Elite Screens Osprey DTE110C88H-E20 Screen Page 2

Any projector with a zoom ratio comfortably above 1.3 should be satisfactory. Not coincidentally, 1.33:1 just happens to be approximately the ratio of the average widths of 2.35:1 and 2.40:1 screens to a 1.78:1 (16:9) screen of the same height. (Many widescreen films are actually closer to 2.40:1 than to 2.35:1.) Your best bet to ensure compatibility will be to work with your dealer on the setup, although most of them will be more familiar with using an anamorphic lens for a 2.35:1 screen (and may well try to sell you one) than with the cheaper but less elegant zoom technique.

I did most of my viewing of the Osprey on its 2.35:1 screen, zooming the projector to fill it. I didn’t use an anamorphic lens in this review.

Setup
The Osprey is primarily designed for a wall mount. You have to determine how high to position the case to bring the extended screens down to your desired viewing height, and make sure it’s perfectly level (Elite includes a bubble level with the screen). The user guide provides the information you’ll need to do this, but it’s poorly printed; Elite provides more legible versions of the diagrams on its Website.

The screen’s accessory kit includes hollow-wall (i.e., sheetrock) anchors to secure the two mounting brackets, but I’d strongly recommend that you ignore them and instead fasten each bracket securely into a wall stud with appropriately long screws. Once secured, the brackets fit into full-width slots at the top of the case. This allows for side-to-side movement to ensure that the screen is properly centered before the brackets are tightly locked to the screen. Setup is definitely a two-person operation at minimum; I’d recommend one or two more as spotters. Our sample weighed about 53 pounds (this differs slightly with size), but it definitely felt heavier.

Things get a lot more complicated if you need to do a ceiling mount, as I did. Elite’s mounting hardware isn’t designed for this. I’d avoid it if you have an unusually high ceiling, as the available 16-to-24-inch black drop (depending on screen size) may not be enough to position the extended screens at the desired height. We managed a kludge that held the screen securely to my 8-foot ceiling, but I won’t even attempt to describe it here—nor the effort it took me and Home Theater’s online editor Scott Wilkinson to raise the screen to the ceiling and lock it into the brackets. If your situation is in any way different from a simple wall mount, or you can’t round up two or more strong and handy friends to help, I recommend that you let your dealer do the honors.

One other issue that I need to mention is the smell. When it was new, our sample emitted a strong chemical odor. I suspect it hadn’t been thoroughly cured at the factory. This dissipated eventually, but it took almost two weeks to do so with the screen down so as to provide maximum exposure to the air. Your time may vary according to the time that has elapsed from the factory to your home and the efficiency of the ventilation in your room. I found the odor to be merely an annoyance and lived with it until it disappeared, but you might not be as forgiving and may want to avoid the room completely during this period. And you can’t drop both screens simultaneously to cure them at the same time. Since I’ve only used the 16:9 screen briefly, it still emits a trace of eau de industry when extended (it takes much longer to clear the smell when the screen is rolled up into the case).

The Screening Room
So you’ve chosen the Osprey model that fits your needs and mounted it correctly and securely. How does it look?

My first reaction was astonishment, not so much at the screen itself, but simply at how it appeared to get out of the way and do its job of providing a really big show (particularly with 101-inch-wide, 2.35:1 images) without any fuss or obvious artifacts. I was also impressed by how bright the image was on so large a screen. That will depend on the projector, of course, but the Digital Projection and two other projectors I used on the screen for a shorter period (the Sharp XV-Z17000 and my resident JVC DLA-RS1) were plenty bright in their highest lamp modes. The Digital Projection produced about 13 foot-lamberts with 200 hours on its lamp. While this was less than I’m used to seeing from my JVC in its low lamp mode on a much smaller (but higher-gain) StudioTek 130 screen, the visual impact that the larger, wider image offered more than compensated.

The projectors were also pinsharp on the Elite, although the single-chip DLP from Digital Projection was the champ here. Single-chip DLPs often look more detailed than three-chip displays that use other technologies, although some viewers prefer LCD or LCOS’ more filmlike look. With the Digital Projection/Elite screen combination, the small focus differences from scene to scene in some movies was clearly visible. At the same time, it revealed other films’ tighter consistency. Such fine details usually go unnoticed, particularly in your typical cineplex.

The color was also impeccable. By eye, it was completely uniform across the screen. The Elite required slightly different calibration settings than the same projector on my smaller Stewart StudioTek 130. But that’s a setup issue that will only concern readers who may now be using a different screen. You may feel the need for a new calibration should you switch to any new screen.

When I viewed a full-screen peak-white test pattern on the Elite screen, from closer up than any normal seating position, I saw a sparkly quality. This is usually evidence of a gain coating of some sort, perhaps used here to compensate for a raw screen material that needed added punch to reach the specified gain of 1.1 (some untreated screen materials have gains of less than 1.0). As I moved further away, the sparkles disappeared as discrete elements and melded into a slight but visible sheen. This varied as I moved back and forth in front of the image. Again, this was only obvious on a full-screen, bright-white or uniformly colored test pattern. I only discovered it after hours of viewing normal source material, during which there was no clear evidence of it. Only after I discovered it on test patterns did I start to look critically for it on movies. I thought I saw it on occasional bright, uniform images like blue skies, especially when the scene panned across them. But it was very hard to spot. I remained as impressed by the uniformity of the Elite’s performance on real program material as I had before, even at a seating position roughly 20 degrees off axis.

It’s fair to note that there are screen materials that offer exceptional uniformity with any type of source at any viewing distance. Examples are Da-Lite’s Affinity, which is available in several gain options and was developed in cooperation with video expert Joe Kane, and the StudioTek 100 from Stewart Filmscreen. However, they will definitely cost you more than the equivalent Elite and don’t offer the Elite’s dual-screen feature.

Conclusions
While I was a bit disappointed in the mild nonuniformity I observed on the Elite Osprey screen, I only discovered this late in a reviewing period that ran to nearly 50 hours and dozens of films. The latter perhaps speaks more vividly than anything else about how much I enjoyed my time with this product. While this issue never bothered me with real program material, it does keep the Elite just short of a Home Theater Top Pick rating.

But not by much, and I admittedly went back and forth on this call more than once before I came down on the conservative side. If the dual-screen feature appeals to you, particularly at a price that no other manufacturer is likely to match even if they offered it, you’ll want to take a close look at the Osprey.

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