How To Choose the Best Projection Screen for You
It seems like just yesterday that HD was just gaining popularity and Blu-ray players cost an arm and a leg to get a hold of. Back then Plasma TVs were all the rave, despite being the heaviest kind of TV around. Recently, projectors have gained popularity for their versatility and have started showing up in more and more homes, instead of being found exclusively in movie theaters and office conference rooms. With a projector, you’re not limited to any particular size of the screen like you would be with a television. So many people are opting to buy projectors instead of heavy TV screens. The increased popularity of projectors, brings with it one important question: “Which projector screen is best for me?”
How Surfaces Affect your Viewing Experience
Theoretically, you can play your projector on any surface. Just turn it on, plug in your blu-ray player or game console, adjust the focus and let it rip. Simple, right? Well, of course, it is if you’re willing to settle for “any old” viewing experience. The surface that you use to view your projector has a massive impact on viewing.
Projector screens are specifically designed to have the high reflective capacity. This reflective quality allows screens to increase color saturation, deeper contrast and increase sharpness to produce high-quality images. Walls just don’t do the same thing for your image. Even a plain white wall will desaturate your image and even decrease sharpness. Further, your projection screen is also bordered by a thick black rectangle that serves to increase image quality even more. So even if you’re prepared to paint a thick, black rectangle on your wall, you’re still missing out on all the great viewing that comes from a screen.
What to Look at When Choosing Your Screen
By now, I probably don’t have to do any more convincing about getting a proper projection screen. If you’re still skeptical, consider the fact that you’ll probably never have to replace a good projector screen. It’s a one-time buy that lasts a lifetime.
Let’s start breaking down your choice piece by piece, starting with size.
You might have aspirations of a gargantuan screen hanging in your enclosed patio, but you have to think realistically about how big your screen can be. Start with assessing the size of your space. If your viewing room has a standard 8-ft. ceiling, you can’t afford to buy a screen that maxes out your wall space. It might seem like an awesome idea… until you lean back on your sofa and put your feet up- right into your field of vision. (Trust me, trying to watch batman begins around feet can be pesky.) Pick a screen that will allow you to hang it at least 3-ft. off the ground. That way, when you kick back, you won’t be struggling to look past your feet in order to enjoy your movie or video game.
Now don’t get flabbergasted by the technical sounding term, it’s simple when you break it down. Aspect ratio refers to how your screen’s width stacks up to its height. The typical aspect ratio is 16:9, meaning that a 16-ft. wide screen is 9-ft. tall ideally. Note that your screen doesn’t HAVE to be 16-ft wide. If your room is better off accommodating a small screen, then do so, you can always adjust the image on your projector to suit your preferences afterward.
The final component of your screen to think about is it’s “Gain”. Gain is a term that describes how much light your screen can reflect compared to a uniformly reflecting surface (AKA Lambertian). Lambertian surfaces reflect light in all directions, whereas your screen “condenses” light and reflects it mostly into your eyes.Since the screen is reflecting more of the light into your eyes, the images appear brighter than a surface that would scatter the light. Hence “gain”. When choosing your screen, try to avoid going for ultra high gain numbers. This can cause “hotspots” on the screen or areas where it’s uncomfortable to leave your eyes because there is too much light reflecting off of it. Do a bit of research to find out what gain number would be best for your size. You can find out via google, or by calling your local Tech store, those guys have it down to a science.