Selecting a video projector and screen is easy if you know what kind of viewing environment you’re trying to create and in which room you plan to install the gear. For example, if you’ll be adding the equipment to a dark, dedicated theater, just about anything will work well. However, a completely neutral screen like the SnoMatte 100 from Stewart Filmscreen is a good choice, as it will be completely free of hotspots and other flaws, and images will look great when viewed from any angle. Pair it with a high-end LCoS projector from JVC, and you’ll enjoy a picture with outstanding contrast ratios and deep blacks.
Big, Dedicated Theater Room
If you’d like to have a screen that’s larger than 120 inches diagonally in a dedicated home theater room, look for a screen with some gain. It will reflect back more light, which is important when using a super large screen. A large screen is also compatible with a 4K video projector—you can have a giant, bright image with no visible pixels.
For huge rooms that can accommodate huge screens (think 200-or-so-inches diagonally), go with a DLP projector. While LCD and LCoS projectors can pump out 2,000 lumens of light, DLP projectors reign supreme with output ratings of 5,000 lumens or more. This is plenty bright to fill a 200-inch or larger screen, with a grey screen material being a good match. A grey screen will do a good job of maintaining dark blacks, a common weakness of DLP projectors. The match-up of grey screen with a DLP projector maintains such a good brightness level, that you can even turn the room lights on with no compromise to the picture—a great sports-viewing solution.
Multipurpose Media Room
If you feel that a standard projection screen might clash with the design of your chosen room, and you like the modern, streamlined look of flat-panel TVs, you can opt for a screen like the Black Diamond Zero Edge from Screen Innovations. Rigid and thin, it’s designed to be mounted to a wall, just like a flat-panel TV, but it weighs much less. Paired with a bright LCD video projector, you’ll enjoy images on a 100-inch screen—even with the room lights on.
Update an Existing Room
What if you’d like to add a projection system to a room that already has a decent flat-panel TV and in-wall surround-sound speakers? You spent a lot of time making sure this system blended in nicely with the room design, but you’d still like to incorporate a more dramatic home theater element. The solution: a motorized screen that drops down from the ceiling and is acoustically transparent. The housing that holds the rolled-up screen can be mounted to the ceiling a few inches in front of the existing TV. When the screen descends into position, it covers the TV, as well as the speakers, the latter of which is no problem: The acoustically transparent fabric allows audio to fire right through the screen and to your ears, unaffected. Add a ceiling-mounted projector to this screen configuration. A DLP projector is the best choice for an acoustically transparent screen, as the screen will benefit from the projector’s high lumen output. EH
Chris Heinonen founded, runs, and writes for Reference Home Theater, an A/V review website. He is also an ISF-certified calibrator who covers audio and video topics for the Wirecutter, and computer displays for AnandTech.
Photo courtesy of Screen Innovations