John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO

Choosing a Projection Screen

It’s time to install a home theater and video game projection screen. I’ve been projecting against a white wall for a few years now, but the kids are spending more time at other kids’ houses and starting to complain about my less-than-stellar “projection wall”. I looked online and now I am starting to appreciate the high-end home theater consultants working the market. There are a LOT of options when choosing a projection screen, and they can get expensive.

Whenever I look at one-time purchases like a projection screen, I ask my peers what they have done. Or at least this *should* be a one-time purchase (unless I get the wrong one!). So before I hit the forums, how did you choose your projection screen, which one did you pick, are you happy, and what would you do different next time?

From my initial research I there are popular home theatre forums:

And some tutorials with advice on choosing a projection screen:

And some of the projection screen companies offer excellent online resources:

BUT those are obviously biased. The online projection screen vendors also seem to avoid addressing many of the common concerns when choosing a projection screen, such as white screen or grey screen? What level of “screen gain” is appropriate for my room and my projector, and what effect will viewing angle have on image quality? I understand why they would avoid some of that, because it complicates a purchase decision that has a high barrier for return (shipping a projector screen is not a simple matter). But then again the local home theater specialist is a TON more expensive than Internet shopping. Someone should be able to be the Zappos.com of projection screens, but I haven’t found them yet.

So I wonder, would you buy a projection screen online? Would you build one yourself? Or would you hire a local home theater consultant? I am considering since I will get to see actual products before picking one. I also don’t see any clear winners in the home projection screen market, based on consumer reviews.

My set up:

  • Projector: older InFocus DLP projector, like this 750 lumen one but sub-1000 contrast. I will buy a new one soon, but not right away unless that is really important for choosing a screen.
  • Room: not a theater by any definition, it is a living room. Light colored walls, high celings with skylights, light colored carpeting. About 25′ x 16′ “theater” area.
  • Environment: I live WAY NORTH, so it stays light until 10 o’clock pm in the summer, and the summer is some 17 weeks long. Yes, obviosuly the skylights and wall colors are becoming an issue for me. Yes, of course there are picture windows as well. Lots of them. Hey, it’s beautiful out there!
  • Use: Projected games and DVD movies. I don’t subscribe to television, so it won’t be used very often compared to your typical American home projection TV room.

There are more than a few manufacturers of projection screens, whcih makes buying one all the more difficult:

  • 3M
  • AccuScreens
  • Adeo Group
  • Arisawa
  • AVers
  • Beamax- check out the videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EfYwRwXnTo and Beamax dealers
  • Carada
  • Celio
  • Custom Display Solutions
  • Da-Lite
  • dnp Denmark
  • Draper
  • Dukane
  • Elite Screens
  • Euroscreen Bjurab
  • Goo Systems
  • Grandview
  • HoloDisplays
  • Hurley
  • Large Screen Displays
  • LP Morgan
  • Meler
  • Optoma
  • Planar
  • Projecta b.v.
  • RP Visual Solutions
  • Saaria
  • Screen Innovations
  • Screen Research
  • Screen Tech
  • Projector Screens list
  • SCREENMAXX
  • Severtson
  • Stewart Filmscreen
  • The Airscreen Company
  • The Screen Works
  • Vutec

Google says I should also look for

★★ Click to share this article:   Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine

4 Responses to “Choosing a Projection Screen”

  1. Alan Says:

    Da-Lite is a good value. I bought one and took out the screen to put onto my wall. I have the same enviroment as you and it works fine. I did add a thick black border all around but it’s really ugly during the day. That was a mistake.

  2. Steve Gerard Says:

    Like you, I’ve been projecting on a (more or less white) wall in my living room. The wall in question was just painted a more white colour during a renovation and hopefully that’ll make it a bit better…

    However I’ll be moving soon and contemplating what could work better than just a plain wall. But I’m not keen on getting a screen because I watch not only regular 4:3 ratio television and movies, but also movies with wide screen and wide-wide screen (not sure of the ratios other than 16:9)… therefore with a typical screen, no matter what ratio I buy, it’ll result in wasted space and/or limit the size I can project.

    Therefore I’ve been considering painting the wall with a special paint called ‘Goo’. My brother saw a friend’s projector on a wall painted with that and was very impressed, and said it looked a LOT better than what I was seeing with my wall projection. He said it looked like a large plasma screen (fwiw, he owns a 65″ standard rear-projection big screen TV).

    So painting an entire wall with ‘Goo’ would allow me to shrink or expand the “screen” any way I wanted to, without having to worry about the size or ratio like I would with a standard screen mounted to the wall.

    That’s something you may have considered already, but if not here’s a page with some more information about ‘Goo’ (found during a google search – not my site):
    http://www.theaterthings.com/goo-information-goo-tips-and-faqs.asp

    Good luck and be sure to post what you decide to do! :)

  3. john andrews Says:

    Engadget just covered building your own projection screen and claims a $35 price tag. http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/29/how-to-make-a-custom-projector-screen/ They used a white fabric on a plywood frame, with a painted black border. They used “curtain blackout cloth” which doesn’t look very good in the reflection/absorption dept. I think they have a lot of extra lumens and don’t mind the loss, and aren’t looking very closely at the impact on color (warmth, tone, etc).

    This thread covers blackout cloth, but they use two pieces? How do you handle a seem? That seems wrong. http://www.lumenlab.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t5.html

    It also gets pretty crazy here : http://groups.msn.com/diyprojectiontv/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=6219&LastModified=4675465198222560558

    I like the idea of a retractable projection screen. Maybe this one http://www.beamax.com/Projection-screen_8?sc=8&category=26

  4. hd projector screen Says:

    when i first get my projector screen & HDTV projector it was so amazing,its like i have my own cinema at home.:)