Planar Xscreen Front-Projection Screen Page 2

The Short Form
Price $1,399 / planar.com / 866-475-2627
Snapshot
Planar's Xscreen front-projection screen delivers bright pictures with vivid color, and you don't even have to dim the lights!
Plus
•Delivers bright pictures in daylight conditions •Excellent color saturation •Good looks •Affordable alternative to large flat-panel TVs
Minus
•Very tight viewing angle •Limited shadow detail and contrast in bright lighting
Key Features
•Rigid, wall-mountable design •Includes wall mount with safety lock •2.0 gain •60 x 34.8 x 3.3 in / 69 lb
PERFORMANCE I tested the Xscreen in two different daytime lighting conditions: the first, a light-controlled room with lamps turned off and window blinds partially filtering out daylight, and the second, a regular room with blinds open and overhead lights switched on. Under the first set of conditions, the Xscreen's image looked about as bright as that of a regular flat-panel TV, and both its contrast and its color saturation were just as impressive. When I looked at high-def clips from the recent remake of King Kong, the Xscreen delivered solid blacks in a nighttime scene where the cast and crew board a rickety boat, and there was plenty of shadow detail visible in the background. And when I next watched a World Cup soccer match recorded from ESPN-HD, the picture looked crisp, while both the green turf and the red and yellow hues of the players' uniforms came across vividly.

When I viewed the same programs in the brighter lighting conditions, the Xscreen still delivered a surprisingly crisp, bright picture, but a dip in both contrast and shadow detail made dark movie scenes look comparatively flat. Sports programs didn't look nearly as washed out, however. When tuning in an NHL game, for example, the Boston Bruins' black uniforms looked deep, while the rink's white surface had a bright, punchy quality.

Another thing I noted when watching hockey was a fixed pattern created by the screen's texture, which was mainly visible on the ice and other flat, light-toned surfaces. This is an effect I've seen many times on rear-projection TVs (we often refer to it as the screen's "grain" in our reviews), and depending on the type of program you're watching, it can be distracting. Viewers sitting off to one side of the couch might also be bothered by the Xscreen's uneven brightness from that angle - a side effect of its relatively high 2.0 gain. Basically, the picture dims on one side when you move your head more than 10° from the center axis. And at 45°, the entire screen is substantially darkened. However, I had no serious complaints about uniformity while sitting directly in front of the Xscreen.

BOTTOM LINE Flat-panel TVs can get downright expensive when you hit 60 inches and above. In comparison, a front projector paired with an ambient-light-tolerant Planar Xscreen front-projection screen is a much more affordable option. Dim the lights a bit, and the Xscreen will produce a picture that can effectively compete with that of a flat-panel set (and given its TV-like design, some people won't know the difference). Turn the lights up, and the same picture still looks surprisingly punchy and bright. It's a neat trick and, as long as you're sitting front and center on your couch, one that seems pretty close to magic.

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