You have just bought yourself a high-end projector and then you are told that you will have to spend more for a projector screen. Of course, you are wondering if the additional expenditure is warranted. After all, won't any white fabric or even a white wall work?
Sure it will, but only if poor picture quality, distorted colors, and dull images are acceptable to you. In short, yes, you do need a projector screen.
In fact, you'll need to pick the right product from the variety of projector screen types if you want the cinema-grade picture clarity and brightness that you paid so much for.
Table of Contents:
- Different Types of Projector Screens
- How Large Should Your Projector Screens Be?
- The Rise of Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) Screens
- Spotlight on WEMAX Fresnel ALR Screen
- Are Projector Screens Worth It?
- Wrapping It Up
Different Types of Projector Screens
Electric Projector Screens
These are retractable screens controlled with an electric motor and a remote control. Given the complexity of the mechanics, electric projetcor screens understandably cost more than manually retractable screens.
But, they are available in both pull-up and pull-down versions. Plus, it is just easier to control things with a remote control when you are handling a large screen. However, you will need an electrical point to plug the screen in.
Manual Pull-Up Screens
Another type of retractable screen, these have to be manually pulled up. They cost less and are not as heavy as electrical screens, but because they have to be hand-operated, these cannot be installed too high up.
Typically, manual pull-up screens are more appropriate for smaller spaces that call for a smaller screen size. The biggest advantage of retractable screens both manual and electrical is that they can be hidden out of view when not in use.
However, the fact that you need to handle them frequently means that there is a higher risk of wear and tear of the frame and the screen fabric. So, these usually have a lower lifespan than fixed screens.
Fixed Projector Screens
As the name suggests, fixed projector screens are mounted in a fixed position, typically on the wall. So, they can't be stowed away after use. But, because you are not rolling them up and down constantly, they have a longer lifespan.
Moreover, manufacturers get more latitude when it comes to including high-end features in fixed screens because they know that the product won't be moved around once installed. They often cost less than electric retractable screens but in terms of performance, they score over all other types of projection surfaces.
Portable Projector Screens
Portable projector screens allow you to enjoy the big screen experience on the go. They are designed to work both indoors and outdoors. The screen is stretched and tied in between two stands which are weighted/anchored down in some way to offer stability to the setup.
They are usually inexpensive and because the screen is normally made of fabric, you can simply fold it and store it after use. They are also easy to maintain but not as durable as other projector screen types.
How Large Should Your Projector Screens Be?
Randomly picking any screen size, even if it is the biggest, would be a mistake. This has to be a calculated decision, in the literal sense, so here is what you need to consider:
The Aspect Ratio of the Projector
Think of the aspect ratio as the ideal image size in terms of width and height that your projector is capable of handling. Most top-notch projection units of the day that support standard and ultra HD have an aspect ratio of 16:9. This works out to 1.78 inches of width for every 1 inch of screen height.
This is the most popular aspect ratio for home screen viewing because it offers decent support even for media shot in 2.4 format (widescreen cinema scope). But here is the thing, you will get more vertical surface area with a 16:9 screen than with a 2.4 screen.
For instance, think of a screen with a width of 8 feet. If you cannot put at least 8 feet of distance between the seating and the screen, you will be straining your eyes and your neck.
Typically, you'd counter that by moving the couch back. But, you can only do so if you have enough room towards the opposite wall. If that is not an option, you'd have to bring down the screen size to a width of 6 feet.
On average, if you are comfortable at 10 feet from a 2.4 screen, you will need at least 12 feet from a 16:9 screen or 20%-35% more distance. This brings us to the next consideration.
The Size of the Room
Even if you intend to use all available space in the room, you will need to factor in the area needed for seating and to move around comfortably. Remember that the depth, the height, and the width all matter.
For instance, you can only put the couch 8 feet away from the screen if you have 12-14 feet of length, which will give you 4-6 feet at the least to move about behind the seating.
