Review: Stewart Filmscreen Cabaret Screen
Home theater life is a Cabaret with Stewart Filmscreen’s stylish and versatile screen.
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February 02, 2010 by Robert Archer

Stewart Filmscreen has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to projection screens - like its CineCurve that’s made super-wide CinemaScope theater setups more common.

The new Cabaret Screen focuses more on style than ‘Scope, while not compromising performance for aesthetics.

The Cabaret was designed especially for those with a brightly lit media environment rather than a dark dedicated theater.

Stewart offers the motorized screen in an array of sizes, shapes, materials, mounting scenarios and bezel colors. The Cabaret even features complementary LED backlighting as an option for more pizazz.

It takes about two hours to install. My review sample came with a gloss-black bezel, a CinemaScope 2.35:1 aspect ratio, LED lighting and Stewart’s FireHawk G3 gray screen material.

The FireHawk G3 is engineered for consistent picture brightness, uniform colors, deep black levels, bright contrast and detailed resolutions in conjunction with 1080p projectors for rooms with ambient light.

Adds Color Depth, Clarity

I looked at movies, cable TV content and video test patterns using the Cabaret in a variety of lighting conditions and with two projectors - an LCoS Dream Vision DreamE and LED-powered SIM2 MICO 50, plus a Panamorph anamorphic lens.

With Blu-ray movies and NFL and NHL games, the screen excelled in fleshing out detail, clarifying picture and adding color depth.

The Cabaret’s 1.25 gain highlighted its ability to resolve detail. I had never noticed the red halo emitted as Nicolas Cage walks with a lighting flare during one scene in National Treasure 2. Earlier in the movie, Cage takes a picture with his cell phone of a piece of wood inscribed with writing. I was surprised at the amount of wood grain revealed, because such detail was obscured during previous viewings.

On live-action HD sports broadcasts, the screen’s enhancements were quite noticeable. It rendered the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blue uniforms with lots of natural richness; and the dichotomy of the Boston Bruins’ black pants against the white ice. The Cabaret with the FireHawk G3 screen showcased just how well the Cabaret and FireHawk material enable color depth and contrast.

Why Would Anyone Want a Flat Panel?

Comparing it to a Screen Research 1.78:1 white screen I had, the performance differences were negligible in a dark room; I preferred the color depth and focus of the Stewart, but the Screen Research model produced brighter whites.

The Stewart delivered better results across the board - contrast, color levels, black levels and detail - under ambient light conditions. This is a big consideration as more multipurpose rooms pull double duty as home theaters, perhaps including a flat-panel display mounted behind the motorized screen for everyday viewing or to save on a projector lamp’s lifespan.

But with the Cabaret’s stylish casing and options like LED backlighting, who would want to look at a flat panel?

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Robert Archer - Senior Editor, CE Pro
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.

Specifications, Pros & Cons

AT A GLANCE
Specs:
> Motorized screen
> Optional LED lighting
> Aluminum bezel housing
> Choice of bezel housing colors
> Choice of screen size and screen shape (aspect ratio)
> Acoustically transparent screen materials optional
> Tab-Guy screen tensioning system
> Wall mounts with optional 6-inch offset hardware for use with flat-panel TVs
> Customized housing colors
> Rear projection models available
> 3.25-inch roller tube with sound-dampening screen drive
> MSRP from around $4,000

Pros:
> Hand-crafted with completely customizable specifications
> Reference-grade materials and build quality that match the company’s professional post-production video editing product line
> High performance in ambient lighting

Cons:
> Price may exclude entry-level consumers
> Custom pro installation required


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