Projection Screen Reviews

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Kris Deering  |  Oct 20, 2008  |  0 comments
Make off like a bandit with a masked home theater.

I ’m always on the lookout for new and innovative improvements to make to my home theater. One of the best I’ve seen to date is from screen manufacturer Carada, which directly sells its products online and over the phone. The company’s Masquerade screen-masking system features motorized panels that eliminate those obnoxious black bars that appear when you watch a “scope” movie on a 16:9 screen. The system accommodates any projected aspect ratio between 1.78:1 and 2.70:1. It also provides a big increase in perceived contrast and depth. Additionally, Carada’s innovative, motorized system costs less than most motorized masking systems on the market. Since you can mount it over your existing fixed-screen frame, you won’t need to invest in a new frame or screen.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 13, 2013  |  3 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Outstanding picture at any viewing angle • Cinematic curvature • Excellent value

At one time, two of my favorite Los Angeles–area theaters were in Westwood: the Village and the National. The Village had, and still has, a huge, flat screen. The National (tragically closed and torn down in 2008) had a gently curved one of about the same size. While the Village had the more awesome audio, I always preferred the subtly more immersive visual presentation at the National.

Michael P. Hamilton  |  Oct 12, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $3,138 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exquisite color rendering
Solid black level with a tremendous sense of image depth
Glare-free viewing with sensible ambient light level
Minus
Pricey compared with Elite’s traditional screen materials, though in line with or cheaper than some other ALR solutions

THE VERDICT
No misgivings apply to this multi-layer, firm-surfaced material. Every atom of detail in the source reflects back with seemingly free, bonus lumens. If there’s color shift at extreme angles, it’s only measureable, not noticeable.

High light-output capabilities and receding prices in the DLP and LCD projector camps have recently broadened the application possibilities for two-piece projection video. One facet of design garnering prominent attention from screen manufacturers is ambient light rejection (ALR) technology, which allows a projector/screen combo to function as the big-screen TV in a multipurpose room the way a flat-panel TV might—though at a potentially much larger size.

Al Griffin  |  Jun 16, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $2,320

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Screen fully retracts when not in use
IR and RF remote controls
Very good value
Minus
Slight slackness at screen’s bottom edges when extended

THE VERDICT
The Elite Screens Kestrel is a well-made, reasonably-priced, and easy-to-set-up option for those who want their projection screen to disappear when it’s not in use.

Plenty of custom solutions have been developed to house ultra-short throw (UST) projectors, a category designed to beam bright, living-room friendly images from a position just a few inches away from the bottom edge of the projection screen. The main ones are furniture-grade cabinets with an interior compartment for stowing away the projector so it remains out of sight both in use and when powered off.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2011  |  1 comments
Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $2,699 At A Glance: Gets the black bars out • Solid value • Minor uniformity issues

Elite Screens may be less well known than some of the bigger names in the business, but they offer a wide range of projection screens for every application. Since their products are manufactured in China, they’re more than competitive in price. But this limits their ability to offer customization, such as sizes not included in their standard lineup.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 30, 2018  |  4 comments
Epson Home Cinema LS100
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Elite Screens Aeon CLR
Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $3,000 (Epson), $799 (Elite)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright picture
Compact form factor
Can be used in average room-lighting conditions
Minus
Below-average picture contrast
Some center-to-edge brightness dropoff
Mediocre remote control

THE VERDICT
This combination of Epson projector and Elite screen represents a great value for those seeking a daylight-friendly, ultra-large-screen viewing option.

Ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to regular front-projection systems. The reason is that, unlike regular projectors, which require careful lighting control to perform their best, UST models can operate in well-lit environments. They beam light upwards and are designed to be mounted only a few inches away from the screen, an arrangement permitting clean installations that not only are free of ceiling mounts or long wiring runs but also avoid the problem of onscreen shadows when someone traverses a projector’s beam.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 11, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $2,799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly immersive image from 123-inch screen
Easy assembly
Five-year warranty
Very good value
Minus
Requires high brightness projector for best performance

THE VERDICT
If you're looking for an ultra-large screen to pair with your ultra short throw projector, the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity offers impressive performance and value.

With ultra short throw (UST) projectors available from a growing list of companies including Epson, LG, Hisense, Optoma, Vava, and now Samsung, it's clear that the category has become firmly established. That's no surprise given the ergonomic and screen real estate- per-dollar benefits such models offer, but getting the best picture quality from a UST setup requires a specific screen pairing. We've frequently discussed ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens in Sound & Vision and have reviewed a fair number of them. But a UST projector requires a specialized type of ALR screen—one like the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity from EPV Screens.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 16, 2015  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stupidly simple setup/takedown
Machine-washable screen material
Front- or rear-projection configuration
Minus
Thin (though strong) aluminum poles

THE VERDICT
Affordable, easy to set up, and convenient to transport, this huge screen has an awesome picture and provides more fun than just about anything else you can do outdoors with your clothes on. What more could you want?