Of course, you could put the couch against the wall but that would only be possible if there isn't a door or any other décor/interior aspects on that wall which would be a hindrance. Ditto for the width of the room. You will need about 4-6 feet on both sides of the seating arrangement.
As mentioned above a 16:9 screen of the same width as a 2.4 screen will get you more height. Assuming that you want to go with a 16:9 screen which will have you covered for game nights, movies, and even regular TV shows, here is how the calculation will go.
Suppose the room has a height of 10 feet and you have an ultra-short throw projector that you intend to keep on a console that is 2 feet high. That is 2 feet knocked off from the floor + another 2 feet for the projector to throw the image plus 1 foot from the ceiling to avoid ghost images.
In other words, you cannot have a screen height of more than 5 feet. But a height of 5 feet would get you a screen width of almost 9 feet, so before you rush to buy that screen you need to consider if the room can accommodate the length.
Screen Width (Length)
The screen width has to be determined based on the viewing distance between the screen and the seating. If you instinctively go for seats in the first few rows at the movies, you will need a distance of 1 time the screen width.
If you are more comfortable in the middle rows, go for 1.2- 1.5 times the screen width and if you enjoy watching from the back rows, you will need 2X the screen size.
Ideally, it's best to stick in the range of a minimum of 1.0 X to 2.5 X the screen width for the required viewing distance. Assuming that you are going with a screen size of 100 inches which has a width of about 90 inches (87 to be precise) that would be:
Minimum = 1.0 x 90 = 90 inches (7.5 to 8 feet)
Maximum = 2.5 x 90 = 225 inches (about 19 feet)
100 inch VS 120 inch
With a 100-inch screen, you'd still get more viewing area than the largest screen TV out there (which is a measly 86 inches). So, your experience is bound to be amazing because at 100 inches diagonal, you are getting a width of 87 inches and a height of 49 inches.
But, a 120-inch screen is truly massive since it gives you 44% more viewing area than a 100-inch screen. That's a length (width) of around 104 inches and a height of almost 59 inches.
Even at the bare minimum (eye strain highly likely), you'd need about 10 feet between the seats and this screen, which would equate to a depth of at least 14 feet.
So, unless you have a large and dedicated area for your home theater system, a 120-inch screen would be overkill. On the other hand, a 100-inch projector screen will offer the big screen experience that you will enjoy without being a literal pain.
The Rise of Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) Screens
If you are in the market for a projector screen, you will undoubtedly come across ambient light-rejecting (ALR) screens. Touted as next-generation projection screen technology, ALR promises to tackle the most pressing issue that you are likely to encounter when using a projector- That of ambient light degrading the image quality.
As the term suggests, these screen work by blocking ambient light from reaching the viewing cone and only allowing the light from the projector, which is reflected off the screen, to reach the viewers.
How Do ALR Screens Work?
A regular white screen accepts light coming from all directions and simply reflects it outward. In contrast, an ALR screen uses nanostructures to control both the reflection and deflection of light.
These nanostructures are designed to only reflect light coming from a specific angle while rejecting light coming from other directions. This means that light coming from sources other than the projector cannot take away from the intensity of the light emanating from the projection unit. So, the reflected images are brighter, and crisper and the colors are more accurate and vibrant.
Why Choose an ALR Screen?
An ambient light-rejecting screen will no doubt cost more than a fabric screen but what it brings to the table makes it worth the price.
Best suited for the latest projection technology: If you have bought an ultra-short throw projector capable of HD or ultra HD performance, an ALR screen will allow you to tap into the complete performance power of the unit
Easy setup of your home theater system: You won't have to worry about light fixtures or other sources of ambient light hosing down the performance of the unit. In other words, you won't have to spend on expensive interior décor changes or even blackout curtains to accommodate your home theater setup.
Does away with regular projection-related problems: ALR screens are not prone to issues such as glare and spotlight effects or even hot spotting.
Enhanced viewing experience: Because colors are true to life and the images are significantly brighter and sharper with ALR screens, you get the same cinematic experience from them as you would from a commercial screen at the movie theater.
