electric, permanently tensioned, portable and rear-projection. Here is a brief description of each of the screen categories and the features that they offer:
Manual Screens: Manual projection screens are inexpensive and easy to use. Operating just like a windowshade, a manual screen is revealed by simply pulling the screen down by hand. Like a windowshade, manual screens are prone to the same malfunctions: whipping back into the case too rapidly, wearing out, or rippling. To counteract these shortcomings, screen manufacturers have added some special features to manual screens to improve their quality.
Manual Screen Case Options: Controlled Screen Return (CSR): Prevents the screen from rolling back into the case too quickly. Tensioning Rods/Arms: Stretch the screen surface to keep it smooth and flat. Steel Bearings: Higher-end manual screens have steel bearings (e.g. Da-Lite Model C) that are more durable and long-wearing than the standard nylon rollers.
The addition of these features to your manual screen case will improve its quality and longevity.
Electric: Electric projection screens are more expensive, but once installed can be operated from the comfort of your chair or podium at the touch of a button or remote control. Many electric screens must be hard-wired. Electric screens can be mounted externally to the ceiling with brackets or can be flush-mounted with recessed cases to hide the screen within the ceiling surface. For the best viewing surface, tensioned screens are great for keeping the screen material flat and wrinkle-free.
Choose between tensioned or non-tensioned electric screens:
Electric Screen Case Options:Consider these options before you make your screen selection. Picking the right electric screen case will make a big difference in the appearance of your viewing area or the quality of the image.
Externally Mounted Cases: Available in a variety of finishes, depending on the screen model, and are easier to install than the ceiling- recessed alternatives. Ceiling-Recessed Cases: Must be installed before ceiling is finished or else installation will require some minor construction. The result is a ceiling surface that completely conceals your screen when not in use. Tab-Tensioned Screens: Screen is pulled taut from the sides of the screen and its case. Tensioning optimizes the viewing surface by keeping it smooth.
Permanently Tensioned: Permanently tensioned screens are reminiscent of a stretched paint canvas. Screen fabric is stretched tightly around a frame, and is left where it is mounted - constantly ready for viewing. One thing to keep in mind when selecting a permanently tensioned screen is the coating on the screen's frame. We suggest a black matte coating on permanently tensioned screen frames to prevent glare; paint finish alone is sometimes not enough to achieve this matte effect, so velvet-textured frames are available from most manufacturers for resolving this problem. Portable: Portable projection screens are offered in a great range of styles. Tripod screens are inexpensive and easy to use and transport. Alternatively, pop-up screens like the Draper Traveller and the Da-Lite Insta-Theater are self-contained screen and case combinations that are perfect for tradeshows. The size range of screens like these is quite limited; if you need something bigger, folding screens aren't quite as easy to use but do offer the largest portable screen surfaces available. Rear Projection: Rear projection screens display images projected from behind the screen. Placing the projector behind the screen requires either a good deal of darkened space behind the viewing surface, or a mirror system that will reflect the image over a far enough distance to correct the image size. A rear projection screen can be simply a standard portable, manual or electric screen with rear projection fabric, or it can be an intricate system of mirrors. Determine your needs based on the amount of space and budget available.
Step 2: How do you Pick a Screen Fabric?
The most important things to evaluate when selecting a screen fabric are gain and viewing angle, as gain increases viewing angle usually decreases. Remember this: a screen can't increase the amount of light being projected onto it; it can only improve the direction, quality and quantity of the light it diffuses. The bare bones basics of screen gain and viewing angle follow, but if you want to know more, just give us a call!
Gain: Gain is a measure of the reflectivity of the screen's surface. The higher the gain is, the brighter the image.
High Gain Projector Screen:
Viewing Angle: Viewing angle is a measure of the distance from the center of the screen at which you can still see the same quality image as from the viewing axis. Some screens diffuse light accurately between a broader range of viewing angles than others. A broad viewing angle gives high image quality in a wider range of seating positions.
White or Gray: Another important screen fabric decision involves the contrast of your image. Since there are many applications when a projection room's ambient light cannot be completely eliminated, screen manufacturers have designed darker colors of screen material to compensate.
If you will be projecting in a room that is not completely light-controlled, considering a high-contrast, high-definition or gray screen material may greatly improve the contrast of colors in your projections.
Other Features: Some screen fabrics are perforated for acoustical transparency and others are designed for 3D viewing. If you're planning on placing a speaker directly behind your screen, sound waves and images may be distorted unless you opt for an acoustically transparent perforated screen. Look for 'Cinema Perf' fabrics from Da-Lite or the AT1200 fabric from Draper. 3D presentations can be made on silver screen materials like Da-Lite's Silver Matte.
Step 3: How do you choose a screen size?
Screens are sized in a few standard formats: square, video format and HDTV are some of the most popular.
Square: For square sizes of screens the width to height ratio is generally 1:1, though there is some variation. Square screens are usually used for data presentations and overhead projectors.
Video Format: Video format screens have a width to height ratio of 4:3, which is the same as fullscreen movies and most television programs. If you're planning on using your screen for home theater, Video Format screens are the best option if you'll be switching equally between full screen and widescreen viewing.
HDTV: HDTV screens are the optimal format for home theater, offering the best matched fit for widescreen viewing. HDTV screens have a width to height ratio of 16:9. Even wider options include Letterbox and Widescreen; not all but a few of our screens are available in these special sizes.
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