What You Need to Know About Projection Screen
Projection screen may sound rather unfamiliar for some people, especially if you hardly make use of projector. And even if you do use projectors, you will probably just go with any white surface as your medium of projection. After all, you only need to get the picture reflected and projected. But for those looking for high quality projection and excellent image, projection screen is a must have. What you need to know is that, like most screen, projection screen works mainly to reflect and reproduce image from sources. However, it offers more accurate and crisper image projection because of a special reflective coating on top of its surface. Instead of absorbing light from sources like wall do, the coating actually diffusely reflecting it back at you; resulting in brighter and better quality overall images.
In general, a projection screen will consist of a screen and a support. It usually comes in either white or gray color because both colors are believed to be represent neutral colors which will prevent any color shift or distortion when projecting images. While most projection screen you ever encounter are mostly the flat types, note that there is also a curved projection screen. The flat projection screen is more commonly used for office and business scenarios where geometric measurement and accuracy is concerned whereas curved screen suits entertainment purposes better. As for installation, you can have it wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, permanently installed on the wall, hanging up on the wall, or simply move on itself depending on your room and requirements. To do this, you will need to know the specifications of your projectors too.
There are many kind of projectors serving variety of needs and market segments and so do projection screens. You may have already decided what type to buy or but then they all look the same to you. White, flat, and look big enough. How do you know which one is the best? What kind of features you need to consider? Is there any other aspects you need to know? We help you find out with the following generic pointers:
If one of the main aspect to consider when buying projector is brightness, in case of projection screen, it is the screen gain. Make no mistake because gain here has no whatsoever relation to the screen weight. Instead, screen gain is the measurement how reflective a screen or surface can be. Or to put it simply, the ability of a screen to reflect lights. Specifically, screen gain in projection screen indicates the amount of light a screen can reflect as compared to standard white board (magnesium oxide coated). While there is no exact measurement, a standard white board is capable of reflecting as much light as a screen projection with screen gain rated at 1.0. Often, the higher the gain, the more glossy the screen become. What does it mean and how does it affect the projected image?
High gain screen tends to be more reflective as they reflect more lights and thus result in brighter images. However, it is not necessarily a good thing for all scenarios since it has higher chances of hot spot issue. Hot spot is basically what happens when a blinding light turns out in front of your field of view which later turns out to be no other than the light reflected from projector lens. Next, you also need to know that high gain screens show concern on viewing angle aspect. It is because the majority of light is reflected to the center point and diffused less evenly off the axis. This way, only people sitting in the center will enjoy the brightest image as the brightness level shifts down gradually as you move off the axis. In contrast, low gain screens offer wider viewing angles as they tend to disperse lights evenly to oblique angle view. For that reason, low gain screens are more popular for home entertainment settings. But if you intend to use the projection screen for business presentation or teaching in a moderately bright environments, high gain screens can do it pretty well, particularly with brighter images.
Geometrics with projection screen at least involves three aspects: projector native resolution (including) aspect ratio, room characteristics, and projector to screen distance. Before buying anything, it is advised that you do some research. Really, there's no point to rush things and end up buying something that does not fit your needs; wasting all the money and efforts. Feeling, intuition, or lucky guess just do not apply here. As such, it is best that you know or try to find out the native resolution and aspect ratio of your projector first. Matching native format of your projector with projection screen is highly important to make sure the best projection results.
Currently, there are three type of aspect ratio commonly used in projectors: 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9. Aspect ratio of 1:1 or square screen is the most common among the three, being used with overhead projectors and limited spaces like meeting rooms and classrooms. Second in terms of popularity will be the 4:3, which is also used in most traditional TV and displays. It caters to standard data projection and some movies with the same aspect ratio. Lastly, home cinema enthusiast will find projection screen with 16:9 format ideal choice for their high definition movie collections. Nevertheless, some type of high end projectors offers support for two or more format such as 4:3 and 16:9 so users can easily switch between them accordingly. Of course, you can still project contents although they have different aspect ratio with your projector or projection screen. Only, you may end up with some area of the screen (usually top/bottom or right/left side) being unused and appear as black borders.
When putting together your AV systems, it is important to consider room characteristics over anything else. And it is not just about the size. You also have to look at the corresponding elements such as ambient lights, windows or shades, doors, and ceiling heights (if you plan ceiling-mount installation). In the first place, a projection screen will need some room for housing, be it a permanent wall type or a pull down one. Pay attention that the housing should be wider than the surface of the screen itself; approximately three to five inch larger on the side. In normal installation, a screen should also have at least 0,3 meter down from ceiling or 0,9 meter up from the floor. This basic calculation should give you a comfortable and proportional projection setup in any room. To top things off, you also need to look at the distance between the projector and the screen as well as the screen and the audience. Depending on the type of the projector, the further distance the projector to the screen, the bigger the projection is. In projection terms, it is usually called throw ratio. But if your projector is a short throw or ultra short throw type, you need not to worry about the distance as they are especially made to produce big images within short range. What about bigger spaces like conference room, boardroom, or auditorium? It is wise to keep the distance at minimum of 1/6 of the farthest audience seats.
Type of Projection Screen
Now that you get to know basics of projection screen, it's time to move on to the next highlight which is the type of projection screen. You need to know that projection screen can vary based on their type of installation.
Fixed Wall Mounted Screen
This type of screen installation works perfectly for home theater scenarios where you will do the projection in the same place all the time and have enough spaces for the wall installation. It is also commonly used for movie theater applications. In several cases, users also install curtain or sort of shades in front of or around the screen to keep it away from dust as well as unnecessary lightings that will affect projection results.
Pull Down Screen
Pull down screens is probably the most flexible of all. You can have it semi-permanently mounted, pull it down manually or even get it ceiling mounted. It is very convenient, does not require much space, and most importantly low maintenance. You can easily rolls it up when not in use and still have the wall space for other setups like decorations. Interestingly, pull down screens can be divided further into the standard/non-tensioned type and tensioned type. The standard pull down screens practically just hang in there once you pulled it down. If you had strong wind current such as from air conditioning, it can be very distracting as it will move around irregularly and result in poor projection. On the contrary, the tensioned variety is pinned down to the support and remains perfectly flat all along. It is highly recommended for larger rooms since it ensures stable and optimal projection images.
Electric screen or sometimes known as motorized screen is basically a technologically enhanced version of pull down screens. But this time you do not pull it down manually. Instead, you can opt for smarter methods such as remote control, wall switches, or trigger cable. it is possible because it got integrated electric motor to raise or lower the screen automatically. Much like manual screen, you need to know that it also can be mounted permanently or semi-permanently on the wall and ceiling.
Less expensive and high mobility are the main appeal of this type of screen. If you are frequent travelers and need something to polish your presentation, portable screen comes handy. You can use it for both indoor and outdoor setups. You can easily move around with it as it has compact size, mostly hassle-free, and easy to use. But on the down side, the quality of projection might not that very great or really live up to your expectations.