Elite Screens Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 Series Screen Review Page 2

The tab-tensioned aspect of the Kestrel is a simple yet effective design where a pair of taut strings run through perforations on the screen material's left and right edges. Effective, but not 100 percent so—I noted a slackness that caused a slight rippling at the bottom of the screen on either side. While this was something that caught my attention at first, and was visible when I displayed full-field gray test patterns, I can't say I noticed any distracting impact from it during regular viewing sessions. The screen is also bordered at the bottom by black masking material that helps to enhance contrast and provide a neat, finished look when fully extended.

When I said the Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 doesn't require any installation prowess, I wasn't kidding. To get up and running, I simply placed it on a pair of low speaker stands to provide sufficient elevation for alignment with the Epson LS-500 UST projector I had set up on a 19-inch-high TV stand. Next step: plug it in. (A more typical installation would have the screen case positioned directly on the floor.) Pulling out the RF remote, I raised the screen to roughly match the image beamed by the projector and manually repositioned the Epson to dial in geometry and focus. That's it!


One thing I was concerned about before setup was that the screen wouldn't be plumb with the projector's lens surface once extended. But that didn't end up being the case at all: the spring scissor mechanism in back raises up perfectly flat, allowing for easy alignment of the projector and screen. Multiple raise/lower go-rounds also proved the action to be consistent—the Kestrel is an impressively sturdy and well-made product for its price.

Before diving into viewing, I first drew my windows' blackout shades and shut off the room lights to perform some measurements. With a 0.8 gain, I wasn't expecting the CLR 3 to deliver crazy levels of brightness (a screen with a gain spec below 1 is reflecting less light than what's beamed at it by the projector, primarily to increase contrast) but the 22.7 footlamberts (ft-L) peak white I measured in SDR mode using the Epson LS-500 was sufficient for dark-room viewing, and the 30.8 ft-L it managed with the projector in HDR mode made things even brighter and better. Brightness uniformity was very good: I measured a maximum deviation from the screen's center of around 6 ftL at the bottom left, while most of the other measured zones were closer to the center target. Color uniformity was also very good, with the maximum deviation from a 6,520 K center measurement being 6,766 K at the screen's bottom right corner.

How did all that play out in real-world viewing? With lights off and windows blacked out, the image montage from the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disc revealed a slight degree of color tinting at the corners of the screen in the early shots of white sheep and winter landscapes, but I can't say I noticed it again outside of that torture-test footage. Later shots of a honey dipper, peacock feather, and cacti against a solid black background revealed well-saturated colors, but the background was more of a dark gray than a true black. (To be fair, the Epson UST projector, which has good, but not mind-blowingly good, contrast, was partially responsible for this shortcoming.) Shadows looked deeper in more intricate nighttime drone footage of urban skyscrapers, though I still wasn't seeing a true black.

Switching to movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray, I watched a few scenes from Dune that make good use of HDR highlights. These popped fairly well on the Kestrel screen, and there was good detail in the shadows. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has some scenes with vivid, trippy colors, particularly the ones that take place on Ego's planet. These came across as rich and dynamic on the Kestrel screen, and the green and blue hues of certain characters' skin also had a vivid look.


Tossing No Time to Die into my Oppo player, early scenes from Daniel Craig's final hurrah as James Bond where he vacations in Italy—a trip that comes to an abrupt end—showed excellent detail in the shots of craggy mountains and old stone buildings, and colors and skin tones looked as natural and pure as I expect them to be. There's nothing overly dazzling about No Time to Die's 4K/HDR transfer, but it does have a solid, visually pleasing quality from start to finish. Watching it on the Kestrel screen, I had no complaints, and found myself wanting to settle back and continue watching.

While Elite Screens' versatile Kestrel proved to be a fine option for dark room movie viewing, most people use UST projection setups for watching stuff like sports in more well-illuminated environments. The Red Bull TV streaming channel offers a seemingly infinite variety of footage of athletes and daredevils in motion. Watching an extended clip of a gravity-defying group of skateboarders doing their thing in a small Central American city with my room's overhead lights on, the image looked satisfyingly bright and punchy, and colors of the vividly painted buildings retained their richness. For non-fussy viewing of content of this sort, the picture quality of the Epson UST/Elite Screens combo in a well-lit room was better than acceptable. It literally looked great. Of course, I did have my windows blacked out, and when I later un-shuttered them to see how the screen would fare, the picture immediately became washed out.

The Elite Screens Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 well exceeded my expectations with its solid build quality, versatility, and performance. There is something very cool—magical, almost—about a screen that rises up from the floor in response to a remote control command and then fully retracts into a compact and visually unassuming case. Like other screens designed for use with UST projectors, the Kestrel requires a degree of lighting control for best performance, but once that was taken care of, I was impressed with the image quality I was getting with my room's overhead lights switched on or off. If you're interested in a UST projection setup, and don't want to deal with the black hole dilemma that a huge, wall-mounted fixed projection screen poses, I'd strongly recommend considering the Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 Series motorized projection screen.

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voicekiller's picture

Bought one of these a few years ago. They would fail after about six months. Use was maybe once a week. Elite warrantied the first couple, but then simply refused. Sent me a manual screen and considered it case closed. Avoid.