And if you are looking for one of the best ALR screens in the market, here is one that more than lives up to its reputation and expectations.
Spotlight on WEMAX Fresnel ALR Screen
A one-of-its-kind product, the WEMAX Fresnel ALR Screen combines best-in-class technology to deliver unmatched performance. Instead of relying on just one screen material, WEMAX combines 8 layers in this product to leverage the best of what different materials have to offer.
In fact, it's not just the blending of the different materials but also the combination of the projector screen technologies explained further that get you the unbeatable sum effect:
The 8-layer precision optical structure includes a top holographic light shaping layer as well as a nano-absorber layer underneath. Together, these create a unique nanostructure effect, which offers dramatic absorption and deflection of ambient light. This protects the image and color integrity and ensures picture quality with extraordinary high fidelity.
Fresnel Lens Technology
Specifically meant to ensure peak performance from ultra-short throw projectors like the WEMAX Nova, this technology is included in the 8-layer matrix in the form of a special Fresnel layer.
It comprises a surface structure that has concentric semi-circles. The nanostructures are arranged such that only light rays coming from below the center of the semicircles are reflected toward the viewers. Light coming from all other directions is flat-out rejected. This technology guarantees exceptional image quality and color accuracy and integrity even in the presence of significant ambient light.
A proprietary technology from WEMAX, this is a combination of nanostructures and semiconductor technology that allows light propagation to be controlled at the nano-level. To be more accurate, this technology allows projected light propagation to be controlled on a scale of 10 nm. So, you get uniform color, brightness, and of course incredibly faithful picture quality.
Together these technologies also promise exceptional contrast ratio and a screen gain of 1.0. So, the whites appear brighter than on any other screen, and black is projected in its truest and densest form. In terms of how it impacts your viewing experience, here is what you can expect:
- Resolutions of 4K Ultra HD.
- Ambient and ceiling light rejection, so no ghost images.
- Ambient light occlusion of more than 85%.
- An ultra-narrow frame of 0.35 inches that offers a true wide-screen experience.
- A screen gain of 1.0, so images that are 20% brighter than on any other screen.
- Exceptional color and picture uniformity.
- An honest-to-goodness big-screen viewing experience with a 100-inch screen size.
- Eye protection courtesy of the anti-ultraviolet layer.
- Extraordinary durability thanks to a transparent flexible layer.
Are Projector Screens Worth It?
There are those who'd argue that a projector simply shines light on a surface that has to be reflected to the viewer, hence any odd surface can get the job done.
But with any odd surface, a large portion of the light that comes from the projector is lost through ghost images. Plus, these odd surfaces will reflect all kinds of light in all directions.
So, the light coming from an overhead bulb and from the window on the far wall will all come together to further reduce the intensity/brightness of the light coming from the projector.
In a nutshell that is like buying expensive wine and adding a lot of water to it. Of course, the concoction will be nowhere as delicious as the undiluted wine.
To cut a long story short, if you have spent a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a projector, of course, you want your money's worth. And the only way to get the most bang for your buck is if you couple the high-end technology of your projector with a top-notch projector screen.
The internet is littered with images of projector performance when the image is projected on a white wall versus on a regular white bed sheet versus on a regular screen versus on a high-end 4k projector screen with ALR technology to boot.
Nobody can argue that ALR screens turn the imagery into a veritable visual odyssey. In fact, the experience is so immersive that it's almost like you are right there. And isn't that the effect you wanted when you spent all that money for your projector?
If yes, then get a projector screen!
Wrapping It Up
No matter what your budget or your choice, WEMAX has a projector screen that will be just right for you. Because the company has spent decades manufacturing top-of-the-line projection units, they know exactly what it takes to get the most from projection technology.
And they put all this experience and expertise along with cutting-edge technology into their lineup of different projector screen types. From portable screens to electrical screens and from manual pull-up screens to their high-performance Fresnel technology ALR screens, WEMAX has them all and more.
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