Choosing Your Projector Screen
Whether you’re creating your home theater or a presentation area, follow this guide to narrow down products for the best screen to suit your needs.
Screen Size: Aspect Ratio and Distance
Choosing a projector screen comes with a lot more variables than a television set. Not to worry, we’ve broken it down for you.
Size vs Distance:
How big do you want your screen? It all depends on room size and seating arrangement. He covered a lot of the nitty-gritty on best seating distance in our blog post here. The rule of thumb is that you want the screen height about 2x the screen distance away from the front row of your home theater or couch. You also want the screen height at a minimum of four feet above the floor.
Aspect Ratio refers to the ratio of width to height of a screen. The two aspect ratios we’ll be focusing on are 16:9 and 2:35. The question to keep in mind is, ‘What kind of content am I going to watch the most?’
When envisioning an aspect ratio of 16:9, think of a standard box TV set. This type of screen is best for tv shows and sporting events as they are broadcast in this ratio. This is screen is preferable for smaller walls. If you’re switching from a TV to a movie aspect ratio, the projector will compensate by creating a black space above and below the projected image (like your television set will do). This aspect ratio is the best for efficient use of space.
An aspect ratio of 2:35 looks like a movie screen and is longer than it is wide. This aspect ratio is the way to go if you’re using your projector for mostly movie nights or have a large wall and a distanced seating arrangement. If you plan on watching some TV or other content with an aspect ratio of 16:9 your projector will compensate by creating black panels to the right and left of the projection.
Does texture really affect ambient light and sound? What is ‘gain?’ Industry standard white, or grey?
Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) screens are popular for screens that are placed in living rooms, outdoor seating areas, and presentation spaces. ALR screens function by either absorbing or diverting atmospheric light. This atmospheric light can occur from windows, light colored walls, or overhead lighting. This can all cause eye strain. An ALR screen that diverts light has a microstructure that will reflect the ambient light at the angle it was projected at. An ALR that absorbs ambient light has a small microstructure that absorbs ambient light. An ALR that is absorbent is beneficial in that it reduces the need for an exact placement of a projector in relation to ambient light.
If you’ve got your speakers behind where your projected image will be, there are acoustically transparent screens. These screens are microscopically perforated to compensate and allow sound to travel through them without disrupting the quality of sound. These are most popular for home theaters or auditoriums with in-wall/on-wall speakers.
Gain refers to the amount of reflected light of a screen or projection surface. That means, the higher the gain, the brighter the picture. Gains with a lower brightness are measured from 0.0 to 1.0 and higher gains are 1.0 and up. However, a higher gain doesn’t necessarily mean better picture. A higher gain means a narrower screen view angle and lower color contrast.
Projector screens are either white or gray. A White screen is the industry standard and reflects light the best. However gray screens can offer ambient light protection and compensate for a powerful projector.
Type to Suit Your Aesthetic
Fixed or Motorized? How often you use your screen and some of the caveats that influence your choice.
A Fixed screen stretches over a metal frame. The metal frame is usually lined with black velour to create a better frame for your image. This material absorbs any light that may spill over the edges. Fixed screens require no power as opposed to a motorized screen making placement more versatile.
Motorized can be either manual or motorized. Motorized tend to be higher quality due to the tab tension to reduce waves that you may get from a manual projector screen.