Not everyone is as keen on outdoor televisions as I am. In fact, most people with whom I’ve discussed the subject have walked away convinced that I was a blithering idiot—or, at least, more of a blithering idiot than I’d previously proven myself to be. On the other hand, the folks who’ve had the chance to watch a movie or a playoff game on one of the outdoor TVs I’ve tested over the years have invariably come away from the experience with a totally different (ahem) outlook. For those of us who have watched TV au naturel, there is nothing ridiculous, extravagant, or abnormal about it. It’s just one heck of a good time.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Jun 08, 2007  |  1 comments
Moving projectors into the light.

As much as I love projectors, most people feel they can’t live with one. Apparently, some people don’t like living in a completely light-controlled environment. Come on, caves are fun. Not convinced? Neither are most people. So enter a subcategory of the screen market—one that caters to those folks who want a big-screen image, without the cost of a flat panel and without the light requirements of a regular front-projection system. I wrote an article a few months ago on several screens that fit this niche. You can read that one here. Planar’s Xscreen takes a similar approach but adds a few different features.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 13, 2013  |  1 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $2,899 At A Glance: viewable with ambient lighting • Works best with carefully planned lighting • Image dims significantly from center screen to the side

The best projection quality has always required a completely darkened room. This takes the edge off that Super Bowl party, with guests stumbling around in the dark spilling their buttered popcorn and drinks in your lap.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 26, 2011  |  2 comments
Price: $2,199 At A Glance: Image pops with room lights on • Minimizes room reflections with lights off • Fixed frame—no retractable version

Lighten Up

Many of us will tolerate a projection system that requires a totally darkened room for movie watching. But when other family matters make this impossible, or when your buddies come over on a Sunday afternoon for the big game, how many of us are willing to totally blacken the room and leave everyone to stumble around in the dark?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 25, 2014  |  0 comments
Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $2,049 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb color and contrast with room lights out
Lights-on viewing can be more satisfying than with a conventional screen
Minus
Don’t expect miracles: Lights-out viewing still offers a superior picture

THE VERDICT
No screen can provide a projector’s best performance in normal room lighting, but the Screen Innovations Slate takes aim at this goal and, though not scoring a bull’s-eye, comes closer than most.

The surest route to realizing a knockout, big-picture home theater is to install a separate projector and screen. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll wonder how you were ever satisfied with a “tiny” flat-screen HDTV.

Up until a few years ago, the biggest obstacle to realizing that ideal was the price of a good projector. Today, however, you can buy an excellent projector for under $3,000, and although that’s not chicken feed, it’s within the reach of many serious home theater enthusiasts. But what was once a secondary stumbling block is now front and center: the need for a fully darkened room to wring the best performance out of that projector. With most projection screens, there’s little choice, and this has kept home projection a niche market.

Michael Hamilton  |  Nov 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $4,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designer colors and mounting options
Rechargeable battery option allows varied placement
Silky smooth, silent retractable operation
Minus
Tab tensioning less robust than competitive retractable screens
Price may deter some

THE VERDICT
The Solo Pro 2 offers a highly flexible alternative to standard motorized screens. And when paired with the company's Slate 1.2 screen material, it provides satisfying viewing in elevated light conditions, and excellent results in lights-out theater mode.

Austin, Texas, that state's vibrant capital city, houses many cultural icons. For Millenials (not me), it means the South by Southwest film, music, and tech festival. For Formula 1 racing fans (ok, I confess...) the Circuit of The Americas is— finally—the home of a United States Grand Prix. And for music devotees of any age (y'all count me in), Austin's official motto, "Live Music Capital of the World," says it all.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 19, 2010  |  0 comments
Projectors are great. Projectors are fun. Projectors give you a big, immersive, theatrical experience, which is what we all want from our home theater systems. Even a great flatscreen HDTV is just a television compared with the drama that a front-projection image provides.
Michael P. Hamilton  |  Mar 15, 2016  |  0 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $2,257 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Uncanny ability to make any projection technology look exemplary
Greatly enhances contrast and black level, even with budget projectors
Easy assembly with superb fit and finish
Performance enhancement that would be banned if projection video were a sport
Minus
Slightly pearlescent sheen with some high-brightness, fully saturated, high-motion scenes
That it has appeared only recently

THE VERDICT
If you need evidence that a high-quality ambient-light-rejecting screen can give spectacular results with an entry-level projector, look no further than the SSE Ambient-Visionaire Black 1.2.

“Is this heaven?” John Kinsella unwittingly asks his son, Ray, in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. “It’s Iowa,” Ray answers. Turning slowly to walk away, John halts, replying, “Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.”

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