This is a very simple summary, please call if your require
any help in planning a home theater
When you are planning a home theater many people
underestimate the importance of the projection screen. The proper
home theater screen is as important as your home theater video projector.
No matter how good your video projector is, if you don't project on
the correct home theater screen fabric you will have a poor image. You
do not have to spend a bundle of money on the screen but you cant simply
paint a wall and shine your home theater video projector on it and expect to have a great
image. Its like making your own wine...usually not worth the work and ends
up tasting like its home made. (don't fool yourself, your friends are just
Home Theater Screen Types
Video Projection screens come in two main types .
Tensioned and non-tensioned and three styles, electric, fixed and manual
Tensioned screens are always the best for home theater.
They are simply just as they sound....tensioned. This is achieved by either
snapping to a fixed frame which hangs on the wall or by using tensioning strings on electric roll up
screens. Presently there is not a manual roll up screens with tensioning.
The tensioning stretches the screen to prevent movement, screen curling or
"waves" in the screen.
All wall mount screens are tensioned. The drawback of a
wall mount home theater screen is it is always on the wall. Great for a
dedicated home theater or family room. Not good if it is your living room or
your 4 year old is a budding little artist and has a permanent magic marker
The tensioned electric screens have the ultimate in cool
factor however they are very costly (2 to 3 times the cost of a "permwall"
or non-tension electric). If you opt for fancy options like trap doors the
price becomes substantially more.
Non-tension electric screens are reasonably priced, have a
great "cool" factor" however they will tend to slightly curl at the
edges over time. They should not however get "waves" in the screen.
Manual pull downs, are low cost and will work in a home
theater however they curl at the edges and do develop "waves" in the
screen. Generally not recommended unless you are on a very tight budget or
you are renting and cant live with a permwall.
Home Theater Screen Aspect ratio
There are two aspect ratios (screen shapes) available for
home theater screens 4:3 (video format) or 16:9 (HDTV or Widescreen Format).
Some people argue that 4:3 is better since there is lots of old movies in
4:3. These are the same people that argue a horse is better then a car and a
record is better then a CD. The vast majority of all your DVD's will
be widescreen as will all HDTV. Any old movie that is released on DVD is put
back to its original wide screen format.
For any home theater, get a HDTV (16:9) format screen. A
screen will last years and years , probably thru several projectors.
Home Theater Screen size
Many people think bigger is better, This is not
completely true. If your home theater screen is to large it will be similar
to sitting in the front row of a movie theater. General screen sizes would
be 92 inch diagonal ( 45 x 80) for 11 to 13 ft distance . 106
inch diagonal ( 52x 92) for 14 to 17 feet and 119 diagonal for 18 to
In addition, the bigger the screen, the dimmer the image
from the same projector.
Home Theater Screen Fabric
There is good quality fabric available for both tensioned
and non-tensioned. For video projection you want a "high contrast" screen
with a positive gain.
Gain is the amount of light reflected back by the
screen and is measured against a industry standard. For example a
screen that has a .8 screen will produce an image 80% as bright as the
standard. This results in a dimmer image and weaker colors but better
blacks. A screen with a 2.0 gain has an image 200% brighter then
the standard. This results in loss of blacks and washed out colors.
High contrast screens are simply dark grey and therefore
increase black level. Two much grey and you lose your colors.
The best fabrics for home theater combine good gain and
good contrast. A high contrast screen with a 1.1 to 1.3 gain results in
bright vivid colors and good blacks.
We recommend the following
fabrics for home theater.
For wall mount screens or tensioned electric. Da-lite High Contrast Cinema Vision (HCCV).
For manual pull downs and
non-tensioned electric screens Da-lite High Contrast Matte White.
These two fabrics provide excellent image quality for home
with extremely reasonable pricing. There is always someone claiming to have
a "better mousetrap" however we have never tested any other fabric or screen
surface that provide such a excellent "image to price" value ratio.
Home Theater Screen Models
Permanently mounted. They
are well below $700 for a good "permwall"
with very good fabric such as the HCCV by da-lite. These screens increase in
cost as you change the "fanciness" of the border however the fabric, and
therefore picture quality, will not change as price goes up.
Electric: A tensioned electric screen is the best in electric roll up screens
however the cost for a 106" runs around $1800 for a
Tensioned cosmopolitan electrol with
HCCV fabric. The price increases if you want trap doors that open etc.
non-tensioned electric: If you want an electric screen but are budget conscious
that you may want to go for a Da-lite cosmopolitan electrol with a HCMW fabric.
Cost of this is under $800.
Manual Pulldown. If you are severally budget
conscious and want a simple pulldown screen , Look at a
Model B with CSR for around $300 for a 106"
with High contrast matte white fabric.
If you are extremely budget conscious
(at this point the word cheap comes to mind) you can simply grab a
model B without CSR ( controlled spring
return ) for around $200.
If you find 200 is still too much for a screen, time
to consider a bed sheet and using a flashlight for a projector, Hand puppets can
be quite entertaining.